Although the mass media failed to report it, a landmark event occurred recently in connection with resolving the long-discussed problem of what to do about nuclear weapons. On August 19, 2016, a UN committee, the innocuously-named Open-Ended Working Group, voted to recommend to the UN General Assembly that it mandate the opening of negotiations in 2017 on a treaty to ban them.
Snowden is the most entertaining, informing, and important film you are likely to see this year.
It's the true story of an awakening. It traces the path of Edward Snowden's career in the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and at various contractors thereof. It also traces the path of Edward Snowden's agonizingly slow awakening to the possibility that the U.S. government might sometimes be wrong, corrupt, or criminal. And of course the film takes us through Snowden's courageous and principled act of whistleblowing.
We see in the film countless colleagues of Snowden's who knew much of what he knew and did not blow the whistle. We see a few help him and others appreciate him. But they themselves do nothing. Snowden is one of the exceptions. Other exceptions who preceded him and show up in the film include William Binney, Ed Loomis, Kirk Wiebe, and Thomas Drake. Most people are not like these men. Most people obey illegal orders without ever making a peep.
And yet, what strikes me about Snowden and many other whistleblowers I've met or learned about, is how long it took them, and the fact that what brought them around was not an event they objected to but a change in their thinking. U.S. officials who've been part of dozens of wars and coups and outrages for decades will decide that the latest war is too much, and they'll bail out, resign publicly, and become an activist. Why now? Why not then, or then, or then, or that other time?
These whistleblowers -- and Snowden is no exception -- are not passive or submissive early in their careers. They're enthusiastic true believers. They want to spy and bomb and kill for the good of the world. When they find out that's not what's happening, they go public for the good of the world. There is that consistency to their actions. The question, then, is how smart, dedicated young people come to believe that militarism and secrecy and abusive power are noble pursuits.
Oliver Stone's Ed Snowden begins as a "smart conservative." But the only smart thing we see about him is his computer skills. We never hear him articulate some smart political point of view that happens to be "conservative." His taste in books includes Ayn Rand, hardly an indication of intelligence. But on the computers, Snowden is a genius. And on that basis his career advances.
Snowden has doubts about the legality of warrantless spying, but believes his CIA instructor's ludicrous defense. Later, Snowden has such concerns about CIA cruelty he witnesses that he resigns. Yet, at the same time, he believes that presidential candidate Barack Obama will undo the damage and set things right.
How does one explain such obtuseness in a genius? Obama's statements making perfectly clear that the wars and outrages would roll on were publicly available. I found them with ordinary search engines, needing no assistance from the NSA.
Snowden resigned, but he didn't leave. He started working for contractors. He came to learn that a program he'd created was being used to assist in lawless and reckless, not to mention murderous, drone murders. That wasn't enough.
He came to learn that the U.S. government was lawlessly spying on the whole world and spying more on the United States than on Russia. (Why spying on Russia was OK we aren't told.) But that, too, wasn't enough.
He came to learn that the U.S. was spying on its allies and enemies alike, even inserting malware into allies' infrastructure in order to be able to destroy things and kill people should some country cease to be an ally someday. That, too, was not enough.
Snowden went on believing that the United States was the greatest country on earth. He went on calling his work "counter cyber" and "counter spying" as if only non-Americans can do spying or cyber-warfare, while the United States just tries to gently counter such acts. In fact, Snowden risked his life, refraining from taking medication he needed, so that he could continue doing that work. He defended such recklessness as justified by the need to stop Chinese hackers from stealing billions of dollars from the U.S. government. Apart from the question of which Chinese hackers did that, what did Snowden imagine it was costing U.S. taxpayers to fund the military?
Snowden's career rolled on. But Edward Snowden's brilliant mind was catching up with reality and at some point overtook it. And then there was no question that he would do what needed to be done. Just as he designed computer programs nobody else could, and that nobody else even thought to try, now he designed a whistleblowing maneuver that would not be stopped as others had.
Consequently, we must be grateful that good and decent people sometimes start out believing Orwellian tales. Dull, cowardly, and servile people never blow whistles.
As I read of the latest coup in Brazil, once again removing a democratically elected leader from power, my anger surged. Not again! However, as I see and read about the ongoing massive protests, as well as calls by prominent community leaders to mobilize in defense of your country's democracy, I feel great hope for Brazil. Having been a nonviolent activist for many years, I would like to support Brazilian activists to develop a nonviolent strategy that will increase your chances of success.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
U.S. Military Forgets to Mention Its Fuel Consumption, Carbon Footprint, Destruction of Nature During Presentations at World Conservation Congress
By Ann Wright
The worldwide, prestigious World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was held in Honolulu this week. The IUCN has come in for criticism for its lack of focus on the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm coming from these human activities one would think that the organization would have a specific theme and a series of workshops on that theme. Of the over 1300 workshops crammed into a 6-day marathon environmental meeting, followed by 4 days of discussion of internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.
