This is a crosspost from www.news-beacon-ireland.info
published on Shannonwatch 2 June 2014
republished here under the term of Fair Use
On Tuesday May 27th, two members of Shannonwatch appeared in Ennis District Court to answer a charge under the Public Order Act, Section 8. This related to an incident that took place on October 13th 2013.
Renato M. Reyes, Jr. (pictured at right) is secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). He has been with the organization since 2001. He was also the founding chair of the youth group Anakbayan in 1998. He blogs here and was involved in protests when U.S. President Barack Obama recently visited the Philippines. I asked him about it.
Was Obama unwelcomed in the Philippines?
The PH government rolled out the red carpet for Obama. In the streets however, thousands marched to protest Obama’s PH visit. The protests were aimed at the unequal relations between the US and the Philippines, in particular, US military intervention and economic impositions such as the TPPA. The visit also coincided with the signing of a new agreement called the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which would bring back US military facilities in the Philippines.
We had a two day protest, the first was a march near the Presidential Palace where we burned a giant effigy of Obama on a chariot and Aquino as his running dog. There were protests in different parts of the country as well. On the second day, we marched near the US embassy where we were met by a phalanx of policemen. The police used their shields and water cannons to disperse the protesters but we stood our ground. It was our indignation regarding the signing of the EDCA.
What agreement have the governments signed?
The EDCA is an agreement that allows US forces to use our PH facilities, to build their own facilities within these facilities and to preposition their equipment in PH territory. These facilities will function as bases where US forces can station troops as well as deploy troops and weapons systems such as armed drones. The EDCA is consistent with the US strategic rebalancing towards Asia, and is in furtherance of US economic and security interests in the region.
What do people of the Philippines think about it?
There are different opinions. Some welcome the EDCA thinking that it would help the Philippines against China’s incursions. They wrongly believe that the EDCA will result in the modernization of the PH armed forces. Those in the mass movement are very critical of the EDCA. Lawmakers from the Senate and Lower House have also raised serious objections. Two petitions have been filed before the PH supreme court questioning the EDCA. Lawyers, academicians, lawmakers, church people and activists have united to oppose the EDCA.
How is a dispute with China over some islands being used here?
The dispute with China is being exploited by the US to justify its permanent military presence in the Philippines. The US gives the false assurance that it would support the Philippines in the event of an armed attack by China. When Obama was confronted with this question during his PH visit, he avoided answering it and instead claimed that the US was interested in cooperating with China. The US is not likely going to war with the US due to the disputed areas in the West PH Sea. The US uses the Philippines as a footstool in Asia but would not come to the aid of the Philippines. The PH government meanwhile shows utter mendicancy and puppetry when it thinks that its sovereignty can be upheld through a foreign power.
I like to think of the Philippines, along with Ecuador, as a success story, a place that told the U.S. military to get out (in 1991) -- how did that happen and what has happened since? How is this connected to U.S. military presence back to 1898?
The Filipino people have a long history of resistance to US colonial occupation and neo-colonial domination. The resistance includes armed struggle against US colonialism and currently, neo-colonialism.
The Filipino people struggled for decades against the presence of US bases and were finally successful in 1991 when the PH senate rejected a new basing treaty. The US basing agreement was so lopsided in favor of the US and constituted an affront to our sovereignty. The treaty rejection was possible only because there was a strong mass movement that campaigned for several decades.
Are you working with people opposed to bases in Okinawa, Jeju Island, elsewhere?
We are in solidarity with the anti-bases groups in Okinawa, Jeju, Australia and Korea. We have joined actions in opposition to the construction of new bases as well as the abuses of the US troops. We are part of the Ban the Bases global network which shares information and conducts campaigns on bases issues.
I'm speaking with the Mayor of Nago City, Okinawaw, who was elected to stop a base and is coming to the United States to try to stop it. What would you like me to say to him?
To the people of Okinawa, we are in solidarity with you. Never give up the struggle to boot out foreign bases. A nation cannot be truly free if foreign troops continue to be stationed on its shores.
What would you like to say to the people of the United States?
To the American people, do not let your taxes be spent for war and occupation, for US bases and intervention. Please support the campaign to shut down these bases and to get the US troops out of Asia and other continents.
Philippines climate chief Naderev Yeb Sano made a plea to the world? Is that effort connected with the effort against bases? Do these movements work together?
I met Yeb Sano when we were in the university during the 90’s. His plea may not be directly related to the bases movement. However, there are many environmental groups campaigning against the bases, including for compensation for the environmental damage wrought by US forces in their former bases in Subic and Clark as well as the recent destruction of a part of the Tubbataha Reef.
You are a musician: How does that fit into your activism?
I’ve been playing music since I was seven. I play the piano, guitar, blues harp or harmonica and the ukulele. Music is another outlet where we can express ourselves and help amplify the message to a broader audience. We did a series of recording two years ago when a friend got arrested in a remote province. We called it Prison Sessions, and we did videos of our sessions. We used the recordings to raise awareness of the plight of political prisoners and imprisoned artists. My friend was eventually released after two years of detention. We now play during events…outside the jail of course.
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On Friday May 30, just a few days before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced details of its carbon rule proposal, the Obama Administration awarded offshore oil leases to ExxonMobil in an area of the Gulf of Mexico potentially containing over 172 million barrels of oil.
The Real Villains of the Bergdahl Tale
June 3, 2014
Editor Note: The right-wing media is denouncing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a “deserter” who wasn’t worth ransoming from the Taliban, but the real villains are the architects of the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars who frivolously put the many Bergdahls in harm’s way.
By Ray McGovern
For me, the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl affair brings back angry memories of how, in 2009, President Barack Obama caved in to be-medaled and be-ribboned generals like David Petraeus and ordered a modified-limited-hangout-type “surge” of 33,000 troops into Afghanistan. Consequential cowardice at work – trading lives for political advantage – as bad as it gets.
