Friday, November 30, 2007

DN! on Venezuela, Nii OkaiJah, IVAW

The weekend at last! :D Okay, yesterday we were talking about Hugo Chavez so let's pick up on that right from the start. This is from Democracy Now!'s "Tens of Thousands Protest Chavez Proposals, Is CIA Fomenting Unrest to Challenge Referendum?:"

JUAN GONZALEZ: In Venezuela, tens of thousands of protesters marched through the capital city of Caracas Thursday to oppose a series of constitutional changes proposed by President Hugo Chavez.
The referendum is coming to a vote on Sunday. Chavez plans to lead rallies in favor of the reforms today. Venezuelans will vote on sixty-nine proposed changes to the nation's constitution that include eliminating presidential term limits, creating forms of communal property and cutting the workday from eight hours to six.
Thursday's demonstration was the biggest show of opposition to the constitutional overhauls so far. On Wednesday, hundreds of students clashed with police and the Venezuelan national guard. Most surveys say the outcome of the December 2nd vote is too close to call.
AMY GOODMAN: This week, President Chavez claimed the US government is fomenting unrest to challenge the referendum. His foreign minister went on television late Wednesday revealing what he said was a CIA plan to secure a "no" victory. The confidential memo was reportedly sent from the US embassy in Caracas and addressed to the director of Central Intelligence, Michael Hayden.
James Petras is a former professor of sociology and Latin American studies at Binghamton University. He is author of a number of books, including Social Movements and State Power. His exclusive article in "
Counterpunch" is called "CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces." Professor Petras joins us now from Binghamton, New York.
Welcome, Professor Petras. Can you start off by talking about what exactly this memo is? Have you actually seen it? What is it reported to say?
JAMES PETRAS: Well, I picked it up off the Venezuelan government program. It describes in some detail what the strategy of the US embassy has been, and most likely the author, Michael Middleton Steere, who’s listed as US embassy, may be a CIA operative, because he sends the report to Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA.
Now, what the memo talks about essentially is, first of all, the effectiveness of their campaign against the constitutional amendments, and it concedes that the amendment will be approved, but it does mention the fact that they’ve reduced the margin of victory by six percentage points. The second part is more interesting. It actually mentions the fact that the US strategy is what they call a "pincer operation." That’s the name of the document itself. It's--"pincer" is "tenaza," and it's, first of all, to try to undermine the electoral process, the vote itself, and then secondly, once the vote goes through, if they are not able to stop the vote, is to engage in a massive campaign calling fraud and rejecting the outcome that comes from the election. So, on one hand, they're calling a no vote, and on the other hand, they’re denouncing the outcome if they lose.
Now, the other part that’s interesting about this document is what it outlines as the immediate tasks in the last phase. And that includes getting people out in the street, particularly the students. And interestingly enough, there is a mixture here of extreme rightists and some social democrats and even some ex-Maoists and Trotskyists. They mention the Red Flag, Bandera Roja, and praise them actually for their street-fighting ability and causing attacks on public institutions like the electoral tribunal.
But more interestingly is their efforts to intensify their contacts with military offices. And what they seem to have on their agenda is to try to seize either a territorial base or an institutional base around which to rally discontented citizens and call on the military--and it particularly mentions the National Guard--to rally in overthrowing the referendum outcome and the government. So this does include a section on a military uprising.
And it complains about the fact that the groups under its umbrella or its partners are not all unified on this strategy, and some have abandoned the umbrella operation and, secondly, that the government intelligence has discovered some of their storage warehouses of armaments and have even picked up some of their operatives. And they hope in this that this is not going to upset their plans.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, James Petras, this is obviously a very explosive memo, coming just a few days before the actual referendum. And while it certainly sounds like many of the types of tactics that the CIA has used in prior international adventures, has there been any confirmation whether this memo is--
JAMES PETRAS: Well, obviously, it's a memo that the US will denounce. They always have this clause in their operation that they should be able to have an out.
Secondly, the Venezuelans are very tolerant of their opposition. The Chavez government has not expelled the operative here, Michael Middleton Steere. There have been discussions, I’ve gotten from my sources in Venezuela, in the foreign office to expel this official, but they haven’t actually taken that step. And it goes along with this very libertarian outlook in Venezuelan government. You know, many of the people involved in the overthrow of the president, the military takeover for forty-eight hours in 2002, many of them never were put on trial and never were arrested, and they’re back in action in this referendum. So law enforcement regarding what would normally be called insurrectionary activity in the United States--many of these people would have been locked in Fort Leavenworth and the key thrown away--in Venezuela, the golpistas, the people involved in coup planning and operations, are having a second, third chance.

