To my friends who live outside of Turkey:
I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.
Four days ago a group of people who did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.
They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.
No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.
But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.
In the evening the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.
Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.
They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:
The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.
They gathered and marched. Police chased them with pepper spray and tear gas and drove their tanks over people who offered the police food in return. Two young people were run over by the tanks and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.
These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against its people’s will.
On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.
People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.
What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.
Yet they still march. Hundred of thousands join them. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim.
No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.
Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.
People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul.
Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.
I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.
As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:
«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»
This blog is my answer to her.
By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:
Freedom of expression and speech,
Respect for human rights,
Control over the decisions I make concerning my on my body,
The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.
But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!
Please spread the word and share this blog.
For futher info and things you can do for help please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help
h/t Ciaron O'Reilly
On a peace delegation to Afghanistan to visit the Afghan Peace Volunteers, I found myself one dusty afternoon in early May in Kabul sitting across the room from three men from Wardok Province, one of Afghanistan’s most intense areas of fighting. The men came to share their stories.
Two of the men — Abdul Samát and Hayatullah — were perhaps in their 50s or 60s, and were dressed in traditional Afghan garb. The third man — Roohulah — was younger and wearing a white shirt and sport coat. After introductions, the men decided that Roohulah should be the first person to speak.
“I have so many things to say to you,” he started. “So many stories. I don’t know where to begin.” He was choked up already, eyes red and swollen, and I could almost see the lump in his throat. “My own sister was killed in the war. But that is not what angered me the most. I am most angry about losing my cousin. He had a wife and two small children, and now that he is gone, they have no one to care for them.”
Roohulah then told the story of how his cousin and a good friend were visiting family members one snowy evening when they heard the ominous, familiar sound of an American helicopter landing nearby. Frightened, the cousin and a friend decided to run home to be with their families. But when they neared their village, they realized that the Americans were there already, so the two men decided to continue onto the next village, where they would stay until the raid was finished.
READ THE REST AT WAGINGNONVIOLENCE.
Iran's June Presidential Election
by Stephen Lendman
It's scheduled for June 14. Eight candidates will participate. More on them below. If none achieve a 50% or more majority, a June 21 runoff will follow.
On the same day, local city and village elections will be held. Thousands of aspirants registered to participate. In 2012, parliamentary elections were held.
Washington Criticizes Syrian Self-Defense
by Stephen Lendman
Seventeenth century philosopher/political theorist/jurist Hugo Grotius perhaps helped inspire international law. In 1625, his "On The Law of War and Peace" said "Most Men assign three Just Causes of War, Defense, the Recovery of what's our own, and Punishment."
Natan Blanc: Heroic Israeli Refusenik
by Stephen Lendman
Israel's a rogue terror state. It's been so from inception. It's history is blood-drenched. It's a global menace.
It's current government is its worst ever. It prioritizes state terrorism. Palestinians live in the eye of the storm.
War Crimes as Policy
In February the Guardian and BBC Arabic unveiled a documentary exploring the role of retired Colonel James Steele in the recruitment, training and initial deployments of the CIA advised and funded Special Police Commandos in Iraq.
The documentary tells how the Commandos tortured and murdered tens of thousands of Iraqi men and boys. But the Commandos were only one of America’s many weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Along with US military forces – which murdered indiscriminately – and various CIA funded death squads – which murdered selectively – and the CIA’s rampaging palace guard – the 5,000 man strong Iraq Special Operations Forces – the Commandos were part of a genocidal campaign that killed about 10% of the Sunni Arabs of Iraq by 2008, and drove about half of all Sunnis from their homes.
This one takes a look at the offshore tax shelters which corporations use to avoid hundreds of billions of dollars of tax liability, thereby leaving... you and me... to carry the load, while our country sinks deeper into debt.
In news that has so far only been available in Arabic, and which I was informed about by a Mauritanian friend on Facebook, I can confirm that two prisoners from Guantánamo have been released, and returned to their home country of Mauritania. The links are here and here.
The two men are Ahmed Ould Abdul Aziz and Mohamedou Ould Slahi, and they were accompanied by a third man, Hajj Ould Cheikh Hussein, who was apparently captured in Pakistan and held at Bagram in Afghanistan, which later became known as the Parwan Detention Facility.
According to one of the Arabic news sources, US officials handed the men to the Mauritanian security services who took them to an unknown destination. They have also reportedly met with their families.
