Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary working for veterans, children and the country

Be sure and read Marcia's "Community note and Hillary" and Mike's "Lambert the dirty bird." I concur with both 100%. I'm sick of these little pricks stealing from women, smearing women, trashing women and thinking they can get away with it. That, seeing that, take place on the national stage and seeing Hillary Clinton, another woman, hold her head high and stay focused has made me think kinder of her than I ever have. I was not a fan of the Clintons. But I give her nothing but high marks for the way she's conducted herself on the campaign trail. She's been strong, she's been focused and, though they've attempted to rip her apart, she's gone on. Day after day.

I'm posting this in full because she is the candidate who is standing up with proposals and addressing issues in the Democratic race. This is her campaign's "Hillary Clinton: Standing Up For Our Service Members And Veterans:"

Today in Waco, Texas, flag officers and veterans joined Hillary Clinton as she outlined her proposals to honor those who have served our country. She highlighted her plans to right the wrongs of Walter Reed, provide health care and benefits to those who have served our country, and build on her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee to reduce strains placed on our troops and their families.
As President, Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission.
Reduce Strains on Our Troops. Hillary announced today that as President, she will reduce the length of overseas deployments so that for every 12 months our soldiers spend in the field, they will have at least 12 months at home. Our Marines will have a similar standard appropriate for their service in the Corps. She will adopt other readiness standards encompassed in legislation introduced by Representative Jack Murtha.
Assess Impact of Iraq Deployments on Readiness. In the Senate, Hillary won approval of measures to provide greater transparency about the strains on our armed forces, particularly in light of deployments in Iraq. Her amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires the Government Accountability Office to assess the ability of ground forces to meet the requirements of increased force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and to identify and evaluate strategic and operational risks. Her measure requires the GAO to identify the time required to make forces available and prepare them for deployment.
One year ago this month, news reports revealed the shocking treatment of wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It became evident that these problems were not unique, but represented a broader failure to provide our wounded warriors with the care and benefits they need and deserve. A year later, many problems persist, and President Bush’s proposed budget cuts needed programs. The Fiscal 09 budget released February 5 eliminates the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration; provides only modest reductions in claims processing wait times, from 177 days to 145 to process disability claims for separating service members or veterans; and fails to guarantee funding of the VA, leaving professionals at the Department unsure of next year's budget.
Hillary Clinton will not wait for another Walter Reed scandal to ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned.
Restore and Expand TBI Program. Hillary Clinton joined Senator Barbara Mikulski in writing to President Bush, calling on him to reverse his plan to eliminate the Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which has a been a crucial component of the federal government’s system of care for the million of Americans dealing with TBI, including many veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program that was eliminated by President Bush’s budget provides grants to states to help them develop systems of care for those impacted by such injuries; these grants are essential components of our national system of care for all Americans impacted by TBI. If President Bush does not restore this program, as President, Hillary will. Hillary will also improve the assessment, detection and treatment of TBI, as well as expand support systems for veterans and their families.
Fully Implement Walter Reed Recommendations. When she is President, Hillary will implement the recommendations of the Commission on the Care for Wounded Warriors, led by former Senator Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. She will implement comprehensive recovery plans for each wounded warrior that provides the right care and support at the right time in the right place. She will streamline the transition from DoD to VA care. She will personally instruct her Secretary of Defense to recruit and retain first-rate professionals to staff our military hospitals.
When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. She will ensure that every veteran in America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:
Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the Twenty-first Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.
Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.
Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.
Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.
Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government's.
Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.
Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.
Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.
Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government’s inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.
Hillary Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans and will work to ensure our country fulfills its obligations to those who have served and sacrificed for the nation. Hillary has the record and experience to deliver that change.
That's why she has always fought for veterans in the Senate. From tokens of respect, like free postage when you write to a service member in Iraq or Afghanistan. To practical help, like providing expanded access to temporary housing when you move so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket. To the critical work of helping you care for our wounded warriors by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and by passing elements of the Heroes at Home Act to help family members care for those with Traumatic Brain Injury. And she will always fight for you as President.
Expanding TRICARE Access. Hillary Clinton crossed the aisle to work with Senator Lindsey Graham to get access to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, for all National Guard members and Reservists, even when they are not deployed.
Supporting Service Members with TBI. Senator Clinton authored the Heroes at Home Act, which would establish a program to help families learn how to care for returning veterans with TBI, as well as require DoD to do pre- and post-deployment screenings.
Increasing Survivor Benefit. She worked with others in the Senate to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.
Extending FMLA Benefits. She helped pass the Support for Injured Servicemembers Act, which extends the benefits provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing the families of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave to care for their loved ones during the often lengthy rehabilitation process.
Improving TBI Screening and Care. She successfully included a provision in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to mandate that the Department of Defense implement a screening protocol for Traumatic Brain Injury within 180 days. In addition, in 2006, Senator Clinton authored provisions in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 that increased research into ways to improve TBI care for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That matters. It's not ending the illegal war, no. But Bambi's not ending it either. And all Bambi Obama offers is fluttery eyelids and pretty words. He has no depth. He has no solutions. He has some magical belief that he will wake up in the White House and everyone in Congress will want to work together.

