Originally posted at AcronymTV
Donald Sutherland, who stars in the Hunger Games Franchise, wants to see a revolution that brings about the end of the American Empire, and he wants the Hunger Games movies to be a spark for that flame. Speaking to Rory Carroll of the Guardian UK, Sutherland says: "You know the young people of this society have not moved in the last 30 years." With the exception of Occupy, a minority movement, passivity reigns.” Whether Sutherland is engaging in a very clever marketing ploy or he sincerely wants to see a revolution is a question for another day.
Today, Monday 16th of Dec. 2013 JUST International released following statement:
OPPOSE DRONE STRIKES ― A WAR CRIME!
On 12 December 2013, 15 civilians who were part of a wedding convoy were killed in an unmanned US drone attack in Central Yemen. A Yemeni official has explained that the air strike was a mistake. The missiles had missed their target.
Three days earlier, another US drone had killed 3 persons driving on a road in Al-Qatan in the Hadramout province of Yemen. They were also civilians.
The US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) had investigated 6 selected drone strikes since 2009 and concluded that 57 out of the 82 killed were civilians. This included a pregnant woman and her 3 children killed in September 2012.
Another human rights group, Amnesty International (AI), had also examined suspected drone strikes between May 2012 and July 2013 in North Waziristan, Pakistan, and from the evidence available suggested that more than 30 civilians were killed in four of those air attacks.
A report released by the UN Assistance Mission and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights indicates that there were 2,754 civilian deaths and 4,805 injuries from drone strikes in 2012 alone in Yemen and Pakistan.
In response to various criticisms of these strikes, the US Administration insists that civilian casualties are “rare” in this particular mode of warfare which began in 2004. But the evidence, as we have shown, tells adifferent story.
The US Administration is also wrong when it argues that drones have been an effective weapon in the fight against terrorism. On the contrary, it is because drone attacks have wiped out innocent civilians, including women and children that terrorism has increased. An example would be the events that constitute the backdrop to the two recent drone strikes in Yemen. The two drone strikes it seems were in retaliation to an Al-Qaeda attack on the Defence Ministry in Sana, Yemen’s capital, on 5 December 2013. The attack killed 56 people. While claiming responsibility for the heinous massacre, Al-Qaeda emphasised that it was carried out because of US drone strikes in Yemen that have been going on for years. This is also true of Pakistan where Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives on either side of the Pakistan –Afghanistan border become even more determined to commit acts of terror when they see innocent villagers with whom they often share bonds of kinship bombed out of existence by US drones.
It is not surprising therefore that a huge movement against drones has developed in Pakistan in recent years. Both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Opposition Leader, Imran Khan, are campaigning against drone attacks. The Peshawar High Court has ruled that drone attacks are “illegal, inhumane, violate the UN Charter on human rights and constitute a war crime.” In Yemen too, a significant segment of society is totally opposed to drone strikes though the US backed government of Mansour Al-Hadi acquiesces with them.
There is no sign yet to indicate that President Obama will abandon his drone policy. Both Yemen and Pakistan are vital to the US’s hegemonic power. Yemen is adjacent to the Bab-el-Mandeb which connects the oil fields of the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, the Suez Canal and Europe. Pakistan is strategically situated in relation to China and Russia and the rich oil fields of Central Asia.
The only way to get Obama to abandon his policy is for more citizen groups in Asia and the West to speak up against US drone strikes. Both the print and electronic media should also do much more to raise the awareness of the people so that they would be persuaded to act against this war crime. Isn’t it a shame that major media channels gave so little attention to the poor and innocent victims of the drone strikes a few days ago?
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
16 December 2013.
Syracuse has passed this:
By John Grant
It’s that time of the year again. Ho. Ho. Ho. There’s the urge to celebrate the Winter Solstice (AKA Christmas) with family and friends. It’s also time for end-of-the-year assessments concerning the absurdities of life in a fading empire in denial.
Originally posted at AcronymTV
15 innocent people in Yemen were killed Thursday by a Drone attack.
According to a Reuters report:
“An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one security official said.
Five more people were injured, the officials said.
The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.
Some people in the media are finally catching on to what we here at TSA News have been saying for two years: Pre-Check is a joke. Just enter “pre-check” in the Search box. We’ve been pointing out the facts about this program from the beginning.
Two of the latest “Gosh, who knew?!” articles are in the Jacksonville Business Journal and the New York Times. Some of our readers have already commented at the former. The latter isn’t accepting comments, though I wrote to the author, Joe Sharkey, last week. It’s my second time writing to him about a TSA-related article. I’ve never gotten a reply.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The conservative UK-based Centre for Policy Studies recently published a study on the climate change impacts of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for shale gas. The skinny: it's yet another case study of "frackademia," and the co-authors have a financial stake in the upstart Chinese fracking industry.
