DRONE WAR OPPONENT MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES HAS BEGUN SERVING SIX MONTHS IN JAIL
By Nick Mottern, KnowDrones
As many of you know Mary Anne Grady Flores, 59, grandmother of three, a caterer, with responsibility with her other family members for caring from her critically ill mother, began serving a six-month jail sentence on Tuesday night, January 19, 2016 in connection with a drone protest at the Hancock Air National Guard drone control center hear Syracuse, NY.
Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, who has also been arrested at Hancock, says: “All the drone trials are bogus, and Mary Anne’s charges, trial and sentencing were particularly egregious. (A statement from Colonel Wright appears below.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES
1. Speaking on Thursday, January 21 from jail, Mary Anne said that the #1 thing she would like to be done in support is for people to organize local anti-drone war teach-ins or other events. She would like the events to include identifying the similarities between drone killing and killings by police in terms of lack of due process and accountability. See Mary Anne’s statement below.
2. Send money to support Mary Anne and the anti-drone war movement in Upstate New York, for example in paying legal fees. Please make out your check to:
Ithaca Catholic Workers, write Mary Anne Grady Flores in the memo line, and send the check to:
Ithaca Catholic Workers
514 N. Plain Street
Ithaca, NY 14850
3. Send Mary Anne a letter, addressed to:
Mary Anne Grady Flores – Inmate #12001966
Jamesville Correctional Facility
PO Box 143
Jamesville, NY 13078
Here is the report from the Syracuse Post Standard on Mary Anne’s surrendering at court for imprisonment, followed by her statement immediately before her imprisonment.
Mary Anne’s statement:
and that of her attorney, Lance Salisbury:
Also statements by Mary Anne’s sister, Ellen Grady
and Carol Baum of the Syracuse Peace Council
Mary Anne’s imprisonment has received wide press coverage including:
Colonel Ann Wright's Statement 1-19-16
As Grandmother Mary Ann Grady Flores is taken to jail today for violating an “Order of Protection” requested by the Commander of the U.S. National Guard Hancock Drone base, Syracuse, NY, I, as a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 29 years in the US military find it quite embarrassing and ludicrous that a U.S. military commander decided that his personal security so threatened by peaceful, non-violent protesters of the drone policies of the United States that he applied for an “Order of Protection” from the courts—and that the courts issued the “Order” without any evidence that any protester had ever even seen the Commander, much less constituted a threat to him.
I would have expected a U.S. military commander to have had the courage to meet with the group of concerned citizens rather than obtaining a cowardly “Order of Protection.” Had I been the commander, I certainly would have met with the citizens and would never have contemplated getting an "Order of Protection.
I have just returned from South Korea and Okinawa where citizen protesters daily block gates to military bases where highly contentious runways and ports are being built. Each day police remove non-violent protesters from the gates, but they have never been prohibited from exercising their rights to protest, a right that is under siege by the military and the courts in Syracuse, New York.
As further evidence of how contorted the law enforcement and judicial process in the U.S. is about protests, while armed, white militia hold a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon in protest of the government having too much land and are not even arrested, Mary Ann Grady Flores, a peaceful grandmother who stepped on a double line and therefore violated an “Order of Protection” is going to jail for six months.
The actions by the U.S. military at Hancock drone base and the town courts of DeWitt, New York are blatant measures taken unconstitutionally to silence dissent against the assassin drone weapons policy and intimidate protesters. They both should be ashamed.
US Army Colonel (retired)
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Pat Elder, WarIsACrime.org
Thailynn Smith, 15, a freshman at Flint Northwestern, shoots an air rifle at the school's ROTC indoor shooting range on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Samuel Wilson | MLive.com
The firing range at Flint Northwestern High School is run by the Navy and affiliated with the Civilian Marksmanship Program which provides regulations for the shooting activity. According to the Civilian Marksmanship Program's Guide to Lead Management of Air Gun Shooting, a key to minimizing the risks of lead exposures from any residues that are deposited between the firing line and the targets is to minimize requirements for coaches or shooters to go downrange in order to prevent lead residues from migrating behind the firing line.
It doesn't seem like officials are minimizing these risks in Flint, Michigan. Apparently, the city's drinking water is not the only source of potential lead contamination.
The CMP's guide also suggests high schools control the paths used to go down-range so that no one walks in the area immediately in front of the firing line. It doesn't appear from the numerous photos on the mlive.com website the high school, the Navy, or CMP officials are enforcing this. The guide also calls for the use of disposable plastic shoe covers when going downrange which also does not appear to be happening. The shoe covers are meant to minimize the likelihood of lead fragments being tracked throughout the school.
Hundreds of thousands of high school children and school staff across the nation come into contact with highly toxic lead particulate matter as a result of inadequate supervision and maintenance of indoor firing ranges. The CMP, along with the various JROTC programs run by the Army, Navy, and Marines, and high school officials in every state, along with private gun club owners, where target practices are also held, share the responsibility for safeguarding the health of the public regarding high school marksmanship programs. School districts typically don't monitor lead contamination caused by JROTC marksmanship programs. Instead, inspections are supposed to be performed either by the Brigades/Area Commands, the CMP, or private firms.
