Bahrain: Martyr’s body detained as regime given poor liberty ranking

Twenty days have now elapsed since the martyrdom of a Bahraini youth, Abdul Aziz Al Abbar, but the Saudi-backed Alkhalifa rulers are still refusing to liberate the body for burial. The family has refused to accept the Death Certificate imposed by the regime which gives the wrong cause of death. Martyr Al Abbar had been shot at the end of February while taking part in a procession at the end of the funeral service of an earlier martyr. He was taken to the Salmaniya hospital where he received poor medical care until he passed away on 18th April. The regime wants to falsify the cause of death but the family is adamant that the Certificate says that he died of bullet wounds. The detention of the corpse is counter to the Islamic and human values and decency and has caused a wave of anger among Bahrainis.

More than 400 prisoners of conscience at the notorious Jaw Prison have continued their hunger strike despite being subjected to horrific repression including torture. A recently released former detainee, Baqir Al Sha’bani has been given a video message from the Bahraini prisoners confirming their strike and detailing the horrific injuries many have received after the attack last month by the regime’s Death Squads.

The US-based Freedom House has given very poor ranking to Bahrain in its latest report. Out of 197 countries, Bahrain ranks 187 in terms of freedom of press. This is a big blow to a regime attempting to use huge oil money to bolster its image abroad after three years of serious human rights violations.

Reporters Without Borders have listed a Bahraini photo journalist among 100 Information Heros. Ahmed Humaidan’s plight has been highlighted by the organisation’s report saying: ” He was arrested on 29 December 2012 for supposedly “storming” a police station on the small island of Sitra, in Bahrain, although he was not there at the time of the incident. This well-known photographer has languished in a cell ever since, subjected to death threats and psychological torture. No doctor has been allowed to examine him. He was given a 10-year jail sentence on 26 March 2014”. It ranked Bahrain at 163 out of 181 countries.

The Islamic Commission for Human Rights (IHRC) has published a report on the use of foreign mercenaries to repress native population. Entitled “Bahrain 's recruitment of foreign mercenaries to curb anti-regime protests” the report highlights the dependence of the ruling Alkhalifa family on foreigners to enforce its rule over the native population. It also gives facts and figures about the increasing numbers of Pakistanis in the security, military and police forces and how the people have paid high price in terms of human lives for this.

The Alkhalifa terror machine has continued its intimidation campaign against Bahrainis. Arrests have continued unabated. On 6th May, Mahdi Saleh Farhan, 16, was snatched in a savage raid on the family’s home at Hamad Town. Another under-aged Bahraini, Ali Jaffar, 17, was arrested in a similar raid on his house in Karzakkan Town. Mohammad Abdul Nabi Yaqoob, a teacher at Rafaa School was arrested yesterday. From Malikiyah Town Bahraini youth, Hussain Abdulla Bu Rashid was arrested.

Meanwhile the Alkhalifa judicial machine continued to sentence Bahrainis to harsh prison terms for taking part in anti-regime protests. Yesterday at least eight people were sentenced to jail terms ranging between three and ten years on trumpeted charges. While the Palestinian Ministry of the Detained and the Liberated reported this week that 5100 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, the acceptable figures of Bahrain’s prisoners are around 3500. The regime has confessed to the delegation of the UN Human Rights Commission which visited Bahrain last month that it was holding around 2000 Bahrainis in its torture chambers. This is far from the reality according to the Bahraini human rights activists.

The Supreme Council of Scholars has written a letter to the Alkhalifa-sponsored “Dialogue of Civilisations” which has been held this week condemning the hypocrisy of the regime. Dialogue with the outside comes after an internal dialogue which is lacking in Bahrain. Instead of promoting harmonious relations among Bahrainis, the regime has ignited sectarian wars and suppressed the majority Shia natives. It destroyed their mosques, banned the Supreme Council of Scholars and exiled senior religious figures.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
7th May 2014

Possibly the Biggest Unknown Known Risks Exposure

A petition to the President and the Attorney General has just been posted by several organizations, including one I work for, asking that the Department of Justice stop threatening New York Times reporter James Risen with prison if he refuses to reveal a confidential source.

This story, among other stunning features, I think, threatens to expose an unknown known of the highest magnitude -- by which I mean, not something lying outside Donald Rumsfeld's imagination, but something that everyone paying attention has known all about for years but which would explode the brains of most consumers of corporate media if they ever heard about it.

Here's a great summary of the matter at the Progressive.  The focus there and in the petition is on the threat to freedom of the press.  But read this offhand bit of the explanation carefully:

"The information concerns a source for a chapter in Risen’s terrific 2006 book, 'State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.' That chapter dealt with a scheme to give the Iranians faulty blueprints for a nuclear weapon."

Not only is the Justice Department (universally understood to take its orders from the White House) trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source, but it's trying to pressure a reporter to reveal a source who told him that the United States gave Iran plans for building a nuclear bomb.

Imagine if the general public had a clue that this had happened!

Rather than reporter, I should probably be saying author.  And I should stop attaching the insulting modifier "New York Times" in front of "reporter".  Because this was a story published in a book.  The same book included several interesting stories that I don't think ever made it into major media outlets. 

One exception was a story about NSA mass-surveillance.  The New York Times had sat on that story for over a year and explained that failure as a desire not to inform the public of what its government was up to prior to an election (the 2004 election).  When the book came out, the New York Times finally reported the story.  But if the Times or other outlets have informed the public that the CIA gave Iran nuke plans, I've missed it.  This shocker certainly has not been extensively covered.

The genius plan was to give Iran nuclear bomb plans with some little portion altered. But reportedly it was quite clear to scientists -- yes, even in Iran they have scientists -- which bit had been altered. 

The result was not the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb program.  As Gareth Porter's new book documents in detail, Iran has never had a nuclear bomb program, and we've simply been lied to about that fact for 35 years. 

But, here's the point: if your Uncle Homer knew the sort of moron stunts the CIA was engaged in with a nation marketed for 35 years as a force of evil, the result would out-do by far the outrage heard last summer when Obama and Kerry proposed joining a war in Syria on the side of al Qaeda (which everyone had been told was Evil Inc. up to that moment).

Don't Obama and Holder risk bringing more attention to this lunacy by prosecuting James Risen? Can they really trust the Press Corpse (sic) to bury the substance of the story? 

More to the point: Will we let them? Please sign the petition to the President and the Attorney General.

Call for Action Against US intervention in Ukraine

 
Right-wing sets fire at House of Labor, Odessa

UNAC, along with other groups and antiwar leaders has called for actions against US intervention in Ukraine.  The call is below with an initial list of organizations and antiwar leaders who support the call.

Please add your group and your actions to the list by clicking on the links below.

 

Call for Emergency Antiwar Actions – May 9 to May 26

 

US/NATO war moves in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, and the Baltic Sea – the borders of Russia – are a danger to the whole world. Positioning destroyers and missiles, scheduling war games, and imposing sanctions (an act of war) risk wider war.

 

We are deeply disturbed by the expansion of the U.S.-commanded NATO military alliance and U.S. recognition and speedy grant of billions in loans to a right-wing coup government in Ukraine, which overthrew the elected government. This illegal government has used fascist violence against all forms of peoples’ resistance in Ukraine.

 

By more than 2 to 1, the population in the U.S. is against another war and opposed to US military moves or aid to the coup government in Ukraine (4-28-14 Pew/USA Today poll).

 

We must make our voices heard.

The time to act is now!

