ivaw and supporters march at the dnc

This is well worth watching.

Many thanks to Krystal from the War Resisters Support Campaign for sending!

a few faces of fascism

I decided to take today off, too. Until we see how this outpatient thing is going, I don't feel right going to work and leaving the patient home alone. At the very least, I have an extra day to work on Spinal Network, which I can sure use.

I feel too scattered to actually blog anything new, but I do have some items to share, courtesy of both James and Allan. Although the specific topics vary, they are all inextricably related.
  • In Iraq, people are desperate for clean drinking water.
    Although the United States has spent $2.4 billion on Iraq's water and sanitation sector since 2003, the United Nations "estimates that less than half of Iraqis get drinking water piped into their homes in rural areas. In the capital, people set their alarm clocks to wake them in the middle of the night so they can fill storage tanks when water pressure is under less strain." Additionally, a billion liters of raw sewage is dumped into Baghdad's waterways each day. The World Bank estimates that at least $14 billion is needed to refurbish Iraq's water system.

  • In Nepal, people are being forced into slavery: by KBR.
    One of America's biggest military contractors is being sued by a Nepali labourer and the families of a dozen other employees who say they were taken against their will to work in Iraq. All but one of the Nepalese workers were subsequently kidnapped and murdered.

    According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the Nepalese workers were recruited in 2004 in their home country by KBR and its Jordanian contractors, Daoud & Partners, to work as kitchen staff in a luxury hotel in Amman. Once they reached the Jordanian capital, however, their passports were taken from them and they were sent to Iraq. While travelling in an unprotected convoy, the Nepalis were kidnapped and later executed.

    "It doesn't appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq," said Matthew Handley, a lawyer representing the only survivor and the families of those who were killed. "A few were told they were going to work at an American camp... They thought they were going to work in America."

    The lawsuit says that, after the 12 men were kidnapped, the sole survivor, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was forced to work for 15 months against his will in a warehouse at the al-Asad air base before his passport was finally returned. The plaintiffs allege the "illicit trafficking scheme - from their recruitment in Nepal to their eventual employment in Iraq - was engineered by KBR and its subcontractor".

    The lawsuit was brought under a new human trafficking law that allows foreign citizens to sue the US government, military or corporations over human rights abuses committed in their countries.

    Earlier this year, the US Department of Labour ordered Daoud to make a payment of $1m (£500,000) to be split between each spouse and set of parents of the murdered 12 Nepalis. The company has so far failed to comment on the lawsuit. [Seen here at AMERICAblog.]

  • In Minneapolis, potential protesters are being subjected to massive, pre-emptive police raids in advance of the Republican National Convention. From BoingBoing, with links to the New York Times story, and Glenn Greenwald, who provides video evidence.

    I demonstrated at the 2004 RNC in New York, and blogged a lot about the aftermath. It's not like this surprises me. But as every problem left untended will, this has only gotten worse.

    And if you're new to wmtc and mistakenly assume I cover for the Democrats, I've read many stories about the welcome protesters received in Denver. This, however, is worse by an order of magnitude.

    Glenn Greenwald:
    They have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

    Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

    In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.

    And to bring this full circle, this is the country, this is the mindset, these are the leaders, that Stephen Harper would align Canada with, doing their bidding, sending back war resisters to face prison time, rather than respecting the wishes of the Canadian people.
  • thanks and update

    Thank you all very much for your caring and concern.

    For those who don't read comments, it was a kidney stone, not his appendix. It's quite a large stone, 5 mm. Apparently, with a stone larger than 6 mm, a laser procedure is used to break it up. So 5 mm is large, but still small enough to pass on its own with the help of some meds and a lot of water.

    At least that's what we know now. When Allan sees a urologist on Tuesday, we may learn otherwise. My sister, a nurse, said 5 mm is huge. Hmmm.

    If anyone here besides me reads The Diary of Samuel Pepys online - or if you've read it the old-fashioned way, on paper - you know that Sam had a stone cut out and removed. And this in the days before modern surgical procedure and anaesthesia! Pepys vowed to celebrate the day of his survival every year for the rest of his life. So far he's done that, putting on a feast and gathering his friends around him. He even spent a lot of money having a special box made for the stone itself. (I told Allan we will not be doing that.)

    Yesterday in comments, Tornwordo noted that Allan did not spend months waiting for treatment as some people would have us believe. Indeed, there was hardly any waiting at all, as Allan was triaged within minutes of arrival, then moved into an emergency department bed and treated right away. The doctors and nurses were terrific.

    Many years ago, Allan had a horrific experience with poor pain management in a hospital. Without going into long details, I'll say that while in a hospital bed, Allan was in acute, severe, untreated pain for more than 24 hours, and simply told, This is all you're getting, so if it still hurts, too bad.

    Had I not been there to advocate for him - and had I not had my sister to advise me and guide me through it - it would have been even worse. In reading and speaking to people since then, I've learned a lot about attitudes towards pain management, and why some health care practitioners are resistant to it.

    So that earlier experience was in the back of my mind yesterday. Will I have to fight people to get proper pain medication? Will they believe his pain and treat it? What a relief - in more ways than one - to find that every doctor and nurse that saw Allan yesterday asked, How is your pain? On a scale of 1 to 10? Do you want more morphine? (Yes, please!)

    Another note on our experience, perhaps the most important one. We were able to obtain proper treatment, and will have proper follow-up care, without worrying about the cost, and without having to fight for insurance-company approval.

    What would yesterday had been like for a US family with a tight budget and no health insurance? You wake up one morning, and completely unexpectedly, through no fault of your own, you are in dire pain. You don't know what's happening, you need medical care. But in the back of your mind, the worry: what will this cost me? If I pay for this, will I be able to pay my rent or make my mortgage payment?

    I am so grateful that I don't have that extra burden.

    Every person in North America should be free from that same burden - and could be.

    Every person on earth should be, of course. But at least in the GNOTFOTE!


    ouch! and i mean the real kind of ouch

    Is there something strangely fitting about spending the anniversary of the day we moved to this great country partaking of our publicly financed health care? Allan's in the hospital, in excruciating pain - and a lot of morphine. It seems to be a kidney stone, but we haven't gotten an exact diagnosis yet. It still could be his appendix.

    This morning he had what he thought were cramps. When it got very severe, and he was sweating and nauseated, I said, come on, we're going to the hospital. Driving 120 km/hour on Hurontario Street - that's a first for me! Allan was hyperventilating the whole way.

    Now he's got a ton of morphine in him, and it still hurts. The doc said she thinks of kidney stones as the male equivalent of labour pains.

    Everything is going as well as it possibly could in the hospital. Except for the pain part. I just came home to take care of the dogs and do a few things, then I'm heading back. Hopefully he'll have the CT scan soon, and we'll come home with a lot of pain meds and a cranky but healthy boy.

    JoS friends: we should probably thread at Ish's place or elsewhere. Thanks in advance for all your good wishes, which I know are on the way. Love you guys.

    wmtc day: three years!

    Today is wmtc day: Allan and I have lived in Canada for three years.

    When I think back to August 30, 2005 - driving through western New York State in the world's fullest minivan, Buster between us, Cody in a cave of boxes - it feels like a lifetime ago. And yet these three years have flown by, as time seems to move alarmingly fast, the older I get.

    Not a day goes by that I am not happy and grateful that we left the US for Canada. Canada has turned out to be exactly what I thought it was: not a perfect world, just a better place.

    And now, it is my home.

    Next up: citizenship! We've got the forms ready to fill out. More on that as it happens.


    war resister youtube channel reaches 20,000 views

    The War Resisters Canada YouTube Channel, launched a year ago, has reached 20,000 views. My fave so far:

    screen "breaking ranks" film to support war resisters


    Many thanks to filmmaker Michelle Mason for making this possible! More information here.

    the next chapter in an increasingly bizarre story

    * * * *

    Some notes.

    1. In previous posts and comments on this topic, "CI" refers to the blog and blog community Common Ills, not to the person who posts under the name C.I.. I have had no dealings with C.I. the person except her recent demands that I take down the earlier posts. However, emails from Jess, Dona and Jim all used a Common Ills address, so I referred to them as Jess/CI, Dona/CI, and so forth, or referred to the whole community as CI.

    2. Apparently, in her email to me, Dona alluded to - or thinks she did - information that is private within the CI community. Now the community is frantically demanding that I remove the posts. They are also demanding that the Campaign order me to remove the posts.

    As I am not part of the CI community, Dona should not have disclosed private information about any of their members. The breach was hers, not mine.