On Thursday, May 29, with 25 meters of signatures, the resounding NO to Italian cooperation with Israeli water company Mekorot was taken to Rome City Hall. The 7114 signatures on the petition against the agreement signed between Rome’s water utility ACEA and Mekorot snaked their way through the public square where a delegation of the Committee Against ACEA-Mekorot Cooperation and the Rome Coordination for Public Water delivered a copy to the office of mayor Ignazio Marino. The petition calls on the city of Rome, the majority shareholder in ACEA, thus far silent on the issue, to take the necessary steps to block the agreement signed by the two companies.
Mekorot, Israel's national water company, is responsible for serious violations of international law. The company extracts water illegally from Palestinian water sources, in turn providing the stolen water to Israeli settlements built illegally in the occupied Palestinian territory, which could not exist without Mekorot. An artificial water shortage that concerns only the Palestinian people has been created by Israeli policies, implemented by Mekorot, while abundant water supplies flow to the swimming pools, lawns and intensive agriculture of the Israeli settlements. The Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq refers to this as "water apartheid," and organizations such as Amnesty International have stated that the purpose of these policies is to expel the Palestinians from their land.
On the Campidoglio Square in front of City Hall, where the movement for the right to housing was also protesting, activists noted that while the ACEA denies the fundamental right to water with cutoffs for those unable to pay their water bill, the company is now looking to go into business with those stealing water in Palestine in order to turn a profit on a common good.
Beyond Rome and Italy, the signatures on the petition also came from more than 60 countries around the world, including Israel. Just days prior, on May 25 a letter from Israeli citizens was sent to the City of Rome and ACEA demanding that all cooperation with Mekorot cease immediately. http://bdsitalia.org/index.
Protests will continue on June 5 at 10:00 am during the ACEA annual shareholders meeting, where activists working to defend the fundamental right to water, from Rome to Palestine, will reaffirm, in addition to the calls for an end to the agreement with Mekorot, that there is no room for profits and private speculation on water and its management must be public.
No Committee Mekorot ACEA Agreement
Coordination Roman Public Water
The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action by Michael Nagler has just been published. We speak with the author. Nagler is founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence. He cofounded the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, where he is professor emeritus of classics and comparative literature.
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Rutland, MA has passed the Rutland Restoring Constitutional Governance Resolution (RCGR) by a unanimous margin. This resolution provides inhabitants of Rutland their first legal defense against indefinite detentions since passage of the 2012 NDAA.
The overwhelming support for Rutland RCGR once again tells elected officials throughout Worcester County and all of Massachusetts that the citizens here in the cradle of liberty will never give up their cherished civil rights.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
Memorial for Civic Activist John Judge Sustains His Legacy
Two hundred admirers of the late civic activist and historical researcher John P. Judge fostered his legacy during a memorial service May 31 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D), a next door neighbor and close friend, described Judge as an extraordinary truth-seeker in the spirit of the ancient Diogenes. And, Kucinich continued, "what better place for it than Washington, DC -- the capital of smoke and mirrors?"
Join the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing - October 4, 2014
As global citizens who believe in justice and the rule of law, we oppose weaponized and surveillance drones because their deployment:
- is used for extrajudicial "targeted" killings based merely on suspicion -- murders -- even of children inside and outside of war zones,
- violates democratic rights of freedom of speech and assembly and the right not to be unreasonably searched,
- terrorizes populations in targeted territories, thereby fueling hatred and increasing the cycle of violence,
- lowers the threshold to war and initiates a new round in the arms race,
- leads to the development of autonomous killer robots, thereby making even more horrifying wars likely.
We demand that all governments cease the production and acquisition of armed drones, as well as their research and development, and work towards a worldwide ban of these weapons.
We further demand that our governments prohibit the use of drones for surveillance and prohibit using space satellites, ground stations, and military bases to enable drone surveillance and to trigger drone killings.
We call on people all over the world to join us in the Global Day of Action on October 4.
To add your endorsement to this call or to send a URL link regarding your October 4th protest event, contact Colleen from CODEPINK at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National officials certainly assume that war has a future. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditures totaled nearly $1.75 trillion in 2013. Although, after accounting for inflation, this is a slight decrease over the preceding year, many countries increased their military spending significantly, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, 23 countries doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013. None, of course, came anywhere near to matching the military spending of the United States, which, at $640 billion, accounted for 37 percent of 2013’s global military expenditures. Furthermore, all the nuclear weapons nations are currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.
Every juvenile prison must be immediately closed and all of its prisoners freed.
Oh. Oh. Oh! That sounds too drastic and simplistic and revolutionary.
We talk about being reformist or revolutionary as if it were a personality choice. Yet we also talk about being scientific, about being reality-based. Unlike reactionary climate-denying racist creationists we claim, most of us, to recognize such phenomena as climate change and to act on them (leave aside for the moment whether we're really acting appropriately on that one).
The science has long been crystal clear: juvenile prisons are worse than nothing. They increase rather than reducing crime. In our failure to abolish them, we -- and not the children we torture -- are the seemingly hopeless recidivists.
We spend in the United States $88,000 on average per year to lock a child up, compared to $10,652 to educate a child. We have over 66,000 children locked up, 87% of them boys, and our police arrest 2 million juveniles each year.
A recent longitudinal study of 35,000 young offenders found that those who are locked up are over twice as likely to be locked up as adults compared to those who committed similar offenses and came from similar backgrounds but were given an alternative penalty or were just not arrested. In some states over 80% of those locked up as kids will be convicted of later crimes. Studies have found that, more than family difficulties or gang membership or any other factor, the best predictor of criminality is whether someone has been imprisoned in what amount to factories for crime.
Well, but then, isn't the best predictor the initial commission of a crime that led to the initial incarceration? Actually, no. Eighty to 90% of teenagers in the United States commit illegal acts that could land them behind bars. Most of those put behind bars are put there for minor, nonviolent offenses. A third of all teenagers have even committed a somewhat serious crime, but most are never arrested, much less imprisoned. Almost all grow out of it.
