Joy First, Grandmother Activist, Found Guilty of Trespassing in Juneau County, WI

By Joy First

On February 9, 2016 Judge Paul Curran found me guilty of trespass for walking onto the Air National Guard Base at Volk Field in Wisconsin on August 26, 2015.  I joined eight others who wanted to deliver a message to Base Commander Colonel David Romuald, demanding that he immediately end the program of training pilots to operate the Shadow Drone at Volk Field.  Shadow drones are used overseas for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, and so contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocents through U.S drone warfare.  This action came at the end of the 8-day 90-mile walk organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence from Madison to Volk Field.

The trial began as predicted with DA Solovey calling Juneau County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mueller who established that I was at Volk Field on August 26 and that I did cross onto the base after being told not to. 

The following are the questions that I asked the deputy under cross examination.

What is the purpose of the area between the gates and the guardhouse?

Response: It is so cars have a place to line up while waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse without blocking the county road.

When is it legal to be there?

Response: When you are a member of the public waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse.

Did you ask any of us why we were there so you would know if we were there for a valid reason, and were therefore authorized to be there?

Response: No I didn’t.

Why weren’t we allowed to walk to the guardhouse and state our business?

Response: The sheriff said we should arrest you when you stepped onto the base.

Why does a military base that is supposed to be protecting us need to have the Sheriff protect them from nonviolent dissenters?

Response: I don’t know.

If we are arrested at Camp McCoy the base security makes the arrest.  Why does the county take this on at Volk Field?

Response: I don’t know.

I said I had no further questions.  I then asked the DA if the Sheriff was expected today as he had testified at the other trials.  The DA said he was not.  I was disappointed to hear that because the sheriff likely would have been able to answer my questions.  It seems clear we are being discriminated against by not being allowed to go to the guardhouse when that is what anyone else is able to do, but I was not a good enough examiner to bring this out with the witness that was there.

The defense rested and I told the judge I would like to give a brief statement as testimony, a closing statement, and then if I was found guilty I wanted to give a sentencing statement.  The judge said that was fine, and I was sworn in and took the stand. 

Here is my testimony from the stand.

As each of those who came before me said, silence is complicity and so I must speak out.

I am testifying that I have a First amendment right to petition my government for a redress of grievances and that was what I was doing at Volk Field on August 26, 2015.

I am also testifying that I have an obligation following Nuremberg to speak out when I see that my government is doing something illegal.

I was not there on August 25 in order to enter the base without permission, but to get to the guard house to request a meeting with the base commander to talk about US drone warfare.  I was not there because I wanted to get arrested.

Defendants have not been permitted to present evidence as to their intent.  For example, Ms.  Ellwanger’s statement was completely stricken from the record and Mr. Timmerman was not allowed to talk about intent. 

I then cited information that we had used to appeal a previous case and said:

However, according to previous court cases, the “mere omission of any mention of intent will not be construed as eliminating that element from the crimes denounced.”   The Supreme Court held that a statue’s “silence” on the mens rea element “does not necessarily suggest that Congress intended to dispense with a conventional mens rea element.”    The Staples Court importantly added that “some indication of Congressional intent, express or implied, is required to dispense with mens rea as an element of a crime.” 

I handed the judge the complete text, which included the court cases cited and continued:

And our intention for being there is an important element in this case.  We were not violent.  We meant no harm, rather we were there to try to prevent harm to others and to uphold the law.

When the police asked us to leave I believed it was my right and my duty to remain.

As I walked back to the defense table the DA asked if my complete statement could be stricken from the record.  The judge overruled this request, stating that I included some legal arguments in my statement.

The judge then said that I was found guilty and started saying I would have to pay the $232 fine when he remembered that I wanted to make a closing statement.  He asked if I still wanted to make a closing statement and I said that I wasn’t sure if it was relevant since he already pronounced me guilty.

The judge replied that he had sat through so many of these cases and heard us talk about our personal beliefs and convictions about drones and he had heard it all.  He said if that was what I was going to talk about he didn’t want to hear it, but that if I had something else to say he would listen and if necessary vacate the sentence. 

So I read the following as my closing statement:

I am here before you today because I cannot and will not remain silent as our government continues to engage in drone warfare which is illegal and immoral.  I did not go to Volk Field on August 25, 2015 to break the law; rather I was there to uphold the law.  This is not a simple trespassing case.

Testimony was given that I, as a committed and concerned U.S. citizen, was there exercising my First Amendment rights, and following my obligations under Nuremberg.  I went to Volk Field not with the intention of getting arrested, but rather to try to meet with the base commander, who has never answered a letter from us.

I was not there to engage in unlawful activities.  I am a person of nonviolence, involved in Constitutionally-protected speech.  My intent was to seek to influence the commander, wake him up and affect his conscience, hardly an offense that I should have been arrested for.

You have heard testimony that when the police told me I had to leave, it was my right and my duty to refuse that order.  I acted in a nonviolent manner, and I had the right and responsibility to remain and continue my request for a meeting.

You have heard that I was acting under the First Amendment which gives us the right to peaceably assemble, speak out, and petition our government for a redress of long-standing grievances. 

You have heard that I was following my citizen obligations under Nuremberg and other international law. 

According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal and immoral activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values.  It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters, as prosecutors, as judges to speak out.  Robert Jackson, the United States judge at the Nuremberg trials said, “The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.”

I will not, indeed, I cannot, be complicit when our government has gone so astray.  It is my responsibility as a citizen of this great country to call attention to the unjust actions of our government and demand that they stop now.  I believe that I can make a difference, that I have made a difference, and you can too.  Please, look into your heart and see that I was doing what I was called to do, and that I did so peacefully, and now you have the opportunity to find me not guilty of trespass.

You have said that you have no authority over our foreign policy, but if a judge in Juneau County finds me innocent, it would make a difference and people would pay attention.

At the Hancock AFB  in New York resisters were acquitted because the judge said they intended to uphold the law, not break it.  We were at Volk Field on August 25 to uphold the law.

I ask that you please find me not guilty as charged and join me in saying that we need to stop arresting, detaining, and prosecuting nonviolent people of good will and conscience who take action for peace and justice. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this case.

I finished and Judge Curran again pronounced me guilty.  He said that what I was asking him to do was very dangerous.  He cannot let me off because he likes me or agrees with me.  That would set a very dangerous precedent.  He can’t let his personal beliefs affect his rulings as he picks and chooses which laws to obey and which not to obey.  He is bound and sworn to follow the law.

The trial lasted 18 minutes.  Curran left the courtroom without giving me a chance to give a sentencing statement as I had requested.  Again, he is sick of us and does what he can to shut us down.  His argument at the end makes no sense.  He IS picking and choosing which laws to obey when finds us guilty.  He is ignoring the constitutional law of our First Amendment rights.  He is ignoring international law, including Nuremberg, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions – all of which make U.S. drone warfare illegal. 

Afterwards, I realized that I should have added something to my closing.  I should have pointed out that Deputy Mueller said that members of the public are allowed to pass through the gate and proceed to the guardhouse to request permission to enter the base.  If that is the case, why were we arrested at the gate without being asked what our business was at the base?  Why are we not being given the same rights as other members of the public?

As so many of my activist friends say, “You do not find justice in the courtroom.”  There was no justice for me today, but more importantly, there is certainly no justice for the thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed because of U.S. drone warfare.  We continue with two more trials for our Volk Field action – Phil on February 19 and Mary Beth on February 25.

The Theatre of War (What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today)

 by Bryan Doerries

 A Book Review by Hugh O’Neill

“The Play’s the thing in which to catch the conscience of the king”- Hamlet, Act II, scene ii.

Theatre has long engaged our innermost concerns and is a way of exploring the darkest realms of our Humanity. Bryan Doerries, interviewed recently on Radio NZ (www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/20151209) was described thus:

Brooklyn-based theatre director, Bryan Doerries, is the founder of the 'Theatre of War' project, and the 'Outside the Wire' company which presents ancient Greek plays to returned soldiers, addicts, prison communities, and victims of natural disasters. He argues that the great tragedies of the Greeks can help a contemporary audience grapple with everything from the trauma of being in a conflict zone to end-of-life care. To date, over 60,000 service members, veterans, and their families have attended and participated in Theatre of War performances worldwide. Bryan Doerries’ book, is 'The Theatre of War”.

In his book, Doerries’ relates how his own suffering and loss found resonance in 5th century BC Greek tragedies. He contends that Human reaction to trauma is indeed timeless: the horrors of war, violence, pestilence and disaster still affect us now as they did 2,500 years ago. His special insight – from a deep reading of Aristotle’s Poetics - is that tragic plays were written for a specific purpose which was to create catharsis or healing by revisiting these most painful private experiences and understand that one’s reaction is not unique, but is a normal (indeed healthy) Human response to inhuman suffering. The audiences of the time would have consisted mainly of veterans since the Peloponnesian Wars lasted some 80 years.

Doerries was not the first to note the parallels between certain characters in the Classical oeuvre and soldiers suffering what - post-Vietnam War - is labeled “PTSD” (hitherto known since WWI as “shell shock”): Dr. Jonathan Shay wrote “Achilles in Vietnam” on the parallels between veterans of both Vietnam and the Homeric epics. Shay has also noted Shakespeare’s accurate observations of PTSD by Lady Percy (Henry IV, Act II, scene ii). Thus Shakespeare has an intrinsic understanding of the effects of war on the mind, and how nightmares continued the disturbance long after the events occurred.

Labeling the condition a disorder – as Doerries and Shay seem to suggest – is wrong, since it adds further blame upon its victims and somehow makes them the problem, rather than the experience which caused it. Shay prefers the term ‘moral injury’ a condition most apparent when the individual’s moral compass is suppressed by authority (as in the infamous Milgram Experiment). Few of us can measure up to the presumptive verdict of Nuremburg i.e. it is no defence to say one was only following orders. Such few are pilloried as traitors and cowards and suffer the most extreme forms of persecution (Archibald Baxter’s Field Punishment No.1)

There is patently a serious problem for American society with some reports attesting that suicides post-Vietnam are almost double the 58,000 ‘killed in action’ (a.k.a. KIA). One figure cited for the current conflicts in the Middle East suggest a rate of 22 suicides each day. The problem is perhaps compounded by the success of battlefield medical care i.e. more survive horrific injuries which hitherto would have proved fatal. Furthermore, the true savagery of war is a political inconvenience, to be concealed from the general public: the real tragedy happens offstage. Men and women suffer physical and mental torment whilst society looks the other way. There are no winners in war - except the bankers and arms manufacturers.