The heavy funding the IUCN gets from governments is undoubtedly the rationale for not addressing this "elephant in the room" in a conference for the protection of the endangered planet-a tragic commentary on a powerful organization that should acknowledge all pressures on the planet.
Monsanto is walking
With his best friend-with-benefits, the EPA:
So why are you dragging your heels
Signing off on glyphosate?
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In the two months leading up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to issue to the Dakota Access pipeline project an allotment of Nationwide 12 permits (NWP) — a de facto fast-track federal authorization of the project — an army of oil industry players submitted comments to the Corps to ensure that fast-track authority remains in place going forward.
This fast-track permitting process is used to bypass more rigorous environmental and public review for major pipeline infrastructure projects by treating them as smaller projects.
A win and a loss, at least for now: Federal Judge finds 8th Amendment Violation in Pennslvania’s Refusal to Treat Mumia's Hep-C
By Dave Lindorff
Depending on how you look at it, lawyers for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia journalist and political prisoner serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison after a controversial 1982 conviction for killing a white Philadelphia police officer, won a huge victory, lost big or maybe won and will win again soon.
I was fortunate enough to view a screening of the new Snowden movie Wednesday evening with some of the whistleblowers who have cameos in it and with its director Oliver Stone. I'm not allowed to review it until Saturday night, but it is a truly great movie and has the potential to be the most widely seen, heard, or read thing of any political decency or truth in the world this year. That's not, however, why I'm glad I saw it.
I'm glad I watched Snowden because it gave me an extra several hours of living on earth without having yet seen the NBC special on the Trumpillary war machine, in which first Hillary Clinton and then Donald Trump promised NBC they'd wage plenty of wars. Earlier, on Wednesday I had posted this on my Facebook page:
Here are a few of my favorite facts that you will not learn tonight from NBC, Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton: Nonviolent resistance is more effective than violence and its victories longer lasting. Peaceful spending or even tax cuts for working people is economically superior to military spending. The war on terrorism has increased terrorism, including in the seven nations the United States has bombed this year. Over half of federal discretionary spending, through multiple departments, is dumped into war preparations each year, about as much as the rest of the world's nations combined. The U.S. is the top arms dealer to dictatorships abroad, and today's wars typically have U.S. weapons on both sides. The U.S. Army can't figure out what it did with $6.5 trillion this year, while the United Nations says that $30 billion a year could end starvation on earth. Every recent U.S. war has been illegal under the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. Over 95% of the victims of every recent U.S. war have been on the other side, and the vast majority of them civilian. The top destroyer of the natural environment is the U.S. military. Routinely bombing Muslim countries, giving war weapons and war training to local police, and expecting non-racist, law-abiding policing cannot work. The U.S. backed a violent coup in Ukraine. Sitting out the National Anthem is not "true patriotism" but a truly courageous challenge to the poison of patriotism.
NBC did not disappoint. Matt Lauer did not ask Trumpillary how much money, even within a quarter trillion dollars or so, they would like spent. He did not ask which wars, if any, they would end or start. He did not ask how many people they would murder with drones. He did not ask if they would kidnap or torture or murder in prisons. He did not ask about foreign aid. He did not ask about leading by example. He did not ask about climate change. He did not ask about the arms trade or the bombing of Yemen. He did not ask about the announcement ISIS had just made of having named a U.S.-trained (and, of course, U.S.-armed) sniper as its Minister of War. He did not ask about the racism and violence permeating U.S. culture. I don't think any of the three people (Clinton, Trump, Lauer) or any of the veterans asking questions ever said the word "peace."
Lauer opened by claiming that September 11th launched years of war. In fact, the U.S. government launched years of war.
NBC then showed clips of 9/11 and of Obama announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden, but not a single image of a single body or bombed out house. After 15 years of immoral, illegal, catastrophic murder sprees, Clinton began by taking credit for her "experience" of having been part of making all those wars happen.
So, Lauer asked her, not about any of those wars, but about her emails. Eventually he turned to Iraq, and she claimed to have learned her lesson. Although she still wanted war in Libya and several other countries and still wants it badly in Syria (though Lauer didn't get into that), so she's clearly learned nothing. She did claim accurately that Trump backed war on Iraq and Libya too, while still claiming inaccurately that Gaddafi was planning a massacre. Lauer confirmed and corrected nothing.
What if Iran cheats on its nuclear agreement, Lauer wanted to know. Clinton then lied about Iranian hostility, blamed Iran for supporting Syria against U.S.-backed attacks, and "improved" Ronald Reagan's phrase to "distrust but verify."
