Who Are the Real Criminals?
83 year old nun, Sister Megan Rice and two other peace activists, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were convicted and could be sentenced to 20 year for breaking into a Tennessee storage facility for depleted uranium weapons and splashing them with blood. They are members of the group Transform Now Plowshares that lives the words of the Bible "They shall beat their swords into plowshares. They shall learn war no more."
With skyrocketing cancer rates and birth defects, the city of Fallujah, Iraq has never recovered from the 2004 U.S. assault on it using depleted uranium munitions. A study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states that the after effects of the Fallujah assault are "worse" than those after the U.S. nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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By Stephen C. Webster - Raw Story
An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012 and splashed human blood on several surfaces, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.
The only regret Sister Megan Rice shared with members of her jury on Wednesday was that she wished 70 years hadn’t passed before she took direct action, according to the BBC. She and two other peace activists, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 56-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material.
The three activists are part of a group called “Transform Now Plowshares,” a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares. They shall learn war no more.” All three face individual sentences of up to 20 years, along with a litany of fines.
As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible. They also spread human blood on several surfaces, saying its use was symbolic, meant to remind people “of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons.”
“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” the activists’ attorney, Francis Lloyd, told members of the jury according to the BBC. “You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me.”
Sister Rice has been arrested between 40 or 50 times committing acts of civil disobedience, according to The New York Times, including once in Nevada after she physically blocked a truck at a nuclear test site.
Depleted uranium munitions like the kind stored at the facility Sister Rice targeted are blamed for some of the worst birth defects and soaring cancer rates seen in post-war Iraq, particularly in the city of Fallujah following the siege of 2004, in which U.S. soldiers killed thousands of civilians.
The city has never recovered, particularly from the use of depleted uranium munitions, and to this day residents suffer from health effects “worse” than those seen following the nuclear detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“I believe we are all equally responsible to stop a known crime,” Sister Rice said from the witness stand, according to quotes published by her group. She called herself a “citizen of the world” and reportedly smiled as the verdict was read.
This video is from ABC News, aired August 2, 2012.
On May 1, the CT State Senate passed State Bill 619 (SB619) sponsored by State Senator Toni N. Harp (D-New Haven) creating a "Futures Commission" to find ways to keep manufacturing jobs in CT as the Pentagon budget begins to be reduced.
State Senator Harp said. “The proposed Futures Commission will set up a framework that allows us to convert many of our military related jobs and infrastructure into non-military industries. If we want to take advantage of the green economy that the Obama Administration is pushing, we need to have the infrastructure and trained workers in our state to do so.”
The bill will now will come up for a vote in the CT House this week. Please call your legislator to support the bill. You can find your legislator here.
Peace Action and our allies in the peace and justice movement continue to organize to change national spending priorities by moving the money spent on the Pentagon budget to fund jobs, human needs and diplomacy. We also must organize to insure that workers, their families and communities who have depended on Pentagon contracts for good paying jobs are supported in the transition to producing what we need in our communities.
Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) “Connecticut has some of the best high-skilled manufacturing workers in the world,” Senator Looney said. “As needs of the national and world economy evolve, we must ensure that Connecticut’s economy is ready to adapt and our workers are well trained for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Please take a few minutes to call your state rep and ask to support SB619. You can find your legislator here.
According to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research, ‘This bill reactivates a dormant economic development advisory commission… and broadens its charge to include policies encouraging defense contractors and subcontractors to engage in environmentally sustainable and civilian product manufacturing.’
With your support, CT can be the first state to pass a bill to convert military production to civilian use!
Power to the peaceful,
In November 2012, a ballot referendum passed in New Haven that called for moving the money from war to jobs rebuilding our infrastructure and human needs. This referendum won support nearly 6 to 1! This winter in Connecticut, the US Peace Council, No Nukes No War, the City of New Haven Peace Commission with the support of the state AFL-CIO and International Association of Machinists worked to get SB619 introduced in the state legislature calling for a Futures Commission whose goals is to investigate how to convert the weapons manufacturing industries to producing civilian, green products and retain and develop manufacturing in the state. The Commission that this bill creates will include representatives of labor, peace and environmental organizations.
DPI/NGO Relations with the kind sponsorship of the
Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations
invite you to the Briefing
“Determined to Save Succeeding Generations from the Scourge of War”
Date: Thursday, 6 June 2013
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Location: ECOSOC Chamber, Conference Building, United Nations Headquarters
H.E. Mr. Paul Seger, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Nations
Ms. Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chair, Nobel Women’s Initiative
Mr. Ralph Zacklin, Former United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, 1998-2005
Ms. Nounou Booto Meeti, Programme Manager, Centre for Peace, Security and Armed Violence Prevention
The Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations begins with the words “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” These opening words continue to serve as a reminder that the UN itself was created to help prevent war, and of the ruin that war can bring upon the world.
