October 31, 2009

Make Fun, Not War

Ex Army Serviceman, Robin Long, gets ready for Make Drag Not War

By: Justin Juul October 31, 2009
“You gotta practice crossing those legs, man!” yells Eddie Falcon, 27, an ex-senior airman for the US Air Force who now lives with a crew of activists in a loft on Mission and 16th Street. His friend, Robin Long, 25, who was recently released from a military prison outside of San Diego after a year-long sentence for deserting the Army in a time of war, is giggling and pulling his miniskirt down over his hairy thighs, trying to figure out how to pose in a chair without being too obscene.

Falcon laughs as Long pushes his hair behind his ears and purses his lips in an exaggerated mock kiss. “Man,” Falcon says. “This is gonna be crazy. I don’t think this many veterans have ever gotten together and hung out in dresses.”

Falcon and Long are both members of The San Francisco chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization started by a group of Iraq War veterans in July 2004 to give a voice to active duty service people and veterans against the war. In four days they’ll both be lip-syncing and dancing alongside ten other veterans at Dance Mission Theater in a fundraiser for
Dialogues Against Militarism, another anti-war organization that’s sending a delegation to Israel to meet with young war resisters on November first.

The drag show is based in pure hard-nosed activism–Falcon and Long are neither gay nor particularly inclined to dance and sing– but part of a group of war veterans who travel the world, speaking in front of students, protesters and government officials.

“Our chapter is special,” said IVAW’s San Francisco chapter president, Stephen Funk, 27, who made international headlines in 2003 when he came out both as a gay man and as the first conscientious objector to the war in Iraq. “We’re visionaries. I mean, you won’t see any of the other chapters doing drag shows anytime soon; they’re more traditional. But believe me, it’ll happen eventually.”

The show, he said, is good for gathering supporters tired of the traditional protest gambits of marches, posters and speakers.

Hosted by “His Noble Negress, Malcolm McDrake” and featuring performances by award-winning drag queens such as Raya Light and Suppositori Spelling, the fundraiser, Make Drag Not War, represents the adoption of a new, unorthodox style of activism for the veterans. It’s partying-with-a-purpose and IVAW is just one of a growing number of Mission District non-profits trying to advocate in new ways. To many, partying and activism aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Mission is a great ecosystem for this type of thing,” said Brent Schulkin, founder of Carrot Mob, an organization that uses consumer power to woo businesses into changing their evil ways. “You’ve got your general activists, your technology people, and of course all the people who are down go out and party. It’s just a great place for thinking different.”

Started in 2007 by Schulkin, a former Mission resident who practiced and eventually got bored with traditional activism, Carrot Mob is “a method of activism that leverages consumer power to make the most socially-responsible business practices also the most profitable choices.”

His first stab at this new tactic, which he refers to as “an anti-boycott,” was a party he threw at K&D Market on Guerrero and 16th streets in 2007.

Using social networking, he invited a large group of friends to meet at the market to buy their beer, cigarettes and snacks for the night, thus guaranteeing a sudden influx of money for the store. In exchange, he asked the owners of K&D to invest some of the extra cash into energy saving renovations. It worked. Friends invited friends and by the end of the evening, people were drunkenly dancing in the aisles and K&D had enough extra money for an energy efficient lighting system.

Since then, Carrot Mob has expanded using its website as a hub for new branches popping up across the globe. Most recently, the organization hosted another “anti-boycott” on September 10th of this year at Epicenter Café in the SoMa. The result? With the extra money from five hour’s worth of Carrot Mob spending (10 times the usual), the café was able to implement a new 8% price discount for people who bring their own mugs/cups, install color coded trash/recycle bins, and switch from wooden stir sticks to a clean/dirty spoon system. Not bad for a day’s work.

Schulkin is hoping to turn Carrot Mob into a forceful worldwide movement, organized through a system of online collectives. “Imagine going to Nike or Reebok and being like ‘look, it’s Christmas. I got five million people ready to buy your shoe instead of your competitor’s. What can you do for us?’”

It’s that kind of thinking that sets San Francisco’s activists apart from the herd.