If the minority of young people whose lives are ruined by prison were selected randomly, we might be a bit more likely to do something about it. Anyone who is a parent and finds out what happens in juvenile prisons must be highly unlikely to tolerate their continued existence unless convinced that only other people's children will be locked up. And in fact, it is highly disproportionately kids from poor neighborhoods and with darker skin who get locked up. A non-white child is far more likely to be arrested for the same act than a white child, far more likely to be charged and detained, far more likely to be sentenced to prison, and far more likely to be given a longer sentence.
In fact, the idea that sub-human monsters, of whatever race, must be made to suffer and must be kept away from the rest of us, is the leading candidate as a major explanation of the continuation of juvenile imprisonment. If the goal were preventing crime, the prisons are worse than nothing. We've tried alternatives within the prison system, and found that reforms help but can only go so far. We've tried alternatives outside of the prison system, and found them far superior in results. We've even seen states shut down lots of juvenile prisons, primarily because of the financial cost, and seen the benefits in cost savings, in the lives of young people, and in reduced crime rates. But other states don't follow suit, and the states making the cuts need only see a rise in revenue to begin rebuilding the torture palaces.
The lessons are of course obtainable from abroad as well. The U.S. locks kids up at a higher rate than any other nation. The next closest is South Africa, which locks up children at one-fifth the rate of the U.S. While the United States slowly, reluctantly, begins to stop throwing away packaging, it remains intent on throwing away people. For many who accept disproven ways of thinking, setting those 66,000 children free would make us less safe, just as cutting the military or disbanding it would endanger us all. These are powerful myths, but the evidence overwhelmingly disproves them. If our rural communities went back to farming food instead of prisoners, we would all be better off.
Much of what is routinely done to tens of thousands of youths in the United States would be illegal if done to prisoners of war. Torture in these houses of "correction" is the norm, not the exception. Isolation is the central abuse, combined with food deprivation, assault, rape, temperature extremes, deprivation of medical care, deprivation of education, sadistic exercises in humiliation, forced nudity, stress positions, piling on, attacks by dogs, and of course indefinite detention without criminal conviction. These practices have been transferred to international prisoners after becoming routine for U.S. prisoners, including juveniles. And, while much of the abuse comes from other prisoners, most of it is committed by guards -- or, excuse me, "correctional officers."
This disastrous system seems in dire need of reform, and the idea that it can be reformed is quite tempting. Children's bodies are dug up behind an institution in Florida. A judge in Pennsylvania gets caught taking bribes to send more kids to hell. A sexual assault scandal in Texas gets big enough to make the news. Kids hog-tied and left outside in freezing weather in Arkansas create some waves. But the scandals are everywhere. A review found only 8 states where there was not conclusive evidence of system-wide mistreatment. And the scandals have been there for a century and a half. The reforms have been needed and been worked on since day one. They are not what's needed. Children need love and companionship, safety and trust, respect and encouragement. They are even worse equipped to survive imprisonment than adults. Locked up kids commit suicide at a far higher rate than others, nearly rivaling that of war veterans. These facts are continually reconfirmed by new science, but they and the failure of juvenile prisons have been known practically since the invention of juvenile prisons.
Solitary confinement greatly increases suicide rates, and yet is used as a punishment for the offense of being suicidal. This is not a nifty contradiction to be examined in a master's thesis. Rather, it is part of a process that fundamentally destroys our young people, a process which we pretend improves them.
Or do we? Polls suggest that we, the public, in fact understand the madness of government child-abuse currently engaged in to the tune of $5 billion. The public prefers rehabilitation and treatment and is willing to pay higher taxes for those approaches, even though they actually cost less. We test this, prove it, and then don't act on it -- or at least our government doesn't act on it. Oregon tried an experiment in Deschutes County, giving the county the money it would have taken to lock kids up and requiring the county to pay the bill for any kid that did end up locked up. The county spent the money on prevention, neighborhood programs, community services. In a year, the number of children sent into the fortresses of misery and horror dropped by 72%.
Everything I've just claimed, and much more, is documented in a new book by Nell Bernstein called Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. This book includes numerous personal stories, countless examples, endless studies, and all the evidence anyone claiming to base policy on reality would need to become a "radical" when it comes to the malfunctioning of juvenile prisons. Bernstein looks at the worst and the best of the institutions. The best remains far from good enough. The best remains worse than nothing at all. Improving the mass abuse of children is not pragmatic; it's immoral. It's like being in favor of the war on Libya because the war on Iraq was worse; doing so requires averting one's eyes from the state Libya is in.
Burning Down the House should be taught in our schools. Maybe free young people would find the power to speak up on behalf of their imprisoned fellows, if they knew. Maybe parents, if sufficiently intent on discarding both sadism and racism, would act if they heard it from their children.
There is a hurdle to be overcome, however, higher than the false belief that injustice only happens to those who deserve it, or the corruption of our misrepresentative government by profiteers, or the cooption of the corporate media by the government. The hurdle is this: everything that's wrong with prisons for children is also wrong with prisons for adults. If we stop thinking about imprisoned children the way that we must think in order to allow their imprisonment, we'll be in danger of ceasing to think about imprisoned adults the way we must to allow their imprisonment. Are we willing to risk that danger? I certainly hope so.
By RALPH DOLAN
NORTHAMPTON — “Stay a while, stranger,” says the haggard old man from the shadows along Main Street.
The stranger who has been addressed pauses: “You look like you’ve come a long way, old man,” he says. “What’s on your mind?”
“I am one of those who gave their lives in service to America. Today you and others stop to remember the price I paid.”
“Yes ... yes,” says the stranger, looking about. “Over there the bands are beginning to assemble for the parade. I sense a strange sobriety in the air. And now there’s you!”
The old man looks away and begins: “Oh, how I hated to let go. I whimpered like a baby there in the mud where I lay alone, my life leaking away. Now I wander with a heavy heart.”
The stranger takes that in and briefly considers the impossibility of this encounter. But he feels drawn in and says: “Go on.”
“I was 19 when I died. What does a 19-year-old know? Nothing! My life was snatched away.
