Sir! No Sir! (Betty filling in for Rebecca)

Betty here, filling in for Rebecca. Read Elaine's "Kevin Zeese, Willie & Annie Nelson" for more (I don't trust myself not to let something slip out, a trait I have in common with Rebecca). When I found out, I said I'd fill in for Rebecca tonight (and tomorrow and whenever needed). I did that when she was on her vacation that turned into her honeymooon this summer and will do anything to help out. It's also a lot more fun for me because at my site, I've always got to stay in character. Worst of all, I have to read Thomas Friedman. There are some Fridays that I put that off for as long as possible because I just hate his writing, his opinions and his pompous self.
Thanks to Kat and C.I. who always listen to various drafts, are generous with the laughter and support and much more. If it weren't for their support, I'd probably never get anything posted.

I apologize to Rebecca's regular readers because I'm starting later than she does. Wednesdays is a church night for me. We're back from church, the kids are in bed and I sit down at the computer only to realize I have nothing to write about. Then I thought about something C.I. wrote this morning:

I'm pressed for time this morning (I'm sure the Betty announcement earlier has most already 'in the know'). So I don't have time to hunt down links. But we've all addressed this film at community sites. Sir! No Sir! is amazing documentary. (And the movie poster makes a very nice addition to your home -- whether you frame it or just pin it up. Soundtrack is also amazing.) Helga Aguayo, Agustin Aguayo's wife, has spoken of the impact the documentary had on him. It has an impact on anyone who sees it. It traces the resistance within the military during Vietnam. There are stories that will that will grab you by the heart, stories that will grab you by the throat. It's an amazing film -- you know that if you've seen it. We'll continue to note it in the snapshots through the airing.

"We've all addressed" is only true for me in terms of "DVD Must See: Sir! No! Sir!" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) which we all worked on (and there are other pieces at The Third Estate Sunday Review). At my site, I'm stuck with Thomas Friedman and I'm not sure I've noted Sir! No Sir! other than reposting C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot"s. So I thought I'd take some time tonight to weigh in on the documentary. The following statement's been appearing daily in the snapshots for about two weeks: "In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others." That's the EST and Pacific time, Mountain and Central times will vary (I'm Central myself, but I don't have cable or satellite). (I have three kids. We don't need to waste money on cable.)

What I do have is the DVD of Sir! No Sir! I actually gave it to a friend because C.I. passed on the expanded edition. Let me note the DVD features on the expanded version:

* Rebellion at the Ft. Dix Stockade
* Organizaing a Union in the Military
* Black GIs and "The Enemy"
* Vietnam GI -- The First Underground Paper
* Life and Escape in the Presido Stockade
* The Winter Soldier Investigation Indicting the Government
* David Zeiger's Return to Ft. Hood
* Pirate Radio DJ Dave Rabbit Speaks!
* The Court-Martial of Camilo Mejia: Iraq War Resister
* Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda -- From Vietnam to Iraq
* Veterans "Return" their Medals in Only the Beginning
* The Oleo Strut GI Coffeehouse in Summer of '68
* Rita Martinson sings Soldier, We Love You in FTA
* Filmmaker Biography
* Interactive Menus
* Scene Selection

The documentary is directed by David Zeiger. We saw it in California last year, on the big screen. It was incredible. I've watched it on DVD since and it's always moving but I really think it's best if you can watch it with others. I've watched it with my parents, my sisters and others and there's always an added level of enjoyment because afterwards, you really want to talk about this film. You need someone to share it with.

If you get Sundance and can watch it, do. Even if it's by yourself. But, if you watch by yourself, you better get some stationary (or notebook paper) to write a letter because you're going to want to share this with someone. You could e-mail but it's really a letter type film. You want to toss it around and explore it, not dash something quickly (which is what I'm doing tonight and I won't be able to capture any of the greatness of the film).

