Ukraine News - Apr 7, 2015


Poroshenko denounces federalization at the constitutional reform commission, Rebels say 'these things are absolutely unacceptable…we did not receive any invitations' - NYTimes.com


Poroshenko: the Ukrainian language is and will remain the only state language of Ukraine - interfax.com


Poroshenko: defense, national security and foreign policy of Ukraine not affected by decentralization - interfax.com


Poroshenko: tougher punishments for separatist statements, let alone actions, so that people are afraid to even think about it - interfax.com


Poroshenko: I won’t allow people carrying illegal weapons to walk around free - interfax.com


Poroshenko submits presidential bill on legal regime of martial law - interfax.com


Yatseniuk: Russia has no right to dictate to Ukraine form of its constitution - UNIAN news


Ukraine to resume paying pensions in occupied Donbas after control is restored: justice ministry - interfax.com


Donbass leaders to Germany, France: Make Kiev pay pensions approved by Minsk deal - RT News


Lavrov says constitutional reform must agree with militants - molbuk.ua


Ukraine far-right leader made army advisor in move to control militias - THE DAILY STAR


VIDEO: Ukraine Nationalist Leader Joins Government: Right Sector MP Yarosh given Defence Ministry position - YouTube


Four Ukrainian Soldiers Killed In 24 Hours; Daily Death Toll Rising With A Total Of 13 Having Been Killed In Three Days - Interpreter_Mag


Donetsk Separatists Release 16 Captured Ukrainian Soldiers - rferl.org


Over 150 children killed or injured by landmines in east Ukraine: UNICEF - Novorossia Today


Russian bomb defusers on Ukraine's front lines, Battlefields in Donetsk and Luhansk are strewn with mines and other unexploded ordnance posing serious risks to civilians - mashable.com


Russia's Role in Ukraine Seen Shifting to Training Rebels - The Moscow Times


VIDEO: Drone video from Donetsk shows huge Russian military bases w/ heavy weapons (ceasefire violation) - Ukraine Reporter on Twitter


Ukraine bans broadcast of many Russian films - The Washington Post


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Crisis-hit Ukraine’s annual inflation rate hit 45.8 percent after a sharp acceleration of 10.8 percent in March - Business Insider


After a year at war, Ukraine at financial breaking point - Yahoo News


Ukrainian economy in free fall, National Bank projects an economic decline of 15 percent for the first quarter of 2015 - shafaqna.com


Ukrainian government approves framework for $15 billion debt-swap: Finance Ministry - Reuters


Cabinet approves list of eurobonds to be restructured: finance ministry - interfax.com


Russia expects Kiev to pay off debt in late 2015: deputy finance minister - TASS


Ukraine bank in plea for loan relief - The Sunday Times


Ukraine Pension Fund Is Bankrupt: Social Policy Minister - russia-insider.com


Ukraine to Triple Cheaper Gas Imports from Russia, Kiev is to pay $248 per 1,000 cubic meters during the April-June quarter - Oil and Gas News


Naftogaz imports gas from EU at average of $304 per 1,000 cubic meters in Q1 2015 - interfax.com


Ukraine reduces gas imports from Hungary in early April - interfax.com


Russia steps in as job losses, closures ravage east Ukraine - timesofindia


Russian state companies face bans from Ukraine investment - RT Russian politics


The American Woman Who Stands Between Putin and Ukraine - businessweek

 

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ALEC Climate Denial: Corporate Bill Mill Threatens Lawsuit For Saying So

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has threatened public interest group Common Cause with a lawsuit for pointing out what the public record has made clear: ALEC denies the scientific consensus on climate change.

As first reported by The Washington Post, ALEC's lawyers Alan Dye and Heidi Abegg wrote a cease-and-desist letter to Common Cause president Miles Rapoport. Dye and Abegg demanded that Common Cause stop calling ALEC a cog in the climate denial machine. 

"We demand that you cease making inaccurate statements regarding ALEC, and immediately remove all false or misleading material from the Common Cause, and related, websites within five business days," they wrote. "Should you not do so, and/or continue to publish any defamatory statements, we will consider any and all necessary legal action to protect ALEC."

ALEC critics call the organization a "corporate bill mill." 

Dye and Abegg also demanded an immediate and public retraction of statements the Common Cause has made about ALEC with regards to climate denial.

ALEC Climate Denial Lawsuit

Image Credit: Common Cause

Further, Dye and Abegg argued that ALEC — contrary to the vast amount of evidence collected by those who research the organization — does not deny climate change.

Credit where credit's due...but only where it's due: How Can Obama Claim the Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War?

By Dave Lindorff


A kudo to President Obama. But just one.

If he manages to pull off an agreement with Iran on limiting that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program in the fact of determined resistance from Republicans, Neocons, the Israel Lobby and the warmongers in both the GOP and his own Democratic Party, he will have finally earned at least some small portion of the gold in his Nobel Peace medallion.

Iran News - Apr 6, 2015


Obama Strongly Defends Iran Nuclear Deal (VIDEO) - NYTimes.com


Interview with Obama on the Iran nuclear deal (VIDEOS) - NYTimes.com


Obama’s ‘technocratic’ approach: How Iran nuclear deal came together proton by proton - Telegraph


Netanyahu blasts ‘very, very bad’ Iran nuclear agreement - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Netanyahu: Iran nuke deal "very bad" - CNN


Dianne Feinstein: Iran Deal Does Not Threaten Israel's Survival, I wish that Netanyahu would contain himself (VIDEO) - huffingtonpost.com


Senate Democrat Murphy: Netanyahu's Version of an Iran Deal is Unrealistic (VIDEO) - NBC News.com


Sen. Elizabeth Warren Believes A Nuclear Deal With Iran Is 'Our Best Promise In The Region' - huffingtonpost.com


Corker works overtime to get last few votes to ensure Congress has mandatory review of Iran nuke deal - Fox News


G.O.P.’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift - NYTimes.com


Pentagon Worked to Improve Biggest ‘Bunker-Buster’ Bomb as Iran Talks Unfolded - WSJ


How the U.S. Would Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program - TIME


Iran Top General Signals Supreme Leader Backing of Nuclear Deal - Bloomberg Business


If an agreement is seen as too weak, Saudi Arabia will try to find a way to counter-balance it: Western diplomat - Yahoo News


Pope backs Iran nuke deal, urges end to extremist violence - usatoday.com


VIDEO: Pope Francis welcomes Iran nuclear deal - CBS


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White House looks to scientists to sell Iran deal, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has emerged as the face of the push - POLITICO


VIDEO: Energy secretary Moniz: Iran deal blocks pathways to bomb - CBS News


TRANSCRIPT: Face the Nation: Moniz, Graham, Santorum - CBS News


Conservatives Trash Iran Deal Framework That Experts Call "A Very Convincing Agreement" - Media Matters for America


Proposed accord far tougher on Iran than expected, experts say - McClatchy Washington Bureau


Five views on the Iran nuclear framework - Washington Post


William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: The Fruits of Diplomacy With Iran - NYTimes.com


Anthony Cordesman: Verify and Trust May Come with Iran: The Parameters for the Proposed Joint Comprehensive Plan - Center for Strategic and International Studies


Joseph Cirincione: Why the Iran nuclear deal is a victory for American national security - daily-sun.com


NPR talks on the Iran nuclear deal with Gary Samore, executive director at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government - WGBH News


Is The Iran Nuclear Framework Agreement A Good Deal? We speak with Ariane Tabatabai - huffingtonpost.com


Former intelligence head Amos Yadlin: Israel mustn't reject Iran deal - Al-Monitor


VIDEO: Is Iran nuke deal good or bad for US? John Yang, Ali Arouzi, Hillary Mann Leverett and Ayman Mohyeldin join to discuss the complex details of the nuclear deal with Iran - MSNBC


VIDEO: Former IAEA inspector Olli Heinonen reacts to framework deal with Iran - Fox News Video


VIDEO: Analyst Michael Genovese: Reasons For Caution, Reasons For Hope In Iran Pact - YouTube


The Iran Nuclear Deal, by the Numbers (CHARTS) - The Atlantic


Outline of Nuclear Deal Sounds Different in the U.S. and Iran Accounts of Their Agreements - NYTimes.com


Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif - European Union, EEAS


Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program - US State Department


English translation of Iranian Fact Sheet on the Nuclear Negotiations - Iran Matters

 

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Disclosure Fail: Industry Reps Testifying for Denton, Texas Fracking Bill Left Ties Undisclosed

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

March 24 hearing prior to the passage of a controversial bill out of committee that preempts cities in Texas from regulating hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas obtained from shale basins, featured numerous witnesses who failed to disclose their industry ties, including some with ties to the Koch brothers

Cold War 2.0

By William Blum

Cold War 2.0, part I

In last month’s Anti-Empire Report I brought you the latest adventure of US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki trying to defend the indefensible. She said then: “As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means,” which prompted me to inform my readers: “If you know how to contact Ms. Psaki, tell her to have a look at my list of more than 50 governments the United States has attempted to overthrow since the end of the Second World War.”

