By Ted Glick
“The people gonna rise like the waters,
Gonna calm this crisis down.
I hear the voice of my great granddaughter
Saying shut FERC down right now.”
Who would have thought it? On Friday morning, November 7th, for 2 ½
hours, the determined and courageous nonviolent activists of Beyond
Extreme Energy shut down the DC headquarters of the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission, FERC.
All three entrances to the building were successfully blockaded, and
virtually no one was getting in.
By 9 am there were about 150 FERC employees massed on the sidewalks in
front of FERC, waiting for the police to clear away five fracking
fighters who had successfully locked down at 7 am with lock boxes
across the driveway into the FERC parking garage. The driveway had
been the route used by police to funnel FERC employees into the
building for the four days previous when BXE activists had
successfully blockaded the two pedestrian entrances.
For short periods of time during those four days, no more than for
maybe 20 minutes at a time, we had been able to prevent pedestrian use
of that driveway (we prevented car use for the entire week). We did so
by forming a long enough line of people to prevent anyone getting
through, until the cops moved in and made arrests after their required
three warnings. About 70 people were arrested over the course of the
But Friday morning was different. And because of the successful lock
box action and total blockade, it was different in a way none of the
BXE organizers had even thought about.
Friday was the day for additional fracktivists and extractivists from
the severely fracked-up state of Pennsylvania to join BXE. So as those
150 FERC employees waited to get into the building, we organized a
teach-in on the front sidewalk, right in the midst of the employees.
For fifteen or twenty minutes people like Maggie Henry and Veronica
Coptis spoke from the heart, shedding tears but fighting through them,
to let the silent and listening FERC employees know the human toll
that their support of the gas rush has caused. There were no catcalls,
no boos, no one publicly questioning the truth of what was being said.
It was a very special moment.
We had been talking with and distributing material to FERC employees
and others passing by all week. The leaflet we distributed to FERC
employees said, in part:
“We apologize for any disruption to your work day, but that’s what
we’re here for—to disrupt the workings of FERC, which continues to
approve gas infrastructure projects that threaten the health and
quality of life for millions of Americans and the whole planet through
increased greenhouse gas emissions.
“Many of you work at FERC because you think it does a good job of
balancing the needs of industry and economic development with the
health and environmental challenges of impacted communities. But the
Obama Administration’s ‘all of the above’ strategy is condemning us to
runaway climate chaos while condemning families in fracking’s path to
a hellish existence. FERC should be prioritizing the emergence of
renewable energy as a growing sources of our electrical power.”
We found surprisingly little hostility from the close to 2,000 people
we distributed our flyers to. We even found, to our surprise,
indications of support from some of the Federal Protective Services
and DC Metro police who were doing their best to keep FERC open
despite our blockading. Going into the week, our lawyer had said to us
that he expected that they would get more aggressive as the week went
by, but that turned out, in general and with exceptions, not to be the
Exceptions included a couple of people tasered on Friday after we
heard talk of it earlier in the week, several people falsely charged
with “assault” for standing their nonviolent ground as part of a
blockade and some police assistance to a small number of aggressive
FERC employees who tried to push through us.
Central to the success of this action were the sisters and brothers
from the Great March for Climate Action who were there for all, or
most, of the week. The decision to do this action during election week
had a lot to do with the plan of the Great March to arrive in DC on
November 1, ending on that day their eight month walk across the
United States. Many of us not part of that march were impressed by the
depth of commitment and soulful strength and organizing smarts they
collectively brought to the November 1-7 week.
We received more than a little bit of criticism about our decision to
do this week during election week, and we understood why. We were not
doing this to make a statement about how messed up our electoral
system is and that people should forget voting—not at all. In our call
to action we said, right up at the top, “vote we must, but we must
also do more.” If the Great March had not been arriving on November 1
we probably would have moved things back a week or two.
But as it turns out, it was very timely that Beyond Extreme Energy did
happen during election week, during a week when the Republicans took
back the Senate and Democrats generally did pretty badly—in large part
because of the willingness of far too many, once again, to be
It is time, in 2015 and 2016, for many, many more of us to “vote” with
our whole lives through massive, serious, strategic nonviolent direct
action campaigns that are as coordinated as we can make them.
Investors in the fossil fuel industry, Democrats and others who want
our votes, members of the mass media and the American people generally
need to get it that the climate justice movement, increasingly aligned
with other movements for progressive social change, refuses to accept
“all of the above” and “business as usual.” We know what time it
is—there is little time left—and we are the leaders we have been
waiting for. Now must be, has to be, our time to rise up in large
numbers and with a spirit of love, a nonviolent discipline and a
willingness to sacrifice that cannot be ignored.
Ted Glick was one of the organizers of Beyond Extreme Energy,
representing the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Past writings and
other information can be found at http://tedglick.com, and at twitter
Right now, there's a law called the Second Chance Act that recently expired and needs to be reauthorized. In 2008, it was passed by bipartisan majorities of both Houses of Congress, funding over 600 programs in 49 states to reduce recidivism, and help ex-offenders reintegrate into their communities. These programs - dealing with drug treatment, job opportunities, and mental health - have been tremendously successful at reducing crime rates and helping people successfully rebuild their lives.
There are 2.2 million inmates in the United States, nearly all of whom will be released. Making sure that they have the ability to build a life and contribute to their communities is critical to ensuring they don't ever go back.
Signing the petition will generate messages to your Members of Congress.
A bipartisan team of Senators and Representatives, led by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Portman (R-OH), and Representatives Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Davis (D-IL), has been working to reauthorize this critical bill (S. 1690/H.R. 3465), but they need your help. There's a great chance to pass the bill in the lame duck session, but Congress will be faced with lots of other issues. We need you to remind your Members of Congress about the Second Chance Act, and to make it clear that it's important to you, their constituents.
It's not hard. All you have to do is sign the petition.
If we can get it to a vote, the Second Chance Act will pass easily. But we need your help to get those votes. Support the Second Chance Act today!
Bob Baskin, President
P.S. "Like" us on Facebook if you haven't already. Keep up to date on all kinds of great peace information.
This advertisement for permanent war appeared in my local newspaper today.
By pointing out this fact I am neither opposing working with religious groups that favor peace nor asserting that Martin Luther King Jr. was a warmonger.
But religious peace activists could, as far as anyone can tell, be peace activists without the religion.
This advertisement could NOT promote war without religion. Its entire basis for promoting war is religion, for which no substitute is imaginable.
Exactly like an argument for abolition of war, the ad begins by asking why we should engage in so much killing and destruction at such great expense, while other crises cry out for our attention.