Zackir Metcalk, 17, a sophomore at Flint Northwestern, proudly points out his accuracy on a target after a session in the school's indoor shooting range during ROTC training on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Samuel Wilson | MLive.com
According to the CMP there are over 2,400 Army, Navy and Marine Corps JROTC units in the USA. Statistics kept by JROTC commands and the CMP indicate that at least two-thirds or approximately 1,600 JROTC units offer rifle marksmanship programs to their cadets. Interestingly, the CMP doesn't count the 800 Air Force JROTC programs across the country, so the total tops 3,200 units. Approximately half, or 1,600 of these units offer rifle marksmanship programs to their high school cadets.
The cleanup of toxic lead materials is a major concern.
Here's a list of the necessary procedures in the CMP Guide designed to protect the health of children in high schools with shooting ranges. Are we certain school officials in Flint are taking these precautions? Are we certain these precautions are taking place in the 1,600 sites across the country?
- Only authorized adult personnel who follow proper procedures should remove lead from pellet traps or target holders.
- You must ensure all residues fall behind the target line by carefully inspecting the areas behind and in front of the target line before establishing the range map.
- Lead consisting of spent pellets or pellet fragments that is removed from the pellet traps is regarded as a recyclable material. After a quantity of this lead is accumulated, take it to a recycling center.
- If you are working with an older range that does not have a smooth floor, consider replacing or covering the floor to achieve a smooth surface that is easier to clean.
- In order to carry out recommended air gun range management procedures, range managers should have these supplies and materials available to them:
- Shop or industrial vacuum cleaner and mops and disposable mop heads,
- Container (bucket) with secure closure for spent pellets
- Container (bucket) with secure closure for vacuum filters and mop heads
- On ranges where the target system allows lead pellet residues to deposit on the floor forward of the targets, it is recommended that the range staff establish a lane (paint or tape a line) to provide a designated walking path for the coach or authorized athlete to follow while moving to the target line.
- At the target line, it is recommended that the designated target changer put on disposable shoe covers before walking over any residues that may be in front of the targets.
- Once targets are changed, the designated target changer should remove the disposable shoe covers before stepping onto the walking path and returning to the firing line. Shoe covers are disposable, elasticized paper
- If the air gun range is in a multi-use facility where other activities will take place in the downrange area after air gun firing concludes, that area must be cleaned after every training or competition session.
- After firing activities have ended, have the athletes remove shooting equipment from the firing line, ensuring that they do not step over the firing line. Using a shop vacuum, start from behind the firing line and move parallel to the firing line, carefully vacuuming from the firing line downrange for ten feet. Start again from ten feet in front of the target line and move parallel to the target line, vacuuming to the tar- get line (or beyond if there is lead pellet residue behind the target line.
- Ensure that the shop vacuum's cord, wheels and hoses do NOT drag through un-vacuumed area. Always keep the vacuum and the vacuum operator in the clean area of the range. The operator should not step on or stand in a potentially contaminated area.
- Range floors that are roughly textured or porous may require mopping with tri-sodium phosphate, a buffering solution that suspends particulates long enough to be picked up by the mop.
ROTC students at Flint Northwestern remove their targets after a session at the school's indoor shooting range on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Samuel Wilson | MLive.com
Parents of children participating in Flint's Northwestern High School's NJROTC Marksmanship Program are required to sign a form that releases NJROTC "from any and all claims, demands, actions or causes of actions due to death, injury or illness, the government of the United States and all of its officers, representative and agents acting officially and also the local, regional, and national Navy officials of the United States."
Officials say lead pellets are not airborne and pose no health risk. In 2013 parents in Montgomery County, Maryland approached district officials regarding their concerns about the potential for lead exposure in regular classrooms that were used for both firing ranges and academic subjects. Firing ranges in the nation's high schools are managed by JROTC programs affiliated with the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. They are all "regulated" by the CMP.
Montgomery County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Erik J. Lang acknowledged that Gaithersburg, Kennedy, Paint Branch, and Seneca Valley high schools all have indoor firing ranges that operate in classrooms during the school day.
In a response dated March 13, 2013 Sean Yarup, Indoor Air Quality Office, MCPS cited the CMP's Guide to Lead Management and advised parents:
- There is no scientific evidence that firing lead projectiles in target air guns with velocities of less than 600 fps. generates any detectable airborne lead.
- All available medical testing shows that air rifle target shooting participants do not develop elevated lead levels as a result of this activity.
- Anyone who handles lead pellets during air rifle or air pistol shooting can effectively minimize their lead exposure by washing their hands after firing and by not consuming food or beverages on the range.
All three statements are untrue.