On March 13 her regular attack on all things Russian included this exchange with Associated Press writer Matthew Lee:

Lee: On this issue, did you get any more about this request to the Vietnamese on Cam Ranh Bay and not allowing the Russians to - and not wanting them to allow - you not wanting them to refuel Russian planes there?

Psaki: Well, just to be clear - and maybe I wasn’t as clear yesterday, so let me try to do this again - it’s - our concern is about activities they might conduct in the region, and the question is: Why are they in the region? It’s not about specifically refueling or telling the Vietnamese not to allow them to refuel. [emphasis added]

Lee: So there hasn’t been a request to stop refueling them, or there has?

Psaki: It’s more about concerns. It’s not as much about Vietnam as much as it - as it is about concerns about what activities they would be in the region for.

Lee: Okay. Well, you - I mean, there are U.S. planes flying over there all the time.

Psaki: Sure, there are.

Lee: So you don’t want Russian planes flying there, but it’s okay for U.S. planes to fly there? I mean, I just - it gets to the point where you - the suggestion is that everything the Russians are doing all the time everywhere is somehow nefarious and designed to provoke. But you can’t - but you don’t seem to be able to understand or accept that American planes flying all over the place, including in that area, is annoying to the Chinese, for one, but also for the Russians. But the suggestion is always that the American flights are good and beneficial and don’t cause tension, and that other people’s flights do cause tension. So can you explain what the basis is for your concern that the Russian flights there in the Southeast Asia area are - raise tensions?

Psaki: There just aren’t more details I can go into.

Cold War 2.0, part II

On Saturday, the Obama administration released a series of satellite images that it said showed the Russian army had joined the rebels in a full-scale assault to surround troops in the area around the city. Russia has denied that it is a party to the conflict, and it was impossible to verify the three grainy black-and-white satellite images posted to Twitter by the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
According to the United States, the images, commissioned from the private Digital Globe satellite company, showed artillery systems and multiple-rocket launchers Thursday in the area near Debaltseve.
“We are confident these are Russian military, not separatist, systems,” Pyatt tweeted. (Washington Post, February 15, 2015)

When the time comes to list the ways in which the United States gradually sunk into the quicksand, slowly metamorphosing into a Third-World state, Washington’s campaign of 2014-15 to convince the world that Russia had repeatedly invaded Ukraine will deserve to be near the top of the list. Numerous examples like the above can be given. If I were still the jingoistic nationalist I was raised to be I think I would feel somewhat embarrassed now by the blatant obviousness of it all.

For a short visual history of the decline and fall of the American Empire, see the video “Imperial Decay” by Class War Films (8:50 minutes).

During Cold War 1.0 the American media loved to poke fun at the Soviet media for failing to match the glorious standards of the Western press. One of the most common putdowns was about the two main Russian newspapers – Pravda (meaning “truth” in Russian) and Izvestia (meaning “news”). We were told, endlessly, that there was “no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.”

As cynical as I’ve been for years about the American mainstream media’s treatment of ODE (Officially Designated Enemies), current news coverage of Russia exceeds my worst expectations. I’m astonished every day at the obvious disregard of any kind of objectivity or fairness concerning Russia. Perhaps the most important example of this bias is the failure to remind their audience that the US and NATO have surrounded Russia – with Washington’s coup in Ukraine as the latest example – and that Moscow, for some odd reason, feels threatened by this. (Look for the map online of NATO bases and Russia, with a caption like: “Why did you place your country in the middle of our bases?”)

Cold War 2.0, part III

Following the murder of Russian opposition leader, and former Deputy Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on February 27, the West had a field day. Ranging from strong innuendo to outright accusation of murder, the Western media and politicians did not miss an opportunity to treat Vladimir Putin as a football practice dummy.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution urging an international investigation into Nemtsov’s death and suggested that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Council, and the United Nations could play a role in the probe.

US Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham introduced a Senate Resolution condemning the Nemtsov murder. The Resolution also called on President Obama and the international community to pursue an independent investigation into the murder and redouble efforts to advance free speech, human rights, and the rule of law in Russia. In addition, it urged Obama to continue to sanction human rights violators in the Russian Federation and to increase US support to human rights activists in Russia.

So it went … all over the West.

Meanwhile, in the same time period in Ukraine, outside of the pro-Russian area in the southeast, the following was reported:

  • January 29: Former Chairman of the local government of the Kharkov region, Alexey Kolesnik, hanged himself.
  • February 24: Stanislav Melnik, a member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), shot himself.
  • February 25: The Mayor of Melitopol, Sergey Valter, hanged himself a few hours before his trial.
  • February 26: Alexander Bordiuga, deputy director of the Melitopol police, was found dead in his garage.
  • February 26: Alexander Peklushenko, former member of the Ukrainian parliament, and former mayor of Zaporizhi, was found shot to death.
  • February 28: Mikhail Chechetov, former member of parliament, member of the opposition party (Partia Regionov), “fell” from the window of his 17th floor apartment in Kiev.
  • March 14: The 32-year-old prosecutor in Odessa, Sergey Melnichuk, “fell” to his death from the 9th floor.

The Partia Regionov directly accused the Ukrainian government in the deaths of their party members and appealed to the West to react to these events. “We appeal to the European Union, PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe], and European and international human rights organizations to immediately react to the situation in Ukraine, and give a legal assessment of the criminal actions of the Ukrainian government, which cynically murders its political opponents.”

We cannot conclude from the above that the Ukrainian government was responsible for all, or even any, of these deaths. But neither can we conclude that the Russian government was responsible for the death of Boris Nemtsov, the American media and politicians notwithstanding. A search of the mammoth Nexus news database found no mention of any of the Ukrainian deceased except for the last one above, Sergey Melnichuk, but this clearly is not the same person. It thus appears that none of the deaths on the above list was ascribed to the Western-allied Ukrainian government.

Where are the demands for international investigations of any of the deaths? In the United States or in Europe? Where is Senator McCain?

Torture via sanctions

Discussions on constraining Iran’s nuclear program have been going on for well over a year between Iran and the P5+1 (the five nuclear powers of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany), led by the United States. Throughout this period a significant stumbling block to reaching an agreement has been the pronouncements of Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, and its inspections are considered a key safeguard against countries using civilian nuclear energy technology to produce weapons. Amano has consistently accused Iran of failing to reply fully and substantially to queries about “possible military dimensions” of present and past nuclear activities, or failing to provide sufficient access to nuclear facilities.

Failure by Iran to comply fully with IAEA demands undermine Tehran’s efforts to win the lifting of crippling UN, US and other sanctions, which currently prohibit foreign companies from doing business with Iran and deny access to the global financial system. Media coverage of the negotiations regularly emphasize Amano’s claims of Iran’s insufficient responses to IAEA’s demands. It is thus worth inquiring just who is this man Amano.