Other eccentric organizations with San Francisco roots include Rebar, the art collective behind PARK(ing) Day, a worldwide annual event where activists transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for relaxing, dancing and drinking and Swap SF, a sporadically occurring — the next event is set for early December said the organizers — clothing swap/warehouse party with a residency at Cell Space that donates clothes to various shelters in the Bay Area. There’s also The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Bicycle Coalition–which began advocating for cyclist’s rights in 1971 before disbanding in the early 1980’s and then reforming in 199 –and so on. Of course, these organizations represent only the most recent wave of San Francisco bred non-conformist activism.

San Francisco has played host to dozens of creative activist movements throughout the years–there were the beats in North Beach, The Diggers in The Haight, gay rights organizations in The Castro, etc–and the legacy carries on today thanks to forward-thinking activists like Schulkin, Falcon, and Funk, the main organizer behind Make Drag Not War.

As an ex-marine, a former inmate (he served six months for an “unauthorized absence”), a career activist, and an occasional porn performer, Funk, who’s been the president of his chapter since its inception in 2005, is accustomed to thinking different. He encourages other members to do the same.

“Demonstrations and marches certainly have their place,” said Funk. “But a lot of times its like preaching to the choir. At an event like Make Drag Not War, you’re gonna have people who come just to party and lea
ve feeling inspired to get out and do something. Isn’t that the point?”

Make Drag Not War happens Saturday, October 31st, at 7:30pm. Special guest appearance by Cindy Sheehan dressed as George Bush. Also featuring SF Boylesque. $15-$20. Dance Mission Theatre, 3316 24th St. 415.826.4441

-thanks to Mission Loc@l

Howard Zinn Endorses Dialogues Against Militarism (DAM)

A Letter From Howard Zinn
October 1, 2009

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you in an appeal for your assistance in making the Dialogues Against Militarism (DAM) project a reality. At a time when financial resources are scarce, your donation is especially vital.

This group of US war resisters and anti-militarism organizers is putting together a ground-breaking show of international solidarity amongst those directly resisting the US War on Terror and Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. DAM will send a US war resister delegation to Israel/Palestine, so that US military objectors, Israeli refuseniks, and Palestinian activists can come together, share ideas, and build relationships. They will also be making a film about the experience, to preserve the lessons learned and stories shared for continued organizing purposes.

These human connections, in the face of seemingly endless war and occupation, are vital: they give us the strength and hope we need to build global movements that can take on the forces that confront us, and they remind us that we are not alone.

The refusal of US and Israeli youth to take part in the wars and occupations their governments are waging is critical to movements against militarism and empire. Last year over 100 Israeli High School students signed an open letter refusing to join the Israeli military, due to their conscientious objection to “Israeli occupation and oppression policy in the occupied territories and the territories of Israel,” with many of them landing in military prison as a result. This past August another group of students followed in their footsteps. And in the US over 200 troops to date have publicly refused to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of those wars, while countless more have quietly resisted, all of them risking, and many serving, long prison sentences. As the US and Israeli wars and occupations drag on—with the continued occupation of Iraq, escalating attacks and bombings in Afghanistan, and last winter’s brutal attacks on the already besieged Gaza Strip, as well as the continuing violence against Palestinians and theft of West Bank land—these military objectors are a vital force of resistance from within. And when war resisters are linked up with Palestinians resisting occupation, they can be a powerful force for change.

Your contribution to DAM will enable a contingent of US resisters and supporters to travel to Israel/Palestine and participate in this international gathering of war resisters and activists as well as the production of a documentary film, an important piece of independent media in this time of disinformation. To make all of this happen, DAM must raise $15,500. A significant amount has already been raised but more help is needed. I am asking you to consider making as large a donation as you can. This is a powerful project at an important historical moment and I hope that you can help to ensure that it takes place.

Thank You,

Howard Zinn

Donate HERE


D.A.M. was created from the belief that the power of conversation can serve as a means to develop new ideas and advance the possibilities of moving beyond militarism. D.A.M.’s mission is to foster free and open conversations that engage and challenge issues of militarism through the relation of experiences by those who have been on its front lines. It is hoped through these dialogues that together we can build a better world.

הצהרת המשימה:

דיאלוג נגד מיליטרזים (DAM - Dialogues Against Militarism) נוצר מתוך האמונה ששיחה יכולה לשמש באמצעי לפתח רעיונות חדשים ולקדם אפשרויות להתקדם מעבר למיליטריזם. המשימה של DAM היא לאמץ שיחות חופשיות ופתוחות שעוסקות ומתעמתות עם נושאים של מילטריזציה דרך יחס של התנסויות על ידי אלו שהיו בחזיתות של המילטריזם. אנו מקווים שדרך דיאלוגים אלו, יחד, נוכל לבנות עולם טוב יותר.