“I had been so proud to serve my country. I was young and naive. But one thing I knew: the terrible tyrannies that oppress and exploit many of the peoples of this Earth must be replaced by the more enlightened view of existence, as captured in the ideas of equality and justice for all.
“Yes. I was an idealist. I was hopelessly impractical and eager to align myself with a large and noble cause so that I myself might take on aspects of nobility. The images of innocent people suffering under the boot of tyranny in Vietnam came flying around the world, entering my consciousness and demanding my attention.
“America, the greatest democracy the world has ever known and defender of the downtrodden, was stirring. Her wrath would be supreme. Her justice would be glorious.
“I was a true believer. I signed up for the fight. This was God’s work.
“I lasted only three days in Vietnam. My group was helicoptered immediately into a raging firefight in the delta. I remember jumping off into a soggy field, looking around, paralyzed by the sight of such carnage and then hearing one of our infantry officers screaming orders at us. ‘Get down! Get down!’
“I never recovered from the shock of that killing field. I wandered around in a daze, being shuffled here and there, going through the motions of soldiering, until that flying projectile entered just below the ear and exited out the top of my head.
“I see more clearly now. War itself is the evil. I gave myself over to an evil with a belief that this was a way to counteract evil. Such is the foolishness of youth.
“Those who take us to war again and again feed voraciously on the foolishness of youth.”
The old soldier pauses.
“What can I do for you, old man?” asks the stranger.
“Stay! Stay a moment longer, please. I am in search of peace of mind,” he answers. “I must let the young people know that they must not go to war any more, no matter what incentives the warmongers lay before them. They must refuse.
“Look. Look what has happened to my country. Look at my beautiful America, the beacon of hope for all the oppressed people of the world. Look. She set out to conquer the tyrants. Now she has taken on the characteristics of the tyrant.
“Sweet nation, America, for whom I gave my life so that she might be a great defender of the poor and the oppressed, has declared to the world that it is necessary to torture people. This is not a debatable matter. This is unthinkable.
“My sweet nation invades other countries with impunity. She has been heavily implicated in toppling democratically elected governments and installing puppet governments that do her bidding. She upholds vile institutions such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. And, yes, the whole structure of American government has been taken over by a group of the very wealthiest people in the world. The words of democracy are spouted in empty repetition but the spirit of democracy is gone.
“You must tell them, sir. The old political structures are crumbling under the weight of their own corruption. Tell the people to rebuild! Tell them: Start at the very lowest, grassroots level, one’s personal relations. Create equality there. Create justice there. Then move on to the groups: family, community, nation.
“Demand equality. Demand a greater voice in the workplace. Demand economic justice. Experiment with new ways of governance. This is the medium in which true democracy will rise again.”
With that the old solider vanishes into the shadows.
Ralph J. Dolan of Haydenville, MA served in Vietnam and has had a career as a licensed psychotherapist. His column appears on the fourth Monday of the month.
Infographic by Katie Falkenberg, CODEPINK Denver
Like Madoff telling a bum to get a job: After Running from his Anti-War Past, Kerry Tells Snowden ‘Man Up’ and Face Trial in US
By Dave Lindorff
Our prissy Secretary of State John Kerry, hair carefully coiffed for his interview, told NBC’s Brian Williams last week that fugitive National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden should “man up” and return to the US to “stand in our system of justice and make his case.”
By Brian Terrell
On April 15, 2014, when the story broke on the world that the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program of assassination by remotely controlled drones is not distinct from the drone program of the U.S. Air Force as we had been told, I was on the “Sacred Peace Walk,” an event sponsored each spring by the Nevada Desert Experience, a 70 mile trek from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Creech Air Force Base is along the way and we had already made plans for a protest there the next morning. While the CIA’s drone program is shrouded in secrecy, the Air Force supposedly has been using drones strictly as a weapon for waging war against combatants in recognized areas of conflict such as Afghanistan and formerly in Iraq, under a chain of command that is accountable to elected officials. Some who condemn the CIA’s assassinations by drones as illegal give a pass to or even laud the Air Force use of drones as a more restrained way to fight war.
This distinction has now been exposed as a lie. In a new documentary film released in Europe, “Drone,” former Air Force drone operators, veterans of a super-secret Squadron 17 at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, reveal that “it’s always been the Air Force that flies” the CIA’s missions, “the CIA might be the customer, but the Air Force has always flown it.”
The fact that airmen at Creech are carrying out assassination missions and extrajudicial executions far from declared zones of conflict on orders from unknown and unnamable bureaucrats did not come as a surprise. Neither was the news a “game changer” in regard to the actions we had planned, although we quickly revised the indictment listing the war crimes committed at Creech that some of us would attempt to deliver to the base commander.
My arrest at Creech along with eight others on April 16 was a “return to the scene of the crime” (the Air Force’s crime, not mine) for me, as I was among the “Creech 14” in April 2009, the first nonviolent direct action against drones in the U.S. Creech was then one of only a few sites from which drones were controlled by the U.S. and by the United Kingdom, which has a wing of the Royal Air Force stationed there to fly their own drones. Since then the use of armed drones has been proliferating around the world and so has the number of drone operation bases in communities around the U.S. My work with Voices for Creative Nonviolence has brought me to the scenes of the crime in Afghanistan, the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia and at the gates of drone bases in New York, Iowa, Missouri and in England as well.
The latest revelation is but the exposure of one more lie, one more layer of criminality and venality of this corrupt and dangerous program. Over the years since April 2009, the promises of a new era of better war through drone technology have been steadily unravelling, each of them proving false. It is increasingly clear that rather than limiting the scope of war, drones are expanding and proliferating it, killing more civilians both on battlefields and far from them, endangering our soldiers and the safety of our communities. Instead of keeping the horrors of war at a safe distance, drones bring the war home in unprecedented ways.