In 2009 Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano became the head of the IAEA. What the Western media routinely fail to remind its audience is that a US embassy cable of October 2009 (released by Wikileaks in 2010) said Amano “took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded the [American] ambassador on several occasions that … he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

Even if Iran makes a superior effort to satisfy IAEA and Washington’s demands on all issues, it would remain questionable to what extent and how rapidly the sanctions would be removed, particularly under a Republican-controlled Congress. Iran specialist and author Gareth Porter recently wrote that “the United States and its allies have made no effort to hide the fact that they intend to maintain the ‘sanctions architecture’ in place for many years after the implementation of the agreement has begun. Last November, administration officials explained that US sanctions would only be removed after the International Atomic Energy Agency had verified that ‘Tehran is abiding by the terms of a deal over an extended period of time’ in order to ‘maintain leverage on Iran to honour the accord’.”

To appreciate the extraordinary degree of pressure and extortion the United States can impose upon another country we should consider the case of Libya in the decade-plus following the destruction of PanAm Flight 103 in 1988 over Scotland. To force Libya to “accept responsibility” for the crime, Washington imposed heavy sanctions on the Gaddafi regime, including a ban on international flights to Libya and payment of billions of dollars to the families of the victims. Libya eventually did “accept responsibility” for the crime, although it was innocent. As difficult as this may be to believe, it’s true. Read my account of it here.

Even after Libya accepted responsibility it still took years for the US to wipe out the sanctions, and it’s not clear that at the time of Gaddafi’s death in 2011 all of them had been removed. Once a nation becomes an Officially Designated Enemy of the empire the methods of torture can be exquisite and endless. Cuba is presently negotiating the end of US sanctions against Havana. They will need to be extremely careful.

“Like others of his ilk - such as David Horowitz and Christopher Hitchens - he learned too much in college and too little since.” Sam Smith

I’ve never been too impressed by what college a person went to, or even if they attended college at all. Gore Vidal did not attend any college; neither did H. L. Mencken; nor did Edward Snowden, who has demonstrated a highly articulate and educated mind. Among the many other notables who skipped a college education are George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Then we have graduates from Ivy League colleges like George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Tom Cotton. I don’t have to present the case for Bush’s less-than educated mind; we’re all only too familiar with its beauty. But Obama has matched Georgie Boy for stupidity and inanity time and time again. My favorite, which he’s used on at least five occasions, is his reply to questions about why his administration has not prosecuted Bush, Cheney, et al for torture and other war crimes: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant. Picture Chelsea Manning and other whistle blowers using this argument. Picture the reaction to this by Barack Obama, who has become the leading persecutor of whistleblowers in American history.

Is there anyone left who still thinks that Barack Obama is some kind of improvement intellectually over George W. Bush? Probably two types still think so: (1) Those to whom color matters a lot; (2) Those who are very impressed by the ability to put together grammatically correct sentences.

And now we have Mr. Cotton, Senator from Arkansas and graduate of Harvard undergraduate and law schools. He’ll be entertaining us for years to come with gems like his remark on “Face the Nation” (March 15): “Moreover, we have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran and, increasingly, they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad. And now, Sana’a as well.”

Heavens, Iran controls Tehran! Who knew? Next thing we’ll hear is that Russia controls Moscow! Sarah Palin, move over. Our boy Cotton is ready for Saturday Night Live.

Notes

  1. Washington Post, February 15, 2015, “Amid doubts, truce in Ukraine appears to take hold
  2. RT, March 12, 2015, “EU lawmakers demand international investigation into Nemtsov’s death
  3. John McCain website, Press Release, “Senators John Mccain And Lindsey Graham Introduce Resolution Condemning Murder Of Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov
  4. Research for this section was done by a person who was raised in the Soviet Union and now lives in the United States.
  5. Middle East Eye, March 27, 2015, “Sanctions and the fate of the nuclear talks

We could all soon be crying 'I can't breathe!': Catastrophe Looms by Century’s End if Climate Change isn’t Sharply Curtailed Now

By Dave Lindorff


Harold Wanless, a leading climatologist and geologist based at the University of Miami, returns to PRN.fm's “This Can’t Be Happening!” program to revisit his year-ago claim that global warming and sea level rise are going to be much more severe than the consensus predictions of the UN Climate Committee, NASA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and other official groups.

BNSF Engineer Who Manned Exploding North Dakota "Bomb Train" Sues Former Employer

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) employee who worked as a locomotive engineer on the company's oil-by-rail train that exploded in rural Casselton, North Dakota in December 2013 has sued his former employer

Casselton North Dakota Oil by Rail Explosion

Photo Credit: Shawn Rode

Filed in Cass County, the plaintiff Bryan Thompson alleges he "was caused to suffer and continues to suffer severe and permanent injuries and damages," including but not limited to ongoing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) issues.

Thompson's attorney, Thomas Flaskamp, told DeSmogBlog he "delayed filing [the lawsuit until now] primarily to get an indication as to the direction of where Mr. Thompson's care and treatment for his PTSD arising out of the incident was heading," which he says is still being treated by a psychiatrist.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the oil-by-rail world, the only time to date that someone working on an exploding oil train has taken legal action against his employer using the Federal Employers' Liability Act.

BNSF Engineer Casselton Lawsuit

Image Credit: State of North Dakota District Court; East Central Judicial District

Lodestar of Peace

By Robert C. Koehler

“Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind . . .”

What? Were they serious?

I kneel in a sort of gasping awe as I read the words of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty signed in 1928 – by the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and ultimately by every country that then existed. The treaty . . . outlaws war.

“Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy should be made . . .”

ARTICLE I: “The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.”

ARTICLE II: “The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.”

Furthermore, as David Swanson has reminded us in his book When the World Outlawed War, the treaty is still in effect. It has never been rescinded. It’s still, for what this is worth, international law. This is nuts, of course. War rules and everyone knows it. War is our default setting, the ongoing first option for pretty much every disagreement among global neighbors, especially when different religious beliefs and ethnicities are part of the divide.

You know: “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program.” This is neocon nutcase John Bolton, George Bush’s former ambassador to the U.N., writing from a pulpit in the New York Times last week. “. . . The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Or: “President Obama informed (Egyptian) President al-Sisi that he will lift executive holds that have been in place since October 2013 on the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles, and M1A1 tank kits. The President also advised President al-Sisi that he will continue to request an annual $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt.”

This is from a White House press release, issued the day before April Fool’s Day. “The President explained that these and other steps will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region.”

This is the amoral chatter of geopolitics. This is what it has been my entire lifetime: hopelessly, cluelessly entwined in militarism. War, if not today then tomorrow – somewhere – is taken for granted in all verbiage emanating from the inner sanctums of the powerful. It’s only challenged as “protest,” which is marginalized speech, cordoned off from the corridors of power, usually treated in the corporate media as reckless tirade or naively irrelevant sentimentality.

The language of peace has no power. At best, the “war weariness” of the public can cause a certain amount of trouble for the military-industrial engine of geopolitics. In the wake of the Southeast Asian holocaust known, in the United States, as the Vietnam War, for instance, two decades of “Vietnam Syndrome” limited American military activity to proxy wars in Central America and in-and-out invasions of Grenada, Panama and, oh yeah, Iraq.

Vietnam Syndrome was no more than public burnout and despair. It never materialized politically into lasting change, or actual political power for peace proponents. Eventually it was supplanted by 9-11 and the (guaranteed perpetual) war on terror. Peace has officially been reduced to the status of wishful thinking.

The value of Swanson’s book, which tells the story of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, ratified by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929, is that it brings a forgotten era back to life, a time – prior to the entrenchment of the military-industrial complex and the corporate convergence of the mass media – when peace, that is, a world free of war, was a solid and universal ideal and even mainstream politicians could see war for what it was: hell mixed with futility. The disastrous failure of World War I was still uppermost in human consciousness; it had not been romanticized. Humanity wanted peace. Even big money wanted peace. The concept of war was on the verge of permanent illegitimacy and, indeed, criminality.