    Had I not posted the email, I could have forwarded it everyone I knew, who could have then forwarded it everyone they knew. If you want to keep something private, keep it private.

    3. Nowhere in Dona's email, or in any emails from CI members to me, is the word "cancer" used.

    4. To state the obvious, I did not post Dona's email in order to reveal private information about anyone in the CI community. The email was so rambling and convoluted that I didn't even realize there was personal information embedded in the verbiage.

    5. This is the first item on the sidebar of The Common Ills blog.
    Threats and abusive e-mail are not covered by any privacy rule. This isn't to the reporters at a certain paper (keep 'em coming, they are funny). This is for the likes of failed comics who think they can threaten via e-mails and then whine, "E-mails are supposed to be private." E-mail threats will be turned over to the FBI and they will be noted here with the names and anything I feel like quoting. This also applies to anyone writing to complain about a friend of mine. That's not why the public account exists.

    6. It does seem that The Troll has entered the fray, after reading about the incident on wmtc. He has sent emails impersonating me, also claiming to be my female partner, to members of the CI community. This is an interesting development, and surely one with legal implications.

    Needless to say, the CI community does not believe there is troll involvement. I am supposedly sending profanity-laced emails to these people. Allan asked if they would forward the emails to me, but they will not.

    * * * *

    Follow up wow.

    The whole thing is very sad.


    del martin, 1921 - 2008

    Del Martin, a pioneer of equality and freedom, has died at the age of 87.

    In 1955, Martin and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first social and political organization for lesbians in the US. Fifty-three years later, they would become the first same-sex couple to marry legally in California.

    In between, Martin and Lyon never stopped fighting for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

    You can read about Martin's life and work here at Equality California; the New York Times obit is here.

    our daily dose of conservative hypocrisy

    Typically unethical and hypocritical. Typically Tory.
    The Conservatives have booked airtime to run pre-campaign TV ads before Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls an election, taking advantage of their big edge in money before spending limits kick in, sources say.

    The TV ads will be the first the Tories have aired in more than eight months, although the party has almost continuously run radio ads attacking Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion - and even those spots have been stepped up in recent weeks.

    Once a campaign begins officially, spending limits set the major parties on a more level playing field, as the cash-poor Liberals can borrow to spend the maximum of about $19-million.

    But some of Mr. Harper's opponents complain that the fixed-date election law that his government passed was supposed to limit a prime minister's ability to set the timing of a national vote for political advantage - and Mr. Harper is now doing just that.

    Meanwhile, their Minister of Health hangs out in Denver - wisecracking about food safety! - while Canadians die from the listeria outbreak, itself a product of Tory policy.

    Tony Clement - who can lecture doctors about ethics, but can't be bothered to show up during an actual health emergency - won his riding by 28 votes. I'm counting on Canadians to be smarter than the Conservatives think they are.

    I also liked these letters in today's Globe and Mail.
    At the time of King-Byng, there was no law setting the date of the next election. We now have a new legal reality. The Prime Minister proposed and Parliament complied, and so we have legislation setting the date of the next election in 2009, unless, that is, the government is defeated in the House of Commons. Mr. Harper, in insisting on an election without either of these conditions being met, is asking the Governor-General to sanction a breach of the law.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful and a victory for legality if the Governor-General, in so many words, told Mr. Harper to take a hike, that she will not grant him a dissolution without a defeat in the Commons. That way, she will uphold both the Constitution and the law in the face of a PM who seems to respect neither.

    Allen Mills, Department of politics, University of Winnipeg

    Stephen Harper has made it clear he is unable to lead a "dysfunctional" minority government. Should he trigger an early election, he should make a deal with Canadians, pledging to resign if he does not attain a majority. After all, who wants a prime minister who is incapable of leading the country under less than ideal circumstances, which another minority government will be?

    Norman Rosencwaig, Toronto

    Stephen Harper has suddenly discovered that Parliament is "dysfunctional" (Will The PM Get Away With His Risky Election Gambit? Probably - Aug. 27). Strangely, my Canadian Oxford Dictionary does not include the following among the definitions of this word: "potentially deleterious to the fortunes of the Conservative Party of Canada, particularly with respect to election-financing scandals."

    He must use a different dictionary.

    Steven Spencer, Toronto

    let them stay: your help needed

    Last night's War Resister Support Campaign meeting was somewhat stressed. We are up to our eyeballs in work. The prospect of an election - while potentially great news for us - also creates another massive layer of work. We're calling a separate meeting just to organize and distribute tasks!

    If you're in Toronto and you want to help, naturally we welcome your presence. But there are important ways you can help, from anywhere in Canada.

    Once the election is called, we need the issue of allowing US war resisters to stay in Canada raised at every all-candidates meeting, all across the country. A simple Google search can tell you when and where a meeting will be held in your town.

    Attend. Get on the list of questions. Ask: do you support allowing US war resisters to remain in Canada, and what will you do about it? If your party forms the Government, will you implement a program to allow them to stay, as Parliament called for on June 3, 2008?

    If you do this, email the Campaign (resisters at sympatico) to let us know.

    On the immediate horizon, we need your help to make the September 13 Day of Action a success. A list of participating cities is here, with more on the way. So far:
    St. John's - first war resister event in Newfoundland!

    * * * *

    For me personally, this is a difficult time. If I weren't working on the new edition of Spinal Network, I'd turn the Campaign into a part-time job. It's exactly the time to do that, and I often have just the schedule to do it. But Spinal Network has a deadline. It's paid work, I need it, and it's important. (I'm also really enjoying it.) But it's frustrating!

    who: "social injustice on a grand scale"

    I'm sure you'll see this in many places, but here it is again.

    The World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health has issued its final report, called "Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health".

    The report makes it clear why massive numbers of people are dying of completely preventable and treatable diseases, around the planet and in our own backyard. Two words: social injustice.

    Although the report tells us what we already know, quantifying the problem and identifying potential solutions are necessary steps on the road to progress.
    People are dying early not only because of health gaps between rich and poor countries but also because of a lack of housing and clean water in wealthy countries like Canada, policy makers said in a report to the World Health Organization on Thursday.

    The 256-page report, titled "Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health" shows how the conditions in which people live and work directly affects the quality of their health.

    The "toxic combination of bad policies, economics, and politics is, in large measure, responsible for the fact that a majority of people in the world do not enjoy the good health that is biologically possible," the report's authors wrote.

    "Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale."

    The report defines social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness.

    In Canada, nearly 1.5 million people, mostly single mothers and children, lack decent family income, safe and affordable housing, suffer food insecurity and are vulnerable to violence, said the group's Canadian commissioner, Monique Bégin, professor at the School of Management at the University of Ottawa, and a former federal health minister.

    Canadians may be proud that the United Nations voted the country "the best country in the world in which to live" for seven years in a row, but not everyone shares equally in that high quality of life, Bégin said.

    "This report is a wake-up call for action towards truly living up to our reputation."

    Food banks in Canadian cities, unacceptable housing, high suicide rates among young Inuit, and the uprooting of Kashechewan Cree community from the James Bay region in 2005 and 2008 because of unsafe water and flooding are examples of areas for improvements, Bégin said.

    Health inequities are reflected in the differences in life expectancies between countries, and within countries, the report said.

    A child born in Japan or Sweden can expect to live to 80 years, but less than 50 years in several African countries.

    Within a rich country like the United Kingdom, the life expectancy at birth for men in the Calton neighbourhood of Glasgow is 54 years, 28 years less than that of men in Lenzie, a few kilometres away, the report said.

    The commission's three recommendations to close the gap in a generation are:

    1. Improve daily living conditions, such as nourishing mothers and expanding education to early child development.

    2. Tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources, for example between men and women.

    3. Measure and understand the problem of health inequity and evaluate the impact of changes.

    Canada, Brazil, Chile, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and the U.K. have committed to improving social determinants of health equity, and are already developing policies across governments to tackle them, the commission said.

    Examples in Canada include the Healthy Cities project that supports health promotion, Saskatoon's plan of action on poverty and the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness, Bégin said.

    WHO news release, and the 2008 World Health Report, available for download.


    common ills replies, i remain baffled (updated) (and upperdated)

    This morning I received this email from Common Ills.
    There are 2531 e-mails in the inbox. We do not have time for pen pals.

    Jess responded to your e-mail yesterday.

    You didn't grasp that when Jess mentioned Mike and Rebecca he did so for a reason.

    This community that C.I. created has many online sites including:

    The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
    Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
    Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
    C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
    Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
    Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
    Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
    Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
    Ruth of Ruth's Report,
    Wally of The Daily Jot,
    and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ.

