Monday, March 13, 2006

War resisters, international, Dave Zirin and more

Good evening. Hope everybody had a great weekend. Let's get things started with Democracy Now!:

Latino War Resisters Begin 241-Mile March For Peace
And Iraqi war resisters Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado as well as Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, have begun a 241-mile march for peace from Tijuana, Mexico to San Francisco. The march is inspired by Gandhi's 1930 Salt March protesting British imperialism. Historian Howard Zinn said, "This is one of the most significant actions taken yet to dramatize the movement against the war -- especially because it calls attention to the Latino population, the loss of Latino life in the war, and the unrecognized Latino opposition to the war."

C.I. pointed out that there were a lot of items to choose from and that's no joke. Elaine and I were talking for probably a half-hour just trying to figure out what to choose. We finally decided to go with the two here. How come? Because they are things that need more attention.

Pablo Paredes, Camilo Mejia, and Aidan Delgado. They've spoken out against the war before public opinion changed. Last night, in "And the war drags on," C.I. wrote:

Resistance is going on all over the world. In the United States, we know the names of (or should) people like Camilo Mejia, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman and Katherine Jashinski.

Kevin Benderman applied for c.o. status and got screwed over. In November, Katherine Jashinski became the first woman serving to become a war resister to the occupation in Iraq. Forget Tommy Franks and the other arm chair, media generals, these are names you should know. Of the five, and there are more, Camilo is the best known among my friends. I hope you know their names and that you pay attention when you hear them or hear about them on alternative media like Democracy Now! What they are doing takes bravery.

Elite UK Soldier Refuses to Fight w/ U.S. in Iraq
In Britain, an elite SAS soldier is refusing to return to fight in Iraq in what he describes as a morally wrong war of aggression. The soldier, Ben Griffin, is believed to be the first SAS soldier to refuse to go into combat and to leave the army on moral grounds. Griffin said he refused to fight alongside U.S. troops because they viewed Iraqis as "untermenschen" -- the Nazi term for races regarded as sub-human. He also accused U.S. troops of committing "dozens of illegal acts" in Iraq.

This is our second item and it was tough to pick today. But we need to do our part to get the word out. Ben Griffin took a stand. There is an international resistance to the war. And it keeps growing every day. So we all need to be doing our part and saying no to this illegal war.
This is an important time to make yourself heard because it's the third anniversary of the war. People wonder if protests do anything and I think they do.

I think they raise awareness and motivate others to speak out and that's based on what I saw after the September protests in DC. When I got back that's all anyone wanted to talk to me about. Not just my friends but people I barely knew. They'd come up and say, "I heard you went to DC to protest?"

There's more news and probably one of the biggest is that Russ Feingold is trying to get the Senate to censure Bully Boy. This is from Common Dreams and it's Feingold's "Introducing a Resolution to Censure President George W. Bush:"

Mr. President, when the President of the United States breaks the law, he must be held accountable. That is why today I am introducing a resolution to censure President George W. Bush.
The President authorized an illegal program to spy on American citizens on American soil, and then misled Congress and the public about the existence and legality of that program. It is up to this body to reaffirm the rule of law by condemning the President’s actions.
All of us in this body took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true allegiance to the same. Fulfilling that oath requires us to speak clearly and forcefully when the President violates the law. This resolution allows us to send a clear message that the President's conduct was wrong.
And we must do that. The President’s actions demand a formal judgment from Congress.
At moments in our history like this, we are reminded why the founders balanced the powers of the different branches of government so carefully in the Constitution. At the very heart of our system of government lies the recognition that some leaders will do wrong, and that others in the government will then bear the responsibility to do right.
This President has done wrong. This body can do right by condemning his conduct and showing the people of this nation that his actions will not be allowed to stand unchallenged.

I got two more things to pass on. The first is the one, the only, the powerful Dave Zirin's "Stained Uniforms:"

'Will Major League Baseball be more resistant to change than apartheid South Africa?"That's the question posed by Dennis Brutus, a former leading fighter against apartheid who is a founding member of the Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance. The group is pressuring the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team to lead a major league campaign to improve the working conditions of those who stitch and sew uniforms and caps.
In a highly unusual move, the alliance of students, workers, academics and labor activists last year took its case directly to fans entering PNC Park, where the Pirates play. The group's most creative tools are "anti-sweat baseball cards" that use cartoons, celebrity images and satire to tell the story of how Major League Baseball, which negotiates apparel contracts for all teams, exploits foreign workers to produce the gear worn by players and the clothing sold as memorabilia to fans. On the back of the cards, statistics describe the huge profit margins -- an L.A. Dodger jersey can cost between $50 and $300 -- on the clothing items that cost pennies to sew.
The conditions in the sweatshops are deplorable. Pay is virtually subsistence, and on-the-job injury and fatality rates are high. Shifts can run 18 hours with no overtime pay. There is no healthcare insurance, and women are given compulsory pregnancy tests; a positive result is grounds for dismissal. Union organizers usually find themselves out of a job.