Why? Because magic.
An ancient book says there must be war. And that settles it.
Clearly one can attribute magical powers to that book and choose to ignore selected parts that our culture has outgrown.
Why not the part about war?
Because we have a culture of war, and religious support for it is only one part. But it's a part we can set aside if we choose to, in a process of learning to think more critically. And that could have far-reaching results.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Bush Family, Inner Circle at Center of Lawsuits vs. Denton, TX Fracking Ban<p>On November 4, <a href="http://www.desmogblog.com/
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
George P. Bush; Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
On November 4, Denton, Texas, became the first city in the state to ban the process of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") when 59 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the initiative. It did so in the heart of the Barnett Shale basin, where George Mitchell — the "father of fracking" — drilled the first sample wells for his company Mitchell Energy.
As promised by the oil and gas industry and by Texas Railroad Commission commissioner David Porter, the vote was met with immediate legal backlash. Both the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) filed lawsuits in Texas courts within roughly 12 hours of the vote taking place, the latest actions in the aggressive months-long campaign by the industry and the Texas state government to fend off the ban.
The Land Office and TXOGA lawsuits, besides making similar legal arguments about state law preempting local law under the Texas Constitution, share something else in common: ties to former President George W. Bush and the Bush family at large.
In the Land Office legal case, though current land commissioner Jerry Patterson signed off on the lawsuit, he will soon depart from office. And George Prescott Bush — son of former Florida Governor and prospective 2016 Republican Party presidential nominee Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush — will take his place.
George P. Bush won his land commissioner race in a landslide, gaining 61 percent of the vote. Given the cumbersome and lengthy nature of litigation in the U.S., it appears the Land Office case will have only just begun by the time Bush assumes the office.
The TXOGA legal complaint was filed by a powerful team of attorneys working at the firm Baker Botts, the international law firm named after the familial descendants of James A. Baker III, a partner at the firm.
Baker III served as chief-of-staff under both President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush and as a close advisor to President George W. Bush on the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He gave George P. Bush a $10,000 donation for his campaign for his race for land commissioner.
Photo Credit: Texas Land Commission
The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempts the oil and gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act for fracking, is seen by critics as the legacy of ashes left behind by the George W. Bush Administration.
Yet almost a decade later, the two lawsuits filed against Denton show the Bush oil and gas legacy clearly lives on and stretches from the state where the fracking industry was born all the way to Iraq and back again.
From World Beyond War:
Open this PDF for a joint statement from over 20 peace organizations and what you can do: Alternatives-to-War
Here’s a more in-depth answer to “What About ISIS?” from World Beyond War.
November 11 is Armistice Day. Here’s a tool kit from Veterans For Peace that you can use in celebrating and educating. And here’s an article describing how Armistice Day or Remembrance Day has been changed from a day of peace to a day of war — a history we have to know if we are going to change it.
Here’s a tool kit for all kinds of events developed by World Beyond War.
The first thing we can all do is sign the peace pledge if you haven’t, and ask others to do so if you have.
Are you keeping up with war abolition news on our blog?
Are you working on anything we can help with? Let us know!
Our Strategy Committee is putting the finishing touches on an educational booklet making the case to newcomers for why and how to end all war on earth.
If you’d like to join the Strategy Committee or the Media or Outreach or Events or Fundraising or Nonviolence or Research or Speakers Committees, please let us know.
If you don’t have the time to be that involved, do you have the ability to chip in a small donation to help fund our work?
Gen. Petraeus will be back and so will we!
This time around, he will be the honorary conversant at a benefit of Youth, I.N.C.
Cocktail Reception and Live Entertainment
Private Dinner for Youth, I.N.C. Guests
Because antiwar activists and medical humanitarians are pushing the issue, the United Nations will be discussing the U.S. use of depleted uranium in weapons, particularly in Iraq, even as the U.S. military makes plans to use them again in the new campaign of bombings. We call your attention to these developments. Our friend Dr. Mozhgan Savabiesfahani, a toxicologist, is studying the environmental destruction of Iraq during the U.S.
Last Thursday evening, at the 92nd Street & in Manhattan — which has a reputation for being a center of culture and freedom of expression — Ray McGovern (the outspoken anti-war activist and former CIA analyst) was confronted by name and denied entry to an event where General David Petraeus was speaking. Very quickly after being blocked by 92nd Street Y security, Ray was injured by the NYPD, arrested, held overnight in Central Booking (formerly known as The Tombs), and charged with "criminal trespass" in the third degree, and "resisting arrest."
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
Hot tub poll shows Republicans don’t like their politicians: Election Night Wasn’t a GOP Victory, It was a Democratic Rout
By Dave Lindorff
The sclerotic Democratic Party was trounced yet again yesterday, as Republicans outdid projections and appear to have taken at least seven Senate seats away from the Democrats, giving them control of the both houses of Congress.
By Robert C. Koehler
“Individuals and peoples have a right to peace.”
In the beginning was the word. OK. This is the beginning, and these are the words, but they haven’t arrived yet — at least not officially, with full force of meaning.
It’s our job, not God’s, to create the new story of who we are, and millions — billions — of people fervently wish we could do so. The problem is that the worst of our nature is better organized than the best of it.
The words constitute Article 1 of the U.N.’s draft declaration on peace. What alerts me that they matter is the fact that they’re controversial, that “there is a lack of consensus” among the member states, according to the president of the Human Rights Council, “about the concept of the right to peace as a right in itself.”
David Adams, former UNESCO senior program specialist, describes the controversy with a little more candor in his 2009 book, World Peace through the Town Hall:
“At the United Nations in 1999, there was a remarkable moment when the draft culture of peace resolution that we had prepared at UNESCO was considered during informal sessions. The original draft had mentioned a ‘human right to peace.’ According to the notes taken by the UNESCO observer, ‘the U.S. delegate said that peace should not be elevated to the category of human right, otherwise it will be very difficult to start a war.’ The observer was so astonished that she asked the U.S. delegate to repeat his remark. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘peace should not be elevated to the category of human right, otherwise it will be very difficult to start a war.’”
And a remarkable truth emerges, one it’s not polite to talk about or allude to in the context of national business: In one way or another, war rules. Elections come and go, even our enemies come and go, but war rules. This fact is not subject to debate or, good Lord, democratic tinkering. Nor is the need for and value of war — or its endless, self-perpetuating mutation — ever pondered with clear-eyed astonishment in the mass media. We never ask ourselves, in a national context: What would it mean if living in peace were a human right?