Titled "Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking" and co-authored by Richard Muller and his daughter Elizabeth "Liz" Muller, it concludes that fracking's climate change impacts are benign, dismissing many scientific studies coming to contrary conclusions.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In an interview with DeSmogBlog, Richard Muller — a self-proclaimed "converted skeptic" on climate change — said he and Liz had originally thought of putting together this study "about two years ago."
"We quickly realized that natural gas could be a very big player," he said. "The reasons had to do with China and the goal of the paper is to get the environmentalists to recognize that they need to support responsible fracking."
The ongoing debate over fracking in the UK served as the impetus behind the Centre for Policy Studies — a non-profit co-founded by former right-wing British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1974 — hosting this report on its website, according to Richard Muller.
"They asked for it because some environmentalists are currently opposing fracking in the UK, and they wanted us to share our perspective that fracking is not only essential for human health but its support can be justified for humanitarian purposes," he said.
This isn't the first time Liz Muller has unapologetically sung the praises of fracking and promoted bringing the practice to China. In April, she penned an op-ed in The New York Times titled, "China Must Exploit Its Shale Gas."
Blank Spots on the map: Almost all the U.S. Army’s secret military bases across the globe revealed on Google and Bing
By Daily Mail
The U.S. military can be a sensitive lot when it comes to the location of their military facilities.
With military bases on every continent, in every corner of the world, for the kinds of tasks they perform, it's no wonder that many of the locations are blacked out and hidden from public view.
The Pentagon says there are around 5,000 bases in total with around 600 overseas.
The project was inspired by Trevor Paglen's book 'Blank Spots on the Map' which goes inside the world of secret military bases that are sometimes censored on maps.
Begley has found the coordinates for 650 bases, and published pictures for 644 of them. The pictures can be viewed at http://empire.is/.
Margaretta Ruth D’Arcy (b. 1934), an Irish actress, writer, playwright, and peace-activist. Margaretta is a member of Aosdána since its inauguration and is known for addressing Irish nationalism, civil liberties, and women’s rights in her work. The Arts Council established Aosdána in 1981 to honour artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland, and to encourage and assist members in devoting their energies fully to their art.
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dave Lindorff
So Pope Francis, the new pope who has conservative American Catholics, particularly those in politics and the media, freaked out because he is criticizing capitalist greed, knows Marxists who are "good people," and isn't upset to be labeled one of them, even though he says "Marxist ideology is wrong.".
[Editor's note: This is a terrific complement to a similar statement by another long list of organizations at BanWeaponizedDrones.org --DCNS]
Statement by the European Section
Global Anti-Drone Network
Ban Weaponized Drones!
We oppose the use of drone technology for killing, surveillance and repression.
We oppose weaponized and surveillance drones because their deployment lowers the threshold to armed aggression, is used for “targeted” killing of people within and outside warzones – without indictment, trial and conviction, terrorizes the population of the targeted territories, fuels hatred, thereby increasing the cycle of violence, leads to the development of autonomous kille robots, thereby making even more horrifying wars likely, initiates a new round in the arms race.
We demand that all governments cease the production and acquisition of armed drones, as well as their research and development, and work towards a worldwide ban of these weapons.
Althaler, Birgit – Palestine Solidarity Basel, Switzerland
Aune, Björn – Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Baloch, Farooq – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Germany
Benjamin, Medea - Code Pink (Co-Founder), USA
Björkmann, Rosie – Women for Peace, Sweden
Bosma, Geert – Vredes Informatie Centrum (Staff) & War Resisters Intl. (WRI), Netherlands
Braun, Reiner – Intl. Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA – Executive Director),Germany
Cole, Chris – Drone Wars UK (Founder) & Drone Campaign Network (Convener), United Kingdom
Dubrow, Niels – Staff Assistant to Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Finckh-Krämer, Ute – Member of Bundestag (MdB), Social Democratic Party (SPD) & Stiftung Friedensbildung, Germany
Fredegård, Anita – Women for Peace, Sweden
Fuchs, Barbara – attac & Friedensratschlag, Germany
Fuchs-Kittowski, Klaus – Forum of Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility (FIfF), Germany
Ghannam, Doris – Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Hunko, Andrej – Member of Bundestag (MdB) & of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, DIE LINKE (the Left)
Hugler, Helmut – Staff Assistant to Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Javaid, Tariq – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Germany
Kachel, Thomas – Parliamentary Advisor on Peace and Security Issues, DIE LINKE (the Left) in the Bundestag, Germany
Käss, Helmut – Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Krutsch, Elfriede – Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Lammerent, Hans – Vredesactie Peace Movement (former Chair), Belgium
Lorentz, Charlotte – Staff Assistant to Angieszka Brugger, Member of the Bundestag, Green parliamentary group, Germany