By the way, Nina taped Law and Disorder for me and it's everything she and Ruth said it was.
If you've never checked the radio show out, you should. It was really cool. They discussed copyrights and how they effect society and had a Republican on who explained how Bully Boy and the neocons weren't really Republicans. I've been stopping while typing to listen. It's really worth checking out. Be sure to check out Elaine's thoughts at Like Maria Said Paz.

Now if you missed some news last week, here's something for you. And maybe you followed the news but still missed something? Here's the thing Maria did to pull ten stories from last week's Democracy Now! headlines.

"Cinco localidades de Vermont apoyaron juicio político a Bush (Democracy Now!)"
Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "
Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Cinco localidades de Vermont apoyaron juicio político a Bush
En Vermont, cinco localidades aprobaron medidas para solicitar el juicio político al Presidente Bush. Los votos surgieron en un momento en que las conversaciones sobre el juicio político aumentan. El lunes, el "Wall Street Journal" publicó un extenso artículo que señalaba que las encuestas indican que hay un mayor apoyo por parte de la población para que se someta al presidente Bush a juicio político, que el que hubo para realizar un juicio político al Presidente Clinton durante todo su mandato. En 1998, las encuestas mostraron que el 27 por ciento de los estadounidenses apoyaban el juicio político a Clinton si había mentido acerca de si había mantenido relaciones sexuales con Monica Lewinsky. Mientras tanto, una encuesta realizada recientemente por Zogby, indicó que el 51 por ciento de los estadounidenses encuestados dijo que el Congreso debería considerar realizar un juicio político al presidente Bush si no decía la verdad sobre las razones para iniciar la guerra en Irak.

Ex fiscal del Departamento de Justicia: "Justificación débil" para el programa de espionaje sin órdenes judiciales
Mientras tanto, un ex abogado de alto rango de seguridad nacional del Departamento de Justicia criticó algunas de las principales justificaciones legales del gobierno de Bush para llevar a cabo el programa de espionaje sin órdenes judiciales. El ex vicefiscal general asociado, David Kris, dice que el argumento del gobierno de Bush de que el Congreso había autorizado el programa de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional al aprobar la utilización de la fuerza contra al-Qaeda, era una "justificación débil" y que probablemente no sería respaldada por la justicia. Kris supervisó los asuntos de seguridad nacional en el Departamento de Justicia desde 2000 hasta 2003.

Grupos por las libertades civiles piden a tribunal que cancele programa de espionaje de la NSA
Dos grupos por las libertades civiles pidieron el jueves a tribunales federales que obliguen al gobierno de Bush a que ponga fin a su programa de espionaje nacional sin ordenes judiciales porque viola el derecho a la privacidad y a la libertad de expresión de los ciudadanos estadounidenses. El pedido del Centro para los Derechos Constitucionales y la Unión Estadounidense para las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés), surgió sólo días después que los Republicanos obstruyeran una investigación del Senado sobre el programa de espionaje de la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional. El Director Ejecutivo de ACLU, Anthony Romero, dijo: "En Estados Unidos, nadie está por encima de la ley, ni siquiera el Presidente. Los aliados del Presidente en el Congreso se están preparando para ocultar su programa ilegal, mientras que otros miembros del Congreso se mantienen al margen. Cuando el Presidente viola la ley, el Congreso no debería dejarlo en libertad".

Bush y Senadores Republicanos llegan a acuerdo sobre espionaje del gobierno
En Capitol Hill, el Comité de Inteligencia del Senado decidió mediante una votación rechazar una propuesta para investigar el programa de espionaje interno del gobierno de Bush. Esta votación surgió luego de que la Casa Blanca y Senadores Republicanos acordaran nuevos lineamientos para la escucha de conversaciones telefónicas llevada a cabo por el gobierno sin órdenes judiciales. Según el "New York Times", el acuerdo establece que el gobierno de Bush debe solicitar órdenes judiciales sólo "cuando sea posible". Al gobierno de Bush se le otorgará un período de gracia de 45 días para llevar a cabo espionaje sin órdenes judiciales si consideraran que solicitarlas comprometería la seguridad nacional. Luego de transcurrido ese periodo de 45 días, el espionaje sin órdenes judiciales puede ser extendido si el fiscal general certifica la postura del gobierno. Asimismo, varios miembros del Congreso estarán informados sobre las actividades del programa. Los Demócratas atacaron el acuerdo. El Senador de Virginia Occidental John Rockefeller, quien se desempeña como vicepresidente del Comité de Inteligencia del Senado, dijo: "Para decirlo sin rodeos, el Comité está básicamente controlado por la Casa Blanca".

