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December 2014 -- New Book!

Putin Shot Down a Plane! Putin Shot Down a ... What? Never Mind

Search for "Malaysian Airlines Flight 17" on the New York Times website and you'll find a page promoting three articles from July, two hyping the idea that Russia did it and one just focused on the horror of it.

Below that you'll find 109 articles arranged from newest to oldest. The newest is from December 10th and consists of 4 sentences that convey little. The next is from November and all about an inappropriate tweet. The next half dozen take us back through September and we're little the wiser for it.

Yet the world outside of the U.S. media is full of evidence suggesting that Russia did not do it.

The silence is deafening. Dutch plans to produce a dubious report by next summer are being outpaced by steps toward war.

Here's a petition that concerned people are signing:

Call For Independent Inquiry of the Airplane Crash in Ukraine and its Catastrophic Aftermath

To: All the heads of states of NATO countries, and of Russia and the Ukraine, to Ban-ki Moon and the heads of states of countries on the UN Security Council

With the U.S. and Russia in possession of over 15,000 of the world’s 16,400 nuclear weapons, humanity can ill-afford to stand by and permit these conflicting views of history and opposing assessments of the facts on the ground to lead to a 21st Century military confrontation between the great powers and their allies.  While sadly acknowledging the trauma suffered by the countries of Eastern Europe from years of Soviet occupation, and understanding their desire for the protection of the NATO military alliance, we the signers of this global call to action also note that the Russian people lost 20 million people during WWII to the Nazi onslaught and are understandably wary of NATO expansion to their borders in a hostile environment.   Russia has lost the protection of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the US abandoned in 2001, and warily observes missile bases metastasizing ever closer to its borders in new NATO member states, while the US rejects repeated Russian efforts for negotiations on a treaty to ban weapons in space, or Russia’s prior application for membership in NATO. 

For these reasons, we the peoples, as members of Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, and global citizens, committed to peace and nuclear disarmament, demand that an independent international inquiry be commissioned to review events in Ukraine leading up to the Malaysian jet crash and of the procedures being used to review the catastrophic aftermath.  The inquiry should factually determine the cause of the accident and hold responsible parties accountable to the families of the victims and the citizens of the world who fervently desire peace and a peaceful settlement of any existing conflicts.  It should include a fair and balanced presentation of what led to the deterioration of U.S. –Russian relations and the new hostile and polarized posture that the U.S. and Russia with their allies find themselves in today.

The UN Security Council, with US and Russian agreement, has already passed Resolution 2166 addressing the Malaysian jet crash, demanding accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activity which has been painfully disregarded at various times since the incident.   One of the provisions of SC Res 2166 notes that the Council “[s]upports efforts to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines.”  Further, the 1909 revised Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes adopted at the 1899 Hague International Peace Conference has been used successfully to resolve issues between states so that war was avoided in the past.  Both Russia and Ukraine are parties to the Convention. 

Regardless of the forum where the evidence is gathered and fairly evaluated, we the undersigned urge that the facts be known as to how we got to this unfortunate state of affairs on our planet today and what might be the solutions.  We urge Russia and Ukraine as well as their allies and partners to engage in diplomacy and negotiations, not war and hostile alienating actions.   The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenge confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.

Why is this important?

It’s important because there is so much misinformation and disinformation in the media that we are careening towards a new cold war with Russia over this.

Initial Signatories for petition:
(Organizations for Identification Only)

Hon. Douglas Roche, OC, Canada
David Swanson, co-founder, World Beyond War
Bruce Gagnon,  Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space
Alice Slater, JD, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NY
Professor Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
Natasha Mayers, Union of Maine Visual Artists
David Hartsough, co-founder, World Beyond War
Larry Dansinger, Resources for Organizing and Social Change
Ellen Judd, Project Peacemakers
Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness
Medea Benjamin, Code Pink
Brian Noyes Pulling, M. Div.
Anni Cooper, Peaceworks
Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance
Leah Bolger, CDR, USN (Ret), Veterans for Peace
Raymond McGovern, former CIA analyst, VA
Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance
Gloria McMillan, Tucson Balkan Peace Support Group
Ellen E. Barfield, Veterans for Peace
Cecile Pineda, author. Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step
Jill McManus
Steve Leeper, Visiting professor, Hiroshima Jogakuin University,Nagasaki University
Kyoto University of Art and Design
William H. Slavick, Pax Christi Maine
Helen Caldicott, Helen Caldicott Foundation
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Brigadier Vijai K Nair, VSM [Retd] Ph.D. , Magoo Strategic Infotech Pvt Ltd
Kevin Martin,  Peace Action
Carol Reilly Urner, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Ann E. Ruthsdottir
Kay Cumbow
Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Tiffany Tool,  Peaceworkers
Sukla Sen, Committee for Communal Amnity, Mumbai India
Joan Russow, PhD, Coordinator, Global Compliance Research Project
Rob Mulford, Veterans for Peace, North Star Chapter, Alaska
Jacqueline Cabasso,  Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace and Justice
Ingeborg Breines, Co-president International Peace Bureau
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Felicity Ruby
Jerry  Stein,  The Peace Farm, Amarillo , Texas
Michael Andregg, professor, St. Paul, Minnesota
Elizabeth Murray,  Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council, ret.: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Washington
Robert Shetterly, artist,  “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” Maine
Katharine Gun, United Kingdom
Dave Webb, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
Amber Garland, St. Paul, Minnesota
John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus
Beverly Bailey, Richfield, Minnesota
Joseph Gerson,  Convener, Working Group for Peace & Demiitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Stephen McKeown, Richfield, Minnesota
Dominique Lalanne,  France
Bill Rood, Rochester, Minnesota
Tom Klammer, radio host, Kansas City, Missouri
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mali Lightfoot, Helen Caldicott Foundation
Tony Henderson, spokesperson for universal humanism, Hong Kong
Darlene M. Coffman, Rochester, Minnesota
Sister Gladys Schmitz, Mankato, Minnesota
Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, NSA Senior Analyst (ret.), MD
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Jill Stein, Green Party 2012 Presidential nominee
Cheri Honkala, Green Shadow Cabinet
Ed Asner
Norman Solomon, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Agneta Norberg, Sweden
Rick Rosoff, Stop NATO
Kathleen Sullivan, Hibakusha Stories
Michael Eisenscher, US Labor Against the War
Clare Coss, playwright
Jean-Marie Matagne, President, Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (France)
Carolyn Rusti Eisenberg, United for Peace and Justice

Add your name.

America claims black lives matter, but police killings suggest they don’t

by Stephanie Tang             Black lives matter! To carry this message, hundreds of thousands of protesters have flooded into America’s streets, outraged by the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown and the non-indictment of his killer. We shut down freeways and bridges coast to coast, stopping traffic, holiday shopping, Grand Central Station and other business as usual.