Clinton promised no ground troops in Iraq, but there already are U.S. ground troops in Iraq. Lauer said nothing. Clinton promised to "go after" ISIS leader Baghdadi for the purpose of "focusing our attention." This is war for propaganda, not just propaganda for war.
Turning to Trump, he opened by claiming that Russian planes and Iranian ships are taunting the United States. Remind me again which coast of the United States the Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf are on.
Trump then lied that he opposed attacking Iraq. Lauer said . . . (you guessed it) nothing. Trump also, if at odds with that lie, lied that Obama ended the war on Iraq and that so doing was a terrible thing.
Trump claimed, with as straight a face as he can manage, that it was a big success for him that the people who brought him to Mexico have now been thrown out of the government as a result.
A pre-approved veteran asked Trump how "defeating" a terrorist group won't just produce a new one. Trump talked a while without answering and then said "Take the Oil." Steal Iraq's oil. That was Trump's answer. If you steal their oil, then they can't have any power, he suggested. Trump seemed to believe no hostility or resentment would find any leverage after such a theft, that such a theft could be completed quickly, and that he was providing us with new information as "people don't know this about Iraq" (that it has among the world's largest reserves of oil).
Lauer asked Trump if he really has a plan to "defeat ISIS." It was clear he does not.
NBC had a veteran ask how Trump would deescalate tensions with Russia. He answered by claiming Russian airplanes are engaged in hostility against the United States. That ought to do it.
Then Lauer piled on, falsely and baselessly blaming Putin for aggression in Ukraine and interference in the U.S. election, and blaming Russia for supporting Syria and Iran.
Lauer and vets asked Trumpillary about caring for veterans, all taking it as unquestionable that more veterans must be produced through more wars. Trump even said that he'd let immigrants remain in the United States if they would "serve" . . . not his dinner apparently, but his war machine, Hillary's war machine, NBC's war machine, Comcast's war machine, the war machine of people who've watched this stuff for 15 years and started to believe it's the way normal decent human beings should be allowed to behave.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
7 September 2016
Dear Mr. Kerrey,
We are writing with the heartfelt and urgent request that you resign from your position as chairman of the Fulbright University Viet Nam (FUV) board of trustees.
It is our firm belief that you should never have been offered this appointment and, having been offered it, should have declined the offer. We strongly believe that there are other more appropriate roles for you to play in support of FUV, and that there are better qualified people without your historical baggage.
Mark Bowyer, an expat in Viet Nam, expressed doubt in an early June 2016 blog post that “reminding the world of previously unpunished US atrocities in Viet Nam is a judicious use of the political capital accumulated during Barack Obama’s recent successful visit.”
Shawn McHale, a George Washington University colleague, wrote the following comment in response to your interview with WBUR’s “Here & Now” program:
Bob Kerrey is letting his ego get in the way of US-Vietnamese rapprochement. The man has done a lot of good -- but killing civilians, a war crime, makes him unfit to be head of the Fulbright University Vietnam Board of Trustees. For the good of the university, he should recognize that he is not the person for the job.
Finally, Linh Dinh, a Vietnamese-American writer, poet, and a signatory to this letter, wrote that
“This sick and vain spectacle is hurting not just him but the university. By hanging on, he's focusing the spotlight on his war crime.”
We agree with these assessments. Your appointment is a politically- and emotionally-charged issue that is not going to go away, least of all in Viet Nam. In early June, you told the New York Times via email that you would resign, if you felt your role were jeopardizing FUV. That time is now.
There are many US veterans who have returned to Viet Nam to do penance, so to speak, some on short trips and others for the long haul. They are each making a modest contribution, trying to find a way to give back, to make amends, to make whole that which they and their government tried to destroy. On a personal level, as you can imagine, they also find this experience to be therapeutic and even cathartic.
We’d like to take the liberty of offering you some advice. Travel to Thanh Phong. Arrange to meet with the victims’ family members and the survivors. Ask for their forgiveness. Burn incense and pray at the graves of the people you and your unit killed. And do all of this with the greatest sincerity, contrition, and humility.
Offer to meet a local need, to build something of lasting value that will benefit the community. We believe that these acts will be greatly appreciated and may help you find a measure of peace. You could even invite the other members of your unit to join you.
Thank you for taking the time to read our note. We look forward to hearing from you.
Wishing you peace and happiness,
Mark A. Ashwill
Hanoi, Viet Nam
Educator; First US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant to Viet Nam, 2003
Author of Bob Kerrey and Fulbright University – What were they thinking? (7-8-16)
Patrick Barrett, Ph.D.
