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By John Anderson
This email is being sent to you because I believe that the Peace and Justice organization to which you belong may well be going to the UfPJ National Assembly, Dec 12-14. If not, then you may ignore this email and I apologize for the distraction.
This Assembly is likely to be pivotal in determining whether or not UfPJ can be an effective agent for Peace and Justice. Our member organization, Silicon Valley Impeachment Coalition, believes that in order to be effective, UfPJ must wholeheartedly embrace the concept and practice of Accountability. Many of its member organizations, such as The Center for Constitutional Rights, Progressive Democrats of America, and After Downing St, have already done so. The best way for UfPJ to begin to follow suit is to place a strong paragraph on Accountability in its Unity Statement. We propose inserting the following paragraph in the Unity Statement as the first bullet point after the heading To Move Toward this World:
Members of Military Families Speak Out greeted the announcement of the composition of President-Elect Barack Obama's national security team with concern, and reiterated their call for the Obama administration to bring an immediate end to the war in . The announcement that Robert Gates will continue to serve as Secretary of Defense raised particular concern among members of the organization.
Keri Wheelwright, a member of Military Families Speak Out from Fountain Hills, AZ
By Elsa Rassbach
Here in Germany there has just been an important new development for the international peace movement. Iraq war veteran André Shepherd announced on Thanksgiving Day that he will seek asylum via a court proceeding in Germany.
Over the past several years, peace activists in Europe have been raising the issue of asylum rights for U.S. soldiers in accordance with European law. For example, in March 2006, American Voices Abroad (AVA) Military Project (a U.S. peace group in Europe) initiated a hearing in the European Parliament regarding asylum. Hart Viges of IVAW a witness at the hearing along with German and UK military resisters, and Cindy Sheehan sent a video with her testimony. The Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild and the GI Rights Hotline have participated in seminars with German attorneys to explore representation of resisting GIs, including those that might seek asylum here.
By Dave Lindorff
Before the odor of burned gunpowder has left the air of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, the US is lecturing India not to go off half-cocked and attack Pakistan, simply because all of the attackers in the terrorist assaults in that city arrived by boat, apparently from neighboring Pakistan. US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are calling on India to engage in a “transparent” and “thorough” investigation into the attacks to establish who was responsible.
How different this is from the American government’s response to the 9-11 attacks in the US!
From the aftermath of the 2003 "shock and awe" bombing campaign all the way through Thanksgiving Day 2008, major US news outlets have nearly uniformly blacked out or downplayed reports of the Iraqi death toll. But a recent Associated Press article reveals the depths to which these outlets are still willing to delve to censor this information. READ THE REST.
Sadrists Announce a Three-Day "Mourning" after the Passing of SOFA
By Amer Mohsen, Iraq Slogger
The Iraqi Parliament ended up voting in favor of the SOFA agreement, with a
majority of 144 MPs - out of 198 present and 275 MPs in total (the treaty
required 138 votes to pass.) The last-minute deal with the Sunni parties
guaranteed the plurality, but also made the ratification conditional to a
popular referendum by next July. A political reform package was also passed
along with the security agreement, another perk for the Sunni blocs; but the
Shi'a and Kurdish parties refused to include the abolishing of the
de-Ba'thification measures and the ex-regime criminal court in the package,
as certain Sunni leaders had wanted.
The Shi'a Fadhila party and the Arab bloc preferred not to attend the
session, few IAF MPs dissented and voted against the treaty, but the
In a personal and wide-ranging interview conducted by his sister about his legacy, his faith and the influence of his father, President George W. Bush said he hopes to be remembered as a liberator of the Iraqi people.
"I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace," Bush told his sister, Dorothy Bush Koch, in a conversation recorded for the oral-history organization StoryCorps for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Maya Schenwar at t r u t h o u t provides a good report.
By Raed Jarrar
This is a rough translation of what the Iraqi parliament has passed today. This will make the law valid for the next six months until the Iraqi people vote on it in a national referendum:
Act Ratifying the agreement between Iraq and the United States on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and organizing activities through its presence and the interim
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The name of the people
based on what the council of representatives has passes and has been ratified by the council's Presidency, and based of the provisions of paragraph (first) of Article (61) and paragraph (third) of Article (73) of the Constitution:
the following law has been passed: --
the law of Ratifying the agreement between Iraq and the United States on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and organizing activities through its temporary presence
By Gareth Porter, IPS
WASHINGTON, 27 Nov (IPS) - The decision by President-elect Barack Obama to keep Robert M. Gates on as defence secretary has touched off a debate over whether Obama can pursue his commitment to rapid withdrawal from Iraq even though Gates has defended George W. Bush's surge policy and opposed Obama's 16-month timetable for withdrawal.