There was some stuff I wanted to talk about tonight and even mentioned it yesterday. But I saw Nii OkaiJah's "Is Africa the Next Cold War Theater?" and thought since this was a topic we've touched on a few times lately that this really needed to be highlighted:

When Ghana became the first Black country south of the Sahara to gain freedom from colonial rule on March 6, 1957, its founder, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, set Africa on a course toward continental liberation and unification. Assisted later by the defunct Organization of African Unity, all African countries attained political independence, but they were not completely united. Although the later formation of the African Union (AU) was seen as a step in that direction, the AU soon lost steam because of the failure of African leaders to come out courageously in establishing the United States of Africa at its summit in Accra, Ghana this year. This is perpetuating the weak political and economic conditions of more than 50 countries on the continent. Consequently, Africa continues to be placed in a weak position, at the mercy of foreign countries with economic and military strength. Such is the impact of the Chinese economic drive, and most recently the U.S. creation of the Africa Command (Africom).
According to U.S. officials, Africom is aimed at better coordinating and cohesive handling of the work of three different command centers, all of them based outside Africa. The new force, with an initial 300 employees, is temporarily based in Germany while the debate is waged whether it should be sited on the continent or not. So far, strife-torn Liberia is the only African country to have agreed to have the headquarters in that country.
Opposition is strong in Africa because much as Africans are economically poor, they cherish their political independence, and see any military program without their approval in the way of planning a conquest. A grim reminder of this was echoed in a recent article in the Chicago Defender, a leading African American newspaper. Writing under the headline, "Conquest and greed: That's what made America great," Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, stated, "The slavery, genocide and empire building got America off to a good start - free land and free labor. You can't lose with that... Free land and massive infusion of cheap labor later made it easy for the United States to be ready and take advantage of the Industrial Revolution." He continued, "We [Americans] were well prepared from it. It made us a military and industrial might during the 20th century," [and beyond].
Today, Americans' greatest need is energy to maintain their power and high lifestyles. With consumption of energy so high, dependence is on foreign sources. Until recently, the Middle East led the world in meeting this need by providing 20 percent of U.S. oil imports. However, according to recent reports from the U.S. Energy Administration, African countries now provide the U.S. with 24 percent of its oil needs. In addition, Africa provides the U.S. with substantial amounts of strategic minerals and raw materials for American industries.

The US is pulling up bases in Europe and hoping to plant a lot more in Africa. This isn't about 'helping' anymore than Our Modern Day Carrie Nations want to "Save Darfur." It's about occupying and controlling Africa. You have to wonder how this imperialistic phase in the United States has gone unchecked for so long? We replaced England with empire building (France dabbled it in as well) and you'd think the other countries would grasp that if it goes unchecked, sooner or later the US is going to put them on the list. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the US government made a move on Canada. (Although with Stephen Harper willing to hand over everything, why would Bully Boy need more from Canada?)

If you live in the US what should really scare you is that empire's fall. At some point, the US will fall. It will need help from others and who's going to be around to help? Be willing? More importantly, with the way we've invaded and destroyed, you have to wonder if a lot of grudges held might suddenly get paid off. Danny Schechter writes a lot about our economy, not just the housing crisis but the economy as well, and if you follow him, you realize we're just digging an ever deeper hole. Maybe it won't be in my lifetime, but at some point those bills are coming due and it's not going to be pretty when that happens.

In the meantime, think about all that we are denied as citizens (in war or 'peace') with the monies wasted on stirring on sh*t in the rest of the world whether by directly going to war, covertly going to war, staging coups, spying, etc.