President Obama, in an address before the National Defense University May 23, 2013, described this new technology as more precise and by implication more humane than other weaponry: “By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life.” There is an understandable appeal to the idea of a weapon that can discriminate between the good and the bad people and limit regrettable “collateral damage.” It is understandable too, that a nation weary of sending its sons and daughters to fight on battlefields far away, risking injury, death or the debilitating effects of posttraumatic stress, might look to embrace a new method of war whereby the warriors fights battles from safe distances. Thousands of miles beyond the reach of the enemy, drone combatants often do not even have to leave their hometowns and are able to return to homes and families at the end of a shift.
In his National Defense University speech, the president contended that “conventional airpower and missiles are far less precise than drones, and likely to cause more civilian casualties and local outrage.” A few weeks later a study published by the same National Defense University refuted his claim. Drone strikes in Afghanistan, the study found, were “an order of magnitude more likely to result in civilian casualties per engagement.” Despite the president’s assurances to the contrary, drone strikes cause immense “local outrage” in the countries where they happen, turning America’s allies into enemies. "What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world," said former commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal. "The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one."
Former defense secretary Robert M. Gates also warns of the seductive power and precision of armed drones that leads many to perceive war as a “bloodless, painless and odorless” affair. “Remarkable advances in precision munitions, sensors, information and satellite technology and more can make us overly enamored with the ability of technology to transform the traditional laws and limits of war. A button is pushed in Nevada and seconds later a pickup truck explodes in Kandahar.” Defense experts and policy makers, Gates warns, have come to view drone warfare as a “kind of video game or action movie. . . . In reality, war is inevitably tragic, inefficient and uncertain.” General Mike Hostage, chief of the US Air Combat Command, claims that while weaponized drones are useful in assassinations of terror suspects, they are impractical in combat. "Predators and Reapers are useless in a contested environment," Hostage said.
Some enlisted personnel are also questioning the use of drones. Heather Linebaugh, a drone operator for the US Air Force for three years says: “Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them a few questions. I'd start with: ‘How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?’ And: ‘How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?’ Or even more pointedly: ‘How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?’”
Distance from the battlefield does not isolate soldiers from posttraumatic stress or the moral injury of war. Heather Linebaugh speaks of two friends and colleagues who committed suicide and another former drone operator, Brandon Bryant, said that his work had made him into a “heartless sociopath.” While drone pilots are at a greater distance from their victims than other soldiers, he says, the video feed they watch brings them closer: “Artillery doesn’t see the results of their actions. It’s really more intimate for us, because we see everything.”
The Air Force is relegating much of its drone operations to Air National Guard units in various states, creating virtual war zones in local communities. “In an F-16, your whole mission was to train to go to war,” said a pilot of an Ohio Air Guard wing that made a conversion from fighters to drones. “In this mission, we go to war every day.” Foreign postings of state National Guard units are usually made public, but where in the world these citizen soldiers will be fighting from now on will be shrouded in secrecy, hidden even from their families. Reason and the rules of war both suggest that assassinations and acts of war on sovereign nations carried on by local National Guard units will make their communities into legitimate targets of war.
Drone warfare is based on the lie that war can be made more exact, limited and humane through technology. Our civilian and military authorities, proliferating drone attacks around the globe from more and more American bases, are acting recklessly and in defiance of domestic and international law. They are acting without regard for the safety and wellbeing of our troops, of American civilians or of people in faraway places who otherwise would mean us no harm. Rather than limiting war, being an answer, drones perpetuate and multiply the horrors of war and bring them home into our communities.
As our band of walkers approached Creech Air Force Base on the morning of April 16, we were greeted by a large sign at the gate that read “Force Protection Alpha in Effect,” announcing that the base was in its highest security alert. We were also met by an impressive contingent of military police and sheriff’s officers, heavily armed and some on horseback, which easily exceeded in number our little band that left Las Vegas on foot four days earlier. These public servants were clearly responding to a perceived threat to public safety and so were we. Our purposes were disjointed, though, in that we were at Creech in response to a clear and present danger presented by the murderous crimes of Squadron 17 somewhere in the depth of this desert outpost. The official and ostensible law enforcement squad, on the other hand, was there in response to the threat that a few unarmed citizens might step across an arbitrary and ever shifting line on the pavement.
I write this on my way to Kansas City, where, this weekend, good and faithful friends will go to nearby Whiteman Air Force Base to confront the predator drones based there. A few days later, Voices for Creative Nonviolence and friends will start walking from Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago (a major drone contractor) 160 miles to Battle Creek, Michigan, where a National Guard unit is poised to begin operating predator drones over far away skies. “Force Protection Alpha” is truly “in Effect” and people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well as communities in the U.S. and Europe are responding to the emergency.
Brian Terrell is a Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and lives on a Catholic Worker farm in Maloy, Iowa
Photo credit: John Amidon
The human rights world has been shocked by the Saudi decision to execute two prisoners for protesting against the regime and calling for political reforms. Yesterday a court in Jedda passed the sentence of death on Ali Mohamad Baqir Al Nimr, 18, for protesting against the regime and for allegedly pointing a gun at a policeman. On Monday, Redha Al Rebh, 26, from Qatif, had also been sentenced to execution by the same court. A wave of anger in the Eastern Province has led to protests and demonstrations against these oppressive verdicts.
The release of Nabeel Rajab on Saturday 24th May has focused the world’s attention on the Bahraini prisoners of conscience languishing behind bars, most of whom have been jailed for expressing their opinion. It has also served to highlight the lawless judicial system and its role as a tool of repression and subjugation in the hands of the ruling Alkhalifa family. Mr Rajab’s first step after his liberation was to visit the family of Martyr Sayed Mahmood Sayed Mohsin who had been killed on 23rd May by members of Death Squads. They used shotguns to spray his body with pellets in three places including near his heart. Nabeel Rajab has called for the immediate and unconditional release of the political prisoners and all other Bahrainis. Among his main observations after his ordeal of psychological and mental torture was that the situation in Bahrain has deteriorated sharply in terms of human rights and the absence of the rule of law.