Obama did not explicitly address Iraq at a press conference Wednesday, saying only that he would 'provide a vision' on foreign policy and 'make sure that my team is implementing' it. The appointments, which will be formally announced Monday, are expected to include Gates and Gen. James Jones as national security advisor, who has also been critical of Obama's withdrawal timetable.
By David Swanson
The Iraqi Parliament has approved a treaty with the United States or rather its government or rather its lameduck president, although its lameduck president has already made clear his intention to "interpret" it to mean whatever the heck he wants, meaning that the new president will be free to do that or not as he and his progressive supporters or he and his neocon advisors see fit.
The vote came after a flurry of last-minute negotiations in which the main Sunni parties secured a package of political reforms from the government and a commitment to hold a referendum on the pact in the middle of next year. Should the Iraqi government decide to cancel the pact after the referendum it would have to give Washington one year's notice, meaning that troops would be allowed to remain in the country only until the middle of 2010.
Iraq Veterans Against the War to Occupy Union Square
Street Theater Showing the Brutal and Unjust Consequences of Occupying a Foreign Country
What: Operation First Casualty (OFC), San Francisco
When: FRIDAY, November 28, 11am-2pm
By Peter Dyer, Consortium News
One of Barack Obama's most compelling and popular campaign promises was his pledge to end the war in Iraq “responsibly.” But what does “responsibly” mean in this context?
Does it mean the United States will be assuming full responsibility for all that has gone wrong in this unnecessary war?
That would be appropriate. Certainly there can be no question that President George W. Bush and the U.S. government are responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But that is clearly not what President-elect Obama had in mind regarding the Iraq War.
In his campaign, Obama galvanized unprecedented support across a wide spectrum of voters by making responsibility a central tenet of his campaign.
By Dave Lindorff
I was listening to Robert Reich, once the left end of the spectrum in the Clinton cabinet, talking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer a few days ago, and Reich, who has in the past sometimes made sense, was talking about how Americans’ incomes had fallen over the last eight years of the Bush/Cheney administration and that it was necessary to get their incomes back on an upward trend, so that they could “start shopping again.”
Now I understand Reich was trying to make the case that the bailout so far has been focused on the banks and the insurance industry, and that none of this will help unless ordinary people start getting some relief, but still, there’s something completely twisted and out of whack when the best we can come up with is that we need to get Americans back into the malls.
In fact, that is a good part of what’s wrong with the US economy: Fully 75 percent of GDP in America is consumer spending.
Stuff Happens: The Pentagon's Argument of Last Resort on Iraq
By Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com
It's the ultimate argument, the final bastion against withdrawal, and over these last years, the Bush administration has made sure it would have plenty of heft. Ironically, its strength lies in the fact that it has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of Iraqi politics, the relative power of Shiites or Sunnis, the influence of Iran, or even the riptides of war. It really doesn't matter what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or oppositional cleric Muqtada al-Sadr think about it. In fact, it's an argument that has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with us, with the American way of war (and life), which makes it almost unassailable.
US President George W Bush believes the Iraq war has been successful and is "very pleased" with what is happening there, he said in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on a Japanese television network on Sunday.
"I think the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was right," Bush told the Sunday Project program of the private Asahi network.
Saddam was an enemy of the United States and a lot of people thought he had weapons of mass destruction, Bush said, adding "remarkable" progress had been made in Iraq since the late dictator was toppled in 2003.
"People have been able to take their troops out of Iraq because Iraq is becoming successful. I'm very pleased with what is taking place there now," he said, adding there still is "a lot of work" to be done.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq will not seek to extend the U.N. mandate of U.S. troops and they will pull out immediately if Iraqi parliament fails to approve a pact allowing them to stay until 2011, Iraq's prime minister said on Sunday.
by Linda Milazzo
In an effort to establish peaceful diplomacy with the government and people of Iran, and to model for the new Obama administration the power of cooperative good will, three highly regarded American peace makers have ventured to Iran. CODEPINK cofounders, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, along with former Army Colonel and decorated Foreign Service Diplomat Ann Wright, are visiting Iran on visas coordinated by the Fellowship Of Reconciliation, which similarly organized the September 24th meeting in New York City between civilian leaders of the American peace movement and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In that historic citizen diplomacy gathering, Iranian President Ahmadinejad met with approximately 120 representatives from American peace and social justice organizations, where over the course of two hours, he took unfiltered questions from the groups. The question from the women of Codepink, who travel extensively on missions of peace, addressed why the organization's founders were repeatedly denied visas to Iran. Ahmadinejad promised to remedy the situation and provide the women their visas. Thanks to the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, working in consort with the government of Iran, visas to Iran were issued on Monday to Benjamin, Evans and Wright. Seventy-two hours later, these intrepid citizen diplomats were packed and on their way.