We need jobs, health care and social services, not another war.

We urge nationally coordinated antiwar actions across the U.S. and internationally - protests, vigils, teach-ins, antiwar resolutions and visits to offices of elected officials.

 

From May 9 to May 26 let us act together, in unity, as a powerful voice against the threat of another war.

To endorse the Call, please click here

To list an action, please click here

To view actions, please click here

 

Ukraine National Actions May. 9-26 endorsements (list in formation):

National and International groups:

United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
International Action Center
Code Pink
ANSWER Coalition
U.S. Peace Council
Veterans For Peace
Alliance for Global Justice,
BAYAN, USA
Black Agenda Report
International League for Peoples Struggles,
Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamel
May 1 Worker & Immigrant Rights Coalition,
Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
Colectivo Honduras USA Resistencia,
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum,
Fight Imperialism Stand Together - FIST,
People's Power Assembly
People's Organization for Progress
WarIsACrime.org
The Move Organization
International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamel

Individual signers:
Ramsey Clark
Medea Benjamin
David  Swanson
Ray McGovern
Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report
Suren Moodliar, Massachusetts Global Action & Green shadow Cabinet
Bishop Filipe Teixeira – OFSJC – CCA
Steve Gillis – Vice Pres. USW local 8751 Boston school Bus Union
Leila Zand, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Local Groups
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace (Albany)
Chicago Anti-War Committee
MN Anti-War Committee,
Women Against Military Madness - WAMM,
Minnesota Peace Action Coalition,
Jersey City Peace Movement,
Philly Against War
Peace Action – Manhattan
Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War & Injustice (MECAWI)
Chelsea Coalition on Housing
Women’s fightback Network – Boston
Rochester Against War
US Friends of The Soviet People (Minnesota Chapter)
Mayday Bookstore
Veterans for Peace (Twin Cities chapter 27)

Massachusetts Global Action
Northhampton committee to Stop Wars

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Bipartisan Members, Introduce the War Authorization Review and Determination Act

... to Limit Executive Branch’s ‘Blank Check’ for Military Force

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the bipartisan War Authorization Review and Determination Act (WARD Act), to reinsert Congressional oversight and determination into any future use of military force, as well as repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). As the House prepares to take up the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, Congresswoman Lee introduced this legislation to end the executive branch’s “blank check” for military action.

Since her lone vote against the AUMF in 2001, Congresswoman Lee has consistently called for the repeal of this legislation, which has been used as legal justification for a wide range of activities, including targeted drone killings, warrantless surveillance and wiretapping, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, joined Congresswoman Lee in introducing the WARD Act and advocating for stronger congressional oversight in authorizing military force.      

“As the only Member of Congress to vote against the AUMF on September 14th, 2001, I have been deeply concerned about this overly-broad blank check for endless war,” said Congresswoman Lee. “I knew then, as I know now, that it gives any president the nearly unlimited authority to wage limitless war at anytime, anywhere, for any reason, in perpetuity. Regardless of how you perceive the AUMF, the fact remains that it is overly broad in scope and runs contrary to Congress’s constitutional role in war making and oversight.”

“The AUMF has been the underlying legal justification for countless acts of federal overreach and abuse, including: targeted drone killings of American citizens, broad warrantless surveillance and wiretapping activities, and indefinite detention. This attack upon our Constitutional liberties must stop – and I was pleased to work across the aisle to put forward a bill which would curb these instances of gross federal overreach,” said Congressman Broun. “While the AUMF originally passed in 2001 to allow the government to pursue Al Qaeda – it has expanded far beyond its originally intended scope. The WARD Act works to address this dramatic growth of power by restoring transparency and the Congressional oversight role. I urge my colleagues to work immediately to pass this common-sense, bipartisan bill.”

According to a CRS report from July 2013, there are 30 known instances where the AUMF has been invoked by Presidents Bush and Obama for the purposes of deploying troops in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Georgia, and Yemen, justifying detentions at Guantanamo Bay, and conducting military commissions. 

Original sponsors of the WARD Act include Representatives Louis Slaughter (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules, Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), a member of the House Rules Committee, John Garamendi (D-CA), a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Ted Yoho (R-FL), a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Thomas Massie (R-KY), a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Steve Stockman (R-TX), a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

###

Palestine, Israel and the International Criminal Court

            It appears that the weak, spineless Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may finally have realized that his place in history is not going to be assured by functioning only as the puppet of the U.S. and Israel. As the latest round of so-called peace talks, sponsored by the U.S. which has no interest in any real negotiations between Israel and Palestine, has crashed and burned, Mr. Abbas has applied to join fifteen international treaties and conventions, with others expected. All this, it is said, is merely a lead-up to joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), which could then investigate and charge Israel with war crimes.

Italians Enter Hated U.S. Army Base, Plant Marijuana Seeds Everywhere

Thanks to Kit OConnell at FireDogLake and ViceNews and NoDalMolin:

Vicenza without a base would be healthier!

Background.

Washington's Pivot to Ignorance: Will the State Department Torpedo Its Last Great Program? By Ann Jones

By Ann Jones, Tom Dispatch

Often it’s the little things coming out of Washington, obscured by the big, scary headlines, that matter most in the long run. Items that scarcely make the news, or fail to attract your attention, or once noticed seem trivial, may carry consequences that endure long after the latest front-page crisis has passed. They may, in fact, signal fundamental changes in Washington’s priorities and policies that could even face opposition, if only we paid attention.

Take the current case of an unprecedented, unkind, under-the-radar cut in the State Department’s budget for the Fulbright Program, the venerable 68-year-old operation that annually arranges for thousands of educators, students, and researchers to be exchanged between the United States and at least 155 other countries. As Washington increasingly comes to rely on the “forward projection” of military force to maintain its global position, the Fulbright Program may be the last vestige of an earlier, more democratic, equitable, and generous America that enjoyed a certain moral and intellectual standing in the world. Yet, long advertised by the U.S. government as “the flagship international educational exchange program" of American cultural diplomacy, it is now in the path of the State Department’s torpedoes.

Right now, all over the world, former Fulbright scholars like me (Norway, 2012) are raising the alarm, trying to persuade Congress to stand by one of its best creations, passed by unanimous bipartisan consent of the Senate and signed into law by President Truman in 1946. Alumni of the Fulbright Program number more than 325,000, including more than 123,000 Americans.  Among Fulbright alums are 53 from 13 different countries who have won a Nobel Prize, 28 MacArthur Foundation fellows, 80 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, 29 who have served as the head of state or government, and at least one, lunar geologist Harrison Schmitt (Norway, 1957), who walked on the moon -- not to mention the hundreds of thousands who returned to their countries with greater understanding and respect for others and a desire to get along.  Check the roster of any institution working for peace around the world and you’re almost certain to find Fulbright alums whose career choices were shaped by international exchange.  What’s not to admire about such a program?

Yet the Fulbright budget, which falls under the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), seems to be on the chopping block. The proposed cut amounts to chump change in Washington, only $30.5 million. But the unexpected reduction from a $234.7 million budget this year to $204.2 million in 2015 represents 13% of what Fulbright gets. For such a relatively small-budget program, that’s a big chunk. No one in the know will say just where the cuts are going to fall, but the most likely target could be “old Europe,” and the worldwide result is likely to be a dramatic drop from 8,000 to fewer than 6,000 in the number of applicants who receive the already exceedingly modest grants.