One of the things that stood out to me the first time I watched and still does is the scope. I should probably explain that this is a film about resistance to the war in the military during Vietnam. And for someone like me, representations do matter. (I'm Black for anyone that doesn't know.) I would've enjoyed the movie regardless but the fact that an effort (a strong effort) was made to include the stories of all (and not just White men) did make me open to the film early on. I think we see a woman resister early on. She attends a rally in her uniform. And that did stand out to me. Later in the film when the story of Black resistance is told, it was clear this was a film made by someone who's interested in all stories and not just a narrow view.

Rita Martinson is mentioned above in the extras. She performed with FTA which was a tour that Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Fred Gardner and others put together to tour military bases but the military wouldn't allow it. So they played off base and soldiers attended. Rita Martinson is a singer-songwriter and she performs her song "Soldier, We Love You." That's a quiet moment in the film and a really powerful one.

You hear people tell their stories of why they decided to resist and what they went through. That's especially important today when we have a growing war resistance within the military again. In yesterday's snapshot, C.I. noted some of the mean things said about Camilo Mejia. (And I loved C.I.'s comment that a "charity baby" shouldn't be calling anyone a "mama's boy.")
This idea that people are cowards when they refuse to participate in an illegal war is just insane.
The easy path would be to engage in an illegal war you knew was illegal. You keep your mouth shut, your head down and just do what's expected. Speaking out, saying "no" takes real courage. Terri Johnson did so and I was so happy about that because she is so young (18) and for her to have that kind of courage at such a young age just really filled me with hope. (And when someone makes a documentary about today's war resisters they better include Terri. She's a young woman, Black and they better not erase her from the picture.)

It takes courage to go public. You'll be trashed and you'll be mocked by some. You'll have people who say idiotic things like, "Once you sign a contract . . ." or "You knew what you were getting into . . ." On the latter, how can anyone know that the occupant of the Oval Office will lie them into an illegal war? On the contract nonsense, contracts are broken all the time. If you're rich, you can do that. You can hire an attorney. But if you're one of the average people, you're always expected to follow that contract. Well contracts can be wrong. It's also true that the piece of paper you sign is only binding on your end. The military can change anything in the contract at any time they want. So I don't see that as a fair contract and I don't think anyone who's been screwed over (regarding war or anything else) needs to feel bound by a contract where one party has the right to change it and alter it at any time but the other party is expected to obey what was written and any changes that get made after the fact.

I also don't believe that we just follow orders. I've got three kids. Every one of them knows that there are things they don't do. I've taught them that over and over. If they're told to do something, by a teacher or whomever, that is against what we believe, they know they say "no." I'm not raising my children to be sheep that can be led around in any direction.

I am a church goer and my children have been raised in the church ("have been," they're still so young -- I don't have a teenager yet -- that's when the 'fun' begins, right?). If, like Agustin Aguayo, they went to Iraq and thought it was the right thing but then got over there and saw that it didn't fit with what they had been raised with spiritually, they better object. I've raised them too. Not to enforce their beliefs on anyone else but to know what is right and what is wrong.

A piece of paper, even a contract, is not a higher authority. And right is right and wrong is wrong.

This is an illegal war and that is wrong. There is a duty to resist illegal wars.

Sir! No Sir! was really powerful to me because I'd heard about Vietnam but this was my first chance to really see it. In the Black community (Cedric and Ty can tell you the same thing, this isn't geographical) we seem to have supplemental information that doesn't make the mainstream. I say that because I knew about the resistance of Black soldiers during Vietnam and I knew about Ali speaking out and refusing to ship to Vietnam. Those aren't things to be ashamed of and are applauded. Because we know that and because we're well aware that government lies, we're less likely to go along with nonsense. That's probably why Black America was against this war from the beginning and didn't buy into all the hype the way other segments did.

During Vietnam, the Black Power movement was going on and that really did influence the way the war was seen. When we were being treated as second-class citizens (that may be too kind a term), the idea that it was our 'duty' to fight another people that was also being oppressed was just ridiculous. (Not to all. Colin Powell was a happy Uncle Tom, even in the sixties.)

And, if I can point it out one more, I really loved being able to see and hear people who were a part of that sharing their stories.