A Swedish study in 1992 analyzed the air in an indoor firing range that was used exclusively for air guns and found the air had lead levels an average of 4.6 ìg/m3 (range 1.8 - 7.2 ìg/m3). The study documents the presence of airborne lead as a result of air rifle shooting and cast doubt on HET's findings, as well as the CMP's claim that there's no need for special ventilation systems.
A 2009 German study examined the blood lead levels of 129 individuals from 11 different indoor shooting ranges who shot a variety of weapons. 20 individuals who shot only air guns showed a median BLL of 33 ìg/l with a (range 18-127 ìg/l). (Translated into standard American usage per deciliter - 3.3ug/dl or 3.3 micrograms per deciliter)
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) said in 2011 that washing hands with soap and water is not effective in removing lead from the surface of the skin.
The CMP's 2013 Guide to Lead Management relies on the findings of Health & Environmental Technology LLC (HET), an environmental testing firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado to dispel the notion that air guns shooting lead pellets create airborne particles. The sole employee of HET is Mr. Robert Rodosevich, who has come under scrutiny in Colorado in 2012 for "gross technical incompetence in technical compliance."
The CMP says normal ventilation systems are fine for shooting ranges in America's high schools.
More unbelievable stuff:
Lead from airguns is deposited at the muzzle end of the gun at the firing line. Every pellet being fired down the barrel scrapes out the deposits from the pellets that went before. Kids pick it up on their shoes and clothing and track it throughout the building. High concentrations of lead residues are also deposited on the floor in the area around the backstops. And all of this is happening in some classrooms in Montgomery County, MD, just a few minutes before kids in the next class file in.
Once the director of environmental health at Fairfax County schools became aware that classrooms were being used for firing ranges he sprang into action and ordered lead testing on surfaces. The tests came back showing a severe threat to public health. Fairfax authorities shut down the programs, cleaned and re-cleaned, and sent letters home. They re-opened the ranges but required the switch to non-lead ammunition. That was in 2007. All Air Force JROTC units use non-lead pellets. Montgomery County's Police firing range only uses non-lead ammunition.
The Menehune High School Junior ROTC Marksmanship Program in Waimea, Hawaii has operating procedures that direct custodial staff to "sweep up lead pellets."
Will it play in Peoria? Apparently so. The Richwoods High School Marine Corps JROTC Rifle team's range supports six full time firing points. For air rifle matches for up to 20 shooters the team uses the local roller skating rink.
Congress failed to include a mandatory annual financial audit to examine the CMP's internal controls regarding compliance with the 1996 act.
The private CMP has $164.5 million in publicly traded securities. The 990 states, "at no cost to the government," the CMP "develops curriculum for marksmanship instruction in the high schools, trains and certifies JROTC coaches and inspects high school range facilities." The corporation spent just $346,000 on these items.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL 3) represents Anniston, Alabama in Congress. Anniston is the home of the CMP. Rogers inserted an amendment into the 2015 NDAA that allows 100,000 Army M1911A1 pistols to be transferred to the CMP for eventual sale to the public.
Incredibly, there are still many high school shooting programs affiliated with the CMP that continue to use small-bore .22 caliber rifles inside schools. The .22 small bore rifles that fire standard bullets deposit substantially more lead into the air and on the ground than the lead pellets in use in the classrooms.
The CMP advises, "a periodic wet mopping with a solution of water and tri-sodium phosphate" (TSP) should be used to clean classroom floors. In 2012 the US Department of Housing and Urban Development advised that tri-sodium phosphate should be avoided when cleaning up lead because it's deadly to the environment and no better than many other less harmful cleaning agents.
The CMP advises against the use of non-lead pellets in its Guide to Lead Management, arguing they don't perform as well as their lead counterparts.
The CMP's lead guide states that high school children who fire lead pellet rifles in classrooms are safe from lead contamination if they wash their hands and keep open food and drink away from shooting activity. According to a study by NIOSH in 2011, washing hands with soap and water is not completely effective in removing lead from the surface of the skin.
Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy. www.studentprivacy.org He is the author of “Military Recruiting in America” set to be published in the summer of 2016.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
When We Fight We Win! is the overly violent and overly optimistic title of a very good new book about recent nonviolent social struggles in the United States for LGBTQ rights, immigrants rights, economic justice, public education, a sustainable environment, and an end to mass incarceration.
My initial response to this book was very different from my considered response.
My initial response to a table of contents like the one in this book is always: Where the hell is war? Don't they know that war eats up all the money that could solve all these problems with ease? Haven't they considered that immigrants are refugees from war? That discrimination and hate feed off war? That the top destroyer of the environment is the military -- which destroys the environment in the process of killing people for oil with which to destroy the environment?! Goddamn it, when did acceptance of mass murder become progressive?!
Then I calm down a bit, wipe the blood off my forehead, pick up the broken dishes, apologize to the owner of the coffee shop, and read the book.
