by R. Teichmann
The Nobel Peace Prize. The politicians argue that “Snowden had contributed to global security by revealing “the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance.”
I wonder if they have not read what Alfred Nobel’s intent was. According to his will the price should be awarded
to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
I am not going to judge the actions of Edward Snowden here, I am just asking if his disclosures have anything to do with the above criteria. In my opinion nothing.
Over time we have witnessed ”strange” decisions by the politicians that determine who will be honoured with this prestigeous award. They have gone so far as to award this prize to
Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. A man who was deeply intertwined with the military. He effectively was running the US Department of the Navy, then resigned and formed the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment that fought in Cuba. He later sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to demonstrate American power. His motto was “Speak softly and carry a big stick“. Though he is credited with negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War he was hardly a person who opposed war and violence in all its forms and worked for peace and non-violence. His actions and life spoke a different language.
Woodrow Wilson in 1919. A man, who in April 1917, asked Congress to declare war in order to make “the world safe for democracy.” He entered the US into the war and set up the War Industries Board, effectively laying the groundwork of what later became known as the “Military Industrial Complex”. Wilson also suppressed anti-war movements with the Espionage Act of 1917 (the same act that is now used by the Obama administration on its crackdown on dissenters) and the Sedition Act of 1918. Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his sponsorship of the League of Nations. Certainly he was not a man who was in favour of peaceful solutions.
Henry Kissinger in 1973. Not a man of non-violence at all. In an article published in Sept. 2013 in the Independent it is summed up as follows:
“Christopher Hitchens, in 2001, claimed to have amassed sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions for “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture” and “The charge sheet is extremely long, even considering the eight eventful years Kissinger was running US foreign policy: he and the CIA helped orchestrate the coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and his murder in 1973; he and Nixon invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970; they indiscriminately bombed civilians in that long war; connived in the Indonesians’ brutal repression in East Timor; left the Kurds to their fate at the hands of Saddam as early as 1972; the list goes on. “War criminal” and Nobel Peace Prize holder; the unique genius of Henry Kissinger.”
He signed a peace treaty when the war in Vietnam was lost and won the prize for it. His counterpart Le Duc Tho declined the prize saying: “Peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept the 1973 Nobel Prize for Peace which the committee has bestowed on me.”
- Barack Obama in 2009. “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” The results of his “extrordinary efforts were”:
- Intensification of the war in Afghanistan
- The destruction of Lybia through an unprovoked attack
- Use of drones that kill innocent men, women and children in many countries
- Waging a war against Syria by proxy
- Engaging in new wars in Africa
- Threatening Iran with “all Options on the table” , ie. nuclear included
and so on.
The European Union in 2012 “for [having] over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” The committee obviously did not know that the EU carried out an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state (Jugoslovia). Peace Activist David Swanson writes:
“Europe is not a person. It has not during the past year — which is the requirement — or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations. Ask Libya. Ask Syria. Check with Afghanistan. See what Iraq thinks. Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.”
And obviously the committee was also not aware that the EU has 1,5 Million soldiers under arms and spends €192.5 billion (2011) on the Miltary.
Hardly an organisation in favour of peace and non-violence.
These are just a few examples of , to put it mildly, “questionable” decisions by the Norwegian committee. If Edward Snowden becomes the next laureate he will add to a list of persons and organisations that have nothing to do with what Alfred Nobel envisaged. By no means do I want to take away from what Edward Snowden did but the question here is if this fits Alfred Nobel’s will. The fitting acknowledgement of what Edward Snowden has done for (not only) the American public would be to award him the Congressional Medal of Honour. There are always nominations for persons who would really deserve this prize like Chelsea (ex Bradley) Manning, who is now serving a 35 year sentence for her courage to expose the horrors of war to the world and to highlight the effects it has on victims as well as perpetrators of violence. For this year’s prize Mother Agnes Mariam has also been nominated. She has tiredlessly worked for peace amidst the chaos in Syria, for which some of the recent recipients have to share responsibility. If the prize would be awarded to Snowden that would certainly be an improvement but it would still not be in line with Nobel’s vision to abolish war. Let us see if the politicians forming the committee can rescue the peace prize from itself by selecting a deserving human being as per Nobel’s will.
About the author:
R. Teichmann is an activist living in West Cork / Ireland and an editor with news-beacon-ireland . He also blogs on War is a Crime.
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.