Knowing this is crucial. Knowing that the peace movement of the 1920s could reach so deeply into international politics should embolden every peace activist on the planet. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, written by United States Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand, remains a political lodestar.

“Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind . . .”

Can you imagine, just for a moment, that such integrity could outshine all the lesser “interests” that crowd the corridors of power?

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

© 2015 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Lower Drinking Age, Raise Killing Age

The United States sends people to kill and die in war that it doesn't trust with a beer.

It trains police in war skills to assault young people it suspects of going near beer.

Here's an idea: Drink At 18, Don't Kill Till 21.

Alcohol prohibition is not working, and creates unsafe drinking by people old enough to vote, drive, and work. A case can be made, and is being made, for returning the drinking age to 18.

But allowing 18-year-olds to join the military has created illegal and immoral recruitment of minors, not to mention deep moral regret, post-traumatic stress, and suicide in young veterans.

Raising the age for war participation (for joining either the military or one of its contractors) to 21 would do more for education and informed career choices -- not to mention reducing drug and alcohol addiction, and suicide -- than banning alcohol does.

Make-Daiquiris-Not-War is a policy based on actual dangers. The problem with alcohol is not responsible drinking of it. Alcohol is not a satanic liquid to be counterproductively made into a forbidden fruit. The problems with alcohol are: drinking and driving, which should be addressed by avoiding the driving, not through an unenforceable ban on drinking; drinking to dangerous excess, which should be addressed through open discussion, not the secretive plotting of contemporary speakeasies; and addiction, which is driven not so much by the chemicals involved as by the life of the person who becomes addicted.

And what could we most easily do to assist young people in leading more fulfilling, less horrific, lives? We could put off the decision to join in a program of mass murder until age 21, thereby giving a young person a chance to consider all the options.

In many nations there is no drinking age. In others the drinking age is after you're dead (alcohol is prohibited). Among those with a drinking age between zero and forever, far and away the most common is 18.  Exceptions are Egypt, Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Indonesia, the United States, and various Pacific island colonies of the United States, all of which make the legal age to drink 21.

But how's that working out for them? In Egypt if you happen to witness the police murder someone, you'll face prison or worse, while the U.S. President chats with the Egyptian President promising him more weapons and money, but if you want to drink underage, apparently nobody really minds. The inevitable result of making it legal to sell alcohol to some but not all adults (taking adults to be 18 and up) seems to be either stiffer and stiffer penalties or routine violation. This of course creates both a disrespect for laws and drinking in secret without appropriate discussion of dangers and measures to prevent recklessness.

In Argentina enlistment in the military is allowed at 21, or at 18 with parental consent. In Bahrain and Kazakhstan military enlistment starts at 15. Who's right? Who's respecting the enlistees? Well, according to some brain scientists at MIT -- not that they should know anything:

"As a number of researchers have put it, 'the rental car companies have it right.' The brain isn't fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote, or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car."

Scientists at Dartmouth agree. (But they would, wouldn't they?) Not to mention neuroscientists who write books and go on NPR.

So upping the killing age to 21 would be moving in the direction of the wisdom of the scientists and the rental car companies. Why lower the drinking age at the same time? Because alcohol needs to be treated principally not as a means of drunken escape, but as an enjoyable beverage with dinner. Nations with no drinking age at all tend to have less alcoholism than do puritanical nations. The point is not that 18 year olds are qualified to head off to parties at which they'll drink gallons of hard liquor (as some currently do, law or no law) but that alcohol, like other enjoyable and risky parts of life -- from dangerous sports to sex to other drugs to those televisions in airports blasting Fox News -- should be dealt with openly and calmly by parents and teachers and friends, with the actual dangers made crystal clear and imaginary dangers debunked.

The fact is that prohibiting alcohol leads to more reckless drinking, while prohibiting war participation leads to less reckless killing. We've got our priorities wrong. Let's rework them.

Redditor finally discovers the TSA is abusive

From a thread started at Reddit by someone who is just now discovering that the TSA is abusive. Duh. Sorry, patience is admittedly not one of my virtues, but I really can’t take it anymore — not only the surprise exhibited by people who seem to have been living under a rock for the past, oh, years and years, but worse, those who deny, deny, deny what’s right in front of their faces. Read the whole Reddit thread to see what I’m talking about. The ignorance on display is breathtaking.


Read the rest at TSA News.

Execution by medical neglect?: Pennsylvania’s Prison System is Torturing Mumia Abu-Jamal and his Family Too

By Dave Lindorff

 

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.

 

Wisconsin Grandmother Jailed for Opposing Drone Murders

Joy First reports from Mauston, Wisc., that Bonnie Block, a Madison grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, and sent to jail.

Sadly, this is not an April Fool's joke. Block, pictured at right, was compelled to either pay $232 or spend 5 days in the Juneau County Jail. Faced with that choice, Block said in court:

"Your Honor, I asked for a jury trial in this matter so I could explain to the citizens of Juneau County my moral, constitutional, and legal reasons for opposing the drone training via handing out a leaflet at the Volk Field Open House. I also wanted to point out the absurdity of being arrested for trespassing at an event to which the public had been invited.

"However, the Court’s pretrial orders based on the District Attorney's 25-point Motion in Limine precluded me from explaining this to the jury because the pre-trial orders prohibited any mention to the jury of the very issues that I believe constitute a defense for my nonviolent action.

"These prohibitions also made it impossible for me to testify on my own behalf because I couldn't honor the oath 'to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.'  And to top it off, there was the unilateral refusal of Volk Field Commander Romauld to honor my third-party subpoena to testify so he could explain the military rules and rationale that he considers the justification for my arrest.  It puts the military brass above the law and I object.

"For these reasons, I can't in good conscience pay the fine.  It would be giving consent to the outcome of a legal process I believe was unfair and which sets dangerous precedents for those of us engaged in nonviolent civil resistance and seeking justice for victims of U.S. drone warfare. So I'll 'do the time instead of paying the fine.'"

After sentencing Block to 5 days in jail, First reports, Judge Paul Curran told Block that he would allow her to have lunch with her husband and son before reporting to the Juneau County "Justice" Center to begin her sentence.

First explains the background: "The trespassing charge was the result of a May 17, 2014, action in which Block and Fr. Jim Murphy took a bus tour of Volk Field which was part of the Base's Open House to which the public was invited. As they left the bus at the National Guard Museum, they handed out a leaflet with four questions about drones to the other passengers on the bus. As a result they were arrested and ultimately charged with trespass. Block opted for a jury trial because she believed her constitutional right of free speech was violated as was her conscientious objection to drone warfare.

"Block, who represented herself in front of the 6-person jury, was prevented from mounting a vigorous defense as a result of Judge Curran's pretrial ruling in favor of a motion which prevented Block from talking about international law, the U.S. Constitution, morals and ethics, and other topics important to the case. . . .

"The jury deliberated for thirty minutes before returning with the guilty verdict."

Block is part of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars which holds monthly vigils outside the gates of this Wisconsin Air National Guard Base. Since 2009, Volk Field has been training operators of RQ-7 Shadow drones that are part of U.S. drone wars.

BUT CHARGES DROPPED IN SYRACUSE

Meanwhile Ed Kinane reports from Upstate New York: "This afternoon in the Dewitt (NY) town court, after hearing about 90 minutes of motions, Judge Robert Jokl dismissed charges against four Hancock Air Force Base defendants 'in the interest of justice.' Arguing against Assistant D.A. Peter Hakes were attorneys Jonathan Wallace representing Julienne Oldfield and John Honeck; Kathy Manley representing Andrew Schoerke, and Kim Zimmer representing Mary Snyder.

"Their charges were trespass, two counts of disorderly conduct, and obstruction of government administration -- a misdemeanor. The four perps were among 31 arrested in a nonviolent die-in at the front gate of Hancock’s 174th attack wing (home of the reaper drone) on April 28, 2013, following a weekend drone conference here in Syracuse. For half a decade we have been charging Hancock with war crime and terrorism against the people of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"This acquittal follows our March 19th 'big books' action at Hancock’s main gate in which seven of us were arrested with similar charges. Arraignments will be in late April."