I have no further information for now, but this appears to be confirmation that President Obama’s promise to resume the release of prisoners from Guantánamo was not as hollow as many of his promises have turned out to be. It also follows hints, in the Wall Street Journal (which I wrote about here), indicating that he would begin not with any of the 56 Yemeni prisoners out of the 86 prisoners cleared for release by the inter-agency task force that he established in 2009, but with some of the 30 others.
One of these 30 is Ahmed Ould Abdul Aziz, a teacher, and an educated and cultured man, who was seized in what appeared to be a random house raid in Pakistan in June 2002, but the other is a surprise. Mohamedou Ould Slahi was, notoriously, handed over by the Mauritanian authorities to the US in November 2001, He was then rendered to Jordan, where he was tortured, and was then subjected to a specific torture program in Guantánamo, where he arrived in August 2002, after which he became an allegedly helpful informant, although his torture was so severe that it prompted his assigned prosecutor, Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, to resign rather than continue with the case.
Although he had his habeas corpus petition granted in March 2010, this was then vacated by the court of appeals, after an outcry from numerous Republicans, who believed, as had been alleged, that he had been some sort of mentor to the 9/11 hijackers, while he was living in Germany, even though it seems clear that, although he had met them, he had not done anything to assist them in their plans, and nor did he have any knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
I wrote extensively about the injustice of Slahi’s case — including the self-defeating absurdity of indefinitely detaining someone who had allegedly become an important informant — following the publication of a revelatory article in the Washington Post in March 2010, and his case recently came to light again when Slate published excerpts from an astonishing autobiography that he wrote in Guantánamo.
I will write about further developments when I have them, but for now this appears to be very good news indeed, not just for Ahmed Ould Abdul Aziz and Mohamedou Ould Slahi, but also for the other cleared prisoners in Guantánamo.
State Department Terrorism Report: Upping the Stakes for War
by Stephen Lendman
According to Washington, terrorism is what they do, not us. Defending independent sovereignty is called terrorism. So are legitimate responses to Western/Israeli-sponsored attacks.
Incidents manufactured out of whole cloth are called terrorism. In October 2011, Iran was falsely charged with plotting to kill Saudi Arabia's US ambassador (Adel al-Jubeir).
Murder, Inc: Official US Policy
by Stephen Lendman
America does it wholesale and retail. Obama's wars increase body counts. They mount daily. Special forces death squads in over 120 countries add their own.
So do covert CIA agents. They're licensed to kill. They do it globally. FBI assassins operate domestically. Doing so belies their "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity" motto.
For every high-level suspect in Pakistan, the U.S. military kills 49 other people who we know little to nothing about.
By Ben Kuebrich
U.S. support for drone strikes has dropped 18 percent over the last year (see the Washington Post/ABC poll conducted in 2012 and the Gallup Poll released in March 2013), but almost two thirds of the U.S. population still supports drone strikes "in other countries against suspected terrorists."
As the first two numbers below demonstrate, the majority that believe drone strikes are effective, surgical tools used against terrorists hold this belief against the available facts. Both numbers are published inLiving Under Drones, a report conducted by human rights and law clinics at Stanford and NYU about drone strikes in Pakistan and confirmed by a variety of other sources.
The number of people killed in U.S. drone strikes for every high-level suspect. Despite President Obama's statement on CNN in September 2012 that drone strikes were used in "[situations] in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States," only two percent of the people drones killed in Pakistan between 2004 and 2012 actually fit that description.
The number of children killed between 2004 and 2012 for each high-level suspect.
It might be surprising to learn that we kill more children than high-level suspects. News reports flood in daily about the scores of "militants" killed in U.S. drone strikes, but these reports rely on the Obama administration's offensive, illegal definition of "militant" as all "military-age males in a strike zone." Think of the justifiable outrage if this same definition were applied to people killed in attacks on U.S. soil.
The above two numbers replace the reckless ambiguity of "militant" with categories that can be counted with accuracy. The amount of high-level suspects were all confirmed by at least two reliable news agencies, and the amount of children killed by drones in Pakistan is kept in daily reporting by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Together, these first two numbers present the reality of U.S. drone strikes as it is hardly every covered: for every high-level suspect in Pakistan, the U.S. military kills 49 other people who we know little to nothing about and at least three of those 49 are children.