    The mistake you made is in assuming that we do not all share. As Jess was pointing out to you, he knows (as do I, as does everyone) about your e-mails to Mike and Rebecca.

    He had no reason to be nice to you.

    As you did with Rebecca and Mike (who never linked to you -- C.I. linked to you in the snapshots, they reposted C.I.'s snapshots), you e-mailed your gripe. You tossed "Thank you" at the front and acted friendly and then did what you did in -- what? 15? -- letters to The New York Times which was to offer how C.I. was wrong. C.I. wasn't wrong. And, as Gina points out, this is a private conversation in a public sphere. As we say at our site, "The Third Estate Sunday Review focuses on politics and culture. We're an online magazine. We don't play nice and we don't kiss butt. In the words of Cher: 'If you can dig it then I'm happy and if you can't then I'm sorry.' We're not really sorry, we just wanted a 'dig it' quote. Don't like it? There are millions of sites online -- move along, you're blocking the view."

    One thing that has always ticked off Jim and I, before we even knew C.I. and before we started Third was all the people e-mailing C.I. asking for links, asking that their books be promoted, their broadcasts, their speaking tours and on and on. No one ever gives back shit to The Common Ills. We've seen that over and over.

    As you did with Jess, your e-mail presents yourself as a voice for War Resisters Support Campaign. C.I.'s noted them non-stop for years and years. The "thank you for covering Robin Long but . . ." comes off -- intended or not -- as a bit condescending. C.I. was covering Robin Long from the moment he went public. If there's a war resister in Canada who has gone public and not been covered by C.I. it's an oversight.

    Heather attempted to explain the problem with coverage to you but you dismissed her. Which means, journalistically (that would be what my undergraduate degree is in and what my grad degree will be in) you're not very aware. C.I. and Ava have screamed and screamed at friends (and family) in the Real Press to get coverage of them in the US. There's a cable channel where they called in every favor they had to get a report. They will offer trades, they will offer anything offline (including a band playing at a kid's birthday in one instance), they will beg, they will scream until they are hoarse. And that's just to get a producer or editor to assign a reporter to look into it. They bust their asses every damn day. And if they're not pressuring the press, they're pressuring Congress.

    So when Heather's explaining to you that ____ or ___ or all of Panhandle Media is ignoring the issue of war resisters, dismissing it grandly is not a sign of awareness.

    A friend of C.I.'s was interviewed for one hour by Panhandle Media this week and he stated he wanted to talk about Iraq. The interviewer never got around to it -- in an entire hour. Allegedly on 'politics.' Panhandle Media has walked away from Iraq.

    When The Myth of the Great Return started in November, C.I. called it from the start. Called friends in the State Dept, at the UN, at the Red Cross to make sure it was a myth and hit on it hard over and over -- even before the UN finally weighed in officially one week later saying it wasn't safe to return to Iraq. C.I. and Ava screamed and yelled and begged and pleaded with friends not to repeat the myth, they were very vocal that the blood of any refugee who came back to Iraq and died would be on the outlet's hands. After a month, finally the myth was exposed. (And C.I. repeatedly gives the outlet that finally stepped up credit for doing so.) During all of that, where was Panhandle Media? Ignoring Iraq. After The Myth of the Great Return started it had its intended result -- to drive up support for the illegal war in domestic polling. That's the only reason the myth was started. And there were the usual rejects of Panhandle Media like Amy Goodman puzzling over the polling numbers. The polls went up because LIES weren't being called out.

    Panhandle Media thinks saying "Judy Miller, Judy Miller" over and over is 'covering' Iraq. Judith Miller was pulled from Iraq in 2003. The illegal war didn't end then. Not only that, it was Dexter Filkins who lied about the November 2004 Falluja slaughter and won an award for it. When a major daily finally exposed Dexy as the go-to-guy for the US military, Panhandle Media still ignored that. Despite the fact that Molly Bingham had already revealed how Dexy would kill a story if the US military didn't like it. As early as 2004, C.I. was saying at The Common Ills if people like Judith Miller got the US over there, it's people like Dexter that keep the US over there by lying in their 'reporting.'

    I have no idea what you do each day. I know what C.I. does. I know C.I. has put her entire life on hold (and Ava has now as well) to do everything possible to end the illegal war. C.I. has spoken a minimum of two weeks a month since Feb. 2003 against the illegal war to students, women's groups and labor groups. For the last two years, it's been every week of the year. That's despite a health scare. So when your e-mail comes in critizing C.I. when C.I.'s correct, of course Jess is going to be offended. I'm offended by you. As Kat likes to point out, C.I. could be sitting by her pool every day. Instead, she's out on the road and she's been everywhere except Alaska in the US (including Puerto Rico, etc.) speaking out against the illegal war. Currently, C.I., Ava, Wally and Kat arrive home Saturday afternoon. They're up all Saturday night/Sunday morning working on Third. They turn around and hit the road again on Monday morning. There was one week since January when they were here (Bay Area). Even then, they were speaking every day but in their own area. There is no 'break' or 'vacation' for them. (And C.I. was undergoing medical tests that week as well.) .So we really don't need your letters to the editor here.

    Jess made it clear that this isn't a pen pal service. If someone writes here they need to be writing for a reason. I'm having to stop and make time to reply to you because I'm on the public account today.

    Jess wasn't rude to you. He was indifferent.

    He, very business like, went over the realities that you did not know. He, very business like, told you that if you had news of an event or something you wanted to highlight to e-mail.

    The public account and the private accounts are worked by Jim, Jess, Eli, Martha, Shirley, Ava and C.I. and sometimes Heather. (I believe you know Heather. She called out your Barack Delusions.) So many because there are so many e-mails. There is no time for pen pals.

    Rosa and Reese are in Canada. Rosa is told she does not get immigrant status and has to leave. Rosa doesn't want to. Canadian officials escort her to the airport and she departs for another country. That is deporation. Reese is told that he's not accepted and that he's being 'deported' but is turned over to American authorities. That is extradition.

    It's really basic. The fact that, when you read C.I., you didn't grasp that goes to problems on your end. Want to get attention up a notch? Start presenting the extradition of Robin. He wasn't deported. Deported is kicked out of the country. Turned over to the authorities of another country is extradition. Mactavish (who has consistently ruled against war resisters) did an extradition and did it without going through the proper channels. That's news. It was outrageous when Canadian officials took orders from the US and arrested Kyle Snyder. It was outrageous when two US military service members joined a Canadian police officer and all three presented as police officers as they went hunting for Joshua Key. It has now been taken up a notch.

    Hopefully Jeremy will not be deported. If he is, he should have a real deportation. Which means choosing where he wants to go and if it's the US he will not be turned over (by Canadian officals) to the US authorities. That would be extradition.

    To do an extradition proper would have meant review by a higher authority of Mactavish's actions. It would have delayed Robin's departure and it would have most likely outraged even more Canadians than the deporation did. "We're just kicking him out" was the right-wing defense. No, you were kicking him and handing him over to authorities. You were practicing extradition for a 'crime' not covered in your treaty with the US.

    It was a big no-no.

    No treaty would have allowed an extradition. Had Robin been stationed by the US military in Canada and then deserted, he would have been covered by existing treaties between the US and Canada. NO SUCH TREATY EXISTS CURRENTLY. Mactavish has created a new 'law.' It is outrageous.

    We are all very busy. Myself, I'm in grad school. I work on Third. I read e-mails there and here. I also schedule Ava and C.I. (which Wally, Kat and Rebecca are now going along on) weekly speaking engagements. My plate is full. In the public account, I'm rushing through as many e-mails as I can to find if someone's highlight is worth passing on to C.I. or if it goes in the trash. Is a journalist writing to say they were treated unfairly by C.I.? If so I put it in "MUST READ" a folder C.I. reads. There are several community newsletters and they help cut down on TCI members e-mailing because they provide a forum for other things. But the public account (which you've now written twice) is for official stuff.

    Jess explained the issue to you. As a law student, as the child of two attorneys and the grandson of another, he knows what he's talking about. C.I. knows what she's talking about. An extradition took place. Things need to be called what they are.


    My reply:
    Didn't think you were a pen pal, didn't think you didn't share, didn't remember any interaction with Rebecca. Don't think the mail from Jess was businesslike. I'd hate to be a part of any business that communicated in that businesslike fashion!

    Thanks for the reply. Good luck in all your efforts.


    And some notes, which I'll share here.

    As Jess was pointing out to you, he knows (as do I, as does everyone) about your e-mails to Mike and Rebecca.