Since the UN’s creation, the international community has not seen a conflict with the same level of globally widespread catastrophe as the Second World War, which motivated governments toward its creation. Unfortunately, the “scourge of war” has not disappeared. Now, nearly 70 years after the Charter’s signing, ongoing violent conflicts continue to inflict unimaginable suffering around the world. Some, like the current crisis in Syria, resulting in over 70,000 deaths so far, have no end in sight.
Although not every part of the world directly experiences widespread violent conflict, the implications of militarization touch every corner of the global village. Over $1.7 trillion is spent globally on armaments, making up about 2.5 percent of the world’s GDP. Figures like these have prompted UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to stress several times that “the world is over-armed and peace is underfunded.”
This Briefing will bring together a diverse and high-level panel to discuss the role of war in recent human history and how far humanity has advanced in limiting the scourge of war, particularly since the signing of the UN Charter. The Briefing will highlight various aspects of this topic, including the idea that peace comes through strength, the questioning of increasing militarism in society, and the view that the institution of war should be abolished, just as institutions of slavery, colonialism; apartheid and the prohibition of women from voting have been eliminated.
by 10:00 a.m. sharp.
United Nations-produced videos relevant to the theme of the Briefing are sometimes screened during the session. For Briefing information please call the DPI/NGO Resource Centre at +1-212-963-7232 / 7233 / 7234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive the Briefing information electronically, please email email@example.com. You may also visit the DPI/NGO Relations Cluster website at www.un.org/dpi/ngosection, where archived web casts and audio (both, when available) of the Briefing may also be accessed.
Requests for NGO guest passes should be faxed on organization letterhead to the DPI/NGO Resource Centre at +1 212-963-2819 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org AT LEAST TWO BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR to the Briefing. [Please note that pass requests received at any other email address will not be processed.] All guest passes should be picked up at the DPI/NGO Resource Centre, Room GA-37, on the morning of the Briefing. NGOs are reminded that this Briefing starts promptly at 10:15 a.m. Guests in need of an NGO sponsor for a UN guest pass are asked to contact Mr. Charles Hitchcock at email@example.com no later than 1 June 2013.
NOTE: This Briefing will be webcast live at webtv.un.org. You can post questions and comments during the session on our Facebook (facebook.com/
By John Grant
It was the summer of 1981. I was working on an ambulance in Philadelphia, transporting a cancer patient to a hospital for radiation treatments. The man was in his sixties, and I felt he knew his days were numbered.
In my conversations with the man, it came up that I was a Vietnam veteran. He told me he was in the CIA in Saigon in the early 1970s.
“What did you do?” I asked.
It took a jury about 2 ½ hours to find the three protesters guilty of a charge of sabotaging the plant and second charge of damaging federal property in July the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge in July.
Defense attorneys said in closing arguments that federal prosecutors had overreached in the charges because of the embarrassment caused by the break-in.
By Norman Solomon
The president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party?
Of course the Republican economic program is worse, and President Romney’s policies would have been even more corporate-driven. That doesn't in the slightest make acceptable what Obama is doing. His latest high-level appointments -- boosting corporate power and shafting the public -- are despicable.
Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Thursday declared that US drone strikes in the country's lawless tribal belt were illegal and directed the Foreign Ministry to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.
The Peshawar High Court issued the verdict against the strikes by CIA-operated spy planes in response to four petitions that contended the attacks killed civilians and caused collateral damage.
Willie Manning: Unjustly Sentenced to Death
by Stephen Lendman
Capital punishment is barbaric, unjust and unconscionable. It's the ultimate denial of human rights. Nothing justifies state-sponsored murder. Wrongfully executing innocent victims alone explains why.
Kerry in Moscow
by Stephen Lendman
Russian condemnation of Israeli air strikes preceded Kerry's arrival. Moscow's Foreign Ministry called them "a threat to regional stability."
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by Debra Sweet We’ve been pondering hard on what more we can do to create a political situation where Obama has to back down, release at least a few of the men at Guantanamo, and be forced into closing the prison. All of our frequent protests, petitions, call-ins, editorials and op-eds are part of what's needed.
In the vast and ever expanding firmament of Western Human Rights NGO’s, PEN, America Center, the writers’ organization, is far from the most luminous and ordinarily barely visible. But a dark side of PEN came clearly into view with the hiring of Suzanne Nossel as its executive director. And the same dark side is becoming all too apparent in organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both of which have also employed Nossel in the past.
OUT OF AFGHANISTAN
a speech in Congress by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), on May 7, 2013
Full Text Below, adapted from the Congressional Record.