6 Guantanamo Prisoners Released, Not Sent Home, but to Uruguay

After up to 12 years, some of the prisoners just released are off hunger strike, and in “freedom.” This deal was put together last March, reportedly because of the huge pressure the Guantanamo prisoners' hunger strike put on Obama. But it took another nine months, during which the prisoners could have died, before their release.

One of those released is Abu Wa'el Dhiab, who has been suing the U.S. over forced-feeding he's endured for years, and suing to get the government to release videotape of the feedings.  Reprieve said, about him:

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 18, 2014

 

Russian Ruble Gains Back Some Of Its Lost Value From The Previous Day Dubbed "Black Tuesday” - rferl.org


Russia spends billions to prop up ruble and stem the worst financial crisis of President Putin's 15 years in power - GlobalPost


Russia has resources, market instruments to rectify economic situation: Medvedev - TASS


VIDEO: Russia will never suffer economic meltdown, but Ukraine can: Lavrov - Reuters.com


Russia has cash to prevent economic collapse (VIDEO) - CNN


Russian central bank preparing measures to pump money into banks in 2015 - cnbc.com


Russia's Latest Torment: Higher Prices for Everything - Bloomberg


Russians Flock to Stores to Pre-empt Price Rises - NYTimes.com


Ruble Chaos Forces Retailers to Suspend Sales in Russia - The Moscow Times

 

Apple Halts Online Sales In Russia As The Ruble Collapses - Forbes

 

Russia Government Pressures Exporters not to Hoard Foreign-Currency Earnings - The Moscow Times

 

Bank of Russia Bolsters Lenders as FX Debt Payments Loom - Bloomberg

 

Russia’s 20 richest people lost US$10B in two days due to the ruble’s collapse - Financial Post

 

Russian Economy to Rebound in 2015 if Ukraine Crisis De-Escalates:Saxo Bank - Sputnik International

 

Economist Katusa: Low Oil Prices Aren't the End of Russia (VIDEO) - newsmax.com

 

Russian Arms Exports Hit $13 Billion in 2014 - The Moscow Times

 

Russia crisis leaves banks around the world exposed by the billions - RT Business

 

Anxiety Over European Banks Amid Ruble Crisis - NYTimes.com

 

Banks Most Exposed Russia's Looming Debt Crisis - Business Insider

 

Russian turmoil knocks back European equities - Reuters

 

It’s Not Just Russia’s Companies Feeling the Pain - WSJ

 

German business group warns the recent drop in the ruble will negatively affect Germany’s exports to Russia - presstv.ir

 

Asian Markets Down on Ruble Crisis - Sputnik International

 

Russia-Ukraine border situation affects global economy: Kremlin spokesman - TASS

 

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EU says Ukraine needs $15 bln, has limited ability to help - Reuters


Finance ministry hopes Ukraine to receive IMF $3 bln loan installment early Jan 2015 - interfax.com.ua


Ukraine's Currency Hits Record Lows on 'Black Tuesday' - Interpreter_Mag


Chevron Shale Exit Shreds Ukraine’s Hope of Energy Independence - Bloomberg


Poroshenko sets course for 'Euro-Atlantic' security integration, aims to EU membership by 2020 and to abandon the "nonbloc” status - rferl.org


VIDEO: Ukraine to Pursue Euro-Atlantic Security Integration: Poroshenko is for canceling non-aligned status - YouTube


Putin Orders Snap Military Drills on NATO Border - newsweek.com

 

Top US Diplomat Warns Russia: Don't Put Nukes in Crimea - newsmax.com

 

Ukraine, pro-Russia rebels agree to resume peace talks on Sunday - The West Australian

 

Donetsk separatist leadership ready to hold on-line Skype-conference with Kiev tomorrow - TASS

 

Lavrov: Moscow Supports Ukraine’s Integrity, E Ukraine Not 'Another Crimea’ - Sputnik International

 

POLL: Few Ukrainians approve of allowing Donetsk and Luhansk to leave Ukraine, Forty-three percent approve of decentralizing power - gallup.com

 

Pushilin: DNR 'Prepared To Exchange 152 Captured Ukrainian Soldiers' - Interpreter_Mag

 

Ukrainian Military Report 26 Attacks From Russian-Backed Forces Over Last 24 Hours - Interpreter_Mag

 

SBU Says Airports Closed Due To SAM Threat - Interpreter_Mag

 

Evidence that Russia is transporting back its destroyed tanks (PHOTOS) - Ukraine@war

 

Tenth Russian convoy to deliver humanitarian aid to east Ukraine: Emergencies Ministry - TASS

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

The Unspeakable in Afghanistan

By Patrick Kennelly

2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Most recently, the central government failed (again) to conduct fair and organized elections or demonstrate their sovereignty. Instead, John Kerry flew into the country and arranged new national leadership. The cameras rolled and a unity government was declared.  Foreign leaders meeting in London decided on new aid packages and financing for the nascent 'unity government.' Within days, the United Nations helped broker a deal to keep foreign forces in the country, while simultaneously President Obama declared the war was ending—even as he increased the number of troops on the ground. In Afghanistan, President Ghani dissolved the cabinet and many people are speculating the 2015 parliamentary elections will be postponed.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups continue to gain traction and have pulled increasing parts of the country under their control. Throughout the provinces, and even in some of the major cities, the Taliban have begun collecting taxes and are working to secure key roadways. Kabul—a city that has been called the most fortified city on earth—has been on edge due to multiple suicide bombings. The attacks on various targets, ranging from high schools to houses for foreign workers, the military, and even the office of Kabul’s police chief have clearly communicated the ability of anti-government forces to strike at will. In response to the growing crisis, the Emergency Hospital in Kabul has been forced to stop treating non-trauma patients in order continue to treat the growing number of people harmed by guns, bombs, suicide explosions, and mines.

After four years of traveling to Afghanistan to conduct interviews, I have heard ordinary Afghans whisper about Afghanistan as a failing state, even as the media has touted growth, development, and democracy. Using dark humor to comment on current conditions Afghans joke that everything is working as it should; they acknowledge an unspeakable reality. They point out that more than 101,000 foreign forces trained to fight and use violence who have used their training well—by using violence; that arms merchants have ensured that all parties can continue fighting for years to come by supplying weapons to all sides; that foreign funders backing resistance groups and mercenaries can complete their missions—resulting in both increased violence and an absence of accountability; that the international NGO community implements programs and has profited from over $100 billion in aid; and that the majority of those investments ended up deposited  in foreign bank accounts, primarily benefiting  foreigners and a few elite Afghans. Further, many of the supposedly “impartial” international bodies, as well as some of the major NGOs, have aligned themselves with various fighting forces. Thus even basic humanitarian aid has become militarized and politicized. For the ordinary Afghan the reality is clear. Thirteen years of investing in militarization and liberalization has left the country in the hands of foreign powers, ineffective NGOs, and infighting between many of the same warlords and Taliban. The result is the current unstable, deteriorating situation rather than a sovereign state.