Doerries has a scholarly, non-military background – despite the numerous bases which surrounded his home in Virginia. He was moved to ‘do something’ after reading of the plight of veterans in the rat-infested Walter Reed hospital. His efforts were galvanized by an article in the NY Times (Jan 13th 2008) by Sontag & Alvarez quoting Captain P. Nash describing PTSD in the Sophocles’ play about the Homeric Ajax. Depressed after the Trojan War, Ajax unwittingly slaughtered a herd of animals and then had fallen on his own sword. Doerries contacted Nash and eventually the scene was set for the first theatrical event: 4 actors reading aloud extracts from Sophocles’ works on Ajax and Philoctetes both of which plays addressed powerful feelings of injustice and abandonment (N.B. Sophocles was also a military general). The sparse acting focused more emphasis on words and emotions. One hour of theatre was followed by several hours of very democratic audience discussion led by Doerries: the play had provoked deep feelings and gave license to air private concerns in a public forum - not all of which made for comfortable listening - especially to those in command.

However, word spread and the “Theatre of War” performed for diverse audiences using a play specific to that audience. For the prison staff at Guantanamo, a performance based on Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound” evoked the unexpected response that some identified with the tortured character of Prometheus whilst others saw themselves in his reluctant jailer Hephaestus, or his enthusiastic jailers Kratos (Power) and Bia (Force). The audience discussion was uninhibited despite the presence of a 4 star general; Doerries’ final question on the justice of Prometheus’ fate provoked one very senior lawyer to catharsis by his bitter denouncement of the US having lost all moral authority by refusing their prisoners a fair trial. It was this moral conflict given utterance which explained why so many identified with the fate of Prometheus, ‘chained to a rock at the end of the Earth’.

It is laudable that Doerries strives to re-Humanise those de-Humanised by war, military service, penal institutions etc. The masters of war and genocide must first dehumanize the perceived enemy, and then de-humanize their own people to fear, hate and kill the ‘enemy’. We saw this in Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and in the increasing belligerence of the US Military Industrial Complex - as warned by President Eisenhower in his valedictory of 17th January 1961. The Peloponnesian wars were fought for existential reasons whereas US wars are fought for profit - irrespective of the consequences. The un-asked question in this story: who will provide catharsis for the countless millions of victims of war - the dead, maimed, orphaned and homeless? It may be unfair to expect this question from Doerries, but it must be asked nonetheless. Doerries has begun to speak truth to power which ability was the essence of Democracy –in the Greek sense of the word (Demos Kratos = people–power). Democracy flowered in Athens when a small hierarchical society, under existential threat, had masters and slaves literally pulling on the same oars. Today, the whole of Creation faces existential threat from Climate Change. “In the final analysis, we all live on the same small planet. We breathe the same air. We cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” (JFK 10/6/63)

How to Counter Recruitment and De-Militarize Schools

U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call "total market penetration" and "school ownership."

But counter-recruiters all over the United States are making their own presentations in schools, distributing their own information, picketing recruiting stations, and working through courts and legislatures to reduce military access to students and to prevent military testing or the sharing of test results with the military without students' permission. This struggle for hearts and minds has had major successes and could spread if more follow the counter-recruiters' example.

A new book by Scott Harding and Seth Kershner called Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools surveys the current counter-recruitment movement, its history, and its possible future. Included is a fairly wide range of tactics. Many involve one-on-one communication with potential recruits.

"Do you like fireworks?" a veteran of the latest war on Iraq may ask a student in a high school cafeteria. "Yes!" Well, replies Hart Viges, "you won't when you get back from war."

"I talked to this one kid," recalls veteran of the war on Vietnam John Henry, "and I said, 'Has anybody in your family been in the military?' And he said, 'My grandfather.'

"And we talked about him, about how he was short and he was a tunnel rat in Vietnam, and I said, 'Oh, what does he tell you about war?'

"'That he still has nightmares.'

"And I said, 'And you are going in what branch of the service?'

"'Army.'

"'And you're going to pick what skill?'

"'Oh, I'm just going to go infantry.'

"You know ... your grandfather is telling you he's still got nightmares and that was 40 years ago. He's had nightmares for 40 years. Do you want to have nightmares for 40 years?"

Minds are changed. Young lives are saved -- those of the kids who do not sign up, or who back out before it's too late, and perhaps also the lives they would have contributed to ending had they entered the "service."

This sort of counter-recruitment work can have a quick payoff. Says Barbara Harris, who also organized the protests at NBC that supported this petition and got a pro-war program off the air, "The feedback I receive from [parents] is just incredibly heartwarming because [when] I speak to a parent and I see how I've helped them in some way, I feel so rewarded."

Other counter-recruitment work can take a bit longer and be a bit less personal but impact a larger number of lives. Some 10% to 15% of recruits get to the military via the ASVAB tests, which are administered in certain school districts, sometimes required, sometimes without informing students or parents that they are for the military, sometimes with the full results going to the military without any permission from students or parents. The number of states and school districts using and abusing the ASVAB is on the decline because of the work of counter-recruiters in passing legislation and changing policy.

U.S. culture is so heavily militarized, though, that in the absence of recruiters or counter-recruiters well-meaning teachers and guidance counselors will thoughtlessly promote the military to students. Some schools automatically enroll all students in JROTC. Some guidance counselors encourage students to substitute JROTC for gym class. Even Kindergarten teachers will invite in uniformed members of the military or promote the military unprompted in their school assignments. History teachers will show footage of Pearl Harbor on Pearl Harbor Day and talk in glorifying terms of the military without any need for direct contact from recruitment offices. I'm reminded of what Starbucks said when asked why it had a coffee shop at the torture / death camp in Guantanamo. Starbucks said that choosing not to would amount to making a political statement. Choosing to do so was just standard behavior.

Part of what keeps the military presence in the schools is the billion dollar budget of the military recruiters and other unfair powers of incumbency. For example, if a JROTC program is threatened, the instructors can order the students (or the children formerly known as students) to show up and testify at a school board meeting in favor of maintaining the program.

Much of what keeps recruitment working in our schools, however, is a different sort of power -- the power to lie and get away with it unchallenged. As Harding and Kershner document, recruiters routinely deceive students about the amount of time they're committing to be in the military, the possibility of changing their minds, the potential for free college as a reward, the availability of vocational training in the military, and the risks involved in joining the military.

Our society has become very serious about warning young people about safety in sex, driving, drinking, drugs, sports, and other activities. When it comes to joining the military, however, a survey of students found that none of them were told anything about the risks to themselves -- first and foremost suicide. They are also, as Harding and Kershner point out, told much about heroism, nothing about drudgery. I would add that they are not told about alternative forms of heroism outside of the military. I would further add that they are told nothing about the primarily non-U.S. victims of wars that are largely one-sided slaughters of civilians, nor about the moral injury and PTSD that can follow. And of course, they are told nothing about alternative career paths.

That is, they are told none of these things by recruiters. They are told some of them by counter-recruiters. Harding and Kershner mention AmeriCorps and City Year as alternatives to the military that counter-recruiters sometimes let students know about. An early start on an alternative career path is found by some students who sign on as counter-recruiters working to help guide their peers away from the military. Studies find that youth who engage in school activism suffer less alienation, set more ambitious goals, and improve academically.

Military recruitment climbs when the economy declines, and drops off when news of current wars increases. Those recruited tend to have lower family income, less-educated parents, and larger family size. It seems entirely possible to me that a legislative victory for counter-recruitment greater than any reform of ASVAB testing or access to school cafeterias would be for the United States to join those nations that make college free. Ironically, the most prominent politician promoting that idea, Senator Bernie Sanders, refuses to say he would pay for any of his plans by cutting the military, meaning that he must struggle uphill against passionate shouts of "Don't raise my taxes!" (even when 99% of people would not see their wallets shrink at all under his plans).

Free college would absolutely crush military recruitment. To what extent does this fact explain political opposition to free college? I don't know. But I can picture among the possible responses of the military a greater push to make citizenship a reward for immigrants who join the military, higher and higher signing bonuses, greater use of mercenaries both foreign and domestic, greater reliance on drones and other robots, and ever more arming of foreign proxy forces, but also quite likely a greater reluctance to launch and escalate and continue wars.

And that's the prize we're after, right? A family blown up in the Middle East is just as dead, injured, traumatized, and homeless whether the perpetrators are near or far, in the air or at a computer terminal, born in the United States or on a Pacific island, right? Most counter-recruiters I know would agree with that 100%. But they believe, and with good reason, that the work of counter-recruitment scales back the war-making.

However, other concerns enter in as well, including the desire to protect particular students, and the desire to halt the racial or class disparity of recruitment that sometimes focuses disproportionately on poor or predominately racial minority schools. Legislatures that have been reluctant to restrict recruitment have done so when it was addressed as an issue of racial or class fairness.

Many counter-recruiters, Harding and Kershner report, "were careful to suggest the military serves a legitimate purpose in society and is an honorable vocation." In part, I think such talk is a strategy -- whether or not it's a wise one -- that believes direct opposition to war will close doors and empower adversaries, whereas talking about "student privacy" will allow people who oppose war to reach students with their information. But, of course, claiming that the military is a good thing while discouraging local kids from joining it rather stinks of NIMBYism: Get your cannon fodder, just Not In My Back Yard.

Some, though by no means all, and I suspect it's a small minority of counter-recruiters actually make a case against other types of peace activism. They describe what they do as "actually doing something," in contrast to marching at rallies or sitting in at Congressional offices, etc. I will grant them that my experience is atypical. I do media interviews. I mostly go to rallies that have invited me to speak. I get paid to do online antiwar organizing. I plan conferences. I write articles and op-eds and books. I have a sense of "doing something" that perhaps most people who attend an event or ask questions from an audience or sign an online petition just don't. I suspect a great many people find talking students away from the edge much more satisfying than getting arrested in front of a drone base, although plenty of wonderful people do both.

But there is, in my opinion, a pretty misguided analysis in the view of certain counter-recruiters who hold that getting tests out of schools is real, concrete, and meaningful, while filling the National Mall with antiwar banners is useless. In 2013 a proposal to bomb Syria looked very likely, but Congress members started worrying about being the guy who voted for another Iraq. (How's that working out for Hillary Clinton?) It was not primarily counter-recruiters who made the Iraq vote a badge of shame and political doom. Nor was it outreach to students that upheld the Iran nuclear agreement last year.

The division between types of peace activism is somewhat silly. People have been brought into counter-recruitment work at massive rallies, and students reached by counter-recruiters have later organized big protests. Recruitment includes hard to measure things like Super Bowl fly-overs and video games. So can counter-recruitment. Both counter-recruitment and other types of peace activism ebb and flow with wars, news reports, and partisanship. I'd like to see the two merged into massive rallies at recruiting stations. Harding and Kershner cite one example of a counter-recruiter suggesting that one such rally created new opposition to his work, but I would be surprised if it didn't also hurt recruitment. The authors cite other examples of well-publicized protests at recruitment offices having had a lasting effect of reducing recruitment there.

The fact is that no form of opposition to militarism is what it used to be. Harding and Kershner cite stunning examples of the mainstream nature of counter-recruitment in the 1970s, when it had the support of the National Organization for Women and the Congressional Black Caucus, and when prominent academics publicly urged guidance counselors to counter-recruit.

The strongest antiwar movement, I believe, would combine the strengths of counter-recruitment with those of lobbying, protesting, resisting, educating, divesting, publicizing, etc. It would be careful to build resistance to recruitment while educating the public about the one-sided nature of U.S. wars, countering the notion that a large percentage of the damage is done to the aggressor. When Harding and Kershner use the phrase in their book "In the absence of a hot war" to describe the current day, what should the people being killed by U.S. weaponry in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, etc., make of it?

