Friday, June 20, 2008


First, I'm quoting from Kevin Zeese's e-mail: "Voters for Peace ( did a little update yesterday on militarist money in politics (since Obama reversed course on campaign finance)."

I wouldn't mind quoting the rest but I think it was a private e-mail. But there's a link to Kevin's organization and they did an article on militarist money.

I'm going to get back to politics and Iraq (hopefully) but let me back this up for Zeese and anyone who is new to this site.

When The Common Ills started, I found it via C.I.'s use of lyrics. I thought, "Whoever this is, great taste in music!"

We exchanged multiple e-mails. About Iraq and about music. C.I. was urging me to share my thoughts about music. My attitude was, "I did that in college and right after." (And got to cover the Stones on tour once. My highwater mark.) But I started seeing what other members were highlighting (and saying when there were comments) and thought, "Okay, maybe I should weigh in." So December 19th, the first album review I'd done in years went up "Kat's Korner Green Day v. the Disney Kids." If you've ever written music reviews for any publication, you know the hassles. You know that someone wants to edit your opinion. That was one of my fears, to be honest. C.I. said the only rule was "worksafe" because that's what the site was. So I'd have to keep it clean or use dashes or stars for curse words. (Although C.I. broke the rule when I reviewed Nina Simone and said, "Kat's it's the title of the song, it's a classic. It has to go in without dashes or stars.") I felt I'd do one review a month. But we'd met by then (when C.I. found out I lived in the Bay Area, C.I. wrote back, "How do I not already know you?") and I knew C.I. was going to DC to protest Bully Boy's coronation so I did some music pieces during that to fill in (and C.I. did 'live' pieces each morning and had canned pieces written ahead of time for the evenings). But after that, it was just the album reviews and the year-end pieces.

That's all I signed up for and if I don't get a review before the end of the month, I'm not keeping my end of the bargain with the community.

At some point, community members were starting sites. I thought I could do something to help out. So I started this and I did two or three nights a week. Cedric used to do Tuesday and Thursday post. We used to joke that we were the supporting characters on a soap opera -- because they usually get their big scenes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then the snapshot started. The community wanted that and I knew how much work went into those. So I started blogging each day there was a snapshot and have maintained that. (I also had Ruth, C.I., Mike, Betty and Cedric -- possibly Wally -- filling in for me when I was in Ireland in 2006. Thank you again.)

But I'm not a heavy lifting site. My attitude has always been "It is what it is."

I'm not as vocal as Rebecca but she and I are probably most similar in our blogs in that regard. We're not afraid to say, "Okay, that pisses me off!" Rebecca does way more work than I do at her site. (And she was the first site to start after The Common Ills so she knows what she's doing. High schoolers love Rebecca. And that's not an insult but middle and high school students have always been attracted to her site.) I don't bust my ass. I may write about music. I may write about something in the news.

I may write about something I saw on the road. I may write about my neighbors.

At The Third Estate Sunday Reivew . . . I've been helping out there forever. Before I had my own site. And the editions take forever. That's always been the way. But at one point to try to get a quick feature, Dona proposed the text equivalent of an hour long news cast "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review." It was thought that it could be done in 15 minutes plus one hour. That is very quick for a piece at Third. So Dona and Jim were the 'producers' and they would divide up topics or ask if you had a topic. Then you'd be online trying to find whatever you could. Jess did the peace beat and he always had his done fairly quickly, so he'd go first. While he was going, everyone was still working and the next up would go up, etc. And that all took -- with Dona timing it -- one hour. C.I. was anchor (and didn't want to be) because we needed someone well versed in a variety of topics who could ask questions and stretch when the next person wasn't ready. Betty generally grabed politics and entertainment (the intersection) and I always grabbed music. I went last. I was happy to go last. If Dona told me before it was my turn that I had five minutes, fine. If she told me time had run out and there was only time for a minute, fine. (And they would help you cut down your report before you gave it -- Jim and Dona would.)

If you look at the roundtables we do there today, I don't generally speak that much. If I speak, I'm speaking about something that's really ticked me off more often than not. In a non-transcript piece, I pitch in more than I do in roundtables. But I'm not really interested in my opinion. I know it. I'm more interested in what others are saying.

So, point, I do this blog and am always shocked when e-mails from community members come in. I don't do anything wonderful or great here. If I've strung together a few paragraphs that's allowed me to include the day's snapshot, I'm thrilled. That's a success for me. I've added something (maybe minor) and amplified the snapshot's reach so helped keep the focus on Iraq.

So if you're coming here expecting deep thoughts and never finding them, it's not you. That's not what this site is.

I hope that clears it up.

Were it up to me, I'd be writing about music every day. But sometimes I'll encounter someone on the road or something that interests me that day.

And I'm always going in the e-mails (as Kevin Zeese should know) trying to find a topic as I rush to pull something together.

An e-mail from Joan (community member who LOVES music) asked what we'd taken on the road this week. Mary J. is a favorite of C.I.'s so we always have Mary. We may have all of her discs this week. We also have Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk, Agustana's new CD (which I will be reviewing by the July 4th weekend if not before), the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and Carly's Hello Big Man.

Kevin Zeese, if you send a link to the article, I'll provide it here. I can't promise I'll read it right away. And that can apply to any articles you want links given to. But please know that a TON of e-mails come in every day. Eli, Martha, Shirley, Heather, Dona, Jim, Jess, Ava and C.I. work the public account. If e-mails to the private accounts (members only) back up, C.I. will ask everyone to focus on the members only. So it may be a day or two before I see it. Also true is Vets for 'Freedom' are attacking Matthis Chiroux in e-mail after e-mail. C.I. outed one of them this morning (see the sidebar on The Common Ills, you're not protected if you tick C.I. off or threaten -- or both). (And I have no policy like C.I.'s.) It's a rare day where there are not multiple e-mails from Centcom trying to argue something C.I. wrote or trying to get ahead of a story that is breaking.

There are people wanting highlights. One came up in this afternoon and C.I. said, "Too late." And it was, C.I. was dictating the snapshot and did not have time to figure out how to promote a weekend program. People write in wanting their books plugged, or their appearances on a book tour or speaking tour, or their films. It's not just a few e-mails every day. When Barbara Boxer stood up for voting rights in January of 2005, the e-mails coming in surpassed 500 in one day. That seemed HUGE. These days, forget it. The public account right now 24,369 new e-mails and 610 in the spam folder. That's after it's been worked all day. It is never at zero. Some of that will be junk mail. Some in the spam folder will be real e-mail. It never ends.

How it works for Ruth and myself is that we have folders with our names and our e-mails go into our folders. If you include our names in the title, they go in without anyone else reading it. C.I. has a folder as well. "MUST READ" is the title. Anyone other than C.I. working the e-mails that finds something they feel C.I. has to see (Martha and Shirley give a daily summary of the e-mails they read, Eli and Heather pass on anything they think is important -- if Jim, Ava, Jess or Dona read it and think that ends it, they delete it) puts it in "MUST READ." People never grasp how much time C.I. has to spend on the e-mails. If that weren't the case, it would be much easier. And I'm just talking about the public account. I'm not talking about the two accounts members are supposed to write to. (Supposed to. And that's why C.I. repeatedly will request members use the private addresses. You'll be read quicker.)