Havens Center for Social Justice University of Wisconsin-Madison
Political essayist, fiction writer, poet and translator. Author of Postcards from the End of America
Army Medic Vietnam
C. J. Hopkins
Playwright, author of Horse Country, The Extremists, and screwmachine/eyecandy, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Bob
Conneaut Lake, PA
Lawyer, Labor Arbitrator, Educator – Lessons of the Vietnam War
Ann Hibner Koblitz
Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University and Director of the Kovalevskaia Fund
Professor of Mathematics, University of Washington
Dr. Deepa Kumar
New Brunswick, NJ
Professor of Media Studies, Rutgers University Activist, Unionist, Author
Professor Emeritus, State University of New York
Author, American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?
President, Green Cities Fund
Co-founder, Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery established in Saigon in 1966 to treat war-injured children
Co-founder Vietnam Green Building Council
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Los Angeles, CA
Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Associate Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at
the University of Southern California
Author of The Sympathizer, Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author
Author of Bob Kerrey and the ‘American Tragedy’ of Vietnam (6-20-16)
Kittery Point, ME
TV news and documentaries
State College, PA
Korean War veteran, co-founder of the State College Peace Center and creator of its documentary film series, lifetime member of Veterans for Peace.
Founder, Center for Media and Democracy
Author of books, including Weapons of Mass Deception
Jeffrey St. Clair
Editor of CounterPunch; Author of Born Under a Bad Sky
Iowa City, IA
Journalist and author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics
Director, World Beyond War
Author of books, including War Is A Lie
Michael Uhl, Ph.D.
Author of Vietnam Awakening: My Journey from Combat to the Citizens Commission of Inquiry on US War Crimes and The War I Survived Was Vietnam: Collected Writings of a Veteran and Antiwar Activist (Oct. 2016)
Author of The Phoenix Program
Peter Van Buren
New York City, NY Former US Diplomat
S. Brian Willson
Author of Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson
Subject of documentary, Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson www.Brianwillson.com
Viet Nam veteran, peace activist, and trained attorney
By Gar Smith
A new PR campaign is calling on Americans of all ages to do "22 push-ups in 22 days" to dramatize the fact that, on average, 22 American combat veterans commit suicide every day.
September 11 marks the day when 2,996 Americans lost their lives in attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, leading to the start of George W. Bush's War on Terror—an "endless" battle that now has US troops engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.
By September 11, 2016, 5,588 US soldiers will have committed suicide—nearly twice as many as the number of Americans lost in the 2001 terror attacks. 5,588: That's a lot of push-ups.
(Note: This accounting does not include the thousands of soldiers killed in combat or the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians whose epitaphs read: "Collateral damage.")
By the end of 2016, 8,030, soldiers will have committed suicide owing to the unendurable trauma of the "War on Terror."
What can we conclude from these figures? (1) Serving as a US soldier must be one of the world's most demoralizing jobs and, (2) The War on Terror is a bloody failure.
By Gar Smith
On September 7, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are set to appear on the same stage in a broadcast NBC is calling the“Commander-in-Chief Forum," an event devoted to "national security, military affairs and veterans issues." The candidates will not debate face-to-face. They will appear separately, back-to-back.
For an event that marks the beginning of one of the most critical presidential debates in US history, NBC is mounting a disturbing preamble. Instead of focusing on the full range of domestic issues that are roiling the electorate – lack of good jobs, declining wages, rising housing costs, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, mass incarceration, and the tandem proliferations of gun possession and police violence -- the lead issue selected by the National Broadcasting Corporation, is war-fighting.
Under NBC's marching orders, the two candidates will vie for the allegiance of "an audience consisting mainlyofmilitaryveteransandactiveservicemembers."
The evening is being sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veteransof America, an organization that has received a respectable 86% Charity Navigator rating and whose mission is to "connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans."
A major conference presenting alternatives to permanent war has been planned for September 23-25 at American University in Washington, D.C.
Events on the first two days and the third morning will be in the Founders Room of the School of International Service. Closing events will be at the Kay Center nearby on the campus of American University. Media cameras and journalists are welcome throughout. But RSVP. Rooms are expected to be at full capacity.
