Top 10 Activist Errors

The number one error, engaged in by the majority of people, is failing to be an activist. The world's going to hell, countless situations can be easily improved, lives can be saved, and most people just sit there and do nothing. Others actively work to make matters worse. So, if you're working for peace and justice, you're among the tiny minority that's pretty much got the big stuff right. If constructive criticism drives you into despair, please stop reading this article right now and just continue what you're doing with your life. You have my gratitude.

If you're open to hearing some suggestions, for whatever they may be worth (and yes, of course, this list of errors will exclude those that I am myself guilty and unaware of), read on:

1. ELECTIONISM. We need elections but do not now have them in the United States, not at the federal level. Working for election reforms is one of the most important things anyone can do. But taking time off from activism to focus on elections is the biggest waste of resources we engage in. Election reform will come through creative nonviolent activism, education, organizing, media, disruption, resistance, and protest. It won't come through elections. Registering voters is not activism. Creating automatic registration, as just done in Oregon, is activism. Please stifle your compulsion to ask me who I'm voting for. You don't ask me if I want to win the lottery. (I do, but I will not buy a ticket or devote my life to staring at one.)

2. OBAMANISM. As bad as taking a break from activism every election cycle, is thinking and acting like a voter and a campaigner rather than an activist every day of every year, cheerleading for a team of corrupt officials rather than for policies, reforms, and actions that you support. "The nationalist," said Orwell, "not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." Nationalism is a huge problem, and its language, which has peace activists using the word "we" in saying "We are bombing Afghanistan," may contribute to identification with crimes. But the problem of managing not to even hear about them applies to partisanship as well. If a Republican were picking men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, you'd see protests.

3. TOKENISM. "Black people are dumb." "Muslims are violent." These are understood to be ignorant hate speech. But "Women make better presidents" is not frowned on quite so much, despite its exactly equal idiocy. The problem is not the demographic characteristics of the president. The problem is having a single individual with the powers of a god, in debt to sociopathic billionaires, in a system dominated by militarism and corruption. We won't change it with a female or gay or Latina corporatist warmonger.

4. STRATEGISM. Winning a first and a second and a third step down a path to peace or justice is not best achieved through the means that many activists think of as "strategic." If you tell someone that they should halt one war so that the military can be better prepared for other wars, you weaken your argument against the one war, and you provide an argument for future wars. If you oppose the weapons that don't work, you give legitimacy to the far worse weapons that do work. If you object to a gimmick that boosts weapons spending over a mandated limit by transferring funds from a war budget, you shouldn't do so in a way that suggests either budget is acceptable at all, or in a way that suggests war spending is preferable to non-war-spending or budget trickery. Pre-compromising doesn't get you a compromise result; it gets you incoherence and lack of believability. A young woman pointing out to Jeb Bush that his brother (and Hillary and a few hundred others) created ISIS does a lot more to move people against war than do the strategies coming out of DC peace groups. War is counterproductive on its own terms, immoral, illegal, and catastrophic. Its funding should be eliminated. Our job is to demand that. A small reduction is a first step toward our goal.

5. IMPOTENTISM. The most pervasive and powerful propaganda is that of powerlessness. Telling yourself and each other that you are powerless is no different than Judith Miller repeating CIA lies about WMDs. It's exactly as ridiculous and exactly as damaging. We are not powerless. We quite easily have an impact frequently and could quite easily have a much bigger one. Expecting fairness won't help. We have to work uphill, but it's perfectly doable. Being impatient won't help. We have to keep working however long it takes and however few help out. Self-flagellation won't help. The money is against you and money is powerful. It's not your fault you haven't saved the world, but it might be thanks to you that your grandchildren save it.

6. PAROCHIALISM. We have to form uncomfortably large coalitions, and we really don't want to. I'm not advocating what I critiqued above as strategism. Don't sell your soul. Don't promote destructive ideologies for short-term gain. But don't be scared of guilt-by-association. Be willing to stand with people on an issue whose views and actions you deeply oppose on other issues.

7. LOCALISM. It's far more satisfying to find peace in your heart or sustainability in your backyard than to take on the military industrial complex. But if the earth dies, so will you. There are local and hyper-local angles that contribute to the greater cause. Cities and states can change nations. But individual action alone is not enough. Even small group action aimed too near is not enough. If everybody with solar panels on their roofs had put half the money into a movement to create public solar arrays, we'd have them.

8. FREUDISM. In a popular, simplistic notion of nonviolent communication, one never persuades anyone through rational argument. This is a claim, by the way, that comes out of an ideology supposedly dedicated to respecting people and their "needs." Apparently among those needs is not the need for a good reason to believe something. It would of course be equally simplistic to assert that all one ever needs are facts, or to ignore the age-old wisdom that it is hard to get someone to believe something they are paid not to. But when I tell people that college is free in other countries, their jaws drop, and it's not 30 seconds before they're saying it should be that way in the U.S. When I talk to non-self-selected groups about ending war, the majority say at the end that they have been moved toward believing that war can and should be ended. Facts are not enough, but they are one of the main things the corporate media deprives us of, and one of the key components of activism. They do nothing to help us see another's point of view if we're unwilling to look. They do nothing to alleviate high levels of fear. But it would be a mistake for us to become inversions of Edward Bernays working to manipulate people in a kinder, gentler manner.

9. FETISHISM. Here's a little secret. The people who speak the viewpoints that serve big money are not smarter, wittier, pithier, or better at framing a topic. They're on the air because they speak the viewpoints that serve big money. They may be more eloquent than you. They may be less so. But trying to think and sound like them in general is a quite risky proposition and completely unnecessary. There is nothing we need more than better media and better use of existing media by its readers, listeners, and viewers. There is no smarter place to invest as activists. But what we lack is not spokespeople. What we lack is microphones.

10. PINKERISM. "But haven't you heard? War is going away on its own? I heard it from someone who read a review of a book by Steven Pinker." War is not going to go away on its own. It is not even going away with our help. But it could go away if we really get our act together.

World Can't Wait - 3 panels at the Left Forum

World Cant' Wait will host 3 panels at Left Forum from May 30-31st, 2015 at John Jay College New Building, 524 W. 59th St. NYC. 

Deep Into Drone Wars & Secret Ops: What's the "War on Terror" Coming To?The invasions and occupations of the Bush regime have given way to the secret operations and drone strikes of the Obama era. Growing U.S. forces are carrying out secret ops in 150 countries; conventional and drone strikes are actively attacking Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and spreading into North Africa. This poses significant challenges to anti-war opposition within the U.S. How do we expose and oppose these new and fundamentally illegitimate and unjust actions?