I used to post my e-mail (hotmail) and I stopped doing that after a man tried to intimidate me into posting something he wrote but to post it as my own. That was insulting and the entire exchange over that was insulting. He went on to alter my words (posted here) at his own site (online magazine). I didn't write him screaming, "How dare you!" I figure if someone has such little ethics that they'll alter your words (while putting it in quotes), I don't really need to waste my time on him. After that, I just wanted a barrier between myself and people like that. So the public account is how non-members can contact me. (And if you're a community member, you know that I have shortened that story.)

So for me, I put about enough time to type whatever makes it up here and time to dig through my e-mails. I rarely reply to even community members. I don't have the time. I'm not C.I. who will spend hours replying to members. I need my sleep. C.I. can and often does make it a full week on three hours of sleep a night. And then will be up all night Saturday working on Third only to then have to do The Common Ills on Sundays. It never ends for C.I. My focus is on speaking out against the war offline and here I'm just tossing out whatever I toss out.

Hope that clears it up. Watch this:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
and Wally of The Daily Jot

I mentioned the above in this post. I do that all the time to save time, just copy and paste from Third. I didn't mention Betty but C.I. and I are about to be on the phone with her. She usually tries out her chapters on us but I think she's thinking of doing another post out of character. If so, she plans to return to Betinna's story but she was talking earlier this week about how an update was needed to last week. (Betinna is the story of globalization, which is how she ended up with Thomas Friedman.)

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

Friday, June 20, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, today is World Refugee Day, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Matthew Chiroux was the subject of a broadcast CBS 23 News (WIFR, link has text and video) last night:

Mike Garrigan: 24-year-old Matthis Chiroux says he will not deploy to Iraq. The young soldier was asked to report to duty June 15th but he refuses, calling the war in Iraq and illegal war. Chiroux has been in the US army for five years and has completed a tour of Afghanistan; however, he says he has no intentions of returning.

Matthis Chiroux: My decision was entirely based on my desire to no longer continue to violate my core values to support an illegal and unconstitutional occupation.

NBC's WAFF 48 also reported on Matthis last night (link has text and video):

Kimberly Essex: An army Sergeant is refusing to deploy from Iraq and his family is dealing with his decision to do so. WAFF 48 reporter Eric Sollman joins us now and, Eric, you spoke with the soldier's father.

Eric Sollman: Yes, Kim, and being a military man himself, Robert Chiroux, he has mixed -- mixed reactions to the whole ordeal. His son Matthis, a military photo journalist, is one of thousands of military ready reserve troops recalled to combat and now, according to army officials, he's one of about 700 called from this group that have failed to report in the last seven years. Last time Matthis Chiroux made local news was when [clip from December 2004 shown] was four years ago. The story involved his girlfriend at the time and a car break-in. Now this US army Sergeant is making national headlines for refusing to redeploy to Iraq. He's not hiding his protest and his family isn't dodging questions either.

Robert Chiroux: My son made the decision not to report. He feels that the war in Iraq is unconstitutional and unjust.

Eric Sollman: His father Robert is a navy veteran who lives in Huntsville [Alabama]. He said his son was to report to Fort Jackson Sunday for reactivation from the Individual Ready Reserve. Matthis refused.

Robert Chiroux: My son has certainly indicated that if he had been called back from the Inactive Ready Reserve to active duty to serve in Afghanistan, he would not have hesitated to go. So I know that my son -- inspite of things that I have heard said of him -- he's certainly not a coward. He just has decided that he feels this war is illegal and he's taking a stand.

Eric Sollman: While Robert doesn't necessarily agree with his son's stand, he stands by him.

Robert Chiroux: My son asked me to come to Washington [DC] to be with him on Father's Day. I had some reservations about standing behind my son while he made his statement but he's my son and, of course, I love him and I'm going to stand with him.

Eric Sollman: And Robert says he would gladly take his son's place and serve if he could and, Kim, of course there were a lot of issues that we talked about that we couldn't fit into the story so we put
his interview in its entirity on our website at

Kimberly Essex: Well your heart just goes out to this father because he really is in a tough position. He wants to support his son but it doesn't coincide with maybe what he really believes.

Eric Sollman: And he says it's something that only a parent could understand.

Brett Haas notes, "The 24-year-old is in Washington lining up support from like-minded members of Congress." AFP explains, "Chiroux served five years in the army, with tours in Afghanistan, Japan, Germany and the Philippines."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Today is World Refugee Day. The
United Nations' IRIN notes that "Iraqi experts have been urging the government and international community to do more to help the large number of Iraqi refugees in the Middle East" and quote Iraqi Parliamentarian Abdul-Khaliq Zankana stating, "Day after day Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries are getting more frustrated by the harsh conditions in which they live. Sooner or later they are going to have a negative impact on the stability of the whole region." Amnesty International has released Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (here for HTML and here for PDF) this week. Picking up with obligations: "Under international law a duty exists to not send or force a person to return to a situation where they would be at risk of serious human rights abuses. This principle attaches to all states as a principle of customary international law, as well as to state parties to the ICCPR, Convention against Torture and Refugee Convention and Protocol." But as the report points out the resposibility isn't just to host countries, the international community has an obligation to provide assistance as well.

The report repeatedly stresses that refugees cannot be returned to Iraq because the country is not stable. On Northern Iraq, they note: "There have been acts of political violence between Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds and against members of the Yazidi religious minority in several areas along the border between Kurdistan and Nineweh (Mosul) governorate. Tension and insecurity also increased when attacks by a Turkey-based armed group, the Kurdistand Workers Party (PKK), against Turkish troops stationed near the border with Iraq were followed in October 2007 by Turkish military operations against PKK bases in northern Iraq." When even the highly touted 'safe' region of Iraq is not safe, there's no 'safe' area. Despite that reality, many countries are attempting to send Iraqi refugees back to Iraq.

Norway was attempting to do that but, the report notes, it appears to have stopped. Other countries continue attempting deportation. Among the offenders are Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, Greece and the Netherlands.

"Instead of avoiding the reality," the report notes, "the international community should be confronting a medium- to long-term displacement crisis, in view of the likelihood that Iraqi refugees will need sancturay for years to come. Recognition of the on-going nature of the crisis must be grasped now if the suffering of the millions of displaced Iraqis is to be ameliorated. Host nations need to be provided with on-going assistance and support from the international community through increased and sustained funding."

US senators Hillary Clinton and Ben Cardin and House Representatives Alcee Hastings and John Dingell sent a letter to the White House today on the refugee issue (Barack Obama refused to sign on). Here's the letter sent to the White House:

