Baraa Shiban, an investigator in Yemen for human rights charity Reprieve, received an anonymous death threat yesterday (Thursday) relating to his investigation of a US drone strike which killed 12 wedding guests and injured 14 others in al-Baydah province, on December 12, 2013.
The anonymous caller demanded that Mr. Shiban abandon his investigation of the drone strike and then threatened his life.
The investigation to which the caller referred exposed that the drone strike had hit a wedding procession, rather than Al-Qaeda militants as the US and Yemeni governments had initially claimed. The findings of Reprieve’s investigation, which were broadcast on the US network NBC on Tuesday, have sparked the US administration to launch an internal investigation.
Reprieve has written to governmental officials calling on them to investigate the threat and take any steps required by Yemeni law. Reprieve Legal Director Kat Craig said: “Our primary concern is, of course, for the safety of our colleague. We have asked President Hadi to take a stand to protect Baraa and other human rights advocates who are so vital to Yemen’s democratic transition. But the nature of the threat, and the proximity of it to the high profile coverage of this recent strike procured by Baraa, only makes us more determined to continue our work to expose the unlawfulness of drones in Yemen, how they are killing civilians and terrorising entire communities. We hope that the Yemeni and international community will continue to assist our colleague in his brave work.”
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
The arrest and subsequent execution of a prominent Saudi terrorist in Lebanon has awoken the world to the murderous policies of the Saudi regime. Majed Al Majed, the head of Abdulla Azzam battalions, which is affiliated to Al Qa’ida, was arrested by Lebanese authorities on 26th December. It is widely believed that he worked for the Saudi intelligence networks. His group had claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut last month that claimed the lives of at least 23 people. But before the Americans or the Iranians could question him, he was swiftly liquidated after Saudi Arabia paid $US billions to the Lebanese government. This is one of the most outrageous episodes of espionage, terrorism and corruption attributed to the Saudi regime. Al Majed would have become the “smoking gun” that would have implicated the Saudis in the terrorist campaign which is being waged in the name of Al Qa’ida. It is clear that the world is now pay ing the price of its silence on the Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain in mid-March 2011.
In a major setback to the Alkhalifa dictators, South Korea decided to stop the shipment of tear gas canisters to Bahrain. South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration, which oversees the country’s military trade, told two companies that sought approval to export to Bahrain in October and November to suspend shipments. Lee Jung-geun, a spokesman for the defence agency, said the decision had been made because of the “unstable politics in the country , people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”. Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades, according to a tender document leaked to Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group. The order would have been of a similar magnitude to the 2m tear gas projectiles that activists estimate were fired by the security forces since pro-democracy protests swept the strategic island in Februa ry 2011. “This is also a clear message to any other countries considering supplying tear gas to Bahrain that profiting from repression is unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch said in a statement.
Despite the international rebuke of the Alkhalifa regime, it continued human rights abuses at an alarming rate. In the first week of the New Year 40 Bahrainis were arbitrarily detained without arrest warrants, according to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights. On Monday 6th January Mohammad Jawad Me’raj and his brother, Ali, were arrested during a raid on their home. The same day Abbas Ali, from Maqaba Town, was arrested and taken to the torture dungeons. He had just been released last month. The regime decided to detain the well-known athlete, Ahmad Hamza, for sixty days, at the Dry Dock torture centre, pending investigation. He is a member of Bahrain’s National Volleyball team. On 2nd of January, Mohammad Kadhem Al Halwachi, was detained as he landed at the airport, and taken to an unknown location. Sayed Ali Sayed Hadi was also detained at the airport.
Among the detainees in recent days are: Abdul Nabi Hassan Mahdi who was detained at a checkpoint near his town, Sadad. From Hamad town Hussain Al Mesbah and his brother, Amin were arrested yesterday. From Jannusan, Fadhel Ali Abdul Aziz was taken by members of Death Squads to the torture chambers. From Duraz Town, 12 youths were arrested on Monday including; Aamer Baddao, Ahmed Mohammad Habib, Jalal Al Anfooz, Ali Al Matrook, Mohsin Al Marzooq and Hassan Alao. Images of their homes show extensive damage inflicted by Alkhalifa agents during the raids. They did not only arrest the youths but wreaked havoc on their homes. Under international pressure The Juvenile Prosecution ordered on 26 December that 13-year-old cousins Sayed Tameem Majed Ahmad Majed and Sayed Hashim Alwai Ahmad Majed should be released on bail. Both are still facing charges of “illegal gathering” and “throwing Molotov cocktails at a police patrol”. But he replaced t hem with two other children; Jihad, 10 and Abdulla, 13 who had to remain at the torture centre until 6th January.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
8th January 2014
By Dave Lindorff
The US Department of “Justice” has a distinctly nuanced concept of that term, taking a tough, no-holds-barred stance when it comes to individuals -- especially little people without much power or influence -- and trying at all costs to avoid prosecution when it comes to the powerful, and to big corporations -- especially big financial corporations. That schizoid approach to prosecution is personified in the recent actions--and inaction--of the DOJ’s man in Manhattan, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.
By Jeff Bachman
I was shocked when I saw the recent Win/Gallup International poll. Can you believe that 24 percent of those polled in 65 countries named the United States as the greatest threat to peace in the world today? That’s right. This poll alleges that, with 193 countries to choose from, nearly one-fourth of all respondents chose the U.S. The runner-up? Pakistan at 8 percent.
I would expect this from Russia and China, where 54 percent and 49 percent of respondents view the United States as the greatest threat to peace, but I just cannot accept that Bosnia (49 percent), Argentina (46 percent), Greece (45 percent), Turkey (45 percent), Mexico (37 percent), Brazil (26 percent), and Peru (24 percent) would do the same.