A Call for Conscientious Objection


By Dieter Duhm

You have no enemies. People of another faith, another culture or another color are not your enemies. There is no reason to fight against them.

Soldat_KatzeThose who send you to war do not do so for your interest, but for their own. They do it for their profit, their power, their advantage and their luxury. 
hy do you fight for them? Do you gain from their profit? Do you share in their power? Do you share in their luxury?
And against whom do you fight? Did your so-called enemies do something to you? Cassius Clay refused to fight in Vietnam. He said the Vietnamese did not do anything to him.
And you, GIs: Did the Iraqis do something to you? O
r you, young Russians: Did the Chechenyans do something to you? And if yes, do you know what kind of cruelties your government committed against them? 
Or you, young Israelis: Did the Palestinians do something to you? And if yes, do you know what your government did to them? Who fabricated the injustice you are about to fight against? Do you know what powers you serve when you drive with tanks through conquered areas?

Who, for heaven’s sake, fabricated the injustice for whose pretended abatement youth are sent to war? Your governments, your own legislators, the rulers of your own country fabricated it.
It is fabricated by corporate groups and banks, the arms industry and militaries which you serve and whose war commands you obey. Do you want to support their world?
If you do not want to serve their world then ignore war service. Ignore it with such insistence and power that they stop recruiting. “Imagine war was declared and nobody showed up” (Bertolt Brecht). No one on Earth has the right to force another person to go to war.
If they want to draft you into war service, turn the tables. Write to them and tell them where and when and in which socks, underwear and shirts they must report in. Tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they must go to war themselves from now on if they want to fulfill their objectives. Use your connections, your media sources, the power of your youth, and your power to turn the tables. If they want war they must get into tanks and dugouts themselves, they must drive through mine fields and they can get cut by shrapnel themselves.

There would no longer be war on Earth if those who fabricate these wars had to fight the battles themselves, and if they had to experience in their own body what it means to be mutilated or burnt, to starve, to freeze to death or to faint from pain.
War is the opposite of all human rights. Those who lead war are always wrong. War is an active cause of endless disease: crushed and burned children, bodies torn to pieces, destroyed village communities, lost relatives, lost friends or lovers, hunger, cold, pain and escape, cruelty against the civilian population – this is what war is.

Nobody is allowed to go to war. There is a higher law beyond the laws of rulers: “Thou shalt not kill.” It is the moral duty of all courageous people to refuse war service. Do it in large numbers, and do it until nobody wants to go to war anymore. It is an honor to refuse war service. Live this honor until everyone recognizes it.

A soldier’s uniform is the fool’s dress of slaves. Command and obedience is the logic of a culture that is afraid of freedom.
Those who agree to war, even if it is only to obligatory military service, are themselves guilty of complicity. To obey military service goes against all ethics. As long as we are human beings we must put all our effort into stopping this madness. We will not have a humane world as long as military duty is accepted as societal duty.

The enemies are always the others. But think about it: If you were on the “other” side, you yourself would be the enemy. These roles are exchangeable.

“We refuse to be enemies.” The tears shed by a Palestinian mother for her dead child are the same as the tears of an Israeli mother whose child is killed in a suicide bombing.

The warrior of the new era is a warrior of peace.
One has to have the courage to protect life and to become soft inside if our co-creatures are treated with harshness. Train your body, strengthen your heart and stabilize your mind to achieve the soft power which prevails against all resistance. It is the soft power which overcomes all harshness. You all come from the love between a man and a woman. So love, worship and foster love!

“Make love, not war.” This was a profound sentence from American conscientious objectors at the time of the Vietnam War. May this sentence move in all young hearts. And may we all find the intelligence and the will to follow it forever.

In the name of love,
In the name of the protection of all creatures,
In the name of the warmth of all that has skin and fur,
Venceremos.
Please support: “We are Israeli reservists. We refuse to serve.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/23/we-are-israeli-reservists-we-refuse-to-serve/

William Astore: America's Mutant Military

In September 2001, the Bush administration launched its “global war on terror,” to which its supporters later tried to attach names like “the long war” or “World War IV.” Their emphasis: that we were now engaged in nothing less than a multi-generational struggle without end.  (World War III had theoretically been the Cold War.)  In fact, only the “war on terror” would stick and, in 2009, even that would be tossed over

Don’t Grade Justice on a Warped Curve: Assessing the Case of Jeffrey Sterling

Yes, I saw the glum faces of prosecutors in the courtroom a few days ago, when the judge sentenced CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling to three and a half years in prison -- far from the 19 to 24 years they’d suggested would be appropriate.

Yes, I get that there was a huge gap between the punishment the government sought and what it got -- a gap that can be understood as a rebuke to the dominant hard-line elements at the Justice Department.

And yes, it was a positive step when a May 13 editorial by the New York Times finally criticized the extreme prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.

But let’s be clear: The only fair sentence for Sterling would have been no sentence at all. Or, at most, something like the recent gentle wrist-slap, with no time behind bars, for former CIA director David Petraeus, who was sentenced for providing highly classified information to his journalist lover.

Jeffrey Sterling has already suffered enormously since indictment in December 2010 on numerous felony counts, including seven under the Espionage Act. And for what?

The government’s righteous charge has been that Sterling provided information to New York Times reporter James Risen that went into a chapter of his 2006 book “State of War” -- about the CIA’s Operation Merlin, which in 2000 provided Iran with flawed design information for a nuclear weapon component.

As Marcy Wheeler and I wrote last fall: “If the government’s indictment is accurate in its claim that Sterling divulged classified information, then he took a great risk to inform the public about an action that, in Risen’s words, ‘may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.’ If the indictment is false, then Sterling is guilty of nothing more than charging the agency with racial bias and going through channels to inform the Senate Intelligence Committee of extremely dangerous CIA actions.”

Whether “guilty” or “innocent” of doing the right thing, Sterling has already been through a protracted hell. And now -- after he has been unemployable for more than four years while enduring a legal process that threatened to send him to prison for decades -- perhaps it takes a bit of numbness for anyone to think of the sentence he just received as anything less than an outrage.

Human realities exist far beyond sketchy media images and comfortable assumptions. Going beyond such images and assumptions is a key goal of the short documentary “The Invisible Man: CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling,” released this week. Via the film, the public can hear Sterling speak for himself -- for the first time since he was indicted.