Kinane's report was generally taken to be an April Fool's joke by drone activists around the country, but he says it is not. So, thank you to Judge Jokl for acting in the interest of justice.

 

Iran News - Apr 2, 2015

 

Iranian chief negotiator Araghchi: no deal without a ‘framework for the removal of all sanctions', disagreement on R&D of centrifuges - newsmax


VIDEO: Iranian chief negotiator Araghchi: no deal without a 'framework for the removal of all sanctions' - YouTube


Iran negotiator Baeidinejad: P5+1 countries agreed to remove oil, gas, and banking sanctions, remaining only technical aspects - Breitbart


VIDEO: Iran negotiator Baeidinejad: 'Oil, gas, banking sanctions issues resolved’ - PressTV


Iran nuclear talks: Delays in agreement blamed on repeated consultation with Supreme Leader Khamenei - The Independent


Iranian President Rouhani trumps the supreme leader Khamenei — on Twitter, at least - rifenews.com

 

POLL: Iranians already seeing better economic conditions with the limited easing of international sanctions last year - gallup.com

 

Deal Prospects Stir Hopes of Iranian Consumers, Importers - WSJ

 

Iran nuclear deal could unlock huge economic potential - CNN

 

VIDEO: Impact of lifting sanctions on Iran - CNN Video

 

VIDEO: Companies waiting for Iran sanctions to end - DW.DE

 

VIDEO: Sanctions push poultry prices up in Iran - BBC News

 

Iran’s oil: Rusty taps - The Economist

 

CHARTS: Iran GDP | 1965-2015 - tradingeconomics

 

Background: Explaining The Iran Sanctions - Eurasia Review

 

Navigating the Iran Sanctions Thicket - RealClearWorld

 

A Look at Iran's Various Nuclear Assets - ABC News

 

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

GOP slaps Obama over Iran talks extension - CNN.com


GOP calls for Iran sanctions get louder, as nuclear talks drag on - TheHill


Statement of GOP Sen. Cruz: Obama Administration’s Iran Deal is Only Getting Worse - Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator for Texas


GOP senator Kirk: Sanctions will strengthen Iran deal - TheHill


POLL: GOP, voters at odds over policy towards Iran - MSNBC


Limited Progress On Iran Talks Unlikely To Impress Even Senate Democrats - huffingtonpost.com

 

Menendez indictment stifles prominent Democratic critic of Obama foreign policy, calls into question the future of Iran legislation - WashingtonExaminer.com

 

Obama Adviser on Iran Worked for Pro-Regime Lobby - Breitbart

 

Netanyahu Meets Boehner, Warns Against Emerging Iran Deal - Bloomberg Business

 

VIDEO: Netanyahu Blasts 'Unconscionable' Iran Deal - Breitbart

 

Israel tests U.S.-backed missile shield as Iran nuclear talks churn - Reuters

 

Fabius: Iran talks a 'few metres from the finishing line' - ITV News

 

Lavrov, Zarif claim breakthrough in Iran nuclear talks - Yahoo News

 

On sanctions relief, Russia and China are on Iran’s side - Quartz

 

'Oman can become trade hub if international sanctions on Iran are lifted’ - Times of Oman

 

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

 

To unsubscribe reply with “unsubscribe” in the subject line.

The Blood Sacrifice of Sergeant Bergdahl

By Matthew Hoh

Last week charges of Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy were recommended against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Tragically, Sergeant Bergdahl was once again crucified, without evidence or trial, throughout mainstream, alternative and social media. That same day Sergeant Bergdahl was offered as a sacrifice to primarily Republican politicians, bloggers, pundits, chicken hawks and jingoists, while Democrats mostly kept silent as Sergeant Bergdahl was paraded electronically and digitally in the latest Triumph of the Global War on Terror, President Ashraf Ghani was applauded, in person, by the American Congress. Such coincidences, whether they are arranged or accidental, often appear in literary or cinematic tales, but they do, occasionally, manifest themselves in real life, often appearing to juxtapose the virtues and vices of a society for the sake and advancement of political narratives.

The problem with this specific coincidence for those on the Right, indulging in the fantasy of American military success abroad, as well as for those on the Left, desperate to prove that Democrats can be as tough as Republicans, is that reality may intrude. To the chagrin and consternation of many in DC, Sergeant Bergdahl may prove to be the selfless hero, while President Ghani may play the thief, and Sergeant Bergdahl's departure from his unit in Afghanistan may come to be understood as just and his time as a prisoner of war principled, while President Obama's continued propping up and bankrolling of the government in Kabul, at the expense of American servicemembers and taxpayers, comes to be fully acknowledged as immoral and profligate.

Canada, Do Not Follow U.S. Into Permawar

By David Swanson and Robert Fantina

Oh Canada, to thine own self be true, not to thine heavily militarized neighbor. Robin Williams called you a nice apartment over a meth lab for a reason, and now you're bringing the drugs upstairs.

We write to you as two U.S. citizens, one of whom moved to Canada when George W. Bush became U.S. president. Every wise observer in Texas had warned this country about their Governor Bush, but the message hadn't gotten through.

We need the message to reach you now before you follow the United States down a path it has been on since its creation, a path that used to include regular invasions of your land, a path impeded a little by your generous sanctuary for those refusing war participation, and a path that now invites you to ruin yourself along with us. Misery and addiction and illegality love company, Canada. Alone they wither, but with aiders and abettors they flourish.

At the end of 2013 Gallup polls asked Canadians what nation they'd most like to move to, and zero of the Canadians polled said the United States, while people in the United States picked Canada as their most desired destination. Should the more desirable nation be imitating the less desirable, or the other way around?

In the same poll almost every nation of the 65 surveyed said the United States was the greatest threat to peace in the world. In the United States, bizarrely, people said Iran was the greatest threat -- despite Iran spending less than 1% of what the United States does on militarism. In Canada, Iran and the United States tied for first place. You seem to be of two minds, Canada, one of them thoughtful, the other breathing the fumes of your downstairs neighbor.

At the end of 2014 Gallup asked people if they would fight for their country in a war. In many nations 60% to 70% said no, while 10% to 20% said yes. In Canada 45% said no, but 30% said yes. In the United States 44% said yes and 30% no. Of course they're all lying, thank goodness. The United States always has several wars running, and everyone is free to sign up; almost none of the professed willing fighters do. But as a measure of support for war and approval of war participation, the U.S. numbers tell you where Canada is headed if it follows its southern friends.

A recent poll in Canada indicates that a majority of Canadians support going to war in Iraq and Syria, with support being highest, as might be expected, among Conservatives, with members of the NDP and Liberal parties offering less, but still significant, support. All this may be part of the Islamophobia that is sweeping much of North America and Europe. But, take it from us, the support is soon replaced with regret -- and the wars do not end when the public turns against them. A majority of the U.S. public has believed the 2001 and 2003 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq should never have been begun for the majority of those wars' existence. Once begun, however, the wars roll on, in the absence of serious public pressure to halt them.

Recent polling in Canada also indicates that while over 50% of respondents feel uncomfortable with someone wearing a hijab or abaya, over 60% of respondents support their right to wear it. That's stunning and praiseworthy. To accept discomfort out of respect for others is a top qualifying characteristic of a peacemaker, not a warmaker. Follow that inclination, Canada!

The Canadian government, like the U.S. government, uses fear-mongering to implement its war policies. But again, there is cause for some limited optimism. A recently-proposed anti-terror bill, that legal experts have decried as depriving Canada of some basic rights, has received significant opposition, and is being amended. Unlike the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, which sailed through Congress with little if any opposition, Canadian bill C-51 which, among other things, would stifle dissent, has been widely opposed both in Parliament and in the streets.