We need a strategy that employs the skills of every kind of activist and targets the military machine at every possible weak point, but the strategy has to be to stop the killing, no matter who does it, and no matter if every person doing it survives.

Are you looking for a way to help? I recommend the examples in Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools. Go forth and do likewise.

Talk Nation Radio: Elliott Adams on third party non-violent intervention in the West Bank

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-elliott-adams-on-third-party-non-violent-intervention-in-the-west-bank

Elliott Adams is a former Army paratrooper in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Alaska; and former National President of Veterans For Peace. He has conducted nonviolence and social movement trainings for organizations such as Fellowship Of Reconciliation, School Of Americas Watch, Peacemakers of Schoharie, Student Environmental Action Coalition, War Resisters League. He currently works with the Meta Peace Team and is co-chair of Creating a Culture of Peace. In 2014 and again in 2015 he spent several months as a member of Meta Peace Team using third party non-violent intervention in the West Bank, Palestine.

See http://metapeaceteam.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

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If Beyonce 'Politicized' the Superbowl, So Did Lady Gaga

By Gar Smith

Some people (OK, some older, white Republican men) have been complaining that Beyonce "injected politics into a sports event." (Actually the message seemed to be less about politics and more about social repression, government indifference and in-your-face racial pride. Consider the lyrics: "I like my baby hair, with baby hair and Afros. I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.")

On Monday's Fox & Friends, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani criticized Beyonce's black activism as inappropriate for a halftime show because, as the former mayor explained, half-time shows are a time when performers are supposed to be "talking to Middle America." (Read: "White.") The former mayor confessed that he would have preferred "decent wholesome entertainment."

"I thought it was really outrageous that she used [the half-time show] as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive," said Giuliani.

Of course, neither the song's lyrics nor the singer's energetic twerking addressed the specific and abiding problem of police brutality and killings.

And yet, amidst all the hoopla about Beyonce's performance, I haven't heard anyone complaining about Lady Gaga's powerhouse rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The lyrics of this tune clearly constitute a major example of injecting "politics into a sporting event" – in this case a full-out celebration of war. (The US is the only country on Earth with a national anthem that contains the words "rockets" and "bombs.")

To underscore the political message of this Half-Time kick-off event, Gaga's stint began with a close-up of a line of soldiers holding wall of military flags as the announcer intoned: "And now, to honor America – and perform our national anthem – please welcome … Lady Gaga." (Note: Placing "honor" before "performance" was a way of signaling that the musical event was intended as a stand-in for a collective "pledge of allegiance.")

Lady Gaga went on to perform the song in front of a massive American flag that covered more than 30 yards of the midfield and required at least 56 people to hold it in place.

From the start of the video clip to Gaga's last note consumes about 2:48 minutes. Nearly one-quarter of the clip was saturated with pro-military imagery, including: military standard bearers, a close-up of a saluting marine, a live scene of US troops standing at attention and saluting inside a building in some unnamed foreign country currently occupied by US troops, a close-up of a military drum pounding as Gaga reached her crescendo and, finally, a smoke-trailing fly-over by a half-dozen F/A-18 fighter jets in Blue Angel formation.

At this point, the announcer could have offered a the following public service message: "The US Department of Health and Human Services has asked us to advise you that the Blue Angels jets are powered by JP-5 propellant, a refined kerosene product that contains known carcinogens that can damage the kidney, liver and immune system."

The announcer might also have informed the crowd that: "Each Blue Angels jet burns 1,200 gallons of jet fuel per hour. At a cost of $10.32 per gallon, flying a team of six jets for an hour of preparation and a few brief seconds of intense fly-over entertainment costs taxpayers more than $74,300."

Instead, the announcer offered the following (arguably politicized) salutation:

"Thanks to those sailors and marines and our troops serving around the globe."

So if spectators watching from inside the Bowl—or at home over a bowl of nachos—thought Beyonce's brigades of beret-wearing, clenched-fist-and-booty shaking backup dancers were too "political," let's just agree to call it "equal time."

There were two teams vying for the crowd's loyalty on the midfield on Sunday. On one side, the entire military-industrial-sports-infotainment complex. On the other side, a bunch of lithe and limber uppity women with a fractured message: We may dress and dance like sluts but we are the vanguard of a social revolution that, after decades of decline, is beginning to recover its voice.

Postscript:At the time of this writing, the Formation video was not publically available. Here is a link to the video. Discuss.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrCHz1gwzTo

Postscrpt #2: I've tracked down what appears to be the lyrics to Beyonce's Superbowl anthem—and there is little here that can be described as "political." There also is very little about racial pride. The lyrics are mostly boastful, arrogant and vulgar.

When, for example, Beyonce sings "I go hard, Get what's mine, take what's mine, I'm a star, I'm a star, Cause I slay," it sounds like she's channeling Trump, Kissinger ,or the Koch Brothers.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, "The Finest Fighting Force in the History of the World"

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda 
The U.S. Military Bombs in the Twenty-First Century 
By Tom Engelhardt

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 8, 2016


VIDEO: Clinton says she’ll release speech transcripts if opponents do the same - ABC News


VIDEO: Clinton: Sanders putting artful smear on my Wall Street donations…I’m not going to sit and take it anymore - CBS News


Hillary Clinton has made millions from her Wall Street speeches... but what did she say? - Daily Mail Online


GOP: Hillary, Release the Transcripts - GOP


Contracts indicate Clinton owns transcripts, controls their release - The Wichita Eagle


Hillary's Goldman Sachs speech fee set by her agent, not 'what they offered' - Washington Examiner


Here’s What Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speaking Contract Looks Like - theintercept.com


Hillary won't release her speaking transcripts, but LOOK what we found! - Allen B. West


Sign the petition: Hillary, release the transcripts of your paid speeches to Wall Street banks - Vets For Bernie


Wall Street Distrust Fuels Millennial Opposition to Clinton - valuewalk.com


VIDEO: Donna Brazile: Wall Street issue is playing same role for Clinton that Iraq war vote did in 2008 - RealClearPolitics


$153 million in Bill and Hillary Clinton speaking fees, documented - CNNPolitics.com


Meet the lobbyists, donors and bundlers behind Hillary’s $157 million campaign juggernaut - Yahoo News


Fund-raising alliances with 33 state Democratic parties fuel Clinton with cash - philly.com


The vote for bankruptcy reform that haunts Hillary Clinton - The New York Times


VIDEO: George Stephanopoulos presses Clinton on Elizabeth Warren’s criticism on bankruptcy bill - YouTube


VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren on Hillary Clinton and bankruptcy bill (2004) - YouTube


Time for Chelsea Clinton's easy ride to end, she’s a board member at Barry Diller’s IAC (paid a reported $300,000 a year, plus stock awards) and charges $65,000 per speech - politico.com


Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein: Sanders candidacy a 'dangerous moment' - politico.com


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

The Super Bowl Promotes War

By David Swanson, teleSUR

The military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL.

Super Bowl 50 will be the first National Football League championship to happen since it was reported that much of the pro-military hoopla at football games, the honoring of troops and glorifying of wars that most people had assumed was voluntary or part of a marketing scheme for the NFL, has actually been a money-making scheme for the NFL. The U.S. military has been dumping millions of our dollars, part of a recruitment and advertising budget that's in the billions, into paying the NFL to publicly display love for soldiers and weaponry.

Of course, the NFL may in fact really truly love the military, just as it may love the singers it permits to sing at the Super Bowl halftime show, but it makes them pay for the privilege too. And why shouldn't the military pay the football league to hype its heroism? It pays damn near everybody else. At $2.8 billion a year on recruiting some 240,000 "volunteers," that's roughly $11,600 per recruit. That's not, of course, the trillion with a T kind of spending it takes to run the military for a year; that's just the spending to gently persuade each "volunteer" to join up. The biggest military "service" ad buyer in the sports world is the National Guard. The ads often depict humanitarian rescue missions. Recruiters often tell tall tales of "non-deployment" positions followed by free college. But it seems to me that the $11,600 would have gone a long way toward paying for a year in college! And, in fact, people who have that money for college are far less likely to be recruited.

Despite showing zero interest in signing up for wars, and despite the permanent presence of wars to sign up for, 44 percent of U.S. Americans tell the Gallup polling company that they "would" fight in a war, yet don't. That's at least 100 million new recruits. Luckily for them and the world, telling a pollster something doesn't require follow through, but it might suggest why football fans tolerate and even celebrate military national anthems and troop-hyping hoopla at every turn. They think of themselves as willing warriors who just happen to be too busy at the moment. As they identify with their NFL team, making remarks such as "We just scored," while firmly seated on their most precious assets, football fans also identify with their team on the imagined battlefield of war.

The NFL website says: "For decades the NFL and the military have had a close relationship at the Super Bowl, the most watched program year-to-year throughout the United States. In front of more than 160 million viewers, the NFL salutes the military with a unique array of in-game celebrations including the presentation of colors, on-field guests, pre-game ceremonies and stadium flyovers. During Super Bowl XLIX week [last year], the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project invited veterans to attend the Salute to Service: Officiating 101 Clinic at NFL Experience Engineered by GMC [double payment? ka-ching!] in Arizona. ..."

Pat Tillman, still promoted on the NFL website, and eponym of the Pat Tillman Foundation, is of course the one NFL player who gave up a giant football contract to join the military. What the Foundation won't tell you is that Tillman, as is quite common, ceased believing what the ads and recruiters had told him. On September 25, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Tillman had become critical of the Iraq war and had scheduled a meeting with the prominent war critic Noam Chomsky to take place when he returned from Afghanistan, all information that Tillman's mother and Chomsky later confirmed. Tillman couldn't confirm it because he had died in Afghanistan in 2004 from three bullets to the forehead at short range, bullets shot by an American. The White House and the military knew Tillman had died from so-called friendly fire, but they falsely told the media he'd died in a hostile exchange. Senior Army commanders knew the facts and yet approved awarding Tillman a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a posthumous promotion, all based on his having died fighting the "enemy." Clearly the military wants a connection to football and is willing to lie as well as to pay for it. The Pat Tillman Foundation mis-uses a dead man's name to play on and prey on the mutual interest of football and the military in being connected to each other.

Those on whom the military's advertising succeeds will not typically die from friendly fire. Nor will they die from enemy fire. The number one killer of members of the U.S. military, reported yet again for another year this week, is suicide. And that's not even counting later suicides by veterans. Every TV pundit and presidential debate moderator, and perhaps even a Super Bowl 50 announcer or two, tends to talk about the military's answer for ISIS. What is its answer for people being stupidly ordered into such horrific hell that they won't want to live anymore?

