Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Barack excited about seeing 5 more states






Starting with war resistance. As noted yesterday, US war resister Robin Long was deported from Canada. Robin's story makes the New York Times today (A14) with an article by Ian Austen and a photo by Darryl Dyck (The Canadian Press) of Sarah Bjorknas. Austen notes, "Mr. Long was expelled a day after the Federal Court of Canada rejected his request to delay his removal order pending further legal appeals. That decision and Mr. Long's expulsion were somewhat unexpected. Two other American deserters received Federal Court permission this month to stay in Canada to continue their appeals. . . . Sadia Qureshi, a spokeswoman for Diane Finley, the immigration minister, said agents from the Canada Border Service Agency sent Mr. Long back to the United States from British Columbia, where he had been living, at 9:55 a.m. local time." Petti Fong (Toronto Star) speaks with War Resisters Support Campaign - Vancouver's Sarah Bjorknas, "In Ontario, where he lived for a time, Long was engaged to be married and had a child, according to Sarah Bjorknas, one of his supporters. About 50 American deserters are currently making refugee claims to stay in Canada, said Bjorknas, and a couple of hundred are presumed to be living quietly underground." Robin and Renee had a child (the child and Renee are Canadian). That should have been enough for any Canadian court. Some form of immigration status should have been granted Robin since he was the father of a Canadian child. Check the laws -- something Judge Anna Mactavish appears not to have done. As Ruth noted last night, "Today is very sad because Robin was deported. It is also very sad because a Canadian judge decided to break up a family. I hope the young boy is able some day to ask Judge Mactavish why she sent his father out of the country." Chris Cook (Gorilla Radio) interviewed Sarah Bjorknas Monday night. UPI cites 'word warrior' army Major Nathan Banks who "said Long would be returned to Fort Knox, Ky., for disciplinary procedures, which could include prison time." Courage to Resist explains, "Courage to Resist has made civilian legal representation available to Robin and will be doing everything possible to provide him our full support. We plan to collaborate with many other groups in our efforts to help Robin in the coming weeks. Refusing to fight in an illegal war is not a crime--except under the Uniform Code of Military (In)Justice."

Liam Lahey (The Villager) explores the reactions and notes: "Dale Landry is wanted by the U.S. Air Force for refusing to fight in Iraq after serving in Afghanistan. Landry spent the night of July 14 in full uniform outside the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue in support of Long. The Parkdale resident, who turned 23 this past week, lives with two other American military personnel in a small apartment." Tom Banse (OPB News -- link has text and audio)
speaks with Iraq Veterans Against the War Ash Woolson US war resister who states, "The Canadian people are not for the war in Iraq. It seems that the government is really pushing against these veterans and it's not the people." Meanwhile Janice Tibbetts and Linda Nguyen (Canwest News Service) dig into the legal aspects: "'We've got a divided court,' said Toronto lawyer Geraldine Sadoway, whose client, Justin Colby, recently lost his refugee bid, after fleeing to Canada two years ago following a one-year stint as a medic in Iraq. Ms. Sadoway says she cannot figure out why the Federal Court rejected Mr. Colby's claim on June 26, only one week before it handed the first ever victory to deserter Joshua Key, who also served in Iraq."

Robin is from Idaho and the Idaho Statesman notes, "A Boise native is believed to be the first deserter from the Iraq war to be deported back to the U.S. from Canada. Late Tuesday, Robin Long, 25, was en route from Canada to Fort Lewis, Wash., said Army Capt. Greg Dorman. From there, the private first class will be taken to Fort Carson, Colo., where he was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which was recently renamed the 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, said Dorman, a Fort Carson spokesman." Robert Matas (Globe and Mail) explains that "Canadian authorities failed to co-ordinate the deportation with U.S. military police. Mr. Long spent last night in a jail cell at the Whatcom County prison, just south of the Canada-U.S. border" and quotes police Sgt Ernie Stach declaring, "We're in the process of co-ordinating the transfer. I don't know when he will go." We know where he won't go: Fort Knox. After ignoring the story all week -- declared today, "He's expected to be returned to his unit at Fort Knox, Kentucky." Pravda on the Hudson. Linda Nguyen (Canwest News Service) quotes Fort Knox spokesperson Ryan Brus who states Long will be going to Fort Carson until a recommendation is made by the unit commander about what to do next and that he is returning in time to "witness the case of James Burmeister, an American deserter who is currently facing criminal charges at Fort Knox." July 4th, Louisville's WHAS11 reported (text and video) on James Burmeister