As you know, the Iraq War and subsequent ethnic and sectarian conflict has caused the displacement of millions of Iraqis. While we have great concerns about the United States response to this humanitarian crisis, we write to you about a specific population of especially vulnerable Iraqis: those who have worked for our government and American organizations in Iraq and whose lives have been placed in grave danger because of that service. Recent statistics and reports have indicated that the current system of identifying and resettling our Iraqi allies has structural complications and procedural inefficiencies. Since March 2003, the United States has admitted fewer than 8,000 Iraqi refugees in total. Your Administration's goal of admitting 12,000 Iraqi refugees during this fiscal year seems an unlikely goal, given that less than 6,000 have been resettled to date. At a recent Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) briefing, one panelist, an attorney providing pro bono legal services to help resettle Iraqi refugees noted, "unresponsiveness and protracted delays in interviews and processing have themselves contributed to…individual emergencies…The cost in human lives and suffering due to institutional breakdowns in such aberrational instances speaks to the pressing need to ensure that our system is better equipped to respond to these challenges." The role our own government has played in prolonging the suffering of our courageous Iraqi allies who risked their lives to assist our country is troubling and simply unacceptable. To better understand why the Administration continues to delay processing our Iraqi allies for resettlement, we respectfully request that you provide us with the necessary information in response to the following: • While we are pleased that the United States has opened a processing center in Baghdad to assist Iraqis at risk in applying for resettlement to the United States, we remain concerned by reports that the office lacks the necessary personnel and resources at this time to quickly and efficiently process those Iraqis who are in imminent danger. It is most troubling that only Iraqis with sufficient connections to enter the Green Zone are able to receive help. What is the Administration's immediate and long-term strategy to improve and increase the efficiency of the current processing system? • At the Baghdad center, in particular, significant problems inhibit expeditious and efficient processing of our Iraqi allies. For example, logistical and security issues prevent access to the Green Zone for many applicants and contribute to complications with assisting applicants with medical conditions. In light of the inherent difficulties of in-country processing, what is the current status of a proposal by State Department officials to allow the Department of Defense to airlift Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants for expedited processing to a central processing center at the United States Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait? As you know, this past April, England's Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered an airlift of British-affiliated Iraqis to a military airfield in Oxfordshire, England in order to expeditiously and safely process them there. Denmark also evacuated and resettled 370 Iraqi interpreters and other Iraqis who worked for Danish troops prior to the Danish contingent's departure from Iraq last year. We strongly urge your consideration of a proposal similar to those that are now being successfully implemented by our Coalition partners. • The appointment of Ambassador James Foley at the State Department and Lori Scialabba at the Department of Homeland Security as senior coordinators within those agencies with respect to Iraqi refugee issues was an important and useful step. However, it appears as if there are still problems with respect to interagency cooperation. One particular problem that has been identified is that FBI background checks, even for those Iraqis who have been working directly with the United States military in Iraq, are subject to inordinately lengthy delays. To address this ongoing issue, we strongly urge you to appoint a Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues in the White House. • When will the Department of Homeland Security issue its policy directive to implement the provisions of Sections 1241-1249 of Public Law 110-181, the "Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act," for which it is responsible? • What is your Administration's policy regarding medical parole for those Iraqis whose cases are of high priority due to serious medical conditions? Our government has a moral responsibility to provide aid and protection to those courageous Iraqi allies who have risked their lives and the lives of their families to assist American efforts to build a democratic and stable Iraq. We are deeply concerned that, to date, you have not acknowledged their sacrifice or effectively marshaled the assets of our government to help them. We urge you to speak out about the service of our brave Iraqi allies and direct the appropriate agencies in your Administration to take immediate steps to provide them with the attention and resources they desperately need and deserve. Each day, more Iraqi allies face increased danger or even murder for their service to the United States. To ensure that more do not suffer because they chose to help us, a prompt response to these concerns is appreciated and we believe appropriate. Sincerely,
Alcee L. Hastings, M.C.
Benjamin L. Cardin, U.S.S.
John D. Dingell, M.C.
Russell D. Feingold, U.S.S.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S.S.
Robert P. Casey, Jr., U.S.S.
John W. Olver, M.C.
Janice D. Schakowsky, M.C.
G.K. Butterfield, M.C.
James P. McGovern, M.C.
Timothy H. Bishop, M.C.
Joseph Crowley, M.C.
Diane E. Watson, M.C.
Earl Blumenauer, M.C.
Peter Welch, M.C.
Hilda L. Solis, M.C.
Ike Skelton, M.C.

Repeating, Barack elected not to sign. Consider it another skipped vote -- or, dropping back to the Illinois state legislature, a "present" one.
William C. Mann (AP) observes, "A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality, a survey of the world's refugees reported Thursday." The organization is US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and they also rank the ten worst countries. For Iraq, they note: "Shia militias in Iraq have particularly singled out Palestinians for retribution since the fall of the Hussein regime in 2003. From 2004 to 2007 more than 85,000 Palestinians fled targeted violence, leaving only 15,000 in Iraq. Gunmen in Ministry of the Interior uniforms have killed Palestinians, firing on UN buildings in the process. Insurgents have tortured Palestinians to death and fired mortars into Palestinian neighborhoods." IRIN notes the UNHCR's findings that 50% of the 50,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon are children. Citing the International Organization for Migration, Kim Gamel (AP) explains, "But women and children who have been forced to flee their homes are particularly vulnerable because the men in the family have often been killed or abandoned them in a conservative Islamic society that generally doesn't value women in the workplace." Adnkronos International notes the Spanish Commission of Refugee AID (CEAR) which found that "All 1600 refugees who sought asylum in Spain in 2007 were rejected by the government."

On refugees, the
Times of London's Deborah Haynes won an award from Amnesty Interntaional for her coverage of Iraqi collaborators who face obstacles to safe harbor from the United Kingdom. Haynes wrote multiple articles on the topic. As noted before, we're not concerned with the plight of the collaborators. They have their champions -- such as Haynes.

Meanwhile, the invasion of Amara continues with Iraqi troops and US troops taking part in the 'crackdown.'
Hannah Allam and Ali al Basri (McClatchy Newspapers) quote Faiq Hanoun declaring yesterday, "The city is quiet even though the operation has started, and I haven't heard a gun-shot or the sound of a plane. Life is going on in the normal fashion. Markets are open and movement in and out of the city hasn't stopped." Ernesto London and Aahad Ali (Washington Post) note the arrest of the vice governor which "angered followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr . . . Sadrist leaders in Maysan have vowed to cooperate with Iraqi troops but have suggested that the government is trying to expand its presence in Sadr strongholds to weaken the movement politically before provincial elections scheduled for the fall." Alissa J. Rubin and Suadad Salhy (New York Times) discover, "There were reports of rough treatment and especially of arrests of eminent followers of Mr. Sadr. It was unclear whether the units making the arrests had warrants, as required under Iraqi law. If so, Mr. Sadr's followers said they would not protest the detentions. However, Mr. Sadr's supporters protested at least two cases in which Iraqi troops seized family members of wanted figures when they could not find the person they were seeking. Iraqi military leaders responded that they had arrested only one relative of a wanted man. The American military has used similar tactics, drawing criticism from Iraqis in and out of the government." ANTARA NEWS and AFP explain that today saw the arrests of five more aides to al-Sadr. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) quotes Adnan al-Selawi ("head of the Sadr movement's office in Amara) stating that "we found many breaches and violations" in the 'security sweep.'

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing that claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded, a Nineveh roadside bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers wounded, a Mosul car bombing left six police officers wounded and, dropping back to yesterday, Diyala Province home bombings left one person wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse was discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Iskandariya.

Meanwhile, in the US,
Robert O'Harrow Jr. (Washington Post) reveals that the Democrats have set up a panel to investigate the contracts 'awarded' throughout the illegal war. The press release at US Senator Jim Webb's online office notes, "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have named a co-chair and three additional commissioners to the Commission on Wartime Contracting. Established as the result of legislation introduced by Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last spring and signed into law January 28, 2008, the Commission is charged with addressing the systemic problems associated with the federal government's wartime-support, reconstruction, and private security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Today the
US military announced: "One Soldier was killed and five wounded in three roadside bomb attacks on Coalition force patrols in Diyala province June 20. All casualties were evacuated to a Coalition hospital."