The final two numbers come from the Pew Global Attitudes Project. Pew has been reporting on global attitudes for over 10 years, polling what citizens of countries around the world think about the United States, other countries, and a variety of issues. The results from their recent report on Pakistan, published earlier this month, will come as a surprise to anyone still holding the belief that that the United States is helping Pakistan with its barrage of drone strikes. Here are two important numbers from the report:
The percentage of Pakistanis who hold a favorable view of the Taliban. On top of that, 98 percent of Pakistanis see terrorism as a problem and only 13 percent of Pakistanis see Al Qaeda as favorable. It would seem that these numbers, alongside regular news of Taliban's heinous abuses, surely justify U.S. drone strikes in the region. The country is clearly against terrorist groups and the United States is a self-certified terrorist killer, so we must be welcome there, right? See the next number.
The percentage of Pakistanis who have a favorable view of the United States. That's right, the same percentage of Pakistanis favor the U.S. as favor the Taliban, and Pakistanis actually have a more favorable view toward Al Qaeda than they do toward the United States. The report also finds that only 5 percent of the population is supportive of U.S. drone strikes.
For anyone reading first-hand accounts of drone strikes in Pakistan, like those published in Living Under Drones, these numbers should come as no surprise. The citizens of Pakistan talk about U.S. drone strikes in the same language that people talk about terrorism--constant fear, psychological trauma, never knowing if someone leaving the house to go to a wedding, community meeting, or funeral will end up dead as the result of a drone strike. That we fall into the same category of favorability as the Taliban and Al Qaeda may speak to the sort of actions we carry out in Pakistan.
Some readers may not care what Pakistan thinks about drone strikes, but hopefully these numbers dispel any myths about our violence in the region being more favorable than our enemy's violence, and they very clearly dispel any myth about our presence in the country as helping Pakistani citizens.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
Of course the TSA is getting PR mileage out of its recent (forced) decision on the strip-search scanners, and the credulous media are only too happy to play along.
Today (Friday May 31) the Institute for Public Accuracy, 980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C., (202) 247-0020 http://www.accuracy.org * firstname.lastname@example.org put out the following press release, based on my comments and questions for James Comey, reported to be Obama's nominee to replace Robert Mueller as head of the FBI.
BURLIGTON, Vt., May 31 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Senate Budget Committee member and founder of the Defending Social Security Caucus, issued the following statement after Social Security trustees today released their annual report on the retirement system’s finances:
“The report from the Social Security trustees confirms what many of us have known, that Social Security is not ‘going broke,’ that it can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years and that after 2033 there is enough in reserve to pay three-quarters of future benefits.
“Our job now is to make sure Social Security is strong not just for 20 years but for generations to come. The best way to do that is not to cut Social Security cost-of-living adjustments as Republicans and President Obama have proposed, but to do what Obama called for as a candidate in 2008. We must lift the cap on Social Security payroll taxes and make the wealthy contribute the same percentage of their income as other workers. Today, someone making $10 million a year contributes the same amount of money as someone making $113,700. That is absurd.”
To read a fact sheet on the Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act (S.500) to apply the payroll tax that most Americans already pay on all of their income to income above $250,000 a year, click here.
To read the bill cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) click here.
On 28th May Sayyed Hadi Sayyed Hameed, 26, from Karzakkan was martyred as a direct result of excessive chemical gas inhalation. He had been affected few days earlier when regime’s forces attacked peaceful demonstrators in the town. His funeral was turned into anti-regime protest with people chanting “Death to Hamad” in reference to the dictator who is wreaking havoc on the country. Sayyed Hameed had been arrested in 2008 and sentenced to three years imprisonment. He was subjected to severe torture while languishing in Alkhalifa torture dungeons. He is a celebrated freedom fighter who spent the best part of his life protesting against the most brutal and reactionary regime in the region.
In one of the most bizarre episodes the Alkhalifa court acquitted the killers of Fadhel Al Matrook who was martyred by police bullets on Tuesday 15th February 2011 (second day of the Revolution). The killer of another martyr, Hani Abdul Aziz, was reduced from seven years to six months. In recent weeks the same courts have sentenced up to 200 Bahrainis for jail terms of up to 15 years imprisonment for peaceful acts such as taking parts in protests, tweeting against the dictator or raising anti-regime slogans. Among these are under-age children.
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has issued an urgent action to stop ill-treatment of children behind bars. It said: “Reports from Bahrain’s Jaw prison identified some of the youth that were reportedly tortured that day, amongst them two children, Jehad Sadeq and Mustafa Al Muqdad. To conceal what had happened, they were removed from their cells and held in solitary confinement. Jehad was reportedly beaten, cursed and insulted at the time of arrest. He was tried under the internationally criticized terrorism law and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment last month based on confessions extracted under duress.