Yet, during my trips to Afghanistan, I have also heard another unspeakable whispered, in contrast to the narrative told by mainstream media. That is, that there is another possibility, that the old way has not worked, and it is time for change; that nonviolence may  resolve some of the challenges facing the country. In Kabul, the Border Free Center—a community center in which young people can explore their role in improving society,--is exploring the use of nonviolence to engage in serious attempts at peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding. These young adults are engaging in demonstration projects to show how different ethnic groups can work and live together. They are creating alternative economies that do not rely on violence in order to provide livelihoods for all Afghans, especially vulnerable widows and children. They are educating street children and developing plans to decrease weapons in the country. They are working to preserve the environment and to create model organic farms to show how to heal the land. Their work is demonstrating the unspeakable in Afghanistan—that when people engage in the work of peace, real progress can be achieved.

Perhaps if the last 13 years had been less focused on foreign political motives and military aid and more focused on initiatives like the Border Free Center, the situation in Afghanistan might be different. If energies were focused on peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding, perhaps people could acknowledge the reality of the situation and create a true transformation of the Afghan state.

Pat Kennelly is the Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and works with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He writes from Kabul, Afghanistan and can be contacted at kennellyp@gmail.com

A Hollywood Hack Holiday: Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

By John Grant


CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
 

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogan and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.


Shooting Down MH 17 - BUK 312 Story False Says Ukraine Crew Member


buk312

(Image: BUK 312 in Kiev junta terrotiry - Anatoly Sharij)

The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 came into greater focus with the December 15 YouTube video featuring a former crew member of BUK self-propelled fire installation, number 312 (BUK 312). Ukraine's government and others maintained that the BUK 312 unit shot down MH17 while manned by a resistance crew.   The Obama administration championed that narrative holding both the resistance and Russia responsible for the 298 deaths on July 17. The interview was conducted by investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij and translated by Marina Stewart (see full test in English at end of this article).  

The 23-year-old former BUK 312 crewmember revealed that the missile unit was in fact manned by the Ukraine military. He outlines the missile system's location and how it operated.   The former sergeant also offered analysis and research indicating the very low probability that the 312 crew shot down MH17.

Talk Nation Radio: Taif Jany on #SoccerSalam

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-taif-jany-on-soccersalam

Taif Jany, director of #SoccerSalam, discusses the need for humanitarian aid in Iraq this winter and how people can help. See http://soccersalam.org

In addition, 12-year-old Hallie Turner explains how she became a climate activist with http://imatteryouth.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Exposing the FBI

Review of The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, by Betty Medsger (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 596 pages. Notes, Index. Hardcover $29.95; paperback $16.95).

The Case Against Re-Banning Torture Yet Again

Senator Ron Wyden has a petition up at MoveOn.org that reads "Right now, torture is banned because of President Obama's executive order. It's time for Congress to pass a law banning torture, by all agencies, so that a future president can never revoke the ban." It goes on to explain:

"We live in a dangerous world. But when CIA operatives and contractors torture terrorist suspects, it doesn't make us safer -- and it doesn't work. The recent CIA torture report made that abundantly clear. Right now, the federal law that bans torture only applies to the U.S. military -- not our intelligence agencies. President Obama's executive order barring all agencies from using torture could be reversed, even in secret, by a future president. That's why it's critical that Congress act swiftly to pass a law barring all agencies of the U.S. government, and contractors acting on our behalf, from engaging in torture. Without legislation, the door on torture is still open. It's time for Congress to slam that door shut once and for all."

Why in the world would anybody object to this unless they supported torture? Well, let me explain.

Torture and complicity in torture were felonies under U.S. law before George W. Bush moved into the White House, under both the torture statute and the war crimes statute. Nothing has fundamentally changed about that, other than the blatant lack of enforcement for several years running. Nothing in those two sections of the U.S. code limits the law to members of the U.S. military or excludes employees or contractors or subcontractors of so-called intelligence agencies. I emailed a dozen legal experts about that claim in the above petition. Michael Ratner replied "I don’t see where they get that from." Kevin Zeese said simply "They're wrong." If anyone replies to me with any explanation, I'll post it as an update at the top of this article on davidswanson.org -- where I can be contacted if you have an explanation.

For the past several years, the U.S. Congress, White House, Justice Department, and media have gone out of their way to ignore the existence of U.S. laws banning torture. When silence hasn't worked, the primary technique has been proposing over and over and over again to ban torture, as if it were not already banned. In fact, Congress has followed through and banned it a number of times, and done so with new exceptions that by some interpretations have in fact weakened the war crimes statute. This is my best guess where the nonsense about applying only to "intelligence agencies" comes from: laws like the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that claimed to pick and choose which types of torture to ban for whom.

When President Obama took President Bush's place he produced an executive order purporting to ban torture (again), even while publicly telling the Justice Department not to enforce any existing laws. But an executive order, as Wyden seems to recognize, is not a law. Neither can it ban torture, nor can it give legal weight to the pretense that torture wasn't already banned. In fact the order itself states: "Nothing in this order shall be construed to affect the obligations of officers, employees, and other agents of the United States Government to comply with all pertinent laws and treaties of the United States governing detention and interrogation, including but not limited to: the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A; the War Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. 2441 . . . ."

Senator Wyden says he will introduce yet another bill to "ban torture." Here's how the Washington Post is spinning, and explaining, that:

"Torture is already illegal, but Wyden notes that protections can be strengthened. To oversimplify, the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, in which participating states agreed to outlaw intentionally inflicting severe pain for specific purposes. The Bush administration obviously found a (supposedly) legal route around that."

In other words, because it was done by a president, it was legal -- the worldview of the Post's old buddy Richard Nixon.

"After the Abu Graib revelations, John McCain helped pass a 2005 amendment that would restrict the military from using specific brutal interrogation tactics — those not in the Army Field Manual. (This didn’t preclude intel services from using these techniques, which might explain why CIA director John Brennan felt free to say the other day that future policymakers might revert to using them). In 2008, Congress passed a measure specifically applying those restrictions to intelligence services, too, but then-President Bush vetoed it. Senator Wyden would revive a version of that 2008 bill as a starting point, with the goal of codifying in law President Obama's executive order banning the use of those specific techniques for all government employees, those in intelligence services included."