Tomas Magnusson, Former President IPB
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Former Vice President IPB
Nominate them for the Nobel, the "Lay down your arms" prize, by Feb. 1
Few today have the specific ambitions of the “champions of peace” to whom Nobel dedicated a prize in his will of 1895. Even in the peace movement it is rare to advocate the total abolition of military force and forces. The hope of the two who sign this email is to identify the still remaining advocates of Nobel´s peace vision and to have them nominated for the 2014 Nobel - by Feb. 1.
The Norwegian awarders of the prize have a legally binding obligation to reward the specific people Nobel had in mind, not make a prize for “peace” entirely of their own design. Nobel described “the champions of peace” as the persons working for a global “abolition or reduction of standing armies (military forces),” and “creating the (disarmed) brotherhood of (all) nations” that the “peace congresses” of the period sought to realize.
See attached Memo on the peace movement and the Nobel prize.
Please nominate persons who in a major way pursue the Nobel aim of global disarmament. Nominations must be sent by Feb. 1, by email to: email@example.com, or by snailmail posted to: The Nobel Committee, Henrik Ibsens gt. 51, N-0255 Oslo, Norway. People all over the world may nominate, if they are parliamentarians, certain professors (law, history, political science, theology, etc.), former laureates etc. - see nobel.no. More on the struggle to “reclaim the Nobel” at nobelwill.org.
We have plans in progress to establish a file of qualified candidates and help those designated in the will to actually win. Please send us information on champions of peace and information on possible nominations by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For contact/questions: email@example.com
Oslo/Gothenburg, Jan. 9, 2014
Fredrik S. Heffermehl, Tomas Magnusson
THE PEACE MOVEMENT AND THE NOBEL PRIZE
By his will in 1895 Nobel addressed a fundamental choice between two roads forward for humanity. His prize took a stand, he wished all nations to end their reliance on force and arms and unite in co-operation on global law, global institutions and abolition of their military forces. Only by doing this humanity would enjoy common prosperity and security. With his prize Nobel backed the broad and strong political call for universal disarmament that died when the cannons started to thunder in 1914.
In 2014 it is time for the whole peace movement to take a fresh look at the bold, innovative and pointed peace plan Nobel in his will called "creating a brotherhood of nations" and for which he established his prize for "the champions of peace." The people Nobel intended to support would have global disarmament as aim and their peace work would make a substantial contribution toward that aim.
In 2014 (hundred years after the passing of Bertha von Suttner) peace activists should take a fresh look at Nobel´s specific peace plan and the types of peace people Nobel described in his will. Their work is entitled by law to one million Euros every year. Can we accept that this money for decades has been spread in all possible directions, more and more often to winners directly opposed to the peace ideas Nobel wished to support? To embrace the Nobel vision of a world without military force and forces would mean to have a goal in common and confer synergy, credibility and strength to all parts of a very diverse movement.
We all have people and causes we would like to receive Nobel´s prestige and money. But if we permit ourselves to read whatever we like into Nobel´s will, what shall then stop the Norwegian committee from continuing to do the same? The Norwegian politicians in Parliament and on the Nobel committee have through six years proved staunchly unwilling to pay even the least attention to Nobel and his legally binding description of a prize for peace through global disarmament.
Shall we forever tolerate that the friends of the forces manage Nobel´s prize for the friends of peace?
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Another in our continuing series, Psychopath of the Week. It's always a tough call, because there are so many of them. This week, however, there's no contest.
Because we have the smarmiest of the smarmy, the personification of a sophist, which is to say someone who twists language and meaning and decency and his own soul beyond limits to justify the unjustifiable:
By Norman Solomon
To: Martin Baron, Executive Editor, and Kevin Merida, Managing Editor, The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Baron and Mr. Merida:
On behalf of more than 25,000 signers of a petition to The Washington Post, I’m writing this letter to request a brief meeting to present the petition at a time that would be convenient for you on Jan. 14 or 15.
Here is the text of the petition, launched by RootsAction.org:
from Scarry Thoughts
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
International Scholars, Peace Advocates and Artists Condemn Agreement to Build New U.S. Marine Base in Okinawa
Leading scholars, peace advocatesand artists from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia today released the attached statement opposing the construction of the new U.S. Marine base at Henoko, Okinawa, planned by the US and Japanese governments as a replacement facility of Futenma airbase located in the middle of Ginowan City. Their statement urges “support for the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights, and protection of the environment.”
Initial signers of the statement include linguist Noam Chomsky, academy award winning film maker Oliver Stone,Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, historian John Dower, former U.S. military officer and diplomat Ann Wright, and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk. (See complete list of initial signers on statement. Additional names are being added.)
Speaking for the signers, Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee, who has worked with Okinawan base opponents and initiated the 1996 “Statement of Outrage and Remorse” following the kidnapping and rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by U.S. servicemen, said the statement is intended to “ rally international support for Okinawans in their inspiring and essential nonviolent campaign to end seventy years of military colonization, to defend their dignity and human rights, and to ensure peace and protect their environment.”
Professor Peter Kuznick of American University, who co-authored TheUntold History of the United States with Oliver Stone, decried Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima’s betrayal of Okinawan voters. “During the campaign, Nakaima promised to work for the relocation of Futenma base outside Okinawa. According to the polls, 72.4 percent of Okinawans see the governor’s decision as a ‘breach of his election pledge,’” Kuznick said, “The deal was made at the behest of the United States and of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It tramples the rights of the Okinawan people to advance Obama’s Asian ‘pivot.’”