It's in the ads

At least as big a focus of the Super Bowl as the game itself is the advertising. One particularly disturbing ad planned for Super Bowl 50 is an ad for a war video game. The U.S. military has long funded war video games and viewed them as recruiting tools. In this ad Arnold Schwarzenegger shows what fun it is to shoot people and blow up buildings on the game, while outside of the game people are tackling him more or less as in a football game. Nothing here is remotely warlike in a realistic sense. For that I recommend playing with PTSD Action Man instead. But it does advance the equation of sport with war -- something both the NFL and the military clearly desire.

An ad last year from Northrop Grumman, which has its own "Military Bowl," was no less disturbing. Two years ago an ad that appeared to be for the military until the final seconds turned out to be for Jeeps. There was another ad that year for Budweiser beer with which one commentator found legal concerns:

"First, there's a violation of the military's ethics regulations, which explicitly state that Department of Defense personnel cannot 'suggest official endorsement or preferential treatment' of any 'non-Federal entity, event, product, service, or enterprise. ... Under this regulation, the Army cannot legally endorse Budweiser, nor allow its active-duty personnel to participate in their ads (let alone wear their uniforms), any more than the Army can endorse Gatorade or Nike."

Two serious issues with this. One: the military routinely endorses and promotes the NFL. Two: despite my deep-seated opposition to the very existence of an institution of mass murder, and my clear understanding of what it wants out of advertisements (whether by itself or by a car or beer company), I can't help getting sucked into the emotion. The technique of this sort of propaganda (here's another ad) is very high level. The rising music. The facial expressions. The gestures. The build up of tension. The outpouring of simulated love. You'd have to be a monster not to fall for this poison. And it permeates the world of millions of wonderful young people who deserve better.

It's in the stadium

If you get past the commercials, there's the problem of the stadium for Super Bowl 50, unlike most stadiums for most sports events, being conspicuously "protected" by the military and militarized police, including with military helicopters and jets that will shoot down any drones and "intercept" any planes. Ruining the pretense that this is actually for the purpose of protecting anyone, military jets will show off by flying over the stadium, as in past years, when they have even done it over stadiums covered by domes.

The idea that there is anything questionable about coating a sporting event in military promotion is the furthest thing from the minds of most viewers of the Super Bowl. That the military's purpose is to kill and destroy, that it's recent major wars have eventually been opposed as bad decisions from the start by a majority of Americans, just doesn't enter into it. On the contrary, the military publicly questions whether it should be associating with a sports league whose players hit their wives and girlfriends too much.

My point is not that assault is acceptable, but that murder isn't. The progressive view of the Super Bowl in the United States will question the racism directed at a black quarterback, the concussions of a violent sport that damages the brains of too many of its players (and perhaps even the recruitment of new players from the far reaches of the empire to take their place), sexist treatment of cheerleaders or women in commercials, and perhaps even the disgusting materialism of some of the commercials. But not the militarism. The announcers will thank "the troops" for watching from "over 175 countries" and nobody will pause, set down their beer and dead animal flesh and ask whether 174 countries might not be enough to have U.S. troops in right now.

The idea that the Super Bowl promotes is that war is more or less like football, only better. I was happy to help get a TV show canceled that turned war into a reality game. There is still some resistance to that idea that can be tapped in the U.S. public. But I suspect it is eroding.

The NFL doesn't just want the military's (our) money. It wants the patriotism, the nationalism, the fervent blind loyalty, the unthinking passion, the personal identification, a love for the players to match love of troops -- and with similar willingness to throw them under a bus.

The military doesn't just want the sheer numbers of viewers attracted to the Super Bowl. It wants wars imagined as sporting events between teams, rather than horrific crimes perpetrated on people in their homes and villages. It wants us thinking of Afghanistan not as a 15-year disaster, murder-spree, and counter-productive SNAFU, but as a competition gone into double quadruple overtime despite the visiting team being down 84 points and attempting an impossible comeback. The military wants chants of "USA!" that fill a stadium. It wants role models and heroes and local connections to potential recruits. It wants kids who can't make it to the pros in football or another sport to think they've got the inside track to something even better and more meaningful.

I really wish they did.

Focus: U.S., NATO and Russia - Feb 6, 2016


Note: We are witnessing the making of a strategic military blunder by the Pentagon. Treating Russia as a top threat to U.S. national security is wrong and dangerous.


Armed with new U.S. money, NATO is planning its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter Russia - Reuters


NATO chief meets EU defense ministers to beef up their responses to Russia and the Islamic State - Financial Express


Russia ramping up military drills to Cold War levels, NATO says - Fox News


US admiral: Russia's submarine activity in the North Atlantic is at Cold War levels, but we don't know why - Business Insider


Russia simulated nuclear attack on Sweden, says NATO - The Week UK


RAND Report: Russia Defeats NATO in Baltic War Game - Military.com


RAND Report (Full): Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank - scribd.com


NATO's top 5 weapons of war pointed at Russia - The National Interest Blog

 

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Carter: Pentagon seeks to boost defense in Europe to counter Russia as a top threat to US interests - Tribune Washington Bureau


US Defense Secretary: Our most stressing competitors China and Russia developing weapons for use in rapid war  - theepochtimes.com


TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by Secretary Carter on the budget at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. - defense.gov


U.S. army budget boosts European presence, sacrifices modernization - defensenews.com


The big budget crunch awaiting America's spies: U.S. intelligence community overall budget may rise but spending on information technology will not, a new report says - Defense One


Robot Boats, Smart Guns & Super B-52s: Carter’s Strategic Capabilities Office - Breaking Defense


How America's New Invisible Flying Gas Stations Could Keep Russia in Check - VICE News


The Pentagon nuclear modernization plan is on the table - defensenews.com


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton: We have to send Putin a clear message that [Russian] belligerence... will have to be responded to - MSNBC


Russians Slam Clinton For Calling Russia A Threat - Vocativ


Jeffrey Sachs op-ed: Hillary is the candidate of the war machine - huffingtonpost.com

 

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Russia to add new army divisions in the Western military district as a direct response to recent NATO exercises - Telegraph


The West fears qualitative improvement in Russian military - larouchepub.com


Russia considers principles of conventional arms control In Europe treaty outdated - rferl.org


Russia explores asymmetrical response to U.S. military budget hike - TRUNEWS


US rejected Russia’s proposal on Syria consultation center in Amman to coordinate operations: defense ministry - TASS


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

Bankers, Preachers, and Fear of President Sanders

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new war in Libya, more war in Syria, permanent war in Afghanistan, climate change crashing over the cliff -- these and other immediate disasters are pursued with one hand, while the magician's other hand distracts us with caucuses, primaries, and super bowls. Remember when insiders said the TPP would die the moment it was made public? Well, what if it was made public during an election season? Bread and circuses, even in Rome, weren't designed to make the people happy but to keep them pacified while all the real energy and treasure went into destroying Carthage and filling the vomitoria of the oligarchs. And it's easier for a good team to make it into the super bowl than for a truly good candidate to make it into corporate election reporting. I deny none of that. And yet ...

The 2015-2016 presidential election has, by some measures, already accomplished more than all the previous elections in my lifetime put together. And it's scaring some of the right people.

If you had claimed in 1969 that it would be possible for presidential candidates in the United States to reject religion before they could reject permanent worldwide military empire, you'd have been laughed right out of the Age of Aquarius.

If you'd prognosticated in 1999 that an independent socialist focused like a laser beam on taxing billionaires and busting up some of their most profitable scams (not to mention taxing many of the rest of us) could grab the lead in a Democratic primary campaign against a Clinton with no intern scandals, you'd have been triangulated right out of your career as you knew it.

And if you'd predicted in 2014 that a candidate virtually ignored by the consolidated corporate media, as consolidated under the Clinton Telecom Act, would surge in the polls, you'd have garnered as much respect as those guys in The Big Short did when they claimed to know more than the high priests of Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders, for all of his dramatic shortcomings, is a phenomenon created by a perfect storm of institutional failure -- by Hillary Clinton's coronation constructed of cards just waiting for someone to suggest that millions of outraged winds breathe on it. Sanders is 6 years older and generations more advanced than his Democratic Party rival.

 

God Is Dead

"What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?" --Friedrich Nietzsche

Sanders' website calls him "secular" and "not particularly religious." His answers to a religion question during a CNN "town hall" this week were typical. A member of the audience asked about religion and race, and Sanders answered only about race. Then the moderator asked again about religion. And this was Sanders' answer, I swear to ... -- well, I just swear:

"It's a guiding principle in my life. Absolutely it is. You know, everybody practices religion in a different way. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings. I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if we have children that are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can't afford their prescription drugs, you know what? That impacts you, that impacts me, and I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, 'It doesn't matter to me. I got it. I don't care about other people.' So, my spirituality is that we are all in this together, and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That is my very strong spiritual feeling."

It's also my very strong non-spiritual feeling. But that was a typical Bernie answer, one he's given many times, typical even in its focus on only 4% of humanity and on only a particular type of homeless people. Some states, by the way, are making huge strides toward ending the shame of homelessness for veterans, so that soon all homeless people in the United States may be people who have never been part of a mass-murder operation. I point this out not to oppose it. Better more people with homes, no matter how it's done! And I point it out not to quibble with Sanders' statement of generosity and humanism, but to suggest that part of how Sanders slipped a completely irreligious answer past an audience that asked a religious question is that Sanders identified himself with the true U.S. religion, the religion that will be front and center and in the jet noise overhead at the super bowl -- the religion of war, the religion of national exceptionalism. Who can forget Ron Paul being booed in a primary debate for applying the golden rule to non-Americans?

When Sanders is asked explicitly if he "believes in God," he also answers, "What my spirituality is about is that we're all in this together." Exactly what my non-spirituality is about. I think it's safe to assume he'll never be asked if he believes in death (which television sponsors would be pleased by that topic?), so "God" is the question he'll get, and he won't be required to answer it. New Hampshire is the least religious state in the country, but the country as a whole has also moved against religion and even more so against "organized religion." Some of us always preferred the organized part (the community, the music, etc.) to the religion, but the larger trend here is a rejection of elite institutions telling us how to run our lives while demonstrably running the world into the ground. And who has more to answer for in that regard than God?

Rejecting organized religion while proclaiming an individual "spirituality" may be all that is needed, and that is tremendous news. That Sanders has done this while professing an ideology of generosity and solidarity, and winning applause for that, is even better news. Studies find that lack of religion can correlate with greater generosity, as certainly seems to be the case with the Scandinavian societies Sanders points to as models. (Seventeen percent of Swedes, as compared to 65% of U.S. Americans, say religion is "important".)

A majority in the United States say they wouldn't vote for an atheist, but for many atheism, like gender, race, sexual preference, and other identifiers is now a matter of self-identification. Someone must choose to call themselves an atheist. Just having no use for theism doesn't qualify them. The media also seems to have no direct interest in attacking candidates on religion. Nobody pays them to do that. And it doesn't show a lot of potential as a weapon. Donald Trump is seen as the least religious candidate in the field, and some of the most religious voters say they support him and just don't care. In addition, Sanders is a supporter of religious freedom, tolerance, and even tax exemptions. He doesn't fit the mold of the bigoted atheist who finds Islam dangerously more religious than Christianity. The media is also no big fan of Ted Cruz, who's on a Dubya-like mission from God. All of these factors seem to have made it possible to run for president of the United States on a platform of pure enlightenment humanism. I didn't think I'd live to see that.