One of the goals of the government’s assault on whistleblowers is to depict them as little more than cardboard cutouts. Aiming to dispense with such two-dimensional portrayals, the director Judith Ehrlich brought a film crew to the home of Jeffrey Sterling and his wife Holly. (On behalf of ExposeFacts.org, I was there as the film’s producer.) We set out to present them as they are, as real people. You can watch the film here.

Sterling’s first words in the documentary apply to powerful officials at the Central Intelligence Agency: “They already had the machine geared up against me. The moment that they felt there was a leak, every finger pointed to Jeffrey Sterling. If the word ‘retaliation’ is not thought of when anyone looks at the experience that I’ve had with the agency, then I just think you’re not looking.”

In another way, now, maybe we’re not truly looking if we figure that Sterling has received a light sentence.

Even if the jury’s guilty verdict was correct -- and after sitting through the entire trial, I’d say the government didn’t come close to its burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt -- an overarching truth is that the whistleblower(s) who provided journalist Risen with information about Operation Merlin rendered a major public service.

People should not be punished for public service.

Imagine that you -- yes, you -- did nothing wrong. And now you’re headed to prison, for three years. Since the prosecution wanted you behind bars for a lot longer than that, should we figure you got a “light” sentence?

While the government keeps harassing, threatening, prosecuting and imprisoning whistleblowers for public service, we’re living in a society where corrosive repression continues to use fear as a hammer against truth-telling. Directly countering such repression will require rejecting any claim or tacit assumption that government prosecutors set the standard for how much punishment is too much. 

_____________________________ 

Norman Solomon’s books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and coordinates its ExposeFacts project. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org, which has encouraged donations to the Sterling Family Fund. Disclosure: After the guilty verdict, Solomon used his frequent-flyer miles to get plane tickets for Holly and Jeffrey Sterling so they would be able to go home to St. Louis.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - May 14, 2015


Federal judge gives State Department until September to hand over Clinton documents to Citizens United (VIDEO) - Daily Mail


Hillary Clinton email case reopened by federal judge following joint request by the State Department and Judicial Watch - Washington Times


State Department blames FOIA backlog on Hillary Clinton - WashingtonExaminer.com


Judicial Watch Statment: Federal Court Reopens State Dept FOIA Lawsuit - Judicial Watch


VIDEO: Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton on The Dana Show: Reopened FOIA Lawsuit About Clinton Emails - YouTube


Government grants to the Clinton Foundation during Hillary's tenure as secretary of state have still not been publicly disclosed - Reuters


State Dept OK'd Bill Clinton speech requests within days in a short email: 'We have no objection’, that earned him nearly $50 million - Newsday


Clinton facing new ethics questions on role in Boeing deal, after landing a $3.7 billion deal company donated $900,000 to Clinton Foundation and $250,000 for Bill Clinton’s speech - Fox News


VIDEO: New ethical questions about Clinton's role in Boeing deal - Fox News


Clinton's Chevron ties, oil company that stood to lose billions in an environmental lawsuit funneled donations to the Clinton Foundation while it lobbied the State Department - Washington Examiner


Devastating Timeline Reveals the Transfer of Half of U.S. Uranium Output to Russia as Hillary Clinton's Foundation Bags $145 Million - Breitbart


Report: Top H-1B Outsourcing Firm Paid Bill Clinton $260K for Speech During Hillary's Tenure at State Dept - Breitbart


Why Is an Israeli-American Billionaire Pouring Millions into the Clinton Foundation? - National Review Online


Foreign donors pledge new support for Clinton Foundation efforts during a conference in Morocco - WashingtonExaminer.com


While Hillary Clinton Refuses to Answer Questions About the Clinton Foundation’s Foreign Donors, Bill Clinton Hobnobs with Saudi Royalty in Morocco - Washington Free Beacon


WSJ: Clinton Foundation’s explanation for why it was divided into three, legally separate tax-exempt organizations is “misleading and false” - wnd.com

 

Rep. Blackburn to IRS: Investigate Clinton Foundation Tax Status - Breitbart


Wall Street analyst: ‘Shut down Clinton Foundation’ - wnd.com


The Clintons vs. a Charity Watchdog, they wanted Charity Navigator to remove the foundation from a watch list — NYMag


VIDEO: Clintons Tried to 'Strong-Arm' Charity Watchdog After Poor Review of Foundation - CBS


If Clinton is elected, family foundation could face changes - The Washington Post


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

Clinton Foundation Donors Fill Hillary’s Campaign Coffers - Washington Free Beacon


From Listening Tour to Fundraising Frenzy: Manhattan Moguls Embrace Hillary Clinton - Bloomberg Politics


Correct The Record registering with the Federal Election Commission as a stand-alone Hillary Clinton super PAC - POLITICO


Is New Hillary Clinton Super-PAC Pushing Legal Boundaries? - Bloomberg Politics


Hillary Clinton will not be at Benghazi Committee next week: official - NY Daily News


Trey Gowdy vs. Hillary Clinton with no end in sight - POLITICO


Benghazi Committee Releases Interim Report - Speaker.gov


REPORT: Interim Progress Update The Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attacks in Benghazi -Chairman Trey Gowdy


Hillary Clinton Hasn't Answered a Press Question in 21 Days (And Her Opponents Are Taking Notice) - ABC News


RNC Launches #AskHillary Petition Challenging Clinton's Media Silence - Breitbart


Here’s a clock that counts the minutes since Hillary Clinton answered a press question - The Washington Post


Rand Paul returns to trolling Hillary with fake to-do list - WashingtonExaminer.com


POLL: More than Half of Americans Wouldn’t Consider Voting for Hillary Clinton - Washington Free Beacon


POLL: Some 44 percent of voters think Clinton is less ethical than the typical politician - Fox News


Clinton’s claim that illegal immigrants pay more in taxes than some corporations - The Washington Post


Hillary slams 20-week abortion ban - TheHill


Federal lawsuit filed against Ohio's voting system by Hillary Clinton’s top campaign lawyer and others - The Columbus Dispatch


Inside the Univision-Clinton network, The ties between the Clintons and the Spanish language television network run deep - POLITICO


How Bill Clinton’s Library Promotes Hillary Too - TIME


Bill Clinton tells Letterman he would live in White House — if Hillary asked him to (VIDEO) - The Washington Post


VIDEO (Full Interview): Bill Clinton on David Letterman Late Show - YouTube

 

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A New Dark Age

By Robert C. Koehler

“What struck me” journalist Christian Parenti said in a recent Truthout interview, referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, “was the fact that these local towns and states around the region were sending the only resources they had to New Orleans: weapons and militarized gear.