Martensson, Ingela – Women for Peace & former Member of the parliament (Liberal Party), Sweden
Mudassir, Ali – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Germany
Müller-Reiss, Brunhild – Drone Campaign & Peace Office Hannover & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI), Germany
Nineham, Chris – Stop the War Coalition (StWC -Vice Chair), United Kingdom
Norberg, Agneta – Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space & Women for Peace, Sweden
Paulini, Peter – Stiftung Friedensbildung (Foundation for Peacemaking), Germany
Pflüger, Tobias – Drone Campaign & Info. Agency on Militarisation (IMI, Founder) & former MEP (DIE LINKE), Germany
Rassbach, Elsa – Code Pink & Drone Campaign & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI, Board), USA/Germany
Schoeppe, Florian – Staff Assistant to Katja Keul, Membe of the Bundestag, Green parliamentary group, Germany
Steffen, Jens-Peter – Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Staff Adviser on Peace Issues), Germany
Stryk, Lydia – Playwright, USA/Germany
Wijnberg, J.M.T. (Miek) – Burgerrechtenvereniging Vrijbit (President), Netherlands
Wimmersperg, Laura – Drone Campaign & Peace Coordination Berlin (Speaker), Germany
Wirl, Lucas – ICC No to NATO (Co-Chair) & Intl. Network Engineers & Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), Germany
Following a deadly U.S. drone strike on civilians in Yemen, members of a dozen peace groups wearing blue scarves gathered at the entrance of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. With guards and barricades on one side and cars whizzing by on Rt. 123 on the other, they held a vigil in memory of civilians, especially children, by U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The CIA touts that drones are accurate,” said Jack McHale of Pax Christi USA to about 30 protestors from groups including CODE PINK and Veterans for Peace. But, he said, according to the Navy’s own analysis, they’re no more accurate than traditional air power. “I think we saw that this week when a wedding party was targeted and 17 people were killed as a result of an armed drone in Yemen.”
Originally posted at AcronymTV
On this episode of The Resistance Report:
Douglas Fry administers the Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research program between the University of Tampere and Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He is the author of Beyond War and War, Peace, and Human Nature. He discussed the evidence that war is a new and eliminable development in our species.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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The Manama Dialogue which has been used by the ruling Alkhalifa clan as flagship to prove international stature turned into a nightmare when it was held on Friday 6th December. First came the “Omani bomb” when the Sultanate’s Foreign Minister, Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdulla, announced his country’s flat rejection of the Saudi-proposed “Gulf Union”. The audience was stunned by such flagrant announcement at a forum that had been hoped to bolster the fledgling political status of Saudi Arabia that has been seeking to dominate the region. The Omani senior official elaborated further saying that if the proposed union was formed Oman would withdraw from the Gulf Cooperation Council. Two days later Kuwait announced its rejection of the Union. Qatar is unlikely to agree to a Union that would allow the Saudis free hand in their internal and external affairs. The Saudi invasion and occupation of Bahrain has awakened other Gulf monarchies to their vulnerability to Saudi aggression and their greed to grab more lands from their neighbours. This week there have been skirmishes on the Saudi-Yemeni borders after the Saudis attempted to occupy oil-reach Yemeni lands.
Another negative outcome of the “Manama Dialogue” has been the media interest in the Bahraini Revolution. Foreign journalists who went to Bahrain ignored the hopeless forum and, instead, attended the anti-regime activities. On 8th December The Sunday Times published a report titled: Tear gas replaces talk in Bahrain’s ‘liberal oasis’, with a clarifying paragraph saying: “As the royal family of Bahrain receives William Hague and other western ministers, it is accused of cracking down on all opposition”
In another serious attack on free expression, the Alkhalifa court sentenced a senior physician to long-term sentence for expressing his opinion about Bahrain’s dictator. Dr Saeed Al Samaheeji, was sentenced to one year in jail for criticizing the ruler who is becoming more despotic and aggressive against Bahrainis. Many others are serving jail sentences for expressing their opinion about the regime. Earlier this year the Alkhalifa clan issued a law banning people from tweeting against the hereditary dictatorship. Since then many young men and women have been given jail terms for this “offence”. Under such regime hopes of a peaceful solution to the political crisis have been dashed. For most native Bahrainis the only way out is regime change.
An attack last night on the town of Bani Jamra by masked members of the regime’s Death Squads resulted in many house raids and scores of arrests. Families were frightened in the early hours of the morning as those criminal gangs smashed homes of Bahrainis. A young man, Abdul Amir Abdul Nabi Al Mahfoodh, from the town was arrested on 8th December. Another man was tortured and abused as he was being arrested from Bani Jamra. Jaffar Hussain Mohammad was severely beaten by members of the Death Squads as he was being arrested. A Bahraini youth from the town of Nuwaidrat, Redha Ali Ahmad MalAllah was snatched from his home on 7th December and transferred to the Dry Dock torture centre.