Turning to US politics, Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing [see Wally's "
THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," Cedric's "Extreme DNC Makeover!," Mike's "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," Ruth's "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," Kat's "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese" and Rebecca's "the liar barack" and yesterday's snapshot] leads the New York Times to editorialize "Public Funding on the Ropes" and Team Nader notes:
Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people.
Full stop.
End of story.
Contrast that with Senator Obama.
The old Obama said that he thought NAFTA was a "big mistake."
The new Obama
isn't so sure.
The old Obama said he would abide by public spending limits in this election.
The new Obama he says
he won't.
The old Obama said he was for a change in foreign policy and surrounded himself with innovative thinkers with a chance to make a difference.
The new Obama has surrounded himself with veterans of the military industrial complex
status quo.
The old Obama talked economic populism.
The new Obama talks corporate-speak and surrounds himself with economists from the
Chicago School.
You know where Nader and Gonzalez stand on corporate power.
And that
isn't changing.
We're at six percent nationwide in the most recent
CNN poll.
We're going to be on ten state ballots by the end of June.
And we're shooting for 40 by the end of the summer.
Together, we are moving forward.
And together, we will make a difference in November.

Non-Iraq related, independent journalist
David Bacon continues to explore the issue of immigration. And his latest is "HOW DO YOU SAY JUSTICE IN MIXTECO?" (TruthOut). NOW on PBS (airs tonight in most markets) asks: "Will a booming worldwide middle class drive up consumer costs?" PBS' Washington Week will include AP's Charles Babington, Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus and CNBC and the New York Times' John Harwood.
and already

iraqmatthis chiroux
mcclatchy newspapershannah allemali al basrithe washington posternesto londonoaahad alidavid baconalissa j. rubinthe new york times
washington weekpbscharles babingtondoyle mcmanusnow on pbs

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese

The Democratic presidential nominee-apparent seldom speaks directly to Black people, but when he does it is usually to denounce individuals once close to him or to criticize The Race in general for some moral failing. Thus it was no surprise that Barack Obama used the occasion of Father's Day to give Black males the back of his hand, no doubt to the delight of millions of potential white supporters. Black males have "abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men," said Obama, citing statistics on female-headed households. "You and I know how true this is in the African-American community."

Even the New York Times could see through Obama's transparent bid for white approval at Black people's expense. Reporter Julie Bosman noted that Obama "laid out his case in stark terms that would be difficult for a white candidate to make" - terms (such as boy?) that "his campaign hopes [will] resonate among white social conservatives in a race where these voters may be up for grabs."
In effect, Obama is following an established American electoral tradition of running against Black people.

That's from Glen Ford's "Obama Insults Half a Race" (Black Agenda Report) and, to no surprise, Barack's doing what so many Republicans who supported him wanted: trashing African-Americans. No one should be surprised by this. Why would Barack hesitate to throw African-Americans under the bus? He's not Black, he's bi-racial. His mother was White and his father was Black. He's traversed two worlds and told himself he could master both. Betty's right, it is like the subplot of Imitation of Life. Read the rountable in the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow. We just got done doing it and Betty's on fire. There is no one Barack will not throw under the bus.

He scored some points with his White Republican base (that will not be voting Democratic elsewhere on the ballot) by calling out African-American fathers. And did you hear him say a word about the prison rates? Did you hear him call that out? No. Did you hear him call out the employment rate? No.

Jobs, stiffer sentences, any factor that might apply is of no use to Barack. Society does not exist, nor do its ways. It's all a personal responsibility with Barack and, if that sounds familiar, you should remember it's the Republican way. That's only surprising if you missed Ford and Bruce Dixon reporting on how Barack was DLC and lied about it.

My fan Kevin Zeese wrote me again and seems to think I'm just sitting around on my ass all day. I guess you don't like to picture your heroes working up a sweat.

Kevin, I'm on the road speaking out against the illegal war. Last Saturday when we got back home, I immediately took one portrait after another (thank you to Dona who scheduled them for me) because I don't even have time to work these days. The bills don't stop just because I'm on the road. (Thanks to Ty who is dispensing the photos I developed Sunday.)

Kevin, I'm sure you're very busy but so am I.

I've also already demonstrated the problem you think I need to prove and don't have time (and don't want the frustration) to re-read that bad article again. I said it was the construct.

That shouldn't be shocking.

And I would assume that with Barack's interview to CNN revealing he had no plan for Iraq and wasn't intending to enter the White House with any plan, I would assume you could be working on that. Or maybe you could work on what a slap in the face to the left it is that he has abandoned public financing?

We've heard non-stop whining for years about how money influences elections. And now Barack's gone back on his word (no surprise). But, watch Kevin, the same people who usually call it out will act like this is terrific.

Barack is the spoiled brat and our 'watchdogs' on the left are the parents who spoil and baby him.

Or are we supposed to ignore the work of real independent journalists like John Pilger on exactly where Barack's money comes from? It's not those five dollar key chains that's brought in all the dough. It's the money from special interests.

Repeating, Ralph Nader is the only choice if you care about ending the illegal war. In the talks we do, C.I. generally grabs a topic in the news as well as war resisters and Ava generally grabs activism. I do politics and I am getting the word out on Ralph as best I can. I really don't think articles that read "John McCain drowns puppies. Barack is exactly the same on policies but he does have a base that if . . ." help Nader's campaign. Nor do they help the truth.

Want to end the illegal war? Start telling the truth. Barack's minor fan base (all of whom have not voted and all of whom will not voted -- a lesson Ted Kennedy learned after Mass.) isn't getting into the White House and whether they will ever hold their heart throb accountable if he does depends upon the information they have. Equally true is that as long as he's given passes (for his 'movement'!), he's not going to feel any pressure to offer a plan to end the illegal war.

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

Thursday, June 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Matthis Chiroux gets attention from Big Media, Barack finds a new left belief to sell out, and more.

Starting with war resistance. Matthis Chiroux announced
May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq. Chiroux had served in the army and been honorably discharged. Then came the 'recall.' The day he was due to report was June 15th and he did not deploy and explained why in a public statement. Ben Evans (AP) covers Chiroux story today and gives the backstory of being raised in Auburn, Alabama, getting his diploma from Auburn High School, signing up with the army. Evans reports that the military has not yet contacted Chiroux for refusing to deploy and he quotes Chiroux explaining, "I have just come to the point where I have the strength to stand for what I know is right. I feel like it's my responsibility as a soldier and keeping with the higher values of this nation to oppose this . . . I'm not going anywhere. They know where to find me."

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The refugee crisis. Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, co-host Aimee Allison spoke with Sarnata Reynolds of Amnesty International and Joshua van Praag (director of Iraqis In Egypt) about the Iraqis who have been internally and externally displaced as a result of the illegal war. "Most Iraqis are in an urban setting," Reynolds explained of external refugees. "They've actually gone into communities and gone into cities" making it more difficult for relief to be provided from one central location.

Aimee Allison: Is there any historical precedent for this number of people being moved around and what did history teach us about what can be done, what should be done in order to deal with this crisis?

Sarnata Reynolds: The scale of this crisis, as Joshua's pointed out too, it's incredible significant historically. We have seen other huge refugee crisis emerge -- or displacement crisis. Afghanistan actually -- right now -- another country where the US has involvement, has a huge displacement crisis. The difference with this one though is that the amount of people who have left and are really struggling with nothing -- either inside Iraq or outside Iraq and the failure of the international community to respond really at all. Or the primary response of apathy which is really just basically they don't care is shameful. And so what we know from the past and what we know right now is that refugee crisis require international responsiblity and that they require the sharing of the responsiblity.