Renee Murphy: . . . But first here, our top story, we're looking at the charges being brought against a US soldier. Supporters say that Private 1st Class James Burmeister should be back in Oregon with his family this Fourth of July holiday but instead he is being held at Fort Knox facing a court-martial on AWOL and desertion charges. WHAS11's Kelsey Starks joins us now ith more on our top story. Kelsey?

Kelsey Starks: 23-year-old James Burmeister is being held at Fort Knox for five months now. He is charged with deserting his army unit while on leave from Iraq. Yesterday he got a court-martial date but his friends and family say because he suffers from head injuries Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after surviving a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, they're hoping some of those charges can be dismissed.

Helen Burmeister: My son is an Iraqi War veteran. And I'm very proud of him today. He fought bravely in Iraq. He followed orders. He was wounded in a roadside bomb. And he's been diagonsed with PTSD and a possible brain injury.

Kelsey Starks: Video blogger James Pence followed Helen Burmeister to Fort Knox last week where she was fighting for her son, hoping to get him out of Fort Knox. PFC James Burmeister enlisted in the army in June of 2005. Two years later while on leave he went AWOL -- Absent Without Leave -- to Canada. After ten months, he turned himself in to Fort Knox.

Nina Benson: He went AWOL after six months of being there when he was back in Germany on his rest and recuperation because he didn't feel that the treatment that he was getting for his injuries were proper -- were up to par with what he should be getting.

Kelsey Starks: Fort Knox is one of only two processing centers for army deserters. Nearly 5,000 army army soldiers were charged with deserting last year -- that's a number up 92% from 2004.

Harold Trainer: They really do need to find more solutions.

Kelsey Starks: Harold Trainer and his wife Carol [Rawert-Trainer] are following James' case very closely here in Louisville. They both served in the military during Vietnam.

Carol Rawert-Trainer: It's not rare that there are so many suffing from PTSD today that aren't getting help. That part's not rare. And it's not even rare that we have AWOLs anymore. The rare thing is how aggressive the army is going after James instead of just giving him a discharge.

Harold Trainer: Those young men and women give our country and our government a blank check when they sign to go into the military. The country and the government really needs to give them a blank check back to take care of them.

Kelsey Starks: Now a Fort Knox spokesperson did not return our phone calls this afternoon. If James is convicted of desertion, he could get a dishonorable discharge and even face time in prison. His court-martial date, by the way, is scheduled for July the 16th. Kelsey Starks, WHAS11 News.

On coverage of Robin Long, many, like the Detroit Free Press and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, cover the story in their around-the-world briefs roundup. Marcia noted The Canadian Press' article, Rebecca noted Dan Karpenchuk's report for Australia's ABC, Kat noted the roundup in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mike noted the Bombay News Net's coverage and that instead of writing their own article Sydney Morning Herald just ran AP's -- Ruth noted which did write their own article -- while Elaine noted Al Jazeera's coverage and the idiot Suzanne Goldberg (Guardian of London) of whom Elaine points out, "Stupid Goldberg should know that it war resisters leaving the US during Veitnam were not just war resisters 'fleeing the Vietnam draft.' She should know that because war resisters -- deserters and draft dodgers -- also went to England. England had no Pierre Trudeau and would cowtow to Richard Nixon in such a craven manner that it makes Tony Blair's lackey days to the Bully Boy look almost like 'independence'." In addition, the story was picked up by Thaindian News, the BBC, and RTT among others.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

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