 

Most Dangerous Man on Wall Street

Hillary Clinton friend and funder and CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein seems to view Bernie Sanders as President Richard Nixon characterized Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and as President Barack Obama seems to view WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, as the most dangerous person in the United States. Sanders' sin, in Blankfein's view, is failure to worship the almighty dollar.

Blankfein is fully aware that his endorsing a candidate would hurt that candidate, but seems not to have thought through the possibility that opposing a candidate might help them. Reportedly, Blankfein suggested this week that "Sanders' attacks on the 'billionaire class' and bankers could be dangerous. 'It has the potential to personalize it, it has the potential to be a dangerous moment. Not just for Wall Street not just for the people who are particularly targeted but for anybody who is a little bit out of line,' Blankfein said."

It sounds like the 1% has a case of 99% envy. Misery loves company, but fear demands it. Think about what Blankfein is claiming. One of the two Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton, who has long said explicitly that the Democratic Party should represent banks, has taken $675,000 (or about $5,000 per minute) to give three speeches to Blankfein's company, in which she reportedly reassured them they had nothing to worry about (despite widely known crimes that wrecked the economy of the United States and other nations). Public demands to even see what Clinton told Goldman Sachs have thus far gone unanswered and unechoed in the media, except by Ralph Nader. On Clinton Blankfein has no comment and sees nothing unusual. This is normal, standard, and unquestionable behavior.

But Bernie Sanders proposes to enforce laws, laws against financial trickery, laws against cheating on taxes, laws against monopolization, laws against market manipulation, and new taxes on unearned wealth. Well, this is unacceptable and in fact "dangerous"! It's extreme madness is what it is, according to Blankfein, who depicts Sanders' position as fanatical: "It's a liability to say I'm going to compromise, I'm going to get one millimeter off the extreme position I have and if you do you have to back track and swear to people that you'll never compromise. It's just incredible. It's a moment in history." That it is.

Here's how Bill Clinton reportedly viewed popular resentment of bankers in 2014: "You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again." Of course, nobody had proposed killing bankers. Many had proposed enforcing laws. But that's how bankers view such a proposal, through the lens of fear. They are probably not alone. Sanders is proposing to end fracking and various other disastrous industries, while investing in new ones. He promises to block the TPP, which Clinton -- long a big supporter of it -- merely claims to "oppose" without committing to actually prevent. Sanders wants to tax the very wealthiest, including the 20 individuals who own as much as half the country. He wants to break up monopolies, including on Wall Street, and perhaps in the media -- which is already clearly shaken by the fact that he's advanced in the polls without them.

Health insurance executives can't be feeling too much better than banksters, unless they're wise enough to see the bigger picture. I waited on hold for 30 minutes this week to try to fix the latest SNAFU with my Obamacare, and then a really helpful woman answered who promised she'd fix it. I asked her if she could also back Bernie Sanders to put an end to the industry she worked for. She said yes, indeed.

The wiser minds in the plutocracy should follow that example. Nobody's out to hurt you, only to help you share your hoarded loot with those who worked for it. Your life will be different, but not necessarily worse. It might even be happier.

The more hopelessly greedy minds in much of the U.S. plutocracy, right about now, will start wishing they'd been prescient enough to go into weapons making and war profiteering, that sacred realm that Sanders' spirituality dares not threaten.

Focus: Russia, Turkey and Syria - Feb 5, 2016


Backed by Russian jets Syrian Army closes in on Aleppo, peace talks in Geneva put on hold because of the offensive - huffingtonpost.com


UN Security Council to meet Friday with UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura on the breakdown in Syria peace talks - Yahoo News


Kerry demands Russia halt Syria bombing after talks suspended - Yahoo News


Lavrov: Russia won’t stop strikes until terrorists defeated, shutting off arms smuggling through Turkey border key condition for ceasefire - RT


The military and political significance of Aleppo: the insurgency and its backers who are stuck in a morass - atlanticcouncil.org


VIDEO: Syrian Army breaks 3-year siege of 2 Shiite villages in Aleppo - RT


VIDEO (Raw): Shiite villages Nubul and Al-Zahraa welcome Syrian army troops after 3 years in siege  - alalam.ir


VIDEO: Streams of Syrian refugees from Aleppo try to reach Turkey - LiveLeak.com


Iranian Colonel, 12 elite Guards killed in battle for Aleppo - THE DAILY STAR


Russian aviation attacks almost 900 targets in Syria since February 1: Defense Ministry - TASS


Russia’s advanced Su-35S fighter jet deployed to Syria sends a message to Turkey - TASS


Russia content with cooperation with Israel over military operation in Syria - TASS


Putin meets ‘old friend’ Kissinger visiting Russia - RT News


Kissinger op-ed: Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium - The National Interest

 

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

Russia Accuses Turkey of Preparing to Invade Syria - The New York Times


VIDEO (English subs): Russian spokesman: Turkey preparing armed forces for military intervention in Syria (Starts at 2:20 min) - YouTube


Russia and Assad may have just delivered a decisive blow to Turkey by cutting off its supply line to Syrian opposition groups - Business Insider


Turkey’s problems in Aleppo: The loss of this territory directly impacts Ankara interests in northern Syria - atlanticcouncil.org


Kurdish YPG advances in N. Syria, Ankara’s red lines crossed - todayzaman.com


Confirmed: At the urging of an American contingent, Syrian Kurds are expanding an airbase in northeast Syria - VOA


US envoy meets with allied Syrian Kurds to step up fight against IS - VOA


Number of ISIS Fighters in Iraq and Syria Drops, Increases in Libya: US Official - ABC News


How the Islamic State is still seeping through Syria-Turkey border - Al-Monitor


Turkey says Syria peace talks pointless while Russian attacks continue - todayszaman.com


Russia won't forget Turkey ‘aiding terrorists’: Lavrov - The Moscow Times


Turkey, Saudi deepen defense relations during Davutoğlu visit - todayszaman.com


Military spokesman: Saudi ready to join ground operation in Syria provided U.S.led coalition agrees - Al Arabiya English


VIDEO (English Subs): Saudi military spokesman Asiri discusses stance on Yemen, Syria wars - Al Arabiya English


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

Trying to make art support the Zionist cause: Israel Moves to Check Its Artists

By John Grant

 

“A new thought occurred to Rami. It soothed him like a gentle caress. Not all men are born to be heroes. Maybe I wasn’t born to be a hero. But in every man there’s something special, something that isn’t in other men. In my nature, for instance, there’s a certain sensitivity. A capacity to suffer and feel pain. Perhaps I was born to be an artist.”

He’s the best, but is he all we need?: The ‘Bern’ and the Internet

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Bernie Sanders' stunning success in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, highlighted by what is effectively a victory in the Iowa caucuses this past Monday, provokes serious thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like.

Focus: Flint Water Crisis - Feb 4, 2016


Democrats call for Gov. Snyder to testify on Flint water, claim Oversight Committee Chair Chaffetz declined to invite him - Washington Examiner


Letter of Oversight Committee Democrats demanding testimony from Governor Snyder and aides on Flint water crisis - democrats.oversight


VIDEO: Rep. Cummings blasts Oversight Chair Chaffetz for not calling Gov. Snyder to testify at Flint hearing - Crooks and Liars


Congress grills EPA and Michigan State officials over Flint water - Business Insider


VIDEO: House Oversight Committee's Flint water crisis hearing (full) - YouTube


POLL: Poll finds Snyder approval plummets in Flint water wake (VIDEO) - WLNS


Protesters: 'Arrest Rick Snyder! Make him drink the water!’ (VIDEO) - MLive.com


How Rick Snyder doomed Flint from the start: Tax cuts for the ultra-rich, poison for the poor - Salon.com


Lawsuit seeks $150 million in damages for Flint residents related to the water crisis - detroitnews.com


Flint rebukes Michigan Governor Rick Snyder with federal lawsuit over water pipes, wants a federal judge to order the prompt replacement of all lead pipes - CBS News


MAP: See where the highest lead levels are being found in Flint water, more than 300 addresses in the city show results larger than the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion - MLive.com


Water crisis brings Democratic presidential debate to Flint - MLive.com


Who approved switch to Flint River? Decision to use Flint River water in the interim was made by governor-appointed emergency managers, not democratically elected city officials - MLive.com


Here's the June 2013 document signed by emergency manager Kurtz authorizing an engineering contract to figure out how to draw water from the Flint river - publicbroadcasting.net


Former Flint mayor on water crisis: 'This is the worst aspect of the emergency managers...resolutions weren’t going before the public…I didn’t find out about it until after the fact' - Michigan Radio


Emergency management laws and the political coup behind the Flint water crisis - LA Times


Anger in Michigan over appointing emergency managers - The New York Times


Flint whistleblowers who exposed their poisoned water: we’re just getting started - YES! Magazine


Michael Moore op-ed: 10 things they won't tell you about the Flint water tragedy. But I will - huffingtonpost.com


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


Deadlock: North Korea’s Nuclear Test and US Policy

By Mel Gurtov

North Korea continues to rattle the cages of both friend and foe.  Despite near-universal condemnation of its fourth nuclear test and a deplorable human rights record, Kim Jong-un defiantly disregards the major powers and the United Nations.  And now, adding insult to injury, the UN Secretary-General reports that North Korea has notified various UN agencies of its intention to launch a satellite, apparently to test its ballistic missile technology. 

Continued nuclear testing by North Korea is its way of demonstrating independence of action.  Nuclear weapons are the DPRK’s “insurance policy,” David Sanger writes – its last best hope for regime survival and legitimacy, and the most dramatic way to insist that the North’s interests should not be neglected.  All one has to do is, through North Korean blinkers, see what has happened in Iraq, Iran, and Libya, where dictators did not have a nuclear deterrent.  Two of them were invaded, and all had to surrender their nuclear-weapon capability. 

The longstanding US approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons is way off the mark.  The Obama administration’s strategy of “strategic patience” shows little attention to North Korean motivations. The US insistence that no change in policy is conceivable unless and until North Korea agrees to denuclearize ensures continuing tension, the danger of a disastrous miscalculation, and more and better North Korean nuclear weapons.  The immediate focus of US policy should be on trust building.

Increasing the severity of punishment, with threats of more to come, is representative of a failed policy.  When the White House press secretary acknowledged recently that the US goal of defanging North Korea had not been reached but that “we have succeeded in making North Korea more isolated ever before,” he was actually acknowledging the failure.  The task is, or should be, not to further isolate North Korea but rather to bring it out of its isolation, starting by accepting the legitimacy of its security concerns.  The more isolated the regime is and the more it is driven into a corner, the more likely it is that it will resort to provocations and shows of strength.