حوارات ضد العسكرية" أنشئت على أساس المعتقد بأن قوة الحوار يمكنها أن تكون وسيلة للوصول إلى أفكار جديدة ولتشجيع إمكانية تخطي العسكرية. ترمي "حوارات ضد العسكرية" إلى دعم الحوار الحر والمفتوح الذي يخاطب ويواجه المسائل المتعلقة بالعسكرية من خلال تقديم تجارب الذين كانوا في صفوفها الأمامية. ونأمل من خلال هذه الحوارات أن نبني معًا عالمًا افضل.

October 29, 2009

Conscience behind bars: A visit with a friend in prison, War Resister, Cliff Cornell

We Move To Canada blogger, Laura Kaminker, has an article in the Mark:
Canada should be a refuge from militarism, not deporting U.S. war resisters who refuse to deploy in Iraq.
Laura Kaminker Freelance writer; activist.
On Thanksgiving weekend, Michelle Robidoux, Christine Beckermann, and Janet Goodfellow packed up Michelle’s little red Hyundai and headed out of Toronto before dawn. They crossed the border at Lewiston and continued south, through the autumn colours of Pennsylvania, past the traffic snarling around Washington D.C. The three Canadian women, friends and colleagues of mine from the War Resisters Support Campaign, were on their way to Camp Lejeune, a sprawling U.S. Marine Corps complex outside Fayetteville, North Carolina. Our friend Clifford Cornell is imprisoned there.

Cliff joined the U.S. Army in 2004 but refused to deploy to Iraq. He came to Canada in 2005, and lived for years on Gabriola Island, a quiet arts community off the coast of Vancouver Island near Nanaimo. In February 2009, his refugee claim denied and his appeals exhausted, Cliff was ordered to leave Canada. When he returned to the U.S., he was arrested, court-martialed – that is, he was tried by his accusers with no opportunity to raise a defence – and sentenced to a year in military prison.

The three friends spent the night in a motel in Virginia, steeled themselves in the morning, and passed through the gates of Camp Lejeune. After surrendering everything they carried, including car keys and passports, they joined a long line of families waiting to visit a loved one in the brig.

“As soon as we got in line,” says Christine, “I was filled with a really strong anger, almost overwhelming. This is what our government had done to Cliff.”

Conscience behind bars

Cliff, wearing an orange jumpsuit, was shocked and overjoyed to see his friends from the north. After many hugs and a few tears, he told them about life in the brig, a world of constant frustration, zero privacy, and endless boredom. Rules that govern every aspect of life seem designed to break any bonds that might form between inmates. Cliff can’t even share a book – if he receives one in the mail, it goes in the trash after he reads it.

Cliff lives in a barracks with 40 other young men; he’s allowed outside one hour each day. His sentence is three to four times as long as those of his fellow inmates, even men convicted of sexual assault and attempted murder.

“Conditions are very harsh,” says Christine, “but that wasn’t what made me angry. How the U.S. military runs its brigs – there’s nothing surprising about that. What’s shocking is that our government would participate in putting people who’ve done the right thing into that position. And after [deported war resister] Robin Long was sentenced to 15 months, and Cliff for a year, they’re still moving to do the same thing to other people. It’s outrageous.”

When visiting hours ended, Cliff and the other inmates were strip-searched and sent back to their barracks. “We felt so bad leaving him,” says Janet. “Here’s this guy who did the right thing, who obeyed international law, and followed his conscience. He should be on Gabriola Island, with a community and a job, but instead he’s sitting in prison.”

“But they volunteered!”

Canadians who oppose U.S. war resisters remaining in Canada usually fixate on one note. This is different than Vietnam, they say. In those days, people were avoiding a draft; these soldiers volunteered. First, it’s not true. And second, it doesn’t matter.

Of the estimated 50,000 Americans who came to Canada during the Vietnam War, about 10,000 were not escaping the draft: they volunteered for service, but when they saw what was really happening in Vietnam, they deserted and came north – and Canada allowed them to stay.
The Iraq War resisters volunteered, but what did they volunteer for? They promised to protect and defend their country, but as we all know, Iraq was never a threat to the United States. Even Stephen Harper has admitted that the Iraq War – which he supported and would have sent Canadian troops to – was “absolutely an error.”