The statement reviews theoppression andexploitation of Okinawa-- first by Japanese rulers with invasion and annexation,and then by the United States to support its hegemonic interests in the Pacific. It points to the unjust concentration of 73.8% of exclusively U.S. military bases in Japan on less than 1% of the country’s land mass. Signers also point to the painful irony that for seven decades Okinawans “have suffered what the signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounced as ‘abuses and usurpations,’ including the presence of foreign ‘standing armies without consent of our legislature.’”
Professor Gavan McCormack of the Australian National University, and co-author with Satoko Norimatsu of Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States, described the intrusions of militarism that threaten Okinawans’ lives and health, " from military accidents, crimes including sexual violence for which U.S. forces are not held fully accountable, to intolerable military aircraft noise and chemical pollution.” He said that “Okinawans’ courageous and unrelenting struggle to finally end the military occupation and to enjoy real security deserves the support of people around the world.”
We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment
We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment. Using the lure of economic development, Mr. Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.
Plans to build the base at Henoko have been on the drawing board since the 1960s. They were revitalized in 1996, when the sentiments against US military bases peaked following the rape of a twelve year-old Okinawan child by three U.S. servicemen. In order to pacify such sentiments, the US and Japanese governments planned to close Futenma Marine Air Base in the middle of Ginowan City and move its functions to a new base to be constructed at Henoko, a site of extraordinary bio-diversity and home to the endangered marine mammal dugong.
Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Mr. Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture. He won the election by defeating a candidate who had consistently opposed the new base. Polls in recent years have shown that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan. The poll conducted immediately after Nakaima’s recent reclamation approval showed that 72.4 percent of the people of Okinawa saw the governor’s decision as a “breach of his election pledge.” The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa.
73.8 percent of the US military bases (those for exclusive US use) in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, which is only .6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. 18.3 percent of the Okinawa Island is occupied by the US military. Futenma Air Base originally was built during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa by US forces in order to prepare for battles on the mainland of Japan. They simply usurped the land from local residents. The base should have been returned to its owners after the war, but the US military has retained it even though now almost seven decades have passed. Therefore, any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.
The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa. Invaded in the beginning of the 17th century by Japan and annexed forcefully into the Japanese nation at the end of 19th century, Okinawa was in 1944 transformed into a fortress to resist advancing US forces and thus to buy time to protect the Emperor System. The Battle of Okinawa killed more than 100,000 local residents, about a quarter of the island’s population. After the war, more bases were built under the US military occupation. Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawans’ hope for the removal of the military bases was shattered. Today, people of Okinawa continue to suffer from crimes and accidents, high decibel aircraft noise and environmental pollution caused by the bases. Throughout these decades, they have suffered what the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounces as “abuses and usurpations,” including the presence of foreign “standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.”
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.
We support the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.
Norman Birnbaum, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
Reiner Braun, Co-presidentInternational Peace Bureau and Executive Director of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John W. Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
Daniel Ellsberg, Senior Fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, former Defense and State Department official
John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) at the Institute for Policy Studies
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson(PhD), Director, Peace & Economic Security Program, American Friends Service Committee
Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International law Emeritus, Princeton University
Norma Field, Professor Emerita, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Kate Hudson(PhD), General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University
Naomi Klein, Author and journalist
Joy Kogawa, Author of Obasan
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate
Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University
Kyo Maclear, Writer and Children’s author
Michael Moore, Filmmaker
Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/ Veteran, United States Army, Henoko, Okinawa, 1967-68
Mark Selden, a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University
Oliver Stone, Filmmaker
David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology, American University
The Very Rev. the Hon. Lois Wilson, Former President, World Council of Churches
Lawrence Wittner, Professor Emeritus of History, State University of New York/Albany
Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat
(In the alphabetical order of family names, as of January 7, 2014)
Days Before Casselton Oil Train Explosion, Obama Signed Bill Hastening Fracking Permits on ND Public Lands
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On December 20, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a little-noticed bill to expedite permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands in the Bakken Shale basin, located predominantly in North Dakota. And on December 26, President Obama signed the bill into law.
When it comes to war, the American public is remarkably fickle.
The responses of Americans to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provide telling examples. In 2003, according to opinion polls, 72 percent of Americans thought going to war in Iraq was the right decision. By early 2013, support for that decision had declined to 41 percent. Similarly, in October 2001, when U.S. military action began in Afghanistan, it was backed by 90 percent of the American public. By December 2013, public approval of the Afghanistan war had dropped to only 17 percent.
In fact, this collapse of public support for once-popular wars is a long-term phenomenon. Although World War I preceded public opinion polling, observers reported considerable enthusiasm for U.S. entry into that conflict in April 1917. But, after the war, the enthusiasm melted away. In 1937, when pollsters asked Americans whether the United States should participate in another war like the World War, 95 percent of the respondents said “No.”
And so it went. When President Truman dispatched U.S. troops to Korea in June 1950, 78 percent of Americans polled expressed their approval. By February 1952, according to polls, 50 percent of Americans believed that U.S. entry into the Korean War had been a mistake. The same phenomenon occurred in connection with the Vietnam War. In August 1965, when Americans were asked if the U.S. government had made “a mistake in sending troops to fight in Vietnam,” 61 percent of them said “No.” But by August 1968, support for the war had fallen to 35 percent, and by May 1971 it had dropped to 28 percent.
Of all America’s wars over the past century, only World War II has retained mass public approval. And this was a very unusual war – one involving a devastating military attack upon American soil, fiendish foes determined to conquer and enslave the world, and a clear-cut, total victory.
In almost all cases, though, Americans turned against wars they once supported. How should one explain this pattern of disillusionment?