“The real story of the rise of ISIS shows that US interventions in Iraq and Syria were central in creating the chaos in which the group has thrived,” writes Steve Rendall in Extra! (“Addicted to Intervention”). “But that story doesn’t get told in US corporate media. . . . The informed input of actual experts on the region, who don’t march in lockstep with Washington elites, might put a crimp in the public’s support for the war, support largely informed by pro-war pundits and reporters, and the familiar retired military brass — often with ties to the military/industrial complex.
“With pundits reflexively calling for more attacks,” Rendall adds, “there’s virtually no one to note that US wars have been catastrophic for the people in the targeted countries — from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya.”
It’s a remarkable system that makes no sense from the point of view of compassion and planetary solidarity, and would surely be dismantled in an honest democracy, in which who we are and how we live is always on the table. But that’s not how nation-states work.
“The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form,” Gandhi said, as quoted by Adams. “The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence.”
And those who speak for the nation-state embody the addiction to violence and fear, and always see threats that require forceful reaction, never, of course, considering either the horror that force will inflict on those in its way or the long-term (and often enough short-term) blowback it will bring about.
Thus, as Rendall notes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News that “if ISIS wasn’t stopped with a full-spectrum war in Syria, we were all going to die: ‘This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.’”
“Rise to the occasion” is how we talk about inflicting concentrated violence on random, faceless people we’ll never know in their full humanity, except for the occasional picture of their suffering that shows up in the war coverage.
Regarding the accumulation of enemies, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently announced that the military has begun preparing to defend the United States against . . . climate change.
Kate Aronoff, writing at Waging Nonviolence, notes the extraordinary irony of this in view of the fact that the Pentagon is the biggest polluter on the planet. In the name of national defense, no environmental regulation is so important that it can’t be utterly ignored and no piece of Earth is so pristine that it can’t be trashed for eternity.
But that’s what we do, as long as national identity defines the limits of our imagination. We go to war against every problem we face, from terrorism to drugs to cancer. And every war creates collateral damage and new enemies.
The beginning of change may simply be acknowledging that peace is a human right. The U.N.’s member states — at least the major ones, with standing armies and stockpiles of nuclear weapons — object. But how could you trust such a declaration if they didn’t?
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 email@example.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.
Join Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism project, for an in-depth discussion on the crisis. We will discuss:
- Why is the Obama administration going back to war in Iraq and Syria?
- What is ISIS and why are they considered such a threat?
- Is this U.S. war helping the Syrian regime?
- Who – AND IN what country – is next?
Please join us for this important discussion – and invite your friends!
Understanding the U.S.-ISIS Crisis and Washington's New Wars: A Discussion on Context with Phyllis Bennis
Thursday, November 13, 2014
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EST
You can participate in the webinar online or in-person with us in the conference room of the Institute for Policy Studies (1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington DC, 20036.)
If you will be joining us online, you can listen in using either using your computer's microphone and speakers or your telephone.
After entering your information at the above link, instructions on how to participate will be displayed and emailed to you.
We hope to see you there!
November 11th in the United States is marked and marred by a holiday that relatively recently had its name changed to "Veterans Day" and its purpose converted and perverted into celebrating war. This year a "Concert for Valor" will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
In the box at right is a blurb from the concert website. "Thank you for your service" and "Support the troops" are phrases used to get people to support wars without thinking about whether they should be supporting wars. Notice that you're supposed to thank veterans first and ask them which war they were in and what they did in it afterwards. What if you oppose war? Or what if you oppose some wars and some tactics?
Here's the disgusted response to the Concert for Valor from a veteran who's sick of being thanked for his so-called service:
"There is no question that we should honor people who fight for justice and liberty. Many veterans enlisted in the military thinking that they were indeed serving a noble cause, and it’s no lie to say that they fought with valor for their brothers and sisters to their left and right. Unfortunately, good intentions at this stage are no substitute for good politics. The war on terror is going into its 14th year. If you really want to talk about “awareness raising,” it’s years past the time when anyone here should be able to pretend that our 18-year-olds are going off to kill and die for good reason. How about a couple of concerts to make that point?"
I'm going to repeat here something I said in War Is A Lie:
Random House defines a hero as follows (and defines heroine the same way, substituting “woman” for “man”):
“1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
“2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child. . . .
“4. Classical Mythology.
“a. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.”
Courage or ability. Brave deeds and noble qualities. There is something more here than merely courage and bravery, merely facing up to fear and danger. But what? A hero is regarded as a model or ideal. Clearly someone who bravely jumped out a 20-story window would not meet that definition, even if their bravery was as brave as brave could be. Clearly heroism must require bravery of a sort that people regard as a model for themselves and others. It must include prowess and beneficence. That is, the bravery can’t just be bravery; it must also be good and kind. Jumping out a window does not qualify. The question, then, is whether killing and dying in wars should qualify as good and kind. Nobody doubts that it’s courageous and brave. But is it as good a model as that of the man arrested this week for the crime of giving food to the hungry?
If you look up “bravery” in the dictionary, by the way, you’ll find “courage” and “valor.” Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary defines “valor” as
“a soldierly compound of vanity, duty, and the gambler’s hope.
‘Why have you halted?’ roared the commander of a division at Chickamauga, who had ordered a charge: ‘move forward, sir, at once.’
‘General,’ said the commander of the delinquent brigade, ‘I am persuaded that any further display of valor by my troops will bring them into collision with the enemy.’”
But would such valor be good and kind or destructive and foolhardy? Bierce had himself been a Union soldier at Chickamauga and had come away disgusted. Many years later, when it had become possible to publish stories about the Civil War that didn’t glow with the holy glory of militarism, Bierce published a story called “Chickamauga” in 1889 in the San Francisco Examiner that makes participating in such a battle appear the most grotesquely evil and horrifying deed one could ever do. Many soldiers have since told similar tales.
It’s curious that war, something consistently recounted as ugly and horrible, should qualify its participants for glory. Of course, the glory doesn’t last. Mentally disturbed veterans are kicked aside in our society. In fact, in dozens of cases documented between 2007 and 2010, soldiers who had been deemed physically and psychologically fit and welcomed into the military, performed “honorably,” and had no recorded history of psychological problems. Then, upon being wounded, the same formerly healthy soldiers were diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, discharged, and denied treatment for their wounds. One soldier was locked in a closet until he agreed to sign a statement that he had a pre-existing disorder — a procedure the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee called “torture.”
Active duty troops, the real ones, are not treated by the military or society with particular reverence or respect. But the mythical, generic “troop” is a secular saint purely because of his or her willingness to rush off and die in the very same sort of mindless murderous orgy that ants regularly engage in. Yes, ants. Those teeny little pests with brains the size of . . . well, the size of something smaller than an ant: they wage war. And they’re better at it than we are.