What about stop-loss, the “back-door draft” that would have sent war resister Rodney Watson – now living in sanctuary in a Vancouver church – back to Iraq against his will? An estimated 15,000 U.S. servicepeople are in Iraq through stop-loss, some on their third and even fourth involuntary deployment.

What about recruiting lies? War resisters Kimberly Rivera and Joshua Key were told that because they had children, they would never be sent overseas.

But more importantly, what difference does it make if the origin of military service was voluntary? Can signing a contract possibly be more important than the human right of conscience? Does Canada want to stand for justice, or act as an enforcement agent for the Pentagon?

What can be done, what should be done

Rodney Watson shouldn’t have to hide in a church. Cliff Cornell, James Burmeister, and Robin Long shouldn’t have prison records and felony convictions that will hamper their opportunities forever. Kimberly Rivera and Jeremy Hinzman shouldn’t live in fear of their families being broken up.

The Canadian Parliament has twice passed motions calling on the government to stop deporting war resisters and allow them to stay. While officially non-binding, the two motions clearly expressed the will of a majority of Canadian people. The minority Conservative government ignored them both.

Now the House of Commons has an historic opportunity to put the weight of law behind those motions. Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy (Parkdale-High Park) has introduced Bill C-440, a private member’s bill that would allow U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada. Although private member’s bills usually have little chance of passage, this one has the support of all three opposition parties.

The question is, how many more people of conscience will be deported before C-440 comes to a vote?

The eyes of the world are watching. To borrow a phrase from former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s reputation as a “refuge from militarism” hangs by a thread.

The complete interview with Christine Beckermann and Janet Goodfellow about their visit with Cliff Cornell will be available at We Move To Canada.

-thanks to the Mark

UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Philip Alston: Record AfPak Drone Attacks Under Obama May Violate International Law

Democracy Now video interview with Philip Alston HERE

Investigative reporter Jane Mayer of The New Yorker magazine revealed last week that the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has risen dramatically under President Obama. During his first nine-and-a-half months in office, Obama authorized at least forty-one CIA missile strikes in Pakistan—a rate of approximately one bombing a week. We speak to one of the most high-profile critics of the US drone program: Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Alston says the US government’s use of Predator drones may violate international law.

-thanks to Democracy Now

Blue Scholars - "Back Home" Music Video

Back Home (link to youtube site)

This is the music video for "Back Home," the lead single off of the new Blue Scholars record "BAYANI." Embedding has been disallowed so you need to follow the link above to the youtube site.

-thanks to Meike Capps-Schubert

Blue Scholars

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Blue Scholars is a hip hop duo based in Seattle, Washington. The duo was created in 2002 while the members, Geologic and Sabzi, were a part of The SHOW (Student Hip Hop Organization of Washington) at the University of Washington (Seattle). The group consists of one DJ, Sabzi (Saba Mohajerjasbi) and one MC Geologic (George Quibuyen).

The name "Blue Scholars" is a play on the term "blue collar," which is an idiom for workers who often earn hourly wages for manual labor. Their music and lyrics often focus on struggles between socioeconomic classes, challenging authority and youth empowerment, as evidenced in the songs "Blink" and "Commencement Day." These themes are often specifically addressed in relation to the Seattle region, as in "Southside Revival", "North by Northwest", and "The Ave."

October 28, 2009

Matthew Hoh's letter of resignation over Afghan War

Woody Powell, of Veterans for Peace, forwarded Matthew Hoh's resignation letter. Woody says:
This is the most authoritative, comprehensive evaluation of our presence in Afghanistan I have seen to date. It not only nails the current situation to the mast, but puts it in a historic context that should make everyone reflect deeply on the underlying policies and policy failures that are bankrupting our country and making it a pariah to the rest of the world.
Click Here to read Hoh's letter.

Photo: Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post

The former Foreign Service officer and former Marine Corps captain who last month became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, was online Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the reasons why he thought the war "wasn't worth the fight." Read the Washington Post's transcripts of that online discussion HERE.

October 25, 2009

AWOL British Soldier, Joe Glenton, Leads Anti-Afghan War March

Hazel Tyldesley, Sky News Online

A British soldier has broken military law by leading a march through London calling for the UK's troops to be brought home from Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton is the first serving member of the armed forces to have headed up an anti-war demonstration since the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001.