For the U.S., that’s not a saving, it’s a foolish blunder. Only about 1% of American college students ever study abroad. Fewer than 20% speak more than one language -- a figure that includes immigrants for whom English comes second or third -- but all students benefit from the presence of international “Fulbrighters” on their campuses and the return of their own professors and grad students from study and teaching in other countries. Those Fulbrighters chosen according to standards of academic excellence may seem to be an elite group, but their presence on campuses from North Dakota State to Notre Dame is thoroughly democratic. Their knowledge gained abroad, unlike money in our economy, trickles down and spreads out.

Cutting the Fulbright budget also sends a dangerous message to allies around the world: that the U.S. is not truly committed to its biggest and best international exchange program.  That news comes as a kick in the teeth to 50 partner countries that have established Fulbright commissions of their own to fund their share, or more than their share, of the mutual exchange. (Norway, for one, funds 70% of it.) What are good friends to make of  “cultural diplomacy” like this?

Developing a Twitter-Worthy Worldview

Given what the program achieves, and what it contributes to American prestige abroad, the budget cut is a terrible idea, but the scheme behind it is worse. It hinges on the difference between thinking long and thinking short. With decades of experience, the Fulbright Program clearly welcomes the positive effects of the regular exchange of scholars and educators of proven excellence on broad issues of cultural diplomacy like peace, the progress of democracy, and economic cooperation over time. But it’s not so heedless of history as to think it can determine those outcomes.

The State Department, on the other hand, is headed largely by short-term political appointees, many without specialized experience, most fixated on their own competitive careers. Their thinking leans quite naturally toward the quick fix consistent with an alarmist and historically suspect worldview, quite possibly derived from CNN, inscribed in the justification of the federal budget proposed for 2015: “Global events and trends now start, spread, and shape countries in an instant.” For them, history now only happens on the fast track.

Given this Twitter-worthy worldview, the laggard State Department had to make some “strategic shifts,” according to Susan Pittman, a spokesperson for State’s ECA, the office now responsible for all of America’s “cultural diplomacy.” She claimed the shifts had to be made “in order to be able to take a different angle of doing some short-term targeted programs” in instantaneous crises like that now occurring in Ukraine. “To that end,” Pittman said, “there was the desire to be able to redistribute things.”

What the State Department desires to redistribute is Fulbright funding. It can’t kill the program, but it can starve it. Ukraine, however, is a bad example to cite as a target for redistributed fast-action funds, since the Fulbright Program, thinking long, has been operating in Ukraine for all 23 years of that country’s independence, exchanging about 1,200 scholars and educators. The spokesperson did not seem to know that, or chose not to mention it. Or perhaps Ukraine sprang to mind because her brand-new boss, Evan Ryan, a former special assistant to Vice President Biden and now -- as if by magic -- assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, happens to be married to President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, who had just appeared on all the Sunday talk shows speaking about... you guessed it: Ukraine. Well, I’m just guessing, too, but such things happen in the crowded and intimate little space inside Washington’s Beltway.

Anyway, the State Department actually has its eye on other prizes. In fact, the “strategic shifts” in State Department programming coincide miraculously well with the Obama administration’s militarized “pivots” in foreign policy. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will spend $10 million in Southeast Asia and $20 million in Africa on brand new quick-fix programs to “increase outreach” to “young leaders... shaping the... future.” That’s $30 million drawn from the Fulbright budget and dispatched instead to follow the ships, drones, Navy SEALs, and other Special Forces types to unpublicized points in Asia (for the containment of China) and Africa (for who knows what).

These new ECA programs speak of “partnership,” but they are not like the Fulbright Program’s mutual exchanges. They are unilateral projects whose aim is to identify and cultivate the locals we can do business with in countries that may or may not welcome our outreach, or our handpicked young leaders either. Recall that Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led the 2012 coup that overthrew the elected government of Mali, started a war, and destabilized a vast region of Africa, was selected and trained in the United States under another State Department scheme: the International Military Education and Training program.

The ECA also plans to spend $2.5 million next year in Vietnam on what seems to be a consolation prize: a new American Fulbright University, named in honor of Senator J. William Fulbright who created the flagship program that bears his name and ushered it through Congress back in 1946.  Fulbright, an Arkansas Democrat, was then a first-term senator whose experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford had fostered his international perspective. He went on to spend 30 years in the Senate, becoming the longest serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the twentieth century’s most influential senators. Yet if the State Department has its way, the proposed university to be named in his honor will be paid for by money cut from the international exchange program he considered his most important achievement.

In fact, there’s no good reason why the ECA budget should be balanced on the back of the Fulbright Program in the first place. Overall, the federal budget for international exchange programs will actually increase by 1.6% in 2015, to a proposed $577.9 million, while the total proposed budget for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be $46.2 billion.

Surely that’s money enough to fully fund the Fulbright Program as well as those short-term, shortsighted, potentially explosive unilateral ones. So you have to ask: Why, with all those billions in pocket, must $30 million be snatched from Fulbright and its priceless reputation discounted?

At her confirmation hearing, Evan Ryan gave the game away, signaling to the senators that she knows perfectly well what she’s doing. She assured them that her office was “working closely with regional bureaus to ensure exchange programs are in line with U.S. foreign policy priorities and that they meet the needs of the changing global landscape.”

Soldiers, Not Scholars

There, of course, is the catch.  The Fulbright Program was never meant to be a tool of foreign policy, much less a tactic of military intervention.  It was and still is “designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”  Senator Fulbright himself thought Americans had the most to learn.  Asked near the end of his life what he had intended by the exchange program, he said, “Aw, hell, I just wanted to educate these goddam ignorant Americans!”

In the aftermath of World War II, he hoped that both the educational and humanizing effects of an international exchange program would promote peace and that within peace would be found authentic security for everyone.  At the time, all nations counted and the world was round.

Now the landscape has shifted, and the globe has tilted to match the slant of America’s exceptional (and mostly classified) interests, as well as a version of “national security” dependent upon secrecy, not exchange, and war, not peace.  You can see how the land lies today by tracing the dispersal of U.S. troops around that badly bashed and lopsided globe or tracking the itinerary of President Obama, just back from an Asian trip that included a new agreement extending the reach of soldiers, not scholars.

You can search hard and find little trace of those quaint old notions of international understanding and peace on the American agenda. Consider it a sign of the times that a president who, from his Nobel acceptance speech putting in a good word for war to his surges in Afghanistan to the “kill list” he regularly mulls over in the White House, has hardly been a Nobel Prize-quality executive, yet must still repeatedly defend himself against charges that he is too slow and far too wussy to go to war, perhaps as a result of his own “un-American” international childhood.

This is scarcely the moment for Washington to knock one nickel off its budget for international exchange.  Longstanding educational partners of the U.S. in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and elsewhere now have other excellent opportunities for intellectual, scientific, and artistic exchange.  Meanwhile, the dysfunctional, militarized, pistol-packin’ United States has lost much of its global allure. It was precisely this sort of isolation from the ideas and experiences of other cultures -- self-imposed by our own overweening ignorance -- that Fulbright feared. In his classic book The Arrogance of Power, published in 1966 in the midst of another unnecessary American war, he warned against the historic tendency of powerful nations to mistake military might for moral and intellectual strength and, by overreaching in an attempt to impose their views upon the world, to bring themselves to ruin.

Fulbright was hopeful that the United States might avoid this trap by “finding the wisdom to match her power,” but he was not confident because, as he wrote,  “the wisdom required is greater wisdom than any great nation has ever shown before.”  It is certainly greater than the wisdom in evidence in Washington today.