The International Human Rights Day yesterday was commemorated by the regime with more arrests, torture and abuse. As several prominent Bahrainis continued their hunger strike for the tenth day, the dictator has ordered their detention for arbitrary periods of 30 and 45 days. Among them are Makki Abu Taki, Jawad Al Sheikh, (Both are fathers of martyrs), Hussain Jawad, and Najeeb Abu Taki. Another Bahraini whose torture had been highlighted few weeks ago has been given extra jail sentence. Talib Ali who is falsely accused of sabotage has been repeatedly sentenced to a total of 50 years in jail.
Meanwhile Bahrain Watch which is following the most controversial deal by a South Korean company has issued urgent appeals to UN OHCHR to Stop Tear Gas Shipment. The monitoring body lodged complaints with several United Nations Special Rapporteurs, as part of the ongoing #StopTheShipment campaign to stop a shipment of South Korean tear gas to Bahrain. The complaints request that the Special Rapporteurs take urgent action to halt further shipments of tear gas to Bahrain, and investigate the legality of previous shipments of South Korean tear gas. The complaints argue that Bahrain’s government has used previous shipments of tear gas to violate the freedoms of association, expression and movement, and for systematic repression that amounts to degrading and inhuman treatment and collective punishment. Separate complaints were sent to: The Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, The Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killing and The Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
11th December 2013
I'm a huge fan of peace studies as an academic discipline that should be spread into every corner of what we call, with sometimes unclear justification, our education system. But often peace studies, like other disciplines, manages to study only those far from home, and to study them with a certain bias.
I recently read a book promoting the sophisticated skills of trained negotiators and suggesting that if such people, conversant in the ways of emotional understanding, would take over the Palestine "peace process" from the aging politicians, then ... well, basically, then Palestinians would agree to surrender their land and rights without so much fuss. Great truths about negotiation skills only go so far if the goal of the negotiation is injustice based on misunderstanding of the facts on the ground.
I recently read another book discussing nonviolent resistance to injustice and brutality. It focused on a handful of stories of how peace was brought to various poor tribes and nations, usually through careful, respectful, and personal approaches, that appeased some tyrant's ego while moving him toward empathy. These books are valuable, and it is good that they are proliferating. But they always leave me wondering whether the biggest war-maker on earth is left out because war isn't war when Westerners do it, or is it, rather, because the military industrial complex requires a different approach. How many decades has it been since a U.S. president sat down and listened to opponents of militarism? Does the impossibility of such a thing remove it from our professors' consideration?
Here in Virginia's Fifth District, a bunch of us met with our then-Congressman Tom Perriello a few years back and sought respectfully and persuasively to bring him to oppose and stop funding the war on Afghanistan. Perriello was and is, in some quarters, considered some sort of "progressive" hero. I've never understood why. He did not listen. Why? We had majority opinion with us. Was it because we lacked the skills? Was it because of his sincere belief in so-called humanitarian wars? Or was it something else? The New York Times on Friday reported on the corruption of the organization where Perriello was hired immediately upon his electoral defeat. The Center for American Progress takes funding from weapons companies and supports greater public funding of weapons companies. The Democratic National Committee gave Perriello's reelection campaign a bunch of money just after one of his votes for a bill containing war money and a bank bailout (he seemed to oppose the latter). White House officials and cabinet secretaries did public events with Perriello in his district just after his vote.
I know another member of Congress who wants to end wars and cut military spending, but when I ask this member's staff to stop talking about social safety net cuts as if they only hurt veterans rather than all people I can't even make my concern -- that of glorifying veterans as more valuable -- understood. It's like talking to a brick military base.
My friend David Hartsough was one, among others, who spoke with President John Kennedy when he was President, urged him toward peace and believed he listened. That didn't work out well for President Kennedy, or for peace. When Gorbachev was ready to move the Soviet Union toward peace, President Ronald Reagan wasn't. Was that because of sincere, well-meaning, if misguided notions of security? Or was it senility, stupidity, and stubbornness? Or was it something else? Was it a system that wouldn't allow it? Was something more than personal persuasion on the substance of the matter needed? Was a new way of funding elections and communicating campaign slogans required first? Would peace studies have to revise its approach if it noticed the existence of the Pentagon?
Of course, I think the answer is some of each. I think reducing military spending a little will allow us to be heard a little more clearly, which will allow us to reduce military spending a little further, and so on. And part of the reason why I think it's both and not purely "structural" is the opposition to war that brews up within the U.S. military -- as it did on missile strikes for Syria this past summer. Sometimes members of the military oppose, protest, or even resist wars.