Ants wage long and complex wars with extensive organization and unmatched determination, or what we might call “valor.” They are absolutely loyal to the cause in a way that no patriotic humans can match: “It’d be like having an American flag tattooed to you at birth,” ecologist and photojournalist Mark Moffett told Wired magazine. Ants will kill other ants without flinching. Ants will make the “ultimate sacrifice” with no hesitation. Ants will proceed with their mission rather than stop to help a wounded warrior.
The ants who go to the front, where they kill and die first, are the smallest and weakest ones. They are sacrificed as part of a winning strategy. “In some ant armies, there can be millions of expendable troops sweeping forward in a dense swarm that’s up to 100 feet wide.” In one of Moffett’s photos, which shows “the marauder ant in Malaysia, several of the weak ants are being sliced in half by a larger enemy termite with black, scissor-like jaws.” What would Pericles say at their funeral?
“According to Moffett, we might actually learn a thing or two from how ants wage war. For one, ant armies operate with precise organization despite a lack of central command.” And no wars would be complete without some lying: “Like humans, ants can try to outwit foes with cheats and lies.” In another photo, “two ants face off in an effort to prove their superiority — which, in this ant species, is designated by physical height. But the wily ant on the right is standing on a pebble to gain a solid inch over his nemesis.” Would honest Abe approve?
In fact, ants are such dedicated warriors that they can even fight civil wars that make that little skirmish between the North and South look like touch football. A parasitic wasp, Ichneumon eumerus, can dose an ant nest with a chemical secretion that causes the ants to fight a civil war, half the nest against the other half. Imagine if we had such a drug for humans, a sort of a prescription-strength Fox News. If we dosed the nation, would all the resulting warriors be heroes or just half of them? Are the ants heroes? And if they are not, is it because of what they are doing or purely because of what they are thinking about what they are doing? And what if the drug makes them think they are risking their lives for the benefit of future life on earth or to keep the anthill safe for democracy?
Here ends the War Is A Lie excerpt. Are ants too hard to relate to? What about children. What if a teacher persuaded a bunch of 8 years olds, rather than 18 year olds to fight and kill and risk dying for a supposedly great and noble cause? Wouldn't the teacher be a criminal guilty of mass-murder? And what about everyone else complicit in a process of preparing the children for war -- including perhaps uniformed and be-medalled officers coming into Kindergartens, as in fact happens in reality? Isn't the difference with 18 year olds that we have a tendency to hold them responsible, at least in part, as well as whoever instigates the killing spree? Whether we should or not need not be decided, for us to decide to treat veterans with humanity while utterly rejecting any celebration of what they've done.
Here's CODEPINK planning a protest of the Concert for Valor. I urge you to join in.
I also encourage you to keep in mind and spread understanding of the history of November 11th. Again, I'm going to repeat, and modify, something I've said in a previous November:
Ninety-six years ago on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, fighting ceased in the "war to end all wars." The war brought a new scale of death, the flu, prohibition, the Espionage Act, the foundations of World War II, the crushing of progressive political movements, the institution of flag worship, the beginning of pledges of allegiance in schools and the national anthem at sporting events. It brought everything but peace.
Thirty million soldiers had been killed or wounded and another seven million had been taken captive during World War I. Never before had people witnessed such industrialized slaughter, with tens of thousands falling in a day to machine guns and poison gas. After the war, more and more truth began to overtake the lies, but whether people still believed or now resented the pro-war propaganda, virtually every person in the United States wanted to see no more of war ever again. Posters of Jesus shooting at Germans were left behind as the churches along with everyone else now said that war was wrong. Al Jolson wrote in 1920 to President Harding:
"The weary world is waiting for
So take away the gun
From every mother's son
And put an end to war."
Congress passed an Armistice Day resolution calling for "exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding … inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples." Later, Congress added that November 11th was to be "a day dedicated to the cause of world peace."
While the ending of warfare was celebrated every November 11th, veterans were treated no better than they are today. When 17,000 veterans plus their families and friends marched on Washington in 1932 to demand their bonuses, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, and other heroes of the next big war to come attacked the veterans, including by engaging in that greatest of evils with which Saddam Hussein would be endlessly charged: "using chemical weapons on their own people." The weapons they used, just like Hussein's, originated in the U.S. of A.
It was only after another war, an even worse war, a war that has in many ways never ended to this day, that Congress, following still another now forgotten war -- this one on Korea -- changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954. And it was six-and-a-half years later that Eisenhower warned us that the military industrial complex would completely corrupt our society.
Veterans Day is no longer, for most people, a day to cheer the elimination of war or even to aspire to its abolition. Veterans Day is not even a day on which to mourn or to question why suicide is the top killer of U.S. troops or why so many veterans have no houses at all in a nation in which one high-tech robber baron monopolist is hoarding $66 billion, and 400 of his closest friends have more money than half the country. It's not even a day to honestly, if sadistically, celebrate the fact that virtually all the victims of U.S. wars are non-Americans, that our so-called wars have become one-sided slaughters. Instead, it is a day on which to believe that war is beautiful and good. Towns and cities and corporations and sports leagues call it "military appreciation day" or "troop appreciation week" or "genocide glorification month." OK, I made up that last one. Just checking if you're paying attention.
Veterans For Peace has created a new tradition in recent years of returning to the celebration of Armistice Day. They even offer a tool kit so you can do the same.
In the UK, Veterans For Peace are marking what is still called Remembrance Day, and Remembrance Sunday on November 9th, with white poppies and peace banners in opposition to the British government's pro-war slant on remembering World War I.
In North Carolina, a veteran has come up with his own way of making every day Remembrance Day. But it's the celebrators of war that seem to be guiding the cultural trends. Here's the frequency of use of the word "valor" according to Google:
Bruce Springsteen will be performing at the Concert for Valor. He once wrote this lyric: "Two faces have I." Here's one that I'm willing to bet won't be on display: "Blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed," Springsteen warns in the video below before declaring war good for absolutely nothing.
You'll need lots of information, Springsteen advises potential draftees or recruits. If you don't find lots of information at the Concert for Valor, you might try this teach in that evening at the Washington Peace Center.