No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a Theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.
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By Robert C. Koehler
Iraq vet Ross Caputi’s film opens with a fleeting synopsis of the American heartbreak — and the bandage we tape across it.
His documentary, Fear Not the Path of Truth, is about the U.S. devastation of Fallujah, in which he participated as part of Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004, but the first couple minutes give us an overview of his hometown, the “former industrial city” of Fitchburg, Mass.:
“But the factory jobs are long gone, so there’s really only two types of people that live here. They’re the people with good-paying jobs in Boston or Wooster who come out here to build big houses at relatively cheap prices. Everyone else gets by doing work on those houses, doing their lawns, putting additions on them, painting them.
“If there was a point of unity among all the racial and economic divisions in this little city, it had to be the troops. Everyone respected the troops.”
I was struck especially hard by this small moment because it encapsulates the lie of militarism where it is most invulnerable: at the humanity of the men and women who protect us, putting their lives on the line. When all else goes wrong, the troops remain sacred. In a broken economy, the troops are sacred. Militarism is the god we can manipulate.
And yet the moment to expel this lie from human society has never been riper. The trans-national cost of militarism is some $2 trillion a year, according to an ambitious new website called World Beyond War. The insanity of war not only squanders our resources, ravages the environment and slaughters the innocent, it perpetuates a global culture of violence, which is the very thing we honor our troops for protecting us from.
“Unless we want to risk catastrophic loss or even extinction, we must abolish war,” according to the site’s introductory statement. This puts it in the biggest context possible. We cannot settle for less.
“Every war brings with it both massive destruction and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. We are facing a world of greater weapons proliferation, resource shortages, environmental pressures, and the largest human population the earth has seen. In such a turbulent world, we must abolish sustained and coordinated militarized combat between groups (primarily governments) known as war, because its continuation puts all life on the planet at risk.”
And yet . . . the next war we enjoin will be fully funded and garner the support of most of the public. The current military budget keeps growing even as the country reels from the consequences of its most recent military rampages. The government continues to develop new generations of weapons to perfect and perpetuate its ability to eliminate all life on Earth in a context of almost complete acquiescence. The interests of continued war permeate the highest levels of political and economic power and control the mainstream media. How do war’s abolitionists stand a chance?
Ross Caputi, who came home a hero, begins to answer this question, or at least brings hope to those who ask it.
“It didn’t feel right to me, but I couldn’t put it into words,” he said. This was post-Phantom Fury, when he was back home, being applauded by his friends and by the media.
He’d been part of the most devastating carnage of the Iraq war. The city of Fallujah — “center of resistance” to the American occupation — was taught a big, bad lesson. Thousands were killed. The city was destroyed and, for good measure, saturated with depleted uranium dust, the equivalent of nuclear fallout. Yet the “we’re number one!” mentality was everywhere. A video game about the siege of Fallujah was in the works.
“Afterward it was rubble. The whole country said we were heroes, but it was a confusing experience. I decided I was not going to let Fallujah be a skeleton in my closet for the rest of my life.”
He told me: “I started to do a lot of reading. I was also drinking and doing drugs. Eventually the books won out.” These included Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States. “That was a game changer,” he said.
Caputi’s “confusion” over the devastation of Fallujah eventually turned into informed political activism. He joined with others to create a website called Justice for Fallujah and began spreading the word that the siege of the city was a war crime. A donation allowed him to makeFear Not the Path of Truth, his journey beyond the military mindset. One of the documentary’s appealing features is its honest inquiry into the psychology of war, beginning with his own manipulation.
“I struggle to even explain how something like Fallujah, so obviously wrong, seemed acceptable at the time,” he says to Kathleen Malley-Morrison, a psychology professor. “Even obvious things like kicking women and children out of their homes, forcing them to flee into the desert, then destroying their homes. I managed to believe what our command was telling us, that we were doing this for their own good. How is that possible?”
The question is an open wound, so utterly basic to war and its abolition. Malley-Morrison discusses the cognitive tricks that allow good people to behave inhumanely: dehumanizing the enemy, ignoring or minimizing the consequences of one’s actions.
Later Caputi asks another professor, Sohail Hashmi, about the differences between “insurgent,” “terrorist” and “jihadist” — terms the U.S. military used as casually interchangeable epithets for the enemy — and absorbs Hashmi’s discussion of the meaning of “jihad”: a Muslim’s struggle to be true to his faith and do the right thing.