    I wish I knew about my emails to Mike and Rebecca! I couldn't remember anything about Rebecca, but I had the vaguest recollection of an exchange with Mike, and I could have sworn it was positive.

    I searched through my Gmail archives, I found this.

    Me to Mike, 12/1/07:
    Hi, I've seen my blog linked a few times at your sites. I just wanted to say thank you for your ongoing support of US war resisters in Canada. All best to you.

    Laura K
    a/k/ L-girl

    Mike to me, 12/3/07

    We Move to Canada. I know your site and enjoy it. Keep doing great work.

    The links you're seeing are in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot." I repost the snapshot like every other community member does if they post that day. So C.I.'s the one writing "Iraq snapshot" and that goes up at The Common Ills, the rest of us just grab it when we post in the evening.

    War resisters need a lot of support because they're doing something really courageous. I'm thinking you were from NY before you and your husband moved to Canada. I'm in MA and there's so little coverage of war resisters in this area. I think it's really cool that you and your husband went to Canada. I should have gone before the passport requirement went through! :D


    Me to Mike, 12/07/07
    Hi Michael, thanks for your email.

    The war resisters are the most courageous people I have ever met. Most of us stand for peace but risk very little to do so. They have risked everything. I feel a real obligation to help them in any little way I can.

    Yes, we lived in NYC for 20+ years before moving to Canada. I'm from there originally, my partner is from Vermont. We're both huge Red Sox fans so we might have something in common, at least with your neighbours if not you.

    Thanks again for your support. If you haven't already, please write a "Dear Canada" letter through Courage To Resist.

    All best,

    Laura K

    I didn't find anything to or from Rebecca. As far as I know, this is the full extent of my previous interactions with anyone from the group of Common Ills blogs.

    One thing that has always ticked off Jim and I, before we even knew C.I. and before we started Third was all the people e-mailing C.I. asking for links, asking that their books be promoted, their broadcasts, their speaking tours and on and on. No one ever gives back shit to The Common Ills. We've seen that over and over.

    What does this have to do with me? I never asked for anything. I've never written to any blog to ask for a link or a promotion, ever.

    You tossed "Thank you" at the front and acted friendly and then did what you did in -- what? 15? -- letters to The New York Times which was to offer how C.I. was wrong.

    I don't know what this means. The last time I wrote a letter to the New York Times, was in 2005, when still living in the US. I've never written to the Times on this issue, only to Canadian newspapers, and only brief letters in support of war resisters.

    The "thank you for covering Robin Long but . . ." comes off -- intended or not -- as a bit condescending.

    I get emails all the time from people in the peace movement or in military resistance thanking me for my coverage. I've gotten emails from people in the reproductive rights movement thanking me.

    I thank anyone who covers the issues that are important to me. I thank people for going to rallies, for tabling, for writing letters to their MPs. I thank people for their activism. I thank people for their efforts, and they do the same for me.

    It's a way of cheering each other on, of acknowledging that we are all doing what we can. It's a way of acknowledging each other, period.

    Also, please note, I did not write "thank you for covering Robin long but".

    Heather attempted to explain the problem with coverage to you but you dismissed her.

    I don't know what this means. I don't remember anyone named Heather attempting to explain anything to me. That doesn't mean it didn't happen - my memory for one-time communications is very poor - but I have no recollection of it. Was it in a comment that I didn't reply to? An email? I don't know.

    Jess wasn't rude to you. He was indifferent.

    He, very business like, went over the realities that you did not know. He, very business like, told you that if you had news of an event or something you wanted to highlight to e-mail.

    Read Jess's email here.

    Would you use the subject line "And you got your law degree when?" in a businesslike email?

    Would you use ALL CAPS if you were indifferent?

    And so on.

    Want to get attention up a notch? Start presenting the extradition of Robin.

    I don't write things about the resisters to get attention. I'm trying to get them attention.

    [Update. A commenter pointed out that Dona/CI probably means getting the resisters attention, not wmtc. I see that now.]

    As a resister explained yesterday in a comment, his lawyer - and all their lawyers, as far as I am aware - don't use the word extradited. The Campaign doesn't say Robin was extradited. The Campaign uses the word deported. Wmtc is linked on the Campaign's website; I'm trying to be an outlet for Campaign news. So I'm going to go with the language the Campaign uses.

    Other people believe differently, and want to do otherwise? That's no problem.

    It's no problem to me, certainly.

    This whole thing makes me sad. Sharing it with you all makes me feel much better.

    Yesterday's discussion over the etiquette of posting this settled it for me. People were nasty and, as Kim put it, high conflict. In my view their meanness towards me was totally unwarranted. I don't owe them privacy. (I'm also not assuming they want privacy. For all I know, this attention may be gratifying to them.) I don't owe courtesy where none was shown to me. I should do what feels right to me, and this is it.

    Thanks for your support and feedback, much appreciated.


    After reading James's suggestion (see comments), I double-checked to see if I ever emailed with Rebecca. I didn't find her name, but I did find one email from me to the email address from the blog Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, from November, 2007. The email address doesn't have her name in it, so I didn't recognize or remember it as connected to a person named Rebecca. Here's what I wrote.
    I saw your post with the lyrics to one of my favourite songs, A Case Of You.

    Don't despair. The Canadian Supreme Court did the wrong thing, but Canadians will do the right thing. We will insist our country gives asylum to US war resisters. And amazingly enough, democracy still works here. We can make it happen.

    If you haven't already, join the campaign through Courage to Resist ("Dear Canada") or the War Resisters Support Campaign, www.resisters.ca.

    Thanks for your support.

    Laura K
    a/k/ L-girl

    There was no reply.

    Now I've posted the full extent of my previous interactions with the Common Ills community.

    Upperdate. I just received this email from Jim at Common Ills.
    Jim here. You're rude. You were rude to Rebecca. You were rude to Mike. Jess replied to your rude e-mail. Dona's replied to your rude e-mail. Don't write again unless you have an announcement.

    We laugh our asses off at the American so scared by who occupied the White House that she ran to Canada.

    You're a lousy face for the War Resisters Support Campaign and probably shouldn't try to speak for them in your e-mails.

    Don't reply.



    c-484 dies, c-537 lives, we continue the fight

    Answering an anonymous email: yes, I am very glad Bill C-484 is dead.

    I didn't blog about it because a quick glance at Progressive Bloggers assured me it was well covered elsewhere. Dave at Galloping Beaver reminds us that they're still trying to get that fetus-loving foot in the door. Sean in Saskatchewan reminds us that C-537 still lurks.

    Also, wmtc is not a news service.

    Also, I'm busy.

    But always happy and relieved to see the anti-choicers concede a defeat.

    war in afghanistan does not belong in olympic torch relay

    During the debate about whether or not to watch the Olympics and Paralympics, some people decried the "politicizing" of the Olympic games. This reveals an ignorance of history, as the modern Olympics always have been used for political means. Indeed, the IOC choosing Beijing in the first place is a political act.

    This morning I read:
    Ottawa is urging the Vancouver Winter Olympics organizing committee to put the Afghanistan war at the heart of the symbolically laden torch relay, saying that the first torch carriers could be veterans of the seven-year-old conflict.

    The federal government is also pushing to have Canada's French and English "linguistic duality" highlighted by the relay, going so far as to propose a list of 83 communities that could be part of the run -- and provide a chunk of the roster of torch bearers, expected to number 12,000.

    Both those proposals are put forward in an undated memo from the official languages group of the 2010 Federal Secretariat obtained by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin under an access-to-information request. The proposals on the torch relay follow revelations last week in The Globe and Mail that the Harper government provided $20-million for the opening ceremony of the Winter Games to ensure the event "adequately reflects" its priorities and "to achieve its domestic and international branding goals."

    This touches on a recurring theme in my home.

    A government parading troops or veterans for other-than-military purposes is a political act. Putting "Support Our Troops" stickers on city-owned vehicles is a political act - as is questioning the patriotism of anyone who objects to it. But the people who do this proceed as if these acts are neutral. They are seen as non-political, because they come from a position of power, from authority.

    Anyone who disagrees, however, is making a political statement.

    We see this all the time in baseball, which, like many sports cultures, is generally conservative. Moments-of-silence for soldiers who are "defending our way of life" - that is, cheerleading for the war in Iraq! - is neutral. Objecting to the public display, or quietly refusing to participate, is bringing politics into baseball, shame on you!

    The Harper Government wants to use the 2010 Olympics as a vehicle for its own agenda, and isn't above exploiting veterans to do it. If Harper is so concerned with Canada's "brand", he wouldn't have eliminated funding for the promotion of Canadian culture internationally. But then, he's not concerned with Canada's brand. He's concerned with the Government's "domestic and international branding goals". That is, his own agenda.