Speakers will include: Dennis Kucinich, Kathy Kelly, Miriam Pemberton, David Vine, Kozue Akibayashi, Harvey Wasserman, Jeff Bachman, Peter Kuznick, Medea Benjamin, Maurice Carney, David Swanson, Leah Bolger, David Hartsough, Pat Elder, John Dear, Mel Duncan, Kimberley Phillips, Ira Helfand, Darakshan Raja, Bill Fletcher Jr., Lindsey German, Maria Santelli, Mark Engler, Maja Groff, Robert Fantina, Barbara Wien, Jodie Evans, Odile Hugonot Haber, Gar Alperovitz, Sam Husseini, Christopher Simpson, Brenna Gautam, Patrick Hiller, Mubarak Awad, Michelle Kwak, John Washburn, Bruce Gagnon, David Cortright, Michael McPhearson, Sharon Tennison, Gareth Porter, John Reuwer, Pat Alviso, Larry Wilkerson, Thomas Drake, Larry Johnson, John Kiriakou, Craig Murray, Raed Jarrar, Alli McCracken, Lilly Daigle, and Alice Slater.
Speakers' bios and photos:
World Beyond War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.
Partners Include: Jubitz Family Foundation, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, International Peace Bureau, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Jane Addams Peace Association, Veterans For Peace, Delaware Peace Club, United for Peace and Justice.
Co-Sponsors Include: Washington Peace Center, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, Liberty Tree Foundation, TheRealNews.com, Nonviolence International, Peace Action Montgomery, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Military Families Speak Out, Peace Action, WILPF-DC, International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Center for Bangladesh Studies, Society for Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University, Nuke Watch, Friends of Franz Jagerstatter, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), WILPF-DC, International Society for Inter Cultural Study and Research (ISISAR), Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, On Earth Peace, The Virginia Defenders, UNAC, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund/Peace Tax Foundation.
The following letter is being delivered to the New York U.N. consulate office of every nation on earth:
This year’s UN General Assembly comes at a critical moment for humanity – 3 minutes to midnight on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock. Recognizing our country’s primary role in this crisis, 11,644 Americans and 46 U.S.-based organizations have thus far signed this "Appeal from the United States to the World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes," which we are submitting to all the world’s governments. Please work with your colleagues at the General Assembly to respond to this appeal.
Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.
Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.
In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances and ad hoc "coalitions" to support threats and attacks on a series of targeted countries, while other countries have stood by silently or vacillated in their efforts to uphold international law. In effect, the U.S. has pursued a successful diplomatic policy of "divide and conquer" to neutralize global opposition to wars that have killed about 2 million people and plunged country after country into intractable chaos.
As representatives of civil society in the United States, the undersigned U.S. citizens and advocacy groups are sending this emergency appeal to our neighbors in our increasingly interconnected but threatened world. We ask you to stop providing military, diplomatic or political support for U.S. threats or uses of force; and to support new initiatives for multilateral cooperation and leadership, not dominated by the United States, to respond to aggression and settle international disputes peacefully as required by the UN Charter.
We pledge to support and cooperate with international efforts to stand up to and stop our country's systematic aggression and other war crimes. We believe that a world united to uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law and our common humanity can and must enforce U.S. compliance with the rule of law to bring lasting peace to the world we all share.
By Kathy Kelly
It seems that some who have the ears of U.S. elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China.
In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinskiand Thomas Graham, two architects of the U.S. cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested U.S. global imperialism is coming to an end. Both analysts urge more cooperation with Russia and China to achieve traditional, still imperial, U.S. aims. Mr. Graham recommends a shifting mix of competition and cooperation, aiming toward a “confident management of ambiguity.” Mr. Brzezinski calls for deputizing other countries, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to carry out the combined aims of the U.S., Russia and China so that this triumvirate could control other people’s land and resources.
It’s surely worthwhile to wonder what effect opinions such as Brzezinski's and Graham's might have upon how U.S. resources are allotted, whether to meet human needs or to further enlarge the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and further enrich the corporations that profit from U.S. investments in weapons technology.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
From David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War
I was very pleased to learn from Wolfgang Lieberknecht that the people of your two towns in central Germany, Treffurt and Wanfried, will be marching together this week with an orchestra from Russia and a message of friendship in opposition to the new Cold War.
I learned that your towns are seven kilometers apart but that until 1989 you were divided, one in East Germany, one in the West. It is wonderful to what an extent you have put that division behind you and made it part of known and regretted history. There is a piece of the Berlin wall displayed here in my town in Virginia, which otherwise displays primarily statues celebrating one side of a U.S. Civil War that ended over 150 years ago. The European Union, whose members assist in aggressive U.S. wars, has been given a Nobel Peace Prize for not going to war with itself.
But, as you know, the line of hostile division has simply been pushed east to the border of Russia. No longer is it the NATO vs. Warsaw Pact division that split your towns apart. Now it is the NATO vs. Russia division that divides people in Ukraine and other border states and threatens to bring down the world in a nuclear catastrophe.
And yet a Russian orchestra from Istra continues to travel to Germany every two years to build better relations. And you are hoping that your peace march will become a model for others. I hope so too.
There are still 100,000 U.S. and UK bombs in the ground in Germany, still killing.