He is facing court martial for refusing to return to the war-torn country and was warned he would face further charges for involvement in the anti-war protest.

L/Cpl Glenton was joined by former colleagues, military families and anti-war protesters for the march through the centre of the capital.

Addressing the crowd, Lance Corporal Glenton said: "I'm here today to make a stand beside you because I believe great wrongs have been perpetrated in Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Glenton with his wife Claire. Peter Brierley, left, whose son Shaun was killed in Iraq, recently refused to shake Tony Blair's hand
Photo: Julian Simmonds / Telegraph

Addressing the crowd, Lance Corporal Glenton said:
"I'm here today to make a stand beside you because I believe great wrongs have been perpetrated in Afghanistan.

"I cannot, in good conscience, be part of them. I'm bound by law and moral duty to try and stop them.

"I'm a soldier and I belong to the profession of arms. I expected to go to war but I also expected that the need to defend this country's interests would be legal and justifiable. I don't think this is too much to ask.

Police said "around 5,000" people took part in the demonstration from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, while a spokesman for organisers Stop The War Coalition put the figure at 10,000.

Some of the crowds chanted "Gordon Brown, terrorist" while others sang "What do we want, troops out".

Young and old carried banners bearing the slogans "troops home" and "Afghanistan out".

A total of 222 British troops have died since operations in Afghanistan began.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Now is the time to change policy and bring the troops home to prevent Nato involving itself in a Vietnam-style quagmire."

Among protesters was the country's oldest anti-war demonstrator Hetty Bowyer, 104, who told the crowd:

"I march because I can see no reason for further killing."

Also attending the rally was Peter Brierley, father of Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, who was killed in Iraq.

Earlier this month Mr Brierley refused to shake Tony Blair's hand, saying it had "my son's blood on it".

Mr Brierley said he believed British troops needed to be withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

"They are not doing any good while they are over there. They need to leave the country to sort itself out," he said.

"While the British troops are there they are actually bringing in insurgents who are coming in to fight."

-thanks to the Sky News

October 24, 2009

Shministim: Efi Brenner, First Objector from New Refusal Letter in Prison.

A new collective declaration of refusal by Israeli youths, the 2009-2010 high school seniors letter, went public last week. Today (22 Oct.), two of its signatories, Efi Brenner and Or Ben-David, came to the military induction base in Tel-Hashomer and there refused to enlist. Efi was indeed sent to prison, while Or has not yet been sentenced (she was told that the military prison for women was full), and will have to return to the induction base tomorrow, probably spend the weekend there and be sent to prison on Sunday. We will run a separate update on her case once she is in prison.

Efi Brenner, 18, from Rishon Le Zion (a suburb of Tel-Aviv), is a familiar figure among young anti-Occupation and animal rights activists in Israel. He was sentenced today to his first prison term of ten days (more terms in prison are likely to follow), which he serves in Military Prison no. 6 near Atlit. Following the media exposure that the Seniors’ Letter has received after it was made public, Efi was kicked out of home by his father, and spent the last days before imprisonment at a friend’s house. In prison he has already been transferred to the isolation ward for refusing to obey the military dressing code. In addition, the prison authorities decided (against all known regulations) not to allow him to take books with him into prison.
Efi has prepared the following statement upon entering prison:
I object to oppression, whether it is commited by a hierarchical organisation, such as the military is, or whether it is commited by the human species against animals. The Israeli government and military conduct a policy of occupation and oppression against the Palestinian people since 1948. It began with the expusion of Palestinians from their homes in 1948, which continues to this day, and continued with the imposition of an oppressive military rule on Palestinians, with the restriction of the freedom of movement of all people, with roads for Israelis only, with administrative detentions, house demolitions, land thefts, etc. We must act in peaceful ways and refuse to take part in the crimes commited by the military. That is our true duty. All the things mentioned above stand agaist the basic values of freedom and justice in which I believe and for which I struggle. I therefore refuse to enlist to the Israeli military and indeed to any military force of any kind.
Efi Brenner is due to be released from prison on 30 October, but is likely to be imprisoned again soon afterwards. His address in prison is:
Efi Brenner
ID number 203258272
Military Prison No. 6
Military Postal Code 01860, IDF
Fax: ++972-4-9540580
Since the prison authorities often block mail from reaching imprisoned objectors, we also recommend you to send them your letters of support and encouragement via e-mail to shministim10@gmail.com, and they will be printed out and delivered during visits.

