PDA: New Plan for Fully-Funded Iraq Withdrawal

March 11, 2007

This is latest news comes from PDA, the US grassroots organisaton that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. It should be of interest to all progressive American anti-war activists.

We’re on the march Thursday morning. That’s when a growing group of Congress members is unveiling a plan for a fully-funded, systematic withdrawal of U.S. soldiers and military contractors from Iraq. The plan would provide all resources needed by military commanders to execute an orderly withdrawal by a date certain.

The proposal is being discussed at a 9:30am Capitol Hill news conference, featuring Reps. Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Maxine Waters, Jerry Nadler, Keith Ellison, Maurice Hinchey and others. There can be no complaints that this plan in any way endangers U.S. troops.

Antiwar forces are uniting behind this plan, which is expected to be proposed as an amendment to Bush’s $93 billion Iraq supplemental appropriation request. Instead of funding an endless war, Congress will be offered a way to fund an orderly end to the war — thereby heeding the call voters sent them last November.

PDA urges its members and allies to continue contacting Congress by phone (toll-free 1-888-851-1879) or other means to support a fully-funded withdrawal. If such an amendment is NOT adopted, urge Congress to vote “NO” on the Supplemental, and an unending occupation.

Listen to PDA Advisory Board member and Progressive Caucus co-chair Barbara Lee explain the latest strategy in a brand new podcast talk specifically to PDA.


Contact other labor, civil rights and peace groups you are affiliated with – such as MoveOn or any others – to urge them to rally behind “fully-funded withdrawal within a set timeframe.”

Click here to see or share comments about how things went with the calls into Congress.


Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. Our goal: Extend the victory of Nov. 2006 into a permanent, progressive majority. PDA’s advisory board includes six members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin and Rev. Lennox Yearwood. More info: http://pdamerica.org

Canadians make their voices heard on Guantánamo

March 11, 2007

You did it. You and other readers of Amnesty International’s Speak Out cut through the intimidation and helped make it okay to say “Close Guantanamo Bay”. Peaceful rallies all across Canada and the thoughtful words of former Canadian Foreign Ministers helped Canada join the chorus of world leaders calling on US authorities to close a detention facility that stands above the law. We still await the Canadian government’s voice on this subject.

Tell PM Harper to close Guantanamo

View slideshows of actions across Canada:
Toronto | Ottawa | Vancouver | Halifax

Amnesty International Canada’s New campaign, SHARE POWER, exposes corporate human rights abuses

March 11, 2007

Weyerhaeuser mills is a company that logged wood from Grassy Narrows without consent.

Amnesty International’s SHARE POWER campaign gives you the power to challenge corporate human rights abuses. Take action today urging the CEOs of 7 Canadian and US companies to take a personal interest in their company’s human rights legacy at their upcoming Annual General Meetings.

Learn about SHARE POWER
Take action on Companies

Amnesty International Canada: Women’s Day Quiz: Test yourself and win!

March 11, 2007

Do you think security for women is improving? Is it a priority? In Canada and around the world, government leaders ignore, deny, avoid and downplay the issue. There is no excuse for abuse — no excuse for government inaction.

Take this Amnesty International Canada quiz to test your knowledge by answering 12 short questions about the protection and promotion of women’s rights around the world. Be a part of the solution!

March 2007
Take Amnesty's See it Hear it quiz
Test your knowledge of women’s human rights.
Answer 12 questions, then enter your name
for a chance to win one of 25 Amnesty t-shirts,
an MP3 or a gift basket of fair trade goods from
Just Us.

At the end of the quiz,
please take 20 seconds for the women of Afghanistan
by asking Foreign Minister Peter MacKay to ensure that
part of the $300 million Canada is sending to Afghanistan
is used to help protect the safety and rights of women.

Go to March 8th Website for events, actions, and more info

Tomgram: Schwartz, Iraq as a Cauldron of State Terrorism

March 11, 2007

When it comes to surging in Iraq, it’s “encouraging” out there. So the President tells us (“Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs…”); so Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the surge commander in Baghdad, tells us (“[It’s] too early to discern significant trends, [but] there have been a few encouraging signs…”). No, they’re not talking about what Juan Cole calls the “new spate of massive and deadly bombings [that] has spread insecurity and further compromised the Iraqi government… right in downtown Baghdad, within spitting distance of the Green Zone, where the U.S. and the Iraqi government planned out the new security arrangements”; they’re referring to some weapons caches found, some under-strength Iraqi units deployed to the capital, a possible small drop in deaths from sectarian violence.