The Bush regime filled the off-shore prison at Guantanamo Bay by rendering men seized from around the globe into indefinite captivity, employing and legally justifying a program of torture they called "enhanced interrogation." Even Bush's team slowly began to release hundreds of prisoners for whom no case could be fabricated to justify prison. When Barack Obama was elected, he quickly promised to close it within a year... five years ago. It's still open, with new infrastructure added, and more personnel than ever. Most people in the U.S. have no idea there are still 82 prisoners there who were cleared for release years ago; 45 who the President says will never be charged or released; and "military commissions" trials are designed to cover the torture inflicted on the prisoners, depriving of them rights the U.S. has claimed to cherish.
This show opens with an awesome poem about drones by Misty Rowan.
Edward S. Herman says that Desmond Tutu is wrong to support the International Criminal Court, given its bias for prosecuting only Africans and only those Africans not working with the United States. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gave courses in micro- and macro-economics and financial regulation for 30 years. He also taught courses on The Political Economy of the Mass Media and on The Analysis of Media Bias at the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn for a decade. He has a regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine and has published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals. Among his published books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984); Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988, revised editions 2002, 2008); The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990); and most recently, The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson, Monthly Review Press, 2010); and an edited volume, The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011).
Total run time: 29:00
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NSA Insiders Reveal What Went Wrong
January 7, 2014
Ediitor Note: In a memo to President Obama, former National Security Agency insiders explain how NSA leaders botched intelligence collection and analysis before 9/11, covered up the mistakes, and violated the constitutional rights of the American people, all while wasting billions of dollars and misleading the public.
January 7, 2014
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Former NSA Senior Executives/Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Input for Your Decisions on NSA
International Campaign Led By NGOs Succeeds in Pressuring Korean Regulator To Cancel Shipment
Advocacy group Bahrain Watch announced today that the #StopTheShipment campaign it launched two months ago to prevent a massive shipment of tear gas to Bahrain, has achieved a major milestone. The Financial Times reported today that South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) denied two requests to export tear gas to Bahrain due to the “unstable politics in the country [Bahrain], people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”.
The campaign initially targeted all of Bahrain’s tear gas suppliers, but zeroed in on South Korea after DAPA confirmed in October that it was considering a request to export tear gas to Bahrain from an unnamed Korean company, suspected to be DaeKwang Chemical Corporation. The shipment was believed to comprise in excess of 1.6 million rounds of tear gas based on a leaked tender document from a source close to Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior. However, in today’s Financial Times article DaeKwang’s CEO said that as part of the deal, which was worth USD $28 million, the Bahraini government was planning to buy 3 million tear gas canisters – around 4 canisters for each Bahraini citizen. DAPA’s decision to cease exports means that this tear gas will not reach Bahrain.
South Korea joins other countries including the United States and United Kingdom, who have already stopped tear gas exports to Bahrain due to human rights concerns. Since 2011, at least 39 deaths in Bahrain have been linked to misuse of tear gas, according to data compiled by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). The deaths include 14 year old Ali Jawad al-Shaikh who was shot in the back of his neck with a tear gas canister, and 15 year old Sayed Hashim Saeed, also shot in his neck with a tear gas canister at close range. No police officer or other government official in Bahrain has been held accountable for these or any other abuses due to the systematic misuse of tear gas, despite serious concerns raised by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the well-documented accounts that described the Bahraini government’s use of tear gas as “unnecessary, indiscriminate” and “lethal”.
Thanks to participation and solidarity from around the world, #StopTheShipment prevented a South Korean company from sending millions more of these tear gas canisters to Bahrain
Over the past two months, the #StopTheShipment campaign has gained widespread support in Bahrain and around the world, which involved protests on the ground both in London and Seoul. Participants in the campaign placed calls, and sent over 390,000 emails to the Korean government. The action against Korean tear gas exports culminated in complaints lodged with the OECD, and five UN Special Rapporteurs, by a Bahrain Watch legal team. The legal team consists of Michael Mansfield QC, Daniel Carey (DPG Law), Mark MacDonald, James Suzano (ADHRB), Ahmed Ali (Bahrain Watch), and Bahrain Watch interns Yousif al-Saraf, Nozgul Ali, and Ali Alibahai.
Since concerns have been raised that Korean companies could try to export a shipment ultimately destined for Bahrain through a third-party via another country, the legal team will continue to follow up with such legal complaints to prevent any third-party exports to the Bahraini government. #StopTheShipment will also continue to target Bahrain’s other tear gas suppliers, including South African/German company Rheinmetall Denel Munitions.
Bahrain Watch issued the following statement: “This suspension of tear gas shipments to Bahrain is a victory for human rights and a successful outcome for the #StopTheShipment campaign, which began in October. The South Korean government is wise to heed the calls of Bahrainis to end the export of tear gas to their government that has been systematically and routinely misusing it as a weapon oppression and collective punishment. We hope this step will be the beginning of the end to the untold suffering, the deaths, injuries and illnesses related to tear gas abuse. This is also a clear message to any other country considering supplying tear gas to the Bahraini government that profiting from repression is unacceptable.”
Sarah Waldron from Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: "This is a major victory for the human rights movement and shows what we can do when we work across borders and support each other. It is utterly unacceptable for any government to prioritise their short term sales over the safety and human rights of people living under oppression. This is a great result for the campaign, but we need to build on it and make sure that human rights are at the centre of our trading policies. Any government which supports arms sales to Bahrain is also offering moral and practical support to an authoritarian regime that is abusing its own citizens."
Solicitor Daniel Carey from the legal team said: “The South Korean Government’s decision doesn’t just reflect good governance. International human rights law requires states to prevent the supply of tear gas to countries such as Bahrain, which has deployed it against civilian populations causing systematic loss of life, inhuman treatment and disproportionate interferences with the freedoms of expression and assembly. Those obligations apply with equal force to any other state whose arms industry is now contemplating filling this 'gap in the market’. Our complaints to the UN Special Rapporteurs also apply to them.”
