Like A Slow Motion Trainwreck…

by matttbastard

Steve V., one of my favourite capital-‘L’ Liberal bloggers isn’t kidding when he says he’s “gone off the deep end.” Going from Dion to Iggy would be like trying to put out a forest fire with gasoline (or nitroglycerin). The recent Quebec by-elections have apparently given even the most sensible Grits PTSD (unless this dubious proposal is entirely modest in nature).

Entirely unrelated, I am absolutely in love with the new Battles video, Tonto:

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PSA: Iraq Refugee Crisis – “Iraqi women and children have suffered terrible trauma and violence – we have a responsibility to care for their health. The international community must act now to alleviate this situation.”

by matttbastard

Via Feminist Peace Network:

Iraqi refugee women and youth: Sick and suffering – U .S. and International Community must support health sector appeal

September 24, 2007—The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children today called on the United States and the international community to respond quickly and fully to the United Nations interagency appeal for $85 million dollars to provide desperately needed health care for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

On a recent trip to Jordan, the Women’s Commission saw firsthand the urgent need for this assistance. Iraqi refugees have limited or no access to even basic health services. The cost of accessing health care is beyond the means of most refugees. At the time of our visit in June, there were only two clinics providing free or subsidized medical care to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Jordan.

The barriers to affordable health care have dire implications for Iraqi refugees. They are not getting the treatment they need for chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer and women and girls are not receiving critical reproductive health services. The longer this endures, the greater the number of lives at risk.

“The health situation for Iraqi refugees is unconscionable and women and children are in particular need given the vulnerability of their situation,” said Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director. “Iraqi women and children have suffered terrible trauma and violence – we have a responsibility to care for their health. The international community must act now to alleviate this situation.”

Iraqi women and girls’ health needs particular attention. In Iraq, women and girls have been targets of sexual violence, including rape. They are now suffering the double burden of the trauma they experienced and forced displacement from their homes. According to the refugees the Women’s Commission met with in Jordan, the stresses and pressures of refugee life are also causing a rise in domestic violence. And because refugees cannot legally work in Jordan, women and girls remain vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. For all these reasons, women and girls must have easy and regular access to medical attention and psychological and social support services for survivors of rape and abuse.

In addition to fully supporting this new health appeal and an earlier education appeal, the U.S. government and international community must also develop a more comprehensive assistance strategy for Iraqi refugees that reflects the magnitude of the refugee crisis. This should include significantly increased humanitarian assistance for refugees, greater support for refugee receiving countries, and robust resettlement programs for highly vulnerable Iraqis.

“Iraqi refugees are becoming more vulnerable by the day,” Makinson said. “The time to act is now.”

For more information, to arrange an interview or to view B-roll footage, please contact Diana Quick, 212. 551. 3087, diana@womenscommission.org

Also see this report from Amnesty International, Millions in flight: the Iraqi refugee crisis (also via FPN); Refugees International on ‘the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis‘.

Related: Interview with Tobias Billström, Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, on how the EU needs to share the responsibility for providing safe haven to Iraqi refugees – and how aid must be allocated to Syria and Jordan, the two Middle Eastern nations with the highest influx of refugees:

Sometimes I think it is an irony that Sweden – a country that did not take part in the Iraq War, was not part of the alliance, did everything it could in order to speak for peace, and is farthest away from the conflict in geographical terms – receives the most refugees. To my mind that is rather strange.

[…]

In some ways we have made progress. But the next thing – and that is important – is to try and bring aid to Syria and to Jordan, the two countries in the region that have received a combined total of more than two million Iraqi refugees.

If we don’t do that, sooner or later there will be a political destabilisation of Syria and Jordan, which will lead to even more problems. We must ensure that the refugees receive aid and that they can sustain themselves.