The interviewees also include Noam Chomsky, who makes the point that the GIs, caught in the middle of the vortex of war, are far less to blame for their confusion over the wrong that was occurring than the politicians and editors at a comfortable remove from the hellish action, who also saw nothing wrong with the devastation of Fallujah.
At one point, Chomsky expresses wonderment that, on day one of Phantom Fury, the New York Times gleefully reported on the U.S. seizure of Fallujah General Hospital, deemed a “propaganda center” for the insurgents because it was reporting casualty figures. The paper even ran a photo on the front page of doctors and patients lying shackled on the floor of the hospital. How could they manage not to notice, Chomsky wanted to know, that this was a war crime in progress?
In February, Caputi’s documentary screens in Fitchburg. And the abolition movement takes another step forward.
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.
Portland Oregon is sitting on a budget surplus while overworking and undersupporting its teachers. And it's not just the teachers who aren't going to take it anymore.
Eric MacCartney is a member of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT). He has been teaching for over six years, and now teaches fifth grade at Kelly Elementary, a Title I school in Portland's Lents neighborhood. Before that he taught as a substitute all over the district. MacCartney is also a parent of an eighth grader who is attending da Vinci Arts Middle School.
Meredith Reese is a long-time community activist and a member of the Portland Teacher Solidarity Campaign, which is a grassroots group of students, parents, teachers, and community members who have come together to stand in solidarity with the teachers in their struggle for a fair contract and for the schools Portland students deserve.
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Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Note: In some alternative universe, not only am I the speechwriter for President Obama, but I’ve actually convinced him to deliver the following as the 2014 State of the Union. – Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, fellow citizens- 60 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his annual State of the Union Address to the Nation as a Fireside Chat from the White House in which he outlined a proposed second bill of rights that would to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known.
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This is a repost of an article in www.news-beacon-ireland.info
Margaretta, in her peaceful act of civil disobedience, was seeking to highlight our own government’s failure to uphold both Irish and international law. We should applaud her courage, writes Joe Murray.
by Joe Murray
copyright © Journal Media Ltd. 2014
published on the journal 28 Jan 2014
republished here under the term of Fair Use
Signs of hope and causes for optimism are still to be found amid the bleak picture often presented on the daily news. Despite the realities of war, climate change and hunger, we can find hope and inspiration in those who continue to resist, to struggle, to challenge, and even to celebrate.
Editor Comment: In Official Washington, the gap between image and reality can be wide, but there is a virtual canyon separating the mainstream’s awestruck regard for Robert Gates as a “wise man” and his record as a deceitful opportunist known to his former colleagues.
By Ray McGovern
In the early 1970s, I was chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch in which Robert M. Gates worked as a young CIA analyst. While it may be true that I was too inexperienced at the time to handle all the management challenges of such a high-powered office, one of the things I did get right was my assessment of Gates in his Efficiency Report.
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Legalize Democracy | full documentary
Originally posted at PopularResistance.org
Legalize Democracy is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. (American Autumn: an Occudoc) about the movement to amend -- why it is needed, and how you can get involved, placing the response to corporate coup of our government in the context of the growing Democracy movement emerging right here and right now.
Sherif Samir, writing from Egypt
In the past year, during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, when the darkness of fanatical Muslims beset Egypt, and when it seemed that the spirit of resistance was fading, and people were giving up, I was observing women, wondering how the new situation was affecting their looks, their clothes, and their make-up, and I kept hope as long as women kept wearing tight pants, and lipstick, as long as I saw girls and boys walking together and laughing out loud. “Fanatical groups will never own the heart of Egypt,” I thought to myself, “as long as women in tights are guarding the spirit of life.” And I was right.
You know that women are half of the human race, and they can change the future by raising a free new generation. Now you might be saying "Nonsense" - women in the west wear hot shorts but people there are still suffering under capitalism. Right, but remember, I'm Egyptian. The majority of women here are told to cover all their bodies all the time. Many are treated as though they are nothing but a piece of meat, and taught that they hold the honour of men between their legs. Religion sees women as a threat, dictatorship sees women as a threat, and parents see their daughters as a threat. Husbands see their wives as threat, and treat them as property with support from religion, law, and masculine society. They see in women a dangerous revolutionary potential. Sadly, almost 99%of Egyptian women face this oppression.