Mustafa Al Muqdad, 16 years old, was arrested on 19 May 2011 after a house raid at dawn. He was reportedly tortured for two weeks after his arrest. According to the testimony, he was beaten with a plastic cable, deprived from sleep for three days and was forced to stand for days. He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment at the National Safety court (vis-à-vis the Military court) which was later reduced to three years
In London, several Muslim organizations addressed the British Foreign Secretary asking him to act to stop the relentless attacks by the Bahraini regime against religious scholars. They said: “We are very alarmed by these actions that the government of Bahrain and their security forces have embarked upon. This runs the real risk of escalating tensions through raising the stakes and agitating the population by targeting their senior religious leader. The forced entry into Ayatullah Qasim's home, as well as the attack on his family during the early hours of the morning, was a deliberate attempt to humiliate the Shia community in Bahrain. This represents a dangerous escalation, crossing a new red line that will have implications beyond just the Kingdom itself. We hope you will take a proactive stance to help in calming the current tensions in Bahrain and beyond.” The letter was signed by: Al-Khoei Foundation, The Council of European Jamaats, Dar Al Islam, Imam A li Foundation, Islamic Universal Association, Majlis Ulama Shia Europe, Muhammadi Trust, Rasool A’adham Foundation, The World Federation of KSIMC and World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League.
On another level, Zainab Al Khawaja, the jailed human rights activist has confirmed that a sectarian Apartheid regime is being implemented in her prison. The prison authorities have banned any interaction or mixing among the Shia and Sunni women prisoners. This action has coincided with the decision by the Alkhalifa regime to form an official militia groups comprising members of the Death Squads. This is yet another step to lead Bahrain into instability, chaos and absolute militarized dictatorship.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
30th May 2013
Nathaniel Batchelder is a Vietnam veteran and has been director of the Peace House Oklahoma City since 1990 – a center for public education on justice, peace and environmental issues.
This story has been all over the news recently. (Ashley Jessica’s heart is in the right place, even if her use of anatomical nomenclature isn’t. I’m putting that out there right at the top to head off the inevitable criticism. -Editor)
Read the rest at TSA News.
Israel Threatens Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Self-defense is inviolable. It's a fundamental right. International law affirms it. On May 29, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington supports Israel's right to defend itself.
Israeli-style defense is offense. It hasn't been attacked in 40 years. It faces no regional threats now except ones it invents. It prioritizes violence, conflict and instability.
CIA Global Renditions
by Stephen Lendman
Extraordinary renditions include arbitrary abductions and extrajudicial transfers from one country to another. Targeted individuals are called terrorists.
Corroborating evidence isn't needed. What Washington says goes. Rogue hegemons operate that way.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
By Dave Lindorff
Some on the left are writing hopefully these days that perhaps President Obama has finally realized he needs to back off on his warlike posture on drones and the War on Terror. They are seeing his talk about scaling back the use of drone killing machines and of reconsidering or “investigating” recent Justice Department attacks on the press and its use of leaks by government whistle-blowers, as a sign that he is perhaps regaining his constitutional senses and perhaps even “moving” to the left to rebuild support he has been losing in droves.
Mass Rally at Ft. Meade, Maryland, Saturday, June 1
Court Martial Begins on Monday, June 3,
Military veterans are turning out in force to show support for PFC Bradley Manningthis Saturday, June 1, 1 pm at Fort Meade, Maryland, on the eve of his historic court martial, which begins on Monday. The diminutive 25-year-old Manning, who has acknowledged giving classified Army documents to Wikileaks about U.S. conduct of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, is facing the possibility of life in prison. In what many people see as “overkill,” the Army has charged him with “Aiding the Enemy,” the most serious of 22 charges.
Veterans For Peace is also organizing local marches and rallies on June 1, including in Seattle,Washington, (2 pm at Westlake Park, march to Victor Steinbreuck Park) and London, England (2 pm rally outside of US Embassy). See contact info for Seattle and London, below. Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War will also participate in International Days of Action, June 1-8, in over 100 cities around the U.S. and worldwide, to demonstrate widespread support for PFC Manning.
What Manning released through Wikileaks was evidence of the routine killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the routine cover-up of these war crimes. The Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries also revealed that military and civilian leaders were lying to the U.S. people when they presented rosy assessments of the progress of those wars.
