A new book called Mainstreaming Torture argues that torture has been with us for a long time and remains with us and has been mainstreamed and increased in acceptability in the years since Bush and Cheney left office. We speak with the author, Rebecca Gordon. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People. She is an editor of WarTimes/Tiempo de guerras, which seeks to bring a race, class, and gender perspective to issues of war and peace.
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Ukraine: Severe Violation Against Human Rights by the West
by Dr. Dieter Duhm
I am not at all writing this contribution with a pro-Russian attitude. I am writing it because a global crime is happening in Ukraine, which is a horrendous disgrace. Regardless of what may have happened, the transition government in Kiev has no right to fight the pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine with military means. War is fundamentally no means for solving conflicts, for war always generates more war. We know this from history. But the injustice in this case goes even further because (with the exception of some riots that happened) the pro-Russian activists have actually not wanted anything more than to demand their civil rights.
Here are the other five.
Leverett and Amherst, Mass., both were expected to consider resolutions. I haven't heard any news from Amherst.
The Leverett news is courtesy of Beth Adams.
I haven't seen official text, but here's some idea of what was passed, or at least what was considered for passage, in Leverett:
Town meeting in Leverett will consider a resolution calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations on foreign soil and to enact regulations on the use of the unmanned aircraft in the United States.
It would ask U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. James McGovern to bring forward legislation “to end the practice of extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft” by withholding money for that purpose and “to make restitution for injuries, fatalities and environmental damage resulting from the actions of the United States government, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, allied nations and/or its private contractors.”
The second aspect of the article is to ensure that drones stay at least 500 feet above private properties unless otherwise authorized by town officials.
According to Beth Adams, a Leverett resident and co-author of the measure, the resolution was inspired by one passed in Northampton last summer. “We think it is important for the public to be informed about the rule-making going on without any public input,” Adams said.
May 3 town meeting
The resolution in Leverett, which was authored by a group called Pioneer Valley Citizens Concerned About Drones, received 19 signatures — nearly double the number required to get an article on the warrant. It will be voted on close to the end of the meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. May 3, according to Town Clerk Lisa Stratford.
Adams said “We think people need to be educated about this topic, and we hope other communities will follow our example and pass resolutions that will protect their communities from potential violations before the (Federal Aviation Administration) changes the rules.”
"Town meetings in Amherst and Leverett will consider resolutions calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations and regulate the unmanned aircraft locally. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that Amherst Select Board member James Wald said he isn’t comfortable with the town having a foreign policy when the federal government doesn’t have one. Frank Gatti, a Town Meeting member and lead petitioner in Amherst, said the drone resolution would express concern about the US government killing people in Pakistan and Yemen. It would ask US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Representative James McGovern to propose legislation to stop funding drone killings. A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."
"A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."
By Medea Benjamin
Sometimes it just takes one person with a creative mind to shake up the entire legal system. In the case of Costa Rica, that person is Luis Roberto Zamorra Bolaños, who was just a law student when he challenged the legality of his government’s support for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He took the case all the way up to the Costa Rican Supreme Court—and won.
Today a practicing lawyer, Zamorra at 33 still looks like a wiry college student. And he continues to think outside the box and find creative ways to use the courts to fuel his passion for peace and human rights.
During my recent visit to Costa Rica, I got a chance to interview this maverick attorney about his past victories, and his brilliant new idea to seek compensation for Iraqis.
Let’s start out recalling the key moment in Costa Rica’s pacifist history.
That was 1948, when Costa Rican President Jose Figueras declared that the nation’s military would be abolished, a move that was ratified the following year by the Constituent Assembly. Figueras even took a sledgehammer and smashed one of the walls of the military headquarters, announcing that it would be turned into a national museum and that the military budget would be redirected toward healthcare and education. Since then, Costa Rica has become renowned for its peaceful and unarmed neutrality in foreign affairs.
So fast forward and here you are in law school, in 2003, and your government joined George Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing”—a group of 49 countries that gave their stamp of approval for the invasion of Iraq. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart joked that Costa Rica contributed “bomb-sniffing toucans.” In reality, Costa Rica didn’t contribute anything; it simply added its name. But that was enough to get you so upset that you decided to take your government to court?
Yes. Bush told the world that this was going to be a war for peace, democracy and human rights. But he couldn’t get a UN mandate, so he had to create a coalition to make it look like the invasion had global support. That’s why he pushed so many countries to join. Costa Rica—precisely because it abolished its military and has a history of peace—was an important country to have on his side to show moral authority. Costa Rica is listened to when it speaks at the UN. So in this sense, Costa Rica was an important partner.