What a FOOL.

Republicans in Congress, in the minority or majority, will see as their first act creating roadblocks. That will shock Bambi. It won't shock Hillary. She saw it over and over when Bill was president. Hillary is prepared to lead.

She knows what happens. Bambi doesn't have a clue. Maybe he was off somewhere finding himself when he should have been paying attention? Maybe the Tony Robbins seminars replaced a political education?

He doesn't have a clue and he isn't a leader.

Maybe he was off somewhere finding himself. Reminds me of Janis Joplin's rap in a song, I think "Cry Baby." Maybe we should change that to "Cry Bambi, cry, cry, cry, Cry Bambi."

One thing that really does impress me with Hillary is innovation. I don't know if it's because the campaigns are in their final stretches or because she's got experience and Obama's got 'dreams' (of his father, screw his mother apparently), but Hillary's proposing some really good stuff. She has a thing up about child poverty and this stood out to me:

A $1 Billion Child Opportunity Fund to Promote Innovative Solutions to Reducing Child Poverty. Across the country, communities and states are overcoming odds and finding innovative ways to reduce child poverty and strengthen families’ economic circumstances. Yet too often these programs remain isolated in one region or community because there is neither the capital nor the communication necessary to bring them to scale. To address this issue, Hillary will create a $1 billion Child Opportunity Fund, which will identify and invest in the most promising practices and apply rigorous evaluation approaches to ensure tangible results. The fund will be designed as a public-private partnership. The government will leverage federal dollars by soliciting contributions from private sources and requiring that states provide a match for projects supported through the Child Opportunity Fund. And the fund will be run based on social venture capital principles, challenging promising programs to go to scale and produce real results.

While Bully Boy was given tax payer monies to churches, we never saw any results did we? Hillary's proposal is about various groups (and I would assume it includes churchs) but notice what Hillary's saying, "Show me results and we'll get you the money." It's not Bully Boy's "Churches tell us how much you need and what program you're thinking about developing and we'll give you money." Hillary's is a practical plan that rewards those who prove they are helping. It's the sort of thinking we need to address the environment. And we need it to address a number of issues. So I was reading over the press release and thinking, "Pretty good." Then I got to that one and it just blew my mind.

If you want to know the difference between Republicans and Democrats, it's right there. They both tax and they both spend. But Democrats appear to be better at spending on the things that help the people while Republicans seem better at spending our tax dollars to help 'their kind.'