“After 30 years of the War on Drugs and a neoliberal restructuring of the state at the local level, which is not a reduction of the public sector but a transformation of the public sector, the only thing local governments had were weapons.”

Parenti’s observation summed up a deep sense of puzzled frustration I’ve been feeling for a long time, which has been growing in intensity since the Reagan era and even more so since 9/11 and the unleashed Bush agenda. Fear, exploited and unchecked, triggers a deep, “rational” insanity. We’re driving ourselves into a new Dark Age.

The driving force is institutional: government, the mainstream media, the military-industrial economy. These entities are converging in a lockstep, armed obsession over various enemies of the status quo in which they hold enormous power; and this obsession is devolving public consciousness into a permanent fight-or-flight mentality. Instead of dealing with real, complex social issues with compassion and intelligence, our major institutions seem to be fortifying themselves – with ever-increasing futility – against their imagined demons.

Parenti went on, in his interview with Vincent Emanuele: “So, less money for public housing, more money for private prisons. It’s a literal transfer of resources to different institutions, from a flawed social democratic institution like public housing, to an inherently evil, but still very expensive and publicly funded institution, like prison.”

As American society militarizes, it dumbs itself down.

The only surprising aspect to a recent story in the U.S. edition of The Guardian, for instance – about how the Houston office of the FBI broke its own rules in beginning an investigation of opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline – was how unsurprising it was.

In essence, the FBI office violated the department’s internal rules – “designed,” according to The Guardian, “to prevent the agency from becoming unduly involved in sensitive political issues” – by beginning a surveillance operation against anti-pipeline activists without receiving high-level approval to do so. Furthermore, “the investigation was opened in early 2013, several months after a high-level strategy meeting between the agency and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline,” The Guardian reported.

“… At one point, the FBI’s Houston office said it would share with TransCanada ‘any pertinent intelligence regarding any threats’ to the company in advance of a forthcoming protest.”

Perhaps the only surprising thing about this revelation is that the agency has internal rules designed to keep its nose out of sensitive political issues. Obviously, they’re easily circumvented. What’s not surprising is the corporate-FBI alliance to stand tough against “environmental extremists” or the agency’s lumping of environmental protests with other “domestic terrorism issues” – its pathological fear, in other words, of peaceful protest and civil disobedience and its inability to see the least bit of patriotic value in their cause.

This is the case despite the long, honored tradition of protest and civil disobedience in the United States and the widespread public awareness of the need to protect our environment. Doesn’t matter. In the realm of law enforcement, a simple moralism too often prevails: Get the enemy.

Imagine, just for a moment, an American law enforcement institution that operated out of an emotional state other than armed self-righteousness; that regarded the security it was established to protect as a complex matter that required cooperation and fairness and was ill-served by intimidation. Imagine a law enforcement institution capable of learning from past wrongs and not automatically donning riot gear in the face of every challenge to social conditions – and not automatically manning the firehoses.

What I see our powerful, status-quo institutions doing is arming themselves against the future. Consider the enemies: poor people, immigrants, protesters of all sorts . . . whistleblowers.

“A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia sentenced former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling to three and a half years in prison on Monday in a case that has received widespread condemnation for revealing the ‘rank hypocrisy’ of the U.S. government’s war on whistleblowers,” Common Dreams reported.

Sterling was convicted, on circumstantial evidence, of leaking classified info to New York Times journalist James Risen about a bizarre CIA operation called Operation Merlin. If true, Sterling committed the crime of embarrassing the U.S. government by outing an ill-conceived CIA plan to pass flawed information about nuclear-weapon design to Iran, which may actually have furthered Iran’s weapons program. The government has no right to hide its operations – and certainly not its mistakes – from the public. By pretending that it’s defending “our” security by doing so, even as it ignores and fails to invest in true measures of security, such as a rebuilt social safety net, it squanders its legitimacy.

And the more legitimacy it squanders, the more it militarizes.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2015 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

A REAL MEMORIAL DAY PARADE!

From Know Drones:

On Sunday, May 24, 3 pm (Rain date, Mon, Memorial Day, May 25, same time), gather at Peace Park, behind Village Hall, in New Paltz, NY for a sidewalk march to honor victims of governmental and corporate militarism, such as victims of: drone killings, other acts of war violence, Guatanamo, police militarism and racism and gender violence, and ecocide (think fracking, Lac Megantic, the rain forest, the oceans, the PA forest, etc.) One major theme will be: "This isn't ISIS, this is US"

Barbara Kidney, Drone Alert – Hudson Valley, an organizer of the march, said:
“We realize people may be away or committed to other plans on Memorial Day weekend. We decided to do this event despite that because we feel it is urgent to present to the community a real Memorial Day event, meaning one that does not glorify militarism on the Memorial Day weekend.

“We will also honor the protectors and champions of life, healthy community, and unalienable rights, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Earthfirst! and Hugh Sampson (the Army helicopter pilot who intervened to save people from his fellow military during the My Lai massacre).” 

Feel free to bring signs to honor victims and/or champions of your choosing.  The march will end with picnicking at Hasbrouck Park.

An organizational meeting will be held on Sunday, May 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 pm at Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 6 Church Street, New Paltz.

Other groups are very welcome to co-sponsor, Barbara said.  You can text her at (845) 313-8035 or call Andrew Dalton at (845) 699-3051.

MAY 17 DRONE WAR PROTEST AT WHITEMAN AFB IN MISSOURI.

From Know Drones:
 
On Sunday, May 17, from 2 – 3:30 pm there will be an anti-drone war rally at the entrance of Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, MO.   Cars will leave at 12:30 pm from 912 E. 31st Street, Kansas City, MO for the base.  To carpool, call 913-206-4088.
 
Brian Terrell, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence (VCNV), will speak at the rally. He served 6 months in a federal prison camp for resistance at Whiteman AFB in 2012 after crossing a line on the entry road to protest remote control of killer drones from Whiteman and other bases.

Brian says, protesters plan to stay on the public right-of-way and will invite the base commander and officers “to join us to break bread and converse,” and that no civil resistance is planned.  Last year Georgia Walker, of PeaceWorks-KC, and Kathy Kelly, of the Chicago-based VCNV, did civil resistance at Whiteman AFB. Georgia is on probation for a year, and Kathy served 3 months in a federal prison camp.

The rally is sponsored by PeaceWorks-KC, Mid-MO Fellowship of Reconciliation and PeaceWorks-Mid-MO.