You see the point here? Women have got to realise how important and effective a free woman is. The reality now is, however, a sad one: many women ironically defend the misogynous values of masculine society. Even educated women still expect to be owned by men and to cultivate in their children the same beliefs that oppress women today. That's how women are supposed to be in a devout Islamic country. So, I’m looking up to Egyptian women, wanting them to revolt, to change their destiny and thereby help change the world.
Dr Hakim, writing from Afghanistan
Once, her eyeliners darker than usual, she complained indignantly about a girl who had misquoted her,” Ei…ei…either she..she goes, or I go!”
She works hard, weighing out the synthetic wool which 60 Afghan ladies use to make winter duvets. Her movements are more determined than that of most men. She is as ready to agree as she is to disagree.
One afternoon in Afghanistan, where music was once banned, she attended a music program. Two professional Afghan singers were invited, a Hazara and a Pashtun, both male. There were about 20 girls and just as many boys in the medium-sized, L-shaped room, the singers at the corner, and the girls on rows of duvets placed on the short arm of the L.
“Would anyone in the audience like to sing?”
Heads turned away. Eyes gazed down. Then…”Me!” she gestured. Her mouth wasn’t smiling. Her face was looking quite serious.
She took the microphone. A Pashtun music enthusiast, a drummer boy, sat down near her with the Afghan drum, the ‘dol’.
From outside, like a cloak, conservative public opinion seemed to weigh down on the roof, and to push against the windows : Patriarchs ask, “ A girl singing?”. The religious council delivers an edict stating that women are second to men. Over the airwaves, a conservative American militarist proclaims, as if in jest, that the most powerful army in the world is here to protect the rights of Afghan women like her, while more than 2500 women had committed suicide in a year.
She took the microphone, which was larger than her hand. Her eyelids were half-drawn, in momentary meditation, with a slight rhythm swaying in her neck.
She took the microphone…
The room paid attention. The audience hesitated. The‘dol’ and the ‘dambura’ ( an Afghan two-stringed, banjo-like instrument ) were played by two men, as accompaniment.
With a scattering of tone-deaf notes, but with no stammers, she sang!
It appeared to me that the whole world broke out clapping.
Sherif Samir is an Egyptian writer and an Arabic teacher. He was the 2012 winner of the International Contest of Microfiction, awarded by Museo de la Palabra in Spain
Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.
By Norman Solomon
The National Security Agency depends on huge computers that guzzle electricity in the service of the surveillance state. For the NSA’s top executives, maintaining a vast flow of juice to keep Big Brother nourished is essential -- and any interference with that flow is unthinkable.
But interference isn’t unthinkable. And in fact, it may be doable.
Grassroots activists have begun to realize the potential to put the NSA on the defensive in nearly a dozen states where the agency is known to be running surveillance facilities, integral to its worldwide snoop operations.
Organizers have begun to push for action by state legislatures to impede the electric, water and other services that sustain the NSA’s secretive outposts.
Those efforts are farthest along in the state of Washington, where a new bill in the legislature -- the Fourth Amendment Protection Act -- is a statutory nightmare for the NSA. The agency has a listening post in Yakima, in the south-central part of the state.
The bill throws down a challenge to the NSA, seeking to block all state support for NSA activities violating the Fourth Amendment. For instance, that could mean a cutoff of electricity or water or other state-government services to the NSA site. And the measure also provides for withholding other forms of support, such as research and partnerships with state universities.
Here’s the crux of the bill: “It is the policy of this state to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant that particularly describes the person, place, and thing to be searched or seized.”
If the windup of that long sentence has a familiar ring, it should. The final dozen words are almost identical to key phrases in the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
In recent days, more than 15,000 people have signed a petition expressing support for the legislation. Launched by RootsAction.org, the petition is addressed to the bill’s two sponsors in the Washington legislature -- Republican Rep. David Taylor, whose district includes the NSA facility in Yakima, and Democrat Luis Moscoso from the Seattle area.
Meanwhile, a similar bill with the same title has just been introduced in the Tennessee legislature -- taking aim at the NSA’s center based in Oak Ridge, Tenn. That NSA facility is a doozy: with several hundred scientists and computer specialists working to push supercomputers into new realms of mega-surveillance capacities.
A new coalition, OffNow, is sharing information about model legislation. The group also points to known NSA locations in other states including Utah (in Bluffdale), Texas (San Antonio), Georgia (Augusta), Colorado (Aurora), Hawaii (Oahu) and West Virginia (Sugar Grove), along with the NSA’s massive headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland. Grassroots action and legislative measures are also stirring in several of those states.