So those are my thoughts for tonight. To community memmbers in Texas, I know you are working so hard and I am so proud of you. I read C.I.'s column today in the gina & krista round-robin where C.I. was pulling from your e-mails and I know from reading that how at the start of this week a few of you were ready to go down in flames but how now you're seeing real evidence of change. I think C.I.'s point is correct that the breaking voters (whichever way they go) will decide Monday evening. And the examples were solid because I saw them when we were in Texas the week before last. When we were speaking to three different African-American church groups about the illegal war (thank you to Billie who lined those up), it was an older crowd then we are usually speaking to. During the discussions when people would bring up the candidates, C.I. and Ava would toss to me noting that they weren't comfortable turning the attention from Iraq to a political race because they've focused on Iraq and might have missed some developments but I've been following the political race. So it would be people following the race and myself talking and I heard it over and over. They're leaning one way but they aren't sure. They're avoiding early voting because they need more time. It will be the late breaking ones that will make this race, I think. And a special shout out to those of you in Tyler, Texas tomorrow morning rolling up your sleeves at ten in the morning and getting to work. I know you're all working as hard as Hillary and I am really proud of you. My eyes were watering when I was reading C.I.'s column today and by the end, I just had tears streaming down my face.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, February 29, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a priest is kidnapped in Mosul, the Turkish invasion of nothern Iraq apparently ends, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Courage to Resist interviews war resister Robin Long who is seeking safe harbor status in Canada. Long was stationed at Fort Knox and hearing stories from returning service members that didn't have a thing to do with democracy. "In the army you just want to fit in," Long explained noting how the US military uses collective punishment to discipline their own -- which is to create a shunning among the enlisted. Those returning from Iraq, "a lot of them were bragging about I guess you could say what was going on there," Long explained, and he was hearing and seeing things that weren't being covered in the media such as pictures of the first kill ("holding a head up" for the photo "and smiling with a peace sign," photos of an Iraqi run over by a jeep, etc.). After self-checking out of the military, he stayed in a friend's basement for two months and then went to Canada with two friends. At the border, Long was asked if he was AWOL ("which I found out later that they weren't allowed to do") and replied that he was on leave. About his decision, Long says he has no second thoughts. If he is deported would he be stopped at the US border and taken to jail? Long shared that war resister Brad McCall had a friend take his car back to the United States and when the car crossed the border into the US "they were holding him at gun point, the guy that was bringing his car back, thinking that he was the war resister. So that's a pretty good idea of what's going to happen to me if I try to cross the border. If I'm deported they're going to be waiting there."

War resisters who have moved to Canada were dealt a serious set-back when the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain 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. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored.

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, 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, 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).

Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC action:
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. Dee Knight (Workers World) notes, "IVAW wants as many people as possible to attend the event. It is planning to provide live broadcasting of the sessions for those who cannot hear the testimony firsthand. 'We have been inspired by the tremendous support the movement has shown us,' IVAW says. 'We believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members'." As part of their fundraising efforts for the event, they are holding houseparties and a recent one in Boston featured both IVAW's Liam Madden and the incomprable Howard Zinn as speakers. IVAW's co-chair Adam Kokesh will, of course, be participating and he explains why at his site, "But out of a strong sense of duty, some of us are trying to put our experiences to use for a good cause. Some of us couldn't live with ourselves if weren't doing everything we could to bring our brothers and sisters home as soon as possible. The environment may be unking, but that is why I will be testifying to shooting at civilians as a result of changing Rules of Engagement, abuse of detainees, and desecration of Iraqi bodies. It won't be easy but it must be done. Some of the stories are things that are difficult to admit that I was a part of, but if one more veteran realizes that they are not alone because of my testimony it will be worth it."

Aaron Glantz (at IPS) writes about the March action:

Iraq Veterans Against the War is calling the gathering "Winter Soldier," after a quote from the U.S. revolutionary Thomas Paine, who wrote in 1776: "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Organisers say video and photographic evidence will also be presented, and the testimony and panels will be broadcast live on Satellite TV and streaming video on Winter Soldier is modeled on a similar event held by Vietnam Veterans 37 years ago. In 1971, over 100 members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with fellow citizens. 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. "Initially even the My Lai massacre was denied," notes Gerald Nicosia, whose book "Home to War" provides the most exhaustive history of the Vietnam veterans' movement. "The U.S. military has traditionally denied these accusations based on the fact that 'this is a crazy soldier' or 'this is a malcontent' -- that you can't trust this person. And that is the reason that Vietnam Veterans Against the War did this unified presentation in Detriot in 1971." "They brought together their bona fides and wore their medals and showed it was more than one or two or three malcontents. It was medal-winning, honored soldiers -- veterans in a group verifying what each other said to try to convince people that these charges cannot be denied. That people are doing these things as a matter of policy." Early this morning, Gareth Jones and Paul de Bendern (Reuters) were reporting that Turkey's invasion has "wound down" at least in terms of "ground offensive". Tim Butcher (Telegraph of London) states, "Turkey has pulled out of northern Iraq after a week-long offensive against Kurdish rebels. The Turkish army claimed to have killed 240 Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) members with the loss of 27 of its own troops." Mark Bentley and Camilla Hall (Bloomberg News) note that this was Turkey's "biggest military incursion into the country in 11 years." Suna Erdem (Times of London) observes, "The announcement came a day after President Bush urged Turkey, its Nato ally, to end the incursion, but the military statement said the start and end dates had been set by general staff without any outside influence."