When President Pacheco announced that Costa Rica had joined this coalition, the vast majority of Costa Ricans were opposed. I was really upset about our involvement, but I was also upset that my friends didn’t think we could anything about it. When I proposed suing the president, they thought I was crazy.
But I went ahead anyway, and after I filed a lawsuit, the Costa Rica Bar Association filed a suit; the Ombudsman filed a suit—and they were all combined with mine.
When the ruling came out in our favor in September 2004, a year and a half after I filed, there was a sense of relief among the public. President Pacheco was depressed because he’s really a nice guy who loves our culture and he probably thought, “Why did I do this?” He even considered resigning over this, but he didn’t because so many people asked him not to.
On what basis did the court rule in your favor?
One of the most significant things about this ruling was that it recognized the binding character of the UN Charter. The court ruled that since Costa Rica is a member of the United Nations, we are under the obligation to follow its proceedings and since the UN never authorized the invasion, Costa Rica did not have the right to support it. I can’t think of another case in which the Supreme Court has annulled a government decision because it violates the UN charter.
The ruling was also extremely significant because the court said that the support for the invasion contradicted a fundamental principle of “the Costa Rican identity,” which is peace. This makes us the first country in the world to recognize the right to peace, something that was made even more explicit in another case that I won in 2008.
Can you tell us about that case?
In 2008 I challenged a decree by President Oscar Arias that authorized the extraction of thorium and uranium, nuclear fuel development and the manufacture of nuclear reactors “for all purposes.” In that case I again claimed a violation of the right to peace. The court annulled the president’s decree, explicitly recognizing the existence of a right to peace. This means the State must not only promote peace, but must refrain from authorizing war-related activities, like the production, export or import of items intended to be used in a war.
So this meant that companies like Raytheon, which had purchased land here and intended to set up shop, is now not operational.
What are some of the other lawsuits you’ve filed?
Oh, many of them. I filed a case against President Oscar Arias (the Nobel Peace prize winner) for authorizing the police to use military weapons against demonstrators. This case also went all the way to the Supreme Court and won.
I sued the government for signing the Central America Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA, which includes weapons forbidden in Costa Rica. I sued the government twice for allowing the U.S. military, under the pretext of the war on drugs, to play war games on our sovereign land as if they were a game of chess. Our government gives 6-month permits for up to 46 military vessels to dock in our ports, with over 12,000 troops and equipped with180 Blackhawk helicopters, 10 Harrier II airfighters, machine guns and rockets. Everything on the approved list of ships, aircraft, helicopters and troops is designed and intended to be used in a war—a clear violation of our Right to Peace. But the court has not heard this case.
A big problem for me is that now the Supreme Court is not taking any more of my cases. I have filed 10 cases with the Supreme Court that got rejected; I have filed suits against Costa Rican police training at the infamous US military School of the Americas. This case has been pending for over 2 years. When the Court finds it difficult to reject one of my cases, they delay and delay. So I have to file suit against the court for delaying, and then they reject both cases.
I realize that I can’t use my name to file anymore, or even my writing style because they know my writing.
At an international gathering in Brussels in April marking the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, you came up with another brilliant idea. Can you tell us about it?
I was in town for another meeting of international lawyers, but the Iraq Commission organizers found out and asked me to speak. There was a brainstorming meeting afterwards and people were bemoaning the fact that the US does not follow international law, that it isn’t party to the International Criminal Court, that it will not hear cases related to reparations for Iraqis.
I said, “If I may, the Coalition of the Willing that invaded Iraq was not just the United States. There were 48 countries. If the US is not going to compensate Iraqis, why don’t we sue the other members of the coalition?”
If you were able to win a case on behalf of an Iraqi victim in the Costa Rican courts, what level of compensation do you think you could win? And then wouldn’t there be another case and another case?
I could imagine winning perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps if we could win one case in Costa Rica, we could start the lawsuits in other countries. I certainly don’t want to bankrupt Costa Rica with case after case. But we have to look at how to seek justice for Iraqis, and how to prevent this sort of coalition from forming again. It’s worth a try.
Do you think there is something that we could be doing in court to challenge drone killings?
Certainly. I think the people pressing the kill button should be held personally responsible for criminal acts because the drone is an extension of their body, used to perform actions they cannot do personally.