Stop U.S. Drone Warfare via Ramstein

From Know Drones:
 
Please plan a protest in your area on or before May 26 urging the German Government to order the U.S. to close the satellite relay station at Ramstein Air Base that is essential to U.S. drone surveillance and attacks globally.  Numerous German human rights and antiwar organizations have issued the joint call, “Stop U.S. Drone Warfare Via Ramstein” and are asking U.S. organizations to support the call.
On May 27th a vigil will be held at the German Parliament in Berlin to draw attention to the opening of the court case of the bin Ali Jaber family of Yemen against the German Government. The family lost two of its members to a U.S. drone attack in 2012 and demands that Germany stop allowing Ramstein to be used for U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. Under German law, extra-judicial killings are illegal.

At this point, protests in the U.S. are being planned as follows:

  • May 21 – Syracuse, NY – 4:15 – 5 pm at the front gate of Hancock Air Base, timed at the shift change.
  • May 26 – New York City – 11:30 am – Outside the German Consulate, 871 United Nations Plaza, on First Avenue between East 48th and 49th Streets.

The German Embassy is in Washington, DC, and there are also German consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco.   Any courthouse would be an appropriate point for a witness. http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/03__Consulates/00/__Consulates.html

Judicial Watch finally gets answers in TSA lawsuit by Lisa Simeone

Last August I wrote a post reporting that the non-profit civil liberties organization Judicial Watch was suing the TSA to gain access to documents outlining the sexual abuse of travelers at the hands of TSA workers. I said that Judicial Watch was joining a long line of of other organizations and individual people who had also tried to sue the TSA to get information, and that the TSA, predictably, had stonewalled.

Talk Nation Radio: Rania Khalek on U.S. Police Training in Israel and Israelis Advocating Genocide

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rania-khalek-on-us-police-training-in-israel-and-israelis-advocating-genocide

Rania Khalek discusses her reports on Baltimore police training in Israel, Israel targeting children with drone strikes, and Israeli officials openly advocating genocide. Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass. She is a regular contributer at The Electronic Intifada, where she sits on the editorial board. Her work has also appeared at Truthout, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Al Jazeera America, The Nation, Salon, AlterNet and more. You can follow her work at her website raniakhalek.com and on twitter at @RaniaKhalek. She also cohosts a podcast called “Unauthorized Disclosure."

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
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The Government's Not-So-Sterling Case Against Sterling

 

 


Punishing Another Whistleblower


Editor Note: Just weeks after ex-CIA Director David Petraeus got a no-jail-time wrist-slap for divulging secrets to his biographer/lover, ex-CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling got 42 months in prison for allegedly alerting a U.S. journalist to a dubious covert op, a double standard of justice.

By Ray McGovern

Populist Except for Pentagon

Katrina vanden Heuvel says there's an emerging populist agenda. Of course populist agendas tend to emerge in times of demobilization for election distraction -- that is to say, in moments when huge political party and NGO resources are being dumped into focusing attention on a distant election instead of on the crises and work at hand. Witness all the efforts to get Hillary Clinton, and not Barack Obama, to oppose the TPP.

And of course the agendas don't actually emerge. There's nothing new about them. Millions of us have favored a living wage and free education and breaking up the banking monopolies for years. The point of having such ideas "emerge" is to create reservoirs of patience for not getting them and not even demanding them, but rather diverting one's interest into cheerleading for future saviors who will later treat campaign promises like, well, campaign promises.

But what interests me about what's "emerging" is what's missing from it, even in the rhetoric. Vanden Heuvel links to six reports or platform statements. Each deals with economics, the public budget, spending and investment priorities. Virtually absent from them all, by some coincidence, is any mention of military spending, despite its taking up a majority of the discretionary spending budget every year, and despite its swallowing far more wealth than goes to the billionaires who are so rightly upbraided for hoarding it so immorally.

Five of the six populist agendas propose nothing related to military spending. It might as well not exist. One of them includes as number 11 of its 12 points: "We should reduce military budgets and properly support humanitarian programs."

Was that so hard? It used to be the norm in Democratic Party platform promises. Where has it gone too? The other five organizations will not attack the sixth with sharp critiques for including this, of course. Their preferred tactic is silence.

The new normal seems to be PEP. Usually PEP means Progressive Except for Palestine (we all know people who are generally against murdering babies but not when Israel does it). But I'm using PEP to mean Populist Except for the Pentagon.

If you don't want to take the time to watch the video of Bernie Sanders' 12 proposals, here's his list:

1. major investment in infrastructure
2. reverse climate change
3. new economic models, no more huge tax breaks to corporations, but support for worker-owned coops
4. Employee Free Choice Act (remember that?)
5. make minimum wage a living wage
6. pay equity for women
7. end NAFTA and CAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China
8. affordable college
9. break up the Wall Street banks
10. Medicare for all - single payer healthcare
11. expand Social Security
12. progressive taxation

All wonderful stuff. Some of it quite courageous outside-the-acceptable stuff. But what do you spend on reversing climate change? And do you also keep spending on the single biggest contributor to climate change, namely the military? What do you invest in infrastructure? It's not as though Sanders doesn't know about the trade-offs. In between listing items 1 and 2, he blames "the Bush-Cheney war in Iraq" for costing $3 trillion. He says he wants infrastructure instead of wars. But routine "base" military spending is $1.3 trillion or so each and every year. It's been far more in recent years than all the recent wars, and it generates the wars as Eisenhower warned it would. It also erodes the economy, as the studies of U-Mass Amherst document. The same dollars moved to infrastructure would produce many more jobs and better paying ones. Why not propose moving some money? Why not include it in the list of proposals?

In Sanders' case, I think he's partly a true believer in militarism. He wants good wars instead of bad wars (whatever that means) despite the belief in "good wars" requiring ongoing military spending. And partly, I think, he comes at it from a deep habit of "supporting" the troops and veterans for both sincere and calculating reasons. He's also a PEP in the Palestine sense.

But people will be thrilled just to hear Sanders mention "the bad Bush-Cheney war," when their standard is set by such war hawks as Hillary Clinton, whose love for war, rather than some collective fit of amnesia, explains the absence of the military from most of the emerging populist agendas.

We should be clear that this degeneration of the Democratic Party platform does not represent a shift in public attitudes, but rather an increase in the corruption of the political system. No polls support this. Many campaign funders do.