Gran Bretaña anuncia intención de retirar soldados de Irak
En otras noticias de Irak, el principal comandante militar británico en Irak anunció planes de retirar a casi todos sus soldados para la primavera de 2008. En una entrevista con el diario "Daily Telegraph", el Teniente General Nick Houghton dijo que el retiro por etapas comenzarían en semanas. Sin embargo, Houghton dijo que el retiro depende fundamentalmente de que los legisladores iraquíes formen un gobierno de coalición nacional y de que los gobiernos estadounidense y británico consideren que las fuerzas armadas iraquíes están preparadas para manejar la seguridad. En la actualidad hay 8.000 soldados británicos en Irak.

Comandante militar iraquí de alto rango muere en Bagdad
Mientras tanto, el jefe de la división del ejército iraquí en Bagdad murió el lunes cuando su vehículo fue atacado. El Mayor General Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Dulaimi es uno de los oficiales militares iraquíes de más alto rango que perdió su vida en manos de la violencia de los insurgentes. Un comandante estadounidense de las fuerzas armadas que supervisó el contigente militar de Estados Unidos en Bagdad el año pasado dijo acerca de la muerte del General: "Podría ser un golpe del que llevará tiempo recuperarse". El incidente fue uno de varios ataques que se produjeron el lunes y que dejaron un saldo de más de 20 muertos y 50 heridos en todo Irak. En el peor ataque del día, siete personas murieron, entre ellas cinco niños, en un atentado con bomba en un mercado repleto de gente en la localidad de Baquba. Otras 17 personas resultaron heridas.

250 especialistas médicos condenan trato de Estados Unidos a prisioneros de Guantánamo
Más de 250 especialistas médicos firmaron una carta que condena a Estados Unidos por alimentar a la fuerza a prisioneros en huelga de hambre en la prisión de Bahía de Guantánamo, Cuba. La carta fue publicada en la revista médica británica "The Lancet". Los médicos escribieron: "Exhortamos al gobierno estadounidense a asegurar que los detenidos sean evaluados por médicos independientes y que las técnicas como la alimentación forzada o las sillas de sujeción sean descartadas". Los médicos también dijeron que la Asociación Médica Estadounidense debería iniciar procesos disciplinarios contra cualquier miembro que se sepa que violó los códigos de ética mientras trabajaba en Guantánamo.

Amnistía dice que sistema de cárceles iraquí administrado por Estados Unidos es una "receta para el maltrato"
En otras noticias, Amnistía Internacional condenó lo que denomina detención "arbitraria" de decenas de miles de personas en Irak. En un nuevo informe, el grupo defensor de los derechos humanos dice que el sistema de cárceles administrado por Estados Unidos se ha transformado en una "receta para el maltrato". Kate Allen, la directora de Amnistía Internacional en el Reino Unido dijo: "Mientras que las fuerzas estadounidenses y británicas tengan prisioneros en condiciones de reclusión secretas, es más probable que haya tortura, y que ésta no sean detectada ni castigada".

Manifestante dijo a Condoleeza Rice: "Tiene las manos sucias de sangre"
Un manifestante fue expulsado de la audiencia del Senado luego de interrumpir la declaración de la Secretaria de Estado Condoleeza Rice. El manifestante dijo: "Es una guerra ilegal e inmoral, cuántos de ustedes tienen hijos en esa guerra ilegal e inmoral. Tienen las manos sucias de sangre y no se las pueden lavar. Tienen las manos sucias de sangre y no se las pueden lavar".

Se le diagnosticó cáncer de mama a Lynne Stewart
Y la defensora de los derechos civiles condenada a prisión, Lynne Stewart, reveló que está luchando contra el cáncer de mama. A Stewart le diagnosticaron la enfermedad en noviembre, y le extirparon un tumor a principios de este año. Stewart fue condenada el año pasado por conspiración y por apoyar al terrorismo mediante la publicación de una declaración de su cliente encarcelado, jeque Omar Abdel-Rahman. Siempre ha sostenido su inocencia. Afronta una pena máxima de treinta años en prisión. La condena de Stewart está programada para la semana próxima. Sus abogados solicitaron que se postergara la condena hasta fines de julio para que pueda someterse a tratamiento.