There is also the fact that if an innocent person gets killed or hurt by a US drone in Afghanistan, the family is entitled to compensation from the US military. But that same family in Pakistan would not be compensated because the killing is done by the CIA. Can you see some legal challenge there?
Victims of the same unlawful act should get the same treatment; I would think there would be a way to hold the government liable, but I don’t know enough about US law.
Have you had personal repercussions for taking on such sensitive issues?
I have friends in the phone company who told me I was being tapped. But I don’t really care. What can they do if I talk on the phone about filing a suit?
Yes, you have to take risks, but you can’t be afraid of the consequences. The worst thing that can happen is that you get shot. (He laughs.)
Why don’t more lawyers around the world challenge their governments in the creative ways you do?
Lack of imagination perhaps? I don’t know.
I am surprised that so many good lawyers oftentimes just don’t see the obvious. I encourage students to be creative, to use international law domestically. It’s weird because nothing I’ve done has been extraordinary. These are not really great ideas. They are just a bit different, and instead of just talking about them, I move them forward.
I also encourage students to study a second profession so they start thinking differently. I studied computer engineering as my second major; it taught me to be ordered and structured in my thinking.
I would have guessed that if you had a second major, it would have been something like political science or sociology.
No. As a computer programmer you have to be totally focused--structured, ordered and deep. That is very helpful in the legal world. At law school students would hate to debate me. They’d try to move the discussion off track, to veer into a side issue, and I would always bring them right back to the core theme. That comes from my training as a computer engineer.
I suppose another consequence of your work for peace is that you don’t make much money.
Look at me [he laughs]. I’m 33 years old and I live with my parents. That’s how wealthy I am after 9 years of practice. I live simply. The only things I have are a car and three dogs.
I prefer to work by myself--no firm, no partners, no strings. I am a trial lawyer and make some money with individual clients, including labor unions. I make about $30,000 a year. I use it to live on, to try cases pro bono at the Inter-American Commission and to pay for international trips, like going to peace forums, world forums, disarmament conferences or the trip I made to Gaza. Sometimes I get assistance from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.
I love my job because I do what I want to do; I take on the cases I am passionate about. I am fighting for my country and for my personal freedom. I don’t think of this work as a sacrifice but as a duty. If we want peace to be a fundamental right, then we have to institutionalize it—and protect it.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group www.codepink.org and the human rights group www.globalexchange.org. She was in Costa Rica with retired Colonel Ann Wright at the invitation of the Friends Peace Center to speak about her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.
By Dave Lindorff
Two and a half years after the Occupy Wall Street movement took the country by storm, injecting topics like income inequality and class war into the realm of permissible national political discourse for the first time since the 1930s, the nation’s legal machinery of repression has come down like a proverbial ton of bricks on the movement just as nationally coordinated police repression crushed its physical manifestation in late 2011.
In the continuing cavalcade of innocent people put in prison in this country -- the vast majority of whom are poor and/or people of color -- we now add Cecily McMillan, an Occupy activist who was assaulted by a New York City cop and who is now in jail for it.
You read that right. She was assaulted by him. Yet she is in jail. And he -- with a history of committing abuse -- is walking free.
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Following is a list of Appearance & Protests against US War Criminals in May 2014. We encourage you to participate in any protests or plan a demonstration in your area. Please let us know and we will help you publicize your event. Check out our websites (www.warcriminalswathch.org) to download ready-made leaflets and posters.
George W. Bush plans to come to Toronto May 12th, 2014 in defiance of the United Nations Committee against Torture report that Canada's duty to prosecute foreign nationals suspected of torture applies to everyone entering Canada however temporarily. He is being invited by the 2014 Spirit of Hope Benefit for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies for "A Conversation with President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush at at the Metro Toronto-Cnvention Center. Lawyers Against the War is calling for a stop to this illegality. CANADA HAS THE DUTY UNDER THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE TO EITHER BAR BUSH FROM CANADA OR ARREST AND PROSECUTE HIM ON ARRIVAL.
By Michael Uhl
They haven't killed him yet.
Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.
I'm looking forward to speaking on Saturday, May 10, at the United We Stand Festival in Los Angeles (and at an earlier event) where dozens of speakers and musicians will be standing together against such evils as: "the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, NSA, war on drugs, drones, ... war, GMO, ... central banks, corporatism," and in favor of "Internet freedom, election reform, honest media/music/art, education/student leadership, the environment, ...."