Ann Jones: Citizen's Revolt in Afghanistan

Soon after 9/11, Ann Jones went to Afghanistan to help in whatever way she could, “embedding” with civilians who had been battered by the rigors of that war-torn land.

Focus: Trans-Pacific Partnership - May 12, 2015


Liberal senators imperil “fast-track” trade bill - TheHill


In letter fourteen Senate Democrats urge stronger labor standards before a sweeping Asia-Pacific deal takes effect - TheHill


Text of the Letter by Fourteen Senate Democrats Calling for Strong Labor Standards in Trans-Pacific Partnership - Sherrod Brown


Elizabeth Warren fires back at Obama: Interview with the senator - The Washington Post


Elizabeth Warren and Rosa DeLauro Op-Ed: Who is writing the TPP? - The Boston Globe


VIDEO: President Obama Dismisses Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ Warning - ibtimes.com


White House escalates Warren feud - TheHill


VIDEO: White House: False criticism that members of Congress aren’t aware of what’s being negotiated in trade deal - YouTube


Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama's trade pact - POLITICO


Schumer Vows To Oppose A Trade Deal That Doesn’t Adequately Protect American Workers & Industry From Unjust Trade Practices Of Some Countries - Chuck Schumer


Rand Paul opposes granting Obama fast-track trade authority - WMUR Home


Despite Pressure From White House, Leahy And Sanders Will Vote No On Trans-Pacific Trade Deal - Vermont Public Radio


Sandy Levin’s Open Letter to Progressives: TPP Is Not Yet 'The Most Progressive Trade Agreement in History' - huffingtonpost.com


VIDEO: Levin on C-SPAN: TPA In Trouble Because TPP On Wrong Track - Committee on Ways and Means


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

Fight Over China Currency Policies Threatens Vote on Trade Bill - NYTimes.com


White House: Adding currency measure to trade deals might harm Fed - MarketWatch


The strong dollar is hurting U.S. manufacturing. There’s a lesson in there for the TPP. - The Washington Post


POLL: Americans Want Trade Deals to Address Currency - Alliance for American Manufacturing


US trade deficit jumps to 6-year high of $51.4 billion, Exports have been hurt by an increase in the value of the dollar - AP


Trade Deficit With Korea Balloons 104 Percent as Exports Fall and Imports Surge Under Korea Pact Used as TPP Template -Public Citizen


Trade-Related Job Loss by State - Public Citizen


Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers: Trade Abuse - huffingtonpost.com


Steelworkers rally at Congressman's office; want more trade deal debate - St. Louis Public Radio


A major AIDS research groups says the TPP will make it harder to fight AIDS - Vox


REPORT: Trans-Pacific Partnership: Curbing Access to Medicines Now and in the Future - amfar.org


Why Doctors Without Borders Is Lobbying Against Obama’s Trade Deal - NationalJournal.com


AIPAC-backed amendments add to trade bill turmoil - POLITICO


Senate Fast Track Vote Tuesday -- Where Is Clinton? - huffingtonpost.com


Fiorina comes out against Pacific trade deal: ‘I am very uncomfortable with this deal’ - Morrow County Sentinel


Donald Trump: Don't Give Obama Fast-Track Trade Authority - newsmax.com


Jesse Jackson: Don't believe Obama on trade deal - Chicago


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

 

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Nuclear Weapons Protesters’ Sabotage Conviction Overturned -- Court Says Jury Verdict Was Not Rational

By John LaForge

An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove -- and that “no rational jury could find” -- that the three had intended to damage “national defense.”

In July 2012, Greg, Michael and Megan clipped through four fences and walked right up to the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Uranium processed there puts the “H” in our H-bombs. With three hours before they were spotted, the nuclear weapons abolitionists painted “Woe to an Empire of Blood” and other slogans on several structures, strung banners, and celebrated their luck in catching the nuclear weapons system asleep at the wheel. When a guard finally confronted them, they offered him some bread.

They were convicted in May 2013 of damage to property and sabotage and have been imprisoned since then. Boertji-Obed, 59, and Walli, 66, were both sentenced to 62 months on each conviction, to run concurrently; and Sr. Megan, who is 82, was given 35 months on each count, also running concurrently.

Questions about the legal status of nuclear weapons were not on appeal, but rather the issue of whether the Sabotage Act applies to peace protesters who do no damage to weapons. During the appeal’s oral argument, the prosecutor insisted that the three senior citizens had “interfered with defense.” Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge asked pointedly, “With a loaf of bread?”

The Court’s written opinion, also by Judge Kethledge, ridiculed the idea of depicting peaceful protesters as saboteurs, saying. “It is not enough for the government to speak in terms of cut fences…” The government must prove that the defendant’s actions were “consciously meant or practically certain to” interfere with “the nation’s capacity to wage war or defend against attack.” Greg, Megan and Michael, the court said, “did nothing of the sort,” thus, “the government did not prove the defendants guilty of sabotage.” The opinion went so far as to say, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent when they cut the fences.” The point is shockingly uncharacteristic in its direct implication of prosecutorial over-reach and manipulation of the jury.

Another reason the Appeals Court vacated the sabotage conviction was that the Supreme Court’s legal definition of “national defense” is unclear and imprecise, “a generic concept of broad connotations…” The Court said it needed “a more concrete” definition because, “vague platitudes about a facility’s ‘crucial role in national defense’ are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage. And that is all the government offers here.” The definition was so general and vague, the Court said, that it barely applies to the Sabotage Act, since, “It is hard to determine what amounts to ‘interference with’ a ‘generic concept’.”

Re-sentencing may result in “time served” and release

The Court took the additional and unusual step of voiding the prison sentences for both the sabotage and the damage-to-property convictions, even though the lesser conviction still stands. This was because the harsh prison terms given for property damage were heavily weighted in view of the (ill-gotten) sabotage conviction. The result is that the three radical pacifists will be re-sentenced and may be released. As the Appeals Court said: “It appears that the [sentencing] … for their [damage to property] conviction will be substantially less than their time already served in federal custody.”

If the federal prosecutor does not challenge the reversal of his overzealousness, and another superior court doesn’t reverse the 6th Circuit’s decision, the three could be freed in July or sooner.

The high-profile nature of uranium enrichment at Oak Ridge, and the vulnerability of the site to senior citizens, brought enormous media attention to the case, which has been featured in lengthy investigations by the Washington Post, The New Yorker and others. The action, known as “Transformation Now Plowshares,” also helped uncover scandalous misconduct and malfeasance among security contractors at Y-12/Oak Ridge complex. Arguably and ironically, these pacifists almost certainly thus strengthened the defense of the country.