By the end of this book, I was wondering why a completely different topic was missing, or rather, why it wasn't in the headline since its shadow so dominates almost every page. That topic is media reform / media production.
The chapter on LGBTQ rights reminds us of the length and complexity of the struggle, and of how much it has been a struggle of communication. The chapter itself, like the rest of the book, is in fact not so much devoted to analyzing activist strategies as to actually engaging in the strategy of communicating the stories of the relevant people. The book is an act of communication, and such acts are the heart of the activism described.
Accounts of successes are inspiring, even if we harbor doubts that the oligarchy really objects to LGBTQ rights. But the point of the chapter is largely to do what a truly democratic television channel or newspaper or online journal could do: show us what is unfair, make us feel suffering, bring us in on people's struggles for justice, convert us to the cause.
When it comes to the defense of public education, we're dealing with a struggle against vast wealth, and it is mostly a losing struggle, but this book focuses on successes, including in Chicago where Rahm Emanuel got a little too greedy. The lessons learned include the need to organize and build personal relationships, but also the need to communicate through the media and through artwork and by aligning teachers with parents and community in a major struggle for huge goals, not technical details.
With mass incarceration and the environment we see potential in divestment campaigns and, again, the need to build large coalitions. But a big focus is media reform in the piecemeal sense of forcing the worst programing, such as Cops, off the air via public pressure. ColorofChange.org targets prisons by targeting ugly and racist portrayals of black men on television. (Peace groups have done the same with war shows.) Immigrants rights groups have persuaded the Associated Press to stop calling people "illegal."
They've also moved President Obama by standing up to him -- and meeting with him but refusing to shake his hand, refusing to censor outrage -- and by threatening to make news advancing their cause with one of his party's Republican rivals. Longtime organizer Marshall Ganz "advised the activists that their story could be their most potent tool for social change." The media attention given to the Occupy movement is also recorded as a successful tool for social change, and for state-level reforms that have been achieved in housing and lending.
It's not that everything is communications, or the media is all that matters, but the media is hugely important. You can watch Bernie Sanders in 1988 propose that labor unions and progressives pool their money and create media outlets. Apart from some small but significant steps on the internet, that's never really happened. I used to work for the AFL-CIO and lobby it to create media outlets, and it chose to put everything into pitching stories to the corporate media.
Seen any good stories about the struggles of working people in the corporate media lately?
And yet somehow Bernie Sanders, who's had the right positions on media reform for decades, has found his way into what amounts to a massive amount of media attention for someone saying something decent -- a significant percentage even of the media coverage Joe Biden received for not entering the presidential race; Sanders may even reach double figures in time spent belittling him as a percentage of the time spent hyping Donald Trump in the media. That could be worth many millions of dollars.
Bernie Sanders' platform is, of course, the same as the table of contents of When We Fight We Win. He's not communicating much, if anything, about peace as an alternative to war. But he's communicating a similar message to Occupy's about wealth and economic justice. If people actually don't know what Scandinavian countries do, or if people literally can't imagine funding education and retirement rather than billionaires, Bernie could be a single-handed movement for change. At the moment, I think he is.
But to the extent that what people learn is that a movement should be a presidential candidate, and should live or die with that candidate, then they are learning a deeply flawed lesson with great potential for debilitating disappointment and despair.
On all of the topics in When We Fight We Win, Bernie advances the discussion beyond where the usual candidates take it. If the media does to him what I've long assumed it will do, or if -- as I certainly hope -- it doesn't, the question will be the same: how can we seize opportunities to accomplish larger and more lasting steps forward, building on anything that anyone learned from his campaign?
A good place to start is with When We Fight We Win.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
A PowerPoint presentation obtained from a source and published by DeSmog in August 2013 has made its way into a major hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") related legal case, which is set to go to trial soon in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The just-published book "Dark Money," penned by New Yorker staff reporter Jane Mayer, reveals that the Koch Brothers hired the former commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) — and his daughter, a former FBI agent — to smear her as a "plagiarist" in the months after the release of her August 2010 bombshell article on the Kochs.
Colin Beavan attracted international attention for his year-long lifestyle redesign project and popular book and documentary film, No Impact Man. He has appeared on Nightline, Good Morning America, The Colbert Report, The Montel Williams Show, and NPR, and his story has been featured in news outlets from Time magazine to The New York Times. A sought after speaker by wide-ranging audiences, he also consults with businesses on improving eco-friendly and human-centered practices. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. And his new book is called How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World.
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Sanders on Assad at the Democratic debate: "And we all know, no argument, the secretary is absolutely right, Assad is a butcher of his own people, man using chemical weapons against his own people. This is beyond disgusting. But I think in terms of our priorities in the region, our first priority must be the destruction of ISIS. Our second priority must be getting rid of Assad through some political settlement, working with Iran, working with Russia.”