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Kabul in Winter, and War Is Not Over When It’s Over, among other books, and most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story, a Dispatch Books project (Haymarket, 2013). She encourages interested readers to check out the website http://www.savefulbright.org.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Ann Jones’s They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story.

Copyright 2014 Ann Jones

Any War Criminal Can Be Scared Away from Your Town or College

Someone just emailed me to say that Dick Cheney is coming to his town and that he knows Cheney can't be scared away like Condi, but isn't there anything that can be done? WTF? We scared Cheney away from Charlottesville VA -- This is not difficult.  Follow the steps below:

https://www.readthehook.com/101987/cheney-postpones-visit-amid-planned-protest-calls-arrest

http://warisacrime.org/content/will-dick-cheney-be-arrested-wednesday

http://davidswanson.org/node/3457

Bearing the Pain of Affirmative Action: The Shame of Clarence Thomas

By John Grant

 
    Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
    Everybody knows that the captain lied ...
    Everybody knows the deal is rotten
    Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
    For your ribbons and bows

                                       - Leonard Cohen
 

In honor of our Supreme Court I’ve decided to start this piece with a prayer.

Most Trusted Man in Afghanistan Accepting Donations for Mudslide Victims

Dr. Ramazan Bashardost2009 Afghan presidential  candidate, scholar, and former Minister of Planning, is accepting donations for Afghan landslide victims.  Dr. Bashardost's history of outspoken criticism of corruption from all sides in Afghanistan, and his integrity beyond reproach, has earned him the title 'most honest man in Afghanistan.'  In an email to friends and supporters Dr. Bashardost has assured that 'every penny' of donations made to the designated account will reach the neediest victims directly.  

Ukraine News - May 8, 2014


Putin to Ukraine rebels: postpone secession vote - Reuters


Ukraine crisis: Russia's Putin 'backs 25 May election’ - BBC News


VIDEO: Putin calls for end to Kiev’s military op, postponing referendum in E. Ukraine - RT News


Putin backs Merkel's proposal on meeting to establish dialogue between Kiev administration and eastern representatives - Voice of Russia


VIDEO: Poroshenko: Putin appeal to stop the referendum and acceptance of the presidential election is a great news - YouTube


NATO, U.S. dispute Putin's claim of Russian troop withdrawal near Ukraine - The Globe and Mail


Pentagon beefs up aid to Ukraine - Military Times


Donetsk Is Slipping Further Out of Kiev's Grasp - VICE News


Anti-Kiev protesters regain control of city council in Mariupol - RT News


VIDEO: Activists regain control of Mariupol city hall, surround it with tyres - YouTube


Rebel leader released in exchange for Ukrainian security men-separatists - Reuters


Ukraine: Captives of Separatists Describe Brutal Beatings - Human Rights Watch


Gazprom: Ukraine fails to pay its April gas bill - RT Business


Ukraine receives first aid tranche from IMF program - DW.DE


IMF to help Ukraine repay gas debts - ITAR-TASS


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

Ukraine government says pro-Russian rebels sparked deadly Odessa fire - Fox News


Odessa survivor: After the pro-government attackers entered the Trade Union burning building, some people were strangled or shot (VIDEO) - RT


VIDEO: At 1:48 sec of the video a pro-government attacker yells from the roof to his people, At 2:18 they enter the rear of the building - YouTube


VIDEO: Proof that pro-government attackers were inside before fire erupted - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Pro-government attackers kill people of the Odessa Trade Union building and and scour their bodies  (English subtitle) - LiveLeak.com


PHOTO: Pregnant housecleaning woman strangled in Odessa union building - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Attacking injured people in front of the burned building in Odessa - LiveLeak.com


PHOTO: Man with molotov cocktails on the roof of Trade Unions House wearing the same red armband as the pro-government attackers on the street - hughmcmanners


VIDEO: Pro-government attackers entering the plaza at the Trade Union House in Odessa, burning the anti-government tents and attacking the building - YouTube


VIDEO: Survivor reveals what really happened in Odessa, click the button on the lower left (Captions) for ENG subs - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Odessa woman survivor shares terrifying experience, click the button on the lower left (Captions) for ENG subs - LiveLeak.com


PHOTOS, VIDEOS: A collection attesting the massive presence of armed pro-government protesters in Odessa on May 2 - cuamckuykot.livejournal


VIDEO: Maidan girls preparing the Molotov cocktails that were then used to assault the building - LiveLeak.com

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Talk Nation Radio: Rebecca Gordon on Mainstreaming Torture

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rebecca-gordon-on-mainstreaming-torture

A new book called Mainstreaming Torture argues that torture has been with us for a long time and remains with us and has been mainstreamed and increased in acceptability in the years since Bush and Cheney left office.  We speak with the author, Rebecca Gordon. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua  and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People. She is an editor of WarTimes/Tiempo de guerras, which seeks to bring a race, class, and gender perspective to issues of war and peace.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Ukraine: Severe Violation Against Human Rights by the West

Ukraine: Severe Violation Against Human Rights by the West

by Dr. Dieter Duhm

I am not at all writing this contribution with a pro-Russian attitude. I am writing it because a global crime is happening in Ukraine, which is a horrendous disgrace. Regardless of what may have happened, the transition government in Kiev has no right to fight the pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine with military means. War is fundamentally no means for solving conflicts, for war always generates more war. We know this from history. But the injustice in this case goes even further because (with the exception of some riots that happened) the pro-Russian activists have actually not wanted anything more than to demand their civil rights.

Leverett Becomes Sixth City to Pass Anti-Drone Resolution

Here are the other five.

Leverett and Amherst, Mass., both were expected to consider resolutions. I haven't heard any news from Amherst.

The Leverett news is courtesy of Beth Adams.

I haven't seen official text, but here's some idea of what was passed, or at least what was considered for passage, in Leverett:

The Recorder:

Town meeting in Leverett will consider a resolution calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations on foreign soil and to enact regulations on the use of the unmanned aircraft in the United States.

It would ask U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Rep. James McGovern to bring forward legislation “to end the practice of extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft” by withholding money for that purpose and “to make restitution for injuries, fatalities and environmental damage resulting from the actions of the United States government, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, allied nations and/or its private contractors.”

The second aspect of the article is to ensure that drones stay at least 500 feet above private properties unless otherwise authorized by town officials.

According to Beth Adams, a Leverett resident and co-author of the measure, the resolution was inspired by one passed in Northampton last summer. “We think it is important for the public to be informed about the rule-making going on without any public input,” Adams said.

May 3 town meeting

The resolution in Leverett, which was authored by a group called Pioneer Valley Citizens Concerned About Drones, received 19 signatures — nearly double the number required to get an article on the warrant. It will be voted on close to the end of the meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. May 3, according to Town Clerk Lisa Stratford.

Adams said “We think people need to be educated about this topic, and we hope other communities will follow our example and pass resolutions that will protect their communities from potential violations before the (Federal Aviation Administration) changes the rules.”

Boston Globe:

"Town meetings in Amherst and Leverett will consider resolutions calling on the federal government to end the use of drones for assassinations and regulate the unmanned aircraft locally. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that Amherst Select Board member James Wald said he isn’t comfortable with the town having a foreign policy when the federal government doesn’t have one. Frank Gatti, a Town Meeting member and lead petitioner in Amherst, said the drone resolution would express concern about the US government killing people in Pakistan and Yemen. It would ask US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and Representative James McGovern to propose legislation to stop funding drone killings. A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."