Demanding that China step up and use its relationship with North Korea as leverage to get it to agree to denuclearize is a fool’s errand.  Secretary of State John Kerry has chided his Chinese counterpart to abandon “business as usual” with the North and join in enacting sanctions on shipping, banking, and oil.  Over many years, Chinese leaders have made plain that North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing endanger China’s as well as Korean peninsula security.  They have shown their displeasure by resuming trilateral Japan-South Korea-China security dialogue after three years, and by condemning North Korea’s latest nuclear test in statements from Beijing and in a UN Security Council press statement.

But with all that, the Chinese are not about to dump Kim Jong-un.  Political distancing, yes, but no serious (i.e., destabilizing) economic sanctions such as the US is now demanding. While in Beijing in late January, Kerry threatened that the US, with South Korea’s possible approval (a reversal of position), would go ahead with installing a theater missile defense system (THAAD) that the Chinese have long regarded as actually aimed at neutralizing their own missiles rather than only North Korea’s.  Rest assured that all such a threat will accomplish is to harden Chinese views of US strategy in Asia, lately strained further by heightened US patrolling in the South China Sea, and lessen their commitment to imposing sanctions on the North.

The DPRK’s possession of an increasingly sophisticated nuclear program that aims at miniaturizing bombs is no small matter.  As Sigfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, points out, the North Koreans “may have enough bomb fuel for 18 bombs, with a capacity to make 6 to 7 more annually. That, combined with the increased sophistication they surely achieved with this test, paints a troublesome picture.”  Sanctions, threats, and “half-hearted diplomacy,” Hecker observes, have failed to change the nuclear picture.

Serious engagement with North Korea remains the only realistic policy option for the United States and its allies. To be effective, however (i.e., meaningful to the other side), engagement must be undertaken strategically—as a calculated use of incentives with expectation of mutual rewards, namely in security and peace. And it should be undertaken in a spirit of mutual respect and with due regard for sensitivity in language and action.

Here are three elements of an engagement package:

First is revival of the Six-Party Talks without preconditions and with faithfulness to previous six-party and North-South Korea joint declarations—in particular, the principle contained in the Six-Party Joint Statement of September 2005: “commitment for commitment, action for action.”  At a new round of talks, the US and its partners should present a package that, in return for verifiable steps to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear, provides the North with security assurances, a proposal for ending the Korean War, a nonaggression pact with big-power guarantees (with China on board), and meaningful economic assistance from both NGOs and governments.  Such a major departure from “strategic patience” would be in line with Kim Jong-il’s message to President George W. Bush in November 2002: “If the United States recognizes our sovereignty and assures nonaggression, it is our view that we should be able to find a way to resolve the nuclear issue in compliance with the demands of a new century. . . .If the United States makes a bold decision, we will respond accordingly.”

Second is creation of a Northeast Asia Security Dialogue Mechanism. We might recall that such a group was anticipated in the final statements of the Six-Party Talks, and that South Korea’s President Park has proposed a similar peace initiative.  In the absence of honest brokers for disputes in Northeast Asia, the NEASDM can function as a “circuit breaker,” able to interrupt patterns of escalating confrontation when tensions in the region increase—as they are now. But the NEASDM would not focus exclusively on North Korean denuclearization.  It would be open to a wide range of issues related to security in the broadest sense, such as environmental, labor, poverty, and public health problems; a code of conduct to govern territorial and boundary disputes; military budget transparency, weapons transfers, and deployments; measures to combat terrorism and piracy; creation of a nuclear-weapon free zone (NWFZ) in all or part of Northeast Asia; and ways to support confidence building and trust in the dialogue process itself.  Normalization of relations among all six countries should be a priority; full recognition of the DPRK by the United States and Japan costs nothing but is an important incentive for meaningful North Korean participation.

Third is significant new humanitarian assistance to North Korea.  The US and South Korean emphasis on sanctions punishes the wrong people.  Kim Jong-un’s complete disregard for human rights, vigorously condemned in a UN commission of inquiry report in 2014, is before the General Assembly and will be debated in the Security Council despite China’s disapproval.  (The vote to debate was 9-4 with two abstentions.)  But neither human rights deprivations nor nuclear testing should affect humanitarian aid to North Korea—food, medicine, medical equipment, technical training—which at least helps some portion of its population and sends the message that the international community cares about the North Korean people.  Humanitarian assistance to the DPRK is pitifully little—under $50 million in 2014, and declining every year.

The same kind of steady, patient, and creative diplomacy that led to the nuclear deal with Iran is still possible in the North Korea case.  As the Under Secretary-General of the UN, Jeffrey Feltman, said, Iran shows that “diplomacy can work to address non-proliferation challenges.  There is strong international consensus on the need to work for peace, stability and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.  To achieve this goal, dialogue is the way forward.”

Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.

Dispossessed in the Name of 'Security'

A new book, edited by Nick Buxton and Ben Hayes, both involved with The Transnational Institute, brings together a thoughtful collection of scholars, journalists and activists to explain the pre-eminence of the military and corporations in shaping the global response to the climate catastrophe as an 'opportunity'. See The Secure and the Dispossessed: How the Military and Corporations are Shaping a Climate-Changed World. Do you think that this catastrophe is an 'opportunity'?

 

Taking on Nukespeak

By Andrew Moss

In 1946, George Orwell decried the abuse of language in his classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” declaring famously that “it [language] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Orwell reserved his sharpest criticism for corrupted political language, which he called the “defense of the indefensible,” and in the years that followed, others writers took up similar critiques of political discourse, adjusting their focus according to the circumstances of the time.

One particular critique has focused on the language of nuclear weapons, and I argue that this language should be of particular concern to us today. Called “Nukespeak” by its critics, it is a highly militarized discourse that obscures the moral consequences of our policies and actions. It is a language used by military officials, political leaders, and policy experts – as well as by journalists and citizens. The language creeps into our public discussions like an invasive species, casting shadows on the way we think about our collective present and future.

For example, in a recent New York Times article, “Smaller Bombs Adding Fuel to Nuclear Fear” two Times reporters, William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, describe the ongoing debate within the Obama administration regarding the so-called modernization of our nuclear arsenal, a transformation that would result in atomic bombs with greater accuracy and a capacity for their operators to increase or decrease the explosive capability of any single bomb. Proponents argue that modernizing the weapons will reduce the likelihood of their use by increasing their deterrence to would-be aggressors while critics claim that upgrading the bombs will make their use even more tempting to military commanders. The critics also cite the costs of the modernization program – up to $1 trillion if all the related elements are taken into account.

Throughout the article, Broad and Sanger frame these issues in the language of Nukespeak. In the following sentence, for example, they include two euphemisms: “And its yield, the bomb’s explosive force, can be dialed up or down depending on the target, to minimize collateral damage.” The euphemisms, “yield” and “collateral damage,” erase the human presence – a voice, a face – from the equation of death. Though the authors do define the term “yield” as “explosive force,” the word’s presence in the text still unnerves with its contrast between benign meanings, i.e. a harvest or monetary profit, and the demonic sense of a lethal reaping. And the phrase “collateral damage” has long been recognized for its sheer mendacity, its omission of the unspeakable from any consideration.

The sentence also contains another feature of Nukespeak: an amoral fascination with deadly gadgetry. It is one thing for a person to dial down the thermostat of her home; it is another to “dial down” a payload of death. When I taught an undergraduate course on the literature of war and peace, my students and I studied in one of our units the literature of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We read President Truman’s announcement of the dropping of the first atomic bomb, exploring how Truman discussed the genesis of the new weapon and the scientific collaboration that went into making it “the greatest achievement of organized science in history.” At the same time, we read stories by Japanese writers who managed to survive the inferno and still continue to write. One such writer, Yoko Ota, has the narrator of her short story, “Fireflies,” return to Hiroshima seven years after the bomb and encounter a number of fellow survivors, including a young girl, Mitsuko, who had been horribly disfigured by the atomic explosion. Despite the disfigurement that makes her presence in public emotionally painful, Mitsuko displays an extraordinary resilience and a “desire to grow up faster and help people who’re having a hard time.”

The psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton has written that even within the nuclear shadow, we can find redemptive possibilities in the traditional “wisdom of the seer: the poet, painter, or peasant revolutionary, who, when the current world view failed, turned the kaleidoscope of his or her imagination until familiar things took on a wholly different pattern.” Lifton wrote those words in 1984, and since then the need for cooperation on a planetary scale has grown ever more urgent. Today, as before, it is the artist and seer who can recognize the human presence hidden behind the lying façade of Nukespeak. It is the artist and seer who can find the words to say: there is madness in this so-called rationality – and that, indeed, we have the capacity to find another way.

 Andrew Moss, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is an emeritus professor at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where he taught a course, “War and Peace in Literature,” for 10 years.

Talk Nation Radio: Patrick Hiller on Discoveries Made by Peace Science

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-patrick-hiller-on-discoveries-made-by-peace-science

Patrick Hiller is the Executive Director of the War Prevention Initiative by the Jubitz Family Foundation and teaches in the Conflict Resolution Program at Portland State University. As a Peace Scientist, his writings and research are almost exclusively related to the analysis of war and peace and social injustice.  Among other involvements, Patrick serves on the Executive Committee of the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association and on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War where he works with me at http://worldbeyondwar.org. We discuss the remarkable discoveries of peace researchers reported in the newly created Peace Science Digest.

See http://communication.warpreventioninitiative.org

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

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

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, The Peace Movement's War Story

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

The True Nobel Peace Candidates 2016

This list is still being added to at http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7

Letter Feb. 2, 2016 from the Nobel Peace Prize Watch to the Nobel Committee:

Dear Kaci Kullmann Five, Thorbjørn Jagland, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Henrik Syse, Inger-
Marie Ytterhorn, members of the committee

CATHOLIC WORKER, PEACE ACTIVIST DON TIMMERMAN FOUND GUILTY IN JUNEAU COUNTY, WI

By Joy First

In another farcical trial for the 14 activists arrested at Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, Don Timmerman was found guilty of trespass in a Juneau County trial presided over by Judge Curran on February 1.  Apparently Judge Curran, who said he did not want to consolidate our trials because it could be prejudicial to us, has fine-tuned his skills in short-circuiting any defense we might provide and the whole trial lasted about eleven minutes.

As predicted, DA Solevey had Juneau County Sheriff Brent Oleson and Deputy Sheriff Thomas  Mueller take the stand and establish that Don was at Volk Field on August 25 and that he crossed onto the base after he was told not to by the Sheriff.

Under cross-examination Don asked Oleson if he knew why we were there.  The DA objected as irrelevant and the judge sustained the objection.  Don asked Mueller if he was aware that the base property was purchased by the taxpayers.  Don was going to make the point that we had the right to be on the property, but this question was also objected to and the objection was sustained.

Don took the stand and said he wanted to talk about why we were there. Curran said it was irrelevant to the charge – that intent is not an element of the trespass charge – and therefore he would not allow this testimony.  The judge complained that he has heard this information repeatedly over the last couple of years and that moral convictions are not relevant to the case.

Don said that if he was not allowed to talk about why he was there, he didn’t have anything else he wanted to say.

The judge quickly told Don he was guilty of trespass and would be fined $232, and that it would be attached to his income tax refund if he didn’t pay it.  Again, a defendant was tried and convicted without being allowed to provide a defense.