Build on that resistance to every evil justified by war, Canada. Resist the degradation of morality, the erosion of civil liberties, the drain to the economy, the environmental destruction, the tendency toward oligarchic rule and rogue illegality. Resist, in fact, the root problem, namely war.

It has been several years since the U.S. media regularly showed pictures of flag-draped coffins arriving on U.S. soil from far-flung war zones. And most of the victims of U.S. wars -- those living where the wars are fought -- are shown hardly at all. But Canada's media may do better. You may literally see the evil of your wars. But will you see your way clear to getting out of them? It is far easier to not launch them. It is far easier still to not plan and prepare for them.

We remember the lead you took, Canada, in banning land mines. The United States sells flying land mines called cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, which attacks its neighbors. The United States uses those cluster bombs on its own war victims. Is this the path you want to follow? Do you imagine, like some Las Vegas tiger tamer, that you'll civilize the wars you join? Not to put too fine a point on it, Canada, you will not. Murder will not be civilized. It can, however, be ended -- if you help us.

But I Thought We Were the Trustworthy Ones

Why Iran Distrusts the US in Nuke Talks

Editor Note:  The mainstream U.S. media portrays the Iran nuclear talks as “our good guys” imposing some sanity on “their bad guys.” But the real history of the West’s dealings on Iran’s nuclear program shows bad faith by the U.S. government.

By Ray McGovern

The Iranians may be a bit paranoid but, as the saying goes, this does not mean some folks are not out to get them. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his knee-jerk followers in Washington clearly are out to get them – and they know it.

Houston: Peace or Wars Without End? US Foreign Policy: A Conference to Explore Our Choices

Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 9:00am - 5:45pm
Texas Southern University, Cleburne St & Tierwester St, Houston, TX 77004
Please register at this conference registration link.

Blowback and US foreign policy have put America and the world in jeopardy.

A left-right convergence of progressive Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, and Republicans is issuing a call to participate in a foreign policy conference, to be held at TSU in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Building, in conjunction with TSU's Thurgood Marshall School of Law.  The conference theme is "Peace, or Wars without End - a Conference to Explore Our Choices".  Experts from the left and right will be coming together to question the overuse of U.S. military forces to (attempt to) solve conflicts.

Conference Flyer - Peace or Wars Without End?

Speakers and workshop leaders

We've already confirmed these speakers:

  • David Swanson - an activist, blogger and author, labor activist, former press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2003-2004 Presidential campaign, active in the movement to indict George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes - see WarIsACrime.org.  He now also hosts Talk Nation Radio, which airs on several Pacifica radio stations and their affiliates.
  • Col. Lawrence Wilkerson -a retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson has criticized many aspects of the Iraq War, including his own preparation of Powell's presentation to the UN. He appears as a frequent Republican commentator on The Ed Show with Ed Schultz on MSNBC commenting about the problems with Republican Party. Also see his interview "Who Makes US Foreign Policy?"
     
  • Dr. Robert Jensen, professor of journalism at UT Austin, activist, and speaker. Jensen writes for popular media, both alternative and mainstream. His opinion and analytic pieces on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and web sites all over the world. He contributes to local organizing in Austin, TX, through his work with the Third Coast Activist Resource Center, which offers educational resources and organizes community events about U.S. policy around the world; and 5604 Manor, a progressive community center that brings people together to make positive social change.
     
  • Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, who was one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. She has written many articles in the Huffington Post and elsewhere about US misuse of our military as well as of domestic issues.  She will be joining us by teleconference.
     
  • Marilyn White - Human rights activist who has worked for peace and justice in Latin America with School of the Americas Watch, Witness for PeaceCodePink and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

  • Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute, served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 to 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

Register now for the conference

Discount pre-registration is $30, by April 20 (deadline subject to change, depending on requirements of the caterer).  Late registration (after that date) is $40.  Students may register for free.  Others of limited income may pay what they wish, but everyone should pre-register so we can order enough food for everyone for lunch.   Please register at this conference registration link.

Program Booklet Ads

Ads in the program booklet for the conference will allow you, your organization, or business to get some recognition, while helping to make the conference affordable to everyone.  You can choose from full page to classified-size ads.  To buy an ad, go to this form: https://secure.jotformpro.com/hpjc/program_ad

Location, Getting There, Parking:

The Conference will be at Texas Southern University, building 151, on this TSU campus map.  This is the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs Building, just south of the corner of Tierwester and Cleburne St.  See Google map below.

You can get there via Metro bus routes 29, 30, 52, 68, and 80.  If you drive, paid visitor parking is available in the East Side Parking Garage for $3 for all day.  This garage is across Cleburne St. from the School of Public Affairs Bldg, on the north side of Cleburne St.  The visitor parking entrance is via Tierwester St.  You might be able to park for free on the street, but watch for no parking zones.

WE INVITE YOUR PARTICIPATION.

Houston Peace and Justice Center
Contact Bob Henschen
713-661-9889

Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility Annual Event

Join us for Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Annual Chapter Dinner

Saturday, April 18th 6-9 pm at

The Church of the Redeemer
5603 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210

Our featured guest speaker is author, activist and radio host David Swanson

David will speak on trends that are driving change in our society. His talk will encompass three areas of great interest and concern to Chesapeake PSR -- peace, environment, and democracy.

The cost for dinner is $40. Limited financial assistance available.

Please RSVP to twitehouse@psr.org or 240-246-4492

Annual Conference of Pax Christi Michigan

Annual State Conference of Pax Christi Michigan
Saturday, April 11, 2015
St. John Fisher University Chapel - Auburn Hills, MI

Register Here.

Pax Christi Michigan is honored to welcome author, activist, radio host, and journalist David Swanson to be our keynote speaker. His books advocate the abolition of war and its replacement by a culture of peace. He is a frequent public speaker, radio and TV guest, columnist and reporter, and an online presence via his blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org (originally AfterDowningStreet.org).

During the past year, Swanson has been instrumental in creating and has served as director of a new global nonprofit organization called World Beyond War. Thousands of people from 105 nations have signed a pledge at that website in recent months, indicating their desire to work to eliminate all war.  World Beyond War has begun working to advance understanding of the possibility, necessity, and desirability of ending all war. The arguments made closely parallel those of Swanson's book, War No More, the Case for Abolition.

Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio, a weekly program syndicated to many radio stations, advancing the causes of disarmament, diplomacy, and peace. He has been an organizer of numerous events, conferences, rallies, and protests, including the 2006 Camp Democracy and the 2011 "Occupation" of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., as well as the 2011 conference on the Military Industrial Complex at 50 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 Swanson's books include:
    Killing is Not A Way of Life (December 2014)
    When the World Outlawed War (2011) -- named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read.
    War Is A Lie (2010) -- widely praised best-selling classic.
    The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush (2008) -- Swanson wrote the introduction, as well as organized a team of writers to draft the articles for then-U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

David is currently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  We are indeed fortunate to have David as our keynote speaker.

Also featuring...Elliott Adams on "International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as a Tool for Ending War"

We struggle to end war and to create justice. Yet many of us do not realize that the Nuremberg Principles and international law give us tools to do just that. We view international law as some distant or abstract thing, but it is in fact part of our domestic law. And we do not understand that we are an important part of making it work.

Elliott Adams was a paratrooper in Vietnam and President of Veterans For Peace. He spent over 15 years in elected public office. He has dedicated his life to ending war. For this work he has demonstrated in the streets, testified before the U.S. Congress Judiciary Committee, been arrested and jailed. This talk grows out of Elliott's time in court defending himself from being arrested for exercising his Constitutional right to petition the government for redress from illegal wars.

The 2015 Purple Ribbon for Peace Award will be presented to Nancy and Rick “Doc” Peters. The Peters have been leaders of Pax Christi Muskegon for several years and served on the PCM State Council for 6 years; Rick serving as secretary and Nancy as the board facilitator.