But let's back up a minute. When a president violates a law, that president -- at least once out of office -- should be prosecuted for violating the law. The law can't be declared void because it was violated. Loopholes can't be created for the CIA. Reliance on the Army Field Manual can't sneak into law the loopholes built into that document. Presidents can't order and un-order things illegal. Here's how the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson responded to the release of the Senate's report summary:

"The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes. The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorised at a high level within the U.S. Government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability. International law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture. This applies not only to the actual perpetrators but also to those senior officials within the U.S. Government who devised, planned and authorised these crimes. As a matter of international law, the U.S. is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice. The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes."

Now, one could try to spin the endless re-banning of torture as part of the process of enforcing an international treaty that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But banning a practice going forward, even when you ban it better, or ban it more emphatically for the 8th time, does absolutely nothing to fulfill the legal obligation to prosecute those crimes already committed. And here we are dealing with crimes openly confessed to by past officials who assert that they would "do it again" -- crimes that resulted in deaths, thus eliminating any attempt at an argument that statutes of limitations have run out.

Here's a different sort of petition that we've set up at RootsAction.org along with Witness Against Torture and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: " We call on President Obama to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce our laws, and to immediately appoint a special prosecutor. As torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction, we call on any willing court system in the world to enforce our laws if our own courts will not do so."

The purpose of such a petition is not vengeance or partisanship or a fetish with history. The purpose is to end torture, which is not done by looking forward or even by pardoning the crimes, as the ACLU has proposed -- to its credit recognizing that the crimes exist. That should be a first step for anyone confused by the endless drumbeat to "ban torture."

New TCBH! poem by Gary Lindorff: 'I Can't Breathe'

I’m white.
But I can’t breathe.
I’m suffocating.
Maybe I’m dying.
 

I tried to run
But I got caught
Thinking terrible thoughts about my twisted country.
Dangerous and dark thoughts,
Like a German might have thought
When the Nazi’s were beating up Jews.
And the zeitgeist was shouting at me to stop.
Don’t shoot! I shouted,...


Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking

Russia/Ukraine News - Dec 16, 2014

 

Medvedev: EU not willing to treat Ukraine as equal partner, “The association agreement does not contain any mention of Ukraine’s membership” - Sputnik


Medvedev: EU, US Reluctant to Give Ukraine Money, Even for Immediate Needs - Sputnik


Medvedev: Kiev may lose $15Bln after association with EU, should Customs Union member-states take steps to protect their markets - Sputnik


Medvedev: Ukrainian citizens will not be able to work in Russia without labor patent, Ukraine will lose up to $13bn in remittances - APA


Medvedev: Ukrainian economy built thanks to Russia, looming threat of social and economic collapse of the country - interfax.com


Medvedev: 'Russia has experienced tragic events in Ukraine as our own pain', given the two countries’ shared culture, values, and historical identity - Sputnik


Russia says it wants east Ukraine to stay with Kiev under reformed constitution to allow autonomy to Russian-speaking regions - Reuters


Medvedev: Kiev's Blockade of East Ukraine Shows Lack of Responsibility - Sputnik International


Medvedev: Issue With Gas Transit Through Ukraine Settled Only Temporarily - Sputnik International


Medvedev: Russia concerned about Kyiv's attempts to upset atomic energy cooperation - interfax.com


Russia announces a three-day exercise near the Ukrainian border. On previous occasions it meant a surge of the intervention corps - Leonid Ragozin on Twitter


Russian top brass (200 generals and other commanders) meeting and strategizing somewhere in Rostov region - Maria Antonova on Twitter


Geolocating Russia moves of more T-64s and GRADs towards Ukraine (PHOTO) - Ukraine@war


Russians film their own large columns on the move in Ukraine (VIDEO, PHOTO) - Ukraine@war


FM Lavrov says Russian nukes could be stationed in Crimea - Andrew Roth on Twitter


Russia Blamed by Nordic Nations for Endangering Airliner - Bloomberg


Russia denies another near collision in Baltics - The Sacramento Bee


US, Europe arms sales decline for third year in a row, Russia sees spike in sales largely thanks to a Kremlin push to modernise its military - ibtimes.com


The Top 25 Weapons Companies In The World (Excluding China): Report - Business Insider


Plans to Create Russian National Orbital Station Confirmed - Sputnik International


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Dems, GOP press Obama to back Russian sanctions, The bill also would provide lethal military assistance to Ukraine - ABC News


White House has not yet decided on Russia sanctions bill - Reuters


Lavrov: U.S. Ukraine support bill hostile move, "a maniac desire to punish Russia for all imaginable and unimaginable transgressions" - interfax.com


Russia Issues Stern Warning To U.S. Against Fresh Economic Sanctions, Vows To Strike Back Because Of Ukraine Support Act - ibtimes.com


Russia Press Digest: U.S. bill on Ukraine is ‘time bomb under bilateral relations’ - Russia Beyond The Headlines


‘If US sends weapons to Ukraine, Russia should send troops’: lawmaker - RT


How Many Enemies Does America Want? Congress Sacrifices U.S. Security With New Sanctions Against Russia - Forbes


Russian Ruble Crashes to World's Worst-Performing Currency - The Moscow Times


Russian ADRS Drop Most in Five Years as Ruble Plunges - Bloomberg


Russia Boosts Interest Rates To 17 Percent Amid Currency's Slide - NPR


Russia cuts spending as recession looms: Report - Worldbulletin News


Moscow Authorities Threaten Merchants with Fines for Showing Prices in Foreign Currency; Urges Consumers to Inform on Businesses - Interpreter_Mag


Russia’s Debt Problem May Not Be as Bad as It Seems - WSJ


Ukraine's frozen war is bringing dramatic changes to world economy - Reuters


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Ukraine Seeking $10 Billion in Aid Amid Talks With U.S., EU to stave off a default as its economy shrinks - Bloomberg


Ukraine Prime Minister Asks NATO, EU for More Help - ABC News


Ukraine needs national referendum on NATO membership: PM - TASS


NATO Secretary General tells Ukrainian Prime Minister ''NATO stands with you’’ - NATO


VIDEO: Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk - YouTube


Joint Press Release following the first Association Council meeting between the European Union and Ukraine - Council of the European Union


Ukrainian Bonds Tumble Amid Talks on Aid to Avert Default - Bloomberg


Gas volume in Ukraine’s underground storage sites falls as heating season begins - TASS


Ukraine says Chevron plans to pull out of $10 bln shale gas deal - Reuters


Press Release: UN report details dire plight of people in eastern Ukraine amid ongoing rights violations - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


REPORT: Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine - United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


Separatist Military Leader: "We must take the borders of the Donetsk region. If Ukraine does not agree to solve this issue by political means, we will settle it militarily - Interpreter_Mag


Convoy with Russian Tank Labeled 'To Mariupol' Has Been Geolocated in Ukraine (PHOTO, VIDEO) - Interpreter_Mag


Numerous Attacks On Ukrainian Positions, Including Grad Use Reported - Interpreter_Mag


Official says 917 Ukrainian army servicemen killed in Donbas military operation - TASS


Ukraine's three major airports closed indefinitely: state aviation service - TASS


Ukrainian female pilot Nadezhda Savchenko detained in Russia on hunger strike - Interpreter_Mag


Poroshenko grants alleged Belarusian Neo-Nazi Ukrainian citizenship - khpg.org

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

US sides with a colonizer: Africa's Forgotten (And Festering) Freedom Struggle in Western Africa

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Algiers -- The Western Sahara is not just a section of the famous desert that dominates North Africa.