Aimee Allison: I mean, what's going to happen long term if the international community -- all the countries in that region as well as the United States don't step up with some solutions, some money, to help these people?

Sarnata Reynolds: Well what we're going to see again is people living inside Iraq or outside Iraq without homes, growing more and more desperate, without access to education, perhaps without access -- or right now anyway -- without access to work, without access to health care and people will become more and more destitute. Without any -- Hope will decline, of course it will decline, hope is already declining and so -- It's hard to say what will happen. What we know for sure is that more and more people will become destitute and how they will be treated by host states right now, we don't know. As time goes on, we don't know what will happen if more people aren't resettled out of the region and into countries where they can begin to restart their lives and build their family structure again. . . . In terms of historically the scale of this it's hard to predict because it's a huge massive amount of people what we know is that the vast majority of them can't go home right now, probably won't be able to go home for many years and some of them will never be able to go home.

Allison is co-author, with David Solnit, of
Army Of None. Reynolds was discussing Amnesty International's new reports on the Iraqi refugee crisis (text, photos, videos). Yesterday we started noting Amnesty's Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (here for HTML and here for PDF) with sections two and three and ended with some of section four (the myth of the great return). Majid is a father of seven and a widower who had to return to Iraq: "Majid had fled Iraq in February 2008 after two of his nephews, Mansour and Sami, aged 17 and 19, were beheaded by members of an armed group in a rural area north of Baghdad. The young men's mother, Rasha, was reportedly present when in December 2007 armed men in civilian clothes knocked at the door and took away Mansour and Sami. Rasha went to Baghdad and informed Majid about the incident. In the evening a photographer informed the family that the heads of Mansour and Sami had been found on the banks of the Tigris river." In Syria, Majid was unable to be granted residency and the savings were quickly gone : "Weeping, he explained to Amnesty International that he had no alternative but to return to Iraq."

The reality of the small return (as opposed to
The Myth of the Great Return), Amnesty finds, is that Majid's experience is the norm with 46% of those who returned also citing the money issue and another 25.6% citing the visa issue. That left 14.1% who returned. Willingly? No. They weren't informed, they were misinformed by a media quick to repeat the propaganda as news. The 14.1% returned after hearing "that the security situation had improved." That never happened. [And credit to the New York Times' Damien Cave and Cara Buckley one more time for telling the truth when it still mattered.] Amnesty points out that the issue of the returns also includes "duration" and that no one had bothered to collect information on that. Amnesty's research indicated that the bulk of returns are planned as "temporary stays".

Looking outside the MidEast, Amnesty finds other obstacles facing refugees. The UK cuts off support services after 21 days if your application for asylum is rejected, the Netheralands do the same after four weeks of the second appeal. Belgium also cuts off most assistance following a rejection and reducing rights (and designates you an "illegal immigrant"), while Denmark pulls most of your rights (such as employment). Germany's especially 'creative.' They're in the midst of taking refugee status away from Iraqis they granted it to previously -- granted while Saddam Hussein was ruling Iraq. Let's repeat that: Iraqis who entered Germany and applied for refugee status, prior to the start of the Iraq War, were recognized as refugees. These same people ("approximately 18,000 Iraqis") are now being informed that they are no longer refugees. Apparently, the government believes Iraq is now safe. It takes a lot of nerve to remove a refugee status after you've granted it -- especially when you're expecting them to return to a war zone.

From this section we'll note the following:

At present, Amnesty International believes that the time is not right for returns of any kind to Iraq, whether they are explicitly forcible or effectively forcible but disguised as "voluntary". In addition to obligations not to forcibly return Iraqis in a direct manner as discussed below, Amnesty International believes that all states must ensure Iraqi refugees are not forced into a situation where they have no real option but to return, so indirectly forcing them to return.
Amnesty International also believes that voluntary returns should not be promoted at present. This view is shared by UNHCR, which does not regard the conditions as conducive to return in safety and dignity as required by international standards. Amnesty International opposes all forms of encouragement of voluntary returns, including indirect and coercive means such as restricting assistance and forcing people into destitution. Amnesty International believes that such policies not only impact on the enjoyment and fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights, but may also put the state in a position where it is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement.

It's too violent for returnees. Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing ("adhesive bomb stuck to a civilian car") that claimed 1 life and left two people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a woman was shot dead in front of her home in Mosul and her husband was wounded. Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Mosul


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Mahmoud al-Dwadi was kidnapped by gunmen yesterday" in Diayal Province and that his corpse was discovered by police.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and lat last night ("11:30 p.m.") Sadiq Ismail's corpse was found in Albu Sabah. Reuters notes a corpse discovered in Tuz Khurmato.

Al Jazeera magazine reports, "Iraqi police and soldiers swept house to house through the southern city of Amara and surrounding Maysan province" today. Aref Mohammed (Reuters) estimates 250,000 people inhabit Amara. CBS and AP report that the region's deputy governer (Rafia Abdul-Jabbar) "has been arrested" or 'arrested' by Iraqi troops.

Turning to the peace movement in the United States. The good? Retired Col. Ann Wright continues traveling to speak to groups.
Samantha Fex (Molokai Times) reports on Wright's visit to Hawaii: "Col. Wright also provides information about the realities of military enlistment because she wants people to be able to make the most informed decision possible when joining the military" and quotes Wright stating, "It's wonderful to be able to come to a place like Molokai. Small towns and small communities in our country seem to be the places where most of our military enlistees come from. So, it's important to come to a community like this to acknowledge what's going on." The bad? Eric Ruder (Dissident Voice) nails it in his recent piece where he notes no major demonstration since January 27, 2007, a failure to connect with the ones opposed to the illegal war, a desire to repeatedly water down arguments to reach those who still haven't made up their minds, moderate demands (or 'demands') and the cow-towing to the November elections: "The problem is that an electoral calculation without a genuinely antiwar candidate runs smack up against the need to build an antiwar movement capable of forcing whoever ends up in the White House to bring the troops home now."

What does our 'vital' and 'living' peace movement have to show for it?
Nicholas Johnston and James Rowley (Bloomberg News) report that the Congress voted yesterday to give Bully Boy all the Iraq War funding he wanted. No conditions, no timelines. That would be the Democratically controlled Congress. Democrats control the House and the Senate. The November 2006 elections were supposed to bring 'change' and they brought nothing. All the Democratic 'leadership' has done is create a back-and-forth over funding the illegal war. It has not stopped funding it. It indicates it will or might. Then it goes ahead and does it anyway. So you get some griping before American tax payer moneys are handed over and that's really all you get for handing control of both houses over to the Democrats. The Iraq War is dropped as an issue by activists and the Democratic Party makes a few noises about Iraq in an attempt to drive up votes in November. And the illegal war drags on. As Mike observed last night, "It's time for CODESTINK and all the other groups that can't focus on Iraq to leave the stage. Just go away, no one will miss you."