By Nu’man Abd al-Wahid
Whether one is critical of the alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States or in favour of the so-called "Special Relationship" it is perceived to be an amicable, natural and trans-historical partnership between two nations who share the same language and whose global interests are more or less the same. Over the last fifteen years these two nations assumed the lead in their continuing support of the colonialist state of Israel and waging war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and calling for more military intervention in Syria and Iran. So it is no surprise that many find it hard to accept that this alliance is a recent advent rooted in geo-political exigencies of the historical moment at hand. British imperialism was animus, if not outright antithetical, in the first 150 years of the Republic.
Writing, if not gloating, in the midst of the American civil war in the nineteenth century, the future British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (a.k.a. Robert Cecil) heralded not only the end of the United States of America but democracy itself or as he referred to it the "evil of universal suffrage." American democracy and the vaunted republic he gleefully boasted were not only a failed experiment and a busted flush but the "most ignominious failure the world had ever seen." It had become, in our esteemed Lord's eyes, what today would be referred to derogatively and pejoratively, as a 'failed state'.
The main reason for this inevitable failure according to Cecil was that the United States had rejected and overthrown its natural leaders, i.e. the British establishment. As such they are now richly "reaping a harvest that was sown as far back as the time of Jefferson." The Americans had substituted genuine leadership for a dreamer's theory (the works of Thomas Jefferson) and more so, in the present climate, Abraham Lincoln was an "ass", an incompetent and "the most conspicuous cause of the present calamities."
Another British Minister, William Gladstone too had little time for Lincoln and came out in support of the Southern Confederacy. The Gladstone family had become wealthy largely owing to the family's slave camps in Jamaica and William's maiden speech in parliament was a defence of the family business which arose from the slave trading port of Liverpool. Although William Gladstone represented constituents in the family's native parliamentary seat of Midlothian, Scotland, his father had represented Liverpool in Parliament.
By Harvey Wasserman
The GOP/corporate coup d’etat is nearly complete.
The Republicans now control the major media, the Supreme Court, the Congress and soon the presidency.
Think Jeb Bush in 2016.
All throughout America, right down to the local level, buried in a tsunami of cash and corruption, our public servants are being morphed into corporate operatives.
Our electoral apparatus is thoroughly compromised by oceans of dirty money, Jim Crow registration traps, rigged electronic voting machines, gerrymandering, corrupt secretaries of state.
The internet may be next. Above all, if there is one thing that could save us a shred of democracy, it’s preserving net neutrality. This fight could in fact outweigh all the others, and may be decided soon. Whatever depression you may now feel, shake it off to wage this battle. If we now lose the ability to freely communicate, we are in the deepest hole of all.
The roots of this corporate coup reach where they always do when empires collapse---useless, cancerous, debilitating, endless imperial war.
Lyndon Johnson lit the fuse in March, 1965. He had a chance to get us out of Vietnam. For many complex reasons---none of them sane---he escalated. He never recovered, and neither has our nation.
In 1967-8, an aroused generation marched for peace at the Pentagon, Chicago and elsewhere. We were accused of shattering the Democratic Party. But in fact we forced Johnson to negotiate a pre-election truce that might have saved the presidency for Hubert Humphrey.
As we all now know, that truce was treasonously sabotaged by Richard Nixon, in league with Henry Kissinger. LBJ knew what had been done, but said nothing. Had he trusted the American public with that knowledge, Nixon would have been gone long before Watergate, the war might have ended far sooner, the Democratic Party might still have meant something.
Instead, the party and the rest of us became prisoners of imperial war, captives of the corporations that profit from it.
From Watergate all we got was a punchless, corporate Jimmy Carter.
And from a dozen hellish years of Reagan-Bush, we got a showy, corporate Bill Clinton...and not a single substantial social reform. But the corporations got NAFTA, gutted social welfare, soaring college tuitions, abolition of New Deal safeguards against Wall Street greed, and much more.
They also got the death of the Fairness Doctrine from Reagan, and then a 1996 telecommunications act from Clinton that gave them full control of the major media. The age of Fox “News” was born in double-think.
Meanwhile Al Gore and John Kerry allowed the corporations to gut our electoral system. Gore won in 2000, saw the election stolen in Florida, and---like LBJ with Nixon’s treason---said not a word. It was absurdly easier to blame Ralph Nader for Gore’s blithe discard than to buckle down and fight for an election protection apparatus to preserve the vote so many had fought and died to win.
Kerry won in 2004, saw the election stolen in Ohio, and repeated Gore’s meek, mute skulk to oblivion. The Democrats let a corporate Jim Crow gut the registration process, deny millions of Americans their vote, install a national network of easily flippable electronic voting machines...and they said nothing.
Along the way the Supreme Court was handed to the corporations. Soon enough, they would open the floodgates.
But from the ashes of the Iraq war and the horrors of Bush 2, enough public power remained in 2008 to finally put an African-American in the White House. With his apparent opposition to the Iraq War, and loads of rhetoric about hope and change, Barak Obama won a mandate to heal the wounds inflicted by yet another Bush corporate presidency.
Obama expanded national medical coverage, and talked the talk of the global ecology and public good.
Then he sank us in the quicksand of Southwest Asia.
In analyzing this latest electoral debacle, our Orwellian corporate bloviators avoid like the plague any mention of corporate money or imperial war.
But like LBJ in Vietnam...Afghanistan and Obama’s other wars have gutted his presidency and all he might have been. They’ve drained our shrunken moral and financial resources. They’ve turned yet another Democratic harbinger of hope into feeble corporate cannon fodder. They’ve battered and alienated yet another generation of the progressive core.
Thus the GOP has been enthroned by a half-century of Democrats who’ve helped drag us into endless war, ignored our electoral rights and sold their souls---and the nation’s---to a zombie army of corporate operatives.
The money power has ruled this nation before. This time it means a whole new level of all-out war against social justice, our basic rights, our ability to live in harmony with our Mother Earth.
Beset by a whole new level of global disaster, we have no choice but to find some completely new answers. Our survival depends on it.
It will take all our creative and activist juices. Nothing is clear except that it won’t be easy.
And that no matter which corporate party tries to lead us there, the path to the promised land does not go through the deadly quicksand of imperial war, empty rhetoric or corrupted elections.
HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES is at www.solartopia.org, as is his SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH.
Talk Nation Radio: Jeff Cohen on media no-fly zones, killing the messenger, getting big stories wrong
Jeff Cohen discusses the state of the media today. Cohen is director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he is an associate professor of journalism. Cohen founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986, and cofounded the online activist group RootsAction.org in 2011. He's the author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. His website is at jeffcohen.org
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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
Ebola, “Black River”,
Thank-you for giving your name
To a killer virus.