Bahrain Watch launched the #StopTheShipment campaign in cooperation with Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB), and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). Bahrain Watch is grateful for the widespread support from key partners and endorsers, without which the campaign could not have succeeded.
ٍSpecial thanks go to (in no particular order):
Deighton Pierce Glynn, Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights First, IFEX, Marietje Schaake MEP, Amnesty International, Lord Avebury (Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group), REDRESS, Omega Research Foundation, Ceartas: Irish Lawyers for Human Rights, Facing Tear Gas, MENA Solidarity Network, Banyan: SOAS Advocates, Linda @SE25A
Korean NGOs, including: Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), Amnesty International Korea, Anti-war Peace Solidarity Korea, Catholics for Human Rights, Citizen’s Solidarity for Peace and Unification, Committee for International Solidarity of Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Cultural Action, Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace, Friends of Peace, Gunsan Center for US Military Base Suffering, Imagination for International Solidarity, Korea Peace Foundation, Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union, Korean House for International Solidarity, LifePeace, Nanum Munhwa, Nonviolent Peaceforce Korea, Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, One Korea Action, Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, Peace Forum of Civil Society Organizations Network in Korea, Peace Ground, Peace Museum, Peace Network, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Sarangbang Group for Human Rights, The Frontiers, Weapon Zero, Women Making Peace, Workers’ Solidarity, World Without War, Young Left in Korea.
Korean Unified Progressive Party National Assembly members: Mi Hyui Kim, Sun Dong Kim, Jae Yeon Kim, Byung Yun Oh, Sang Kyu Lee, Seok Ki Lee.
Endorsers, including: Noam Chomsky, John Pilger (broadcaster and writer), David Graeber (Professor of Anthropology, LSE), Norman Finkelstein (academic and activist), Hamid Dabashi (Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, Columbia University), David Barsamian (broadcaster and writer), As’ad Abukhalil (Professor of Political Science, California State), Andrew Feinstein (writer and former South African MP), Christie Turlington (model and activist), Prof. Costas Douzinas (Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London), Lindsey German (Stop the War Coalition), David McKnight (UNISON), Azadeh Shahshahani, (President, National Lawyers Guild, USA), David Hartsough (Peaceworkers), George Monbiot (writer), Alaa AbdulFattah (blogger and activist, Egypt), Tony Lloyd (Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and ex-Labour Party Chair).
Bahrain Watch is a monitoring and advocacy group that seeks to promote effective, accountable, and transparent governance in Bahrain through research and evidence-based advocacy. For more info visit: https://bahrainwatch.org/
Inside the latest 72-page ColdType Magazine
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From The Guardian:
<<Once, in Blackadder, the eponymous first-world-war British army captain learned that the Germans were stealing our battle plans. "You look surprised, Blackadder," said Stephen Fry's absurdly over-moustachioed, rubicund General Melchett.
"I certainly am, sir," retorted our hero. "I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
"Well, of course we have!" shouted Melchett. "How else do you think the battles are directed?"
"Our battles are directed, sir?"
"Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan."
"Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?"
"Great Scott!" exclaims Melchett. "Even you know it!">>
The Secretary of Education of the United Kingdom (The United Kingdom has education?!) is royally upset that anyone would make fun of World War I as that great and glorious event hits the 100-year mark. And he's not upset because British humor is so relentlessly unfunny. He's upset because people might laugh.
But of course if people had been permitted to make fun of World War I at the time, without being thrown in prison (Yes, that was also Woodrow -- the Obama delusion for liberals of his day -- Wilson's policy), well then, perhaps the stupid bloody idiocy could have been stopped or prevented.
The Secretary of Education, if he had a bit of -- what is that stuff? oh yeah -- education would know that the majority of observers have very good reasons for believing that World War I was, as he puts it, "a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite."
Well, what would you call it when a group of inbred cousins meet to squabble over petty matters of competing egos at all the best weddings and funerals and then return to ruling over their respective nations as divinely appointed monarchs and ministers eager to send their peoples off to murder each other for no particular reason, especially if these sociopaths and their sycophants each decide they must defensively attack the other first, not because war can begin so quickly but because it takes months to badger people into knocking off the wisecracks, abandoning all sense of human decency, and picking up a gun, and then to put those people on trains to send them on a trip to a big field in which imbeciles on horses with swords will try to conquer machine guns and poison gas, eventually realize how ridiculous they are being, and hide in tents far from the fighting while ordering millions of others who have no interest in the affair to kill each other year after year after year for no earthly reason and with nothing to show for it at the end -- an end pre-determined by mutual agreement, but with the fighting continuing until that appointed day and hour?
And that was the wise, deliberate, and admirable part of World War I. The stupidity really took hold, along with the influenza falsely called Spanish and the brilliant notion of banning alcohol, with the settlement of the war in a royal French palace where it was decided to punish the entire nation of Germany severely, begin preparations for World War II, carve up the so-called Middle-East in order to produce a century of chaos there, and to tell Ho Chi Minh to go to hell, laying some early groundwork for the never-to-be-ridiculed war on Vietnam, which the U.S. government is now funding a major campaign to beautify (don't laugh!).
All right, so maybe I find it all too horrific to laugh at, but if others can laugh at it -- even when the jokes are predictable and stupid -- I can think of nothing better for the world. In fact, I wholeheatedly encourage everyone to complete this line: How many Secretaries of Education does it take to change a lightbulb?