Now Africa's rises on the list (it's been on it for some time, obviously, but now it's a place to really occupy). And we've got all these "OMG!" headlines about a teacher in Sudan. You know what, you go to teach somewhere, learn the culture. Boo-hoo. Of course, she may have known the culture and may just be attempting to build an international incident. I don't have sympathy for people who go into targeted areas and do their own screw ups that could change the status from "targeted" to "declared" war. You went there, you screwed up. They've got their own legal system. That's how it works in a foreign country. There are things you could do in this country as a vistor that would get you sentenced that might not in other countries. And since we continue to have the death penalty, we're not a lot different from some of the 'extreme' countries. And, face it, you don't even have to be guilty to end up on death row as one DNA test after another has been revealing.

Think how sick that is. And think about how sick it is that with people on death row, the government won't pony up the money for universal DNA testing. We have a prison-industrial society and I'm sure DNA testing could prove many people not on death row were innocent as well. I'm not claiming that wouldn't happen. But I'm saying that even in the most extreme cases, where you are willing to put someone to death, you're not willing to pay for a DNA test. The government should. Defense teams shouldn't have to get the money or beg a governor. That should be a basic as long as the death penalty is in effect. (I favor abolishing the death penalty.) I don't see how anyone who favors the death penalty can't also argue for universal DNA testing for death row prisoners. I really don't because this is life or death and you'd think people would want to be damn sure before they went further. How do you apologize after someone's been put to death. "Woops!"?

I'm not forgetting Iraq. This is from Aaron Glantz' "U.S. War Vets to Speak Publicly About War Crimes:"

U.S. war veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have announced they're planning to descend on Washington, DC this March to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in Iraq.
"The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it," said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. "That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like."
Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of American brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples," as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation."
"This is our generation getting to tell history," Madden told OneWorld, "to ensure that the actual history gets told -- that it's not a sugar-coated, diluted version of what actually happened."
Iraq Veterans Against the War is calling the gathering a "Winter Soldier," named after a similar event organized by Vietnam veterans in 1971.
In 1971, over 100 members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions.

IVAW's event is major. I hope you're telling everyone you know about it. If we all know it's coming, it's going to make it more difficult for the press to get away with ignoring it. This needs big coverage and we can all do our part by getting the word out.

That's it for me. It's late and I'm tired. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 30, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, a mass kidnapping is reported, the peace movement is not election central (get the message out), and more.

Last Saturday,
Lawrence Hill (Ottawa Citizen) reminded (1) "the Anglo-American attack on Iraq in 2003 was an offensive -- not a retaliatory -- strike. The war had no approval from the UN Security Council, and for this reason Canada's prime minister of the day, Jean Chretien, refused to support it. In 2004, then-UN secretary general Kofi Annan declared explicilty that the U.S.-led war on Iraq was illegal" and (2) "according to official UN policy, soldiers who are likely to be punished for having deserted military action 'condemned by the international legal community as contrary to rules of human conduct' should be eligible for refugee status." Hill is co-author with Joshua Key of the book The Deserter's Tale and the refusal of Canada's Supreme Court to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey makes it necessary to review those basics. Nikolai Lanine (Rabble News) observes, "We did betray them, after all. As a veteran of an illegal war, I feared Canada would do this. But I'd hoped otherwise." Lanine goes on to note that it wasn't just US war resisters during Vietnam being granted asylum, "November 26, 1986, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario welcomed five Soviet war objectors from Afghanistan. The Assembly described them as 'heroic individuals' and 'conscientious objectors in refusing to be partners in crime.'"

Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:

Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):

In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.

Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6

If you are in Canada, you can utilize the contact info at
War Resisters Support Campaign to let members of the Canadian Parliament know you support legislation allowing war resisters to stay in Canada. If you are in the United States (or elsewhere), you can utilize the contact info and/or forum at Courage to Resist. Public outcry didn't stop the illegal war from starting and public opposition has yet to end it. War resisters in Canada who have gone public are putting a great deal on the line. Use the links to show your support for them.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at
Culture Project and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $21 for previews and $41 for regular performances (beginning with the Nov. 18th opening night). The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.

IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.