Assad is not a ‘butcher of his own people'. Evidence suggests that a Syrian opposition group carried out the Ghouta sarin attack occurred on Aug 21, 2013 that killed hundreds of people. Since the beginning of the civil war the Syrian government and people has been the target of a ferocious, ruthless assault by armed rebel groups, Nusra, Islamic State, etc. The Syrian military bombs and sieges rebel-controlled areas killing civilians but the death toll has been exagerated by sources affiliated with opposition factions.
The language of the Sanders statement, ‘getting rid of Assad through some political settlement’, will be perceived as offensive by the counterparts, not facilitating a diplomatic solution. Assad is supported by Iran and Russia. Iraq share with Syria government the same enemy, i.e. Islamic State, and the same Shite religion. Assad is supported by a significant sector of the population comprised of Alawites, Christians and secular Sunnis. Syrian Kurds, who are battling Islamic State and Nusra, warn that “if the [Assad] regime collapses because of the salafis [fundamentalist Islamic militants] it would be a disaster for everyone.”
The Syrian State institutions are functioning, not near collapse. With Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah help the Syrian military is gaining territory. The Syrian government is open to talk with the opposition about a political settlement leading to U.N. supervised democratic elections. So far the opposition has refused any dialogue by setting the ouster of Assad and his inner circle as pre-condition which is not acceptable by the Syrian government, Russia and Iran.
Note: In general, unlike Clinton, the Sanders diplomacy-driven foreign policy platform is in sync with the world.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
By Joy First
Friday January 8 marked another day of flying to Washington, DC for a week of activism – again. I was feeling sad leaving my family for a week and not looking forward to what I knew I was going to have to do in speaking out against the crimes of our government.
While in DC I stayed with my dear friend Malachy and his family and that is always a comfort to be in their home. Each day was filled with activist work. On Saturday we vigiled against drones at the CIA and I had the opportunity to share what we are doing at Volk Field in Wisconsin where we have been holding monthly vigils against drones for over four years, along with occasional nonviolent direct actions risking arrest. On Sunday we met with a doctor who is the head of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the DC area. He would like to engage more doctors from that organization in civil resistance. He thinks it is a critical time for more people to take to the streets and work for peace and justice.
On Monday we went to the White House where our friends from Witness Against Torture were holding their annual vigil marking 14 years since the first men were imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo. It was a moving vigil as about 20 activists in orange jumpsuits and black hoods walked into the picture postcard area in front of the White House. As the police began pushing the rest of us back to the sidewalk in Lafayette Park I resisted and held my ground as long as possible. For over an hour, our voices were raised together as we sang:
We hear a beautiful sound
It is the breaking of chains
We see a path of hope
We have found the way
Let them go home
Let them go home
Let them go home
Let them go today
Eventually those who had been standing in the picture postcard area joined us and we gathered in a circle in the street again and ended the vigil. A number of men have recently been released from Guantanamo after 14 years of false imprisonment and torture, but Obama could have released them when he became president seven years ago, cutting in half their time there.
As we stayed busy for several days, Tuesday January 12 was weighing heavily on my mind and I was anxiously waiting for that day when the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) was planning a nonviolent direct action. On January 12, the day Obama was going to give us his State of the Union address we were going to deliver a petition to the U.S. Capitol on the “Real State of the Union” outlining what was really going on, along with ideas for solutions. We also had a list of war crimes that had been committed by our government that we wanted to share.
I woke up early on Tuesday morning. Malachy and I had a big breakfast knowing we may not eat again for a long time. We took the Metro to town and as we walked by the Capitol we scoped it out, paying attention to where we might want to go to deliver the petition, and noticing the police – how many there were and where they were. We met up with Max and Janice and the four of us looked at the situation to get a better sense of how the action could unfold.
We gathered together at 11:00 am at a church near the Capitol. It always feels so good to great my old friends and comrades in the struggle. I have been risking arrest with many of them for over ten years now.
I was helping David Barrows stretch out his banner “The Real State of the Union” on wooden poles when Malachy came over and told us that he just heard that Tim Chadwick had died. Tim had been a regular at NCNR actions for many years, but I had not seen him for a couple of years. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news. Tim was an amazing activist and never gave up on trying to change the world, and we all knew that we had to continue with our action for the day in his honor.
The group who was going to risk arrest met together in a corner of the church hall to do final planning for the action. We decided we would attempt to deliver the petition to Joe Biden, president of the Senate, as well as vice-president of Obama’s administration. After the planning meeting, we all gathered together for an open mic where we were inspired hearing about what others were doing and sharing stories of past actions.
At 1:30 pm we left the church and gathered on the street corner near the Supreme Court and across the street from the Capitol. We were planning to set up on the sidewalk directly in front of the Supreme Court, but the police there would not allow us to set up the model drones and so we moved to the corner with our drones – another infringement on our First Amendment rights.