U.S. bases violate the German Constitution by waging war from German soil, and by controlling U.S. drone murders around the globe from Ramstein Air Base.
The United States promised Russia when your two countries and towns reunited that NATO would not move an inch eastward. It has now moved relentlessly to the border of Russia, including by pushing for a relationship with Ukraine after the U.S. helped facilitate a military coup in that country.
I recently watched video of a panel on which the former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time of your reunification told Vladimir Putin that all the new U.S. troops and equipment and exercises and missile bases are not meant to threaten Russia, rather they are just meant to create jobs in the United States. While I apologize to the world for such madness, and recognize that other and better and more U.S. jobs could have been created with peaceful spending, it’s worth pointing out that people in Washington, D.C., actually think this way.
This Wednesday night, two candidates for U.S. president will discuss war, war, and more war on television. These are people who are never in the same room with anyone who imagines abolishing war to be possible or desirable. These are people whose every bellicose utterance is cheered by their sycophants and funders. They truly have no idea what they are doing, and they need people like you to wake them up with a bit of beautiful musical noise on behalf of peace and sanity.
At World Beyond War we are working to increase understanding of the desirability and feasibility of phasing out and replacing the entire institution of war preparations. We’ll have a big event in Berlin on September 24th and hope you can come. Those of us in the United States look to those of you in Germany for leadership, support, and solidarity. We need you to take Germany out of NATO and kick the U.S. military out of Germany.
That’s a pro-U.S. request, in so far as the people of the United States will be better off not paying, financially and morally, and in terms of hostile blowback, for the pieces of the U.S. war machine that are based on German soil, including Africa Command — the U.S. military’s headquarters for dominating Africa, which has yet to find a home on the continent it seeks to control.
The United States and Germany must both face down the rightwing tendencies to blame the victims of Western wars who try to flee to the West.
And we must, together, make peace with Russia — a project for which Germany may be perfectly placed, and on which we thank you for taking the lead.
No context is pretext: Critics’ Ignoring of Documented Record of Frisco Police Abuse Proves Kaepernick Right
By Linn Washington, Jr.
A month before the police union in San Francisco sent a blistering letter to NFL officials recently demanding that the professional football league apologize for the “ill-advised” criticisms of police by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that union was the target of scathing criticism for supporting police misconduct.
Christopher Simpson is a professor of Journalism known internationally for his expertise in propaganda, democracy, and media theory and practice. He has won national awards for investigative reporting, historical writing, and literature. His books include Blowback, The Splendid Blond Beast, Science of Coercion, National Security Directives of the Reagan and Bush Administrations, Universities and Empire, Comfort Women Speak and War Crimes of the Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank. Simpson’s work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. His current teaching and research includes macro-social dynamics of communication technologies, impact of geographic information systems on democratic decision-making and some aspects of communication law.
Kathy Kelly has recently returned from Russia. She has made 20 trips to Afghanistan as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs). She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence continually learn from the APVs perspective and actions. She has protested drone warfare by joining nonviolent civil resistance actions at U.S. military bases in Nevada, New York, Wisconsin, and Missouri. In 2015, for carrying a loaf of bread and a letter across the line at Missouri’s Whiteman AFB, Kelly served three months in federal prison. In 1988 she had been sentenced to one year in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites at Whiteman. She also spent three months in prison, in 2004, for crossing the line at Fort Benning’s military training school. As a war tax refuser, she has refused payment of all forms of federal income tax since 1980.
Simpson and Kelly will be speaking at No War 2016. See http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016
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The U.S. government, for no stated reason, and after having approved his entry in the past, has denied Craig Murray the usual approval to enter the United States without a visa that is given to UK citizens. Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.
Murray was forced out of the British public service after he exposed the use of torture by Britain's Uzbek allies. Murray is scheduled to chair the presentation of this year's Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence to CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou, and to speak about diplomacy as an alternative to war at a World Beyond War conference planned for September 23-25 in Washington, D.C.
In 2006 Murray was himself awarded the Sam Adams Award, and the citation included the following: "Mr. Murray learned that the intelligence authorities of the UK and the US were receiving and using information extracted by the most sadistic methods of torture by Uzbek authorities. He protested strongly to London, to no avail. He was forced out of the British Foreign Office, but has no regrets. There are more important things than career…Mr. Murray's light has pierced a thick cloud of denial and deception. He has set a courageous example for those officials of the 'Coalition of the Willing' who have first-hand knowledge of the inhuman practices involved in the so-called 'war on terror' but who have not yet been able to find their voice."
Shocked by the denial of approval to enter the United States without a visa, Murray stated: "I shall apply for a visa via the State Department as suggested but I must be on a list to be refused under the ESTA system, and in any event it is most unlikely to be completed before the conference."