Another type of book that has proliferated madly is the account of military veterans' activism in the peace movement during the Bush presidency -- with always a bit on what survived of that movement into the reign of the Nobel Peace Laureate Constitutional Law Professor President. I've just read a good one of these books called Fighting For Peace: Veterans and Military Families in the Anti-Iraq War Movement by Lisa Leitz. This book, as well as any of them, provides insights into the difficulties faced by military and veteran peace activists, and military family member peace activists, as well as the contributions they've made. I've become an associate (non-veteran) member of Veterans For Peace and worked for that group and with other groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out because of the tremendous job they've done. The non-military peace movement needs to work ever harder at welcoming and encouraging and supporting military and veteran peace activism. And vice versa.
Different risks are involved. Different emotions are involved. Would you march against a war if it might ruin your own or a loved one's career? To stretch the definition of war-maker a little, would you take a job with Lockheed-Martin if you oppose war? What if you oppose war but your child is in the military -- would you be proud of his or her success and advancement into an elite murder team? Should you not be proud of your child?
The contributions of military and former military peace activists have been tremendous: the throwing back of medals, the memorials and cemeteries erected in protest and grief, the reenactment of war scenes on the streets, the testimony confessing to crimes no one wants to prosecute. New people have been reached and opinions changed. And yet, I want to say there is a downside.
Most peace activists have never been in the military. Most books about peace activists are about the military ones. This distorts and diminishes our understanding of what we're doing. Most victims in our wars -- and I mean statistically almost all of them -- are on the other side, but most writing done about victims is about the U.S. military ones (assuming aggressors are victims). The giant cemeteries representing the dead in Iraq are orders of magnitude too small to be accurate. This severely distorts our understanding of one-sided slaughters, allowing the continuation of the myth of war as a contest between two armies.
Eliminating war would logically involve eliminating the war-making machine, but veteran and military opponents of war, more often than others, want the military preserved and used for good ends. Is that because it makes sense or because of personal identification? Nationalism is driving wars, but military peace activists tend, more than others, to favor "good patriotism" or "true patriotism." Must a peace movement that ought to celebrate international law and cooperation follow that lead?
Leitz quotes Maureen Dowd claiming that veterans have "moral authority" to oppose war, unlike -- apparently -- those who have opposed war for a longer period of time or more consistently. Imagine applying that logic to some other offense, such as child abuse. We don't suggest that reformed child abusers have the greatest moral authority to oppose child abuse. What about shoplifting? Do reformed shoplifters have the greatest authority to oppose shoplifting? I think that in any such situation, the former participants have a particular type of perspective. But I think there's another valuable perspective in those who have opposed a crime. Some veterans, of course, were in the military before I was born and have worked for the abolition of war longer than I've breathed. I don't think their past diminishes them in any way. I also don't think it does what Dowd thinks it does.
Dowd's idea may be that some wars are good and some bad, so we should trust those who've taken part in wars to make the distinction. I'd disagree with the conclusion even if I agreed with the premise. I don't think it's a premise the peace movement should accept. Peace is as incompatible with some wars as it is with all wars.
Accounts like Fighting for Peace bring out the segregation of military from civilian culture in the United States, a product of standing armies and standing foreign bases. I once spoke on a panel with a Democratic veteran candidate for Congress who thankfully lost but who advocated for everyone joining the military so that everyone would be familiar with what the military was. I have another proposal: everyone join civilian life, close the bases, dismantle the weapons, disassemble the ships, put solar panels on the runways, and give the Pentagon a new role to play. I think it would make a fine roller skating rink.
In the meantime, we should try to understand and work with each other to reduce the military, and that requires doing so without promoting it or joining it.
The producer and director of the investigative documentary “TWA Flight 800” responds to Geoffrey Gray’s piece in New York Magazine
It began with an email on October 24, 2013 to Tom Stalcup, Ph.D., Co-Producer and Senior Science Advisor for the new documentary, “TWA Flight 800”. New York Magazine intern Claire McCartney wrote that editor Geoffrey Gray wanted to talk to Stalcup and to “get in contact” with Kristina Borjesson, the film’s Producer/Director.
In his first phone conversation with Stalcup, Gray jokingly identified himself as being with the National Transportation Safety Board. He congratulated Stalcup on his success and suggested he write a book. Stalcup asked if Gray had seen the documentary. Gray hadn’t, but promised to talk again after watching it.
Gray portrayed himself as an honest investigative journalist, saying that investigations like Stalcup’s into TWA 800 are his life and that he has conducted many of them and knows what it’s like. He gave Stalcup the impression that he was working on a serious article for New York Magazine. Stalcup provided Gray with verified, factual information, free of any speculation or theorizing.
Frank Richards recalled:
"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.
"Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land. Their officers was also now out. Our officers exchanged greetings with them. One of the German officers said that he wished he had a camera to take a snapshot, but they were not allowed to carry cameras. Neither were our officers.