This is nice timing, with Vermont having just become the first state to call for a Constitutional Convention to strip legalized bribery out of U.S. politics, and with the U.S. Senate planning a vote on a Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to limit said bribery. Sixteen states have urged Congress to act, which remains a quixotic pursuit. Even more disturbing than Congressional dithering is the failure of each of those 16 states to tack on a few words to do what Vermont has done and create a work-around should Congress members choose not to bite the greasy hand that feeds them. Think about what must motivate that failure to add a call for a Constitutional Convention.
There's also the problem that should Congress and the states ever pass an amendment allowing Congress to limit campaign "contributions," Congress would still have to take the additional step of actually doing so. And you can guess as well as I can what Congress considers a reasonable limitation -- just look at the minimal limitations that Congress was imposing before the Supreme Court outrageously attacked those limits in Citizens United and McCutcheon, after which the impeachment of some justices, or the legislative removal of some powers from the Supreme Court would have made more sense than accepting that the Constitution needed changing.
The Constitution was not intended to give rights to corporations or to equate bribery with the protected act of free speech. But it's going to take a massive movement of public pressure to compel our government to read or rewrite the Constitution well. So, perhaps we're just as well off rewriting it. And that opens up all sorts of possibilities, most of which can't possibly be worse than what we've got now. We could end the presidential system, the Supreme Court's unaccountability, gerrymandering, corporate monopolies -- including of communications media -- and the pretended legality of war. We could create a guaranteed income and mandate environmental sustainability.
But without even diving that deeply into creating a better Constitution, we could add something like this:
<<The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be entirely publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.
State and local governments shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for state or local public office or any state or local ballot measure.
The right of the individual U.S. citizen to vote and to directly elect all candidates by popular vote in all pertinent local, state, and federal elections shall not be violated. Citizens will be automatically registered to vote upon reaching the age of 18 or upon becoming citizens at an age above 18, and the right to vote shall not be taken away from them. Votes shall be recorded on paper ballots, which shall be publicly counted at the polling place. Election day shall be a national holiday.
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
During a designated campaign period of no longer than six months, free air time shall be provided in equal measure to all candidates for federal office on national, state, or district television and radio stations, provided that each candidate has, during the previous year, received the supporting signatures of at least five percent of their potential voting-age constituents. The same supporting signatures shall also place the candidate's name on the ballot and require their invitation to participate in any public debate among the candidates for the same office.>>
I'm confident that there are thousands of people who can draft this reform that well or better, that Congress will only scrape the surface (and that only if a Constitutional Convention is looming), that such a Convention actually happening would be a big step forward, and that people who are ready for serious change are starting to stand united: https://unitedwestandfest.com
Forty four British Members of Parliament have signed the following Early Day Motion condemning the continuing human rights violations in Bahrain.
“That this House notes that despite the publication of the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry Report in 2011 which chronicled torture and extrajudicial killing regrets that many violations of human rights continue; is shocked that there are 3,000 political prisoners, children in detention, citizenship removed from activists and arbitrary arrests amongst the many violations of human rights independently reported; and calls on the Government to make the strongest possible representations to the government of Bahrain and to refuse all arms and crowd control equipment exports to Bahrain.”
After one year of incarceration in most inhumane conditions, two Bahraini women have been unjustly sentenced to five years in jail for protesting last year against the Formula1 race. The Alkhalifa regime has waited until this year’s race has ended before issuing its decision yesterday to impose lengthy prison sentence on the two women. Raihana Al Mousawi and Nafisa Al Usfoor were arrested for attempting to take their peaceful struggle inside the race track in the south of the country. They were arrested and severely tortured. They were subjected to various kinds of torture including sexual assault. Raihana had been sentenced earlier to another five years in jail for alleged association with the 14th February Coalition that seeks to change the regime.
Torture has become rampant in the prisons as Western countries continue to shelter the regime. Among the recent victims of torture are: Ibrahim Al Hurr who was subjected to horrific torture at the hands of the Death Squads groomed by the royal court and dispatched to kill protesters and torture prisoners. He suffered beating, humiliating treatment and psychological torture. At the same prison, Qais Abbas was beaten to the extent that he became unable to stand on his feet. Sheikh Jassim Al Demstani suffered vicious torture at Jaw Prison including physical and psychological ill-treatment. Mahmood Al Saba’ was also subjected to similar treatment at the notorious Jaw prison.