Those scientists, those doctors,
The ones who discovered the germ,
They looked at a map
From Veterans For Peace
Ringing 11 Bells For Peace
Each year, Veterans for Peace chapters across the nation meet in major cities to celebrate and remember the original Armistice Day as was done at the end of World War I, when the world came together in realization that war is so horrible we must end it now. Fighting ceased in the "war to end all wars" on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Congress responded to a universal hope among Americans for no more wars by passing a resolution calling for “exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding … inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” Later, Congress added that November 11th was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace.” Armistice Day is a reminder of the day that leaders came together to end the “war to end all wars.” However, we must also acknowledge that many soldiers had already determined that the fighting must end, during the Christmas Truce in 1914. As you likely already know, VFP is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the Christmas Truce this year, along with many allies across the world. Expect an e-mail from Casey on November 12th, as we enter the last few weeks leading up to December 24th. During that time, we want to tell the story of the Christmas Truce and explain the importance of the spontaneous decision of rival soldiers’ to lay down their weapons. This Armistice Day, in addition to hosting a local event, we are asking that members try to tie in the Christmas Truce message. You can learn more about the Christmas Truce Campaign here. Please consider hosting your own local Armistice Day event this year! Many chapters choose to ring bells, but other ceremonies include: Chalk Art, Candle Vigil, Marches, Street Theatre, Poetry Readings, or Reading of Names of the Fallen. Register your event here. If you would like some brochures, tabling materials, and button to give out at your event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some ways that you can get involved with Armistice Day efforts:
- Reach out to clergy, invite them to participate in your event. Invite community members, local allies, and friends to join in the event. You can use the Armistice Invitation Letter, drafted by members in VFP Chapter 27.
- Download the press release, provided by VFP National, and distribute to local media.
- Share the “peace bell” image on social media.
- You can use these sample tweets for Twitter:
- @VFPNational rings bells 11 times on #ArmisticeDay instead of shooting guns into the air #VeteransDay #Peace
- #ArmisticeDay is a day of #peace. Celebrate by ringing 11 bells #VeteransDay @VFPNational
- WWI was "a war to end war." Celebrating its end was celebrating the end of all wars #ArmisticeDay #Peace #VeteransDay @VFPNational
- Celebrate #ArmisticeDay by ringing 11 bells at 11am today #VeteransDay @VFPNAtional
- Bells rung on the 11th month, the 11th day, at 11am in 1918, celebrate end of WWI "the war to end all wars" @VFPNational #ArmisticeDay
- Learn More About Armistice Day, and share the facts:
All participants are asked to read and share the Armistice Day Statement
“The Armistice of 1918 ended the terrible slaughter of World War I. The U.S. alone had experienced the death of over 116,000 soldiers, plus many more who were physically and mentally disabled. For one moment, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world agreed World War I must be considered the WAR TO END ALL WARS. There was exuberant joy everywhere, and many churches rang their bells, some 11 times at 11 a.m. November 11, when the Armistice was signed. For many years this practice endured, and then slowly, it faded away. Now we do it again. We ring the bells 11 times, with a moment of silence, to remember the many soldiers and civilians killed and injured by warfare, and to make our own commitment to work for peace, in our family, our church, our community, our nation, our world.
GOD BLESS THE ENTIRE WORLD.”
Download and print the Armistice's Day Message below
- Armistice Day Handout (292 KB pdf)
Noting that U.S. college costs have gone up 500% since 1985, the Washington Post recommends seven countries where U.S. students can go to college for free without bothering to learn the language of the natives or anything so primitive.
These are nations with less wealth than the United States has, but which make college free or nearly free, both for citizens and for dangerous illegals visiting their Homelands.
How do they do it?
Three of them have a higher top tax rate than the United States has, but four of them don't.
What does the United States spend its money on that these other countries do not? What is the largest public program in the United States? What makes up over 50% of federal discretionary spending in the United States?
If you said "war," it's possible you were educated in a fine foreign country.
A comprehensive calculation of U.S. military spending puts it at over $1 trillion a year. The International Institute for Strategic Studies puts it at $645.7 billion in 2012. Using that smaller number, let's compare the seven nations where Americans can find their human right to an education respected:
France $48.1 billion or 7.4% of U.S.
Germany $40.4 billion or 6.3% of U.S.
Brazil $35.3 billion or 5.5% of U.S.
Norway $6.9 billion or 1.1% of U.S.
Sweden $5.8 billion or 0.9% of U.S.
Finland $3.6 billion or 0.6% of U.S.
Slovenia $0.6 billion or 0.1% of U.S.
Oh, but those are smaller countries. Well, let's compare military spending per capita:
United States $2,057
Norway $1,455 or 71% of U.S.
France $733 or 35% of U.S.
Finland $683 or 33% of U.S.
Sweden $636 or 31% of U.S.
Germany $496 or 24% of U.S.
Slovenia $284 or 14% of U.S.
Brazil $177 or 9% of U.S.
It's worth noting that in wealth per capita, Norway is wealthier than the United States. It still spends significantly less per capita on war preparations. The others all spend between 9% and 35%.
Now, you may be a believer in militarism, and you may be shouting right about now: "The United States provides these other nations' warmaking needs for them. When Germany or France has to destroy Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya, who does the heavy lifting?"
Or you may be an opponent of militarism, and you may be thinking about its many additional costs. Not only does the United States pay the most in dollars, but it generates the most hatred, kills the most people, does the most damage to the natural environment, and loses the most freedoms in the process.
Either way, the point is that these other countries have chosen education, while the United States has chosen a project that perhaps a well-educated populace would support, but we don't have any way to test that theory, and it doesn't look like we're going to any time soon.
We have a choice before us: free college or more war?
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In August 2005, the U.S. Congress and then-President George W. Bush blessed the oil and gas industry with a game-changer: the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Act exempted the industry from federal regulatory enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
"Vote. It's the American thing to do!" read an email I received yesterday. Actually it's the just-about-anywhere-else thing to do. U.S. voters lead the world in staying home and not bothering.
There are three schools of thought as to why, all of which I think are largely correct.
1. They don't make it easy. Americans, in many cases, have to work long hours in unlivable cities, go through a hassle to register to vote, wait in long lines, produce photo IDs, and get past intimidation, scams, and fraudulent removal from voter rolls.
2. Americans are idiots. This explanation is not always thought through, but the U.S. public is constantly indoctrinated with a belief in its own powerlessness, informed that action will make no difference, and distracted from civic engagement by bread and circuses.