Take away the gun
From every mother's son
We're taught by God above
To forgive, forget, and love
The weary world is waiting for
So take away the gun
From every mother's son
And put an end to war
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Time to invite Occupy back to Wall Street: Is New York’s New Mayor De Blasio Really a Lefty or Just Another Progressive Poseur?
By Dave Lindorff
There is no question but that New York’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio, owes his landslide victory in the November election to the Occupy Movement.
After twelve years of war in the Middle East and Central Asia, the Obama Administration is “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific. Sixty percent of the U.S. military forces are being deployed in the region to “contain” China. The popular phrase in Washington to describe this process is a “re-balancing” of US forces.
The increased militarization of the US’s Asia-Pacific policies is anything but benign. It is fueling region-wide arms races, increasing the dangers of war, as we have seen in the territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, reinforces Japan’s transformation into a national security state, and has devastating impacts on the people of Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam and Hawaii where new bases are being built.
The House Armed Services Committee will begin a series of hearings in February to further demonize China and to create the support for additional Congressional funding for the military “pivot”.
The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization invites peace groups, faith communities, and API solidarity groups to join us to counter-organize around those hearings this coming spring. We invite you to organize local or regional educational forums or other public events to create greater public awareness about the pivot. .
Our plan is to follow up after the spring events by organizing a national conference on the Asia-Pacific in the fall of 2014.
We will soon provide a list of Asia-Pacific resources including speakers, films, books, websites, and articles that could help further grow the issue in our communities.
The pivot is an issue that will touch every community. The military industrial complex fully knows that in order to pay for the massively expensive “re-balancing” the remaining slim thread of social spending must be cut in order to pay for corporate imperial ambitions. The military also creates a large carbon footprint that will only exacerbate climate change.
We hope that with your collaboration, we can connect the dots between cancerous militarism, environmental degradation, a new costly arms race, and human rights abuses.
Please let us know if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions or would like to offer to become a local or regional sparkplug for these events.
Christine Ahn – Women De-Militarize the Zone (DMZ)
Liberato Bautista - United Nations Ministry of the General Board of Church and Society
Jackie Cabasso – Western States Legal Foundation
John Feffer – Foreign Policy in Focus
Bruce K. Gagnon – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson – American Friends Service Committee
Subrata Ghoshroy – Massachusetts Institute of Technololgy
Mark Harrison – United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Christine Hong – Korea Policy Institute
Kyle Kajihiro - Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice
Peter Kuznick - American University
Judith LeBlanc – Peace Action
Hyun Lee – Nodutdol
Andrew Lichterman – Western States Legal Foundation
Ramsay Liem – Boston College
Kevin Martin – Peace Action
Stephen McNeil – American Friends Service Committee
Satoko Norimatsu - Peace Philosophy Centre (Vancouver)
Mike Prokosch – Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia & the Pacific
Arnie Saiki – Moana Nui Action Network
Chloe Schwabe - Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Tim Shorrock - Journalist
This is a cross-post from Transcend Media Services
Nonviolence vs. Nonexistence!
Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” That choice is becoming ever more profound as we enter the new year of 2014. For billions of people around the world, and for the earth itself, life is hanging by a thread. The choice is do we foster a world free of war, poverty, and climate crisis through non-violent action, or do we continue on the downward spiral toward nonexistence.
Audio and transcript BBC Radio 4 Today, Jan. 2, 2014
January 05, 2014 "Information Clearing House - When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with 'shock and awe'. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East.
A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That's the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.
What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this 'normalising the unthinkable'. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: 'worthy victims' and 'unworthy victims'. 'Worthy victims' are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. 'Worthy victims' qualify for what we call 'humanitarian intervention'.
'Unworthy victims' are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the 'good dictators' we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a 'good dictator' but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to 'bad dictator'.
In Indonesia, General Suharto was a 'good dictator', regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.
When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with 'shock and awe'. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East.
This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups... worldwide". And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They're good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.
I use the first person 'we' and 'our' in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say 'we', preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama's White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela's 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela's cell on Robben Island - he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.
What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this "reconciliation".
We all live in an information age - or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We're wired; we're on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in 'Brave New World', Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media's wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a "manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis." But, said Pinter, "it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission - that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state - not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It's why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it's an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: "Never believe anything until it's officially denied".
Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq - perhaps a million people would be alive today.
This is a transcript of John Pilger's contribution to a special edition of BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey.
By Kathy Kelly
Kabul--The fire in the Chaman e Babrak camp began in Nadiai’s home shortly after noon. She had rushed her son, who had a severe chest infection, to the hospital. She did not know that a gas bottle, used for warmth, was leaking; when the gas connected with a wood burning stove, flames engulfed the mud hut in which they lived and extended to adjacent homes, swiftly rendering nine extended families homeless and destitute in the midst of already astounding poverty. By the time seven fire trucks had arrived in response to the fire at the refugee camp, the houses were already burned to the ground.
No one was killed. When I visited the camp, three days after the disaster, that was a common refrain of relief. Nadiai’s home was on the edge of the camp, close to the entrance road. Had the fire broken out in the middle of the camp, or at night when the homes were filled with sleeping people, the disaster could have been far worse.
Even so, Zakia, age 54, said this is the worst catastrophe she has seen in her life, and already their situation was desperate. Zakia had slapped her own face over and over again to calm and focus herself as she searched for several missing children while the fire initially raged. Now, three days later, her cheeks are quite bruised, but she is relieved that the children were found.
Standing amid piles of ashes near what once was her home, a young mother smiled as she introduced her three little children, Shuba, age 3 ½, and Medinah and Monawra, twin girls, age 1 ½. They were trapped in one of the homes, but their uncle rescued them.