"It is worth noting," Murray added," that despite the highly critical things I have published about Putin, about civil liberties in Russia and the annexation of the Crimea, I have never been refused entry to Russia. The only two countries that have ever refused me entry clearance are Uzbekistan and the USA. What does that tell you?
"I have no criminal record, no connection to drugs or terrorism, have a return ticket, hotel booking and sufficient funds. I have a passport from a visa waiver country and have visited the USA frequently before during 38 years and never overstayed. The only possible grounds for this refusal of entry clearance are things I have written against neo-liberalism, attacks on civil liberties and neo-conservative foreign policy. People at the conference in Washington will now not be able to hear me speak. Plainly ideas can be dangerous. So much for the land of the free!"
The following joint statement has been signed by members of the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence listed below:
News that former British Ambassador Craig Murray has been denied entry to the United States under the regular visa waiver program is both shocking and appalling. We Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) had invited Craig to be Master of Ceremonies at our award ceremony honoring John Kiriakou, the CIA torture whistleblower (more details at samadamsaward.ch ), this September as part of the 'No War 2016' conference.
Now we're wondering which agency's long arms have reached out to disrupt our ceremony and to try to silence Craig.
Whatever they intend, it will be bound to backfire, since it only makes the US government look like some sort of monolithic repressive apparatus out to mimic the world's worst despotic regimes. Ambassador Murray notes in his blog that Uzbekistan -- whose government apparatchiks are notorious for torturing its citizens -- is the only other country to have barred his entry. Even Russia - which Ambassador Murray criticizes freely - allows him to travel there trouble-free. What are the implications for US democratic values?
We strongly urge the State Department to reverse its decision and allow Ambassador Murray freedom of travel and freedom of expression without hindrance in the United States of America.
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA
Thomas Drake, former Senior Executive, NSA
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan
Larry Johnson, CIA and State Dept. (ret.)
John Brady Kiesling, former US diplomat
John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer
Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.)
David MacMichael Ph.D., CIA, US Marine Corps captain (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, JA, USA (ret.)
Diane Roark, former staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
J. Kirk Wiebe, Senior Analyst, NSA (ret.)
World Beyond War has created a petition appealing to the State Department
World Beyond War, the organization behind the No War 2016 conference at which Murray is scheduled to speak, has created an online petition to the State Department.
David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War, said "This attempt to prevent a truth-teller from speaking in support of nonviolence is absolutely shameful. This is not a policy created to represent any view of the U.S. public, and we are not going to stand for it."
This is our lucky day for quite a few reasons. We haven't yet rendered the climate of this planet uninhabitable for our species. For those of us who are not in prison: we're not in prison -- and not because of some significant difference between us and many who are. For those of us not hungry or scared . . . (see note above re prisons). But there's another big reason that this is our lucky day -- a reason that is different in kind from these.
This is our luck day and we've had about 25,965 of them and counting. Ever since the creation of nuclear weapons there have been thousands of accidents, incidents, and close calls. Nuclear bombs have been accidentally dropped on the United States by the United States and come very close to detonating. The United States and the Soviet Union / Russia have come very close to believing the other had begun the nuclear apocalypse. In one case, the decency of a single Russian sailor, Vasili Arkhipov, probably saved the globe. Nuclear weapons have been lost in the ocean, been flown unwittingly across the country and left unguarded, and -- in an incident that is the chief focus of a new film -- accidentally blasted out of a bunker in Arkansas to land in a nearby field where the "warhead" did not explode in great part because September 19, 1980, was one of our lucky days.
Command and Control, a film based on a book by Eric Schlosser, tells the story of one weapon 600 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima. One weapon and one worker who chose one wrong tool causing him to drop one small part, causing a nuclear weapon to launch, not to hit the Soviet Union where it would have killed huge numbers of human beings and triggered an apocalypse, but instead to launch into a nearby field. As Schlosser points out, a system in which such a thing is possible is itself broken. Blaming one maintenance worker misses the problem.
The film plays out the suspenseful minute-by-minute response in Damascus, Arkansas. We watch the people who invented the term SNAFU, the U.S. military, confront the possibility that they may be about to nuke Governor Bill Clinton's Arkansas. Nobody with much useful knowledge of the weapon can apparently be found, but numerous people far removed from Arkansas get involved, and the most distant of them call the shots. The Keystone Cops, taking orders from afar, having locked themselves out of the missile silo, break their way back in but fail to prevent an explosion, after which they have to begin a search for the weapon, because -- like the U.S. Army's recently reported 6.5 trillion unaccounted for dollars -- they don't know where it went.