One of the key organizations in such efforts is the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, where legal fellow Matthew Kellegrew told me that the OffNow coalition “represents the discontent of average people with … business-as-usual failure to rein in out-of-control domestic spying by the NSA and other federal departments like the FBI. It is a direct, unambiguous response to a direct, unambiguous threat to our civil liberties.”
In the process -- working to counter the bipartisan surveillance-state leadership coming from the likes of President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, the House Intelligence Committee’s chair Mike Rogers and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chair Dianne Feinstein -- activists urging a halt to state-level support for the NSA include people who disagree on other matters but are determined to undermine the Big Brother hierarchies of both parties.
“By working together to tackle the erosion of the Fourth Amendment presented by bulk data collection,” Kellegrew said, “people from across partisan divides are resurrecting the lost art of collaboration and in the process, rehabilitating the possibility of a functional American political dialogue denied to the people by dysfunction majority partisan hackery.”
From another vantage point, this is an emerging faceoff between reliance on cynical violence and engagement in civic nonviolence.
Serving the warfare state and overall agendas for U.S. global dominance to the benefit of corporate elites, the NSA persists in doing violence to the Constitution’s civil-liberties amendments -- chilling the First, smashing the Fourth and end-running the Fifth.
Meanwhile, a nascent constellation of movements is striving to thwart the surveillance state, the shadowy companion of perpetual war.
This is a struggle for power over what kind of future can be created for humanity.
It’s time to stop giving juice to Big Brother.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
I still want Dirty Wars to win the Oscar, but The Square is a documentary worth serious discussion as we hit the three-year point since the famous occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo that overthrew Mubarak -- in particular because a lot of people seem to get a lot of the lessons wrong.
I suppose some people will leave Dirty Wars imagining that we need clean wars, whatever those would be. But too many people seem to be drawing from The Square lessons they brought with them to it, including these: Thou shalt have a leader; thou shalt work within a major political party; thou shalt have an identifiable group of individuals ready to take power. I don't think following these commandments would have easily changed the past three years in Egypt; I don't think they're where Egyptians should be heading; and I'm even more confident they're blind alleys in the United States -- where they serve as supposed remedies for the supposed failings of Occupy.
Many lessons that might be drawn from The Square seem right to me. Did the people leave the square too early? Hell yes. Was the movement divided when the Muslim Brotherhood sought to claim victory exclusively for itself and not for all of the people of Egypt? Of course it was. Let that be a lesson to us indeed. We agree, virtually all of us in the U.S., on a lot of needed reforms. We're all getting collectively screwed. But we divide ourselves over stupid petty stuff, irrelevant stuff, secondary stuff -- cultural issues, ideologies, superficial identities, and -- yes -- big-name leaders (think how many opponents of militarism and Big Brother you could agree with if they weren't "Ron Paulers"). Preferring one tyrant to another because of their religion or race is not a flaw the Egyptians have a monopoly on (think of all the Christian support for Bush and African-American support for Obama).
Was trusting the military a horrible idea? No. It wasn't a horrible idea. It was the most catastrophically stupendously stupid notion ever to enter a human skull. Militaries don't support people. People support militaries through their useful and exploited labor. Costa Rica had to disband its military to stop having coups. When a military exists, appealing to the humanity of its individual members is wise indeed. But expecting the military as a whole to be democratic to the point of handing over power before it's compelled to do so is decidedly foolish. None of which is to say the Egyptians have had much choice or that their project is yet completed. Between them and us the question of which group is learning faster is no contest at all.
Do the people of Egypt need a Constitution rather than a pharaoh? Yes, absolutely. Does the Occupy movement need demands? Yes, of course it does. Must we all create an ongoing culture of nonviolent action? Yes, sir-ee. While The Square doesn't explicitly make the point, would better nonviolent discipline help? Undoubtedly. Is the key lesson to never give up? Indeed. All of these lessons should soak in deep.
But other points are less clear, in both The Square and common discussions of Egyptian revolution. Tahrir Square didn't begin in 2011, and neither did the Muslim Brotherhood. The foundations for the popular movement and for the religious party were laid over a period of years. Foundations are being laid for nonviolent revolution in other places now.