-thanks to Shministim

October 22, 2009

Iraq War Resister, Rodney Watson, explains why he refused to be stop-lossed and returned to Iraq. He has taken sanctuary in a Vancouver church.

After his experience in Iraq, Rodney said he would never return to the war zone. When he rotated back to his base he experienced a situation similar to Victor Agosto and thousands of other soldiers. Rodney Watson was almost done with his military contract when he learned his outfit at Fort Hood was returning to Iraq and he would be stop-lossed.

Victor Agosto refused to go and was court-martialed.

Rodney Watson chose Canada. The Harper Regime, in opposition to the will of most Canadians and the Parliament, has refused to give him sanctuary in Canada. Now he is living in a church and being supported by the local community.

Laura, of We Move To Canada, writes in her blog today some suggestions for Canadians:
How you can help:
  • Write a letter in support of Rodney to your local paper. The Council of Canadians has a great tool to find addresses. Your best shot at getting a letter published is to keep it under 200 words. But even if your letter doesn't run, it helps other letters get published.

  • Donate if you can; no amount is too small (or too large!). Whether or not you can donate, circulate the link to support our fundraising campaign for legal defence of war resisters facing deportation. Donate here.

  • Contact your MP. Ask her or him to support Bill C-440, which will give the weight of law to two motions already passed in the House of Commons.
  • -We should write the papers in Canada and here in the states supporting Rodney Watson and other War Resisters.

    -We should donate to the organizations that are helping our War Resisters at home and in other countries.

    -We should call our senators, representatives, etc and demand an end to the wars and an end to the persecution of our prisoners of conscience.

    -But for now we should take care of the families of the war resisters. Organize our neighborhoods, churches, social organizations, etc. to assist these families while their soldier leaves the country or goes to prison for refusing to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan.

    see more: click here

    October 21, 2009

    Port protesters head to trial - ‘Women’s action’: Eight members of anti-war group didn’t take plea deals on misdemeanor charges

    JEREMY PAWLOSKI; The Olympian | • Published October 20, 2009

    OLYMPIA – Eight members of an Olympia anti-war group who were arrested during protests Nov. 13 at the Port of Olympia are scheduled to go to trial the week of Nov. 30, a prosecutor said Monday.

    The other 18 people who were charged with misdemeanor attempted disorderly conduct and gross misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer for their alleged actions at the port on Nov. 13 have all entered into plea deals.

    The plea deals allow each defendant’s criminal charges to be dismissed, provided that they stay out of trouble for a specified length of time and pay a $150 fine, said Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jim Powers.

    Powers has said that the same deal has been offered to all of 26 of the protesters who were charged over their alleged participation in the Nov. 13 action at the port.

    The anti-war protesters were arrested Nov. 13 in what is known as the “women’s action” at the port. The action consisted of a group engaging in a sit-in outside one of the gates where the Stryker convoys had been exiting the port.

    For about a week in November 2007, anti-war protesters blocked shipments of Stryker vehicles and other military cargo from the Port of Olympia to Fort Lewis. The military equipment had been used in the Iraq War.

    Powers identified those arrested Nov. 13 who have pending misdemeanor cases as: Madison Johnson, Jennifer Richards, Julianne Panagacos, Emily Cox, Kimberly Chaplin, Patricia Imani, Michelle Fleming and Stephanie Snyder.


    During a pre-trial hearing Monday morning, Larry Hildes, a defense attorney for some of the remaining defendants, along with three women who are representing themselves in court to fight their misdemeanor charges, argued that the criminal charges against them should be dismissed because of the prosecution’s failure to comply with discovery requests.

    Several defendants took advantage of Powers’ plea offer immediately after Monday morning’s hearing.

    Part of Hildes’ discovery requests had asked for all of the Olympia Police Department’s contingency plans for dealing with the protests, and what advance information the police department had on what was going to occur during the protests, Hildes said.

    Hildes said that he became aware that the prosecution was not complying with the discovery requests only after receiving responses to public records requests that had been sent to the city of Olympia. The city’s response showed that a member of Fort Lewis Force Protection, Thomas Rudd, was sending the Olympia Police Department detailed “threat assessments” in the run up to and during the 2007 port protests. These “threat assessments” detailed intelligence about what the Army thought the protesters might or might not do.