Don asked Curran if he could do community service or jail time and the judge said no.  The judges made the same empty argument that it would take too  much time to administer community service with a number of additional hearings being required.  This is simply not true.  We have models for community service in both Milwaukee and Madison where it is a matter of filling out a form that would be signed by a local minister and then turned into the court.

Don asked Curran if he could say one more thing and the judge said he would allow it.  Don said, “I cannot allow killing of innocent people in my name.  This needs to be stated over and over.  We are always going to be protesting killings.”  And with that the judge stood up and quickly left the courtroom.

Don was hoping to read the following statement on Nuremberg from Nuremberg and American Justice during his testimony, but was not allowed:

Allegiance to the nation-state must be replaced by a loyalty to the human community and by a respect for international law.  It is not the rebel who threatens civilization, but the compliant conformist who mechanically suppresses his moral qualms when confronted with the dictates of authority.  The famous therapist R.D. Laing reminds us that the perfectly adjusted bomber pilot poses a greater threat to the survival of the human species than does the hospitalized schizophrenic.  Laing goes on to note that so-called normal individuals have been responsible for the unnecessary death of perhaps one hundred million of their fellow human beings in the twentieth century.

And so we are reminded of the importance of continuing our work.  It might seem disheartening to witness the outrage and absurdity of the United States criminal justice system, but as I was driving to court today I was thinking of the words that Art Laffin always shares, “Keep your eyes on the prize.”  Whether we are found guilty or not in this sham of a court does not really matter in the big world picture.  What we need to stay focused on, and what really matters, is the thousands and thousands of innocent children, women, and men who are being killed by U.S. drones.  Continuing our message to stop the killing is what is important.  And Don told the judge, “We will be back.”

We have three trials remaining:

Joy - February 9 at 10:00 am

Phil - February 19 at 10:0 am

Mary Beth - February 25 at 9:00 am

Seeing Flight as a Non-violent Option: One Way to Change the Discourse about the World’s 60 Million Refugees

By Erica Chenoweth and Hakim Young for Denver Dialogues
originally published by politicalviolenceataglance ( Political Violence@a Glance)

In Brussels, more than 1,200 people protest against Europe’s unwillingness to do more about the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, April 23rd, 2015. By Amnesty International.

Today, one in every 122 humans living on the planet is a refugee, an internally displaced person, or an asylum-seeker. In 2014, conflict and persecution forced a staggering 42,500 persons per day to leave their homes and seek protection elsewhere, resulting in 59.5 million total refugees worldwide. According to the UN refugee agency’s 2014 Global Trends report (tellingly entitled World at War), developing countries hosted 86% of these refugees. Developed countries, such as the U.S. and those in Europe, host only 14% of the world’s total share of refugees.

Erica-we-are-not-dangerousYet public sentiment in the West has been tough on refugees lately. Resurgent populist and nationalist leaders routinely play to public anxieties about refugees as “lazy opportunists,” “burdens,” “criminals,” or “terrorists” in response to today’s refugee crisis. Mainstream parties aren’t immune to this rhetoric either, with politicians of all stripes calling for increased border controls, detention centers, and the temporary suspension of visa and asylum applications.

Importantly, none of these panicky characterizations of refugees is born out by systematic evidence.

Are Refugees Economic Opportunists?

The most reliable empirical studies of refugee movements suggest that the primary cause of flight is violence—not economic opportunity. Mainly, refugees are fleeing war in hopes of landing in a less violent situation. In conflicts where the government actively targets civilians in the context of genocide or politicide, most people choose to leave the country rather than seek out safe havens internally. Surveys bear out this reality in today’s crisis. In Syria, one of the world’s major producers of refugees in the last five years, survey results suggest that most civilians are fleeing because the country has simply become too dangerous or that government forces took over their towns, placing most of the blame on the horrific politicidal violence of Assad’s regime. (Only 13% say they fled because rebels took over their towns, suggesting that ISIS’s violence is not nearly as much a source of flight as some have suggested).

And refugees rarely choose their destinations based on economic opportunity; instead, 90% of refugees go to a country with a contiguous border (thus explaining the concentration of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq). Those that do not stay in a neighboring country tend to flee to countries where they have existing social ties. Given that they are typically fleeing for their lives, the data suggest that most refugees think about economic opportunity as an afterthought rather than as a motivation for flight. That said, when they arrive at their destinations, refugees tend to be exceedingly industrious, with cross-national studies suggesting that they are rarely burdensome for national economies.

In today’s crisis, “Many of the people arriving by sea in southern Europe, particularly in Greece, come from countries affected by violence and conflict, such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; they are in need of international protection and they are often physically exhausted and psychologically traumatized, ” states World at War.

Who’s Afraid of the “Big Bad Refugee”?

In terms of security threats, refugees are far less likely to commit crimes than natural-born citizens. In fact, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley evaluates data on the link between immigration and crime in the United States and calls the correlation a “myth.” Even in Germany, which has absorbed the highest number of refugees since 2011, crime rates by refugees have not increased. Violent attacks on refugees, on the other hand, have doubled. This suggests that refugees do not post a problem for security; instead, they require protection against violent threats themselves. Moreover, refugees (or those who claim to be refugees) are highly unlikely to plan terror attacks. And given that at least 51% of current refugees are children, like Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee who famously drowned in the Mediterranean sea last summer, it is probably premature to preordain them as fanatics, troublemakers, or social rejects.

Moreover, refugee-vetting processes are exceedingly stringent in many countries—with the U.S. having among the most stringent refugee policies in the world—thereby precluding many of the adverse outcomes feared by critics of status quo refugee policies. Although such processes do not guarantee that all potential threats are excluded, they mitigate the risk considerably, as demonstrated by the paucity of violent crimes and terror attacks committed by refugees in the past thirty years.

A Broken System or A Broken Narrative?

Speaking about the current refugee crisis in Europe, Jan Egeland, the former UN Humanitarian Envoy who now heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, said, “The system is totally broken…We cannot continue this way.” But the system probably won’t mend as long as broken narratives dominate the discourse. What if we introduced a fresh discourse, which dispels the myths about refugees and equips the public to contest existing discourse with a more compassionate narrative about the way one becomes a refugee in the first place?

Consider the choice to flee instead of stay and fight or stay and die. Many of the 59.5 million refugees left in the crossfires between states and other armed actors—such as the Syrian government’s politicide and violence among a wide variety of rebel groups operating within Syria; Syria, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and NATO’s war against ISIS; Afghanistan and Pakistan’s wars against the Taliban; the on-going U.S. campaign against Al Qaeda; Turkey’s wars against Kurdish militias; and a multitude of other violent contexts around the world.

Given the choice between staying and fighting, staying and dying, or fleeing and surviving, today’s refugees fled—meaning that, by definition, they actively and purposefully chose a non-violent option in the context of mass violence raging all around them.

In other words, today’s global landscape of 59.5 million refugees is mainly a collection of people who have chosen the only available non-violent pathway out of their conflict environments. In many respects, today’s 60 million refugees have said no to violence, no to victimization, and no to helplessness at the same time. The decision to flee to strange and (often hostile) foreign lands as a refugee is not a light one. It involves taking significant risks, including the risk of death. For example, the UNHCR estimated that 3,735 refugees were dead or missing at sea while seeking refuge in Europe in 2015. Contrary to contemporary discourse, being a refugee ought to be synonymous with non-violence, courage, and agency.

Of course, an individual’s non-violent choice at one time does not necessarily predetermine that individual’s non-violent choice at a later juncture. And like many large mass assemblages, it is inevitable that a handful of people will cynically exploit the global movement of refugees to pursue their own criminal, political, social, or ideological aims on the fringes—either by concealing themselves in the masses to cross borders to commit violent acts abroad, by taking advantage of the political polarization of migration politics to promote their own agendas, or by extorting these people for their own criminal purposes. Among any population this size, there will be criminal activity here and there, refugee or not.

But in today’s crisis, it will be essential for people of good faith everywhere to resist the urge to ascribe nefarious motivations to the millions of people seeking haven in their countries, because of the violent or criminal actions of a few. The latter group does not represent the general statistics on refugees identified above, nor do they negate the fact that refugees are generally people who, in the context of truly dislocating violence, made a life-altering, non-violent choice to act for themselves in a way that cast them and their families into uncertain futures. Once they arrive, on average the threat of violence against the refugee is much greater than the threat of violence by the refugee. Shunning them, detaining them as if they were criminals, or deporting them to war-torn environments sends a message that non-violent choices are punished—and that submitting to victimization or turning to violence are the only choices left. This is a situation that calls for policies that embody compassion, respect, protection, and welcome—not fear, dehumanization, exclusion, or revulsion.

Seeing flight as a non-violent option will better equip the informed public to contest exclusionary rhetoric and policies, elevate a new discourse that empowers more moderate politicians, and widen the range of policy options available to respond to the current crisis.

Hakim Young (Dr. Teck Young, Wee) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war.

Not Another U.S./NATO War on Libya

libyaFB

SIGN HERE

To: The U.S. Congress

Uphold your Constitutional responsibility and your duty under the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, basic human decency, and a minimal ability to learn from past mistakes by blocking all funding for another war on Libya.

SIGN HERE

Why is this important?

The illegal 2011 overthrow of the Libyan government subjected the people of that nation and surrounding nations to violence, weapons proliferation, chaos, and desperate insecurity. In no way will compounding the problem with the same approach again improve matters in this case or establish good precedents.

How it will be delivered

In Washington, D.C.

SIGN HERE

WAAAHHHH…but we don’t wanna get arrested!!

By Mike Ferner
 
As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wannna get arrested…”
 
So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility.
 
Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down.  How will the system treat the militant bullyboys? 
 
Will they get pepper-sprayed in the face as did the college students peacefully sitting in a driveway at UC Davis during Occupy protests, or shot in the head with a police projectile as did Veterans For Peace member Scott Olson in Oakland?
 
Will they get two months in jail like Ed Kinane for stepping across a line at the School of the Americas; or six months in jail like grandmother Mary Anne Grady, for taking pictures of demonstrators outside the Reaper drone base in upstate NY; or a $20,000 fine like Kathy Kelly’s peace group, for taking medicine to people in Iraq before the U.S. military invaded their country in 2003; or 10 years in prison for speaking out against the madness of World War One, like Gene Debs;
 
Will they be clubbed in the head, set on by German shepherds, slammed up against light poles by fire hoses like the kids demonstrating for civil rights in Alabama, or killed by vigilante executioners and buried in a dike for registering voters?
 
If they go to jail, will they conduct a peaceful hunger strike and endure force-feeding like Alice Paul and Rose Winslow did for demanding women get the right to vote?
 
If they are arrested, chances are very good that nothing like the above will happen to any of the massively-armed, good ‘ol boys in Oregon who would be the first to tell you they were only making a statement of conscience against government gone amuck.
 