"We mucked in all day with one another. They were Saxons and some of them could speak English. By the look of them their trenches were in as bad a state as our own. One of their men, speaking in English, mentioned that he had worked in Brighton for some years and that he was fed up to the neck with this damned war and would be glad when it was all over. We told him that he wasn't the only one that was fed up with it. We did not allow them in our trench and they did not allow us in theirs.
"The German Company-Commander asked Buffalo Bill if he would accept a couple of barrels of beer and assured him that they would not make his men drunk. They had plenty of it in the brewery. He accepted the offer with thanks and a couple of their men rolled the barrels over and we took them into our trench. The German officer sent one of his men back to the trench, who appeared shortly after carrying a tray with bottles and glasses on it. Officers of both sides clinked glasses and drunk one another's health. Buffalo Bill had presented them with a plum pudding just before. The officers came to an understanding that the unofficial truce would end at midnight. At dusk we went back to our respective trenches."
Bruce Bairnsfather remembered:
"The dawn of the 24th brought a perfectly still, cold, frosty day. The spirit of Christmas began to permeate us all; we tried to plot ways and means of making the next day, Christmas, different in some way to others. Invitations from one dug-out to another for sundry meals were beginning to circulate. Christmas Eve was, in the way of weather, everything that Christmas Eve should be.
"I was billed to appear at a dug-out about a quarter of a mile to the left that evening to have rather a special thing in trench dinners—not quite so much bully and Maconochie about as usual. A bottle of red wine and a medley of tinned things from home deputized in their absence. The day had been entirely free from shelling, and somehow we all felt that the Boches, too, wanted to be quiet. There was a kind of an invisible, intangible feeling extending across the frozen swamp between the two lines, which said 'This is Christmas Eve for both of us—something in common.'
"About 10 p.m. I made my exit from the convivial dug-out on the left of our line and walked back to my own lair. On arriving at my own bit of trench I found several of the men standing about, and all very cheerful. There was a good bit of singing and talking going on, jokes and jibes on our curious Christmas Eve, as contrasted with any former one, were thick in the air. One of my men turned to me and said:
"'You can 'ear 'em quite plain, sir!'
"'Hear what?' I inquired.
"'The Germans over there, sir; 'ear 'em singin' and playin' on a band or somethin'.'
"I listened;—away out across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices, and an occasional burst of some unintelligible song would come floating out on the frosty air. The singing seemed to be loudest and most distinct a bit to our right. I popped into my dug-out and found the platoon commander."
"'Do you hear the Boches kicking up that racket over there?' I said.
"'Yes,' he replied; 'they've been at it some time!'
"'Come on,' said I, 'let's go along the trench to the hedge there on the right—that's the nearest point to them, over there.'
"So we stumbled along our now hard, frosted ditch, and scrambling up on to the bank above, strode across the field to our next bit of trench on the right. Everyone was listening. An improvised Boche band was playing a precarious version of 'Deutschland, Deutschland, uber Alles,' at the conclusion of which, some of our mouth-organ experts retaliated with snatches of ragtime songs and imitations of the German tune. Suddenly we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again. A voice in the darkness shouted in English, with a strong German accent, 'Come over here!' A ripple of mirth swept along our trench, followed by a rude outburst of mouth organs and laughter. Presently, in a lull, one of our sergeants repeated the request, 'Come over here!'
"'You come half-way—I come half-way,' floated out of the darkness.
"'Come on, then!' shouted the sergeant. 'I'm coming along the hedge!'
"'Ah! but there are two of you,' came back the voice from the other side.
"Well, anyway, after much suspicious shouting and jocular derision from both sides, our sergeant went along the hedge which ran at right-angles to the two lines of trenches. He was quickly out of sight; but, as we all listened in breathless silence, we soon heard a spasmodic conversation taking place out there in the darkness.
"Presently, the sergeant returned. He had with him a few German cigars and cigarettes which he had exchanged for a couple of Maconochie's and a tin of Capstan, which he had taken with him. The séance was over, but it had given just the requisite touch to our Christmas Eve—something a little human and out of the ordinary routine.
"After months of vindictive sniping and shelling, this little episode came as an invigorating tonic, and a welcome relief to the daily monotony of antagonism. It did not lessen our ardour or determination; but just put a little human punctuation mark in our lives of cold and humid hate. Just on the right day, too—Christmas Eve! But, as a curious episode, this was nothing in comparison to our experience on the following day.
"On Christmas morning I awoke very early, and emerged from my dug-out into the trench. It was a perfect day. A beautiful, cloudless blue sky. The ground hard and white, fading off towards the wood in a thin low-lying mist. It was such a day as is invariably depicted by artists on Christmas cards—the ideal Christmas Day of fiction.