Mr. Speaker, like most Members of Congress, I was home last week and did two or three different civic clubs. Everywhere I went, when I said it's time to get our troops out of Afghanistan, save lives of our American soldiers, and save money, I would get applause.
Also, in the last couple of weeks, my office has sent out a survey, and 17,000 people of the Third District responded, and 70 percent of the 17,000 said the same thing: Why are we still in Afghanistan spending money we do not have and having our young men and women to give their life for a failed policy known as Afghanistan? ....
.... Mr. Speaker, I'm on the Armed Services Committee, and I have written a letter to the chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee and asked her to hold hearings and bring in the inspectors general who've been looking into how the waste, fraud, and abuse abounds in Afghanistan. They can't even account for half the money we've spent over in Afghanistan. We've already spent over $700 billion in Afghanistan, and half of it we can't even account for ....
.... But when you hear about the CIA sending cash money for 10 years, millions and millions and millions of dollars to Karzai so that he can take care of the warlords over in Afghanistan and give a little bit of money to the Taliban so they can buy weapons to kill Americans, then I don't know and I sometimes just am frustrated. Where is the outrage in Congress? ....
.... We're not going to change one thing. They've already acknowledged, Mr. Speaker, that we are fighting the Taliban, and most of the Taliban are Pashtuns, the largest tribe in Afghanistan. They will eventually be the leaders, and Mr. Karzai will not even be in Afghanistan. He'll probably be in Switzerland counting his money that Uncle Sam has sent to him. ....
Randy "Salz" Salzman is a transportation writer and researcher and the author of Fatal Attraction: Curbing Our Love Affair With the Automobile Before it Kills Us. He discusses how highway construction boondoggles that are bad for health, heritage, the environment, and even the flow of traffic, have survived in these times of cramped public budgets. In particular, Salzman looks at the example of a proposed highway in Charlottesville, Va., opposed by the public but rolling ahead toward unsafe, destructive, and ridiculously expensive construction.
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Producer: David Swanson.
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Most of the world's governments no longer use the death penalty. Among wealthy nations there is one exception remaining. The United States is among the top five killers in the world. Also in the top five: the recently "liberated" Iraq.
But most of the United States' 50 states no longer use the death penalty. There are 18 states that have abolished it, including 6 in this new millennium, including Maryland this week. Thirty-one states haven't used the death penalty in the past 5 years, 26 in the past 10 years, 17 in the past 40 years or more. A handful of Southern states -- with Texas in the lead -- do most of the killing.
The progress is slow and painful. Mississippi is right now having trouble deciding whether to spare a man just because he might be innocent. Maryland has perversely left five people waiting to be killed while banning the death penalty for any future cases. Next-door in Virginia we hold second place behind Texas and continue to kill.
Virginia electrocuted a man named Robert Gleason in January. Since then, Texas has killed four men, Ohio two, and Florida, Oklahoma, and Georgia one each -- all by lethal injection. Since 1973, there have been 141 exonerations from death row nationwide, including an innocent Virginian who came within days of being killed.
If you're convicted of killing a white person in Virginia, you're over three times as likely to receive the death penalty as you would be if the victim had been black. The injustice and backwardness is staggering, but so is the lack of democracy. Only a third of Virginians tell pollsters they favor the death penalty.
The evil of the death penalty is not limited to the instances in which it is used -- or to the corrosive influence it has on our culture. The death penalty primarily serves as a valuable chip in plea bargaining. Want someone to plead guilty, whether or not they actually are guilty? Threaten them with the death penalty. Who needs trials by jury (now used in under 2% of cases) when you have that kind of tool? And who has time for them when you've overloaded the system by treating drug use as a crime?
Remarkably, a former commonwealth's attorney here in Charlottesville, Va., named Steve Deaton is campaigning for his old job with a commitment to never use or threaten to use the death penalty.
"I believe the death penalty is barbaric and has no place in modern Charlottesville courts," Deaton says, reversing the electoral wisdom of many decades, which firmly holds that candidates must pretend to believe the death penalty is just and righteous and a deterrent to crime, even if the public thinks that's nonsense.
"I am calling for a moratorium on death penalty prosecutions," says Deaton. "During the past 20 years -- that is, the term of the incumbent Commonwealth's Attorney -- a number of capital murder charges have been brought against some people, almost all of them poor. Then the charge is often used as a bargaining chip to get the defendant to plead guilty to murder and accept a life sentence. This practice of using the threat of death to plea bargain is legal, and under current ethical standards, considered ethical. However, I find such a practice appalling. By engaging in this practice the prosecutor is tempting fate: what if their threat doesn't work and the case goes to a jury?"