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Jena 6 Update: Memo To Alanis – THIS Is Ironic (I Really Do Think)

by matttbastard

x-posted @ Comments From Left Field

Jena, LA Mayor Murphy McMillin: not the sharpest fishhook in the tacklebox:

McMillin has insisted that his town is being unfairly portrayed as racist—an assertion the mayor repeated in an interview with Richard Barrett, the leader of the Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group based in Learned, Miss., who asked McMillin to “set aside some place for those opposing the colored folks.”

“I am not endorsing any demonstrations, but I do appreciate what you are trying to do,” Barrett quoted McMillin as saying. “Your moral support means a lot.

(H/T Peek)

(FYI, This is the same Richard Barrett who also interviewed Justin Barker, after allegedly fudging his racist pedigree when questioned by Barker’s family).

Oh, and remember when I predicted that the noose is going to experience a resurgence in iconic significance among the white power set? I can sure call ’em, sometimes. More details on the ongoing pushback are provided by David Neiwert (who also offers incontrovertible evidence that my old buddy John Gibson is indeed an odious sack of sea lion shit – if there was ever any doubt).

Elsewhere: via The Thin Black Duke, M (aka The Blogger Formerly Known As Sylvia) guesting @ Kai Chang’s place:

Very simply, the Jena Six is not a matter of guilt or innocence. If you think this case is about dancing and singing with Al Sharpton in Jena while wearing black, go home or bury some soap or something. If you view this case as a stepping stone for your own self-aggrandizement here there and everywhere, sit at home and think a few seconds before stepping back out again. If you think this case is only about freeing these young men, you’re half-steppin’. If you view the Jena Six incident as uppity newcomer Negroes wanting to start some ruckus, then please go back to your guard post under your bridge. Denial about a person’s criminal actions in a case is unwanted. This fight is not about what we can do to stop people from being criminals (though there’s no denying that goal is important); it is about what happens when those people are already within the criminal justice system and cannot afford an OJ-style legal Dream Team.

Kevin also points to this post by elle, phd, who notices history repeating in the predictably (and pathetically) defensive reaction of the (white) blogosphere after it was justifiably called out for collective indifference towards Jena (remember: Race is tough!).

Related: David Margolick looks back at Elizabeth Eckford, Hazel Bryan and the photo that captured what became an iconic moment in the civil rights movement.

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PSA: In Honor of Sgt. Omar Mora & Sgt. Yance T. Gray

by matttbastard

Please see this post by Kyle E. Moore @ the other mothership. As they say, read the whole damn thing. To summarize (for those who, for whatever reason, are allergic to clicking links):

Comments From Left Field has, along with other concerned parties, initiated a fund drive, In Honor of Sgt. Omar Mora & Sgt. Yance T. Gray, two US servicemen in Iraq who were recently killed in a tragic non-combat related incident not long after after penning a NY Times op-ed critical of the war.

After exploring several options, CFLF has decided to donate 100% of the funds to the Fisher House charity, an organization we have worked with in the past. Fisher House has a simple goal; to build houses near military medical facilities. Here loved ones of those who have been injured in the line of duty can stay free of charge while their service member undergoes necessary treatment.

CFLF urges you to give what you can to this noble cause for only in this way can Omar and Tell continue to make the lives of their fellow soldiers better even after their passing.

***

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: CFLF invites you to join with us in promoting this fund raising drive. We have set our initial goal at $2,000 but we hope that with your help we can exceed this number dramatically. All you need to do is put up a post of your own tracking back to our original post and linking to our fund raising page on ActiveGiving. CFLF will regularly update the original post with information on the progress of our drive that you can add to your site. If you have any questions please contact Michael Tedesco at michael(at)commentsfromleftfield(dot)com.

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Jena Update: NLG Statement

Via The Thin Black Duke:

The National Lawyers Guild.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 24, 2007

Contact: Kerry McLean, 917-334-9331
Marjorie Cohn, NLG President, 858-204-3565

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD CALLS FOR RELEASE OF MYCHAL BELL, FOR ALL CHARGES AGAINST THE JENA 6 TO BE DROPPED, AND FOR FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO JENA 6 ARRESTS AND PROSECUTIONS

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls for the immediate release of Mychal Bell, one of the six high school students who have come to be known as the “Jena 6.” The Guild also calls for all charges against the Jena 6 to be dropped, and for the investigation and disbarment of Judge J.P. Mauffray and District Attorney Reed Walters.