Our 2015 Young Adult Peacemaker Award - Tera Warn She helped plan and facilitate the Young Peace Activists State Conference workshops.  She also served as co-chair of the State Council with Hugh Conahan and then chair for one year until she left to spend a semester attending language school in Ecuador and experiencing the people and culture. She returned briefly to the Council before graduating from MSU and then working in Iquitos, Peru for an afterschool tutoring program that served low income/at-risk children.


St. John Fisher University Chapel
3665 Walton Boulevard
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Emerg. Phone: 517-214-9490
Handicapper accessible

The main keynote presentations will take place in the sanctuary (i.e., wooden pews).  If you think you need it, feel free to BYOC:  Bring Your Own Cushion
$40 fee includes conference, breakfast, & lunch

Register Here.

Help Chagossians Return Home in 2015!

By David Vine

GIVE HERE.

Olivier Bancoult and the exiled Chagossian people need your help! Olivier Bancoult, chair of the Chagos Refugees Group, will be visiting the United States in late April to demand that the Obama administration support the Chagossians’ right to return to their homeland. Olivier needs your help to make the trip possible and support his people’s struggle for justice.

For more than 40 years, Olivier and other Chagossians have been living in exile. Between 1968 and 1973, the US and British governments forcibly removed this entire indigenous people from its homeland while building a US military base on the Chagossians’ island Diego Garcia. The US and British governments deported Chagossians like Olivier 1,200 miles away to the slums of the western Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles, leaving them with nothing.

Since their expulsion, the Chagossians have been living in poverty and struggling to return to their homeland and gain proper reparations for all they have suffered. For decades, Olivier Bancoult has led the Chagossians’ struggle as chair of the Chagos Refugees Group. Fulfilling a promise to his mother, Olivier has traveled the world with a simple demand: “Let us return!”

Olivier has gained international acclaim for leading his people to three victories over the British government in lawsuits that ruled the Chagossians’ expulsion illegal. Although the victories were overturned by a 3-2 decision in the House of Lords, Olivier has continued to lead the Chagossians’ legal and political struggle in London and the rest of Europe; in Washington, DC; at the United Nations; and at numerous international forums worldwide.

2015 is a critical year for the Chagossians: Recently, a British government study found there to be no legal barrier to Chagossians resettling their islands—which the US and UK governments have opposed for decades. The two governments have also started renegotiating the lease agreement for the US base on Diego Garcia, providing an opportunity to enshrine Chagossians’ right of return in the new lease.

With the help of people like you, Olivier will be visiting the United States April 19-26 to build support for the Chagossians’ struggle. In Washington, DC, Olivier will meet with members of the Obama administration and Congress to demand the US government recognize Chagossians’ right of return and support resettlement. In New York City, Olivier will attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and ask for the support of UN delegations.

The Chagos Refugees Group doesn’t have the money to fund Olivier’s trip. Supporters have gone into debt just to pay for Olivier’s plane tickets. We need your help to pay off the cost of airfare ($1,700) and to fund Olivier’s travel ($350), food ($350), and other costs ($100) in the US. The money will initially go to the US bank account of David Vine, one of the organizers. David has worked with Olivier and the Chagossians since 2001 and will pay the airfare debt and Olivier's other expenses. Any money raised beyond our goal or remaining after the trip will go directly to the Chagos Refugees Group.

Olivier, the Chagossians, and a growing global movement need your help! Please support Olivier’s trip to the United States and be a part of helping the Chagossians return to their homeland in 2015!

For more information about the Chagossians, watch this video produced as part of a campaign that helped build global support during last summer's World Cup: https://vimeo.com/97411496

GIVE HERE.

To learn more:

· Chagos Refugees Group: http://chagosrefugeesgroup.org/

· Watch a “60 Minutes” report (12 min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxVao1HnL1s

· Watch John Pilger’s “Stealing a Nation” (56 min): http://johnpilger.com/videos/stealing-a-nation

· UK Chagos Support Association: http://www.chagossupport.org.uk/

· US Chagos Support Association: https://www.facebook.com/uschagossupport

· The History: http://www.chagossupport.org.uk/background/history

· News Articles: http://www.theguardian.com/world/chagos-islands

· Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9441.html

Talk Nation Radio: Brian Terrell: Anti-Drone-War-Movement Is Growing

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-brian-terrell-anti-drone-war-movement-is-growing

Brian Terrell discusses a recent major protest of drone murders at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada and the state of the anti-drone-war movement. Brian is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience. He lives on a Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, Iowa. From this farm, Brian travels, speaking and acting with various communities working for peace. Two years ago he was serving a six month prison sentence for protesting drone killing from Whiteman Air force Base in Missouri, and this past month he returned from a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Iran News - Mar 31, 2015


POLL: Clear majority of Americans supports nuclear deal with Iran - The Washington Post


POLL: Most Americans Say Congress Should Have Final Authority Over Nuclear Deal - Pew Research Center


With or Without Iran Deal, Obama Faces Fight With Congress - Bloomberg Politics


Will Senate Democrats really help kill an Obama nuclear deal with Iran? - The Washington Post


More Harmful than Helpful: The U.S. Senate Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 - Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation


Netanyahu: The dangerous accord which is being negotiated in Lausanne confirms our concerns and even worse - Yahoo News


McConnell, in Israel, shares Netanyahu’s concerns about Iran nuke deal - McClatchy DC


Iran nuclear talks: Prospect of deal with Iran pushes Saudi Arabia and Israel into an unlikely alliance - The Independent


Arab nations alarmed by prospect of US nuclear deal with Iran - The Guardian


How France Became an Iran Hawk - Foreign Policy


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

Slow economy could prompt Iran to take nuclear deal - The Washington Post


Iran Riches Coveted by Big Oil After Decades of Conflict - Bloomberg Business


Nuclear Deal Could Drive Foreign Investors to Iran Stocks - WSJ


Rouhani to Merkel: Any Nuclear Deal Must End in Lifting Sanctions - Islamic Invitation Turkey


Dem: 'Sanctions will be tightened' if no Iran deal - TheHill


Russia, China oppose UNSC automatic imposition of sanctions proposed by US and Europe if Iran violates the deal - Business Standard News


The sanctions on Iran are already falling apart - Business Insider


Iran nuclear talks: What are the sanctions on Iran? - BBC News


Factbox: Sanctions on Iran’s oil sector - Reuters


Oil Declines as Potential Iran Nuclear Deal Seen Boosting Glut (VIDEO) - Bloomberg Business


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Where the Iran nuclear talks stand: the gaps as crunch time arrives - AP


Here's a guide to the key terms and major concerns animating the Iran nuclear talks - CNN


Iranian conservatives say they're getting a bad deal - Al-Monitor


IAEA Wants 'Snap Inspections' as Part of Iran Nuclear Deal - Breitbart


Watchdog group: We could detect an Iranian nuclear test - CNN


White House denies reports of Iran balking on nuclear shipments - Washington Times


Does Iran Have Secret Nukes in North Korea? - The Daily Beast


Negotiating Issue: Preventing Proliferation Assistance between Iran and other Proliferant States or Entities - isis-online.org


Opinion: How to Know if the Iran Deal Is a Good Deal - huffingtonpost.com


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Television Commercial in California Asks Drone Pilots to Stop Killing

This may be a first: a television ad campaign in a U.S. state capitol appealing to someone to stop murdering human beings who have, in most cases, already been born.

A new 15-second television ad, a variation on one that's aired in Las Vegas near Creech Air Force Base, is debuting this week in Sacramento, Calif. Take a look:

The ad was produced by KnowDrones.com, and is cosponsored by Veterans for Peace/Sacramento, and Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento. It is airing on CNN, FoxNews and other networks starting Tuesday in the Sacramento/Yuba City area, near Beale Air Force Base.

Producers and promoters of the ad campaign have planned a press briefing at 8:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, March 31, at the main gate to Beale Air Force Base. The ad's appeal for pilots to "Refuse to Fly," they say, "is aimed at drone pilots, sensor operators, support personnel and their families as well as the general public."