This documentary zips by so quickly. It's more like a "movie" than what most people think of a documentary. A lot of people think, "Documentary? Oh, that's going to be dull and drag out forever." Sir! No Sir! ends before you know it and you're immediate feeling will be, "Does it have to be over already?" When we saw it on the big screen, I actually was asking, "It's over?"

I'll also add that I've let my oldest son watch it. I don't think there's anything in here they shouldn't see. I do think you need to be prepared to explain it. He wanted to see it and I told him one night that if he'd do some cleaning around the house while I got the other two in bed, we'd stay up and watch it. He really enjoyed the film too. I just looked to see what the film was rated? I couldn't remember. It's not rated. I don't remember anything that one wouldn't expect in a documentary on war (that includes strong langugage).

I need to wind down so I'm copying this from C.I.'s entry (and Julie passed it on to C.I. to give credit where it's due):

+On Monday May 7th 2007...there will be an historic night of GI resistance on national television as the Sundance Channel presents the U.S. broadcast premiere of both
Sir! No Sir! and The Ground Truth:
Sir! No Sir!
Monday, May 7
The Sundance Channel
9 pm Pacific and Eastern
Check your local listings for Central and Mountain times.
The Ground Truth
Monday, May 7
The Sundance Channel
10:30 pm Pacific and Eastern
Check your local listings for Central and Mountain times.
This is a wonderful chance for millions of people to see these films that, together, link the tremendous movement of American soldiers against the Vietnam war with the growing opposition among soldiers to the Iraq war today.
*After all, one good surge deserves another
1. Not Everyone has the Sundance Channel...
2. So if you do, PLEASE organize a house party to watch the films and spread their influence among soldiers and civilians alike.
3. If you don't, find someone who does and offer to bring the chips.
In preparation, to help spread the films, WWW.SIRNOSIR.COM is offering these specials:
The Director's Edition DVD of the film and 1 1/2 hours of additional stories will be on SALE through May 15th $19.95 (from $23.95)
The Limited Edition DVD, with the film and "Punk Ass Crusade" counter-recruitment video, is now available in bulk at a DISCOUNTED RATE:
5 for $50
10 for $80
15 for $105
20 for $120
(All plus shipping and handling)
The Ground Truth is also available in bulk at http://groundtruthstore.seenon.com/

I got picked for "Truest statement of the week" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) for which I'm grateful but I had a different pick (this ties into the documentary). Here was my pick and the question was about young people today and why you think they are hopeful?

Jane Fonda: Anger. Resistance. They're pissed off, as well they should be. Natalie Maines [of the Dixie Chicks] embodies that. It's that, "F--k it, man -- this not what I want this country to be." There's a lot of young people who feel that way. The young people I work with and who come to my events, they're beginning to feel their power in a very different way than in the Sixties and Seventies.

That's from Rolling Stone magazine's May 3-17, 2007 double issue (on sale now). I love Jane Fonda for her acting and for her activism. And I love that quote because the easiest lie in the world is that young people are apathetic today. They aren't. Jane Fonda is in Sir! No Sir! and she's interviewed about the period and what it was like to witness that. You are cheating yourself if you don't watch Sir! No Sir! If you don't have the Sundance Channel and don't know anyone who does, consider purchasing it or renting it (I've seen it my Blockbuster). Please see the film and share it.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Big Oil drools over the oil grab, much time is wasted with people pretending to be shocked (and worse), today is World Press Freedom Day, and more.

Starting with the garbage that's stinking up and taking up too much 'coverage' of Iraq. Bully Boy gave the toothless, non-binding, weak ass measure the Democratically controlled Congress passed a veto. To no one's surprise.
Andrew Ward (Financial Times of London) reminds, "Mr Bush had threatened for weeks to reject any legislation including withdrawal dates". The non-binding and toothless 'benchmarks' (always with get-out-of-the-benchmark-free cards). When the Democratic leadership caved and sold out the American people there was no call for "TAKE TO THE STREETS!"; however, because Bully Boy didn't sign the bill, WalkOn's calling for the closest thing to activism they can manage.