    Hopefully that will not be Canada's agenda much longer.


    progressive people are not always nice

    I'm accustomed to getting nasty emails from warmongers and wingnuts, but not from progressive people, and not over... well, over what exactly, I'm not sure.

    I debated whether or not to make this public. Opinion is divided on proper etiquette: when someone sends a gratuitously nasty email, is it your right to make it public? Your opinions are welcome.

    But here's what happened. I saw this post at The Common Ills. Common Ills frequently blogs about war resisters, and of course I appreciate that, so I like to check in now and again. Like most of my blog reading, my trips there are sporadic, so if there's a running theme, I could easily miss it.

    So in this post, Common Ills says, about Robin Long, "he was extradited (not deported)". Common Ills has since changed the sentence; it now links to two earlier references to extradition. These were not here when I first read it.

    I was surprised by the phrase "he was extradited (not deported)", since the resisters' lawyers refer to Robin as having been deported, and the Campaign does the same. I was under the impression - again, from movement lawyers - that he was not extradited.

    Common Ills doesn't have comments open, so I sent the following email.
    Subject line: thanks for your post on robin long


    Thanks for your continuing attention to the war resisters in Canada.

    To clarify, Robin Long was actually deported. He was snagged on a trumped-up immigration charge, arrested, then deported. It wasn't an extradition. The Canadian government is avoiding extradition, as it will make their complicity with the US too apparent. Instead, they are denying them refugee status and then saying, your time here is up, you must leave. That is deportation or removal. It gives them a more palatable (they think) fallback position. We intend to continue to expose them, of course.

    Thanks again for your post about Robin and your links to the War Resister Support Campaign site.

    Laura K

    I sent it from my personal email address, with my full name.

    This morning I received this.
    Subject line: You got your law degree when?

    Jess here.

    There's no need for you to e-mail to clarify anything and, in fact, you haven't.

    I'm not in the mood to be word nicely because I know of your interactions with Rebecca and Mike.

    C.I. has gone over this and over this and what law degree do you hold?

    Robin Long was extradited.

    Journalist free lancer that you are, you are not a lawyer.

    Not only will I match C.I.'s legal knowledge up against yours, I will throw my mother -- a lifetime member of the National Lawyers Guild -- and her knowledge up against you as well as my law professors knowledge up against you.

    C.I. actually used "extradited" during the week Robin was extradited. But then pulled back until speaking Saturday morning with attorneys and judges in Canada. At which point, July 19th, extradited wasn't just the term, it was the right term. Presumably you are familiar with Michael Byers? What term does the chair in Global Politics and International Law (University of British Columbia) use -- "deported" or "extradited"? He uses extradited. Does so publicly and began doing so July 20th.

    I have no idea why you would try to "clarify" a damn thing with C.I. Robin was arrested?

    Thanks for that 'news flash.' Reality: C.I. covered that in real damn time and so did we at Third. We damn well know the story. And don't need you rushing over to say, "Oh, let me tell you!" something we damn well already know.

    You don't know what you're talking about legally (YOU'RE NOT EVEN AWARE THAT MCTAVISH USED THE TERM "EXTRADITION" THE MONDAY OF THE DECISION IN OPEN COURT!!!!!) So don't write unless you have some news to pass on. News to pass on is "-- an event is being held" and something similar.

    I was stunned. No exaggeration: stunned. I re-read my original email, to see if I had perhaps unwittingly used harsh language. (I don't know why I would have, I had no harsh feelings.) Perhaps I came across as didactic or presumptuous. I know I can. But still, is this nastiness warranted? And what interaction with Rebecca and Mike? I can't recall any.

    In my confusion, I emailed my response in different parts. I know that's lame, but, well, I couldn't think of how to respond all at once.

    My first reply.
    Geez. Get a grip. This is what our lawyers have told us. Obviously you know otherwise. That's fine. No need to attack.

    Best to you.


    Second reply.
    Jess, if you don't mind, what interactions have I had with Rebecca and Mike that would lead you to be so nasty to me?

    I thought my interactions with CI were all positive. But I may have forgotten something, as I have memory problems from a health condition. If you didn't mind filling me in, I'd appreciate it. Thanks.


    And finally, later in the day, this.

    I'm re-reading your email, and I am positively baffled. It's as if we were having an argument that I didn't know we were having.

    I truly meant only to clarify. I didn't "rush over" - I was just reading. And I didn't know you've "been over this and over this". It was the first time I had seen anything mentioning extradition.

    The lawyers who help us at the War Resister Support Campaign always use the term deportation. They never use extradition. Thus my email.

    If I'm wrong - which I understand I am, you've made that very clear - why not just tell me? Why lace your email with venom? Why be so mean, when we're both on the same side?

    I just can't understand it. I'm accustomed to getting nasty emails from warmongers and other right-wingers, but not from fellow progressive bloggers. I hope you'll return to explain.


    This kind of thing is really hard for me to understand. It seems so outside the usual blogosphere ethos.

    While I was deciding whether or not to make this public, I showed Allan the blog, and he immediately noticed this on the sidebar.
    Threats and abusive e-mail are not covered by any privacy rule. This isn't to the reporters at a certain paper (keep 'em coming, they are funny). This is for the likes of failed comics who think they can threaten via e-mails and then whine, "E-mails are supposed to be private." E-mail threats will be turned over to the FBI and they will be noted here with the names and anything I feel like quoting. This also applies to anyone writing to complain about a friend of mine. That's not why the public account exists.

    letters to toronto star: "irreparable harm, indeed"

    These letters ran in today's Toronto Star, under the headline "Irreparable harm, indeed".
    U.S. Iraq war resister Robin Long, arrested and deported by the Harper government this summer after living in Canada, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and a dishonourable discharge – a felony conviction that will last his whole life. His only "crime" is that he opposed the Iraq war and came to Canada.

    Justice MacTavish claimed he would not suffer "irreparable harm" if deported. How is a military jail sentence and a felony conviction not irreparable harm?

    No soldier should face jail for opposing the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. And Stephen Harper must be held to account for deporting Robin Long when he knew full well the persecution and punishment he faced in Bush's America.

    - David Fox, Toronto

    Since it is now clear that deporting war resisters to the U.S. does indeed produce irreparable harm, the Harper government must enact the motion passed in Parliament to stop the deportations and let the war resisters stay.

    - Jesse McLaren, Toronto

    Thank you, David and Jesse! And thank you to the Star for running them. I sent this to the Globe and Mail.
    To the editor:

    When Federal Justice Anne Mactavish refused to stay the deportation of war resister Robin Long, she wrote that Long had not proved that he would suffer "irreparable harm" if deported.

    Long was court martialed last Friday, August 22. He was sentenced to 15 months in a federal penitentiary and given a dishonourable discharge. In the U.S., this is the equivalent of a felony offence. Long will be ineligible for student loans, mortgages, and most employment opportunities. He will be unable to return to Canada, where his two-year-old son lives. I believe most reasonable people recognize this as "irreparable harm", especially when one considers that Long's only "crime" was refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war.

    On June 3, a majority in the House of Commons called on the Government to allow Iraq War resisters to stay in Canada. When will Prime Minister Harper respect the majority's decision? Why does he insist on ignoring the will of the Canadian people?

    If you agree, please feel free to use any part of this for a letter to your own local newspaper. Letters to the editor are great exposure, and the more letters a newspaper receives from one point of view, the greater their obligation to run a sample.

    three more bodies. when will it end?


    For what? For whom?

    There are answers, but none satisfactory. None worth their lives.

    the "how can i move to canada" forum

    I get a lot of traffic from this page.

    This is a fairly typical example of what you find at these kinds of sites, although it has a higher percentage of correct information than most.

    There are the solidly informative answers, the "my hometown is better" plus gratuitous Toronto slams, plus the requisite snarky, non-helpful answer, which often doubles as a Toronto slam. At least one answer must begin with, "Why would anyone want to..." or "I don't understand...".

    As I've observed before, in these venues, people from Vancouver are particularly insistent that their town is the place to be and Toronto sucks. Unfortunately, this has given me a negative impression of Vancouver as a city of smug self-absorption. I'm sure this is not the case, and I very much look forward to getting out there one day. But come on folks, everyone can't live there.