Torture is compounded by lack of medical care to the prisoners. Sayed Ali Sayed Salman is being denied treatment for severe pain in his teeth and ears. He also suffers from enlarged tonsils.
On 25th April, Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch wrote a short commentary entitled: “Bahrain Shooting the Messenger on Torture” in which he said: ”Bahrain has a well-deserved reputation for torture, but now the authorities are threatening action against people who discuss it. Bahrain’s official news agency on April 14, 2104, reported that the interior minister “defied those alleging torture to corroborate those claims” and asserted that “those who make false allegations about torture will be challenged by law.” After substantiating his arguments with facts including the threatening of Sayed Hadi Al Mosawi, head of Al Wefaq’s human rights committee, he concluded: “These developments arise almost exactly a year after Bahrain effectively cancelled the country visit of the special rapporteur on human rights, Juan Mendez. In short, Bahrain’s reputation for torture is a problem of its own making, and threatening those who report allegations of torture will only make things worse.”
The predicament of Jaw Prison’s detainees is testimony to the continuation of the torture doctrine fiercely embraced by Alkhalifa dictatorship. On Monday night (28th April) masked members of the Death Squads went to the prison and asked for eight people; four from section 10 of the prison, three from section 3 and one from section 5. They were: Sayed Adnan Essa, Ali Ibrahim and Abbas Ali (from Maqaba), Ali Hassan Abdulla (from Aali), Ali Majed (from Abu Saiba), Sheikh Riyadh Al Hinni (from Sitra) and Hassan Mushaima (from Sanabis). They were taken to the CID headquarters where they were subjected to severe torture. The aim was to force them to inform on other Bahraini youth who are on the run. After four hours of intensive torture they were returned with serious injuries on their hands and faces. It is unfortunate that the UN Human Rights Commission’s team was in the country but could not stop torture being committed in their presence.
Another group of Bahrainis were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences. Mohammad Ali, Redha Hussain and Ali Saeed, all from Sadad Town were given 15 years for protesting against the hereditary dictatorship. On Monday 28th April eight under-aged Bahrainis from Samaheej Town were remanded for 45 days by Alkhalifa court.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
30th April 2014
Danger! Danger! Pot on a plane! TSA to the rescue!
I’m so glad the brave men and women of the TSA rifle through our luggage, leave cheeky notes, and in general stick their noses in our business. Because otherwise, we would all be in danger of being blown out of the sky due to concealed greenery.
U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa and Japan-U.S. Relationship: A Discussion with Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, Member of the Japanese House of Representatives (Okinawa) Denny Tamaki and other experts, facilitated by journalist David Swanson.
When: May 20, 6pm - 8pm
Where: Busboys and Poets, (14th & V) 2021 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1440683952839158
Seventy years after WWII, Okinawa, one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the Pacific War (1941-45), continues to be occupied by U.S. military bases, mostly marine bases, posing threats to the safety, health, and life of people and the environment. Despite firm opposition by the majority of the people of Okinawa, U.S. and Japanese governments are forcing through their plan to build yet another marine airbase with a military port, with massive reclamation that is likely to cause damage to the endangered bio-diverse environment of the Northeastern shore of Okinawa. Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, where the planned military base construction site is, was first elected in 2010 and re-elected this January, both on the platform of opposing the new base. Please join Mayor Inamine and a panel of experts think together about the U.S. citizens’ responsibility to bring justice and democracy back to Okinawa.
Sponsored by Busboys and Poets and the New Diplomacy Initiative.
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The U.S. public is not longing for a U.S. war in Ukraine.
Seven percent want military options considered (poll by McClatchy-Marist, April 7-10), up from six percent a bit earlier (Pew, March 20-23), or 12 percent for U.S. ground troops and 17 percent for air strikes (CNN, March 7-9).
Polling is similar on U.S. desire for a war with Iran, or for U.S. military involvement in Syria. Many more Americans believe in ghosts and UFOs, according to the polls, than believe that these would be good wars.
The U.S. public never got behind the war on Libya, and for years a majority has said that the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan never should have been launched.
The search for a good war is beginning to look as futile as the search for the mythical city of El Dorado. And yet that search remains our top public project.
The U.S. military swallows 55.2 percent of federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. Televised U.S. sporting events thank members of the military for watching from 175 nations. U.S. aircraft carriers patrol the world's seas. U.S. drones buzz the skies of nations thousands of miles from our shores.