Judge J.P. Mauffray and DA Reed Walters have engaged in a string of egregious actions, the most recent of which was the denial of bail for Bell on Friday. The NLG urges that: 1) The United States Department of Justice convene an immediate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the arrests and prosecutions of the Jena 6; 2) Judge Mauffray be recused from presiding over Bell’s juvenile court hearings or other proceedings; 3) The Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigate Reed Walters for unethical and possibly illegal conduct; 4) The Louisiana Judiciary Commission investigate Judge Mauffray for unethical conduct; and 5) The Jena school district superintendent be removed from office.

“Contrary to what Reed Walters and J.P. Mauffray may think, Jena is subject to the same Constitution that the rest of the United States is,” remarked Kerry McLean, member of the executive board of the NLG.

“There have been numerous, brazen violations of the constitutional rights of the Jena 6.” McLean continued, “In addition to the constitutional violations, Walters and Mauffray have breached the ethical requirements of their offices. They should be made to answer for all of this.”

“The double standard of justice in Jena, one for black students and another for whites, is emblematic of the racism that still permeates many towns throughout the South and the country as a whole. There must be an immediate and full investigation of judicial and prosecutorial malfeasance in Jena, Louisiana,” said Marjorie Cohn, President of the NLG.

There is an unequal justice system in Jena, where blacks are routinely the victims of discriminatory and oppressive treatment by officials.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

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PSA: Solidarity With Alison Bodine! (UPDATE 09.25 – Welcome Newshoggers!)

by matttbastard

Via Feminist Peace Network – so much for the apparently antiquated notion that Canada is a ‘free society’ (which is, like, so September 10th):

Subject: URGENT Appeal for Support: US Anti-war Activist Arrested at Canadian Border!

Sent: 24 Sep ‘07 13:53

The Alison Bodine Defense Committee is appealing to all progressive groups and organizations who fight for a better world to support the campaign to defend Alison Bodine, a US citizen who is being targeted by Canadian Border Services Agency for being an anti-war and social justice activist.

Originally from Broomfield, Colorado, Alison is a central organizer with Vancouver, Canada antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War & Occupation
(MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI), a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center, is a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba and the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada and the US.

Near midnight on Thursday September 13, 2007, Alison was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) when she attempted to legally cross the border at Peace Arch border crossing, travelling from Canada into the United States. Three days prior, Alison was harassed by CBSA officials while traveling from the US into Canada. The ordeal began after border officials searched her vehicle and identified her as a political organizer after they found various political materials and progressive newspapers in her car.

As an international student at the University of British Columbia who recently graduated with a Bachelor of Physics in June 2007, Alison has traveled between the US and Canada on dozens of occasions, and had never been denied entrance to Canada or asked to return to the US. As she was returning to the US on Thursday September 13th, Alison returned to claim items confiscated earlier by the CBSA. Upon presenting her receipt to claim her materials, she was handcuffed and told she was under arrest, and that a warrant for her arrest had been issued across Canada. She was then taken into detention. This unjust and illegal imprisonment was met with a huge protest and organizing drive by the newly-formed Committee to Free Alison Bodine. Friday afternoon, on only 5 hours notice, 80 people came together at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Offices in Vancouver, demanding the immediate release of Alison Bodine. Media was also quick to pick up this important case, which was covered locally and nationally by newspapers, TV and radio.
Following all of this, Alison’s status took a major turn. Officials constantly reminded her all day that there was no way she would be released from detention before Monday. However, at 8:00pm on Friday, Alison was given notice by immigration officials that she would be released from custody immediately until her Admissibility Hearing on Monday Sept 17th – a major victory in the campaign for her freedom. However Alison’s ordeal is not yet over. In the early afternoon of September 17th, Alison learned from a CBC reporter that the CBSA had cancelled her Admissibility Hearing scheduled for 2pm that day. Alison herself was never officially notified by CBSA.