Bully Boy should have signed the bill. Not to end the illegal war. The bill didn't end the war, didn't guarantee anything (reclassification would have allowed Bully Boy to keep the exact same number of US service members on the ground in Iraq). But it would have been a PR victory for him. And then he could have said, "Well the bill didn't anticipate ___ so I've had to ___." He could have done whatever he wanted. The bill neither constrained nor contained the Bully Boy. He could have grabbed a few headlines, probably surprised enough people to leap all the way to 35% approval rating. His not signing a weak ass bill that gave him everything he asked for and put no binding condidtions on him was a sign (yet again) of the press' tendency to create 'boy geniuses' where there are none.

At the end of April,
Gareth Porter (IPS) observed, "The language on a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq voted out of the House-Senate conference committee this week contains large loopholes that would apparently allow U.S. troops to continue carrying out military operations in Iraq's Sunni heartland indefinitely." Now WalkOn and Party Hacks who pretend to care about something other than elections (but don't) have reason to drum up phoney outrage -- they sold the weak ass action by the Democrats as if it were the second coming of FDR's Public Works Administration. Others telling people to drop everything in the middle of the week -- a day after many have participated in actual events for real issues -- and rush out to express your . . . well, not shock. Everyone knew Bully Boy would veto. But whatever it is, express it! Drop everything because the weak ass Democratic leadership just got a wedgie and, we all know, Dem leadership can't defend themselves. As one "key Democratic strategist" bragged to Elizabeth Drew (The New York Review of Books) about the bill, "We don't want to own this war. It's Bush's war, and we want him to keep owning it."

While it appears that you tried to do something? And they can't get away with that lie without an army of enablers which, fortunately, is one thing the Beltway has in surplus. But people are catching on to the con game Democratic leadership tried to play on the voters.
Which is why
Charles Babington (AP) can report -- with little shock from readers -- that with Bully Boy having refused to budge and Dems already caved/collapsed, the 'compromise' is expected to come from the Compromised Party (Democratic Party) and chief among the compromised, House Majority Leader Steny Good Times Follow Me Around Hoyer who "told reporters Wednesday that he hopes to have a new bill passed in the House in two weeks, with a final bill sent to the president before the Memorial Day recess. 'We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need,' said Hoyer, D-Md."

That quote is telling in two ways. First of all, Hoyer's now pushing the very thing used to tar and feather Dems with for the last few weeks (the abused often repeat the language of their abusers). Second, note the pause in the statement. "We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way . . . without the resources they need." As though Hoyer grasped that leaving US troops in harm's way is just what the Democrats -- same as the Republicans -- are doing. But, good news, they'll have "the resources they need."
Babington also reports that Hoyer "said the bill should fund combat through Sept. 30 as Bush has requested, casting doubt that Democratic leaders would adopt a proposal by Rep. John Murtha [. . .] to fund the war two or three months at a time." [Note Babington wrongly identifies Murtha as a Republilcan -- ". . . by Rep. John Murtha, R-Pa., to fund . . ."] US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is quoted as saying, "The president wants a blank check. The Congress is not going to give it to him." No, they are not. They are not going to put it in his hand. They're going to leave it on top of the bureau as they tip-toe out the bedroom door with a big smile on their faces.

BBC goes with their DC correspondent James Westhead's call "The Democrats acknolwedge they will eventually have to soften their bill as they cannot risk being accused of undercutting the troops during wartime". For those needing to see the con game from the other end, Noam N. Levey, Maura Reynolds and Joel Havemann (Los Angeles Times) produce the best piece of (unintentional) comedic writing of the year as they enter Bully Boy's head to report what he felt, what he hoped, what he thought, throughout the morning. It's an embarrassment of . . . embarrassments and did no think to wonder if this wasn't heavy on feature writing porn and light on what anyone expected from actual reporting? Let's hope all three wore gloves to protect themselves from bodily fluids.