We had a rally with a number of speakers talking about the issues of war, poverty, racism, and climate crisis that brought us together that day. Though we sent out a press release, the only media attention we got was from the foreign press, with just one local independent media person. It is a real failing on the part of our mainstream media that they do not provide coverage showing dissent, with people talking about these important issues.
At about 2:30, after each person risking arrest was able to share why they were engaging in nonviolent civil resistance, we walked toward the Capitol with petition in hand. There was a long roadway leading from the sidewalk to the Capitol and we thought we might be stopped, but we were able to get to the steps of the Capitol before an officer stopped us and told us we could not go any further.
We told him we wanted to deliver a petition to Biden, as well as a list of war crimes, and he said we couldn’t, but that he would escort us to the grassy area where we could protest. We told him that we were not there to protest, but rather we were citizens who were attempting to deliver a petition to our government for a redress of grievances, a First Amendment right. By this time, some members of our group were on the steps holding a banner saying, “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace”. The officer said they needed to come down off the steps, and at that point the rest of us walked up the steps and stopped short of a chain blocking us from going further with a sign that said there was no access to the public past that point.
Art Laffin, who was there with others in solidarity, led the group in singing “We shall not be moved” and as we sang an officer gave us three warnings that we needed to get off the steps. As we held our ground they started handcuffing those on the steps and told the others that they had to leave if they didn’t want to be arrested.
It was probably less than 15 minutes between the time we arrived at the steps of the Capitol and the arrests began. I expect they wanted to clean up quickly before people started arriving for the president’s version of the state of the union.
The 13 arrested included Eve Tetaz, Alice Sutter, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Joy First, Trudy Silver, Linda LeTendre, Joan Nicholson, Carol Gay, Max Obuszewski, Malachy Kilbride, Martin Gugino, Phil Runkel, and Brian Terrell. In addition, there were others who were important in making this action happen including our jail support David, Don, and Paki.
We were taken in vans to the Capitol police station where we were processed and released with a court date of February 3. When we compared citations after the action some read we were charged with blocking, other citations noted the charge was incommoding and obstructing.
I will be surprised if the government goes through with prosecuting us. It seems the government is dismissing a lot of cases against activists over the last few years. In this case, we were exercising our First Amendment rights, simply and peacefully attempting to deliver a petition to our government. We did block or obstruct anyone. We were standing against a chain, we did not cross, that had a sign reading the public did not have access past that point. What did we do wrong? Why were we arrested?
The charges may be dismissed, but it would be better if we went to trial and could bring these issues into the courtroom. If we continue to be arrested and then the charges are dropped before trial, it appears that the government is using that as a way to block our access and not allowing our grievances to be heard.
As we have noted in many actions over the last several years, the government is becoming less and less accessible to the citizens. If you are part of a wealthy corporation or have a lot of money, you will have the ear of those in power in DC. But the rest of us do not have a way to access our government about our concerns. We have written letters that have not been answered. We follow up with visits to the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the Department of Justice etc. and we are refused a meeting with anyone in a policy-making position. My friend Linda said that as the crimes of the government become greater and greater, accessibility to the government becomes less and less.
I do not take action because I want to be arrested, though I know I put myself at risk for being arrested for the actions I take. I am engaging in nonviolent civil resistance and I am acting in resistance to the crimes of the government. I am not the one who is breaking the law, but we have many in our government, including Obama, who should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
These actions are not something I relish doing, but I feel a deep spiritual calling to do this work for my grandchildren and all the children of the world. I am not suffering by the minor inconvenience of being arrested, but there is much grave suffering by children, mothers, and fathers, sisters and brothers both here at home and around the world because of the illegal policies of our government. And so, when I do an action like this I know I am exactly where I need to be and speaking out exactly as I need to be speaking. There is no place else in the world I needed to be at that moment, but on the steps of the Capitol trying to deliver a petition of our grievances.
There are so many grave ills facing the world - war, poverty, racism, climate crisis, and systemic violence to name a few. Please consider taking to the streets. We need more people in the streets engaging in nonviolent civil resistance. That is the only way we will bring about real and lasting change. We will not survive unless we do. It is up to we, the people to demand change.
Video of the January 12 action
Rethinking Bernie Sanders: Attacking Wall Street and the Corrupt US Political System Makes Sanders a Genuine Revolutionary
By Dave Lindorff
I admit I’ve been slow to warm up to the idea of supporting Bernie Sanders. Maybe it’s because I publicly backed Barack Obama in 2008 and quickly came to rue that decision after he took office.
It has been argued that nonviolent struggles to liberate occupied countries – such as West Papua, Tibet, Palestine, Kanaky and Western Sahara – have failed far more often than they have succeeded but that secessionist struggles (that have sought to separate territory from an existing state in order to establish a new one) conducted by nonviolent means have always failed. See Why Civil Resistance Works: The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict.
A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
A few weeks ago fellow TSA crusader Jim Bovard told me that there were all these TSA reviews on Yelp. I was surprised, given that I think of Yelp only in terms of hotel, restaurant, and other business reviews. He gave me a link to reviews of the TSA at Chicago O'Hare (ORD), but I soon discovered that there are several different pages of Yelp TSA reviews.