“Bradley Manning is a hero who wanted to aid the public, not a traitor who wanted to aid the enemy,” said Gerry Condon, a spokesperson for Veterans For Peace. “It is a shame that our nation did not pay more attention to the information he shared with us three years ago. Many lives could have been saved -- hundreds of Afghani civilians and hundreds of U.S. soldiers.”
PFC Manning has been held in prison for over three years, much of it in solitary confinement and under other abusive treatment, as documented by the United Nationsl Special Rapporteur on Torture.
The Army's court martial of Manning, which begins on Monday, is expected to continue throughout the summer, with the prosecution presenting over 100 government witnesses, many of them in secret testimony. Veterans For Peace will participate in a daily vigil outside the front gate of Fort Meade.
The Army's presecution of Bradley Manning coincides with the Obama Administration's crackdown on whistle-blowers and journalists alike. Over twice as many people are being prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act than in all previous administrations combined.
On Thursday, February 28, Bradley Manning detailed how he released classified military and government documents to Wikileaks, and he explained why he did so.
“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debateon the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.... I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience.”
One of the most moving aspects of Manning’s testimony was his explanation as to why he released the so-called “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the gunning down in Baghdad of two Reuters journalists and bystanders by American soldiers in a US Apache helicopter. Manning described being deeply troubled by the video, especially the crew’s “lack of concern for human life” and lack of “concern for injured children at the scene.”
Veterans For Peace, an international organization with chapters in over 100 cities, demands that the US Army drop all charges against Bradley Manning and release him from prison immediately.
What: Live Video Series from Kabul: Perspectives on the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership
When:Wednesday, June 5th at 10am EDT (US)/6:30pm AFT (Kabul)
Where:Live online video facilitated by Google Hangout, streamed to YouTube. See also: http://bit.ly/AfghanSecurity
How do Afghans feel about the Strategic Partnership and how do they articulate their own security needs and interests?
Broadcast live from Kabul, Washington DC, and Philadelphia, this conversation will address security issues from an Afghan perspective, with:
Sami Sadat, Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council
Abdul Waheed Wafa, Executive Director of the Afghan Center at Kabul University
Mohammad Hamid Saboory, Master’s degree consultant to Kardan University in Kabul
Matthew Southworth, Foreign Policy Legislative Associate for the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation
Moderated by Peter Lems, Program Director of Education and Advocacy for Iraq and Afghanistan at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
A strategic partnership is right now being negotiated between the governments of Afghanistan and the United States. At stake will be the number and type of U.S. forces after 2014, whether those forces will have immunity from Afghan law, what type of access they have to bases in the country, and the focus of financial assistance the U.S. will provide in the future.
These are fundamental questions for Afghans, and will dramatically affect their future and their country’s stability and development.
Because the US involvement is overwhelmingly military, we rarely hear about the goals of Afghan civil society and the type of relationship they would like to see with the U.S.
Join us for an on-going series of conversations looking at the key issues for Afghans. This dialogue will include what security looks like for Afghans, the regional dynamics of an on-going US presence, the need for assistance that supports civil society initiatives, and the broader question of accountability.
Boston, MA Kabul, Afghanistan Philadelphia, PA
To submit questions for discussion subjects, contact Peter Lems at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natan Blanc (with thanks to Yesh Gvul)This morning, the Israeli military's Exemption Committee declared Israeli conscientious objector Natan Blanc unfit for duty, six months after he initially reported to the induction centre and declared his refusal.
You can send an email to Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, welcoming the fact that Natan will no longer be imprisoned, but urging him to ensure that in future COs are not treated similarly here: http://wri-irg.org/node/21852
Natan's prison sentences have been 10, 20, 14, 14, 20, 18, 20, 14, 20 and 28 days long respectively. This exemption follows his second appeal for exemption. His first was refused.
Hear Natan speak about why he refuses to join the Israeli military here.
You can also read Natan's refusal declaration in full here.
In April, Israeli CO group New Profile put out a statement alongside No to Compulsory Military Service in Egypt in support of Natan as well as Eyptian COs. The statement is here: Joint Statement: Freedom to Conscientious Objectors in the Middle East. In the photo you can see Natan holding photos of these Egyptian COs.
Continue supporting for COs
Please write to Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, calling upon him to ensure that COs in future do not endure the imprisonments and repeated punishments. You can do so here.