On the Turkish Embassy (in the US) website, bulletin points include, "This operation" -- the invasion of nothern Iraq -- "will be limited in size, scope and duration. Turkey has been among the staunchest advocates of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and national unity of Iraq. Turkish civilian and military authorities have been in contact with the relevant Iraqi and US authorities at highest levels prior to the operations." AFP reports that the Turkish military began returning to Turkey this morning while AGI states, "All the soldiers that had taken part in the attack on the Iraqi part of Kurdistan are back in Turkey." AFP also notes that the PKK states they killed 100 Turkish soldiers during the invasion, "downed a Turkish attack helicopter" and their death toll was 5. So was the "limited . . . duration" always supposed to translate as the invasion ending today? One caught by surprise is the Turkish Daily News which, in a Friday article, notes, "NATO allies Turkey and the United States failed to reach a consensus yesterday over a timetable for the withdrawal of Turkish troops" and quotes Yasar Buyukanit, Turkey's Chief of General Staff General, stating, "Short term is a relative notion. Sometimes it is a day, sometimes it is a year." Al Jazeera quotes their corespondent Mike Hanna, "The Turkish military insists that the decision was taken by the military alone but reports we're receiving from across the border in Turkey is that questions are being raised about the Turkish withdrawal coming so soon after what appeared to be mounting US pressure on the troops to pull out" and notes that a PKK spokesperson (Ahmed Davis) confirms that the Turkish military has withdrawn. [Sidebar, Naomi Klein's husband, journalist Avi Lewis, is hosting a weekly program on Al Jazeera entitled Frontline USA. Click here for a YouTube clip and here for another YouTube clip.] However, Mark Tran (Guardian of London) quotes unnamed US officials in Baghdad who caution that all Turkish troops may not be out of Iraq. Tran notes US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others note the comments of the Bully Boy of the United States but is anyone noting yesterday's approximately $6.2 billion four-year loan to Turkey from the World Bank?

Azad Aslan writes the Kurdish Globe's editorial which opens with, "Similar to previous incursions, the recent Turkish invasion into south Kurdistan has only one major goal: to diminish and belittle the sovereignty of Kurdistan Region." Hiba Dawood (whom many know from Free Speech Radio News but Dawood is also a UPI correspondent) notes another editorial from a Kurdish paper (Al Ahali) that was written "by Faisal Abdul Hassan, an Iraqi exile in Morocco, said the Iraqi central government had no efficient response to the assault except sending a 'bashful' demand to the Turkish government to withdraw from Kurdistan." At the White House today, Gordon Johndroe worded carefully regarding the end of the invasion when he told reporters, "We've seen those reports that are just coming out. I think there's one thing that remains clear, and that is the United States, Turkey and Iraq all will continue to view the PKK as a terrorist organization that needs to be dealt with. So we will continue to have cooperation with them on dealing with that organization." NPR offers an audio report via Ivan Watson on today's Morning Edition.

Yesterday's snapshot noted Turksih entertainer Bulent Ersoy who spoke out against the invasion and she was then the subject of criticism. Pelin Turgut (Time magazine) explains, "So pervasive is the nationalist climate that Ersoy has been vilified for declaring -- on a national TV equivalent of American Ido, where she is a judge -- that if she had a son, she would not have sent him to fight this war. She is now under investigation for being 'anti-military.' Ersoy is widely popular but the response to her declaration has been bellicose." Nicholas Birch (The Scotsman) offers the quote and news. The quote differs from Reuters' version yesterday only slightly, "I am not a mother, nor ever will be, but I would not bury my child for somebody else's war." At which point, Turkey's version of Dennis Miller (Erbu Gundes) exploded, "May God give me a son so that I can send him off to our glorious army" followed by a phrase trotted out for military funerals leading Ersoy to add, "Always the same cliched phrases. Children go, bitter tears, funerals . . . And afterwards, these cliched phrases." Birch reports, "An Istanbul prosecutor promptly opened an investigation into her for alienating the people from military service, a crime punishable by up to three years in jail." The Turkish Daily News explains the criminal sentence (if found guilty) is two years but it "could be increased by one-third because the crime was committed via public medium." They also add this to her quote, "These wars are not like ones in the past. It is all decided by people sitting at tables and deciding that some boys should die. I am not a mother so I cannot relate to a mother's pain when she hears her son has died. But I am a human being." Today's Zaman reports that she has the support of European Parliament member Cem Ozdemir who states, "Bulent Ersoy is voicing the pain felt by mothers, and she is also questioning the ongoing Iraqi occupation. . . . We hope that a period of suppression is not started in Turkey that will deal a heavy blow to freedom of thought."