Sanders campaign offers a historic opportunity: We Need a Mass Movement Demanding Real Social Security and Medicare for All
By Dave Lindorff
The rising fortunes of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist US senator from Vermont, in the Democratic presidential primaries, provides a unique opportunity for organizing a new radical movement around key political goals including a national health care program for all Americans, not just the elderly and disabled, and a national retirement program that people can actually live on.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Originally published by Telesur
President Barack Obama used his final State of the Union speech to claim that "America is leading the fight against climate change," while in reality the United States is far and away the worst offender, per capita, in the ongoing mad race to render the earth's climate uninhabitable. We "cut our imports of foreign oil," Obama brags, as if earth cares what flag its pollution belches into the air under. "Gas under two bucks a gallon ain't bad," said the President, wildly missing the mark. Yes, it is bad, if you're trying to preserve a livable planet, not just win cheap applause.
"I'm going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources," said the president. He made no mention of changing the way the U.S. government hands out subsidies to those industries.
The state of U.S. militarism also took a leap into an alternate reality. The President openly (if understatedly) bragged: "We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined." He was open about the global chess board he's playing on: "Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria — states they see slipping away from their orbit." And, somehow, "surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us." They do? All people of the world? It's just two years since a Gallup poll found the United States widely viewed around the world as the greatest threat to peace. When Russia and China vetoed war on Syria, much of the world wondered why they couldn't have tried to save Libya.
The President claimed that U.S.-created Middle Eastern disasters he helped to exacerbate are "conflicts that date back millennia." He also proposed -- no joke -- "winning" in "destroying" ISIS this year. Hmm. About closing that prison in Guantanamo and ending those wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ... ? After years of taking credit for "ending" the war on Afghanistan, Obama has switched to not mentioning it.
Also gone missing: the U.S. Constitution. "With or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons," said this former "Constitutional law professor," promising presidential war regardless of Congressional action. On Syria, Obama euphemized, "we’re partnering with local forces." Is that what you call them now? He also opposed "calls to carpet bomb civilians" after he led the dropping of over 20,000 bombs on mostly Muslim countries just in the past year.
The supreme value in this speech, as in the presidential debates it mocked, was revenge: "When you come after Americans, we go after you. ... [W]e have long memories, and our reach has no limit."
Remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms? Speech, worship, want, and fear? Obama has now proposed Four Questions. I'm paraphrasing:
1. How do you make a fair economy? (well not by bailing out the bankers and then coming out against them in a speech 7 years too late).
2. How do you make technology work, including on climate change? (what if the solution to climate change involves less technology? what if blaming technology and globalism for a bad economy overlooks the long-forgotten promises of the Employee Free Choice Act and the prize-winning marketing campaign of Obama 2008?)
3. How do you keep America safe and lead the world but not be the world's policeman? (Has the world asked for a leader? Why isn't cooperation an option?)
4. Can our politics reflect what's best in us? (Whatever.)
After seven years of worsening climate, ocean, plutocracy, wars, blowback, surveillance, retribution for whistleblowers, secrecy, presidential power abuses, and drone murders, this is what you've got for us, Mr. President?
The lesson I take away is this: Pay little attention to 2016 campaign promises. Pay great attention to mobilizing the public pressure that has been missing for seven years.
Ending the Korean War is Our Best Response
By Veterans For Peace
St. Louis, MO. As a major U.S. peace organization of veterans, including members who served in the Korean War, Veterans For Peace (VFP) is deeply concerned about the underground test of a “smaller hydrogen bomb” in North Korea on January 6 (Korean Time), as well as the rising military tensions on the Korean Peninsula at this time, including the resumption of the loud anti-North propaganda broadcasts across the DMZ by the U.S.-ROK military. U.S. also sent a B-52 bomber, which can drop nuclear bombs, over the Korean sky on January 10.
It is easy to jump to hasty conclusions or put all the blame on North Korean officials, which the media portrays as crazy cartoon characters. We believe it is vitally important for the American people to have a more sophisticated understanding of what is driving the North Koreans into a dangerous and expensive nuclear program. Are they really just “crazy” or “reckless,” as some pundits maintain? A close examination of U.S.-North Korea (DPRK) relations from 1948 shows that North Korea’s military steps were often taken in response to hostile actions by South Korea and/or the U.S. government.
So, what new provocations from the U.S. and/or ROK (South Korea) may have pushed North Korea into another nuclear test? There were at least three recent U.S. government actions that probably made them react.
On November 13, 2015, the Treasury Department imposed unilateral sanctions on the DPRK ambassador to Myanmar and three other officers working for the North Korean companies. Imposing a unilateral sanction on an ambassador of another country in a third country, is unprecedented in international relations since such action would be viewed as a hostile action against the country of the offended ambassador, who is usually given high respect and privilege under customary international law.