"'Fancy all this hate, war, and discomfort on a day like this!' I thought to myself. The whole spirit of Christmas seemed to be there, so much so that I remember thinking, 'This indescribable something in the air, this Peace and Goodwill feeling, surely will have some effect on the situation here to-day!' And I wasn't far wrong; it did around us, anyway, and I have always been so glad to think of my luck in, firstly, being actually in the trenches on Christmas Day, and, secondly, being on the spot where quite a unique little episode took place.
"Everything looked merry and bright that morning—the discomforts seemed to be less, somehow; they seemed to have epitomized themselves in intense, frosty cold. It was just the sort of day for Peace to be declared. It would have made such a good finale. I should like to have suddenly heard an immense siren blowing. Everybody to stop and say, 'What was that?' Siren blowing again: appearance of a small figure running across the frozen mud waving something. He gets closer—a telegraph boy with a wire! He hands it to me. With trembling fingers I open it: 'War off, return home.—George, R.I.' Cheers! But no, it was a nice, fine day, that was all.
"Walking about the trench a little later, discussing the curious affair of the night before, we suddenly became aware of the fact that we were seeing a lot of evidences of Germans. Heads were bobbing about and showing over their parapet in a most reckless way, and, as we looked, this phenomenon became more and more pronounced.
"A complete Boche figure suddenly appeared on the parapet, and looked about itself. This complaint became infectious. It didn't take 'Our Bert' long to be up on the skyline (it is one long grind to ever keep him off it). This was the signal for more Boche anatomy to be disclosed, and this was replied to by all our Alf's and Bill's, until, in less time than it takes to tell, half a dozen or so of each of the belligerents were outside their trenches and were advancing towards each other in no-man's land.
"A strange sight, truly!
"I clambered up and over our parapet, and moved out across the field to look. Clad in a muddy suit of khaki and wearing a sheepskin coat and Balaclava helmet, I joined the throng about half-way across to the German trenches.
"It all felt most curious: here were these sausage-eating wretches, who had elected to start this infernal European fracas, and in so doing had brought us all into the same muddy pickle as themselves.
"This was my first real sight of them at close quarters. Here they were—the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side that day."
John McCutcheon reimagined:
Joe Henry and Garth Brooks rediscovered:
Even Snoopy was inspired:
And now, after 99 years, what will we do?
When he was a tiny little bear cub, Nelson would scamper over to be close to his mother when he heard any loud noise. When he got a little bigger, if something scared him he would growl. Bigger still, and he would stand up on his hind legs, growl, and wave his paws about. And when he got even bigger than that -- when he began to look like a full-grown bear -- if Nelson heard something that might be dangerous, he would stand calmly still and listen harder.
Nelson's cubhood was a happy one. His mother and the other big bears taught him to run and climb, and how to find the berries that were good and wouldn't make you sick. They taught him how to settle arguments with other bears. Growling was only for show, Nelson's mother always told him.
A bear must never attack another bear
But only growl and attack the air.
She told him that little poem many times.
At the end of each day, Nelson's mother would read him stories before he went to bed in the cave. He especially liked "Goldilocks and the Three Humans." When Nelson got a little bigger his mother sometimes let him listen to stories told to a big circle of bears by the best bear storytellers in those mountains. All of Nelson's friends listened to the stories, so Nelson's mother let him do so too. Nelson found the stories -- full of fights and adventures -- to be tremendously strange but tremendously exciting.
Nelson knew that the bears around him in his woods and mountains were not the only bears in the world. He knew other bears lived far way, and others even farther away on the far side of the world. And yet Nelson was never taught a name for his bears until he was nearly full-grown. And when he was taught the name, it was a name he had heard before in movies and books. The name was: the Good Bears.
Nelson was happy to be a Good Bear, but the Bad Bears worried him. He was told where they lived, and he was horrified at the thought that Bad Bears might come into the Good Bears' area. He imagined what the Bad Bears looked like. They must have horns and scales. Some said the Bad Bears breathed fire. Nelson began to grow afraid again, just as he had been afraid of everything when he had been a tiny cub. And at the same time, Nelson was excited by the idea of the Bad Bears. At any noise, Nelson would jump, his hair would stand up, he would rise and growl and wave his claws through the air fast enough to have ripped through a brick wall had there been a brick wall in the middle of the woods.
There was nothing human in the woods until the day the truck came. Nelson knew nothing of trucks. They hadn't been in any stories. He also knew nothing of guns. So, when the forestry department came to help the bears by drugging them to sleep, inspecting them all over, sticking tags on them, and letting them go again, Nelson only knew that a large and noisy thing was nearby and getting closer. He sprang into action.