AP:

"A second restriction would keep drones at least 500 feet above private property unless otherwise authorized by town officials."

Costa Rican lawyer Roberto Zamorra crusades for the Right to Peace

By Medea Benjamin

Sometimes it just takes one person with a creative mind to shake up the entire legal system. In the case of Costa Rica, that person is Luis Roberto Zamorra Bolaños, who was just a law student when he challenged the legality of his government’s support for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He took the case all the way up to the Costa Rican Supreme Court—and won.

Today a practicing lawyer, Zamorra at 33 still looks like a wiry college student. And he continues to think outside the box and find creative ways to use the courts to fuel his passion for peace and human rights.

During my recent visit to Costa Rica, I got a chance to interview this maverick attorney about his past victories, and his brilliant new idea to seek compensation for Iraqis.

Let’s start out recalling the key moment in Costa Rica’s pacifist history.

That was 1948, when Costa Rican President Jose Figueras declared that the nation’s military would be abolished, a move that was ratified the following year by the Constituent Assembly. Figueras even took a sledgehammer and smashed one of the walls of the military headquarters, announcing that it would be turned into a national museum and that the military budget would be redirected toward healthcare and education. Since then, Costa Rica has become renowned for its peaceful and unarmed neutrality in foreign affairs.

So fast forward and here you are in law school, in 2003, and your government  joined George Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing”—a group of 49 countries that gave their stamp of approval for the invasion of Iraq. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart joked that Costa Rica contributed “bomb-sniffing toucans.” In reality, Costa Rica didn’t contribute anything; it simply added its name.  But that was enough to get you so upset that you decided to take your government to court?

Yes. Bush told the world that this was going to be a war for peace, democracy and human rights. But he couldn’t get a UN mandate, so he had to create a coalition to make it look like the invasion had global support. That’s why he pushed so many countries to join. Costa Rica—precisely because it abolished its military and has a history of peace—was an important country to have on his side to show moral authority. Costa Rica is listened to when it speaks at the UN. So in this sense, Costa Rica was an important partner.

When President Pacheco announced that Costa Rica had joined this coalition, the vast majority of Costa Ricans were opposed. I was really upset about our involvement, but I was also upset that my friends didn’t think we could anything about it.  When I proposed suing the president, they thought I was crazy.  

But I went ahead anyway, and after I filed a lawsuit, the Costa Rica Bar Association filed a suit; the Ombudsman filed a suit—and they were all combined with mine.

When the ruling came out in our favor in September 2004, a year and a half after I filed, there was a sense of relief among the public. President Pacheco was depressed because he’s really a nice guy who loves our culture and he probably thought, “Why did I do this?” He even considered resigning over this, but he didn’t because so many people asked him not to.

On what basis did the court rule in your favor?

One of the most significant things about this ruling was that it recognized the binding character of the UN Charter. The court ruled that since Costa Rica is a member of the United Nations, we are under the obligation to follow its proceedings and since the UN never authorized the invasion, Costa Rica did not have the right to support it. I can’t think of another case in which the Supreme Court has annulled a government decision because it violates the UN charter.

The ruling was also extremely significant because the court said that the support for the invasion contradicted a fundamental principle of “the Costa Rican identity,” which is peace. This makes us the first country in the world to recognize the right to peace, something that was made even more explicit in another case that I won in 2008.

Can you tell us about that case?

In 2008 I challenged a decree by President Oscar Arias that authorized the extraction of thorium and uranium, nuclear fuel development and the manufacture of nuclear reactors “for all purposes.” In that case I again claimed a violation of the right to peace. The court annulled the president’s decree, explicitly recognizing the existence of a right to peace.  This means the State must not only promote peace, but must refrain from authorizing war-related activities, like the production, export or import of items intended to be used in a war.

So this meant that companies like Raytheon, which had purchased land here and intended to set up shop, is now not operational.

What are some of the other lawsuits you’ve filed?

Oh, many of them. I filed a case against President Oscar Arias (the Nobel Peace prize winner) for authorizing the police to use military weapons against demonstrators. This case also went all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

I sued the government for signing the Central America Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA, which includes weapons forbidden in Costa Rica. I sued the government twice for allowing the U.S. military, under the pretext of the war on drugs, to play war games on our sovereign land as if they were a game of chess. Our government gives 6-month permits for up to 46 military vessels to dock in our ports, with over 12,000 troops and equipped with180 Blackhawk helicopters, 10 Harrier II airfighters, machine guns and rockets. Everything on the approved list of ships, aircraft, helicopters and troops is designed and intended to be used in a war—a clear violation of our Right to Peace. But the court has not heard this case.

A big problem for me is that now the Supreme Court is not taking any more of my cases. I have filed 10 cases with the Supreme Court that got rejected; I have filed suits against Costa Rican police training at the infamous US military School of the Americas. This case has been pending for over 2 years. When the Court finds it difficult to reject one of my cases, they delay and delay. So I have to file suit against the court for delaying, and then they reject both cases.

I realize that I can’t use my name to file anymore, or even my writing style because they know my writing.

At an international gathering in Brussels in April marking the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, you came up with another brilliant idea. Can you tell us about it?

I was in town for another meeting of international lawyers, but the Iraq Commission organizers found out and asked me to speak. There was a brainstorming meeting afterwards and people were bemoaning the fact that the US does not follow international law, that it isn’t party to the International Criminal Court, that it will not hear cases related to reparations for Iraqis.

I said, “If I may, the Coalition of the Willing that invaded Iraq was not just the United States. There were 48 countries. If the US is not going to compensate Iraqis, why don’t we sue the other members of the coalition?”

If you were able to win a case on behalf of an Iraqi victim in the Costa Rican courts, what level of compensation do you think you could win? And then wouldn’t there be another case and another case?

I could imagine winning perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps if we could win one case in Costa Rica, we could start the lawsuits in other countries. I certainly don’t want to bankrupt Costa Rica with case after case. But we have to look at how to seek justice for Iraqis, and how to prevent this sort of coalition from forming again. It’s worth a try.

Do you think there is something that we could be doing in court to challenge drone killings?

Certainly. I think the people pressing the kill button should be held personally responsible for criminal acts because the drone is an extension of their body, used to perform actions they cannot do personally.

There is also the fact that if an innocent person gets killed or hurt by a US drone in Afghanistan, the family is entitled to compensation from the US military. But that same family in Pakistan would not be compensated because the killing is done by the CIA. Can you see some legal challenge there?

Victims of the same unlawful act should get the same treatment; I would think there would be a way to hold the government liable, but I don’t know enough about US law.

Have you had personal repercussions for taking on such sensitive issues?

I have friends in the phone company who told me I was being tapped. But I don’t really care. What can they do if I talk on the phone about filing a suit?

Yes, you have to take risks, but you can’t be afraid of the consequences. The worst thing that can happen is that you get shot. (He laughs.)

Why don’t more lawyers around the world challenge their governments in the creative ways you do?

Lack of imagination perhaps? I don’t know.

I am surprised that so many good lawyers oftentimes just don’t see the obvious. I encourage students to be creative, to use international law domestically. It’s weird because nothing I’ve done has been extraordinary. These are not really great ideas. They are just a bit different, and instead of just talking about them, I move them forward.

I also encourage students to study a second profession so they start thinking differently. I studied computer engineering as my second major; it taught me to be ordered and structured in my thinking.