Second, on December 8, 2015, the U.S. Treasury again imposed a new round of sanctions on the DPRK, including on six North Korean bankers, three shipping companies and the nation’s Strategic Rocket Force (a military unit dealing with missiles).
Third, on December 10, 2015, the U.S., as Chair for the UN Security Council for December, organized another special meeting of the Security Council on the alleged violations of human rights in the DPRK, even though the Security Council has no jurisdiction over human rights issues under the UN Charter. The main purpose of this session was to defame and isolate the DPRK further in the international community. These highly provocative moves of the U.S. government are a continuation of its long war against the DPRK in the form of economic and psychological warfare, that goes back to the Korean War of 1950-53 when the U.S. first imposed its economic sanctions on the DPRK.
It is not surprising therefore that the DPRK statement of January 6 pointed out, “there has been no precedent of such a deep-rooted, harsh and persistent policy as the one the U.S. has pursued toward the DPRK.” No nation should be subjected to such cruel measures for more than a half century.
While we support abolition of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, we also recognize the inherent right of all nations to self-defense, as well recognized under international law and the UN Charter. This is especially so for DPRK, which is still in a state of war with the U.S. The United States is the No. 1 exporter of military weapons in the world today and has conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests of its own – including a hydrogen bomb on the Marshall Islands in 1952. We have no right to impose harsh sanctions on a small nation that tried to do the same thing underground on its own territory.
The United States is also in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by sharing its nuclear weapons with NATO allies and engaging in continuous testing and modernization of its nuclear weapons and nuclear-industrial complex.
There is some hope, however, of finally banning nuclear weapons, as the non-nuclear States are now taking the initiative to negotiate an international treaty to ban the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons. In this regard, we are encouraged to note that DPRK was the only nuclear State that voted in favor of the 2015 UN General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/70/33), which called for a special meeting in 2016 of “an open-ended working group” of UN member States to discuss “concrete effective legal measures” to achieve nuclear abolition. It seems DPRK is sending an implicit message that it would be happy to rid itself of nuclear weapons if other nuclear States were to do the same.
Further U.S. economic sanctions, military threats or psychological warfare against the DPRK are not the right answer to North Korea’s nuclear test. Such steps would violate the Korean Armistice Agreement and could lead to a tragic resumption of heavy fighting on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, we urge the Obama administration to accept the constructive offers made by the North Korean government, the latest being its Jan. 2015 offer to suspend its nuclear tests in return for the suspension of annual joint U.S/ROK war drills against North Korea. Rarely seen in the U.S. media is any mention of another longstanding offer by North Korea – to sign a peace treaty to end the Korean War once and for all. These are win-win solutions for all Korean people and the people of the world.
Wage Peace, Not War!
End the Korean War Now!
Mary Anne Grady Flores to be taken into custody Tuesday, January 19
Ithaca, NY. On January 12, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she is to go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, January 19. She is to report to the Dewitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY) at 5pm to be remanded to Jamesville Correctional Facility, East Syracuse NY.
Mary Anne had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. It had been given on behalf of Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists. She had been charged with violating the order while taking pictures of eight Catholics protesting the US drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that all eight Catholic drone resisters were acquitted because they went to uphold law, not break it.
Orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, have been used by the Court and the Base in an attempt to deter protest and suppress free speech. Judge Miller also upheld a lower court ruling on the Hancock 17, seventeen nonviolent drone resisters given orders of protection, jail time, and fines.
Mary Anne, a grandmother of three, has been a part of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, resisting the drone assassination program since 2011. According to leaked military documents called the Drone Paperssent to the Intercept, 90% of drone assassinations target and kill civilians, including children. On the National Day of Action, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale AFB (California), and Volk AFB (Wisconsin), and Ramstein AFB, Germany and in Pakistan, all a part of the worldwide resistance to drones.
Mary Anne received the verdict and sentence by mail, even though she was originally told to appear in County Court on January 22 to hear the court's decision. This may have been an attempt to prevent a full courtroom and press with cameras from attending, as occurred at the time of her original sentence.
Speak with the Afghan Peace Volunteers
Beginning at 5 pm Kabul, Afghanistan time; 7:30 am Eastern time (US)
Listen to Gemma Bulos, Director of Global Women's Water Initiative
on-line live (time being arranged, stay-tuned)
Listen to the conversation live: GlobalDaysofListening.
5 – 8 pm : Kabul, Afghanistan
2:30 – 5:30 pm : Gaza, Palestine; Israel
12:30 – 3:30 pm : UK
7:30 – 10:30 am : Eastern time US
JOIN THE CALL see the schedule
By Alfredo Lopez
Last week, T-Mobile's CEO John Lagere pubicly asked the Electronic Frontier Foundation a straightforward question: "Who the f*** are you anyway, EFF? Why are you stirring up so much trouble and who pays you?"