in Our Name
heated debate, Albany County legislators vote against a resolution
to end to the war in Iraq
The nationwide debate about the war in Iraq came to the Albany
County Legislature Monday night when, following an evening
of dramatic debate, the mostly Democratic legislature voted
down a resolution that called for an end to the war and the
swift return of all U.S. soldiers.
The symbolic one-and-a-half page bill stated the costs of
the war in Iraq both in monetary terms and in terms of the
lives lost during the conflict. If it had passed, a copy of
the resolution would have been sent to all other counties
in New York state, the New York congressional delegation,
and President George W. Bush.
percent of my district was against this war and wanted me
propose a resolution against the war,” said Legislator Douglas
Bullock (D-District 8), who pledged to sponsor the resolution
as part of his recent campaign.
Bullock claimed to have fielded argumentative phone calls
for much of Monday afternoon before the public hearing, after
a local conservative radio talk show gave out his home number
on the air and urged its listeners to harass him.
Citizens lined the walls of the chamber and overflowed out
of the public-seating area into the hallway as people of all
ages spoke on behalf of or against the resolution. Many of
the speakers were forced to compete with the din of the crowd
gathered for the hearing. Supporters of the bill came equipped
with facts and statistics and voiced their war-weary frustration
to the Legislature, while the opposed claimed that such sentiments
emboldened the enemy and endangered the troops.
The legislators themselves talked of the opportunity to make
a statement about the war. Younger legislators, such as Ryan
Horstmyer (D-District 25) and Christopher Higgins (D-District
6), expressed a distrust of the Bush administration and its
handling of the war. Many cited friends, family, and constituents
who were involved in the war.
But the key argument of the night came from Daniel McCoy (D-District
10), who delivered an impassioned speech condemning the resolution.
McCoy, who served in Iraq for 12 months with the New York
Army National Guard, paused frequently as he recounted his
experiences in Iraq. The legislator was particularly put off
by the language used in some of the articles of the bill.
is the first time in my life I felt like a ‘baby-killer,’
” said McCoy. “That’s how Doug made me feel with the language
that he had in this resolution. I think it was way off-base
and it was one-sided.”
Much of the Legislature lined up behind McCoy, with several
previous supporters openly admitting to withdrawing their
support for the bill based on his opposition. Most agreed
with the spirit of the resolution but not the way it was implemented,
with some calling for the resolution’s wording to better reflect
the body’s full support of the troops. Others claimed it was
not the Legislature’s business to deal with the war in the
Bullock attempted to rally. He expressed his support for the
troops and asserted that the resolution was meant to be a
statement against the war to help put pressure on Congress
and the president.
not hurting the troops, I’m trying to save them from this
slaughter,” said Bullock. “It’s time to bring them home. This
has gone far enough.”
Following a long roll call that included a loud “no” from
McCoy, the resolution failed 15-22.
was a defeat, but I’ll be back. I’m not defeated,” said Bullock.
“It’s just going to make me more adamant to stop this war.”
Legislator Phillip Steck (D-District 15), co-sponsor of the
resolution and a candidate in the race for the 21st Congressional
District, said that a caucus was held to give other legislators
the opportunity to bring any objections to the language of
the resolution to the sponsors before it was formally voted
on, as is the usual procedure.
one requested any changes,” he said. “Tonight, for the first
time, this was raised. I think that there is a clear consensus
against the war and to bring the troops home.” Steck, as well
as other legislators who support the spirit of the resolution,
has encouraged Bullock to sit down with McCoy to refine the
language of the resolution to be more agreeable to both parties.
just really bothered me,” said McCoy. “Honestly, I have no
intentions of ever sitting down with [Bullock] over this.
Phil Steck I probably would, him I wouldn’t.”