What remains unscathed is the White House’s plan to spend $1 trillion on new weapons production facilities over the next 30 years -- $35 billion a year for three decades. The role of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in this Bomb production -- a clear violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — was named with blood by the Plowshares action, but H-bomb business marches on. Protesters will converge on the site again Aug. 6.

For more on Y-12 and the weapons build-up, see the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, OREPA.org.

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Iran Nuclear Talks. A fresh tone in Washington with a breath of Oregon

By Patrick T. Hiller

It is easy to be a cynic listening to some of the more nonsensical chatter coming out of Congress. Despite the most comprehensive international agreement between the United States and its P5+1 partners (the members of the UN Security Council and Germany) with Iran on its nuclear program, the calls to bomb Iran are still too loud for them to be dismissed. In a less publicized speech last week, informed leadership by Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley points to a simple yet powerful truth: diplomacy works. Merkley argued, without dismissing the absolute need to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapons program, that the most effective strategy to achieve this outcome is a verifiable, negotiated process. Almost simultaneously, 150 House Democrats wrote a letter supporting the administration’s negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, urging the exhaustion of every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

This is more than just Congressional politics and debate. We are experiencing a shift in the larger debate about the effectiveness of diplomacy versus war. We are more secure through diplomacy and negotiated agreements, because they are superior to military intervention and war. Therefore it is crucial that diplomatic efforts continue and that we disregard military options which are guaranteed failures in the short and long-term.

There is a poor track-record of military intervention to achieve the stated outcomes. Or to put it differently – wars don’t work. This is especially true for the more recent wars and military interventions in the Middle East. The voices still claiming success in the two major US-led Middle East wars are increasingly shrinking. The war in Afghanistan was an ill-conceived response to the criminal attack of September 11, 2001. The 2003 invasion of Iraq turned into the Iraq War. Astronomical costs, a violent insurgency, the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and immense casualties and suffering of civilians sum up the current situation.

Diplomats and negotiators are not acting in uncharted landscapes. There is a body of knowledge on why negotiation and other conflict resolution approaches are superior to military options. Negotiation is not a zero-sum game where one party wins at the expense of the other parties. The possible and expected outcomes are mutually acceptable agreements. In multilateral negotiations – in this case the P5 + 1 framework – the potential for more lasting agreements grows substantially, as more groups and interests are interdependent and have to be reconciled. Negotiation is a critical tool to restore and repair broken relationships as well as creating space for agreements in other areas. Whether we like it or not, Iran is a major player in the Middle East and beyond. Foreign policy issues around Syria, Iraq, Yemen, oil, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be addressed constructively when Iran is an involved participant in creating a path forward.  

In a time where people and governments worldwide are calling for nuclear disarmament, there is an understandable fear of a nuclear-armed Iran. Some might argue that swift military air bombardment against Iran is the best option to achieve this goal. This is a purely political statement and out-of-touch with history and expertise of military leaders.  Adm. Mike Mullen (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote, “As of today, there is no more credible path of reducing the likelihood of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon than this potential deal. Those who say the risks are too high with the current deal offer no constructive path forward save the high potential for war.” Due to absolute superiority of U.S. conventional military force, even the threat of military intervention would be an incentive for Iran to actually acquire nuclear weapons and create as much secrecy as possible around those efforts. The tone in Washington’s foreign policy and intelligence community has changed. Having personally sat through briefings with officials from the State Department, the intelligence community and other state agencies recently, I can attest that there was a strong consensus that any application of hard military power leads to uncertain and uncontrollable outcomes and that diplomacy and cooperation with partners was the preferred course of action.

The stakes in P5+1 and Iran nuclear negotiations are high. The only path forward is to seek negotiated agreements based on oversight and control. In doing so, we can prevent war and the inevitable human, social, economic and environmental costs. We can avoid putting American men and women in harm’s way, who then would cause harm to Iranian men, women and children – that’s the nature of war. The way we understand and constructively address global conflict and war now has changed. Senator Merkley has shown that he recognizes that negotiation and understanding its environment is the new realpolitik which makes us more secure. The media and the public have a responsibility to protect and emphasize such voices.

***

Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., Hood River, OR, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Conflict Transformation scholar, professor, on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association, and Director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation.

In Convicting Jeff Sterling, CIA Revealed More Than It Accused Him of Revealing

Some Americans have heard of New York Times reporter and book author James Risen and his refusal to expose a source. But, because most reports on that matter scrupulously avoided the subject of what it was Risen had reported, relatively few people can tell you. In fact, Risen reported (in a book, as the New York Times obeyed a government request to keep it quiet) that back in the year 2000 the CIA gave nuclear weapons plans to Iran. Flaws had been introduced into the plans, with the stated intention of slowing down an Iranian nuclear weapons program if one existed. Risen's reporting that the flaws were glaringly obvious, including to the former-Russian asset assigned to deliver the plans to Iran, made the scheme look even worse than it at first sounds.

Jeffery Sterling, a CIA handler of the former-Russian asset, was convicted earlier this year of being Risen's source. He was convicted on the basis of the sort of circumstantial evidence known as "meta-data" that the NSA maintains we're not supposed to worry about, but which an appeals court on Thursday ruled the bulk collection of unconstitutional. Sterling is expected to be sentenced Monday to a lengthy prison term.

During the course of Sterling's trial, the CIA itself made public a bigger story than the one it pinned on Sterling. The CIA revealed, unintentionally no doubt, that just after the nuclear weapons plans had been dropped off for the Iranians, the CIA had proposed to the same asset that he next approach the Iraqi government for the same purpose. The CIA revealed this by entering into evidence this cable:

Mr. S., also known as Bob S., was and is a CIA officer. M is short for Merlin which is code for the former Russian and also the name of the operation (Operation Merlin). The cable refers to a more adventurous extension of the operation to somewhere other than Iran. The name for this other location begins with a vowel, because it follows the indefinite article "AN."

Look closely at the text of the cable. The letters line up in vertical columns as well as the usual horizontal rows. It's a grid. The missing word on the seventh line begins with a vowel and has five letters. It can be IRAQI or OMANI.

Keep reading. The missing word on the tenth line has four letters. It is either IRAQ or OMAN.

There follows a discussion of a meeting place, which is likely not in Iraq (or Oman).

Read to the last line. There the missing word has six letters. It can be IRAQIS or OMANIS.