Meanwhile, Amit R. Paley and Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) report that puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki was talking big in Baghdad and they observe: Maliki's confidence seems untethered to political reality. Predicting when his government will fall has become a parlor game in certain circles in Baghdad. And some of his pronouncements -- like one on Thursday that "sectarianism has been eliminated" -- have struck Iraqi and American officials as bordering on the delusional. Sectarian killings are still common and political reconciliation remains elusive, a fact underscored by the veto this week of a law calling for nationwide elections, one of the few major pieces of legislation approved by parliament." They go on to quote "a senior U.S. official in Baghdad" who states basically, to replace the puppet at this time would mean even more "stagnation." The puppet as metaphor for the illegal war.

Noting al-Maliki's "unity" speech, Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) observes that violence continues in Iraq and that, "One of our Shiite Iraqi staffers asked if Maliki would go to Adil, a restive Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad where Sunni insurgents still operate and Shiites know they are not welcome. Maybe he can check out Hurriyah where Sunni residents have not returned. They were run out of the neighborhood in 2006 and some men were burned alive. Maybe he can ask the more than 88,000 mostly Sunni contractors that work with the U.S. to fight Al Qaida how they feel about the reconciliation effort. Many of them are former insurgents, very few have been absorbed into the government. People complain now that many act as warlords, in each neighborhood the law is in their hands."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that left two people wounded, a Diyala Province home bombing that went off during the midst of an Iraq military raid claiming the life of 1 corpse and a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 2 lives.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Judge Abid Jassim and attorney Ahmed Al-Luizi were shot dead in Mosul.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that the archbishop of the Cahtholic Church in Mosul was kidnapped and 3 "of his companisons" were killed. The BBC explains, "Archbisop Paulos Faraj Rahho was seized as he left a church in the eastern al-Nour district, it added. . . . Most of Iraq's estimated 700,000 Christians are Chaldeans -- Catholics who are autonomous from Rome but recognise the Pope's authority." Catholic World News states, "Bishop Paulos Faraj Raho was seized by terrorists who attacked his car as he left the Holy Spirit cathedral in Mosul after leading the Stations of the Cross on Friday, February 29. Three companions who had been in the car with him were killed." AP reports that Pope Benedict XVI has issued an appeal for "reason and humanity".


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad, Sameea Sofi's corpse was discovered outside of Kirkuk, General Mudhir Hadi Salih and General Amir Muhammad Al-Jibouri's corpses were discovered in Diyala province (blindfolded, shot to death) and the corpse of Ahmed Khalaf was discovered in Kirkuk (he was a local council member in Hawija).

Turning to US politics. "What I learned being in and out as you correctly point out is that there are a lot of people who have a lot of questions about the government and they don't exactly know where to turn to for answers because the corporate media don't tell the people the truth," so explains Cynthia McKinney to Kimberly Wilder (On The Wilder Side) in a video produced by Terry Morrone (a typo yesterday, it is "Terry Morrone"). Cynthia McKinney is running for the Green Party presidential nomination. In a wide ranging interview, former US Congress women McKinney explains why she became a member of the Green Party:

The Democrats are the ones who failed to repeal the Patriot Act, the Democrats are the ones who continue to fund the war. The Democrats are the ones who say that the Bush tax cuts are alright even though they railed against them when they were in the minority. Now that they are in the majority and they could do something about it they fail to do it. And so I decided on my birthday that I would declare my independence from the Democratic Party. And I would declare my independence from any national leadership that was complicit in war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and all of the rest of it. I reject and I'm happy to have joined with other people in the Green Party who reject that as well.