No other nation spends remotely comparable funds on militarism, and much of what the United States buys has no defensive purpose -- unless "defense" is understood as deterrence or preemption or, indeed, aggression. As the world's number one supplier of weapons to other nations, ours may be said to extend its search for a good war beyond its own affairs as well.
A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found that U.S. wars were generating anti-U.S. sentiment. Former military officials, including Stanley McChrystal, say drone strikes are producing more enemies than they are killing. A WIN/Gallup poll of 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the U.S. far ahead of any other as the nation people believed was the greatest threat to peace in the world.
It is the ethics of a coward to believe that safety justifies all, but of a fool to commit immoral acts that actually endanger oneself. And what is more immoral than modern wars, with deaths and injuries so massive, so one-sided, and so heavily civilian?
Military spending produces fewer jobs than spending on education or infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people, according to studies by the Political Economy Research Institute. It is the ethics of a sociopath to justify killing for economic gain, but of a fool to do so for economic loss.
The military is our top consumer of petroleum and creator of superfund sites, in addition to being the hole into which we sink the funds that could address the real danger of climate change.
War justifies secrecy and the erosion of liberties: warrantless surveillance, lawless imprisonment, torture, and assassination, even as wars are marketed as defending "freedom."
And of course the maintenance of nuclear and other weapons for war risks intentional or accidental catastrophe.
The downsides to war, even for an aggressor nation with overwhelming fire power, are voluminous. The upside would seem to be that if we keep fighting wars, one of them might turn out to be a good one.
But ask people to name a good war, and most will go back 73 years to World War II. A few will express badly misinformed views about Yugoslavia or Rwanda, but most will focus right in on Adolf Hitler. Think about that. Our top public project for the past three-quarters of a century has to go back that far to find a popular example of its use.
We live in a vastly changed world, and public opinion reflects that. The power of nonviolent action to resist tyranny and injustice is dramatically more realized, as is understanding of nonviolent conflict resolution and wise conflict avoidance.
Winston Churchill called World War II "the Unnecessary War" claiming that "there was never a war more easy to stop." That war would not have happened without World War I, which nobody claims was itself unavoidable.
Just as the U.S. sells weapons to abusive nations today and prioritizes militarism over aid to refugees, Western nations helped fund the rise of the Nazis and refused to accept Jewish refugees. There are ways to prevent situations from ever reaching the point of war.
Or rather there would be if we weren't so invested in the military industrial complex of whose "total influence" President Dwight Eisenhower warned.
David Swanson's books include War No More: The Case for Abolition and projects include WorldBeyondWar.org.
Needed: Obama-Putin Summit on Ukraine
Editor Note: As the death toll mounts in an incipient civil war between east and west Ukraine, a group of retired U.S. intelligence professionals urges President Obama to hold a summit with Russia’s President Putin to defuse the crisis.
May 4, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Urgent Action on Ukraine
The buck stops with you, Mr. President. If you want to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control. You need to take the initiative and do it now.
Killing of leaders was being planned: Exposing the Federal Government’s Plan to Crush the Occupy Movement (Part I)
By Dave Lindorff
Listen to Dave Lindorff explain on Santa Barbara radio KCSB's Radio Occupy program how the federal government, in collusion with state and local police, and possibly with private bank and oil company security firms, planned to use "suppressed sniper fire" to assassinate the leaders of Occupy Houston, and perhaps also the leaders of other Occupy Movement actions around the country.
GREAT NEWS! CONDOLEEZEE RICE WITHDREW FROM MAKING THE RUTGERS COMMENCEMENT SPEECH. A VICTORY FOR THE STUDENTS & TEACHERS OF RUTGERS. We assume the Teach-In will still occur, now as a victory celebration.
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World Can't Wait presents four great panels at the Left Forum. Each panel will be moderated by World Can't Wait director Debra Sweet.
Academic freedom under attack: A Conversation with Prof. Nel about an Attempt to Fire Tenured Faculty for their Private Online
By Dave Lindorff
This week's "This Can't Be Happening!" radio program on PRN radio features an interview with Dr. Phil Nel, a distinguished professor of English at Kansas State University, and an outspoken opponent of a current effort by the Kansas Board of Regents to impose a new "social media policy" on all the state's public higher education institutions -- a policy that would allow administrators to fire even tenured faculty for posting statements that "damage" the school or negatively impact "harmony" on campus.
Recent revelations over German complicity in US drone strikes will tomorrow cast a shadow over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s talks with President Barack Obama in Washington.