Wall Street: $19,103,119; Big Energy $1,102,918; Pharmaceutical Co.'s $696,063. That's Barack Obama's "donation" totals and can be found in
this Ralph Nader video. Those numbers explain why Barack broke his pledge regarding public financing. Sam Youngman (The Hill) reports that Barack declared today "that he will not accept public financing for the general election". As Brian Edwards-Tiekert worded it on the seven a.m. news break on KPFA (first segment of The Morning Show), Barack is "abandoning an earlier committment to use public financing if his Republican rival did as well" and "Today's announcement marks the first time that a presidential candidate has opted out of the public financing system for a general election since that system was created in 1974." Back in February, Jeff Zeleny and Steven Greenhouse (New York Times) quoted Barack declaring, "If I am the nominee, I will make sure our people talk to John McCain's people to find out if we are willing to abide by the same rules and regulations with respect to the general election going forward. It would be presumptuous of me to start saying now that I am locking into something when I don't even know if the other side will agree to it." At the LA Times' political blog, trash Amina Khan is an embarrassment -- but that was clear when we said "LA Times' political blog," wasn't it? And they wonder why so many are about to lose jobs? At the grown ups table, Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post) quotes John McCain (presumptive GOP presidential nominee) declaring, "Senator Obama's reversal on public financing is one of a number of reversals that he has taken. He said he would stick to the agreement. He didn't. This is a big, big deal. He has completely reversed himself and gone back, not on his word to me, but the commitment he made to the American people." Jonathan D. Salant (Bloomberg News) quotes Barack explaining, "The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who have become masters at gaming this broken system." How interesting, go back to the February New York Times link and you won't find any of those 'concerns.' They appear to have sprouted overnight. No talk of 527s. This is appalling and you need to see how Panhandle Media plays it because early indication appears to be that our 'left' media outlets are rushing to justify it and, in fact, celebrate the decision. One more belief tossed on the bonfire for the Cult of Saint Bambi. Public financing came about for a reason and, while it does need fixing, Barack's not proposed fixing it. (Like his Iraq War 'plan,' "Details to come later!") He's never voiced concerns for the system. Now he wants to pretend that anything other than greed is at play here. And what's Panhandle Media going to do? Go ga-ga again at the dollar signs? Do they have even an ounce of integrity left at this point or have they sold it all off as an in-kind-contribution to St. Bambi?

Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer issued the following on Barack's decision:

Democracy 21 is very disappointed that Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has decided not to accept public financing for his presidential general election campaign.
We had hoped and expected that Senator Obama would stick with the public pledge he made to accept public financing and spending limits for the presidential general election, if he was nominated, and if his Republican opponent also agreed to accept public financing and spending limits for the general election. These conditions have been met.
We do not agree with Senator Obama's rationale for opting out of the system. Senator Obama knew the circumstances surrounding the presidential general election when he made his public pledge to use the system.
With his decision, Senator Obama will become the first major party presidential nominee to reject public financing for his general election campaign, since the public financing system was established in 1974.
Senator Obama's decision to opt out of the general election public financing system makes it all the more important for Senator Obama to personally make clear to the public in no uncertain terms that if he is elected, one of the early priorities for his Administration will be enacting legislation to repair the presidential public financing system.
In the current Congress, Senator Obama is one of the three lead Senate sponsors of the Presidential Funding Act of 2007 (S.2412), legislation to fix the presidential public financing system, particularly the system for presidential primaries. The other lead Senate sponsors of this bipartisan legislation are Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
Revitalizing the presidential public financing system is essential to protecting the integrity and credibility of the presidency and the interests of citizens in fair government decisions.

It needs to be called out. But watch everyone hope and pray that their past words on the buying of elections is forgotten. Which is why the really embarrassing trot out an American Enterprise Institute type to praise Barack's decision. AEI? That's who the left takes its cues from? They also made time to slam and slime Ralph Nader. How very 'left' of them. Ralph Nader is running for president.
Ballot Access notes Indiana's restrictive laws and that "Indiana is one of only five states in which Ralph Nader has never appeared on the ballot." They noted yesterday that Nader will be on Arizona's ballot. Bitchier Than Thou is asking North Carolina residents to sign the petition so that Nader can make the state's ballot. And Team Nader issued this press release earlier this week from Ralph Nader:

"During his Nobel Laureate acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, Al Gore laid out in stark terms the single most important act the next President of the US can do to avoid dangerous climate change:'And most important of all, we need to put a price on carbon – with a CO2 tax that is then rebated back to the people, progressively, according to the laws of each nation, in ways that shift the burden of taxation from employment to pollution. This is by far the most effective and simplest way to accelerate solutions to this crisis.' Obama and McCain both oppose a CO2 tax and instead favor the more politically expedient, manipulatable, evasive cap-and-trade approach. In the last eight years, Al Gore has invested too much in trying to protect our climate to just a write a blank check of endorsement to a candidate on one of the most important perils of our time. I challenge Al Gore, as one of the leading figures in the war on global warming, to uphold the courage of his convictions and demand that Senator Obama support a carbon pollution tax.The people want the next President to take action to reign in global warming. The litmus test for whether a Presidential candidate is serious about global warming is if he or she has the courage to support a CO2 tax. Unlike a cap-and-trade program, which can be easily gamed, a straight-out carbon tax on hydrocarbon production at the production source forces better choices of technology from the get-go.

Meanwhile Iraqi oil production is not suffering. They're at record levels. But Big Oil wants Iraq and
Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) reports they've got it, via no-bid contracts. Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP all have contracts -- not via the Iraqi Parliament which refuses to legalize the theft of Iraqi oil but via Iraq's Oil Ministry. Andy Rowell (Oil Change) observes, "The long wait may finally be over to claim the last great prize left for the oil industry. But not, importantly, how the oil industry, or the Bush administration wanted it to."
AP states: "The deals, once signed, are something of a stopgap measure to help Iraq begin to increase production until the country is able to approve a new national oil law - now held up by political squabbles among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds."
iraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
the morning show
brian edwards-tiekert
the new york timesjeff zeleny
the washington postperry bacon jr.
aimeee allisondavid solnit
nicholas johnstonjames rowley
mcclatchy newspapers
andrew e. kramerandy rowell

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lee Hamilton back from the dead

I am laughing my ass off tonight. I just saw Reuters item on Mr. 'Change' and his foreign policy cabinet: Mad Maddy Albright, David Boren, Warren Christopher, Greg Craig, Richard Danzig, Lee Hamilton, Eric Holder, Anthony Lake, Samm Nunn, William Perry, Susan Rice, Tim Roemer and Jame Steinberg. Each with their own frightening factoid. The three I find most frightening are War Hawk Susan Rice, I-Know-Nothing Lee Hamilton and War Hawk Anthony Lake.

Hey, kids, let's all hop in the way-back machine for a trip to Consortium News at any time before 2008. What do we find there? Lee Hamilton repeatedly called out. Non-stop. For his cover-ups, his ineffectiveness and his dishonesty. Robert Parry loves him some Obama but he hates him some Hamilton. He's probably slapping himself right now as he acts out Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway's scene -- Bob Parry plays both parts -- where it, "She's my daughter . . . She's my sister . . ."

I guess Bobby Parry's going to have to pour himself a stiff cup of Kool-Aid and knock it back hard. He's done that over and over throughout this cycle and he just wants his Barack in the White House. This isn't Lee Hamilton's first appearance in Barack's circle but search Consoturtium and you'll notice that Parry ignores Hamilton over and over.

Kevin Zeese writes to let me know how much he enjoys my writing again.

I'm so very glad to have him on board with my writings. But I wish he would read more closely. I never said he refused to call out Barack. I stated he tears into John McCain, then notes Barack is the same on this issue or that but does it gently -- with "hope" you might say.