Maria: Good morning. Now in English, here are ten news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

Five Vermont Towns Back Impeachment of Bush
In Vermont, five towns have approved measures calling for the impeachment of President Bush. The votes come at a time when the talk of impeachment is increasing. On Monday the Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy article pointing out how polls show there is greater support among the public for the impeachment of President Bush than there ever was for President Clinton. In 1998, polls showed 27 percent of the country backed the impeachment of Clinton if he lied about having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Meanwhile a recent Zogby poll showed 51 percent of the country said Congress should consider impeaching Bush if he didn't tell truth about the reasons for the Iraq war.

Ex-Justice Attorney: "Weak Justification" for Warrantless Spying
A former high-ranking national security lawyer at the Justice Department has come forward to criticize some of the Bush administration's key legal justifications for the warrantless spying program. Former associate deputy attorney general David Kris says the Bush administration's contention that Congress had authorized the NSA program by approving the use of force against al-Qaeda was a "weak justification" unlikely to be supported by the courts. Kris oversaw national security issues at the Justice Department from 2000 until 2003.

Civil Liberties Groups Seek Court to Shutdown NSA Spy Program
Two civil liberties groups asked the federal courts on Thursday to force the Bush administration to end its warrantless domestic spying program because it violates the privacy and free speech rights of US citizens. The requests from the Center for Constitutional Rights and American Civil Liberties Union came just days after Republicans blocked a Senate investigation into the National Security Agency spy program. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said "In America, no one is above the law, not even the president. The president's allies in Congress are preparing to cover up his illegal program, while others in Congress are standing on the sidelines. When the President breaks the law, Congress should not be giving him a get-out-of-jail free card."

Bush, GOP Sens. Reach Eavesdropping Agreement
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted down a proposal to investigate the Bush administration's domestic spy program. The vote came after the White House and Republican Senators agreed to new guidelines for the practice of government eavesdropping without court-approved warrants. According to the New York Times, the deal asks the Bush administration to request court warrants only "whenever possible." The Bush administration would be given a 45 day grace period to spy without court warrants if they felt requesting them would compromise national security. After the 45-day period, the warrantless eavesdropping could then be extended if the attorney general certifies the administration's stance. In addition, a handful of extra members of Congress would also be briefed on the program's activities. Democrats lashed out at the deal. West Virginia Senator John Rockefeller, who serves as vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said: "The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House."

Britain Announces Intent To Withdraw Troops from Iraq
In other Iraq news, Britain's top military commander in Iraq has announced plans to withdraw nearly all of its soldiers by the summer of 2008. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Lieutenant General Nick Houghton said phased withdrawals would begin within weeks. However, Houghton said the pullout is ultimately contingent on Iraqi lawmakers forming a national coalition government and the US and British governments judging the Iraqi military ready to handle security. There are currently 8,000 British troops in Iraq.

Senior Iraqi Military Commander Killed in Baghdad
Meanwhile, the head of the Iraqi army's Baghdad division was killed Monday when his vehicle came under attack. Major General Mubdar Hatim Hazya al-Dulaimi is one of the highest-ranking Iraqi military officials to lose their lives in insurgent violence. A US military commander who oversaw the US military contingent in Baghdad last year said of the General's death: "It could be a blow that takes a long time to overcome." The incident was one of several Monday that left more than 20 people dead and 50 injured around Iraq. In the day's worst attack, five children were among seven people killed in a bombing in a crowded market in the town of Baqubah. Another 17 people were injured.

250 Doctors Condemn U.S. Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo
More than 250 medical experts have co-signed a letter condemning the United States for force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The letter appears in the British medical journal The Lancet. The doctors wrote "We urge the US government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned." The doctors also said the American Medical Association should instigate disciplinary proceedings against any members known to have violated ethical codes while working at Guantanamo.

Amnesty Says US-Run Iraqi Prison System "Recipe for Abuse"
In other news, Amnesty International has condemned what it calls the "arbitrary" detention of tens of thousands of people in Iraq. In a new report, the human rights group says the US-run prison system has become "a recipe for abuse." Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: "As long as U.S. and U.K. forces hold prisoners in secret detention conditions, torture is much more likely to occur, to go undetected and to go unpunished."

Protester to Condoleeza Rice: "Blood Is On Your Hands"
A protester was thrown out of the Senate hearing after disrupting testimony by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The protester said " 'It's an Illegal and immoral war -- how many of you have children in the illegal and immoral war. Their blood is on your hands and cannot wash it away. Their blood is on your hands and you cannot wash it away."

Lynne Stewart Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
And convicted civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart has disclosed she is battling breast cancer. Stewart was diagnosed in November, and had a tumor removed earlier this year. Stewart was convicted last year of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorism by releasing a statement by her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman. She has always maintained her innocence. She is facing a maximum of thirty years in prison. Stewart is scheduled to be sentenced next week. Her lawyers have requested sentencing be postponed until the end of July so she can pursue treatment.