I would have guessed that if you had a second major, it would have been something like political science or sociology.

No. As a computer programmer you have to be totally focused--structured, ordered and deep. That is very helpful in the legal world. At law school students would hate to debate me. They’d try to move the discussion off track, to veer into a side issue, and I would always bring them right back to the core theme. That comes from my training as a computer engineer.

I suppose another consequence of your work for peace is that you don’t make much money.

Look at me [he laughs]. I’m 33 years old and I live with my parents. That’s how wealthy I am after 9 years of practice. I live simply. The only things I have are a car and three dogs.

I prefer to work by myself--no firm, no partners, no strings. I am a trial lawyer and make some money with individual clients, including labor unions. I make about $30,000 a year. I use it to live on, to try cases pro bono at the Inter-American Commission and to pay for international trips, like going to peace forums, world forums, disarmament conferences or the trip I made to Gaza. Sometimes I get assistance from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

I love my job because I do what I want to do; I take on the cases I am passionate about. I am fighting for my country and for my personal freedom. I don’t think of this work as a sacrifice but as a duty. If we want peace to be a fundamental right, then we have to institutionalize it—and protect it.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group www.codepink.org and the human rights group www.globalexchange.org. She was in Costa Rica with retired Colonel Ann Wright at the invitation of the Friends Peace Center to speak about her book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

Kangaroo court convicts Occupy protester: DA Cyrus Vance Jr., Prosecutor for the Rich

By Dave Lindorff


Two and a half years after the Occupy Wall Street movement took the country by storm, injecting topics like income inequality and class war into the realm of permissible national political discourse for the first time since the 1930s, the nation’s legal machinery of repression has come down like a proverbial ton of bricks on the movement just as nationally coordinated police repression crushed its physical manifestation in late 2011.


Cecily McMillan, Victim of Police Assault, Found Guilty, In Jail

In the continuing cavalcade of innocent people put in prison in this country -- the vast majority of whom are poor and/or people of color -- we now add Cecily McMillan, an Occupy activist who was assaulted by a New York City cop and who is now in jail for it.

You read that right. She was assaulted by him. Yet she is in jail. And he -- with a history of committing abuse -- is walking free.  

Ukraine News - May 6, 2014

 

Dozens injured, fatalities on both sides in ongoing military op in Slavyansk (VIDEO) - RT News

Ukraine Helicopter Shot Down Over Slavyansk Amid Clashes (VIDEO) - Sky News

VIDEO: Bloodshed continues in Slovyansk - CNN

VIDEO: Ukraine troops attack roadblocks in Slavyansk - RT

VIDEO: Anti-Kiev militants beef up Slavyansk checkpoints - YouTube

VIDEO: Caught On Tape: Ukraine Helicopter Firing Rockets, Shot Down - Prison Planet.com

VIDEO: Gas pipe explodes amidst fierce fighting in Slavyansk - YouTube

VIDEO: Slavyansk woman killed on balcony by sniper - YouTube

VIDEO: Ukraine army enters Mariupol: Fighting & shooting in streets - YouTube

VIDEO: PrivatBank burns in Mariupol - YouTube

Ukraine's Largest Bank PrivatBank Suspends Cash Operations In The Rebel-Held East - Business Insider

VIDEO: PrivatBank shutters branches in Donetsk - YouTube

Raiffeisen Bank subsidiary suspends work in Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk regions - ITAR-TASS

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

Defiant chants ring out at Odessa's fireball funerals - Telegraph

VIDEO: Ukraine crisis: funerals for Odessa fire victims held - Telegraph

Ukraine sends elite force to Odessa due to unrest - SFGate

Ukraine, Kramatorsk: 'Those fascists killed this girl and they will be in hell’' - Telegraph

VIDEO: Funeral for nurse gunned down by Kiev military in Kramatorsk- LiveLeak.com

$10,000 a head: Right Sector Radicals put a bounty on UK journalist in Ukraine - RT News

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

Germany pushing for new Ukraine talks in Geneva - Yahoo News

Kiev welcomes German initiative on second Ukraine talks in Geneva - Xinhua 

Russia calls on Kiev to 'stop the bloodshed', enter talks: statement - Reuters

Republicans push for bill to allow military aid to Ukraine - Washington Times

POLL: Growing concern over Ukraine but little support for military action - CNN.com Blogs

Ukraine's security service denies consultations with CIA - The Voice of Russia

OSCE observers detained in Sloviansk linked to Germany's intelligence service: media - ITAR-TASS

Kiev Struggles to Break Russia’s Grip on Gas Flow - NYTimes.com

Ukraine waits for Slovakia to turn on gas - Houston Chronicle

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

May 2014 War Criminal Appearances & Protests

Following is a list of Appearance & Protests against US War Criminals in May 2014. We encourage you to participate in any protests or plan a demonstration in your area.  Please let us know and we will help you publicize your event. Check out our websites (www.warcriminalswathch.org) to download ready-made leaflets and posters.

Prevent GW Bush from entering Canada

George W. Bush plans to come to Toronto May 12th, 2014 in defiance of the United Nations Committee against Torture report that Canada's duty to prosecute foreign nationals suspected of torture applies to everyone entering Canada however temporarily. He is being invited by the 2014 Spirit of Hope Benefit for the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies for "A Conversation with President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush at at the Metro Toronto-Cnvention Center.  Lawyers Against the War is calling for a stop to this illegality. CANADA HAS THE DUTY UNDER THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE TO EITHER BAR BUSH FROM CANADA OR ARREST AND PROSECUTE HIM ON ARRIVAL.

For First Time, TransCanada Says Tar Sands Flowing to Gulf in Keystone XL South

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

TransCanada admitted for the first time that tar sands oil is now flowing through Keystone XL's southern leg, now rebranded the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project. The company confirmed the pipeline activity in its 2014 quarter one earnings call.

Cover-up in progress?: The Case of the Dead Brazilian Torturer Gets Murkier

By Michael Uhl


They haven't killed him yet.

Paulo Malhaes, the confessed Brazilian torturer whose death I recently reported on this site may not have been murdered after all. At least that’s what police investigating the case have been loudly proclaiming for the past week.

United We Stand and Shout and Dance and Make it Better

I'm looking forward to speaking on Saturday, May 10, at the United We Stand Festival in Los Angeles (and at an earlier event) where dozens of speakers and musicians will be standing together against such evils as: "the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, NSA, war on drugs, drones, ... war, GMO, ... central banks, corporatism," and in favor of "Internet freedom, election reform, honest media/music/art, education/student leadership, the environment, ...."

This is nice timing, with Vermont having just become the first state to call for a Constitutional Convention to strip legalized bribery out of U.S. politics, and with the U.S. Senate planning a vote on a Constitutional amendment to allow Congress to limit said bribery. Sixteen states have urged Congress to act, which remains a quixotic pursuit. Even more disturbing than Congressional dithering is the failure of each of those 16 states to tack on a few words to do what Vermont has done and create a work-around should Congress members choose not to bite the greasy hand that feeds them.  Think about what must motivate that failure to add a call for a Constitutional Convention.

There's also the problem that should Congress and the states ever pass an amendment allowing Congress to limit campaign "contributions," Congress would still have to take the additional step of actually doing so. And you can guess as well as I can what Congress considers a reasonable limitation -- just look at the minimal limitations that Congress was imposing before the Supreme Court outrageously attacked those limits in Citizens United and McCutcheon, after which the impeachment of some justices, or the legislative removal of some powers from the Supreme Court would have made more sense than accepting that the Constitution needed changing. 