I said before, it's the construct of the argument. If Zeese really believes in peace, Ralph Nader's the only candidate to support. Cynthia McKinney's running for 5% of the vote, not for the White House. The only candidate who will end the illegal war is Ralph Nader.

That's not debatable. That's reality. And Barack made that clear to CNN.

I don't know what flavor the Kool-Aid is but you need to stop drinking. Or as Betty says, "You're all up in the Kool-Aid and don't even know the flavor!"

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis continues, Nader confronts myths, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Courage to Resist reports the latest on James Burmeister:

James Burmeister was serving in Baghdad, Iraq when his humvee was caught in an IED explosion and he was hit in the face with shrapnel. Suffering from the physical wounds, as well as emotional ones resulting from his injury and working with the military "bait and kill" teams, James went to Canada and was AWOL until earlier this year when he decided to turn himself in.
At this point, his fate is undecided. Because of his PTSD, James and his family are requesting that the Army gives him an "Other Than Honorable Discharge" in leiu of a special court martial which could send James to a military prison for up to a year. You can help!
1. Please contact the Post Commander General Campbell to request a speedy discharge for James. Contact the Fort Knox Public Affairs Office at 502-624-7451 or and demand better treatment for our soldiers. Ask that they discharge PFC James Burmeister now so that he can get the help that he needs.
2. Attend a Press Conference at Fort Knox, KY on Thursday, June 19, at 11am.At N Wilson Rd & Knox Blvd, Radcliff, KY 40160 (
map with directions)
3. Write James and give him words of support and encouragement. PFC James Burmeister; HHC - Building 298, Gold Vault Road; Fort Knox KY 40121

Meanwhile on Firday, war resisters in Canada will share their stories.
Stathroy Age Dispatch reports that war resisters Josh Randall, Tim Richard and Rich Droste will share their experiences and answer questions and Michele Mason's Breaking Ranks documentary will be shown. The event will take place at the Quaker Meeting House, 359 Quaker Lane Coldstream in Ontario. What time? No time's given in the report at the Quaker Meeting House. You can use both links to continue checking for when a time is posted.

What is known is that Canada's House of Commons passed a motion to grant war resisters safe harbor and you can keep pressure on the Harper government right now.
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at "").

Matthis Chiroux announced
May 15th that he would not deploy to Iraq. The day he was due to report was June 15th and he did not deploy and explained why in a public statement. Leo Shane III (Stars & Stripes) quotes him explaining, "I don't feel like I'm doing illegal at all. We basically have no cause for military presence in Iraq. I'm making this decision because I believe my first loyalty is to the higher ideals of this country, which are being blatantly violated by our leaders. . . . It's not about what job I'd do. Any order to deploy there is unlawful."

Courage to Resist interviewed Matthis ahead of June 15th and in one section he explains how he came to learn about his rights and how he enjoys getting that information out to others:

I went to a peace event in Brooklyn where I met up with a number of
Iraq Veterans Against the War and this is an organization that that I completely agree with all their basic points of unity. I basically felt like 'wow this is maybe the most intelligent and well spoken and in touch group of soldiers that I have ever seen in my life and they are all speaking out freedom and justice and peace in the wake of having their rights so violated and having violated the rights of others so badly." And one soldier in particular really, really did it for me. And her name is Selena Coppa and she's actually an active duty soldier who is stationed in Germany and she was on leave speaking out against the war in Iraq. And she started off with a disclaimer where she said you know 'the opinions expressed here are my own and not of the US military' and went on to talk about her feelings about the Iraq War and I looked at that and said, 'Oh my goodness. Here is an active duty soldier with the courage to speak up and speak out and, then you know return from leave to uniform and face her command afterwards.' And I looked at that and I said if she can do it then there's absolutely no reason I can't do it. And furthermore, I've been wasting my time with silence these last five years because somehow I've been convinced that I didn't have a right to participate in speaking for peace and justice at all because I had signed away those rights when I listed. And so many people believe this is true. And I have such a good time actually informing soldiers of what their actual rights are and then pointing them out in the regulations because a lot of it is jaw dropping when they realize 'Oh, you mean even as an active duty soldier you mean I can participate in peace protests as long as they're non-partisan and I'm not in uniform and I'm not speaking for the army? I had no idea that was possible.' And so I started there and I started going to IVAW meetings and I started planning an IVAW beneift at my college which finally came to fruition May 13th and I started speaking on the radio about my feelings concerning the Iraq occupation and why it broke my heart that I would have to deploy there June 13th.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, 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. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

Yesterday's snapshot noted the Baghdad bombing.
NPR's Corey Flintoff (All Things Considered) reported, "Judging by the length of time it took for police and rescue teams to sort through the remains to arrive at a casualty count it was also extraordinarily destructive." Ned Parker and Usama Redha (Los Angeles Times) highlight "A 14-year-old girl, dressed in a black headdress and robe, towed a boy by hand and searched for her father. 'Where are they going to take the injured?' the weeping girl asked other distraught pedestrians." Hannah Allem (McClatchy Newspapers) quotess eye witness Muhannad Mahmoud: "People were screaming. A taxi driver pulled over and got out, with his face covered with black smoke. He asked me to check whether he was injured or not. One of the people told me he was hit by something really hard. He looked to see what had hit him and it was a man's arm." Richard A. Oppel Jr., Mudhafer al-Husainia and Ali Hameed (New York Times) quote survivor Ali Mustafa, "My shop collapsed on my head. There was a huge hole and a lake of blood [in the street] and burnt flesh of men and women and kids." Ali Mustafa also maintains the US military was present and caught off guard by the bombing: "They went crazy, but they tried to help people."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a Mosul car bombing injured 14 people and a car bomb in a suburb of Mosul resulted in four people being wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing left three police officers wounded and another resulted in the death of 1 police officer and another being wounded.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Monday Amnesy International issued
reports on the Iraqi refugee crisis (text, photos, videos) and noted: "Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places in the world. Its refugee crisis is worsening. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, an estimated 4.7 million have been displaced both within and outside Iraq and for many the situation is desperate."

The first report is entitled Iraq: Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis (
here for HTML and here for PDF). It notes how very "little or nothing" governments around the world have done to assist the refugee crisis (externally and internally displaced) that has reulted in at least 4.7 million people displaced. Those attempting to leave the country encounter numerous blockades and those who leave their homes and have not been able to leave the country are estimated to be 2.77 million. The blockades and obstacles in other countries mean many Iraqi refugees have to consider returning to Iraq which is still not a safe place but food and financial assistance is in short supply in the limited number of host countries an Iraqi refugee can enter. Amnesty observes:

Resettlement is a small but essential part of the response needed. Despite repeated calls for this option to be taken seriously, most states have ignored the calls and some of the most able to help have agreed only to minimal quotas. The UK, for example, a key player in the invasion that sparked the current refugee crisis, has an overall resettlement quota of 750, which includes places for Iraqis. The authorities in Chile and Brazil, however, have made positive moves in their approach to resettlement that deserve to be commended.

Iraqi widow Zahra and her family moved to Syria and she told Amnesty, "I will never return to Iraq where they killed my husband and took our house away." Amnesty notes that for all the talk of a decline in violence, the first portion of 2008 has already seen an increase from the Operation Happy Talk Wave of "violence is down!" only mere months ago. Along with violence, there is a lack of potable water in Iraq and there is lack of food (and remember that the rations program is being chipped away bit by bit by the puppet government to please the White House). Of countries taking in Iraqi refugees, Syria has "the largest Iraqi refugee population" with an estimated 1.5 million. Due to the large flow into Syria and due to al-Maliki insisting that Syria alter their visa program (remember
The Myth of the Great Return?), many who previously could have gained asylum and entry to Syria are now rejected.