At 1:30pm Monday September 17th, more than 50 supporters rallied outside the downtown Citizenship & Immigration Canada offices, especially because of the cancelled hearing, to demand that all charges against Alison be dropped immediately. The CBSA postponement of Alison’s hearing is a maneuver to delay because they know they won’t be able to prove the charges they have made up so far. It also shows they have decided to escalate this case to a more political level by finding some different charges to bring because they know right now their case cannot win in a hearing. Being without status in Canada, Alison’s situation is always uncertain, and she can still be arrested at anytime. All progressive, humanity loving people must unite around this case. We must understand that this is not just an attack on Alison, this is an attack on
all of us. This is an attack on the basic democratic and human rights of all people, especially social justice activists, immigrants, refugees and all non-status people and non-residents in Canada. The illegal and unjust arrest and detention of Alison Bodine means the Government of Canada and its agencies want to continue and escalate the silencing of free speech and political expression and continue their terrorizing of people who oppose their policies at home and abroad and the new era of war and occupation. They are also testing and evaluating our response to defend ourselves against their attacks against us. The degree, seriousness, effectiveness and consistency of our defence impact their decision on how to further their repressive measures.

For this reason, we are appealing to you to join us in this struggle by endorsing this emergency campaign and by writing a letter of support demanding that the CBSA drop all charges against Alison. Please send this appeal to your email lists and friends. We must show the Government of Canada and their agency, the CBSA, that they cannot get away with trying to intimidate activists. We have attached a template support letter, as an example. Letters of support should be sent to:

defendalisonbodine@hotmail.com

The CBSA might think that by delaying the Admissibility hearing this campaign will lose steam and the pressure against them will lessen. On the contrary, this campaign is only just beginning. People all across Canada and the world know about this case of political harassment and this will only gain momentum from here. This is a political case; Alison has done nothing wrong or illegal. Alison, along with supporters in Vancouver and across the country will keep up the demand that the CBSA must drop all charges against her and restore her full rights to travel between the US and Canada. For now, they have re-scheduled her Admissibility hearing for Friday, September 28th at 9am. In the time between now and then we will not back down, we will not slow down and we will continue fighting!

Our fight is not over. Your support is essential to get all charges against Alison dropped!

WE WILL WIN!
Alison Bodine Defense Committee (ABDC)

Sample support letter:

To: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Alison Bodine is a US citizen, is a central organizer with Vancouver antiwar coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), for three years was the president of the University of British Columbia’s Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq and Internationally (CAWOPI) and is a long-time executive committee member of the UBC Social Justice Center. She is also a prominent activist in solidarity with Cuba, and is a supporter of immigrant and refugee rights in Canada in the US.

Near midnight, Thursday September 13, 2007 Alison Bodine was unjustly arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency and detained by the RCMP when she went voluntarily to the US-Canada border to pick up her belongings. Alison has not done anything illegal, and has crossed the border many times with no incident. It was not until her belonging were searched and antiwar literature found that the charges were laid.

Alison’s arrest and all charges against her are an attack on the democratic rights of individuals to organize and express their political views. This is an attack on the right to free speech, and an attack on immigrants, refugees, people without status and non-residents of Canada. This is clearly a politically motivated case against Alison Bodine.

I am demanding that the Canada Border Services Agency drop any and all charges against Alison Bodine, return to her any and all items seized by the CBSA, and reinstate her right to freely travel between the US and Canada.