    Hildes said Monday that he thinks the intelligence detailed in the threat assessments was obtained by John Towery, a man who has been accused of spying on Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, the anti-war group that engaged in the protests.

    Fort Lewis has stated it is conducting an inquiry into the allegations that Towery spied on the group under an assumed name. Towery has been identified by Fort Lewis as a civilian employee of Fort Lewis Force Protection.

    Fort Lewis Force Protection supports “law enforcement and security operations to ensure the safety and security of Fort Lewis, soldiers, family members, the workforce and those personnel accessing the installation,” Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek has stated in an e-mail.

    Military law experts, including Yale Law School lecturer Eugene Fidell, have said that a civilian Fort Lewis employee spying on an anti-war group appears to violate the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law that prohibits the use of the Army for conventional law enforcement actions against civilians.

    Hildes added that the spying violated the protesters’ First Amendment and other Constitutionally-protected rights.

    “It has to be penalized,” Hildes said during Monday’s hearing.


    Olympia Police Cmdr. Tor Bjornstad has said in a prior interview that the threat assessments e-mailed to him by Fort Lewis prior and during the 2007 port protests had no impact on how police dealt with the protests. “I just read them and deleted them,” Bjornstad said in September. “Nothing I read in any of those changed our approach to anything.”

    In response to Hildes’ allegations about the prosecution not complying with discovery requests, Powers argued that the communications by Fort Lewis to OPD in e-mails do not constitute “contingency plans” for the police department, because they were not written by the police department but by Rudd, a member of Fort Lewis Force Protection.

    “There is no such plan,” Powers said.

    Powers also argued that any of the issues about what Towery did or did not do, and whether he spied on the protesters is not germane to the issue of whether the protesters’ actions were in violation of criminal law.

    “What’s at issue is whether these people committed the crimes alleged,” Powers said.

    Thurston County District Judge Sam Meyer agreed with Powers, and during Monday’s hearing, he refused to dismiss the remaining cases based on Hildes’ motions for failure to comply with his discovery requests. Meyer said that the issue of whether the government was spying on the protesters is an important, substantive issue, but it “isn’t relevant to the activities that were going on on Nov. 13.”

    One of the protesters who still faces misdemeanor charges, Patricia Imani, said the judge’s ruling was disappointing, but not unexpected. Imani stated that she had no intention of blocking Stryker vehicles on the night of Nov. 13, and no Stryker convoys exited the gate where the women’s action was occurring that evening. She added that her actions that evening were part of a legal demonstration protected by her First Amendment rights.

    -thanks to the Olympian

    Victor Agosto barred from Fort Hood

    one last piece of paperwork...

    Rodney Watson becomes the first Iraq War Resister to enter church sanctuary in Canada. --- Statement from War Resisters Support Campaign

    U.S. Iraq War resister Rodney Watson has disclosed the location

    of the United Church where he has sought refuge.

    Photograph by: Wayne Leidenfrost, The Province

    The War Resisters Support Campaign Statement regarding the situation of U.S. Iraq War resister Rodney Watson

    VANCOUVER—The War Resisters Support Campaign is a network of volunteers working together to provide assistance to members of the U.S. military seeking refuge in Canada as a result of their opposition to the illegal war in Iraq. Groups exist in many centres across the country and include a wide diversity of age and origin including many former U.S. citizens welcomed to our country during the Vietnam era.

    The Campaign was initiated following the arrival of Jeremy Hinzman in 2004, the first of the new generation of conscientious resisters. Our work has focused primarily on assisting these young men and women in the legal aspect of their search for refuge in Canada, and in lobbying for a provision to be enacted that would ensure that U.S. Iraq War resisters are allowed to remain in Canada rather than face imprisonment or forced participation in an illegal war.

    The War Resisters Support Campaign works within the Canadian legal and political systems. We also work in consultation with, and respect for, each individual resister with regard to their wishes and choices. With respect to Rodney Watson's decision to request and accept sanctuary from the congregation of the First United Church we are appreciative of the church members' courageous moral stance.

    We are also in agreement that this choice, by both Rodney and the church, is consistent with Canadian traditions and values of peaceful resistance to unjust decisions by government. We reiterate that through two majority votes, Parliament has called on the Government of Canada to stop the deportation of these war resisters. This reflects the majority view in this country as expressed in public opinion polls. Yet the Government of Canada has chosen to ignore both Parliament's direction and the will of Canadians.