Intersection of Mistakes With Misdeeds

On a pleasant spring day in December it's nice to drive past the endlessly under-construction intersection of Route 250 and McIntire Road in Charlottesville, Va., and realize that the darn thing must nearly be completed. It looks sturdy and attractive. There's a nice new bicycle path heading north from it. All must be right with the world.

This intersection has its own official website stating that it won't really be done until next summer -- a website that is otherwise about as helpful as healthcare.gov.

Here are my concerns.

This intersection was only required by the construction of a 2-mile-long unnecessary road leading out of it, a road aimed at taking traffic off other roads that will certainly fail in that quixotic mission. Construction of new houses along those other roads has outpaced the construction of the new road that will produce the traffic needed to fill it, as they always do.

The intersection is supposed to cost $33 million, and together with the 2-mile-long road a total of $67 million.

The increased traffic is predictably driving discussion of additional new intersections to receive it. Price tags for improving four intersections on nearby Route 29 have been discussed as ranging from $250 million to $350 million. An intersection many miles up Route 29 in Gainesville is under construction for a cost of $216 million. A ridiculous proposal for a whole new road to the west of Charlottesville has been stopped by public pressure but left $200 million lying around for people to find something to spend it on. The Virginia Department of Transportation has a six-year plan to spend $13 billion on transportation projects.

To put this madness into perspective, the World Food Program needs $413 million for Syrian refugees for the next six months and doesn't have it. That's the cost of a couple of pointless and counterproductive intersections.

About $11 billion per year would provide clean drinking water to every part of the world that lacks it. That's less than a certain collection of road construction projects in just one U.S. state.

About $30 billion per year would end starvation and hunger around the world. In the United States alone we spend about $80 billion per month on highway and road construction projects.

The problem is not just that we're paving the planet rather than saving lives. And it's not just that paving one's way out of traffic predictably generates more traffic. It's also that we're destroying the planet's climate in the process.

Oh, and we're also creating a motivation for endless wars over oil.

Speaking of wars, no intersection would be complete without a war memorial. As part of the construction of the $33 million intersection in Charlottesville, big improvements are being made to the Dogwood Veterans Memorial, a monument to the war on Vietnam that was built during that war in 1966.

That war killed some 4 million Vietnamese, and the people whose government killed them have absolutely no shame. In fact, they don't even know about it. Ask a German or a Japanese about their nations' greatest sins, and they'll cite you chapter and verse with grave remorse. Ask a U.S.-American how many people died in Vietnam and you'll get at best a blank stare.

So, as you speed through the new intersection admiring the blacktop and the war monument -- I'm sure there's something similar in your part of the country too --  give some thought to the general priorities they represent.

Time to Ban the Bomb

By Alice Slater

Global Momentum is building for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons! While the world has banned chemical and biological weapons, there is no explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, although the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously that there is an obligation to bring to a conclusion negotiations for their total elimination.   The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), negotiated in 1970 required the five existing nuclear weapons states, the US, Russia, UK, France and China (P-5) to make “good faith efforts” to eliminate their nuclear weapons, while the rest of the world promised not to acquire them (except for India, Pakistan, Israel, who never signed the NPT).  North Korea relied on the NPT Faustian bargain for “peaceful” nuclear power to build its own bomb, and then walked out of the treaty. 

More than 600 members of civil society, from every corner of the globe, with more than half of them under the age of 30 attended a fact-filled two day conference in Vienna organized by the International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), to learn of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons from the bomb and from testing as well, and of the frightening risks from possible accidents or sabotage of the nine nuclear arsenals around the world.  The meeting was a follow up to two prior meetings in Oslo, Norway and Nayarit, Mexico.   ICAN members, working for a treaty to ban the bomb, then joined a meeting hosted by Austria for 160 governments in the historic Hofburg Palace, which has served as the residence of Austrian leaders since before the founding of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In Vienna, the US delegate, delivered a tone-deaf statement on the heels of heart-wrenching testimony of catastrophic illness and death in her community from Michelle Thomas, a down winder from Utah, and other devastating testimony of the effects of nuclear bomb testing from the Marshall Islands and Australia.  The US rejected any need for a ban treaty and extolled the step by step approach (to nuclear weapons forever) but changed its tone in the wrap-up and appeared to be more respectful of the process.   There were 44 countries who explicitly spoke of their support for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, with the Holy See delegate reading out Pope Francis’ statement also calling for a ban on nuclear weapons and their elimination in which he said, “I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.”.  This was a shift in Vatican policy which had never explicitly condemned deterrence policies of the nuclear weapons states although they had called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in prior statements. [i]

Significantly, and to help move the work forward, the Austrian Foreign Minister added to the Chair’s report by announcing a pledge by Austria to work for a nuclear weapons ban, described as “taking effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.!   [ii]The NGO strategy now as presented at the ICAN[iii] debriefing meeting right after the conference closed, is to get as many nations as we can to support the Austrian pledge coming into the CD and the NPT review and then come out of the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a concrete plan for negotiations on a ban treaty.   One thought about the 70th Anniversary of the bomb, is that not only should we get a huge turnout in Japan, but we should acknowledge all the victims of the bomb, illustrated so agonizingly during the conference by Hibakusha and down winders at test sites.   We should also think about the uranium miners, the polluted sites from mining as well as manufacturing and use of the bomb and try to do something all over the world at those sites on August 6th and 9th as we call for negotiations to begin to ban nuclear weapons and eliminate them.   