Did the Egyptians fail? And did they fail because they are great protesters but bad democrats who should be condescended to by enlightened Americans? No. First, it isn't over. Second, the United States has a failed system of government itself, as 80-90 percent of the people here have been telling pollsters for years. Third, although I caught only one very quick little hint at it in The Square, the major financial and military backer of the brutal, corrupt regimes in Egypt -- before Tahrir and since -- is the United States government. To the extent that Egyptians have failed they've failed with our help. And whether we're unaware of the billions of dollars of our grandchildren's unearned wages that we give to Egyptian thugs to assault the Egyptian people every year, or aware and unable to do anything about it -- either way, our democracy hardly shines out as a model for the world.
A leader would have divided the Tahrir movement or the Occupy movement. That we don't think of ourselves as having leaders is a function of the corporate media giving no microphones to people who favor major improvements to the world. Ironically, just like coverage of New York Police Department brutality, this helps us to build a stronger movement. That is to say, it helps us in so far as it allows a movement not focused on a leader. Yes, we'd be much stronger with major media coverage, but the possible development of leaders recognized and named as such would be a downside. And a successful movement behind a leader would only be able to put that leader into power if it succeeded far beyond where Egypt arrived in 2011 -- and it would only be able to get that leader back out of power again if it succeeded even further.
Is the lesson of Tahrir that Occupiers should back candidates in the Democratic Party? Is an organized party that can challenge the Muslim Brotherhood or the Democrats the answer? Not within a corrupt system it isn't. When our goal is not a better regime but something approaching democracy, then what's needed is the nonviolent imposition of democracy on whatever individuals are in power, and the development of a culture of eternal vigilance to maintain it. You can't elect your way out of a system of corrupt elections. You can't impose a group of populist leaders on a government by coup d'etat and then write a democratic constitution afterwards.
No, that is not what happened in the United States, and not just because the old government got on ships and sailed away, but because the Constitution was fundamentally anti-democratic. The United States has gained democracy through nonviolent movements of public pressure, imposed reforms, amendments, court rulings, and the changing of the culture. Reforms are needed more badly than ever now, and whether they're imposed at the federal level or through the states or through secession, they must come through popular nonviolent pressure, as bullets and ballots are virtually helpless here.
The lesson I take away from The Square is that we must prevent the operation of business as usual until the institution itself, not its face, is fixed. We can put up giant posters of a black man followed by a white woman followed by some other demographic symbol, but the posters will still be on the walls of prisons, barracks, and homeless shelters, unless we fix the structure of things. That means:
- Rights for people, and for the natural environment, not for corporations.
- Spending money on elections is not a human right of free speech.
- Elections entirely publicly financed.
- The right to vote, to have time off work to vote, and to vote on a paper ballot publicly counted at the polling place.
- Free air time, ballot access, and debate participation to all candidates who have collected sufficient signatures of potential constituents.
- A citizens branch and public initiative power by signature collection.
- The application of criminal laws to authorities who commit crimes or abuse their office.
- Mandatory impeachment and recall votes for officials facing prosecution.
- The right to a decent income, housing, healthcare, education, peace, a healthy environment, and freedom from debt.
- The rights of the natural environment to continue and thrive.
- The institution of minimum and maximum wages and a ban on extreme wealth.
- Dismantling of the prison industry.
Give me all of that or give me death. Take your bullshit rhetoric about "liberty" and name a square after it.
David Swanson in Portland, Maine
Feb. 15, 2014 Saturday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Lee Hall, Wishcamper Center, USM, 34 Bedford Street
Parking in garage next to Wishcamper
Talks & Book signings.
Free and open to the public.
David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of his new book, War No More: The Case for Abolition.
Swanson's books include When the World Outlawed War, named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read; the best-selling classic War Is A Lie, and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, of which Glenn Greenwald said, "There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends."
Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a
communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign.
He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.
These events are co-sponsored by: PeaceWorks, PeaceActionMaine, GlobalNetWork, CodePink Maine, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Maine Veterans for Peace, Brunswick Friends Meeing, PAM Action Committee.
For more information contact mSpiess@myfairpoint.net 207-865-3802.
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Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC), the body appointed to chart a post-revolutionary course for the country, has recommended that the new Yemeni constitution make a criminal offence of extra-judicial killing. The recommendations, issued today by the National Issues and Transitional Justice Working Group, would outlaw the US drone strikes that have killed and injured hundreds of people in Yemen, including the December targeting of a wedding party that killed 12 and injured 14.