While killing people with drones by the thousands has become so routine that elite lawyers argue for making "wartime" permanent, and the United States is selling armed drones to nations around the world without apparently the slightest consideration that any undesired consequences are possible, the reality of what is happening is rarely seen in U.S. media. Comcast cable has decided that the advertisement above cannot be shown before 10:00 p.m. because it shows a glimpse of what "targeted drones strikes" do.

Comcast is allowing the version below to air at all hours as it more closely resembles the rest of U.S. television content in hiding reality. It does state "U.S. drones have murdered thousands, including women and children."  "Murder," by the way, is the U.S. government's own terminology, and strictly accurate.

Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, suggested that activists have focused on appealing directly to drone pilots because appealing to the U.S. government has become so hopeless. "The President and the Congress," he said, "refuse to respect law and morality and stop U.S. drone attacks, so we are asking the people who bear the burden of doing the actual killing to put a stop to it."

In fact, drone pilots are suffering post traumatic stress and moral injury in significant numbers, and dropping out in significant numbers. Information on all the factors involved in creating the current, and much desired, shortage of drone pilots is, of course, incomplete. For a discussion of the issue, listen to this week's Talk Nation Radio with guest Brian Terrell.  Efforts are also alive and well to get armed drones banned or to at least stop the U.S. government from arming the world with them.

Below is a nice collection of statements gathered by KnowDrones.com as part of its effort to persuade those who are all too much in the habit of obeying immoral orders:

1. “America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.”

     -Archbishop Desmond Tutu – From forward to Drones and Targeted Killing  January, 2015

2. “There are two main reasons why drone warfare is neither just nor moral.  First, it replaces interrogation by assassination.  Specific individuals (including American citizens) are placed on ‘kill lists.’  They are targeted with no accountability for errors in judgment or excesses of attack.  All due process is abandoned…Our consciences are stricken by the indefensible loss of life through drone warfare.”

- The Rev. George Hunsinger, Professor of Systemic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary.  January 24, 2015.

3.  “They call themselves warfighters. They are assassins.”

- Former Congressman and member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Rush Holt speaking of drone operators at the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare held at Princeton Theological Seminary, January 23 - 25. 

4.  “We are the ultimate voyeurs, the ultimate Peeping Toms. I’m watching this person, and this person has no clue what’s going on. No one’s going to catch us. And we’re getting orders to take these people’s lives.”

- Brandon Bryant – former U.S. drone sensor operator quoted in the documentary Drone. Democracy Now, April 17, 2014.

5. Drone attacks violate basic human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including rights to the protection of life (Article 3), privacy (Article 12) and due process (Article 10).  The UDHR, born out of the horrors of World War II, was ratified by the United States in 1948 and forms the basis for international human rights law today.

6. “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

- Principle IV of The Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950.

7. “…there are grounds to maintain that anyone who believes or has reason to believe that a war is being waged in violation of minimal canons of law and morality has an obligation of conscience to resist participation in and support of that war effort by every means at his disposal. In that respect, the Nuremberg principles provide guidelines for citizens' conscience and a shield that can be used in the domestic legal system to interpose obligations under international law between the government and members of the society.”

- Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law and practice, Princeton University.  From The Circle of Responsibility”, The Nation, June 13, 2006.

8. “According to the Nuremberg Principles, it is not only the right, but also the duty of individuals to make moral and legal judgments concerning wars in which they are asked to fight.” 

– John Scales Avery, world peace activist, The Nuremberg Principles and Individual Responsibility, Countercurrents, July 30, 2012.

9.  U.S. MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drone attacks have killed at least 6,000* people. That's an estimate by KnowDrones.com based on various reports including those of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

10. In addition, to the death and injury resulting from drone attacks, the presence of drones overhead terrorizes whole populations in drone war zones, leading to disruptions to family and community life and psychological injury.

“…the fear of strikes undermines people’s sense of safety to such an extent that it has at times affected their willingness to engage in a wide variety of activities, including social gatherings, educational and economic opportunities, funerals…the U.S. practice of striking one area multiple times, and its record of killing first responders, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid to assist injured victims.

 -   Living Under Drones, September, 2012.

 

IF BEALE AIR FORCE BASE COULD TALK: Facts About Drones and Beale AFB from KnowDrones.com

The MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper are the primary killer drones used by the United States. The Predator carries two Hellfire missiles and the Reaper can carry four Hellfires and two five hundred pound bombs. The Hellfire is designed for use against armored vehicles and structures and has a devastating effect when used against people in the open or in civilian vehicles.  People are often dismembered or pulverized.

Since the U.S. began drone warfare in Afghanistan in 2001, drone attacks have been undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya, and possibly in Syria.

About 6,000 people have been killed by US Drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, according to estimates provided by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the foremost independent monitor of drone war casualties. Of this total up to 230 are children killed in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to Bureau statistics. The Bureau does not have an estimate of women killed in these countries or across the whole drone war. But judging from what little is known of women being killed in drone attacks and the international scope of the drone attacks, it appears that many women have been killed, probably numbering in at least the hundreds. It is impossible to know with any certainty how many people have been killed by U.S. drones. The U.S. has withheld all information on the extent of the drone attacks, and drone attacks occur in very remote areas, making independent accounting difficult and grossly incomplete.

Drones flown out of Beale AFB are "accomplice drones." Global Hawk drones controlled from Beale are used in the targeting of Predator and Reaper attacks. The 48th Intelligence Squadron at Beale AFB processes information gathered by the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and RQ – Global Hawk drones to permit attacks by U.S. forces worldwide. Predator and Reaper drones are not flown from control centers at Beale.

At least 100 Predator and 200 Reaper drones are believed to be operating now; exact figures are not available.  At any given moment the U.S. has at least 180 Predator and Reaper drones in the air; 60 combat patrols, comprised of three drones each.  The Air Force wants to increase the number of constant combat patrols to 65, putting 195 drones in the air at any given time.

As of December 2013, there were about 1,350 drone pilots in the U.S. Air Force, according to an April 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which said that the Air Force had not been meeting its recruiting goals for drone pilots. Further, more drone pilots are quitting than can be trained, as reported by TomDispatch on March 26, 2015, which said the Air Force would like to have 1,700 pilots to cover the 65 combat patrols.  A key factor in the attrition is said to be over work, increasing even more as missions expand in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.  It appears likely that the stress is also leading to mistakes being made, further endangering those under surveillance.

The GAO report says that the U.S. Air Force “has not fully analyzed” the “stress” faced by pilots who go home every day after flying missions. The report said: “…pilots in each of the 10 focus groups (which included Beale pilots)…reported that being deployed-on-station (going home every day) negatively affected their quality of life, as it was challenging for them to balance their warfighting responsibilities with their personal lives for extended periods of time.”


Who Are the Nuclear Scofflaws?

Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

But it’s not.  The NPT, signed by 190 nations and in effect since 1970, is a treaty in which the non-nuclear nations agreed to forgo developing nuclear weapons and the nuclear nations agreed to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons.  It also granted nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear power.  The current negotiations in which Iran is engaged with other nations are merely designed to guarantee that Iran, which signed the NPT, does not cross the line from developing nuclear power to developing nuclear weapons.

Selective case of ‘standing on principle’: PA’s Top Lawyer Defends Illegal Law Silencing Prisoners and Jouralists Who Cover Them

By Linn Washington, Jr.


In July 2013 Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane made a bold move when she refused to defend a Pennsylvania state law in federal court that banned same-sex marriage. Terming that ban “wholly unconstitutional,” Kane declared that ethical directives applicable to lawyers barred her from defending a "legally indefensible" law.

Leaked doc proves what we’ve been saying for years: TSA is nuts

Everyone's been sending me the article from First Look/The Intercept about the latest "confidential" TSA document.

The article in question is titled "Exclusive: TSA's Secret Behavior Checklist to Spot Terrorists." Okay, yes, it's exclusive in that the reporters actually got their hands on a document that outlines the TSA's so-called behavior detection procedures. But we've been writing about these procedures for years now, calling attention to their inanity, fraud, and complete lack of scientific support.

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