"The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it. That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like," declares IVAW's Liam Madden to
Aaron Glantz in Glantz' report on the upcoming Winter Soldiers Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation (OneWorld). Madden is correct and only more so this week as a result of Project for Excellence in Journalism's report (PDF format here, our summary Wendesday here). This survey of 111 US journalists (mainstream media) who have covered Iraq found that "they do not believe the coverage of Iraq over time has been too negative. If anything, many believe the sitatuion over the course of the war has been worse than the American public has perceived, according to a new survey of journalists covering the war from Iraq." The report also found that 63% of the respondents stated "that Iraqi staffers do all or most of the street reporting outside the Green Zone." Madden tells Glantz, "This is our generation getting to tell history to ensure that the actual history gets told -- that it's not a sugar-coated, diluted version of what actually happened."

Turning to Iraq.
Yesterday's snapshot included this: "Reuters reports 2 car bombs were found ('and detonated') 'in the Baghdad office complex of the leader of the country's main Sunni Arab bloc' -- Adnan al-Dulaimi." Waleed Ibrahim and Alaa Shahine (Reuters) reported this morning on the arrests of "dozens of people, including the son of a leading Sunni Arab politicians" with 7 arrested at al-Dulaimi's office Thursday and 29 arrested at Dualaimi's home Friday morning (Mekki Adnan al-Dulaimi was arrested at his father's home with the twenty-eight others). Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that, in the house arrests, "Iraqi security forces surrounded the house, a move the U.S. said was for the elder al-Dulaimi's personal safety. Al-Dulaimi complained that he was under virtual house arrest" and quotes the Sunni politician declaring, "I will wait until Saturday morning and if the ban of my family continues, then I will consider the government's measure as a house arrest." BBC notes that Adnan al-Dulaimi states that car with the bomb "was not in the compound" and quotes Crispin Thorold who contributes that the incident will likely "increase tensions between the main Sunni Arab political bloc and supporters of the Shia Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki." Gee, you think? And al-Dulaimi is thought to have organized the minister walk out in August (walking out of al-Maliki's cabinet). Think that doesn't matter? Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times) reports today that there have been "17 ministries vacant for months." Rubin also notes the Thursday boycott in the Iraq Parliament over al-Maliki attempting to appoint ministers without input and to alter the Constitutional rules regarding the need for a quorum as well as the puzzler re: the arrests: "It is hard to understand why Mr. Dulaimi's guards might want to kill fellow Sunnis in the Awakening Council" and quotes an unnamed military official who declares "that it was impossible to rule out that an enemy of Mr. Dulaimi might have been trying to frame him." CNN reports "Slowing death rate in Iraq encourages Pentagon." Maybe that's why the Pentagon's been doing Multi-National Force's job. In the last few days, MNF has announced only one death. MNF's job is to announce the dead. The Defense Department puts names to them publicly after the families have been informed. Allen C. Roberts and John J. Tobiason deaths received no announcement from MNF.

Something that received lots of announcements was the mythic "
Great Return." Michael Gordon and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) report: "As if to underscore Mr. Maliki's point, 375 Iraqi refugees arrived Thursday in a convoy of buses from Damascus, Syria, escorted by heavily armed policemen. After the lengthy journey, the tired Iraqis were ushered into the white marble affluence of the Mansour Melia Hotel in Baghdad to receive a promised government payout to people returning to the capital."

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


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack left two people wounded and Hibhib mortar attack claimed 3 lives and left two people wounded while yesterday a car bombing in Al Shirqat claimed the lives of 4 police officer. Reuters notes a bomber in Dhuluwiya killed himself and 1 Iraqi police captin while wounded two more police officers and a mortar attack outside Kirkuk that left two children injured.

Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 people dead in an Al Khalis attack on five vehicles containing "members of Iraqi military and police" with thirty then kidnapped. Reuters notes that "a restaurant owner" was shot dead in Kirkuk.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Okay, we're throwing in programming here.
RadioNation with Laura Flanders is a new broadcast and features US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinch. Kucinich and not, as I wrongly stated earlier in the week, the legal panel. (Those wanting to hear the legal panel can go to the Flanders archives.) In addition, Australia's election will be covered (John Howard out, Kevin Rudd in), Sue Dinsdale and Ari Berman will talk about the Iowa primaries in terms of the illegal war, Parvez Sharma (director of the documentary film A Jihad for Love) and Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping explaining the "Christmas Shopocalypse." Laura Flanders' program airs Sundays from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST over the airwaves on Air America Radio, on XM satellite radio and streams online. That's radio on Sunday. Tonight (Friday), PBS' Bill Moyers Journal begins airing their latest installment which will explore the Middle East and featuring Ron Sider and M.J. Rosenberg as guests with a report about Christians United for Israel. Remember that the program's website includes a blog and you can leave comments and questions there. In most markets, Bill Moyers Journal will be airing tonight; however, some markets have started their pledge drive and the show may be interrupted or rescheduled. In addition to checking your local TV listings, you can remember that Bill Moyers Journal shares with Democracy Now! the fact that it is online and it is watch, listen or read. Welcoming to all. And with the number of wounded returning from Iraq, you'd think more programs would elect to go with that option. That has happened but the Journal and DN! are accessible to all. Lastly, David Bacon's "What a Vote for Free Trade Means" (San Francisco Chronicle) details the realities that it's not just Iraq on which the shift in power in Congress (from Republican to Democratic control) hasn't produced the needed results. Bacon's not just one of the last reporters in the country covering the labor beat, he also takes news photographs that are actually art and you can see some of his photos addressing immigration by clicking here.

Turning to US politics.
Tom Hayden has an article [Warning] at The Nation. What's the point of it? 527s aren't independent and let's not lie and pretend they are. Although he's realized that Barack Obama's New York Times chat was more revealing in transcript than write up, he's still creating false lines between Hillary Clinton and Obama that portray Obama in a flattering light. (For reality in the comparison, see Paul Krugman in this morning's New York Times via Truthout.) He places a lot of faith in MoveOn. We usually call them "WalkOn" here but, to their credit, they didn't back down even when condemned by some in the Senate. Maybe MoveOn has a spine? It's more than possible and, if so, good for them. But MoveOn appears in this sentence explaining where the peace movement can focus in the fall of 2008: "House and Senate races. It is perhaps here that groups like MoveOn and Progressive Democrats of America can have the greatest effect, by bolstering the numbers of antiwar senators and representatives who favor terminating the war in 2009. Think: Senator Al Franken."

Now Greens will be offended by the article and many Dems and many others and if that needs to be addressed, I'll carry it over to a column in a community newsletter. Let's instead focus (and this will go to a larger point) on one aspect of that. "Senator Al Franken" who apparently favors "terminating the war in 2009." Franken was pro-illegal war before it started, pro-illegal war while hosting his hideous radio show on Air America Radio and only recently came out against the illegal war. In that kind-of manner he's famous for (give five minutes in a speech to sobs over veterans care and then, having hidden behind that, do a quick line about how you oppose the illegal war, then move quickly on). What the hell is Al Franken doing in that column?

Al Franken DOES NOT CALL for an end to the illegal war in 2009. That's from his campaign staff who steered me to
this page at Al Franken's website. "Immediately beginning the process of bringing the troops home. Our withdrawal should not be precipitous . . ." Click on the link to read in full (that link provided only because I'm friends with the person who steered me to it.) So that's wrong. Al Franken's remarks are no different than Hillary Clinton's -- whom Tom Hayden calls out (while glossing over Obama's flaws). So that's wrong. How wrong is it for Tom Hayden to ignore an ongoing race? Al Franken is not the nominee for the US Senate by the Democratic Party. He is someone running for the nomination. Jack Nelson-Pallymeyer is whom students on campuses are excited about in that state -- students wanting to end the illegal war. Nelson-Pallmeyer is calling for an end to the illegal war. The sort of end that Hayden himself favors. So the question here is if we don't support the candidates who believe as we do, what kind of people are we? I'm not calling Tom a hypocrite. I am saying he doesn't know the Minnesota race and, as someone who struggled in his original races (both the losing one and the first victory), I am surprised that he's calling a "win" in a primary that won't be 'closed' (short of other candidates dropping out*) until "The Tuesday of Destiny" (February 5, 2008). That same sort of declaration/awarding can be found in: "Voting for Kucinich, Richardson or Gravel is a legitimate choice but not a nominee." Your choice is legitimate, Kucinich, Richardson or Gravel supporters; however, get with the program. I remember damn well the negative circulars put out by Tunney's campaign. I'm guessing someone has forgotten those days. But in 1976, Hayden's opponent didn't think Hayden made for "a nominee." So it's really surprising to see someone who's been through it himself attempt to call an ongoing race. *Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is not the only other person running for the nomination. I'm mentioning him because Minneapolis students are passionate on the need to elect him. Repeated trips to that state have revealed an enthusiasm for him that is not in place for Franken. He may or may not win the race. But there's really no reason for The Nation to be promoting an open race as if there's only one candidate.