    What this page lacks is the usual assortment of scaremongering lies about Canada: Canadians hate USians, you'll die waiting for health care, you'll never find a job, Canada is practically the US now anyway. It cannot be a coincidence that MetaFilter costs $5.00 to join. That must seriously cut down on wingnuttery.


    screen "breaking ranks" film for war resisters

    As part of your organizing for the National Day of Action on September 13, consider using Michelle Mason's film about war resisters, "Breaking Ranks". The film features war resister Jeremy Hinzman and his family, who face deportation back to the US - and Jeremy's court martial, and prison - on September 23.

    A screening and letter-writing party is not hard to organize. It can be done in someone's living room, or in a community space in a local library.

    To borrow a public copy of "Breaking Ranks" from the National Film Board, contact Jane Gutteridge at j.gutteridge at nfb dot ca. You can also try the library, or invest in a copy for your organization. It's an excellent film and well worth your money.

    Parliament reconvenes on September 15, so September 13 or 14 is the perfect time to gather people to watch the movie, then write letters to their MPs, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Citizen and Immigration Minister Diane Finley.

    If you've never done something like this, it's easier than you might think. One wmtc reader - who says she's never organized anything before - contacted her town's NDP riding association, who jumped at the opportunity. This gives you a base of supporters to tap into it, which you can expand through leafletting and a few well-placed flyers.

    If you're intrigued, feel free to email me for tips.


    three recent music-related deaths

    Three people who contributed so much to American music died recently.

    First, a man whose influence over popular music cannot be underestimated. Jerry Wexler - pioneer, producer, visionary - died last week at 91.
    Jerry Wexler, the legendary record man, music producer and ageless hipster, died at 3:45 a.m. today at the age of 91. Wexler was one of the great music business pioneers of the 20th century: as co-head of Atlantic Records from 1953 to '75, he and his partner Ahmet Ertegun grew the small independent R&B label into the major record company that it is today.

    Wexler was much more than a top executive — he was a national tastemaker and a prophet of roots and rhythm. The impact of his deeds matched his larger-than-life personality. Because of him, we use the term "rhythm and blues" and we hail Ray Charles as "Genius" and Aretha Franklin as "Queen." We came to know of a record label called Stax and a small town called Muscle Shoals, Alabama. We witnessed the rise of Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers, and we care about a thing called soul.

    In the '50s, Wexler's studio work helped introduce white ears to the royalty of R&B: Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, the Drifters, LaVern Baker, Chuck Willis. In the '60s as the age of R&B gave way to the rock and soul era, Wexler and Ertegun steered Atlantic into a lead position among labels, releasing music by Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, Cream and Led Zeppelin, Solomon Burke and Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, and Willie Nelson. In the '70s, Wexler departed Atlantic and went freelance, producing soundtracks for films by Louis Malle and Richard Pryor, and recording albums with Bob Dylan, Dire Straits, and Etta James and others.

    Wexler was a throwback to a time when record men could be found in the studio and the office, producing the music and running the company. Blessed with big ears — they really were large — his productions generated a staggering number of gold and platinum records. The collective impact of the music he personally produced or somehow ushered into being won him nearly every lifetime honor in the music world. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of the first non-performers to receive the honor. Tuxedoed and hale, he summed up his work at Atlantic: "We were making rhythm and blues music — black music by black musicians for black adult buyers perpetrated by white Jewish and Turkish entrepreneurs."

    The other two passings were both musicians, people whose sound I hope you know, even though you may not know their names.

    Don Helms, whose piercing, haunting steel guitar can be heard on over 100 Hank Williams recordings, including 10 of Williams' 11 number-one country hits, died last week. He was the last surviving member of Hank Williams' legendary Drifting Cowboys group.

    Here is Helms in 1968, playing "Cold, Cold Heart", and perhaps less familiar, "Bye, Bye Blues". His New York Times obit is here.

    Finally, Buddy Harman, whose drumming is heard on thousands of recordings by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Roy Orbinson and dozens of other greats, died in his hometown of Nashville at age 79. Some of the songs on which Harman supplied rythmn are Cash's "Ring of Fire," Roger Miller's "King of the Road", the Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love," Simon and Garfunkel's "Boxer", and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." That's just a tiny sample. An exhaustive list would be very, very long.

    Here's Harman's page at Drummerworld.com, his credits with the Nashville "A-Team", and his New York Times obit.

    let them stay reason # 9: majority support

    The second of a ten-part series: reasons why US Iraq War Resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada.

    Reason #9: From The Council of Canadians, the majority of Canadians support Iraq War Resisters.


    robin long sentenced to 15 months in penitentiary

    War resister Robin Long has been sentenced to 15 months in a federal penitentiary, and given a dishonourable discharge.

    Robin was deported to the US because, according to a federal judge, he failed to prove that he would face "irreparable harm". I consider 15 months in prison plus a life-long felony conviction irreparable harm, especially since Robin's only "crime" to refusing to kill.

    Robin's punishment lies at Stephen Harper's feet.

    robin long court martial today

    Robin Long, a war resister who lived in Canada for several years, will be court martialed today.

    As I type those words, tears come to my eyes.

    It's just so wrong.

    I'm speechless and heartsick. So I'm going to borrow someone else's words. Gerry Condon, a peace activist and organizer of military resistance, wrote this statement in support of Robin.
    Statement of Gerry Condon, Project Safe Haven
    on the occasion of the U.S. Army's court martial of Robin Long, August 22, 2008

    My name is Gerry Condon. As director of Project Safe Haven, I have been working with U.S. war resisters in Canada for the last 4½ years. During this time, I have met many young men and women who were absent without leave from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines, and the U.S. Air Force. I can truthfully testify that none of these young Americans were in Canada due to cowardice or because they were shirking their duty. Quite to the contrary, they uniformly impressed me as thoughtful young Americans who were struggling conscientiously to do the right thing by themselves, their families, their religious and ethical beliefs, their country, and even the military.

    On Thursday, July 17, I had the pleasure of meeting Robin Long, though under difficult circumstances. Robin was being held in jail in Buckley, Washington, near Fort Lewis. Along with a lawyer friend, I was able to meet with him for one hour in a small, spare jail cell. Robin was led out to meet us wearing a bright orange prison jumpsuit, not unlike jail garb in many places perhaps, but reminiscent of the pictures of terrorism suspects being held in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba.

    Robin was wary at first, but was quite relieved when he realized we were there to offer him our friendship and our support. He was able to show some emotion for the first time since he had been arrested by Canadian police two weeks earlier on alleged immigration violations. Robin told us a harrowing tale of the abuse he had suffered as he was transported through three Canadian jails and three U.S. jails in two weeks. In one Canadian prison he had been twice attacked by a group of prisoners. In another, he was made to share a cell with a pathologically violent prisoner who threatened to kill him if he slept. He had been kept isolated from friends and family and did not know what was going to happen to him.

    The circumstances of Robin's arrest seemed very political, as the fate of U.S. war resisters in Canada was coming to a head. After being rudely arrested and dragged away from his dear family and friends, being shuttled from one prison to another, and facing abuse and privation, Robin felt more like a victim of extraordinary rendition than someone who was being deported from Canada because of immigration technicalities.

    Robin is small in stature, but he spoke proudly about having fought back against multiple attackers in prison. I knew I was talking to a man who had a lot of heart, and courage to spare. He was not feeling sorry for himself. And he seemed ready to accept whatever consequences might befall him. He was at peace with himself. His main concern was that he would be separated from his two-year-old son in Canada.

    Robin says that he joined the Army despite being opposed to the U.S. war and occupation of Iraq. In fact, he says that an Army recruiter promised him he would not have to go to Iraq. Should he have believed this recruiter? Probably not. But Robin's account rings true. I have heard this same story many times from other GIs. And it is now well documented that many Army recruiters, under great pressure to meet their quotas, have resorted to fraudulent tactics, including deception and intimidation.

    It has been suggested that soldiers who refuse to deploy to Iraq and/or speak out against the U.S. occupation of Iraq are undermining the morale of their fellow troops. I do not believe this is the case. Instead, they are the ones who are brave enough to point out that the king has no clothes. They are expressing out loud what many in the Army know to be true.

    When Robin Long joined the Army, he raised his right hand and swore to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He didn't sign up to fight a war that many experts believe is neither legal nor winnable. The deceit and incompetence of the politicians who sent the Army to war in Iraq has been exposed for the whole world to see. These politicians have done grievous injury to the fighting forces of the United States of America. Over 4,000 of our troops have been killed. Tens of thousands are wounded. And hundreds of thousands of Iraq veterans, according to a study by the Rand Corporation, are now suffering from brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Is it any wonder the recruiters are having trouble?