Many in Charlottesville oppose the death penalty. Deaton explains the very real possibility that it will nonetheless be employed here: "The notion that no Charlottesville jury will return a death sentence is misleading. In a capital murder case the jury has to be 'death qualified,' meaning that the jurors must believe in the death penalty. Such a jury is not representative of the community! Studies have shown that a 'death qualified jury' is also much more likely to convict."
Deaton points out that prosecutors have a great deal of discretion: "A prosecutor does not have to bring a capital murder charge. They have the option of bringing a regular murder charge instead."
If elected, Deaton intends to use the enormous discretion given to prosecutors to try to make punishments more reasonably fit crimes, including so-called drug crimes. While Charlottesville City Council failed by a vote of 3-2 in February to end jail time for possession of marijuana, Deaton intends to charge those possessing marijuana with a different charge: disorderly conduct. It's technically a higher level charge -- a Class 1 misdemeanor -- but it does not carry the draconian punishments of loss of driver's license, subjection to drug testing, ruined college acceptance and student loan prospects, immigration status, etc. "If a person makes a mistake, they should be punished. They shouldn't have their lives ruined," Deaton says.
Deaton aims to counter mass-incarceration, not add to it. "The state has built a new $100 million prison in Grayson County and there is talk of expanding our local jail," he says. "All of this in spite of declining crime rates. It is time to stop feeding the prison-industrial complex. I believe the goal of the justice system should be to empty out spaces in the jails and prisons -- not to fill every available space!"
Of course, the system of mass incarceration creates a caste system by stamping the scarlet F of "Felon" on those released, no matter how many years of their lives are wasted in cages. Deaton favors restoring rights, including voting rights, for people convicted of nonviolent felonies.
Charlottesville has a chance to give the death penalty in Virginia a big push toward the door, which would help the United States and the world along that path. As Charlottesville only elects Democrats (and packs the full range of great to awful candidates into that one party) the election for Deaton is effectively the June 11th primary. Anyone in Charlottesville can vote in that primary, without swearing any loyalty to any party. And anyone else can help to spread the word or donate to the campaign.
UN Human Rights Council Duplicity
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article said the following:
On May 5, Reuters headlined "UN has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas: investigator."
Fannie and Freddie in Good Hands with Mel Watt
by Stephen Lendman
On May 1, Obama nominated Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
It replaced the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB), the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD).
On Friday, May 10, at 10:00 AM, experts on the situation at Guantanamo will brief Congress about current conditions at the prison and discuss possibilities for change. You can help by being there or by asking your Congress Member and Senators to send staffers or show up.
At least a hundred men are on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, some nearing the hundredth-day mark.
The men are on hunger strike because their detention appears to be indefinite, a situation that violates international law and is considered by medical experts to be a form of psychological torture.
Although review boards have cleared for release most of the 166 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, US taxpayers are funding their continued detention at a cost of approximately $800,000 per detainee each year.
A congressional briefing on Guantanamo, sponsored by Representative Jim Moran, will be held on Friday, May 10 at 10:00 AM.
Numbers are available from the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
To locate your member of Congress online: www.house.gov
Co-sponsored by The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, New America Foundation, and The Constitution Project (author of a recent, bi-partisan report on US detention policy and practice).
When: Friday, May 10th at 10:00 am
Where: B-354, Rayburn House Office Building
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By Alfredo Lopez
This Summer, a team at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has undertaken a remarkable project: to recreate the first web site and the computer on which it was first seen.
Hagel, Livni and Free Syrian Army commanders reported to gather in D.C. at behest of Israel lobby
By Philip Weiss
May 07, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - The U.S. is evidently closely coordinating its policy toward the Syrian civil war with Israel.
On May 9, for instance, the Israel lobby group WINEP will hold an annual symposium in Washington. Reports have it here and here that speakers include Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, two commanders of the Free Syrian Army, and Tzipi Livni, an architect of the 2008-09 assault on Gaza. (The WINEP description of its conference appears to have been scrubbed of the information.)
By Robert J. Burrowes
When Barack Obama orders the US military to attack people in another
country, whether in a war or by using an illegal drone strike, he knows
that people, including innocent men, women and children (called
'collateral damage'), will be killed. How can he do this? When Benjamin
Netanyahu orders Israeli military attacks on unarmed Palestinians, he
knows that innocent men, women and children will be killed. How can he do
this? When corporate executives, such as Hugh Grant (chief of Monsanto)
and Gregory R. Page (boss of Cargill), make decisions that deprive people
- including those in Africa, Asia and Central/South America - of the means
of economic survival, they know that people will be exploited and killed.
How can they do this?
It takes someone with a particular psychological profile to kill people.
Most of us cannot do it even when ordered to do so. Studies have shown