    It would be unconscionable to deport Rodney Watson, separating him from his Canadian fiancée and son, after Canadians and their political representatives have spoken so clearly. The punishment faced by resisters who have already been forced back to the U.S. by the Conservative minority government has been exceptionally harsh because they spoke out against the war – a war that Canada chose not to participate in. This is the fate that certainly awaits Rodney if he is forced back to the U.S. against his will.

    We call on all Canadians who agree with Rodney's decision not to participate in the Iraq War, to support the stand that he and the First United Church have taken. Write, email, phone or personally contact your Member of Parliament and urge them to call on the Government of Canada to respect the will of Parliament and end the threat of deportation against Rodney Watson.

    We urge Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to halt all efforts to deport Rodney Watson and all of the other resisters who are facing persecution if forced back into the United States.

    -thanks to War Resisters Support Campaign

    from the Ottawa Citizen:

    VANCOUVER — U.S. army deserter Rodney Watson has become the first fugitive from service in Iraq to enter church sanctuary in Canada.

    Monday morning, the 31-year-old told reporters he has been living in refuge at the First United Church in Vancouver since Sept. 18.

    "I don't believe it will be just for me to be deported," said Watson, flanked by church ministers and supporters. Watson lost his refugee claim on Sept. 11, and was expecting to be deported back to the U.S., where he faces jail for refusing to do a second tour of duty in Iraq.

    The main reason Watson wants to stay is to be with his 10-month-old son and fiancee, who live in Vancouver. Watson said his son is currently in foster care, but wouldn't say why. He said he plans to get married and settle in B.C.

    Ric Matthews, minister with the First United Church, said Watson has an apartment at the church, and is fed on-site. Watson cannot leave the grounds of the church.

    Matthews said the church agreed to let Watson take refuge because it doesn't support the Iraq War, or the way the U.S. military treated Watson — who signed up to be a military cook, but was ordered to find explosives.

    "We expect the authorities will continue to respect this place as a place of sanctuary," he said.

    Sarah Bjorknas of the War Resisters Support Campaign Vancouver said three out of the five military deserters who have been deported from Canada since 2008 have been jailed.

    A statement by Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies said she'll continue to ask the Tory government to honour two non-binding votes in Parliament to allow army deserters to seek asylum in Canada.

    "The government has chosen to ignore the will of the majority view of Canadians," said Bjorknas.

    -thanks to the Ottawa Citizen
    This man can stay in Canada legally. Canadians can make this happen. Tell your MP to support Bill C-440!
    -thanks to We Move To Canada

    see more: CLICK HERE

    October 20, 2009

    Middle-Aged Guy Joins Army to Get Insurance for Cancer-Stricken Wife

    The military recently announced that they have exceeded all their recruiting goals. This story provides a strong reminder that people are joining because they are desperate. Desperate for a job, for an education, and now for health care.

    One of the worst tragedies of the recession has been people losing their health insurance because they lost their job. Nearly 14,000 Americans lose their insurance every day. Wisconsin father Bill Caudle was laid off from his job at a plastics company in March 2009, which resulted in his family losing their employer-subsidized health care coverage. This put the family in an especially precarious position, because Bill’s wife, Michelle, was an ovarian cancer patient. After months of unsuccessfully looking for work, Caudle did the only thing he could to get his wife chemotherapy — he joined the Army:
    Bill needed a job. He needed health benefits. [...]

    The Army would solve their health coverage problem. In years past he would have been too old, but in 2005 the age limit for enlistment was increased from 35 to 40, and a year later it was raised again to 42. The tradeoff would be his absence from home.

    In the end, although he risked leaving Michelle to fight cancer on her own, Bill chose the Army. He signed on for a job as a signal support systems specialist, a soldier who works with communications equipment.

    “Seventy percent of the reason is for the insurance,” said Bill’s mother, Marguerite Hemiller. “He told me, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something for my country and I have to help Michelle.’”

    The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that does not guarentee comprehensive health coverage to all of its citizens. In the rest of the developed world, Bill would not have to leave his cancer-stricken wife behind and risk his own life in order to get her care.

    -thanks to Library Grape

    Honduras- 100 days of Resistance

    -thanks to School of the Americas Watch