3. There's nobody on the ballot worth voting for. The districts have been gerrymandered. The media, the debates, and the ballot-access rules all favor the incumbent or, at best, the two corporate political parties. The candidates flooding the airwaves with often quite accurate negative advertisements about how awful their opponents are have been bribed to hold similarly awful positions by the extremely wealthy interests paying for the show. And your vote for the greater or lesser evil of the two similar candidates is often counted on a completely unverifiable machine. Why bother?
Well, one trick that candidates and parties have come up with to get more people into voting booths is the public initiative or referendum. If people can vote to make a direct decision on something they're passionate about, many of them will also go ahead and vote for the candidates whose platforms are infinitesimally closer to their own positions. Thus you have Democrats and Republicans supporting placing measures on the ballot that they believe will attract either more Democrats or more Republicans.
In 2004, Floridians put a minimum wage vote on the ballot, meant both to raise the minimum wage and to elect Democrats. But John Kerry opposed Florida's minimum wage initiative. Floridians (assuming, based totally on faith, that the count was accurate) rejected Kerry while, of course, passing the minimum wage. So, as a trick to win votes for candidates, this tool requires candidates who aren't bigger idiots than voters are. But as a positive development on its own, the referenda and initiatives on ballots around the country today offer good reason to vote in some places.
Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, San Francisco, and Oakland will almost certainly raise (that is restore lost value to) the minimum wage.
Alaska, Florida, Oregon, Washington, D.C.; Guam; South Portland, Maine; Lewiston, Maine; and lots of localities in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Mexico will vote on various forms of marijuana legalization.
In 50 localities in Wisconsin and in countless others across the country, people will vote for funding for schools.
In Illinois, voters can vote to tax all income over $1 million an additional 3 percent to fund schools.
Localities in California, Ohio, and Texas will have the opportunity to ban fracking by popular vote.
In Washington state and elsewhere, voters can vote to impose background checks on gun purchases. Betting on passage, the gun companies are urging people (criminals in particular, I guess) to buy now before it's too late.
So, my recommendation is to check out what things, if any, rather than people, you have a chance to vote for. By all means, stop being an idiot who imagines activism is pointless. But don't jump to the conclusion that voting is one of the top priorities. Check whether there isn't perhaps something actually worth voting for, or a way to make there be such a thing next time.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)
December 10, International Human Rights Day
December 25, 100 Years Since the Christmas Truce
Join Cindy Sheehan and the Soapbox People's Network for a first of it's kind ANTI-war reenactment.
March 13-17, 2015. Washington DC
April 11 Michigan - David Swanson speaking
April 13, Global Day of Action Against Military Spending
August 27 Chicago - David Swanson speaking
Is it worse to put into Congress or the White House someone who wants to end wars and dismantle much of the military but also wants to abolish Social Security and Medicare and the Department of Education and several other departments they have trouble remembering the names of, OR someone who just wants to slightly trim all of those departments around the edges while waging countless wars all over the world in the name of every heretofore imagined human right other than the right not to get blown up with a missile?
Can dismantling the military without investing in diplomacy and aid and cooperative conflict resolution actually avoid wars? Can a country that continues waging wars at every opportunity actually avoid abolishing domestic services? I would hope that everyone would be willing to reject both libertarians and humanitarian-warriors even when it means rejecting both the Republican and the Democratic Parties. I would also hope that each of those parties would begin to recognize the danger they are in and change their ways.
Democrats should consider this: States within the United States are developing better and worse wages, labor standards, environmental standards, healthcare systems, schools, and civil liberties. The Washington Post is advising people on which foreign nations to go to college in for free -- nations that both tax wealth and invest between 0 and 4 percent of the U.S. level in militarism. A federal government that stopped putting a trillion dollars a year into wars and war preparations, with all the accompanying death, trauma, destruction, environmental damage, and loss of liberties, begins to look like a decent tradeoff for a federal government ending lots of other things it does, from its very minimal security net to massive investment in fossil fuels and highways. Of course it's still a horrible tradeoff, especially if you live in one of the more backward states, as I do. But it begins to look like less of a horrible tradeoff, I think, as we come to realize that representative democracy can work at the state and local levels, and the major crises of climate and war can only be solved at the global level, while the national government we have is too big to handle our local needs and is itself the leading opponent of peace and sustainability on earth.
With that in mind, consider a leading face of the Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton. She's openly corrupted by war profiteers. She was too corrupt to investigate Watergate. Wall Street Republicans back her, and she believes in "representing banks." She'd be willing to "obliterate" Iran. She laughed gleefully about killing Gadaffi and bringing Libya into the liberated state of hell it's now in, with violence having spilled into neighboring nations since. She threw her support and her vote behind attacking Iraq in 2003. She is a leading militarist and authoritarian who turned the State Department into a war-making machine pushing weapons and fracking on the world, and she supports the surveillance state. There's a strong feminist argument against her. The pull of superior domestic rhetoric is strong, but not everyone will see a candidate who backed a war that killed a million dark-skinned Iraqis as the anti-racist candidate.
Republicans should consider this: Your star senator, Rand Paul, can be relied on to talk complete sense about the madness of war, right up until people get scared by beheading videos, and then he's in favor of the madness of war, if still so far short of all-out backing of war-on-the-world as to horrify the Washington Post. He has backed cancelling all foreign aid, except for military foreign "aid" up to $5 billion, mostly in free weapons for Israel. He used to favor serious cuts to military spending, but hasn't acted on that and now has John McCain's support as a good "centrist." He supports racist policies while hoping not to be seen doing so, and was against the Civil Rights Act before he was for it. He thinks kids should drive 10 miles to find a good school or get educated online.
Everyone should consider this: Candidates like the above two are so horrible, and end up moving ever closer to each other's positions, that the real choice is between them and someone decent. If the choice ever really arises between a libertarian who opposes war (many self-identified libertarians love war and are only against peaceful spending) and a humanitarian warrior with something to offer domestically (many humanitarian warriors don't have much of an upside elsewhere) it could shake up some people's blind partisanship. By why wait? Why not shake it up now? Why not start now investing energy in activism rather than elections, including activism to reform elections and how they are funded? Why not start now voting for candidates we don't have to hold our noses for? Six years into the Obama presidency, we have peace groups -- not all of them, thank goodness -- but we have peace groups putting everything into electing Democrats, after which they plan to oppose advocating for peace, instead backing limited war. It isn't the lesser-evil voting that kills us; it's the lesser-evil thinking that somehow never gets left behind in the voting booth.
By Kathy Kelly
Kabul—Yesterday, in the Afghan Peace Volunteers' (APVs') “Borderfree Center”here in Kabul, I heard someone banging on the front gate and hurried downstairs to open it. As it happened, I was the only one at the Center that morning. Outside the gate stood two women with their burkas pushed back.