Now the nine families have squeezed in with their neighbors. “We are left with only the clothes on our body,” said Maragul. She added that all of the victims feel very grateful to their neighbors. “We cook together,” she said, “and they offer us shelter at night.” Three or four families will sleep together in one room. Asked if their neighbors were all from the same clan, Maragul, Nadiai and Zakia immediately began naming the different ethnic groups that are among their neighbors. Some are Turkman, some Uzbek, some from Herat or Kabul, others are Pashtun, and some are Kuchi. The women said that they begin to feel like brothers and sisters, living together in these adverse circumstances.
The Chaman e Babrak refugee camp spills over the grounds of a large field formerly used for sporting events. With 720 families crowded into the camp, it is second in density and size only to the Charahi Qambar refugee camp, on the outskirts of Kabul, which is twice as large and more than twice as full as the Chaman e Babrak camp.
Years ago, before the Taliban originally captured Kabul, some of the families in this camp had rented homes in the area. They had fled to Pakistan to escape the fighting, hoping to find a future with security and work. After the U.S. invasion, with President Karzai’s accession to power, they’d been urged to return, told that it was safe to go back.But upon their return they’d learned their old homes and land now belonged to victorious warlords, and they learned again that safety is painfully elusive in conditions of poverty and the social disintegration that follows years, and in their case decades, of war.
Asked about prospects for their husbands to find work, the women shook their heads. Nadiai said that her husband has occasional work as a porter, carrying materials in a wheelbarrow from one site to another. Sometimes construction projects will hire him, but in the winter months construction projects are closed and already scarce work vanishes altogether. And war, in a sense, brings its own winter along with it: Next to the camp is a construction project that has been dormant since 2008. It had been intended to become an apartment building.
There was never any plan announced to house these families, even before the fire. And since the fire, there has been no offer of aid aside from those seven fire trucks, rushing in to contain an immediate threat not only to the camp but of course to neighboring businesses, several wedding halls and a plastic surgery hospital, up against which, in a city no stranger to glaring contrasts of wealth, the camp finds itself pressed. I came to the camp with young activists of the Afghan Peace Volunteers there to distribute heavy coverlets, (duvets), manufactured with foreign donations by local seamstresses, precisely for distribution free of charge to Kabul’s neediest people in the winter months. The UK sister organization to my own group, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will distribute food packages in the camp during the coming week.
We’ll never know who the fire might have killed, because when the old or the young die from the pressures of poverty, of homelessness, of war, we can’t know which disaster tipped the balance. We won’t know which catastrophe, specifically, will have taken any lives lost here to this dreadful winter. Many will be consumed by the slow conflagration of widespread poverty, corruption, inequality and neglect.
As many as 35,000 displaced persons are now living in the slum areas in Kabul alone. “Conflict affects more Afghans now than at any point in the last decade,” according to Amnesty International’s 2012 report,Fleeing War, Finding Misery. “The conflict has intensified in many areas, and fighting has spread to parts of the country previously deemed relatively peaceful. The surge in hostilities has many obvious consequences, among them that families and even entire communities flee their homes in search of greater security. Four hundred people a day are displaced in Afghanistan, on average, bringing the total displaced population to 500,000 by January 2012.”
The vast expenditures of the U.S. government and its client here simply can’t be designated as contributions toward “security.” These funds have contributed to insecurity and danger while failing to address basic human needs. The realpolitik of an imperial power, as utterly disinterested in security here as it seems to be in its own people’s safety at home, will not notice this camp. As we pull together in our communities to enkindle concern, compassion, and respect for creative nonviolence, we are in deep winter hoping for a spring. We are right to work and to hope, but faced with the spectacle of winter in Chaman e Babrak I can’t help remembering Barbara Deming’s lines: “Locked in winter, summer lies; gather your bones together. Rise!”
Photo credits: Abdulai Safarali
By José-Antonio Orosco
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize. One of the most striking aspects of his acceptance speech is the hope he expressed in humanity’s ability to overcome war. This was no mere idealism on his part. Less than five years earlier, the world had come to the brink of thermonuclear destruction because of Cuba. The United States and Soviet Union eventually diminished their threats and, in 1963, signed and ratified an agreement to end the open-air nuclear testing that was blanketing the planet with radioactive fallout. These were small steps, but to King, they indicated that human beings were capable of cooperation, even in the face of something as horrendous as the suicide of the human race.
Today, the annihilation of humanity looms again as a possibility because of climate change. In 1964, King could not have imagined the particular features of global environmental destruction that we now face. Yet, he had reflected carefully on the forms of action needed to avert mass extinction before, so his work can still be useful today in thinking about directions for the climate justice movement.
First, King reminds us to think in terms of the “beloved community” in which we are all interconnected. That means that the injustices that we experience are also intertwined. For many climate activists, thinking about racism, sexism, or poverty are side issues; after all, if there is no habitable earth, then those problems won’t really matter. King cautioned against the view that injustices could be divided into neat isolated silos. The world, he said, faces the danger of the “evil triplets”: racism, militarism, and materialism. These are inter-related features, he thought, that are at the root of wars of aggression, such as Vietnam, against distant peoples for control of natural resources needed to maintain the luxuries of a few.
Climate change activists today need to acknowledge the overlapping systems of injustice that make some people vulnerable to climate damage much more immediately. It will be poor countries, largely in the Global South, that will suffer the most from environmental degradation of air, water, and soil. In the US, extreme weather--as we have already seen with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy--will disproportionately affect economically fragile areas, usually made up of historically marginalized communities: indigenous people, people of color, immigrants, the elderly, and LGBTQ people. Climate justice activists will need to build alliances around these diverse issues, and develop the ally capabilities to listen to, and lift up, the voices of disenfranchised people.