Only a few days after the Vienna conference, there was a meeting of the Nobel Laureates in Rome, who after meeting with Nobel Prize winning IPPNW members Dr. Tilman Ruff and hearing the testimony of Dr. Ira Helfand, both ICAN founders, continued the momentum created in Vienna and issued a statement which not only called for a ban on nuclear weapons, but asked that negotiations be concluded within two years! [iv]

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice.  Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

One way to slow down this process to negotiate a legal ban on nuclear weapons would be for the NPT nuclear weapons states to promise at this five year NPT review conference to set a reasonable date to bring to a conclusion time-bound negotiations and effective and verifiable measures to implement the total elimination of nuclear weapons.   Otherwise the rest of the world will start without them to create an explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons which will be a powerful taboo to be used for pressuring the countries cowering under the nuclear umbrella of the nuclear weapons states, in NATO and in the Pacific, to take a stand for Mother Earth, and urge that negotiations begin for the total abolition of nuclear weapons!

Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000.

US Attends, then Defies Conference on Nuclear Weapons Effects & Abolition

By John LaForge

VIENNA, Austria—A pair of conferences here Dec. 6-9 have tried to raise public and government awareness of nuclear weapons.

The first, a Civil Society Forum put on by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, brought together NGOs, parliamentarians, and activists of all stripes to try and boost morale and renew enthusiasm in efforts to ban the bomb.

About 700 participants spent two days delving into the ghastly health and environmental effects of nuclear war, the hair-raising frequency of H-bomb accidents and near detonations, the horrifying impacts of bomb testing—and other human radiation experiments conducted without informed consent upon our own unwitting civilians and soldiers.

This is ground that’s been plowed for decades, but it’s nevertheless staggering to the uninitiated and is never repeated too often—especially in view of the destabilization and skyrocketing death toll of what the Pope has called today’s “World War Three.”

ICAN’s infusion of youthful encouragement and high-energy mobilization is a welcome relief for the doddering anti-nuclear movement that’s seen a generation of activists lost to campaigns against corporate globalization and the perpetrators of climate collapse. Mary Olson, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who presented expert testimony on the misogynistic gender bias in radiation effects, said she had gotten a “surprisingly big jolt of hope from the youngness of the gathering.”

A second conference -- the “Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” (HINW) -- brought together government representatives and hundreds of others, and was the third in a series. Austria, which has neither nuclear weapons nor nuclear reactors, sponsored the gathering.

After decades of negotiations over the strategic and numerical size of nuclear arsenals, the HINW meetings have faced the harsh ugliness and catastrophic health and environmental effects of nuclear testing and warfare.

Expert witnesses spoke directly to 180 government representatives about the ethical, legal, medical and ecological consequences of H-bomb detonations which are—in the language of diplomatic nicety—“foreseeable.” Then, scores of nation-state delegates called on nuclear-armed states to pursue abolition. Dozens of speakers noted that landmines, cluster munitions, gas, chemical and biological weapons have all been banned, but the worst of all¾thermonuclear WMD—have not.

But the emperor can’t see his own nakedness

It turns out that a gathering of elites like the HINW is like a prison population: there is a strict, arcane etiquette; a rigorous separation of classes; and a blatant violation of all the rules by privileged, rich and pampered chieftains.

The most blatant violation came at the start of the first question-&-answer session, and it was my own government—which skipped previous HINW meetings in Norway and Mexico—that put a radioactive foot in its bomb-cratered mouth. Immediately following harrowing personal testimonies from downwind bomb test victims, and a review by Ms. Olson of the science showing women and children to be far more vulnerable to radiation than men, the U.S. interrupted. Everyone noticed.

Although facilitators twice directed participants to ask questions only the U.S. delegate, Adam Scheinman, was first at the mic, and he declared flatly, “I will not ask a question but make a statement.” The bully then ignored the panel’s hour-long discussion of the brutal, gruesome, and long-term effects of nuclear weapons testing. Instead, in ringing non sequitur, Scheinman’s prepared statement declared U.S. opposition to a nuclear weapons ban and noted support for negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Mr. Scheinman also lauded the U.S. embrace of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty¾code language for decades of winking at open US violations of the treaty’s requirements.

(Principle among U.S. NPT violations are Pres. Obama’s planned $1 trillion, 30-year budget for new nuclear weapons; “nuclear sharing” agreements that keep 180 U.S. H-bombs at US bases in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Turkey; and sales of Trident nuclear missiles to the British submarine fleet.)

Mr. Scheinman’s rude defiance of conference protocol was a microcosm of the country’s global militarism: oblivious, contemptuous, imperious, and defiant of law. Conducted at 1:20 in the afternoon, the scene-stealing disruption was well-timed to be the lead headline on nightly TV news. U.S. refusal to support and dismissal of the movement for a nuclear weapons ban/treaty should be the story of the conference, but corporate media can be counted on to note only Obama’s public agenda and his finger-pointing at non-nuclear Iran.

The desired result of Scheinman’s outburst is that the U.S. momentarily diverted attention from the indiscriminate, uncontrollable, widespread, persistent, radiological and genetically destabilizing, scofflaw impact of its nuclear weapons—and got television to pat it on the back merely for showing up and “listening.”

Indeed, after its usurpation of center-stage here—and after having temporarily recast the subject of the conference—the U.S. may now get back to its real agenda, the massively expensive “upgrade” of machinery for producing 80 new H-bombs a year by 2020.

-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Revealed: How Big Oil Got Expedited Permitting for Fracking on Public Lands Into the Defense Bill

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S. House of Representatives' 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

 Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

The 1,648-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Buried on page 2,179 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled "Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing," the bill's passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

"We applaud the Senate...and are hopeful the president signs this measure in a timely fashion," said Dan Naatz, IPAA lobbyist and former congressional staffer, in a press release

Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, "In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”

Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry's application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air, groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process. 

At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an "educational meeting" with Udall's staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S. environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.

IPAA's publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S. public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.

Facing Down a Key Torture Enabler

Clashing Face-to-Face on Torture

Editor Note: It’s rare on TV when you see two former senior U.S. officials clashing angrily over something as significant as torture. Usually decorum prevails. But ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern wasn’t going to let the ex-House intelligence oversight chief get away with a bland defense of torture.

By Ray McGovern

When you get an opportunity like this, don’t fall back – I heard my Irish grandmother telling me last Thursday as I took my place at the table to discuss torture with a former congressional committee chairman whose job it was to prevent such abuse.

We're Not Exceptional, We're Isolated

This weekend I participated in an interesting exercise. A group of activists staged a debate in which some of us argued that peace and environmental and economic justice are possible, while another group argued against us.

The latter group professed to not believe its own statements, to be dirtying itself with bad arguments for the sake of the exercise — in order to help us refine our arguments. But the case they made for the impossibility of peace or justice was one I hear often from people who at least partially believe it.

A core of the U.S. argument for the inevitability of war and injustice is a mysterious substance called “human nature.” I take belief in this substance to be an example of how thoroughly U.S. exceptionalism pervades the thinking of even those who oppose it. And I take exceptionalism to mean not superiority over but ignorance of everybody else.