Turning to Iraqi legislation news, the US allowed Big Oil to draft the Iraqi hydrocarbon law that would -- no surprise -- benefit Big Oil while stealing from the Iraqi people. This morning
Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reported that the law had been "sent to parliament" even though "Parliamentary officials . . . said they were unaware the bill had been submitted to the legislature." Why should it be any other way? Iraqis weren't the ones drafting this law -- not even the parliament which is tasked with drafting Iraq's laws. Raed Jarrar earlier revealed that, in February, when the law was agreed upon, the Iraqi parliament had no idea. Jarrar most recently explained (Raed in the Middle) the three primary reasons the law will harm Iraqis: the law breaks up the nation-state into economic regions and threatens national unity; the sovereignty of Iraq is harmed since the Iraqi government has no say in production limits, the Iraqi judiciary cannot resolve disputes and Big Oil gets seats on the council approving their own contracts; and "Iraq will lose hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign oil companies during the next 35 years because the law doesn't give any preferences to local companies and due to the unconventional type of contracting this law legalizes called the Production sharing agreements (PSA) or the exploration and production agreements."

"Under the proposed law, Iraq's immense oil reserves would not simply be opened to foreign oil exploration, as many had expected. Amazingly, executives from those companies would actually be given seats on a new Federal Oil and Gas Council that would control all of Iraq's reserves" is how
Juan Gonzalez (New York Daily News via Common Dreams) explained it in February, opening with: "Throughout nearly four years of the daily mayhem and carnage in Iraq, President Bush and his aides in the White House have scoffed at even the slightest suggestion that the U.S. military occupation has anything to do with oil. The President presumably would have us all believe that if Iraq had the world's second-largest supply of bananas, instead of petroleum, American troops would still be there." Ewa Jasiewicz (Democracy Rising) observes, "If passed by parliament, the law will mark a milestone in Iraqi history -- a shift of Iraq's massive reserves from public to private hands. It could see private companies develop and profit from Iraq's oil for 15-30 year periods with virtually no possibility for the Iraqi state to renegotiate contractual terms and conditions."

On February 23,
Antonia Juhasz, speaking with Kris Welch on KPFA's Living Room, explained:

This law is being sold as the mechanism for helping the Iraqis determine how they will distribute their oil revenue. That is not what this law is about. That is the bottom end of an enormous hammer that is this oil law. This oil law is about foreign access to Iraq's oil and the terms by which that access will be determined. It is also about the distribution of decision making power between the central government and the region as to who has ultimate decision making power and the types of contracts that will be signed. There are powers that be within Iraq that would very much like to see that power divvied up into the regions, between the Kurds and the Shia in particular, and then there are powers that would like to see Iraq retained as a central authority. The Bush administration would like the central government of Iraq to have ultimate control over contracting decisions because it believes it has more allies in the central government than it would if it was split up into regions. The Bush administration is most concerned with getting an oil law passed now and passed quickly to take advantage of the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government couldn't be in a weaker negotiating position and the law locks the government in to twenty to thirty-five year committments to granting the most extreme versions of exploration and production contracts to US companies or foreign companies. Meaning that foreign companies would have access to the vast majorities of Iraq's oil fields and they would own the oil under the ground -- they would control the production and they would in contracts yet to be determined get a percentage of that profit but they'd be negotiating essentially when Iraq is at its weakest when Iraq is hardly a country. And that's what this oil law is all about.

When Juhasz spoke in February, the Democratic leadership had yet to devise, let alone unleash, their hideous proposals; however, it bears noting that the passing of this law was a "benchmark" on the offensive law. Dems bought the war this year as a time-share with the Bully Boy.