    Despite this terrible misuse and abuse of our military, the generals and the officer corps have not protested, at least not publicly. So this horrible war that has already destroyed a nation, including perhaps one million Iraqi dead, continues today in its sixth year. It has been left to low-ranking military personnel such as Robin Long to tell the truth and to suffer the consequences. This is not fair to Robin Long. And it is not fair to the U.S. Army. They both deserve a lot better.

    It is not hard to argue that the U.S. went to war against Iraq without a legal basis for doing so. It was not a war waged in self-defense. There was no imminent threat to the United States. There was no UN Security Council resolution. There were no weapons of mass destruction, and no ties to terrorism. The lies of those who, for their own reasons, led us into this tragic war, are being exposed on a regular basis. Even now, there are those in the Congress who are considering the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, two men who managed to dodge the Vietnam draft, and yet carelessly ordered our military into mission impossible.

    Robin Long is no coward. There can be little doubt that he has acted from deeply held beliefs. Unflinching obedience to military orders is not what is called for by the Nuremberg Principles. Nor the Geneva Conventions on War. Nor U.S. law, which embodies these international treaties. Not even the Uniform Code of Military Justice calls for blind obedience.

    Whether or not you believe that Robin Long did the right thing, please keep an open mind to the possibility that he has acted bravely and honorably, and that he has already paid a high price for doing so. This court martial will not be serving justice or strengthening military discipline by treating Robin Long as a criminal and sending him off to languish in prison. Rather, justice and even the honor of the U.S. Army would be better served by showing leniency in this case.

    There are those who should be imprisoned for a long time because of the role they played in unleashing the dogs of war. But Robin Long is not one of those. In every society, there are times when regular citizens, even citizen soldiers, must stand up for what they believe is right. This is the spirit in which Robin Long has acted. And this is the spirit that should guide those who sit in judgment of him.

    By being lenient with Robin Long, you will not be sending the wrong message to the troops. Rather, you will be sending the right message to politicians who think they can treat the military as if it is their own little toy. Robin Long is giving you the opportunity to do the right thing. I pray that you will be able to seize this golden opportunity. Thank you.

    Thank you, Gerry. I wouldn't have known what to say this morning without you.

    let them stay reason # 10: freedom of conscience

    This video clip begins a ten-part series: reasons why US Iraq War Resisters should be allowed to stay in Canada.

    Reason #10: From Amnesty International, Freedom of Conscience


    keeping that tv off: more reasons to boycott beijing

    A little reminder of why I'm not watching the Beijing Olympics.
    Two elderly Chinese women who applied to hold a protest during the Olympics were ordered to spend a year in a labor camp, a relative said Wednesday. Police later squelched a pro-Tibet demonstration.

    The women were still at home three days after being officially notified they would have to serve a yearlong term of reeducation through labor, but were under surveillance by a government-backed neighborhood group, said Li Xuehui, the son of one of the women.

    Li said no cause was given for the order to imprison his 79-year-old mother, Wu Dianyuan, and her neighbor Wang Xiuying, 77.

    "Wang Xiuying is almost blind and disabled. What sort of re-education through labor can she serve?" Li said in a telephone interview. "But they can also be taken away at any time."

    Meanwhile, swarms of plainclothes police set upon four foreign activists early Thursday as they tried to stage a protest against Chinese rule over Tibet — the latest in a series of unsanctioned demonstrations to occur during the Olympics.

    Beijing announced last month that it would allow protests in three parks far from the Olympic venues during the games but they had to be approved in advance. Of the some 77 applications lodged so far, none have been approved, and rights groups have called the zones a charade.

    The four unfurled a Tibetan flag and shouted "Free Tibet" south of the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium, the New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said. It put the number of police at 50; a spokeswoman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau declined comment.

    "The fact that there were so many undercover police following them it just made them go with the action urgently," said Kate Woznow, the group's campaigns director.

    Two Associated Press photographers were roughed up by plainclothes security officers, forced into cars and taken to a nearby building where they were questioned before being released. Memory cards from their cameras were confiscated.

    The four activists — whose whereabouts were not known — were identified by Students for a Free Tibet as Tibetan-German Florien Norbu Gyanatshang, 30; Mandie McKeown, 41, of Britain; and Americans Jeremy Wells, 38 and John Watterberg, 30.[More here.]

    more smart canadians calling out tony clement

    Yesterday the Globe and Mail ran seven letters, all opposing federal Health Minister Tony Clement's wrong-headed stance on safe-injection sites.

    I expected that today there would be a small flurry of letters from the other side. That's often how it works: news story, followed by letters from one side, followed by a second round of letters in opposition to the first round.

    Today the G&M ran two more letters on the subject: one in support of Tory policy, which I will not link to, and an additional letter opposing it. In total, eight opposed and one in favour. When you consider that newspapers generally print letters, pro or con, in proportion to those they receive, this is significant.
    Imagine if Federal Health Minister Tony Clement opposed providing coronary bypass surgery to all obese patients or respiratory medication to all smokers, because of the "moral" message these conditions convey.

    We are left breathless at Mr. Clement's preposterous comparison of palliative care for treatable cancers to safe injection for substance dependence. In fact, safe injection is on the same spectrum of treatment as certain forms of life-prolonging (not lifesaving) chemotherapy. The big difference is the stigma and attitude ministers such as Mr. Clement bring with the Conservatives' campaign against people disabled by addiction.

    As front-line physicians trying to improve the lives of people with addictions, it is discouraging that we should have to educate our government about the legitimate health-care needs of this population.

    Thea Weisdorf, Philip Berger, Charlie Guiang and Chris Cavacuiti, MDs, Toronto

    last night in toronto, tonight in vancouver: let them stay

    Last night's meeting in Toronto was well attended and high spirited. I hope many people left with renewed vigor for the fight facing us in the weeks ahead.

    Tonight in Vancouver, you can attend a similar meeting, to learn more about what the Campaign is facing, and how you can help.

    When: Thursday, August 21, 8:00 p.m.

    Where: Lugz Coffee Lounge, 2525 Main, between Broadway and 10th Ave.

    Why: To make sure more people of conscience are not deported from Canada

    Why: Because we want Canada to be Canada

    Why: Because we want peace, and supporting military resistance is a concrete way you can support peace.

    * * * *

    In Toronto last night, we heard from the Hinzman family, NDP MP Peggy Nash, Liberal MP Mario Silva (both strong supporters of war resisters), Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quaker) General Secretary Jane Orion Smith, and other peace activists.

    When discussion was opened up to the audience, many people asked questions along the lines of, "What is the Campaign going to do about...", and "Do you plan to try...".

    James Clark, a great Canadian peace organizer, reminded us all that the question we should be asking is what can I do? What can I do between now and September 13th to help make the National Day of Action a success? What can I do between now and September 23rd to help the Hinzman family stay in Canada?

    I usually ask you to write letters and make phone calls. Those are worthwhile and important actions. But now I'm asking you to go a step further.

    We need public visibility. We need feet on the ground, bodies outside. Because of the deportation orders, the war resisters have more visibility than ever - but many people think that we've lost the fight, and it's over.

    It is far from over. We need to capitalize on the visibility, to keep the issue in the forefront. We need to make this an election issue.

    Some ideas:

  • The Campaign has invested in laminated window signs. For a loonie or a toonie, you can pick one up at the office (25 Cecil Street), hang it in your window or in your car.

  • Join us for tabling/petitioning, or table in your own neighbourhood. It's not hard to do - maybe a little scary at first, but once you see the positive reception you get, you'll enjoy it. Two hours out of your weekend or after work makes a big difference.

  • Your organization can screen the movie "Breaking Ranks", an excellent Canadian documentary about war resisters. Michelle Mason, the filmmaker, is donating free copies to any group who will show the film to raise awareness. Details to follow.

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. This is an excellent way to increase visibility.

  • Email everyone you know and ask them to join a demonstration on September 13.

  • If there's no event in your town or city on September 13, make one.

    For more information, email the Campaign: contact information here. Or email me. Tell me your ideas and I'll help get you started.
  • 8.20.2008

    clarification: bad conduct discharge is what we say it is

    A commenter - who is a friend of wmtc, and who supports peace and justice - disputed the Campaign's claim that the "bad conduct discharge" will permanently and severely damage war resisters' future.

    Members of the Campaign have checked out this information with civilian lawyers, military lawyers, and immigration and refugee lawyers, as well as people who have received bad conduct discharges for desertion, missing movement, and other resistance-related military charges. All verify that the bad conduct discharge is the equivalent of a felony offense and extremely damaging to future opportunities.