Let me explain. In the United States we have 5 percent of humanity living in a society dedicated to war in an unprecedented manner, putting over $1 trillion every year into war and preparations for war. Going to the other extreme you have a country like Costa Rica that abolished its military and thus spends $0 on war. Most nations of the world are much closer to Costa Rica than to the United States. Most nations of the world spend a small fraction of what the United States spends on militarism (in real numbers or per capita). If the United States were to reduce its military spending to the global average or mean of all other countries, suddenly it would become difficult for people in the United States to talk about war as “human nature,” and going that last little bit to complete abolition wouldn’t look so hard.

But isn’t the other 95 percent of humanity human now?

In the United States we live a lifestyle that destroys the environment at a far greater pace than do most human beings. We flinch at the idea of radically reducing our destruction of the earth’s climate — or, in other words, living like Europeans. But we don’t think of it as living like Europeans. We don’t think of it as living like South Americans or Africans. We don’t think about the other 95 percent. We propagandize them through Hollywood and promote our destructive lifestyle through our financial institutions, but we don’t think about people who aren’t imitating us as humans.

In the United States we have a society with greater inequality of wealth and greater poverty than in any other wealthy nation. And activists who oppose this injustice can sit in a room and describe particular aspects of it as part of human nature. I’ve heard many do this who were not faking their beliefs.

But imagine if the people of Iceland or some other corner of the earth got together and discussed the pros and cons of their society as “human nature” while ignoring the rest of the world. We’d laugh at them, of course. We might also envy them if we listened long enough to catch on to what they supposed “human nature” to be.

The $7 Million University President

In a recent article about Shirley Jackson, the president since 1999 of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)―a private university located in Troy, New York―the Chronicle of Higher Education revealed that, in 2012 (the latest year for which statistics are available), she received over $7 million from that institution.  Like many modern campus administrators, President Jackson was also given a large mansion, first class air travel, and a chauffeured luxury car to transport her around the campus.

Thanks to the fact that Jackson also serves on at least five corporate boards, including those of IBM and Marathon Oil, she supplements this income with more than a million dollars a year from these sources.

Making a joke of the Supreme Court: Justice Antonin Scalia is a Publicity-Seeking Intellectual Midget

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes you really don't need to write much to do an article on something. Writing about the inanity of Justice Antonin Scalia, the ethics-challenged, lard-bottomed, right-wing anchor of the Supreme Court, is one of those times.

Shutdown Creech! A National Mobilization for Mass Nonviolent Direct Action

Join us March 4-6, 2015 at Creech Drone Base, Nevada for a national mobilization to shut down assassin drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Sponsored by CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Nevada Desert Experience, Veterans for Peace and Voices for Creative Nonviolence!
In 2005, Creech Air Force Base was home to the first MQ-1 Predator drone squadron in the Air Force Special Operations Command, followed a year later by the first Reaper squadron. In 2013 it was revealed that the CIA drone assassination program, officially a separate operation from the Air Force’s, has been piloted by military personnel from Creech’s super-secret Squadron 17 all along. Since 2009, the drone program has proliferated to bases around the U.S. and abroad and the base at Creech has also mushroomed along with its mission. Creech is where the killer drone program started- it is where we will end it. 
Five years ago, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified at the trial of the “Creech 14,” the first Americans prosecuted for trespass at a drone base, that “to have a baby burn to death because of a ‘no trespass sign’ would be poor public policy to put it mildly.” In a time of burning children, the “no trespassing” signs attached to the fences that protect the crimes perpetrated with drones and other instruments of terror are not legitimate and they do not command our obedience. 
Join us for three days of resistance and celebration in the Nevada desert.

All Together Now

Sanders Opposes Disastrous Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement on a massive $1.01 trillion spending bill that the Senate plans to take up later today:

 

“At a time when the middle class continues to disappear, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grows wider, this bill comes nowhere close to reflecting the needs and priorities of America’s working families.

 

“Instead of helping to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and other programs that help working families, this bill would allow the Pentagon to spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on our military and seemingly never-ending wars in the Middle East.”

 

“Instead of investing in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating millions of decent-paying jobs, this bill would let companies renege on promises they made to their workers by cutting the pension benefits of current retirees.

 

“Instead of cracking down on Wall Street CEOs whose greed and illegal behavior plunged the country into a terrible recession, this bill allows too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets on derivatives that led to the largest taxpayer bailout in history and nearly destroyed the economy.

 

“Instead of cutting back on the ability of billionaires to buy elections, this bill outrageously gives the wealthy even more power over the political process.

 

“Instead of giving the Environmental Protection Agency the tools it needs to begin dealing with the planetary crisis of global warming, this bill would cut spending by the EPA.”

Drones and Discrimination: Kick the Habit

By Kathy Kelly

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in prison for having crossed the line at a military base that wages drone warfare. The punishment for our attempt to speak on behalf of trapped and desperate people, abroad, will be an opportunity to speak with people trapped by prisons and impoverishment here in the U.S. 

Our trial was based on a trespass charge incurred on June 1, 2014.  Georgia Walker and I were immediately arrested when we stepped onto Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force where pilots fly weaponized drones over Afghanistan and other countries.  We carried a loaf of bread and a letter for Brig Gen. Glen D. Van Herck.  In court, we testified that we hadn’t acted with criminal intent but had, rather, exercised our First Amendment right (and responsibility) to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance.

A group of Afghan friends had entrusted me with a simple message, their grievance, which they couldn’t personally deliver: please stop killing us.

I knew that people I’ve lived with, striving to end wars even as their communities were bombed by drone aircraft, would understand the symbolism of asking to break bread with the base commander.

Judge Whitworth said he understood that we oppose war, but he could recommend over 100 better ways to make our point that wouldn’t be breaking the law.  

The prosecution recommended the maximum six month sentence.  “Ms. Kelly needs to be rehabilitated,” said an earnest young military lawyer. The judge paged through a four page summary of past convictions and agreed that I hadn’t yet learned not to break the law. 

What I’ve learned from past experiences in prison is that the criminal justice system uses prison as a weapon against defendants who often have next to no resources to defend themselves.  A prosecutor can threaten a defendant with an onerously long prison sentence along with heavy fines if the defendant doesn’t agree to plea bargain. 

In his article “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty,” Jed S. Rakoff draws attention to the institution of plea bargaining which now ensures that less than 3% of federal cases go to trial at all.  “Of the 2.2 million U.S. people now in prison,” Rakoff writes, “well over 2 million are there as a result of plea bargains dictated by the government’s prosecutors, who effectively dictate the sentence as well.”

“In 2012, the average sentence for federal narcotics defendants who entered into any kind of plea bargain was five years and four months,” Rakoff writes, “while the average sentence for defendants who went to trial was sixteen years.”  
 