Despite Mr Rajab’s remarks, the regime has continued its ferocious attacks on Bahrainis. Yesterday, Ali Saeed Khalaf was sentenced to 60 days detention under the notorious terrorism laws. He had been snatched last week as he arrived at Bahrain Airport. Ahmad Al Asmakh, has been given prison sentences that have now surpassed 80 years. The latest charge is in relation to the protests that had taken place in 2011 at the Financial Harbour in the capital, the heart of prime minister’s financial empire. Another Bahraini victim has accumulated more than 100 years of jail sentences. Redha Al Ghasra has been repeatedly given harsh prison sentences for opposing the hereditary dictatorship. Together, the total has now surpassed 100 years. It is widely known in the legal systems that one sentence of life imprisonment encompasses all other sentences. Another victim of this vicious judiciary is Hussain Obaid whose prison sentence matched his own age of 15 years.
Meanwhile the mass arrests affecting the natives have continued. From Northern Sehla two brothers, Sayed Hashim and Sayed Younis Sayed Talib Al Abbar were arrested at dawn yesterday. A young cleric, Sayed Sadiq Al Shakhouri has been languishing in jail for more than 18 months and has been forgotten by the human rights world.
As the repression inside the torture dungeons intensifies the prisoners have resorted to protests and hunger strikes. On Sunday 25th May Hussain Al Banna started hunger strike after the prison authorities banned any clothing or sanitary materials from entering his cell. He has been held in solitary confinement for the past 30 days, shackled in hands and feet. His family and that of Redha Al Ghasra have confirmed that their sons have become skeletons due to ill-treatment and lack of nourishing food. Another detainee at Jaw Prison, Ibrahim Al Demstani, who is part of the medical team which had been persecuted for treating the injured, has started hunger strike. His health is deteriorating and has not been able to meet his family during their scheduled visit last week.
On 23rd May Amnesty International issued a statement calling on the Bahraini authorities to launch a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death of Sayed Mahmood Sayed Mohsin who was sprayed with shogun pellets. The organization has urged the Bahraini authorities to ensure the investigation is transparent, that its results are made public and that anyone found responsible is brought to justice. After it presented a legal argument in support of its demands Amnesty concluded its statement saying: Amnesty International urges the authorities to launch prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all cases of torture and other ill-treatment, deaths during protests and deaths in custody, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice in fair trials.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
28th May 2014
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt has responded to DeSmogBlog's investigation of the Bakken Shale basin fracking field trip her office facilitated for former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who now works at the Manhattan-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
Militarily, Africa is fast becoming an American continent. Barack Obama, who has been president for all but the first year of AFRICOM’s existence, has succeeded in integrating U.S. fighting units, bases, training regimens, equipment and financing into the military structures of all but a handful of African nations. The great pan-Africanist and former Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah’s dream of a militarily united Africa has been all but realized – with Americans and Europeans in charge. Under the guise of “humanitarian” intervention, Obama has vastly expanded Bill Clinton and George Bush’s African footprints, so that only a few patches on the continental map lie outside Washington’s sphere of operations. Eritrea and Zimbabwe are the notable exceptions – and, therefore, future targets.
Africa is occupied territory. The African Union doesn’t even pretend to be in charge of its own nominal peace-keeping missions, which are little more than opportunities for African militaries to get paid for doing the West’s bidding. China and Brazil may be garnering the lion’s share of trade with Africa, but the men with the guns are loyal to AFRICOM – the sugar daddy to the continent’s military class. U.S. troops now sleep in African barracks, brothers in arms with African officers who can determine who will sleep next week in the presidential mansion.
The pace of U.S. penetration of West Africa has quickened dramatically since 2011, when Obama bombed Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan government out of existence, setting a flood of jihadists and weapons streaming east to Syria and south to destabilize the nations of the Sahel. Chaos ensued – beautiful chaos, if you are a U.S. military planner seeking justification for ever-larger missions. NATO’s aggression against Libya begat the sub-Saharan chaos that justified the French and U.S. occupation of Mali and Niger. Hyperactive North African jihadists, empowered by American bombs, weapons and money, trained and outfitted their brethren on the continent, including elements of Nigeria’s Boko Haram. The Yoruba-speaking Islamic warriors then bequeathed AFRICOM a priceless gift: nearly 300 schoolgirls in need of rescuing, perfect fodder for “humanitarian” intervention.
Nobody had to ask twice that Obama “Do something!”
The heads of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Benin and Cameroon were summoned to Paris (pretending it was their idea) where they declared “total war” on Boko Haram, as “observers” from the U.S., France, Britain and the European Union (Africa’s past and future stakeholders) looked on. French President Francois Hollande said “a global and regional action plan” would come out of the conference.
“The heads of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Benin and Cameroon were summoned to Paris where they declared ‘total war’ on Boko Haram.”
Of course, the five African states have neither the money, training, equipment nor intelligence gathering capacity for such a plan. It will be a Euro-American plan for the defense and security of West Africa – against other Africans. Immediately, the U.S. sent 80 troops to Chad (whose military has long been a mercenary asset of France) to open up a new drone base, joining previously existing U.S. drone fields in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Seychelles Islands, Djibouti (home to a huge French and American base), and CIA sites that need not be disclosed.
The new West African security grouping became an instant imprint of NATO, an appendage to be shaped by imperial military planners to confront enemies chosen by Washington and Paris.
What a miracle of humanitarian military momentum! The girls had only been missing for a month, and might not be rescued alive, but five neighboring African countries – one of them the biggest economy on the continent – had already been dragooned into a NATO-dominated military alliance with other subordinate African states.
It soon turned out that AFRICOM already had a special relationship with the Nigerian military that was not announced until after the schoolgirls’ abduction. AFRICOM will train a battalion of Nigerian Rangers in counterinsurgency warfare, the first time that the Command has provided “full spectrum” training to Africans on such a scale.