And in terms of rejection, some Greens are less than pleased with Ralph Nader who announced his campaign for president on NBC's Meet The Press Sunday. The Green Party notes: "Green Party leaders expressed their disappointment in Ralph Nader's decision, announced on Thursday, not to seek the 2008 Green presidential nomination." They quote the party's co-chair Phil Huckelberry declaring, "A lot of Greens have supported Mr. Nader and wanted him to win the party's nomination. There has been an active effort by many Green leaders to 'draft' Mr. Nader as a Green candidate, and his success in recent Green primaries demonstrates that he remains a very popular figure within the Green Party. There is widespread disappointment among Greens that he chose to go a different route." Here's a tip, one that Jess (rightly) pointed out two Sundays ago -- no party holds primaries with a place-holders. That is ridiculous. If you can't declare you are running by a party's primary, you get no votes. You get no one holding your place. As Jess noted two Sundays ago, that needs to change immediately so that it never happens again. There's a chance of a roundtable at Third this Sunday to address this topic.

Ralph Nader's presidential website is up and running (and allowing comments). Among the topics written of thus far are impeachment and Palestinians. He has selected a running mate, Matt Gonzalez. Gonzalez is already doing what vice presidential candidates are supposed to do: hitting hard. Writing at CounterPunch, he takes on the myth of "anti-war" Barack Obama noting that, "I'm afraid to say I'm not just uninspired: I'm downright fearful. . . . First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, 'There's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute.' The Tribune went on to say that Obama "now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.' Obama's campaign says he was referring to the ongoing occupation and how best to stabilize the region. But why wouldn't he have taken the opportunity to urge withdrawal if he truly opposed the war? Was he trying to signal to conservative voters that he would subjugate his anti-war position if elected to the US Senate and perhaps support a lengthy occupation? Well, as it turns out, he's done just that." The myth of "anti-war" Barack Obama was addressed here last night so we'll instead focus on Hillary Clinton.

Hillary is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. The following statement is from Senator Clinton's office, not her campaign:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that she has cosponsored legislation to ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq.
"From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command," said Senator Clinton.The legislation requires that all personnel at any U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq be provided security services only by Federal Government Personnel. It also includes a whistleblower clause to protect contract personnel who uncover contract violations, criminal actions, or human rights abuses.

As KeShawn pointed out in an e-mail today, Hillary Clinton's endorsements do not get noted on Democracy Now! -- though Goodman can repeat in headlines (two days in a row this week) the same endorsement of Barack -- among her recent endorsers is Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. He joins a lengthy list of retired military and defense officials who have endorsed her (active military cannot make endorsements) and you can read about that at her campaign site. Hillary was in Waco, Texas today and among the issues she addressed was reducing the strain on US service members so that they will be deployed for 12 months and not the 15 month tours that have become the norm. Bully Boy could stop that now. He could have stopped it before it began. As noted yesterday, US House Rep Patrick Murphy asked General George Casey if Congress needed to pass legislation to get the tour of duty down to 12 months and keep it there but Casey felt it would 'tie up' the military's hands. Today in Waco, Hillary pledged that any US service member serving a 12 month tour of overseas "will have at least 12 months at home." She also addressed the issue of veterans' care and the need for a new GI Bill of Rights. Meanwhile, her opponet Barack Obama's homophobia is the subject of Susan UnPC's recent post (No Quarter) which notes Bambi's heebie-jeebies when he came to the Bay Area. Don't worry, Laura Flanders grants him absolution or at least provides silence from her perch as "out lesbian" for Bambi. Meanwhile Taylor Marsh ( notes that the Canadian government was warned by Bambi's campaign prior to Tuesday's debate not to pay attention to Bambi's NAFTA remarks, they were just words. She covers it here as well and offers a video.

From video to radio. WBAI's pledge drive is ending and Sunday The Nex Hour offers "Post-Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew host." That's at 11:00 am to noon EST Sunday on NYC airwaves and streaming on WBAI while Monday they offer Cat Radio Cafe from 2:00 to 3:00 pm EST: "Poet Marie Howe reads from her new collection, "The Kingdom of Ordinary Time"; actor/playwright Brian Dykstra on his new one-man show on religion, "The Jesus Factor"; and actor Paul Hecht and musician Lisa Terry on "Parthenia, a Consort of Viols, Presents Hot Off the Press Concert of New Music and Poetry." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer."

aaron glantz