Investigative journalists in Germany recently revealed Ramstein, a US base in the country, to be a major data centre for the secretive strikes, which have killed thousands of civilians in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan. Legal charity Reprieve this week revealed that a strike in Yemen over the Easter weekend killed four builders on their way to work, leaving at least 20 children fatherless.
The Ramstein findings contradict claims made by both leaders at their last meeting in June 2013, when Obama dismissed reports that US bases in Germany had been used for drone attacks. He told journalists: “We do not use Germany as a launching point for unmanned drones […] as part of our counterterrorism activities. […] I know that there have been some reports here in Germany that that might be the case. That is not.” During the same visit, Merkel spoke of Ramstein as filling “a very important function”, saying “our work is based […] on shared values.”
Recent questions in the German parliament have increased pressure on Merkel to reveal the true extent of Germany’s involvement in the strikes, but there is little evidence that the government plans to challenge the Obama administration over them.
Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “One year on from Chancellor Merkel’s assertions about shared US-German ‘values’, the extent of Washington’s use of German soil to perpetrate illegal killings is clear. Despite Obama’s promises to the German people last year, the number of civilian deaths from these secretive drone strikes is higher than ever, and the response of the German government has been to ignore the issue. It is high time that Merkel raised concerns with Obama about the launching of illegal drone strikes from Germany – concerns that are echoing loudly throughout her country. ”
About the Author: Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was one of three U.S. diplomats who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Some of the founding members of the occupy movement are launching a new political party – THE AFTER Party.
Carl Gibson is among them.
He says, “What sets The After Party apart is that 365 days out of the year it is a humanitarian organization. The way we organize politically, what sets us apart is that we are finding needs within the community, and then working to meet them using the community's assets.”
And, so is Radio Rahim, another After Party founding member and, yes the real life persona behind the character in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing says the following:
By John LaForge
“No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) — which owns or leases 20 nuclear reactors across Ontario — would save loads of cash by not having to contain, monitor and repackage leaky above-ground radioactive waste storage casks. Last Sept., I testified in Ontario against the company’s plan to deeply bury some of this waste next to Lake Huron.
OPG officially plans to let its waste canisters leak their contents, 680 meters underground, risking long-term contamination of the Great Lakes — a source of drinking water for 40 million people, including 24 million US residents.
The Bruce reactor complex — the world’s biggest with 8 reactors —is on Huron’s Bruce Peninsula and is the storage site for radioactive waste (other than fuel rods) from all of OPG’s 20 reactors. Digging its dump right next door would save the firm money — and put the hazard out of sight, out of mind.
OPG’s public statements make clear that it intends to poison the public’s water. First, the near-lake dump would be dug into deep caverns of porous limestone. The underground holes are to “become the container” OPG testified last fall, because its canisters are projected to be rotted-through by the waste in 5 years. (On April 13 the Canadian government was shocked to learn that OPG grossly understated the severe radioactivity of its waste material, some of which, like cesium, is 1,000 times more radioactive than OPG had officially claimed. (See http://www.freep.com/article/
Second, OPG’s callous poisoning plan was broadcast in a December 2008 handout. Radioactive contamination of the drinking water would not be a problem, OPG says, because, “The dose is predicted to be negligible initially and will continue to decay over time.”
The ‘expert’ group’s report says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic meters a year of water contaminated with radiation might leach from the dump, but calls such pollution “highly improbable.” (Emphasis on “predicted” and “improbably” here: The US government’s 650-meter-deep Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico was predicted to contain radiation for 10,000 years. It failed badly on Feb. 14, after only 15.)
OPG’s pamphlet goes further in answer to its own question, “Will the [dump] contaminate the water?” The company claims, “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.”
This fatuous assertion made me ask in my testimony: “Why would the government spend $1 billion on a dump when it is safe to throw all the radioactive waste in the water?” Now, what I thought of then as a rhetorical outburst has become “expert” opinion.
‘Experts’ unworried about drinking industrial radiation
On March 25, the “Report of the Independent Expert Group” was issued to the waste review panel. The experts are Maurice Dusseault, Tom Isaacs, William Leiss and Greg Paoli. They concluded that the “immense” waters of the Great Lakes would dilute any radiation-bearing plumes leaching from the site.
Dusseault advises governments and teaches short courses at the Univ. of Waterloo on oil production, petroleum geomechanics, waste disposal and sand control.