I caught up with Evans yesterday on her stop-over in Frankfurt and asked her to explain the intent of her mission. She replied:
"We're traveling to Iran to strengthen our connections with as many groups as possible in the areas of government, culture, education, women and, of course, peace. We've come to deepen our work as citizen diplomats to model the type of diplomacy we HOPE to see from our new government."
The US media present SOFA as nearly a done deal, opposed by only a minority of Sadrists in the parliament. You don't hear about the protests of over a million people in our mainstream news against the proposed Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq. These photos never quite make it to the front page (or any other) of our "free press."
Iraq's defense minister on Saturday warned of the dangers of withdrawing U.S. forces before the end of 2011, a date set with Washington in a security pact opposed by some lawmakers.
Defense Minister General Abdel Qader Jassim said withdrawing before that date would threaten Iraq's oil exports, enable neighboring countries to encroach on Iraqi territory and give free reign to foreign spies.
"The period of the timetabled withdrawal gives us enough time to complete our abilities -- training, combat and technical -- and secures us great support," Jassim told a news conference in Baghdad.
By Aws Qusay and Khalid al-Ansary, Reuters
BAGHDAD - Followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched on Friday against a pact letting U.S. forces stay in Iraq until 2011, toppling an effigy of President George W. Bush where U.S. troops once tore down a statue of Saddam Hussein.
Thousands of demonstrators chanted and waved Iraqi flags in Baghdad's Firdos square, where U.S. forces pulled down a statue of the ousted Iraqi dictator when they took the city in 2003.
The pact, approved by both governments and now being debated rancorously in the Iraqi parliament, requires U.S. troops to leave the streets of Iraqi towns by the middle of next year and to leave the country by December 31, 2011.
U.S. forces will need Iraqi warrants to arrest people, and U.S. contractors will be subjected to Iraqi law.
Nearly 100,000 hand-fired clay figures, representing lives lost in the Iraq war, will be the backdrop on Friday for an Iraq Moratorium action in the California community of Aptos, near Santa Cruz.
The display is the work of artist Kathleen Crocetti, a high school art teacher, who told the San Jose Mercury News:
"I'm doing this to help people visualize the number of people killed in the Iraq war. We need a physical connection to that number. I thought we went into the war under false pretenses, and I can't sanction pre-emptive war. I feel such shame and sadness in my name as an American," she said. "I feel responsible for the pain and grief because of this war."
The 4,000-plus small white clay figures, each holding a U.S. flag, represent dead American service members. The 92,000 dark clay figures, behind the Americans like a shadow, represent Iraqis. She uses the number from Iraq Body Count, which includes documented civilian deaths. It is a very conservative number; others estimate the count could be as high as a million.
Contractors in Iraq could face charges in earlier incidents
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
Private security contractors operating in Iraq could face Iraqi prosecution for acts committed when they supposedly had immunity from Iraqi law, U.S. officials said Thursday.
A new U.S.-Iraq security agreement doesn't specifically prevent Iraqi officials from bringing criminal charges retroactively in cases such as the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians by contractors protecting a State Department convoy, officials told security company officials during meetings in Washington Thursday.
The news caught company officials by surprise.
Unofficial Translation of U.S. - Iraq Troop Agreement from the Arabic Text
By McClatchy Newspapers | McClatchy Newspapers | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Translated from the Arabic by Sahar Issa, Jenan Hussein and Hussein Kadhim of the McClatchy Baghdad Bureau.
An Agreement between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America regarding the Withdrawal of the American Forces from Iraq and Regulating their Activities During their Temporary Presence in it
Based on a letter that will be sent from the President of the United States to the Prime Minister of Iraq, the United States will remain committed to helping Iraq in regard to the demand it submitted to the Security Council to extend the protection and other arrangements regarding petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas produced in Iraq and the resources and commitments that stem from these sales and the Development Fund of Iraq, these are the arrangements defined in the two resolutions of the Security Council (1483)(2003) and (1546)(2003).