Say Spy Away
United States Senate voted on Tuesday to expand
the government’s ability to spy on Americans and
granted amnesty to telecommunication companies
that cooperated with President Bush’s eavesdropping-without-warrants
program. Bush has since demanded that the House
of Representatives move on a similar bill. “Liability
protection is critical to securing the private
sector’s cooperation with our intelligence efforts,”
said Bush. Although about 30 senators, including
Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.),
voted against the measure, it seems that most
chose to ignore the fact that Bush has historically
low approval numbers and should functionally be
a lame duck. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted for the
measure. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), as well as
a number of other senators, did not vote at all.
winning eight straight primaries and caucuses
this past weekend, most analysts show Barack Obama
in a clear lead in both pledged and superdelegates
over Hillary Clinton, and momentum to carry him
through the next few weeks of primaries leading
up to the big contests in Ohio and Texas. Obama’s
stump speeches of late have focused less on Clinton
and more on presumptive Republican nominee John
McCain. However, analysts say the delegate-rich
states Ohio and Texas pose a problem for Obama,
because of their strong Latino populations, a
base Obama has had trouble winning over. According
to both Clinton and the pundits, Ohio and Texas
could be Clinton’s “firewall” for Obama’s momentum.
the Republican primary has all but been decided—or
would be if Mike Huckabee found a new hobby—the
Democratic race is unbelievably down to the wire.
As it stands, even if Obama or Clinton secured
an all-out sweep of all the remaining states,
they would still not likely have the required
2025 delegates to win. One of them would have
to sweep every state by absolutely crushing margins.
At this point, the superdelegates almost certainly
will decide the Democratic nominee for president.
ask local universities to give free tuition to Iraqi students
Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak spent this January in Syria
helping Iraqi youth prepare for their English exams. Their
friends back home had been working diligently to secure those
Iraqi students with tuition waivers to American colleges.
In the summer of 2007 Huck and Kubasak decided that, in response
to the massive wave of Iraqi refugees entering Syria who have
lost their opportunity for higher education, they would start
the Iraqi Student Project to help provide Iraqi college students
with free tuition in the United States. So far the pair have
had to deal with bureaucracy on levels they never expected,
from the United Nations high commissioner of refugees, and
government agencies in Iraq and Syria, to the universities
they would like to send their students to.
The result is that the goals they originally set may not be
we made up the number 40 (one of those magic numbers) as a
goal for number of students studying in the U.S. next fall,”
wrote Huck and Kubasak in a newsletter. “We won’t get there.
We might get 15 to 20 but even that still presumes that the
colleges will like what they see when the documents and TOEFL
scores go to them and, even more, that the consulates here
and in Amman will like what they see and hear when these students
who are accepted present themselves for F-1 visas to the U.S.”
Locally, Carole Ferraro said that she and a number of professors
and activists have approached universities about providing
tuition waivers to Iraqi students. Ferraro said that a number
of universities have pointed to existing scholarships prospective
Iraqi students could qualify for without agreeing to provide
anything specifically for them. She understands that financially
they may not be able to just hand out tuitions.
Ferraro also noted that she suspects universities will be
more welcoming to the idea of the ISP if students rally and
press for it. Ferraro asked that universities that have not
been supportive not be named, as she does not want to pressure
anyone. In fact, Ferraro requested that one local university
where a lot of progress has been made (thanks to work by students
and faculty) also not be named, so that the process can work
out without added pressure or attention.
kind of just the messenger trying to bring it to this area.
I’m not really doing anything more than that,” said Ferraro.
“The story is with Gabe and Theresa.”
According to Huck and Kubasak, the real story lies with the
Iraqi youth they are trying to help. There is Sarah, who graduated
from high school with good grades, only to have her father
murdered and her mother move the family to Syria where schooling
is too expensive. She wants to study law in the United States.
There is Rahman, who was studying to be a clown when a number
of his fellow theater majors were killed or threatened. He
fled to Syria and wants to continue studying theater in the
As Huck and Kubasak put it in their newsletter, “It can be
said that these students and others with ISP were not among
the poorest of Iraqis. They had families who could give them
encouragement in studies. But the invasion and the years of
violence changed everything. In many cases, the fathers of
these young people were kidnapped, disappeared, were murdered.
The mothers, new to poverty and new to Syria, are wonderful
and strong. They have this Iraqi passion for education.”
For more information, visit www.iraqi studentproject.org.
gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Albany Tuesday
for a budget hearing on the Bigger Better Bottle Bill. Members
of conservation and environmental groups wanted to show support
for Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposal to include funding for the
bill in his 2008-09 budget, New York Public Interest Research
Group said in a press release. The bill would extend the 5-cent
bottle deposits to bottles of water and other noncarbonated
beverages. Further, it could generate revenue for the state
of $222 million yearly, by forcing beverage companies to turn
over collected deposits on unreturned bottles.
loose ends this week-