The Constitution was not intended to give rights to corporations or to equate bribery with the protected act of free speech.  But it's going to take a massive movement of public pressure to compel our government to read or rewrite the Constitution well.  So, perhaps we're just as well off rewriting it.  And that opens up all sorts of possibilities, most of which can't possibly be worse than what we've got now.  We could end the presidential system, the Supreme Court's unaccountability, gerrymandering, corporate monopolies -- including of communications media -- and the pretended legality of war.  We could create a guaranteed income and mandate environmental sustainability.

But without even diving that deeply into creating a better Constitution, we could add something like this:

<<The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law. The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

All elections for President and members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate shall be entirely publicly financed. No political contributions shall be permitted to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. No political expenditures shall be permitted in support of any federal candidate, or in opposition to any federal candidate, from any other source, including the candidate. The Congress shall, by statute, provide limitations on the amounts and timing of the expenditures of such public funds and provide criminal penalties for any violation of this section.

State and local governments shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for state or local public office or any state or local ballot measure.

The right of the individual U.S. citizen to vote and to directly elect all candidates by popular vote in all pertinent local, state, and federal elections shall not be violated. Citizens will be automatically registered to vote upon reaching the age of 18 or upon becoming citizens at an age above 18, and the right to vote shall not be taken away from them. Votes shall be recorded on paper ballots, which shall be publicly counted at the polling place. Election day shall be a national holiday.

Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

During a designated campaign period of no longer than six months, free air time shall be provided in equal measure to all candidates for federal office on national, state, or district television and radio stations, provided that each candidate has, during the previous year, received the supporting signatures of at least five percent of their potential voting-age constituents. The same supporting signatures shall also place the candidate's name on the ballot and require their invitation to participate in any public debate among the candidates for the same office.>>

I'm confident that there are thousands of people who can draft this reform that well or better, that Congress will only scrape the surface (and that only if a Constitutional Convention is looming), that such a Convention actually happening would be a big step forward, and that people who are ready for serious change are starting to stand united: https://unitedwestandfest.com

MPs call on Mr Cameron to stop arming Saudi-backed torture regime

Forty four British Members of Parliament have signed the following Early Day Motion condemning the continuing human rights violations in Bahrain.

“That this House notes that despite the publication of the Bahrain Commission of Inquiry Report in 2011 which chronicled torture and extrajudicial killing regrets that many violations of human rights continue; is shocked that there are 3,000 political prisoners, children in detention, citizenship removed from activists and arbitrary arrests amongst the many violations of human rights independently reported; and calls on the Government to make the strongest possible representations to the government of Bahrain and to refuse all arms and crowd control equipment exports to Bahrain.”

After one year of incarceration in most inhumane conditions, two Bahraini women have been unjustly sentenced to five years in jail for protesting last year against the Formula1 race. The Alkhalifa regime has waited until this year’s race has ended before issuing its decision yesterday to impose lengthy prison sentence on the two women. Raihana Al Mousawi and Nafisa Al Usfoor were arrested for attempting to take their peaceful struggle inside the race track in the south of the country. They were arrested and severely tortured. They were subjected to various kinds of torture including sexual assault. Raihana had been sentenced earlier to another five years in jail for alleged association with the 14th February Coalition that seeks to change the regime.

Torture has become rampant in the prisons as Western countries continue to shelter the regime. Among the recent victims of torture are: Ibrahim Al Hurr who was subjected to horrific torture at the hands of the Death Squads groomed by the royal court and dispatched to kill protesters and torture prisoners. He suffered beating, humiliating treatment and psychological torture. At the same prison, Qais Abbas was beaten to the extent that he became unable to stand on his feet. Sheikh Jassim Al Demstani suffered vicious torture at Jaw Prison including physical and psychological ill-treatment. Mahmood Al Saba’ was also subjected to similar treatment at the notorious Jaw prison.

Torture is compounded by lack of medical care to the prisoners. Sayed Ali Sayed Salman is being denied treatment for severe pain in his teeth and ears. He also suffers from enlarged tonsils.

On 25th April, Nicholas McGeehan of Human Rights Watch wrote a short commentary entitled: “Bahrain Shooting the Messenger on Torture” in which he said: ”Bahrain has a well-deserved reputation for torture, but now the authorities are threatening action against people who discuss it. Bahrain’s official news agency on April 14, 2104, reported that the interior minister “defied those alleging torture to corroborate those claims” and asserted that “those who make false allegations about torture will be challenged by law.” After substantiating his arguments with facts including the threatening of Sayed Hadi Al Mosawi, head of Al Wefaq’s human rights committee, he concluded:  “These developments arise almost exactly a year after Bahrain effectively cancelled the country visit of the special rapporteur on human rights, Juan Mendez. In short, Bahrain’s reputation for torture is a problem of its own making, and threatening those who report allegations of torture will only make things worse.”

The predicament of Jaw Prison’s detainees is testimony to the continuation of the torture doctrine fiercely embraced by Alkhalifa dictatorship. On Monday night (28th April) masked members of the Death Squads went to the prison and asked for eight people; four from section 10 of the prison, three from section 3 and one from section 5. They were: Sayed Adnan Essa, Ali Ibrahim and Abbas Ali (from Maqaba), Ali Hassan Abdulla (from Aali), Ali Majed (from Abu Saiba), Sheikh Riyadh Al Hinni (from Sitra) and Hassan Mushaima (from Sanabis). They were taken to the CID headquarters where they were subjected to severe torture. The aim was to force them to inform on other Bahraini youth who are on the run. After four hours of intensive torture they were returned with serious injuries on their hands and faces. It is unfortunate that the UN Human Rights Commission’s team was in the country but could not stop torture being committed in their presence.

Another group of Bahrainis were sentenced to lengthy jail sentences. Mohammad Ali, Redha Hussain and Ali Saeed, all from Sadad Town were given 15 years for protesting against the hereditary dictatorship. On Monday 28th April eight under-aged Bahrainis from Samaheej Town were remanded for 45 days by Alkhalifa court.

Bahrain Freedom Movement
30th April 2014

TSA pinches pot purveyor on plane

Danger! Danger! Pot on a plane! TSA to the rescue!  

I’m so glad the brave men and women of the TSA rifle through our luggage, leave cheeky notes, and in general stick their noses in our business. Because otherwise, we would all be in danger of being blown out of the sky due to concealed greenery.

Mayor From Okinawa Coming to Washington to Try to Stop the Base He Was Elected to Stop

U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa and Japan-U.S. Relationship: A Discussion with Nago City Mayor Susumu Inamine, Member of the Japanese House of Representatives (Okinawa) Denny Tamaki and other experts, facilitated by journalist David Swanson. 
When: May 20, 6pm - 8pm
Where: Busboys and Poets, (14th & V) 2021 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Sign up here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1440683952839158

Seventy years after WWII, Okinawa, one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the Pacific War (1941-45), continues to be occupied by U.S. military bases, mostly marine bases, posing threats to the safety, health, and life of people and the environment. Despite firm opposition by the majority of the people of Okinawa, U.S. and Japanese governments are forcing through their plan to build yet another marine airbase with a military port, with massive reclamation that is likely to cause damage to the endangered bio-diverse environment of the Northeastern shore of Okinawa. Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, where the planned military base construction site is, was first elected in 2010 and re-elected this January, both on the platform of opposing the new base. Please join Mayor Inamine and a panel of experts think together about the U.S. citizens’ responsibility to bring justice and democracy back to Okinawa.