In his last years, King wrote about the forms of activism that were needed to confront the evil triplets. He warned activists not to get trapped by the usual mix of demonstrations and protest that were hallmarks of the early Civil Rights movement. With these forms of direct action, King believed the movement had fallen into “crisis thinking,” that is, reacting to injustice after it had already appeared. Complex justice would require mass protests, but it also meant getting out in front of social problems, and building alternative civic and economic structures so that people would not have to rely on problematic state or corporate institutions. He called for organizing neighborhoods and creating diverse networks of allies that could support one another.
A glimpse of this kind of activism came about when Occupy organizers provided assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Achieving climate justice, then, will mean not only protests against this pipeline or that shipping port, but also working to connect local community gardens, alternative currencies, free libraries and medical clinics, into thick webs reaching across urban and rural areas. This kind of organizing will enable widespread skill sharing and mutual aid, but also deliver a message that was dawning at the height of the Occupy movement: another world is possible, and there are many across the world who desire to work together to build it.
King believed we had it within us to avoid mutually assured destruction; he also thought we were developing the insights and activist resources to radically align our world to the moral arc of the universe. The climate justice movement might become the place where we prove him right.
José-Antonio Orosco is associate professor of philosophy at Oregon State University, where he directs the Peace Studies Program. He writes for PeaceVoice and is the author of Cesar Chavez and Common Sense of Nonviolence.
By Winslow Myers
While John Kerry admirably shuttles around like the Energizer Bunny in search of Middle East peace, is there anything new to say about the intractable tension between Israelis on the one hand and predominantly Muslim peoples, especially the Palestinians, on the other?
One layer of the unspoken is Israel’s implicit status as a nuclear power. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama draw red lines in the sand concerning the threat of Iranian nukes, but say little about the only viable long-term solution: a negotiated and verified nuclear-free zone in the Eastern Mediterranean—even better, a planet-wide nuclear-free zone. Nuclear war anywhere on earth has become more unthinkable as it has become more possible.
Also rarely spoken—lest howls of anti-Semitism ensue—is an uncomfortable question: why do we frown upon the lack of separation of church and state in many Muslim countries, while Israel gets a pass in privileging a particular constellation of religion and ethnicity?
The historical rationale for the birth of the Jewish state could not be more reasonable. In the context of Jewish history over thousands of years climaxing in the Holocaust, no one could argue with Jewish fears of extinction and their need for a secure homeland.
Though all parties in the region ought to know from long experience how futile war, terror, obstruction, and discriminatory harshness are as tools to suppress the universal impulse toward justice, each keeps trying one or another unworkable method, making the success of Mr. Kerry’s quixotic mission all the more crucial.
The present Israeli government derives its identity in large measure from fear of what it is against, and so it has encouraged injustices like the settlements that it would never tolerate were it a victim of similar treatment.
Obviously this is not to say that the anti-Semites of the Arab world are innocent. And it is unfair to compare the civil rights Israel has afforded non-Jews with the civil rights much of the Muslim world affords women and non-believers. Israel does not order the execution of those who abandon Judaism. However much it may wish to be even-handed, it sees its own Muslim population growing. If this population enjoyed full citizenship Israeli could eventually become a de facto Muslim state. So it waters down Muslim civil rights to preserve its identity.
As we express our hope that Arab countries (and even the U.S. itself) evolve toward a more inclusive and tolerant politics, it is worth asking if the maintenance of Israel as a Jewish state become counter-productive to its own long-term security? It is not that Zionism is racism, in the crude Arab formulation, but that Zionism has been transcended by the notion of a state relatively untethered to any one religion.
If the identity of Israel were re-established on the basis of equal rights for all ethnicities, ancient fears might begin to dissolve from within. The corrosive “us-and-them” dynamic could be undermined in a way that left Jews safer—just as Jews, while a minority in the United States, are surely as safe there, if not more so, as they are in Israel.
For Israel to become a fully secular state, the international community would have to guarantee the security of Jews, whether inside or outside Israel, a task that for understandable reasons Israel has always zealously reserved for itself. Abdication of self-determined security is, to say the least, unlikely. Tragically however, maintaining a Jewish state will increasingly tie its citizens in knots as they are forced to choose between Jewish identity and full democracy.
Jews and Palestinians for the most part do not know each other as people, and the predictable theatrics of their leaders do nothing to help reconciliation. The entry point into a shared future beyond war is the face-to-face engagement of ordinary citizens at the heart level. It is people moving one by one from unfamiliarity, ignorance, and fear, toward familiarity, empathy, and enough trust to allow the heart to message the brain that it's safe to get creative together.
The moral basis of the secular state, the tolerance and compassion that flows from the acknowledgement of universal rights, is ironically a major premise of the Jewish ethical tradition. An unbeliever once asked Rabbi Hillel if he could sum up the Torah while standing on one foot. The simple answer was “What is hateful to yourself, do not to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah and the rest is but commentary.
One of the many gifts world civilization owes the Jews is this confidence in an ethical universality that transcends specific sects and ethnicities. If I identify as a Jew but also as citizen of secular democracy, I am better able to interact with Palestinians according to our common identity as humans. Finding ourselves in this shared human context, we will stand a measurably better chance of resolving our differences. To the extent that Jews allow themselves that larger identification with the “other,” they may not only come closer to fulfilling the ethical promise of their heritage, but also may find the security that has eluded them since the founding of the Jewish state. How poignant that after thousands of years of their culture contributing so much to the world, this idea should still feel so risky. Godspeed, Mr. Kerry.
Winslow Myers, author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” writes on global issues forPeaceVoiceand serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.
Open for a lot more videos.