Paoli founded Risk Sciences International and the company’s web site notes his position on Expert and Advisory Committees of Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
Isaacs, with degrees in engineering and applied physics, works at the plutonium-spewing Lawrence Livermore National Lab, studying “challenges to the effective management of the worldwide expansion of nuclear energy.” Of course, hiding the effects of radioactive waste from public scrutiny is one of his industry’s biggest challenges.
Leisshas degrees in history, accounting and philosophy, and has taught sociology, eco-research, risk communications and health risk assessment at several Canadian universities.
So what level of expertise do the experts bring? None of them have any background in water quality, limnology, radio-biology, medicine, health physics or even radiology, hazardous nuclides, health physics, or radiation risk.
As plumes of Fukushima radiation spreading into the Pacific continue to show, the poisons spread from the source and can contaminate entire oceans. (See: http://www.ibtimes.com/
Canada’s expert group’s opinion on how radioactive waste might spread and be diluted in Great Lakes drinking water is inane and meaningless; its cubic meter estimates and risk assessments nothing but fairy tales. You could call the report a rhetorical outburst. – John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
Canada’s expert group’s opinion on how radioactive waste might spread and be diluted in Great Lakes drinking water is inane and meaningless; its cubic meter estimates and risk assessments nothing but fairy tales. You could call the report a rhetorical outburst.
– John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
Imagine if China were stationing large numbers of troops in the United States. Imagine that most of them were based in a small rural county in Mississippi. Imagine -- this shouldn't be hard -- that their presence was problematic, that nations they threatened in Latin America resented the United States' hospitality, and that the communities around the bases resented the noise and pollution and drinking and raping of local girls.
Now imagine a proposal by the Chinese government, with support from the federal government in Washington, to build another big new base in that same corner of Mississippi. Imagine the governor of Mississippi supported the base, but just before his reelection pretended to oppose it, and after being reelected went back to supporting it. Imagine that the mayor of the town where the base would be built made opposition to it the entire focus of his reelection campaign and won, with exit polls showing that voters overwhelmingly agreed with him. And imagine that the mayor meant it.
Where would your sympathies lie? Would you want anyone in China to hear what that mayor had to say?
Sometimes in the United States we forget that there are heavily armed employees of our government permanently stationed in most nations on earth. Sometimes when we remember, we imagine that the other nations must appreciate it. We turn away from the public uproar in the Philippines as the U.S. military tries to return troops to those islands from which they were driven by public pressure. We avoid knowing what anti-U.S. terrorists say motivates them, as if by merely knowing what they say we would be approving of their violence. We manage not to know of the heroic nonviolent struggle underway on Jeju Island, South Korea, as residents try to stop the construction of a new base for the U.S. Navy. We live on oblivious to the massive nonviolent resistance of the people of Vicenza, Italy, who for years voted and demonstrated and lobbied and protested a huge new U.S. Army base that has gone right ahead regardless.
Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Okinawa, (population 61,000) is headed to the United States, where he may have to do a bit of afflicting the comfortable as he tries to comfort the afflicted back home. Okinawa Prefecture has hosted major U.S. military bases for 68 years. Over 73% of the U.S. troop presence in Japan is concentrated in Okinawa, which makes up a mere 0.6% of the Japanese land area. As a result of public protest, one base is being closed -- the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The U.S. government wants a new Marine base in Nago City. The people of Nago City do not.
Inamine was first elected as mayor of Nago City in January 2010 promising to block the new base. He was reelected this past January 19th still promising to block the base. The Japanese government had worked hard to defeat him, but exit polls showed 68% of voters opposing the base, and 27% in favor of it. In February U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy visited Okinawa, where she met with the Governor but declined to meet with the mayor.
That's all right. The Mayor can meet with the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon, and the Congress. He'll be in Washington, D.C. in mid-May, where he hopes to appeal directly to the U.S. government and the U.S. public. He'll speak at an open, public event at Busboys and Poets restaurant at 14th and V Streets at 6:00 p.m. on May 20th.
A great summary of the situation in Okinawa can be found in this statement: "International Scholars, Peace Advocates and Artists Condemn Agreement To Build New U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa." An excerpt:
"Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa."
Here's an organization working to support the will of the public of Okinawa on this issue.
And here's a video worth watching:
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Right before the champagne bottles began popping for activists engaged in a grassroots struggle to halt the construction of Williams Companies' prospective Bluegrass Pipeline project — which the company suspended indefinitely in an April 28 press release — Williams had already begun raining on the parade.