With the American public in a “Save our girls” interventionist frame of mind, operations that were secret suddenly became public. The New York Times reveals that the U.S. has been running a secret program to train counterterrorism battalions for Niger and Mauritania. Elite Green Berets and Delta Force killers are instructing handpicked commandos in counterinsurgency in Mali, as well. The identity of one Times source leaves little doubt that the previously secret operations are designed to blanket the region with U.S. trained death squads. Michael Sheehan was until last year in charge of Special Operations at the Pentagon – Death Squads Central – where he pushed for more Special Ops trainers for African armies. Sheehan now holds the “distinguished chair” at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. In the 1980s, he was a Special Forces commander in Latin America – which can only mean death squads.
“AFRICOM will train a battalion of Nigerian Rangers in counterinsurgency warfare.”
U.S. Army Special Forces have always been political killers, most often operating with the CIA. The Phoenix Program, in Vietnam, which murdered between 26,000 and 41,000 people and tortured many more, was a CIA-Special Forces war crime. From 1975 to deep into the 80s, the CIA and its Special Forces muscle provided technical support and weapons to killers for Operation Condor, the death squads run by a consortium of military governments in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, believed responsible for 60,000 murders. Sheehan was probably involved in Operation Condor and its Central American component, Operation Charly, and has perfected the art of political murder, ever since. If he is happy and feeling vindicated by events in Africa, then U.S.-trained death squads are about to proliferate in that part of the world.
There is no question that Obama is enamored of Special Ops, since small unit murders by professional killers at midnight look less like war – and can, if convenient, be blamed on (other) “terrorists.” However, history – recent history – proves the U.S. can get away with almost limitless carnage in Africa. Ethiopia’s 2006 invasion of Somalia, backed by U.S. forces on land, air and sea, resulted in “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa” at the time, “worse than Darfur,” according to UN observers, with hundreds of thousands dead. The U.S. then withheld food aid to starve out Somali Shabaab fighters, leading to even more catastrophic loss of life. But, most Americans are oblivious to such crimes against Black humanity.
U.S. ally Ethiopia commits genocide against ethnic Somalis in its Ogaden region with absolute impunity, and bars the international media from the region. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – each of them with help from Susan Rice – have collectively killed six million Congolese since 1996. The greatest genocide since World War Two was the premeditated result of the chaos deliberately imposed on mineral-rich Congo by the U.S. and its henchmen in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. Paul Kagame, the current leader of Rwanda, shot down a plane with two presidents aboard in 1994, sparking the mass killings that brought Kagame to power and started neighboring Congo on the road to hell. America celebrates Kagame as a hero, although the Tutsi tribal dictator sends death squads all over the world to snuff out those who oppose him.
“The U.S. can get away with almost limitless carnage in Africa.”
Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni, a friend of the U.S. since Ronald Reagan, committed genocidal acts against his rivals from the Acholi tribe, throwing them into concentration camps. Joseph Kony was one of these Acholis, who apparently went crazy. Kony hasn’t been a threat to Uganda or any other country in the region for years, but President Obama used a supposed sighting of remnants of his Lords Resistance Army to send 100 Green Berets to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Just last month, Obama sent 150 more troops and four aircraft to central Africa, again claiming that Kony was lurking, somewhere.
Actually, the American troops were deployed near South Sudan, which the U.S, Britain and Israel had destabilized for decades in an effort to split it off from the larger nation of Sudan. South Sudan became independent, but it remained unstable – not a nation, but a place with oil that the U.S. coveted. Many tens of thousands more are certain to die in fighting in South Sudan, but few Americans will blame their own country.
As the carnage in Congo demonstrates, whole populations can be made to disappear in Africa without most people in the West noticing. The death squads the Americans are training in Nigeria, Niger, Mauretania and Mali, and those that will soon be stalking victims in Cameroon and Benin, will not be limited to hunting Boko Haram. Death squads are, by definition, destabilizing; they poison the political and social environment beyond repair, as Central Americans who lived through the 80s can attest.
Yet, that is U.S. imperialism’s preferred method of conquest in the non-white world. It’s what the Americans actually do, when folks demand that they “Do something.”
Don’t Be Fooled By “Conspiracy Theory” Smears
By Norman Solomon
In a memoir published this year, the CIA’s former top legal officer John Rizzo says that on the last day of 2005 a panicky White House tried to figure out how to prevent the distribution of a book by New York Times reporter James Risen. Officials were upset because Risen’s book, State of War, exposed what -- in his words -- “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”
The book told of a bungled CIA attempt to set back Iran’s nuclear program in 2000 by supplying the Iranian government with flawed blueprints for nuclear-bomb design. The CIA’s tactic might have actually aided Iranian nuclear development.
When a bootlegged copy of State of War reached the National Security Council, a frantic meeting convened in the Situation Room, according to Rizzo. “As best anyone could tell, the books were printed in bulk and stacked somewhere in warehouses.” The aspiring censors hit a wall. “We arrived at a rueful consensus: game over as far as any realistic possibility to keep the book, and the classified information in it, from getting out.”
But more than eight years later, the Obama White House is seeking a different form of retribution. The people running the current administration don’t want to pulp the book -- they want to put its author in jail.
The Obama administration is insisting that Risen name his confidential source -- or face imprisonment. Risen says he won’t capitulate.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation calls the government’s effort to force Risen to reveal a source “one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades.”
Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says: “The pursuit of Risen is a warning to potential sources that journalists cannot promise them confidentiality for disclosing Executive Branch criminality, recklessness, deception, unconstitutional policies or lying us into war. Without protecting confidentiality, investigative journalism required for accountability and democracy will wither and disappear.”
A recent brief from the Obama administration to the nation’s top court “is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” Politico reporte
This threat is truly ominous. As Ellsberg puts it, “We would know less than we do now about government abuses, less than we need to know to hold officials accountable and to influence policy democratically.”
So much is at stake: for whistleblowers, freedom of the press and the public’s right to know. For democracy.
That’s why five organizations -- RootsAction.org, The Nation, the Center for Media and Democracy / The Progressive, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and the Freedom of the Press Foundation -- have joined together to start a campaign for protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. So far, in May, about 50,000 people have signed a petition telling President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to end legal moves against Risen.