    The commenter said that, in his experience, employers have never asked about his military record. However, applications for the kinds of jobs for which most war resisters are eligible - jobs at Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Home Depot - do require disclosure of military and criminal records. These huge employers do not hire people who have bad conduct discharges.

    What's more, people like Robin Long and Jeremy Hinzman, who have been publicly outspoken about the Iraq War and US military practices, are likely to receive the full brunt of the military's vengeance: a dishonourable discharge. There's little doubt about the damage this causes.

    No one should serve prison time for refusing to kill! One day in prison is one day too many. But the resisters are not being sentenced to one day. James Burmeister was sentenced to 15 months. Robin Long is facing three years. And their discharges are, in effect, a life sentence.

    tonight in toronto: come out in support of war resisters

    Tonight in Toronto, please attend an emergency public meeting of the War Resisters Support Campaign at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street. Get involved. Learn how you can help.

    The meeting will be followed by a fundraiser at Grossman's Tavern, featuring music by Chloe Watkinson and the Crossroads. Music starts at 8:30; all proceeds benefit the War Resisters Support Campaign.

    The Campaign is facing huge legal bills, and every little bit helps. Admission is $10, or what you can.

    Grossman's Tavern is at 379 Spadina, corner of Cecil Street, Toronto.

    * * * *

    Last week, the Immigration and Refugee Board rejected the final appeal of Jeremy Hinzman, the first US war resister to apply for safe haven in Canada. Jeremy, his spouse Nga Nguyen, their six year old son and infant daughter have been ordered to leave Canada by September 23.

    In the US, Jeremy will be court martialled for desertion. He will likely receive a prison sentence - anywhere from one year to life - and a dishonourable or bad conduct discharge. These discharges are the equivalent of a felony offense. Jeremy would be unable to get student loans, a mortgage, or almost any job.

    His crime: he refused to kill innocent people in an illegal, immoral and unnecessary war.

    On June 3, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Government to allow war resisters to remain legally in Canada. All three opposition parties came together for this historic vote - but the Harper Government has ignored it.

    Poll after poll shows that the majority of the Canadian people - people of all parties, in all areas of the country - support allowing Iraq War resisters to stay legally in Canada.

    One war resister, Robin Long, has already been deported. Robin is now in military prison; his court martial is this Friday. (Robin also has a Canadian-born son.) We cannot let this happen to another person of conscience.

    These deportations are not only inhumane. They are a slap in the face to Canadian democracy.

    If you care about peace and justice, if you oppose the US occupation of Iraq, NOW is the time to get involved.

    If you're in the Toronto area, come to tonight's meeting and/or fundraiser. But everyone in Canada can be involved.

    September 13 is the National Day of Action in support of war resisters in Canada.

    Check on this blog (click on "war resisters" category) or at the Campaign website for information on local actions or plan an action of your own. The War Resisters Support Campaign can give you materials, connect you with people, and help publicize your event.

    It doesn't have to be a huge event. A small demonstration or vigil in as many towns and cities as possible will show the breadth of support for our movement, clear across this huge country.

    Get involved: ask me how.

    canadians respond to tony clement

    The Globe and Mail ran seven letters today in response to Tony Clement's lecture. Here they are, with no editing.
    As a physician listening to Mr. Clement speak about safe injection sites at the meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, I was embarrassed. It was clear to me that rather than looking at the results of these safe injection sites and determining in an objective, evidence-based fashion whether or not these programs actually achieved the desired results of harm reduction and improved health outcomes, Mr. Clement used this as a platform to launch his party's agenda in case of a fall election.

    I hope the Conservatives have more to offer in any campaign than this fear-mongering dribble.

    Suzanne Strasberg, MD, Toronto


    Mr. Clement impugns the ethics and morality of physicians who support (or, as I do, work with) supervised injection. His statement introduces an element of rancour into a painful, complex debate already characterized by too much emotion and a lack of dispassionate inquiry.

    The minister may legitimately, if shortsightedly, question the specific harm reduction practice of supervised injection. But he ought to resign if he cannot tolerate disagreement without personally attacking health professionals who, under challenging circumstances and with no help from his government, are attempting to relieve suffering of which he seems to have no understanding.

    Gabor Mateé, MD, Vancouver


    Mr. Clement is as ignorant about palliative care as he is about harm-reduction measures for drug addiction. As a palliative care physician, I take care of many patients with treatable forms of cancer. One would think that Mr. Clement would know that oncology and palliative care are not mutually exclusive. Many patients with "treatable" cancer have pain, nausea and existential angst that is best managed by a palliative care physician.

    Is this really the right person to be making decisions on health care for all Canadians?

    Glen Maddison, MD, Sarnia, ON


    Between "in-and-out" schemes, allegations of Chuck Cadman payoffs, mistreatment of Afghan detainees, and who knows what else behind the opaque shield erected by what was supposed to be a government of greater transparency, federal Health Minister Tony Clement and other members of this government are hardly in a position to lecture professionals about ethics and morality (Supporting Insite Unethical, Clement Tells Doctors - Aug. 19).

    J. N. Trott, Oakville


    Your front page yesterday had two guys up on their high horses. One, Ian Millar, deserved to be riding high (Millar Soars To Silver At 61 - Aug. 19). Way to go, Mr. Millar!

    The other, Tony Clement, should get off his equine perch. That way, we can show him the way to go, too.

    Joan Summers, Montreal


    This lecture comes from a senior representative of a party that is being investigated for election irregularities, has written a guidebook on how to disrupt parliamentary committees and has broken election promises (e.g. income trusts).

    On ethical issues, I think I will trust my doctor.

    John Steeves, Sussex, NB


    I was disappointed that Mr. Clement, as the Minister of Health, chose not to see the vulnerable as patients. Instead, he chose to make them political targets and further victimize them.

    I expect better of my government.

    Mark D. Macleod, MD
    London, ON


    health care based on ideology, instead of health

    Tony Clement, federal Health Minister and right-wing ideologue, is lecturing health professionals on ethics and morals, bringing his political judgements where only health decisions belong.
    Health professionals who support Vancouver's safe injection site are unethical and immoral, federal Health Minister Tony Clement suggested on Monday.

    "The supervised injection site undercuts the ethic of medical practice and sets a debilitating example for all physicians and nurses, both present and future in Canada," he scolded in an address to the Canadian Medical Association general council meeting in Montreal.

    He called providing a safe injection site to drug addicts tantamount to offering palliative care to a patient with a treatable form of cancer.

    "This is a profound moral issue, and when Canadians are fully informed of it, I believe they will reject it on principle," the minister said.

    His comments come as the Conservatives have bombarded urban ridings in Vancouver and Toronto with ads, sent free using MPs' mailing privileges, that depict a discarded syringe and a headline that states: "Junkies and pushers don't belong near children and families. They should be in rehab or behind bars."

    The campaign, in addition to Mr. Clement's remarks, shows the Conservatives are trying to make illegal drugs an issue that will separate them from other parties and influence key swing voters, especially women.

    On Monday, Mr. Clement took issue specifically with a letter he received from CMA president Brian Day that stated: "There is growing evidence that harm-reduction efforts can have a positive effect on the poor health outcomes associated with drug use."

    The minister retorted: "Is it true that supervised injections offer 'positive health outcomes?' I would not put it this way. Insite [Vancouver's safe injection site] may slow the death spiral of a deadly drug habit, but it does not reverse it. I do not regard this as a positive health outcome."

    After the speech, Dr. Day said the "minister is off base in calling into question the ethics of physicians" and accused Mr. Clement of "manipulating medical ethics to make a political point."

    Dr. Day noted that in a poll of Canadian physicians, 79 per cent supported harm-reduction measures, including safe injection sites.

    "We have an opinion based on scientific evidence. The minister has come to a different conclusion," he said.

    Carolyn Bennett, the Liberal public-health critic and a physician, was livid after the minister's speech.

    "I've never seen such an offensive performance by a health minister," she said. "How dare he come to a meeting of professionals and scold them about their perceived ethical failings."

    At Insite, a small facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, drug users inject themselves while supervised by nurses and physicians, and receive counselling about rehabilitation.

    Clean needles are provided, but drugs are not; the principal purpose is to limit the spread of infectious diseases. Insite was granted an exemption from federal drug laws in 2003 so its users cannot be prosecuted for drug possession.

    The Conservative government has vowed to close Insite, but the facility won a reprieve this spring when the B.C. Supreme Court struck down parts of Canada's drug laws. Ottawa has appealed.

    For the facts and news about Insite, see Keep Insite Open, written by Jen, a wmtc reader and commenter, who is also a friend of the War Resisters Support Campaign.