While Nelson stood his tallest and roared his loudest at the truck, the truck did not talk back to him or retreat. The truck stopped. A human got out with something in his hands. There was a noise. And then Nelson felt a sharp pain in his left rear leg. Nelson felt dizzy. He was spinning. Or the forest was spinning. Or the clouds were spinning. Nelson heard voices, human voices. They were saying he might be sick. He must be tested. They must help him.
Nelson woke up in a place he'd never seen or imagined. There were huge hard bars on all sides of him, and above him. Nelson roared like mad. Humans came near to his cage but were afraid to come all the way up to it. Nelson's rage and fury were limitless. Nelson nearly went insane with fear and anger and hatred. He roared and roared and smashed himself against the bars. Afterward, he had no idea how long this had lasted. It ended when the cage was loaded onto a truck, taken into the woods, and opened. Nelson was free!
But something was wrong. The trees were not the same as before. The mountains were not the same shape. It was as if the world had been twisted sideways somehow. And then Nelson figured out what had happened. The humans had released him into the wrong woods. They had put him in the land of the Bad Bears. Nelson shook with fear. It was one thing to imagine fighting the Bad Bears with all the Good Bears standing at your side, like in the stories told to bear cubs. It was another thing to be alone, the only Good Bear in a world of vicious Bad Bears seeking to destroy you.
Nelson heard and smelled something. He looked quickly around for a place to hide, but it was too late. A bear was coming close, and the bear had seen him. But Nelson was in luck: this didn't look like a Bad Bear at all. This was another Good Bear just like him. They would be together now, two Good Bears against all of the Bad. "Greetings, fellow Good Bear," growled Nelson. "How did you come to be in these woods?"
"I was born in them," said the bear. "But I haven't met you before. Where do you come from?"
Nelson was confused but answered, "I come from over that ridge and across the next valley, of course. Don't all Good Bears come from there?"
The other bear began to back away slowly and the hair to rise on his back. "You come from the land of the Bad Bears?" he growled. "Are you a Bad Bear then?"
"What are you talking about?" growled Nelson. "Do I look like a Bad Bear? Do I breathe fire? Where are my scales? Where are my horns? I'm a Good Bear, just like you."
"That's true," said the other bear, whose name was Steven. Nelson and Steven relaxed a little and began to trust each other, but both were puzzled and confused. Each of them thought the other must be a Bad Bear, but both could see it wasn't true.
Nelson stayed with Steven's family that night, planning to begin traveling home the next day. In the morning Steven, who did not want Nelson to leave, said he would travel with him, at least half way. And so, the two friends moved quickly through the day and crossed the mountain ridge. And not long after crossing the ridge and beginning down the other side, they heard the most frightening noise in the world. They heard the noise of war coming. They heard it coming from in front of them and behind.
Hundreds of bears were roaring and stomping and screaming and smashing against the trees. They all seemed to have gone insane, a huge line of them moving up from Nelson's woods. And another gigantic group of mad crazy bears ready to kill was coming up the mountains from Steven's home. Nelson and Steven stood perfectly still, listened, smelled, and thought. And they thought well, without even quite knowing they'd done so, and without having to tell each other what to do.
Together, Nelson and Steven raced back to the top of the ridge. They could see the armies of bears advancing up both slopes toward them. Nelson faced the bears from his home. He saw bears he knew, friends and family. "Stop!," he roared. "Who do you think you are attacking?"
"Stop!" roared Steven at his own bear nation. "Who are you coming to kill?"
"The Bad Bears!" said Nelson's countrybears.
"The Bad Bears!" said Steven's bear kin.
"They don't exist," roared Nelson and Steven.
"Look," roared Nelson. "Look at this bear next to me. He is from the land of what you call Bad Bears, but he is just like you and me. His bears have been told that YOU are the Bad Bears. And you know that isn't true."
Steven told his bears the same thing. But meanwhile the bears had been advancing quickly and were nearing the ridgetop. "Look at them," pleaded Nelson and Steven. "Look at them! They're Good Bears the same as you. Bad Bears are only in stories. Things in stories aren't always real. Bear cubs know that! And bear cubs know that growling is only for show. You must never attack another bear, but only growl and attack the air."
The two bear friends were telling whole armies of angry bears what every bear mother had told every one of those bears when they had been young cubs. Some of the bears were roaring like mad at their enemies. Some of the bears were beginning to listen. Some of the bears were stopping and looking carefully at the bears in front of them.
Bears growled, but they didn't attack. They stopped and looked. They understood that Steven and Nelson were right.
Nelson and Steven had stopped a war.
Later, at Nelson's cave, Steven said to his friend, "Do you know why I'm glad you're not really a Bad Bear?"
Nelson nodded. "I do," he said. "Because then I wouldn't exist. And you'd be a Bad Bear too and not exist either."
"Exactly," growled Steven. "There'd be no more bears if we weren't all Good Bears, as of course we are!"
"I'm glad," growled Nelson.