Today, some categories of people can obtain a visa. These include academics and their immediate families; Iraqi students enrolled in Syrian universities and other higher education institutions; children attending schools; truck and passenger drivers operating on the Baghdad-Damascus route; Iraqis who need medical treatment in Syrian hospitals, provided they have relevant official documentation; members of cultural and sporting delegations visiting or passing through Syria; and traders and business people with commercial interests needing to travel to Syria.
Families with children attending schools in Syria or with family members in need of medical treatment can apply for temporary residence permits, which must be renewed monthly and only for up to a year. Such permits allow Iraqis to obtain permission from the Syrian authorities to travel to Iraq with an option of returning to Syria within three months. With the school year nearing an end, concern is growing in the refugee community about the future of visas obtained this way.

After Syria, Jordan hosts the largest number of Iraqi refugees (450,000 to 500,000). The report notes Jordan's new restrictions. (These are also restrictions imposed by al-Maliki at the White House's insistence. All parentheticals are me and not the report.) Now for an Iraqi to be allowed to enter Jordan, they need to apply for a vise before leaving Iraq. (That would be done at Jordan's embassy. And that's outside the Green Zone in a very violent section of Baghdad.) The report notes that one plus to life in Jordan is universal education for all children. However, Iraqis in Jordan are like other refugees in that the economic opportunties are highly limited and they must live off savings.

Lebanon has the third largest number of Iraqi refugees (50,000) where they "suffered from a lack of legal status, detention and deportation, particularly in 2007. Until February 2008, Iraqi refugees in Lebanon were not given a secure legal status nor recognized as refugees by the state." Egypt has 10,000 -150,000 Iraqi refugees. Those living there do so without employment because they are not able to legally be employed, their children are not allowed to attend schools, they have no "official status" and cannot receive any social services. From the report, debunking The Great Return, we'll note:

The international community has failed to respond adequately to the Iraqi refugee crisis. Rather, governments have tended to ignore the crisis or distort reality for political reasons – for example, to try and back up claims of military "successes" or to distance themselves from the issue.
In this respect, examples of Iraqi refugees returning home have received substantial media coverage, particularly since October 2007, while little attention has been given to the limited choices available to the refugees or the dangers they might face back in Iraq.
The Iraqi authorities too have an interest in promoting an overly positive and optimistic picture of Iraq's security situation and expectations. The Syrian government's introduction of strict visa regulations in October 2007 followed a visit to Damascus by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who requested closure of the border. The request appeared to be aimed at limiting the negative press coverage spurred by the continuing mass exodus from Iraq – the most visible indicator of the continuing high level of danger and insecurity in Iraq.
Following this, the focus shifted to highlighting what were portrayed as widespread "voluntary" returns of refugees to Iraq as a sign of improved security. Amnesty International was informed by the Iraqi Embassy in Damascus that three private coaches were being used to take hundreds of people back to Iraq. The Iraqi government has strongly encouraged "voluntary" returns, particularly since the end of 2007. Such encouragement has taken the form of advertisements on state-owned television channels, asking people to tell friends and relatives to return because of the perceived decrease in violence, and an organized return convoy. There have also been official statements at the highest level, including Prime Minister al-Maliki's April 2008 speech to the European Parliament in Brussels, which called for Iraqis to return home. Figures given by the Iraqi authorities of the numbers returning continue to be much higher than those provided by other sources, including UNHCR and the Iraqi Red Crescent.

We'll return to the reports throughout this week and next.

Turning to the US presidential race,
Ralph Nader notes:

Here is a counter-intuitive story for you. Why don't organized corporate interests challenge damage or risks to their clear economic interests?
Think about oil prices for big consumers, not just your pocketbook. Airlines are groaning, limiting flights, and laying off employees because of the skyrocketing price for aviation fuel. Executives in that industry say that fuel costs are close to 40 percent of the cost of flying you to your destination.
The powerful chemical industry is under pressure from the prices they're paying for petroleum-probably their main raw material.
The powerful trucking industry is beside itself with diesel fuel going to $5 per gallon.
You can add your own examples-cab companies, tourist industry, auto companies, etc.
Why aren't these very influential lobbies throwing their weight around Washington to get something done about the speculators on Wall Street determining what is paid for gasoline and related petroleum products? It is in their own economic interests.

Nader is running for president as an independent. Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today
Amy Goodman interviewed him for approximately a half-hour on Democracy Now!. Earlier this week she asked someone who had not served in Iraq to tell her about his service in Iraq. This morning Goody got off another groaner:

AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, you said in 2000 it doesn't really matter whether Gore or Bush is president. Do you feel that way today?

RALPH NADER: I didn't say that. I said the similarities between Bush and Gore tower over the dwindling real differences that they're willing to argue over. And, of course, my focus is not on some of the single issues. Obviously, Gore is better on Social Security, better on Medicare, better on gay, lesbian rights. Obviously in those areas, the Democrats have a much clearer position, better position, than the corporate Republicans. But in the gross area of corporate power and domination of every agency and department in our government, from the Department of Defense and Department of Labor, the Democrats are moving in the direction of the Republicans. It's quite clear in terms of their voting record. There are exceptions, like Henry Waxman and Ted Kennedy, Ed Markey. But for the most part, these parties have moved very heavily into the grip, the iron grip of corporate power, corporate money, corporate ultimatums on globalization, for example, and above all, the distortion of the federal budget in the direction of corporate contracts, subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and the swelling of this enormous, corrupt, wasteful military budget that's draining money.

We're going to repeat this reality: Candidates get the votes they win. The ones they lose go to another candidate. Goodman repeatedly used the angle that Nader's taking votes from Barack Obama. Well, if Barack would drop out of the race right now, think of all the votes Ralph could get! It's nonsense. Candidates earn your vote or they don't. They are responsible (and the media). Ava and I will address the interview Sunday at Third. Here is Nader responding to the issue of Iraq:

Six-month corporate and military withdrawal from Iraq, during which we negotiate with the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis for modest autonomy, which they worked out in the 1950s before the dictators took over. Under a unified Iraq, continue humanitarian aid, some peacekeepers from nearby Islamic countries, and UN-sponsored elections. That's the way you knock the bottom out of the insurgency. That's the way you get the authority figures, the tribal leaders and the religious leaders and others, who still have authority over millions of Iraqis, to get together, because the alternative is constant bloodshed and civil strife. So you give them a stake by using the only chip we have, which is to give back Iraq to the Iraqis, including their oil. Now that--otherwise, it's constant, constant strife.
You saw that huge explosion in Iraq, in Baghdad, yesterday. The Pentagon doesn't count Iraqi civilian tolls. They don't even count officially US injuries unless they occur right in the middle of combat. So US injuries are triple what their official figure is. And all the press, including the liberal press and the indie press, still uses that figure of some 32,000 injured soldiers, when it's triple that. I don't understand why they follow that kind of Pentagon line. So that's the way to deal with it.

iraq veterans against the war
matthis chiroux
leo shane iii
hannah allemmcclatchy newspapersthe new york timesrichard a. oppel jr.usama redhaned parkerthe los angeles times