Sponsored by Busboys and Poets and the New Diplomacy Initiative.

Inquiry: Busboys and Poets, phone: 202-387-7638

New Diplomacy Initiative, info@nd-initiative.org

Ukraine News - May 5, 2014


Odessa police release 67 anti-govt activists after crowd surrounds police HQ (VIDEO) - RT News


VIDEO: Pro-Russia demonstrators storm Odessa police headquarters, win the release of 67 people detained - YouTube


VIDEO: Shocking! Bodies of Anti-govt Activists Burnt Alive In Odessa trade union building - YouTube


Radicals shooting at people in Odessa’s burning building caught on tape (VIDEO) - RT News


VIDEO: In Odessa Ukrainian far-right radicals finished off anti-govt people - YouTube


VIDEO: Odessa Horror: How clashes turned into massacre - YouTube


Avoiding facts? Mainstream Western media uncertain who is behind deadly Odessa blaze - RT News


Ukraine PM Says Odessa Violence Engineered By Russia, He also blamed security forces for failing to prevent the bloodshed - rferl.org


US Ambassador to Ukraine: No evidence of direct Russian involvement in violence in Odessa - Washington Times


CIA, FBI agents 'advising Ukraine government': report - Yahoo News


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

 

Ukraine crisis: tension mounts in Kramatorsk after army rolls in, The separatists say at least 10 people were killed - Guardian


VIDEO: Ukrainian forces clash with rebels in Kramatorsk - YouTube


VIDEO: Ukraine’s Kramatorsk tense after clashes between rebels and army - Yahoo News Singapore


Pro-Russians regain control of buildings in Kramatorsk - turkishpress.com


At least one dead, two more wounded in Ukraine's Lugansk as bloody clashes continue - The Voice of Russia


In Lugansk, a rebel commander’s call to battle is answered - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Protesters rally outside Lugansk SBU building - YouTube


Pro-Russia gunmen in Slavyansk release OSCE European arms inspectors - latimes.com


Intercepted Phone Calls Show Putin Called The Shots On European Hostages In Ukraine - Forbes


Ukraine army cuts off main road to Slavyansk - GlobalPost


VIDEO: Ukrainian Army seals off Slavyansk - YouTube


Meet the self-proclaimed 'people’s mayor' of Ukraine's Slaviansk - France 24


In Ukraine, separatists seize one of last government sites in Donetsk - latimes.com


VIDEO: Crowd attempts to storm Donetsk Military Prosecutor's Office - YouTube


VIDEO: Protesters Storm Two Government Buildings in Donetsk - YouTube


Donetsk forms first regiment of Republican Army - The Voice of Russia


Kharkov mayor posts his photo from hospital after assassination attack - ITAR-TASS


Behind the Masks: The rebels are Ukrainians but have deep ties to Russia, They are veterans of the Soviet, Ukrainian or Russian Armies and some have families on the other side of the border - NYTimes


To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com


In Search of a Good War

The U.S. public is not longing for a U.S. war in Ukraine.

Seven percent want military options considered (poll by McClatchy-Marist, April 7-10), up from six percent a bit earlier (Pew, March 20-23), or 12 percent for U.S. ground troops and 17 percent for air strikes (CNN, March 7-9).

Polling is similar on U.S. desire for a war with Iran, or for U.S. military involvement in Syria.  Many more Americans believe in ghosts and UFOs, according to the polls, than believe that these would be good wars.

The U.S. public never got behind the war on Libya, and for years a majority has said that the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan never should have been launched.

The search for a good war is beginning to look as futile as the search for the mythical city of El Dorado.  And yet that search remains our top public project. 

The U.S. military swallows 55.2 percent of federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project. Televised U.S. sporting events thank members of the military for watching from 175 nations. U.S. aircraft carriers patrol the world's seas. U.S. drones buzz the skies of nations thousands of miles from our shores.

No other nation spends remotely comparable funds on militarism, and much of what the United States buys has no defensive purpose -- unless "defense" is understood as deterrence or preemption or, indeed, aggression.  As the world's number one supplier of weapons to other nations, ours may be said to extend its search for a good war beyond its own affairs as well.

A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate found that U.S. wars were generating anti-U.S. sentiment.  Former military officials, including Stanley McChrystal, say drone strikes are producing more enemies than they are killing.  A WIN/Gallup poll of 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the U.S. far ahead of any other as the nation people believed was the greatest threat to peace in the world.

It is the ethics of a coward to believe that safety justifies all, but of a fool to commit immoral acts that actually endanger oneself.  And what is more immoral than modern wars, with deaths and injuries so massive, so one-sided, and so heavily civilian?

Military spending produces fewer jobs than spending on education or infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people, according to studies by the Political Economy Research Institute.  It is the ethics of a sociopath to justify killing for economic gain, but of a fool to do so for economic loss.

The military is our top consumer of petroleum and creator of superfund sites, in addition to being the hole into which we sink the funds that could address the real danger of climate change.

War justifies secrecy and the erosion of liberties: warrantless surveillance, lawless imprisonment, torture, and assassination, even as wars are marketed as defending "freedom."

And of course the maintenance of nuclear and other weapons for war risks intentional or accidental catastrophe.

The downsides to war, even for an aggressor nation with overwhelming fire power, are voluminous.  The upside would seem to be that if we keep fighting wars, one of them might turn out to be a good one.

But ask people to name a good war, and most will go back 73 years to World War II.  A few will express badly misinformed views about Yugoslavia or Rwanda, but most will focus right in on Adolf Hitler.  Think about that.  Our top public project for the past three-quarters of a century has to go back that far to find a popular example of its use.

We live in a vastly changed world, and public opinion reflects that.  The power of nonviolent action to resist tyranny and injustice is dramatically more realized, as is understanding of nonviolent conflict resolution and wise conflict avoidance. 

Winston Churchill called World War II "the Unnecessary War" claiming that "there was never a war more easy to stop."  That war would not have happened without World War I, which nobody claims was itself unavoidable. 

Just as the U.S. sells weapons to abusive nations today and prioritizes militarism over aid to refugees, Western nations helped fund the rise of the Nazis and refused to accept Jewish refugees.  There are ways to prevent situations from ever reaching the point of war.

Or rather there would be if we weren't so invested in the military industrial complex of whose "total influence" President Dwight Eisenhower warned.

##

David Swanson's books include War No More: The Case for Abolition and projects include WorldBeyondWar.org.

Where the Buck Stops, ACT!

Needed: Obama-Putin Summit on Ukraine

Editor Note: As the death toll mounts in an incipient civil war between east and west Ukraine, a group of retired U.S. intelligence professionals urges President Obama to hold a summit with Russia’s President Putin to defuse the crisis.

May 4, 2014

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Urgent Action on Ukraine

The buck stops with you, Mr. President. If you want to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control. You need to take the initiative and do it now.

Killing of leaders was being planned: Exposing the Federal Government’s Plan to Crush the Occupy Movement (Part I)

By Dave Lindorff


  Listen to Dave Lindorff explain on Santa Barbara radio KCSB's Radio Occupy program how the federal government, in collusion with state and local police, and possibly with private bank and oil company security firms, planned to use "suppressed sniper fire" to assassinate the leaders of Occupy Houston, and perhaps also the leaders of other Occupy Movement actions around the country.

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