Still, if surge success isn’t exactly looming on the horizon, it’s clear enough what is: Call it “surge creep.” In a way, surge creep has been the story of the Iraq War since the beginning.

Numbers creep: As Tom Ricks has reported in his book Fiasco,when the Bush administration first invaded Iraq in March 2003, its top officials believed that, by August, most American troops would be withdrawn. Only 30,000 or so would remain to garrison a grateful country. That, of course, was four years ago. Today, American troop totals in Iraq are heading back towards 160,000-plus.

The forces for the surge plan alone, announced at 21,500 by the President in January, are already creeping toward 30,000. Recently, the administration “clarified” all this in a piecemeal sort of way. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England explained to Congress that the surge combat units might well need up to 7,000 more support troops. He suggested this in rejecting “a recent estimate by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office that the surge would require an additional 15,000-28,000 support personnel.” (Keep that figure in the back of your mind, as surge creep continues.) Then Lt. Gen. Petraeus requested 2,200 extra military police for all the detainees he plans to pick up in sweeps of Baghdad neighborhoods. The President signed off on them this week. Whether they are part of those up to 7,000 support troops or not remains foggy; meanwhile Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, the commander of American forces outside the surge zone in Northern Iraq, just called for reinforcements for Diyala Province where attacks have risen 30%.

Money creep: The administration supposedly budgeted $5.6 billion for the new surge plan in the capital and al-Anbar Province. But that was January, this is March. Another billion dollars or so has already been added on for those extra “support troops” (that no one had evidently given a thought to a month and a half ago) and — among easy predictions — look for real costs to creep ever higher, as they have done since March 2003.

Time creep: When the surge plan was first proposed in January, then-commanding general George W. Casey Jr. suggested that it might be successfully completed, with Baghdadis “feeling safe” in their neighborhoods, by “the summer, late summer.” Soon enough, new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates let it be known that the time estimate had crept into the fall, when, he felt sure, the surge might begin to be “reversed.” Now, Petraeus is talking about extending the (rising) surge troop levels into the winter; his second-in-command, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, is already floating the idea of surging into February 2008; and, according to the Washington Post, some commanders under them in Baghdad are “predicting that U.S. troop levels in the Iraqi capital will have to remain elevated until at least the spring of 2008.” This sort of time creep — like the numbers creep and the money creep — has been an ongoing aspect of the administration’s Iraq for years now.

Blame creep: Finally, we can already see the first little surge of blame creep out of Baghdad. Petraeus, not even a month in the Iraqi capital, has evidently taken a good hard look around and found things not exactly to his liking. He’s just held his first news conference and offered his mantra for saving the capital (or at least his own rep): “There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency of Iraq… Military action is necessary to help improve security… but it is not sufficient.” Such comments are already getting him headlines like: “U.S. commander says no military solution in Iraq.” Think of the general as carefully beginning to signal his future explanation for the failure of the surge plan. (Those dopes in Washington couldn’t handle the politics of the situation.) Remember: If you’re going to blame someone convincingly, you have to plant your story early.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

JimBobby’s song: Nine Year Old Blues (audio)

March 11, 2007

I can’t find the earlier post and link that I put up here regarding JimBobby’s new song about little Kevin in Texas jail, called ‘Nine Year Old Blues’, so here it is again, taken directly from JimBobby Sez. It is simply too good not to share widely! Thanks, JB!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nine Year Old Blues (audio)

Whooee! Well decent humans, I been stewin’ on this here situation with 9 year-old Kevin the Canajun who’s bein’ held in that there Texas jailhouse after he an’ his Iranian parents was hauled off a plane that was s’posed t’ land in Canada but had t’ land in Puerto Rico instead on accounta some passenger had a heart attack. I wrote me up a song an’ I asked my squirrel-huntin’ buddy Steve from down the street t’ back me up on the guitar.