Turning to the the topic of courage.
Eric Ruder (Socialist Worker) reports on war resister Agustin Aguayo who "was released from confinement at a U.S. military base in Mannheim, Germany, on April 18, but he's still far from free. [. . .] Helga and his twin daughters thought he would be headed home, but now the Army says that it plans to keep Agustin on active duty for one to two years more. And he remains under the authority of members of his old unit -- the same 'people that tried to take him by force, i.e., shackle, handcuff and carry him onto the plane' for his second Iraq deployment, explained Helga." Heather Wokush (OpEdNews) interviewed Agustin Aguayo for a piece published last Saturday and he stated, "I was determined that I would not hurt/injure others in any way, no matter what the consequences. I actually belileve that this action of not loading my weapon kept me sane. It brought me great sadness to know some soldiers I knew had shot at people and some soldiers I knew were hurt by the actions of others. It was so absurd." On his first tour of duty in Iraq, Aguayo refused to load his weapon. He went to Iraq as a medic and, while there, the realities he saw were in conflict with his own spiritual beliefs. As a result, he attempted to apply for c.o. status. As Helga Aguayo has noted, everyone who interviewed her husband during the process felt he was a c.o. objector but superiors (who never spoke with Aguayo) overruled that. Aguayo has attempted to address the matter via the civilian courts. Robert Zabala is another example of someone who had to go to the civilian courts to be awarded c.o. status (which he was awarded last month). The inequalities (and the fact that some people "in charge" don't even grasp the military guidelines as written) is why the Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Courage to Resist reported, Agustin Aguayo is supposed to join with war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Robert Zabala for a speaking tour from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area. The announced dates include:

Wednesday May 9 - Marin 7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento Details TBA
Friday May 11 - Stockton 6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.
Saturday May 12 - Monterey 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447
Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.
Monday May 14 - Watsonville 7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311
Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837
Wednesday May 16 - Eureka 7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197Thursday May 17 - Oakland 4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

If the military is thinking they'll clamp down on war resistance by holding Aguayo, they obviously aren't factoring the passion this tour will create and the questions of, "Wheere's Augie?" All are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.

From that worthy topic, we again have to dig through the trash.
CNN reports no one can confirm that Abu Ayyub was killed in Iraq on Tuesday. Had Kirk Semple (New York Times) focused on something more productive, he might have gotten the violence numbers correct in this morning's paper.

The violence continued today and maybe tomorrow the New York Times will cover it? Or maybe they'll continue their undercount when summarizing reported violence?


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 8 dead in Baghdad, 4 wounded from a Baghdad minibus bombing ("IED carried in a plastic bag, left aboard"), 3 Baghdad mortar attack that killed a total of 5 and wounded 29, 4 Baghdad roadside bombs that killed a total of 3 people and wounded 4, a Baghdad car bombing that killed 4 people and left 25 wounded, a Basra bombing that killed one person and a Basra "katiosha missile" attack that wounded a child. Reuters reports 10 dead and 35 wounded in a Baghdad car bombing attack in the Sadr City section of the capital.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two injured people from a Basra "confrontation between gunmen and a British patrol, two gunmen were seriously injured." Reuters reports the Mosul shooting death of Nidhal al-Asadi who had been "a university professor".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 30 corpses were discovered in Baghdad and, in Kirkuk, the corpse of Nejim Mohammed Hussein was found (he had been a blacksmith).

In addition, today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Corps Soldier was severely wounded after an improvised explosives device exploded under her vehicle at approximately 1:55 pm Wednesday in western Baghdad. The Soldier later died of wounds at 3:25 pm while at the 28th CSH in Baghdad." And they noted: "Two MND-B Soldiers were killed and two others were wounded when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in a southern section of the Iraqi capital May 2."

In other news of how bad things continue to get in Iraq, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom issued their
press release stating:

This year the Commission has added Iraq to its Watch List, due to the alarming and deteriorating situation for freedom of religion and belief. Despite ongoing efforts to stabilize the country, successive Iraqi governments have not adequately curbed the growing scope and severity of human rights abuses. Although non-state actors, particularly the Sunni-dominated insurgency, are responsible for a substantial proportion of the sectarian violence and associated human rights violations, the Iraqi government also bears responsibility. That responsibility takes two forms. First, the Iraqi government has engaged in human rights violations through its state security forces, including arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without due process, extrajudicial executions, and torture. These violations affect suspected Sunni insurgents, but also ordinary Sunnis who are targeted on the basis of their religious identity. Second, the Iraqi government tolerates religiously based attacks and other religious freedom abuses carried out by armed Shi'a factions including the Jaysh al-Mehdi (Mahdi Army) and the Badr Organization. These abuses include abductions, beatings, extrajudicial executions, torture and rape. Relationships between these para-state militias and leading Shi'a factions within Iraq's ministries and governing coalition indicate that these groups operate with impunity and often, governmental complicity. Although many of these militia-related violations reveal the challenges evident in Iraq's fragmented political system, they nonetheless reflect the Iraqi government's tolerance--and in some instances commission--of egregious violations of religious freedom. Finally, the Commission also notes the grave conditions for non-Muslims in Iraq, including ChaldoAssyrian Christians, Yazidis, and Sabean Mandaeans, who continue to suffer pervasive and severe violence and discrimination at the hands of both government and non-government actors. The Commission has added Iraq to its Watch List with the understanding that it may designate Iraq as a CPC next year if improvements are not made by the Iraqi government.

Also under attack are attorneys.
IRIN reports that, "Threats to judges and lawyers have escalated over the past 14 months in Iraq, in line with a general escalation in sectarian violence after the bombing of a Shia shrine in February 2006. Hundreds of legal workers have left the country because of threats and persecution. This is delaying judicial processes and denying thousands of people their legal rights." The right to the pursuit of happiness (a US right enshrined in the Constitution) never got established post-invasion. Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) reports: "From the boys selling black-market gasoline from donkey carts, to the abandoned movie theaters, restaurants and liquor stores, from the overflowing sewage to the dwindling food rations, Baghdad has lost its place as a pinnacle of Middle East modernity. Existence has become more rudimentary." Partlow speaks with Um Mohammed (nickname, not real name) who notes that she is now using a "tanoor, a waist-high clay bourd for baking bread over smoldering palm-tree coals" -- a device she's never used before in her life but with her family's cost for monthly bread hitting $70, she's using it now. She tells Partlow, "We are living in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, of prosperity. Where is the prosperity?" Let's repeat "she tells" because the New York Times apparently has the shyest correspondents in the world -- or the most sexist -- since they seem to consider a real chore to speak with Iraqi women.

Just walking along, shopping for food
Stepping out of the line of fire when people are rude
Cheap stuff made in China, someone calls it a sale
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
Beat down in the market, stoned to death in the plaza
Raped on the hillside under the gun from LA to Gaza
A house made of cardboard living close to the rail
Somebody's mama, somebody's daughter
Somebody's jail
-- "Somebody's Jail," written by Holly Near, off her new CD
Show Up

World Press Freedom Day, we'll note Edmund Sanders (Los Angeles Times) report from Monday about Amal Mudarris ("One of Iraq's most beloved broadcasters") who made the 'mistake' or committed the 'crime' of being "outside her Baghdad home Sunday morning" and was shot repeatedly. Sanders notes: "Police said her attackers had waited in parked cars near her home in the Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Khadra. Mudarris, a Shiite originally from soutehrn Iraq, is a host of a daily call-in show on a station of the state-owned Iraiq Media Network." Reporters Without Borders states she "is reported in a coma" and notes that she is among 167 journalists who have died in the Iraqi war. But will anyone count the women's deaths? This week, two female college students were killed as they attempted to drive from college to their home. If the genders noted, does it seem like it registers? One group who is following and leading on this issue is MADRE which published the report "Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq" (which can be read in full in PDF format or, by sections, in HTML) in March. In addition, the spring 2007 issue of Ms.features Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq." We noted the article on April 19th but it is now up at the Ms. website (click here). The attacks on Iraqi women are very real -- regardless of how much the bulk of the mainstream press attempts to ignore what's happening.

And I feel the witch in my veins
I feel the mother in my shoe
I feel the scream in my sould
The blood as I sing the ancient blue
They burned in the millions
I still smell the fire in my grandma's hair
The war against women rages on
Beware of the fairy tale
-- "Somebody's Jail," written by Holly Near, off her CD
Show Up.

Finally, today, Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC),
Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.


antonia juhaszraed jarrar

joshua partlow