It’s one thing to read about the shameful racism and discrimination of the U.S.  criminal justice system. It’s quite another to sit next to a woman who is facing ten or more years in prison, isolated from children she has not held in years, and to learn from her about the circumstances that led to her imprisonment. 

Many women prisoners, unable to find decent jobs in the regular economy, turn to the underground economy. Distant relatives of mine knew plenty about such an economy several generations ago, in Boston. They couldn’t get work, as Irish immigrants, and so they got into the bootlegging business when alcohol was prohibited. But no one sent them to prison for 10 years if they were caught.

Women prisoners may feel waves of guilt, remorse, defiance, and despair. In spite of facing extremely harsh punishment, harsh emotions, and traumatic isolation, most of the women I’ve met in prison have shown extraordinary strength of character.

When I was in Pekin Prison, we would routinely see young men, shackled and handcuffed, shuffling off of the bus to spend their first day in their medium-high security prison next door.  The median sentence there was 27 years. We knew they’d be old men, many of them grandfathers, by the time they walked out again.

The U.S. is the undisputed world leader in incarceration, as it is the world leader in military dominance.  Only one in 28 of drone victims are the intended, guilty or innocent, targets.   One third of women in prison worldwide, are, at this moment, in U.S. prisons.  The crimes that most threaten the safety and livelihood of people in the U.S. of course remain the crimes of the powerful, of the corporations that taint our skies with carbon and acid rainfall, peddle weapons  around an already suffering globe,  shut down factories and whole economies in pursuit of quick wealth, and send our young people to war.

Chief Executive Officers of major corporations that produce products inimical to human survival will most likely never be charged much less convicted of any crime.  I don’t want to see them jailed.  I do want to see them rehabilitated

Each time I’ve left a U.S. prison, I’ve felt as though I was leaving the scene of a crime. When I return to the U.S. from sites of our war making, abroad, I feel the same way. Emerging back into the regular world seems tantamount to accepting a contract, pledging to forget the punishments we visit on impoverished people.  I’m invited to forget about the people still trapped inside nightmare worlds we have made for them.  
 
On January 23, 2015, when I report to whichever prison the Bureau of Prisons selects, I’ll have a short time to reconnect with the reality endured by incarcerated people.  It’s not the rehabilitation the prosecutor and judge had in mind, but it will help me be a more empathic and mindful abolitionist, intent on ending all wars.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

Russia News - Dec 12, 2014

 

US Senate Passes 'Ukraine Freedom Support Act’, Calls For More Sanctions Against Russia and Arms To Ukrainian Military - Interpreter_Mag


Summary and full text of Senate bill: Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 - Congress.gov


Obama urges Congress not to pursue new sanctions on Russia, saying the move would risk putting the U.S. out of step with Europe - Yahoo News


VIDEO: Obama rejects more sanctions against Russia - YouTube


Accusations fly around Russia’s 'unprecedented' Baltic military deployments as tensions escalate - The Guardian

 

Russian jets intercepted by Dutch F-16s over Baltic Sea refused to identify themselves - Washington Times

 

VIDEO: Dutch F-16s Intercept Russian Su-34 Jets Over Baltic Sea - atlanticcouncil

 

Finnish Air Force Jets Captured Photos Of Russian Bombers Skirting Their Airspace (PHOTOS) - Business Insider

 

US Government Alert to Possible Nuclear Weapons in Crimea: Undersecretary - Sputnik International

 

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev calls for a US-Russia summit to be convened to prevent a deep freeze in Moscow's relations with the West over the Ukraine crisis - ANTARA News

 

Ukraine Calls on Putin to Release Pilot Savchenko From Psychiatric Clinic in Moscow - The Moscow Times

 

Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko deaf on one ear after staying in the cold during transfers between Russian prisons - Leonid Ragozin on Twitter

 

------------------------------------------------------------

Pentagon to Press Russia on Arms-Control Treaty Violation - NYTimes.com


VIDEO: McKeon: Russia Violating Arms Agreement - DoDNEWS


Russian Arms Control Violation Prompts Joint Staff Assessment - Defense.gov


Pentagon Considering Deployment of Nuclear Missiles in Europe - Washington Free Beacon


Congress Demands Obama Report on Russian Nuclear Cheating - newsmax.com


R-500 / Iskander-K GLCM: Russia testing and about to deploy the cruise missile with a range that violates the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) treaty - globalsecurity.org


Russia downplays nuclear war, the new draft of the country's military doctrine would not include a stipulation for preemptive nuclear war - International Business Times

 

NATO Land Command Fully Operational, Says Commander - Military.com

 

NATO Military Activity Near Russia Is Response to Moscow's Actions: Spokesperson - Sputnik International

 

Lithuania's Military Is On Alert Over Russian Moves - Business Insider

 

NATO Sells Tiny Baltic Countries $600 Mil worth of Arms - blacklistednews

 

U.S. Navy: New laser weapon works, ready for action - CNN.com

 

VIDEO: U.S. Navy successfully tests laser weapon in the Persian Gulf, targeting and destroying boats and drones at sea - Yahoo Yahoo UK

 

----------------------------------------------------------

Russia's central bank hikes rate as ruble plummets - Yahoo News


Price of Bread to Jump Due to Russia's Weakening Ruble - The Moscow Times


Russia's Gazprom Wants to Raise Domestic Gas Prices as Ruble Plunge Hits Margins - The Moscow Times


Russian Firms Lost Billions on Ruble Derivatives, Interfax Says - Bloomberg


Medvedev To Russians: Don't 'Panic' Over Ruble's Fall - rferl.org


Money Troubles: Russia's Weak Ruble Pulls Down Neighbors' Currencies - rferl.org


Ukrainian PM warns of default risk, calls for more Western help - Yahoo News

 

Ukraine lost 20% economic potential over Donbass events: Yatsenyuk - TASS

 

EU Hopes for ‘Normal’ Russian Gas Supplies via Ukraine Beyond March 2015 - Sputnik International

 

Comrade Capitalism: How a 29-year-old Ukrainian tycoon made a killing on Russian gas - Reuters

 

First stretch of Russia’s new gas pipeline to Turkey may be built in 2-3 years: minister - TASS

 

Modi to Putin: Russia to stay India's top defense partner, The two sides signed billions of dollars of deals in nuclear power, oil and defense - Reuters

 

Russia's Rosneft Secures Oil, Gas Deals With India - Reuters

 

List of agreements signed between Russia and India - IBNLive

 

Exclusive - Crimean leader in New Delhi during Putin visit - Reuters

 

U.S. 'troubled' that Crimean leader in India with Putin - Reuters

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

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