This song’s made up t’ the tune o’ Johnny Cash’s Fulsom Prison Blues. Here’s the MP3.

Nine Year Old Blues

I hear the train a comin´
It´s rolling down the line
I’m a Canadian citizen, my age is only nine
But I’m stuck in a Merkan prison, I’m beggin’ Pete MacKay
Start phoning Condoleezza and get me out today…

I ain’t much more than a baby and my family’s locked up, too
I’m lost in legal limbo and I don’t know what to do
I ended up in Texas, where I ain’t got no rights
I’m askin’ MacKay an’ Harper to take up my fight…

I see MacKay with Condi holdin’ hands and flashin’ smiles,
They’re eatin’ fancy dinners and I’m stuck here all the while,
Well, we never seen it comin’, now we can’t get free,
But Pete keeps kissin’ Condi’s ass
While the Merkans torture me…

Well, if Pete’s got human decency
He’ll get us out of jail
He’ll call his girlfriend Condi and tell my sorry tale
Kiddies locked in Texas prisons, a tale that must be told
Please help me get out, Peter, I’m only nine years old.

I hear the train a comin´
It´s rolling down the line
I’m a Canadian citizen, my age is only nine
But I’m stuck in a Merkan prison, I’m beggin’ Pete MacKay
Start phoning Condoleezza and get me out today.



AIUSA: Arms Trade update: New ways to campaign against the misuse of US cluster bombs

March 11, 2007

Amnesty International USA has some good new ways to campaign against the misuse of US cluster bombs:

View it on the web.
Arms Trade Update
March 2007
Dear Annamarie:Last month, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) launched the first of several actions addressing the troubling use of U.S. cluster bombs in cities and villages around the world with devastating consequences to civilians . Thousands of you sent emails to your U.S. Senators calling for our government to change its policy.As you gear up for more activism this month, including the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in March, I wanted to give you some additional educational and activism tools on cluster bombs. Please also read below about efforts to establish an international treaty on cluster bombs and continuing concerns about cluster bomblets in southern Lebanon.

For those of you attending the AGM, make sure and stop by the Military, Security, and Police (MSP) Transfers display at the Ideas Fair, which features our work on cluster bombs. Also, watch out for origami cluster bomblets around the conference areas.

Best regards,

Colby Goodman
Program Manager
Child Soldiers and Arms Transfers

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

New AIUSA Educational and Activism Tools on Cluster Bombs
AIUSA is proud to release two new tools to help AIUSA activists and the public better understand and take action on cluster bombs. The first item, “10 Things You Should Know about Cluster Bombs,” is a quick and comprehensive guide to the problem of cluster bombs that draws on information from Amnesty International’s field research among other research. The second item, which follows up on our central action on cluster bombs, supporting the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S.594), is a sample Letter to the Editor on cluster bombs. Send this letter to your local city or school paper to help raise awareness about the concerns of cluster bombs.
– Learn More: 10 Things You Should Know about Cluster Munitions »
– Download a Letter to the Editor »
– And, If You Haven’t Taken Action, Ask your U.S. Senator to Support Important Legislation »

International Effort to Restrict the Use of Cluster Bombs Gains Steam
On February 23, 2007, 46 governments agreed to develop a new treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that have unacceptable consequences for civilians. Norway sponsored the meeting in Oslo. Last year in Geneva, governments had failed to agree to negotiate a treaty on cluster munitions within the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons. The new agreement establishes a clear roadmap for a treaty with follow up meetings in Lima, Peru in May or June, Vienna in November, and Dublin in early 2008. The group of 46 states includes key users, producers, and stockpilers of cluster bombs from all continents, including Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Serbia. Amnesty International was among the many non-governmental organizations attending the conference and advocating for an agreement.

Israel Urged to Provide Detailed Maps of Cluster Bombs in Lebanon
Despite a massive United Nations effort to identify and clean up hundreds of thousands of unexploded cluster sub-munitions Israel fired into southern Lebanon last July and August, the UN continues to call for more detailed information on the locations of the cluster munitions. In the past six months, accidents involving unexploded cluster sub-munitions have caused more than 200 casualties, including several children, in and around villages in south Lebanon. AI released a statement last month calling for Israel to provide more detailed information on the location of Israeli-fired cluster munitions.