The circumstantial evidence for choosing Iraq over Oman as the second target for Operation Merlin is far more weighty than what was used to convict Jeffrey Sterling of informing the public of the first target. Oman has never been alleged publicly by anyone of having or pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Oman has never been known to be a target of U.S. military action. Iraq in 2000 had been the target of multiple CIA-backed coup attempts. Iraq's weaponry was a top focus of the CIA. Within two years, claims about Iraqi weaponry would be used by the CIA to support the U.S. attack on Iraq that would come in March 2003.

The 2002-2003 claims by then-President George W. Bush and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that a smoking gun could come from Iraq in the form of a mushroom cloud take on a different light when we learn that some short time earlier the CIA had proposed to give Iraq nuclear weapons plans as part of a program that Condoleezza Rice personally persuaded the New York Times not to reveal.

In 1995, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel had informed U.S. and British intelligence officers that "all weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed." Yet, on October 2, 2002, President Bush said, "The regime has the scientists and facilities to build nuclear weapons, and is seeking the materials needed to do so." This was a claim he would also put in a letter to Congress and in his 2003 State of the Union Address.

Vice President Dick Cheney went so far as to claim, on March 16, 2003, on Meet The Press, "And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

There was no evidence for this, of course, and pretended evidence was carefully manufactured, including forged documents purporting to show that Iraq was trying to buy uranium, and an incorrect analysis of aluminum tubes that had to be carefully sought out after all the usual experts refused to provide the desired answer.

"We do know that there have been shipments going . . . into Iraq . . . of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tools [sic] that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs," said Condoleezza Rice on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on September 8, 2002.

When the experts at the Departments of Energy, State, and Defense refused to say that aluminum tubes in Iraq were for nuclear facilities, because they knew they could not possibly be and were almost certainly for rockets, a couple of guys at the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center near Charlottesville, Va., were happy to oblige. Their names were George Norris and Robert Campus, and they received "performance awards" (cash) for the service. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell used Norris' and Campus' claims in his U.N. speech despite the warning of his own staff that they weren't true.

The U.S. government has never engaged in any such efforts to falsely portray Oman as pursuing nuclear weapons.

Did the CIA follow through with Merlin and actually give anything to the Iraqi government? Did it provide nuclear weapons plans as with Iran? Did it provide nuclear weapons parts, as originally conceived for Iran but not followed through on?

We don't know. But we know that the CIA continued paying "Merlin" and his wife for some service. As Marcy Wheeler pointed out, "altogether, the CIA paid the Merlins roughly $413,223.67 over the 7 years after James Risen supposedly ruined Merlin's usefulness as an asset." For all we know, we taxpayers are still funding the Merlin household.

Peace Lessons: How to Reduce Violence

If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of, and the relationships among, direct, structural and cultural violence and how one peace studies scholar suggests we use the integrative power of nonviolence to address violence constructively, then I suggest you read the new book by historian, playwright and novelist Professor Timothy Braatz called Peace Lessons.

Swedish Fishing Trawler “Marianne” Leaves Sweden for Gaza Flotilla

When: May 10, 2015

Where:Gothenburg, Sweden

The fishing trawler "Marianne of Gothenburg" will leave Gothenburg, Sweden on May 10, 2015, to meet the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The trawler, which has been acquired by Ship to Gaza Sweden and Ship to Gaza Norway jointly, departs for a voyage of almost 5000 nautical miles to eastern Mediterranean and the Gaza Strip which is blockaded by Israel.

The “Marianne” will join other ships and together they will form the "Gaza Freedom
Flotilla 3" in order to perform a peaceful, nonviolent action to break
the illegal and inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The “Marianne” will call at European ports for demonstrations against the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The first three stops on the voyage are Helsingborg, Malmö and Copenhagen.  Subsequent ports will be announced in later press releases.

Cargo

Marianne is not a cargo-ship, but she will bring a limited cargo of, among
other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment.

In the blockaded Gaza Strip, where the infrastructure has been
demolished, solar cells will provide an opportunity to independent local production of clean energy.

The sun can not be blockaded.

Delegates

In addition to a crew of five people, Marianne will have up to eight delegates as passengers in each section of the route. The names of these individuals  will be announced as time progress.

Passengers In the first leg of the voyage are among others:

Maria Svensson, spokesperson, Feministiskt initiative

Mikael M Karlsson, Chairperson, Ship to Gaza Sweden

Henry Ascher, professor of Public Health, pediatrician

Lennart Berggren, filmmaker

Dror Feiler, musician, spokesperson of  Ship to Gaza​​

Dimock, PA Lawsuit Trial-Bound as Study Links Fracking to Water Contamination in Neighboring County

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has confirmed what many fracking critics have argued for years: hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can contaminate groundwater. 

The Prison Gates Swing Open for Peace Activists

Kathy Kelly is just out of prison, where she'd been sent for nonviolently opposing drone murders.

An appeals court has just overturned convictions for Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Gregory Boertje-Obed, imprisoned for entering and protesting a nuclear weapons site at Oak Ridge, Tenn., three years ago. Resentencing on lesser charges, and quite possibly immediate release, is expected.

Amazingly, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the government failed to prove that the activists intended to "injure the national defense." (Maybe Venezuela, accused by President Obama of being a threat to the same, should appeal to the Sixth Circuit!)

The U.S. government has just dropped charges against eight members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance who nonviolently protested the U.S. military's environmental destruction with a march from the EPA to the Pentagon this past Earth Day.

"It can only be speculated why the charges were dismissed," said NCNR. "The eight activists were charged with 'Failure to Comply With a Lawful Order' and were scheduled to appear for trial on June 4 at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA. The group was well prepared to challenge the charge and to speak some truth to power in the courtroom. Perhaps the U.S. attorney recognized that the defendants at the Pentagon were simply exercising their constitutionally-protected right to speak out against our government's wrong-headed policies. Or possibly he agreed with the defendants' messages."

In recent months there have been absurd indictments and sentences. But there have also been surprising acquittals and the dismissal of charges.

Freedom isn't free, it's won by continued protests of wars.

Now to free all the other prisoners!

John Kiriakou, just out of prison, writes about his experience here.

Child Soldier released from jail by Canadian court: US Still Seeks Jail for ‘Fighter’ Captured at 15 in Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The good news is that an appellate judge in Canada has had the courage and good sense to uphold the release from jail on bail of Omar Khadr, a native of Canada who was captured as a child soldier at the age of 15 in Afghanistan by US forces back in 2002 and shipped off to Guantanamo, where he became one of the children held in captivity.

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