Harold Brown, then-Secretary of so-called Defense, is shown in the film saying that "accidents were not unusual in the Defense Department. There must have been several every day." Most were, no doubt, not nuclear. But a "Defense" Department report lists thousands of those over the years.
A television newscast from 1980 informs us that "The Titan is not to blame. It was human error." The Titan, apparently treated as an actual titan from ancient Greece, greater than a god, is the name of the inanimate weapon. The Pentagon and its media echo chamber defend the weapon from blame, choosing instead to put all the blame on members of the military.
This history of near misses with catastrophes is a well-kept secret. That the problem is structural rather than one of "a few bad apples" is a carefully avoided realization. And here's an even better buried secret: this problem is not in the past. The United States still has some 7,000 nuclear weapons, and as this film shows us, and as is generally agreed, oversight and attention to safety have gotten worse, not better, over the years.
The non-nuclear nations of the world are pushing for a ban on nuclear weapons. The United States is expanding its nuclear arsenal. Which is the right way to go? In the words of that model of lawless U.S. violence Dirty Harry, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?"
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Editor Note: As pressure again builds on President Obama to attack Syria and press a new Cold War with Russia, the extraordinary events of three years ago after a sarin attack near Damascus are worth revisiting.
By Ray McGovern
Three years ago, when a reluctant President Barack Obama was about to launch an attack on Syria, supposedly in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad crossing a “red line” against using chemical weapons, Obama smelled a rat – or rather he sensed a mousetrap.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Laura Bentz of Keybridge Communications describes her company as "a boutique PR firm -- founded by a former writer for the Wall Street Journal -- that specializes in writing and placing op-eds. With some of the country's most influential trade groups and global corporations as clients, we run many of the major op-ed campaigns in the U.S. We place roughly 3,000 op-eds per year."
On its website, Keybridge openly claims to be able to "brand a CEO" by putting op-eds into newspapers in "virtually every major city."
Less openly, Keybridge carefully markets its services with a PDF that names people for whom it claims to have written and placed op-eds.
For a mere $5000, Keybridge offers this service in the PDF: "First, we write a 500-800 word op-ed. Then we place it in one or more newspapers around the country. If we're pitching to a national audience, we guarantee that we'll reach at least 50,000 readers. Includes media monitoring."
The PDF claims credit for and includes full images of op-eds in the following newspapers by these individuals:
- Wall Street Journal, an op-ed by Bill Ingram, vice president of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Social.
- Washington Post, an op-ed by Doc Woods, a member of Virginians for Quality Healthcare.
- Los Angeles Daily News, an op-ed by James G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment and student advancement at the University of Chicago, and Jarrid J. Whitney, executive director of admissions and financial aid at Cal Tech.
- Newsday, an op-ed by Patricia Morton, Dean and Professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing.
- USA Today, an op-ed by Kevin Chou, CEO of Kabam.
Of course it goes without saying that organizations and political campaigns and businesses have staff ghost write or draft or assist with op-eds by their figureheads. So this could be described as merely outsourcing that service to a PR firm. But it's considerably more damaging to public communications than that, I think.
For one thing, there are millions of people with important and new and different things to say who do not have $5000 to spend on saying it. Read these op-eds in the PDF and see if you can claim they are in the top 1,000 you've seen. Is there one among them you'll have a hard time forgetting?
Additionally, paying $5000 for this service is not simply paying for research or editing. It's paying for the unfair advantage of having your op-ed pitched by people who've built cozy relationships with op-ed page editors, and who in at least some cases used to be op-ed page editors.
Even worse, it's paying for the insider skill of churning out or transforming an op-ed into just the sort of familiar, boring, cookie-cutter columns that clutter up the dying institution of the daily, dead-tree, advertising-and-rewritten-government-statement sheets we call major newspapers.
This is why the more stimulating op-eds are often to be found on independent websites.
But to the extent that this service can really reach 50,000 people whom one wouldn't have otherwise reached, it is part of the corruption of a thoroughly corrupt communications system. It's part of the rigging of everything that breeds cynicism and resentment.
Do op-ed page editors know that Keybridge pitches op-eds that it claims to have ghost written? Are they all completely, or only partially, ghost written? Those might be questions for some future WikiLeaks release.
Meanwhile, here's a fun fact: Keybridge is a supposedly savvy PR firm in Washington, D.C., that bears the name of a bridge named for Francis Scott Key who owned people as slaves, supported killings of African Americans, penned an anti-Muslim poem that later became a celebration of killing people escaped from slavery and of a flag surviving a battle that killed human beings during a war that failed to conquer Canada but succeeded in getting the White House burned. That revised poem became the U.S. national anthem. Great image, guys! I'd pay $5000 for that.