And that's the problem with the article. It's most obvious with regards to the Senate race. But it's there in terms of the presidency. Here's a thought for the peace movement (Hayden is a part of the peace movement), how about we stop wasting our time on elections? How about we start using that time to instead talk about ending the illegal war? (There's a second aspect to that but it's a piece this Sunday at
The Third Estate Sunday Review.) Tom Hayden honestly wants to end the illegal war. That's not a pose with him, it's not a con, he truly wants to end the illegal war and wants that deeper in his soul than many other people. But here's why all this election talk is seen as nonsense by many students in today's peace movement: It starts with "Vote for whomever but we're only covering the front runners." Then it becomes "Use your voice however you want but that's not really a worthy nominee." And now it's to the point that a state race, not a national one, is being called when the state won't be holding its primary until February 5, 2008. At what point does it end? Will it filter down to municipal races? And if state candidates who support everything that is in Hayden's latest book (Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer does) aren't even noted while their opponent is not only noted but is misrepresented in the article (in a favorable light), what does that really say about the state of the peace movement?

I'm not endorsing Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer or anyone (other than
Cindy Sheehan) but it is troublesome that the author of 2001's School of Assassins: Guns, Greed and Globalization can't get a 'shout out' or a 'hey-hey' from the very people who believe in the same global issues. And, here's the thing to pay attention to, young people in that state are working very hard on his campaign. The same way Hayden worked on the campaigns of others long before he ran for office. They believe in Nelson-Pallmeyer and I'd love to hear the explanation from Hayden to them on how their candidate -- who truly wants to end the illegal war -- isn't worth noting in a magazine article? If older members of the peace movement want to be helpful, there are ways to be helpful. Telling people how to vote or ignoring their candidates isn't a way to be helpful and Tom Hayden knows many 'olders' hit the dirt in his day over this very issue. Hayden's 1976 run did make a difference. The same way, regardless of outcomes, other runs today will. Students don't need or want "voters' guides." They did want leadership and it hasn't been provided repeatedly which is why they've become their own leaders. In terms of others running in races right now . . . Hayden was a wonderful state assembly person and would have been a wonderful US senator (would still be a wonderful one). As a former candidate, he should grasp how harmful it is when you are the candidate speaking to the issues and others are actively working to highlight another candidate who is not addressing the issues.

Yes! magazine, Aimee Allison and David Solnit address the things needed to build a stronger movement and shoring up Barack Obama doesn't take place once nor do they feel the need to predict primary winners. In an amazing article, the authors conclude, "The courage of young people in the military, on campuses and in the streets is showing us how to assert our people power. It's clear that more and more folks in the United States and around the world have the courage to resist. Can we find what lies at the root of the word courage-le coeur, or heart-to assert our power as communities, as movements, and as people to reverse the policies of empire and build a better world?" That really gets to the heart of what's needed in the peace movement today -- what's already there but needs to be amplified. Allison and Solnit are the authors of Army Of None -- a practical and inspiring book that addresses what's being done, what can be done and where we can all dream a little further.

Finally, returning to the topic of Dia al-Kawwaz (
noted yesterday). Mohammed al Dulaimy, Jenan Hussein and Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) report, "Kawazz charged Friday that he'd been misled by Sadiq -- who first debunked his story -- in order to discredit him as a journalist." Sadiq is his brother-in-law Haider Sadiq. Someone lied to him -- that's not sarcasm. The Association to Defend Iraqi Journalist's rights' Ibrahim Saraj stated "Relatives confirmed the incident to me; Dhia confirmed it to me." He is conducting an investigation.

jeremy hinzman
brandon hughey