But when the students at UC Davis, or Kathy Kelly, or Ed Kinane, or Gene Debs, or the civil rights protesters, or the suffragists, all unarmed and committed to nonviolence, conducted their protests they did so with the understanding they may well suffer serious bodily harm and at the very least be arrested and sentenced. 
 
They treated the police, the prosecutors and the judges with utmost respect.  They did not plead to lesser charges but underwent trials in hopes of educating more people about the evils against which they fought. 
 
So let’s see how the Rambo wannabes of Eastern Oregon handle themselves.  Seems they could use a few lessons in toughness from nonviolent peace and justice activists.   
 
###
Mike Ferner served as a hospital corpsman during the Viet Nam war.  In 2006 he participated in a five-week, water-only fast with Kathy Kelly and Ed Kinane to protest the war in Iraq and was also convicted of two felonies for painting “Troops Out Now” on a highway overpass, which cost him two months house arrest and $5,000.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Feb 1, 2016

 

Email Issue dogs Hillary Clinton on eve of Iowa caucuses, she calls for release of those deemed 'top secret’ by the State Dept  - New York Times


VIDEO: Clinton: There is no classified marked information on those e-mails...I think they can and should be disclosed - YouTube


Clinton campaign statement calling for release of ‘top secret’ emails: “This appears to be over-classification run amok” - hillaryclinton.com


Clinton is confronted with her non-disclosure agreement which says information is classified either marked or unmarked (VIDEO) - Hot Air


POLL: 64% of U.S. voters now think Clinton broke the law on emails, but serious charges are not likely to be brought against her - Rasmussen


VIDEO: State Department briefing on Hillary Clinton Emails - C-SPAN

 

FBI, Justice Department ‘super pissed off’ at White House for ‘weighing in’ on Hillary Clinton email investigation, Fox News reporter says (VIDEO) - TheBlaze.com

 

John Kerry sent Hillary Clinton a 'SECRET' email when he was Massachusetts Senator - The Daily Caller

 

Bernie Sanders Calls Hillary Clinton's Emails 'A Very Serious Issue' - huffingtonpost.com

 

VIDEO: Sanders: Clinton emails are 'a serious issue' - YouTube

 

Former House Oversight chairman: 'FBI director would like to indict Clinton and Abedin' - Washington Examiner

 

‘This was all planned’: Former IG says Hillary, State Dept. are lying - New York Post

 

Hillary’s email defense is laughable, I should know—I ran FOIA for the U.S. government - politico.com

 

NSA whistleblower: Clinton email server was ‘open to being hacked by anybody’ - Breitbart

 

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

90% of money raised by Clinton super PAC came from donors giving at least $1 million, 98% giving $100,000 or more - Huffington Post


George Soros gives $6 million pro-Clinton super-PAC - TheHill


Pro-Clinton super PAC brings in more than $50 million, and donors have committed to give another $42 million - The Washington Post


A pro-Sanders super PAC raises $2.3 million - usatoday.com


New York Times Gets it Wrong: Bernie Sanders Not “Top Beneficiary of Outside Money” - The Intercept

 

Here's a List of All the Hillary Clinton Wall Street Fundraisers - freebeacon.com

 

Clinton's big ticket fundraiser with investment firm facing federal scrutiny - dailykos.com

 

Goldman Sachs is in the eye of the campaign storm, it’s being singled out for its ties to the political establishment because of two top contenders for the presidency - nationalmemo.com

 

Clinton laughs when asked to release transcripts from Goldman Sachs speeches (VIDEO) - freebeacon.com

 

Clintons's $200,000 an hour pay from Goldman Sachs is nothing to laugh at - huffingtonpost.com

 

Reporters Barred From Hillary's Wall Street Speeches - The Daily Caller

 

I worked on Wall Street. I am skeptical Hillary Clinton will rein it in - The Guardian

 

Hillary Clinton whiffs on reforming Wall Street’s ratings agencies - The Intercept

 

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

What Does a Progressive Budget Look Like?

A Proposal from World Beyond War
David Swanson, Director
http://WorldBeyondWar.org

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has requested budget proposals from organizations and members of the public. Here is a friendly suggestion from World Beyond War.

Last year’s Congressional Progressive Caucus budget proposed to cut military spending by, in my calculation, 1%. In fact, no statement from the Progressive Caucus even mentioned the existence of military spending; you had to hunt through the numbers to find the 1% cut. This was not the case in other recent years, when the CPC prominently proposed to end wars and cut particular weapons. With all due respect, how is this censoring of any mention of the military evidence of progressing, rather than regressing?

Military spending is 53.71% of discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. No other item adds up to even 7%. Whether a budget proposal is progressive, communist, fascist, conservative, or libertarian, how can it avoid mentioning this elephant in the room? Military spending, of course, produces the need for ongoing additional spending on debt, care for veterans, etc., so that total U.S. military spending is somewhere over twice the figure used by NPP.

Using the numbers of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which leaves out huge U.S. military expenses (which are of course in several departments of the government), U.S. military spending is as much as the next several nations’ combined — and most of those nations are close U.S. allies and major U.S. weapons industry customers. Because SIPRI almost certainly leaves out more U.S. spending than spending by other nations, in reality U.S. spending on militarism is probably the equivalent of a great many, if not all other, foreign nations combined.

In addition, U.S. military spending is extremely high by historical standards. Looking at the biggest piece of military spending, which is the budget of the Department of so-called Defense, that department’s annual “Green Book” makes clear that it has seen higher spending under President Barack Obama than ever before in history. Here are the numbers in constant 2016 dollars, thanks to Nicolas Davies:

Obama      FY2010-15      $663.4 billion per year
Bush Jr      FY2002-09*   $634.9    ”       ”      ”
Clinton       FY1994-2001  $418.0    ”       ”      ”
Bush Sr      FY1990-93     $513.4    ”       ”      ”
Reagan      FY1982-89     $565.0    ”       ”      ”
Carter         FY1978-81    $428.1     ”       ”      ”
Ford            FY1976-77    $406.7     ”      ”       ”
Nixon          FY1970-75    $441.7     ”      ”       ”
Johnson      FY1965-69    $527.3     ”      ”       ”
Kennedy     FY1962-64    $457.2     ”      ”       ”
Eisenhower FY1954-61    $416.3     ”      ”      ”
Truman       FY1948-53    $375.7     ”      ”      ”
*Excludes $80 billion supplemental added to FY2009 under Obama.

War Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? This is far from clear, and if it were, it would not be sustainable in light of the dangers created by war, the environmental destruction of war, and the economic drain of militarism.

The Money Is Needed Elsewhere:

Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if some of the funds now invested in war were transferred there. Morally, they must be. As a matter of simple continued human existence, they must be, as they must be transferred to housing, education, infrastructure, and healthcare — at home and abroad.

It would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world. It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year. Increasing it would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering. It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth. A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world. Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added — only if the funding came from where it really ought to come from — reductions in militarism.

Some U.S. states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace industries.

Popular opinion polls show huge support for cutting militarism and increasing spending in useful areas. In 2011 numerous polls found the top public solution to a budget “crisis” was to tax the super-rich, and the second most popular solution was to cut the military. This support increases dramatically when people find out how high military spending now is. Polls show that people have no idea. The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland showed people the budget and then asked them about it. The results were very encouraging.

If a supposedly “progressive” caucus will not so much as tell people what the basic outlines of the budget look like, why produce a progressive budget? If you will tell people what the budget looks like, you really ought to follow through by proposing to change it.

We recommend eliminating nuclear weapons and working with the rest of the world to do the same globally. We recommend closing foreign bases, removing foreign and ocean-based weapons, and keeping U.S. troops within 200 miles of the United States. We recommend eliminating aircraft carriers, long-range missiles and other weapons that serve an offensive rather than a defensive purpose. We recommend eliminating secret “special” forces and weaponized drones that allow presidential killing sprees without Congressional oversight. This should, of course, be done through a program of conversion or transition that strategically retools and retrains to benefit U.S. and world workers, infrastructure, energy systems, the natural environment, and international relations.

We thank you for your consideration and encourage you to contact us for additional information.

It's Hard Not to Be Sexist in Iowa

No, the cornfields are not full of dumb blondes (except when Fox News shows up), but it truly is hard not to be sexist in Iowa.

For example, I think it's reprehensible to take tens of millions of dollars from murderous kingdoms and dictatorships and then waive restrictions on selling them weapons including the weapons that Saudi Arabia has been using to slaughter men, women, and children in Yemen. And this makes me a sexist, or so I'm told.

In my view, parroting every war lie of Bush and Cheney was disgusting enough, but then pretending you meant well and didn't understand, even though once the war was begun you voted over and over again to fund it, is literally criminal as well as a moral abomination. Taking so many millions of dollars from war profiteers just makes it worse -- at least in the eyes of us sexist fans of Jill Stein.

Serving the health insurance and drug industries by smashing every attempt for decades to create a civilized health system like those in the rest of the wealthy world is also murderous by any straightforward empirical measure. Millions have died, and many billions of dollars have been diverted from better use as a result. But mentioning it turns out to be sexist. Tasking your daughter to give speeches lying about it shows, on the contrary, deep respect for women.

Pushing policies with your husband to create mass incarceration and then pretending it just happened like the weather, ramming through NAFTA and pushing more corporate trade agreements at every opportunity (but pretending momentarily to oppose the TPP), defending the Wall Street crooks who trashed the economy and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars to give them speeches promising to protect them and refusing to make public the transcripts, pressuring the White House for a war on Libya for reasons of oil and looting, facilitating coups in Honduras and Ukraine, stirring up hostilities with Russia, talking of obliterating Iran, insisting on yet more, counterproductive war in Syria and Iraq, pushing for massive bombing in Syria, giggling about murdering Gadaffi and the people (including female people) of the entire region be damned, turning the State Department into a marketing firm for U.S. weapons companies and U.S. fracking companies, taking many millions from corrupting interested parties while claiming to be dead broke, supporting unconstitutional spying and retribution against whistleblowers, corporatizing the Democratic Party and proposing that it should "represent banks," defending any and all of this by yelling "9/11," and suggesting that opposition to any of this makes someone sexist -- that all seems outrageously reprehensible to me.

The people Hillary Clinton would kill, the people she would deprive of healthcare, the students she would deny a free quality education, the families she would deny a decent income, the workers she will deny jobs, the generations she will deny an inhabitable environment -- are they going to feel better because she's a woman?

And how are the poor people of Iowa going to feel if they're responsible for supporting her?

Speaking Events

2016

 

March 24, Boone, NC.

 

March 25, Asheville, NC
Battery Park Apartments, 1 Battle Square, rooftop room, noon - 2 p.m.
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War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
Tour begins here:

April 11, Washington, DC, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets.
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April 12, Baltimore, MD, 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma's.
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April 14, Bellingham, WA, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.
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April 15, Seattle, WA
Town Hall Seattle
1119 Eighth Ave (8th and Seneca) 
Seattle, WA 98101
7:30pm
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April 16 Portland, OR

 

April 24, Oneonta, NY at Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta.
5:30 discussion with students.
7:00 talk and Q&A with everyone.
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May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
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May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
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May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event

 


June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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Other Events Here.

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