The news comes amid an apparent ramping up of US drone strikes in Yemen; there have been eight strikes in the last two months alone. Last week, a Yemeni delegation to the United Nations admitted that the Government has had to establish a counselling centre for children because the level of trauma caused by drone attacks in the country is so high.
Meanwhile, a growing clamour of voices is urging the US government to reconsider the controversial policy. This week, former US commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal told the BBC that drone strikes risked creating “a tremendous amount of resentment” in places like Yemen.
The NDC was established in 2012 as part of an internationally-sponsored initiative that led to President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down in February 2012, following the 2011 uprising. It was designed to be representative of all Yemeni society, and met throughout 2013 to agree a way forward for a new constitution for Yemen.
Baraa Shiban, a Reprieve Associate based in Yemen and a leading member of the group, said:
“To date, there has been little to no accountability in Yemen for the suffering caused by drone strikes, which have terrorised local populations.
“We welcome this move to take real steps towards protecting the rights and security of Yemen’s citizens, and urge the Yemeni Government to ensure that these recommendations are included in the country’s new constitution.
“It’s disheartening, however, to see the US intensifying drone strikes in Yemen at the very moment the Yemeni people are working to criminalise them. The US has supported the NDC process, but persists in ignoring its outcomes when inconvenient.”
Turkey's main opposition: Draft military law bill jeopardizes promotions, amendments will require prime minister’s approval before trying senior members of the military by the judicial authorities - hurriyetdailynews
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Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org Responding to the Oxfam report that concluded that the world's 85 richest people own the same amount as the bottom half of the entire global population, self appointed spokesperson for the global elite, and celebrity Judge on the reality show The Shark Tank Kevin O’Leary,applauded the news, stating that is “fantastic news (…) the motivation everybody needs (…) it inspires everyone to want to be like the 1%” and scoffing at the idea of “re-distribution of wealth” stated, “ I celebrate Capitalism.” His remarks inspire this open
If we needed any incentives to focus more of our efforts to preventing a catastrophic great power war growing out of tensions in East Asia, this week’s reflections by Joseph Nye and Shinzo Abe (see below) – each of whom has made more than his share of contributions to the dangers we face – should more than suffice. Take a look at the first two articles in this week’s posting.
With this year being the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, an increasing number of analysts are raising alarms about the parallels between the current situation across Asia and the Pacific and the years immediately preceding the gunshot in Sarajevo that triggered the First World War. They include the inevitable tensions between rising and declining powers, with the dominant powers (then Britain and France, now U.S. and Japan) committed to enforcing the status quo while the rising power (then Germany, now China) presses to modify the prevailing to expand and protect its perceived interests and to exercise the influence it believes is its due. There are territorial disputes, intense arms races, interlocking alliance systems, and nations dependent on naval power being challenged by a continental power asserting itself on the high seas. As in the early 1900s, international trade and economic globalization surging. There are new technologies increasing communication and new and cataclysmically destructive weapons. Again there is widespread belief that great power war is unimaginable. And, as in Europe in 1914, there are numerous wild cards including potentially failing states and rising nationalism.
Of course, as in 1914 war is not inevitable. Much depends on what we do.
And, meanwhile, voters in Nago voted overwhelmingly to block the construction of a new U.S. Marine air base, and the Abe and U.S. governments are hypocritically assaulting this exercise of democracy doing their best to crush Okinawan resistance. Look for a petition next week to communicate your support for peace, democracy and human dignity.
So, read, work for peace, and share these articles as you think best.
Dangers of Sino-Japanse War:
1914 Revisited – Joseph Nye
Will Japan and China Go to War? – Time Magazine
US Pacific fleet chief says North Korea is top security concern in Asia
Chinese patrol ship to be based at disputed islands in South China Sea
Regional security tops Sino-US talks in Beijing
China's nuclear missile drill seen as warning to US not to meddle in region
Work under way on China's second aircraft carrier at Dalian yard
China stands for 5 principles in a political settlement of the Syrian issue
Nago mayor wins re-election in blow to Abe, U.S.
Base setback denied after Nago poll
Bidding starts on Futenma base relocation work
Kadena (Okinawa) moms demand truth
Shinzo Abe seeks 'frank discussion' with China and South Korea
Abe’s Version of History Doesn’t Sit Well With Chinese
Ex-teacher sues over ‘Kimigayo’ rule