They had come a long way on foot. Reza Gul, the younger of the two, told me, as they stepped into our front yard, that they had walked for an hour and a half through Kabul to reach us. Zahro, the older woman, smiled and asked that I please put both of them on “the list.” Both women were desperate for the APVs to include them in “The Duvet Project,”which would allow them, for a few months, to provide for their families by making heavy blankets, called duvets.
These heavy quilts, stuffed with wool, can make the difference between life and death during Kabul’s extremely harsh winters. For the past two winters, the APVs have relied on women in their local area to manufacture thousands of duvets which are then distributed free of charge. The women are paid a living wage for their labor.
Last winter, 60 women, 20 from each of Afghanistan's three main ethnic groups, made, between them, 3,000 duvets for Kabul's poorest, all in the name of practicing nonviolent solutions for Afghanistan.
It’s a good project. Along with bringing needed warmth to destitute families, it invites people from different walks of life to work together. And, in a society where women have few if any economic opportunities, the women’s earnings help put food on the table and shoes on their children’s feet.
But each year, many women have not been included in the project. As in years past, it’s likely that Zahro and Reza Gul will be part of a steady stream of women who come to the door, refuse to leave, and insistently beg us to understand their desperation. Some will shout, many will break down in tears. Very few will go away without having sat in the courtyard or stood helplessly outside the gate for several hours.
Zahro and Reza Gul patiently listened to my fumbling attempts, in their Dari language, to explain that I was useless in this situation. Zahro then pointed to her arms and legs, telling me she had pains. She tilted her head back and listed the other troubles she faced, but occasionally she’d stop and flash me a lovely, kind smile. She knew I understood very little of what she was saying. Beneath her scarf wisps of grey were showing. It was surely hard for her to contemplate walking back to Barchi without succeeding in her appeal to be placed on the list. Eventually, she sat down on the ground, in a corner just inside the gate, covered her eyes with her scarf, and began to cry.
She told me her family has no food.
Sonia and Marzia, the young women assembling the list, had hiked earlier that morning up a nearby mountainside to visit families, mainly widows and orphans, as part of a survey
to assure that the women who are paid to make the duvets are among those in most acute need.
Finally, our young friend Sonia returned from her surveying trip. I excused myself, knowing that a Westerner’s presence can confuse things.
Later that afternoon, when I returned from running an errand, two more women wearing burkas were sitting downstairs; several more were upstairs. They will come, constantly, persistently, desperately.
I wish they could knock on the gates of the Pentagon, and refuse to go away.
Actually, they have something in common with U.S. military generals who won’t go away either. The Pentagon has requested $58.6 billion, for Fiscal Year 2015, to fund U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
When I shared this statistic with young friends here, their eyes widened. How does any group ever spend so much money? What has the U.S. accomplished since it first began bombing, invading and occupying Afghanistan in 2001? The Taliban controls over 70% of the country. Kabul is surrounded by hostile forces. And although the U.S. spent 7.6 billion over 13 years trying to eradicate poppy farming, opiumpoppy cultivation in Afghanistan hit record levels in 2013.
The International Business Times notes that profits from the trade help fund corruptionwithin the country, maintain criminal networks and support the Taliban.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., one of the world’s wealthiest nations, desperate poverty continues to afflict multitudes, especially children. “A 2013 report by the United Nations Children’s Fund noted that, of the 35 economically advanced countries that had been studied, only Romania had a higher percentage of children living in povertythan did the United States.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the basic human rights document which the world's nations agreed upon in the wake of World War II, doesn't only establish the right to work for a fair wage in a safe environment (Article 23), a right that Reza Gul and Zahro try so hard to claim; it doesn't only establish the right to a decent standard of living with food and even healthcare (Article 26); it also establishes the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media” (Article 19) – not merely the right to freedom of the press, but the right to receive information necessary to participation in the life of the society.
U.S. people have a right to learn about people bearing the consequences of U.S. war, but there is scant incentive to exercise this right in a society where militarism is glorified and military spokespeople continually assure the U.S. public that U.S. militarism has improved the lives of women and children in Afghanistan.
If people in the U.S. could become knowledgeable and well-educated about the world being shaped in their name, about the lives and hopes being disfigured by U.S. wars and weapons, they might resist pouring crucially needed resources down the rat hole of military spending.
We have a chance to help at least some women here in Kabul. Some of these women won't have to go away. Some will gain the chance to support their families and make a meaningful contribution to meeting the needs of others.
Although the promises held forth by the UDHR are seldom kept, although no nation observes all of the rights listed, nevertheless, everyone is on the list. Every Afghan women is “born free and equal in dignity and rights,” according to the UDHR, and deserves every listed right.
For now, the Duvet Project will help those few women the APVs can bring in, and Sonia tells me there is a good chance that Zahro and Reza Gul can be included. If so, they will each earn $2.70 for each duvet they make.
U.S. generals are angling to add an extra 6 billion to the 2015 U.S. “defense” budget.
I welcome a small opportunity to help secure the rights of the women who won’t go away.
David Hartsough will be speaking about his new book, WAGING PEACE: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist and World Beyond War
Sunday, Nov 2 at 1pm at the San Francisco Friends Meetinghouse at 65 9th St in San Francisco (between Market and Mission near the Civic Center Bart station) and
Sunday, Nov 9 at 6 pm at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists at 1606 Bonita (at Cedar St) in Berkeley.
Afterward he will be signing copies of the book
David Hartsough knows how to get in the way. He has used his body to block Navy ships headed for Vietnam and trains loaded with munitions on their way to El Salvador and Nicaragua. He has crossed borders to meet “the enemy” in East Berlin, Castro's Cuba, and present-day Iran. He has marched with mothers confronting a violent regime in Guatemala and stood with refugees threatened by death squads in the Philippines.
Waging Peace is a testament to the difference one person can make. Hartsough’s stories inspire, educate, and encourage readers to find ways to work for a more just and peaceful world. Inspired by the examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Hartsough has spent his life experimenting with the power of active nonviolence. It is the story of one man’s effort to live as though we were all brothers and sisters.
Engaging stories on every page provide a peace activist’s eyewitness account of many of the major historical events of the past sixty years, including the Civil Rights and anti–Vietnam War movements in the United States and the little-known but equally significant nonviolent efforts in the Soviet Union, Kosovo, Palestine, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
Hartsough’s story demonstrates the power and effectiveness of organized nonviolent action. But Waging Peace is more than one man’s memoir. Hartsough shows how this struggle is waged all over the world by ordinary people committed to ending the spiral of violence and war.
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)