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Week of June 19 2006
by Becky Tavani
US military deaths in Iraq reach 2,500 Last week, the number of US military deaths in Iraq hit 2,500. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed with some estimates of the toll around 40,000. Roadside bombs, known by the military as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are the biggest cause of U.S. casualties. The steadily mounting U.S. toll reflects an insurgency that has not buckled despite facing a military superpower.
And yet, even as this sad milestone is reached, the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives used their control of the rules to block an open debate on alternatives to U.S. policy in Iraq. "The House leadership talks about democracy in Iraq, but won't allow it here," commented Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). "Our young people keep dying in a senseless war, but our elected representatives are denying the public a chance to debate and change policy. The abuse of power is a travesty."
Under rules imposed by the House leadership, only 10 hours of debate will be allowed and members will not be allowed to offer or vote on amendments. The ploy will only allow a rubber stamp of the Bush administration policy in Iraq. Read more from UFPJ here.
Take Action: “No Peace, No Vote”: Sign the Voters for Peace Pledge at United for Peace and Justice stating that you will not support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression.
Also, tell Congress to Hold an Open Debate on the Occupation of Iraq by signing House Resolution 543 -- the discharge petition that will force the leadership to let both sides of the aisle talk about Iraq.
Mission refused – Military personnel resisting service in Iraq
“Based on all the pretenses and rationale that we the U.S., gave for invading, none of them held true. And there were no weapons, there was no link between the secular Baathists, Al Qaeda, and the fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, and the notion of installing a puppet regime doesn’t really sound like democracy to me. And I just couldn’t bring myself to kill or be killed for the sake of that,” says Jeremy Hinzman, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who fled to Canada to avoid fighting in Iraq.
He and many like him are growing in numbers. Another veteran who refused to fight in Iraq, Sgt. Patrick Hart , recently joined Cindy Sheehan and many others in a rally in Fort Erie, Ontario that was a show of solidarity between peace activists in the two countries and a call for the Canadian government to welcome the estimated 200 U.S. soldiers who have fled north of the border, citing conscientious objections to the Iraq War. He and many others like him have filed for refugee status with the Canadian government. Read more about Sgt Hart’s escape to Canada.
Green light for racial profiling, Judge rules U.S. can detain non-citizens indefinitely A federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled the government can legally detain non-citizens on the sole basis of their religion, race or national origin and then detain them indefinitely. The ruling came in response to a class action lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of a group of immigrants who were detained following Sept. 11th.
This ruling means that once a non-citizen is picked up for a valid immigration purpose, that non-citizen can be held after they receive a final deportation or removal order, as long as they are going to be deported at some point in the foreseeable future, giving the US complete discretion to detain an individual for whatever purpose it wants after a final deportation order until they cease to have any use for that individual in this country. The discretion built into the immigration law means that the US can use criteria that we would normally consider impermissible when dealing with citizens. Go to Democracy Now and the NY Times to read more on this ruling.
Take Action: CCR’s site explains how you can contact US leaders to speak up and demand that the US shuts down the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay.
New Jersey Demands Data on Phone Call Surveillance and Is Sued by U.S.
(note: I read this with pride as a native Jersey gal) Last Wednesday (June 14), the United States filed a lawsuit to block subpoenas issued by the New Jersey attorney general, Zulima V. Farber. Ms. Farber has issued subpoenas to five telephone companies to determine whether any of them violated the state's consumer protection laws by providing records to the National Security Agency. She explains, “People in New Jersey and people everywhere have privacy rights. What we were trying to determine was whether the phone companies in New Jersey had violated any law or any contractual obligations with their consumers by supplying information to some government entity, simply by request, and not by any court order or search warrant."
Experts say it is the first legal move by a state to question the agency's program to compile calling records to track terrorist activities. Her have effectively set up a legal showdown pitting the state's authority to protect consumers' rights against the federal government's national security powers. Read more at the NY Times.
Take Action: Thank the AG for standing up for privacy laws and not kowtowing to the Bush administration’s “national security” rhetoric.
Israeli cover-up in Gaza Beach Massacre? Who really killed Huda Ghalia's family? After initially issuing an official apology over the deaths of seven members of a Palestinian family on a Gaza beach, Israel soon after denied that its artillery caused the explosion that killed the family, leaving one surviving member, Huda Ghalia. Images of the 10-year-old girl on the beach, crying next to her dead father, have been all over Palestinian media and she has now become the latest icon of Palestinian suffering. The incident has enraged Palestinians and rekindled debate within Israel about army tactics.
Israeli officials quickly issued statements expressing “deep regret” over the civilian deaths and promising an investigation, but did not deny involvement. A recent investigation by the Guardian undermines the military claim that Israeli shells could not have been responsible for the death of the girl's family.
Occupation, Not War Author and Air America talk show host discusses the way most Democrats should handle the polarizing issue of “the war in Iraq”. He offers that there is no longer a war against Iraq, and that what we now have is an occupation of Iraq. Democrats should begin to use that language, since it’s very un-American to cut and run and quit a war, but very sensible to leave an occupation. A very enlightening and funny commentary using Bush’s own logic, “[the war] ended in May of 2003, when George W. Bush stood below a ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and correctly declared that we had "victoriously" defeated the Iraqi army and overthrown their government.
He also offers an entertaining imaginary interview with Tim Russert, explaining how Democrats should approach the highly polarized subject of withdrawal from Iraq.
World Cup, Not War Team America and its attendant army of fans have carried a lust for combat to FIFA's raucous playing fields, where athletic prowess and national pride are not necessarily a cause for war. In a recent editorial, the Nation’s Dave Zirin & John Cox discuss some regrettable comments made by Team America’s Eddie Johnson at the World Cup and their discontinuity with the spirit of the tournament as a historical counterweight to the passions of war.
Al Gore on Fresh Air Al Gore brilliantly discusses global warming and the corporate campaign to misinform the American citizenry about its origins, ultimately undermining democracy by distorting the facts. He compares the current oil industry and their obstruction of facts reaching the public to the tobacco industry’s campaign 50 years ago to mislead the public on tobacco’s connection to cancer. Compelling arguments and analysis that make you regret his 2000 loss.
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Photo of a school in Yemen bombed by Saudi Arabian jets supplied by the U.S. and fueled in the air by the U.S. Air Force.
Tell Trump to STOP THIS CARNAGE, not fuel it! Click here.
Also participate in the CodePink email and/or phone initiative:
Click here to sign a petition, to put an end to the sanctions against Syria - their only effect is to take a terrible toll on the population, causing them to migrate! And click here to see the video by the Italian Committee to lift sanctions against Syria.
Did someone tell you that U.S. military intervention in Iraq was over? Not true: we're at it again. This time the pretext to drop bombs is "curbing ISIS" (which was created by the U.S. in the first place, to overturn al-Malaki in Iraq and then Assad in Syria, and is now out of hand.
Like what happened to "our" creature al Qaeda in Afghanistan). And the death toll continues to rise...
Write your senators and tell them: "Enough! U.S. out!! Iraq has shown it can curb ISIS by itself!"