Sincerely,

(signature)

(name)

(Affiliations, for identification purposes)

Again, send your letters of support to: defendalisonbodine@hotmail.com. Selected support letters can be read/downloaded here. Also, download and print out this petition (PDF) calling for all charges against Alison Bodine to be dropped. Signed petitions can be faxed to: 604-322-1763

Related: Round-up of mainstream media coverage courtesy MAWO; Verbena-19 links to a Co-Op Radio interview with Ms Bodin.

Update 09.25: thanks to 5th Estate @ The Newshoggers (shout outs to Cernig as well, an early supporter of bastard.logic) for featuring this post in an InstaHoglets round-up.  Welcome once again, Newshoggers – your letters of support and participation are greatly appreciated.

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Welcome Back (To Reality)

by matttbastard

Via Fern Hill @ Birth Pangs: we here at bastard.logic also love New York:

The Bush administration’s Abstinence Only Program is an example of a failed national health-care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health-care policy.

I believe this is what is commonly known as a “moment of clarity”. Of course, the usual suspects are demonstratively calling for a waahmbulance. Hey, I’ve got the first 25 pennies covered if someone else wants to pony up the other half.

Side note: am I the only one who regularly mistakes Leslee Unrah for Leslie Uggams?

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Jena 6 Update: Exploitation Escalates; More Blog Reactions

by matttbastard

x-posted @ Comments From Left Field

No surprises here: Hatewatch reports that a well-known white supremacist has attempted to exploit Justin Barker, the white teenager who was beaten allegedly by the so-called Jena 6. According to Hatewatch, Richard Barrett of the Nationalist Movement “met with 17-year-old Barker, along with his father David Barker, the night before the rally.” Barrett also says that he obtained a statement from Justin stating “the ones who attacked me are getting money for beating me up” and “express[ing] gratitude” to Justin’s supporters.

However, as Hatewatch points out:

There is no evidence to suggest that Justin or David Barker had any inkling who Barrett was when he apparently showed up at their door. According to Barrett’s own account, he approached the Barkers to offer support for the family and to try to get more media attention for Justin’s injuries and his version of events.

The Clarion-Ledger confirms that Barker’s statement was apparently obtained by Barrett under false pretenses:

He led us to believe he was just down here to find out Justin’s part of the story,“ David Barker said of Barrett. ”He said he was going to the rally just to see what was going on.“

David Barker said Barrett never gave them the impression that he was involved in a white-supremacist organization. Barker said he specifically asked about affiliations with organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan.

”He said, ’No, I’m a lawyer that goes around trying to help families that can’t help themselves,’“ Kelli Barker said.

Elsewhere: – Lambert of Corrente give a broad runs down of some blog coverage, including the belated A-lister response, noting the latter “all seem to link to each other…not to the [smaller/POC] blogs I listed first”. To his credit, Lambert also acknowledges Corrente’s participation in the circular coverage.

– Blackamazon reminds us that, contra what will likely soon become conventional wisdom, this past Thursday’s mobilization was not an exclusively ‘black’ event, nor the culmination of efforts by the mainstream civil rights establishment. Rather, the march on Jena was “a multi pronged multi racial multi front cooperative even if uncoordinated concern. By the time Jesse and Al are involved it’s been in papers and radio stations around the world.” (Case in point: BBC News broadcast a documentary on Jena back in May, long before Al and Jesse started sheddin’ tears for the cameras.)

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Donna Darko takes Chicago Tribune reporter Howard Witt to task for giving credit to “hip-hop music blogs” and “popular black entertainers such as Mos Def” for bringing attention to Jena, rather than the female bloggers and activists–especially women of colour–who, from the beginning, did most of the heavy lifting. (h/t SassyWho)

– Via Slant Truth, Rachel has some sage advice for those wishing engage the broader white public in Jena-related discussions:

…[W]hen people try to frame the discussion around only the fight or only Jena, Louisiana, don’t let them. The case itself is much broader, and the issues of our criminal (in)justice system are way bigger than Jena, Louisiana.

– And as always, keep checkin’ the Thin Black Duke and his regularly updated Bloggers For Jena post.

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