Please also consider sharing the CO-Alert sign up with your friends and contacts. COs around the world continue to be persecuted, and CO-Alerts are a unique way of raising awareness of these cases. Visit this page to be added to subscribe: http://lists.wri-irg.org/
War Resisters' International
Bilderberg June 6 - 9 Conference
by Stephen Lendman
Its four-day meeting occurs annually. It's a rite of spring. British political economist Will Hutton calls the group the "high priests of globalization." Powerful movers and shakers have their own agenda.
By Sherwood Ross
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. --- Overall, President Obama has been “a force for destruction” who has “advanced inequality, wealth concentration, deportations, imprisonments, and the de-funding of basic services in order to fund banks, billionaires, and bombers,” distinguished peace activist David Swanson says.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter, Swanson, a former staff aide to Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaigns, said Obama has done nothing to better the lot of the nation’s poor, including Americans in the ghettos, apart from reducing “the disparity in crack-powder cocaine sentencing.”
Noting that Obama has attempted to identify himself with the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Swanson was asked if he saw any resemblance. His reply was “Two eyes and two ears and two feet and in Obama’s case two mouths. He got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything for peace,” Swanson said. “So did King, and King followed through and retroactively earned it. Perhaps that led to the ludicrous bestowing of the prize on Obama, who proceeded to give a pro-war acceptance speech in which he insultingly and arrogantly denounced King’s approach to world change.”
Asked if either Obama or his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might carry out their threat to make a nuclear attack on Iran, Swanson said, “I think they are willing to and would find joy in it. Watch the video of Clinton laughing over the killing of (Libya’s ruler Muammar) Gaddafi. Watch the video of her talking about ‘obliterating’ Iran. She takes obvious pleasure in such talk, as does Obama. I don’t think it’s at the top of their to-do list, but as long as they allow Israel and Congress to roll ahead, as long as they support the propaganda against Iran, as long as they pursue sanctions as an ‘alternative’ to war that usually brings war closer, the danger will grow.”
Swanson was asked if the U.S. could defeat powerful enemies Germany and Japan in three and one half year in World War II how it has been in Afghanistan for well over a decade with no victory in sight, and whether this was not a deliberate plan to continue a high level of military funding.
“Motivations clearly include irrational machoistic power, financial profit, election campaigning, domination of territories and resources, and the inertia of the war machine,” Swanson said. “I don’t think there’s just one reason, but I think all the reasons are bad ones.”
He went on to say, “I agree that many want to keep the wars going, including those so deluded as to imagine that wars produce jobs. Connecticut’s new commission to plan economic conversion is the most encouraging step I’ve seen in a long time. Forty-nine states need to sit up and take notice.”
Asked why there is so little popular opposition to President Obama’s warlike policies compared to the public outcry during the Viet Nam war, Swanson replied: “Less of it (the opposition) is shown in corporate media, resulting in its actual diminishment. The propaganda---including the lie that people are impotent to effect change -- has become much slicker. People are directed into entertainment, ignorance, and ineffective types of activism, above all electoral campaigning.”
“Our schools are worse, our news media is worse, our political system is more corrupted. Propagandists and recruiters are more skilled. The draft is a poverty draft, presented as a favor to its direct victims rather than an assault on them. And knowledge of the crimes to be protested barely exists. A majority of Americans believes Iraq benefitted from a war that destroyed Iraq. People won’t protest that which they don’t know about.”
Asked how deeply totalitarianism is ingrained in American life, Swanson said that “Americans are among the most obedient and subservient people around. We imagine just the reverse and certainly our tendency toward obedience competes with out tendency toward independence and rebellion. But the majority of politically engaged Americans radically alter their demands depending on which of two very similar political parties is in the White House, accept imperial powers for presidents without thought, ingest corporate propaganda without resistance, and believe that even popular activism is dependent on the divine appearance of an all-powerful leader.”
Swenson went on to say, “A majority of Americans oppose drone murders of Americans but support drone murders of non-Americans. A majority of Americans want different rules for their country and other, lesser countries, including accepting the launching of wars on other nations, whether for genocidal or humanitarian reasons.”
Asked what it will take to get the pacifist message through to the multitudes, Swanson replied, “It may take some combination of independent media and infiltration of corporate media. The latter will only effectively follow the former. So our priorities are backwards right now. We need a much greater emphasis on building independent journalism. And we need a movement to educate people to rely on it. If potential activists won’t take anything seriously that they don’t see on corporate media, it does us little good to get it to them by other means.”
Swanson hosts “Talk Nation Radio” and is the author of numerous anti-war books that have drawn wide attention and praise. These include “The Military Industrial Complex at 50” and “War Is A lie.”