Charging that the administration has launched “an assault on freedom of the press,” the petition tells Obama and Holder: “We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.”
The online petition -- “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press” -- includes thousands of personal comments from signers. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
“Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are the cornerstones of our democracy. Stop trying to restrict them.” Jim T., Colorado Springs, Colorado
“Protected sources are essential to a real democracy. Without whistleblowers, there is no truth.” Jo Ellen K., San Francisco, California
“Enough of the government assault on freedom of the press! Whistleblowers are heroes to the American people.” Paul D., Keaau, Hawaii
“It seems our government is out of control. The premise of deriving power from the people would appear to be a quaint notion to most within the three branches. Instead they now view us as subjects that must bend to their will rather than the other way around.” Gary J., Liberty Township, Ohio
“‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.’ -- George Orwell” Todd J., Oxford, Michigan
“As a writer, I support freedom of the press around the world as a vital first step toward regaining control of our compromised democracies.” Patricia R., Whitehorse, YT, Canada
“You promised an open and transparent administration. Please keep that promise.” Willard S., Cary, North Carolina
“Without a free press, we really have nothing.” Robin H., Weehawken, New Jersey
“The Obama administration’s attack on press freedom is an issue of grave concern. Why are we spending billions of dollars going after supposed ‘terrorists’ when the greatest threat to democracy resides right here in Washington, DC.” Karen D., Detroit, Michigan
“Damn you, Obama! You become more like Nixon daily!” Leonard H., Manchester, Michigan
“Congratulations, Mr. Risen!” Marian C., Hollister, California
“The U.S. is becoming an increasingly frightening place to live, more than a little like a police state. President Obama, you have been a huge disappointment. I expected better from you.” Barbara R., Newport, Rhode Island
“Come on, President Obama... you're a Constitutional scholar. You know better than this. Knock it off.” James S., Burbank, California
“There can be no true freedom of the press unless the confidentiality of sources is protected. Without this, no leads, informants or whistleblowers will be motivated to come forward. Reporters should not be imprisoned for doing their job.” Chris R., North Canton, Ohio
“You took an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,’ freedom of the press!” Diane S., San Jose, California
“Whatever became of the progressive Obama and the change you promised? Evidently it was a load of campaign bull puckey, making you just another politician who says whatever it takes to get elected. In other words, you and your administration are a complete sham. As for your constitutional scholarship, it would appear to be in the service of undermining the Constitution a la Bush and Cheney.” Barry E., Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
“Without a free press, our republic is paper-mache. Remember John Peter Zenger! We must not shoot the messenger -- we must raise the bar for conduct and probity!” Lance K., Chelsea, Massachusetts
“A free press is the only counterbalance to crony capitalism, corrupt legislators, and a pitifully partisan Supreme Court, that continues to destroy our Constitutional protections.” Dion B., Cathedral City, California
“I implore you to RESPECT THE FIRST AMENDMENT.” Glen A., Lacey, Washington
“Did you not learn in grade school that freedom of the press is essential to a free country?” Joanne D., Colorado Springs, Colorado
“We've been down this road before. What amazes me is that we condemn other countries for stifling freedom of the press, then turn around and do the same thing to advance our own purposes. Are we proponents of democracy and a free press or not?” William M., Whittier, California
“Journalism is a vital component of a democracy, and it is a core function protected by the freedom of expression enshrined in both international and domestic law. You must stop harassing and persecuting journalists and their sources who are providing a vital public service in prying open the activities of governments that are illegitimately concealed from the public. If the public is not informed of state actions executed in their name, they cannot evaluate and render consent to those actions through the vote. This secrecy therefore subverts democracy, and you must stop using police powers to destroy the whistleblowers who enable government accountability to the public.” Jim S., Gatlinburg, Tennessee
“I support freedom of the press, not the attorney general’s vicious abuse of his position!” Bettemae J., Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Compelling reporters to reveal their sources just means that sources will stop talking to reporters. That will cripple the free press. If you think that’s not important, please resign immediately.” Stephen P., Gresham, Oregon
“As an old woman who remembers the lies of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (especially) and the current administration, I do not trust my own government to tell me the truth anymore. Freedom of the press is my only chance [to] find out what the truth is. Protect reporters’ sources!” Monica O., Lomita, California
“Without freedom of the press, we might as well kiss democracy goodbye!” Melvin M., Vashon, Washington
“I am ashamed of this administration, its policies and its Department of Justice -- what a travesty of criminal turpitude and mass media complicity. ‘Transparency’ -- hah! Cheap campaign rhetoric.” Mitch L., Los Altos Hills, California
“Walk the walk or stop talking about democracy. Free press is the basis of our constitution.” Carl D., Manassas, Virginia
“No free press, no democracy!” James F., Moab, Utah
“If you force the media to reveal its sources, no one will ever come forth with a news story or lead again. I'm sure this is precisely what the politicians and big business want. Then there’d be absolutely no accountability. We need an effective shield law rather than persecuting journalists and news organizations for reporting the news.” Jim S., Ladera Ranch, California
“Freedom of the Press is the hallmark of a free society. Your administration has done everything in its power to subvert Freedom of the Press by jailing whistleblowers and reporters who uncover wrong doing. This must stop!” Ed A., Queens, New York
“We have very few real journalists left. Let's not jail them!” Karen H., West Grove, Pennsylvania
“As the press goes, so goes citizens’ rights.” Kathy F., West Bend, Wisconsin
“I have been shocked at how this administration has treated the American people’s right to know, prosecuting reporters, whistleblowers, and others who have had the temerity to cast light into the dark corners of our government. You bring the whole concept of democracy into disrepute and set a bad example for the rest of the world.” Marjorie P., Montpelier, Vermont
“We need our investigative reporters more now than ever in history. Keep our press free.” Joan R., Novato, California
“Investigative reporting is becoming too rare in the U.S., and compelling J. Risen to reveal his sources will only make such reporting even rarer. Is this your deliberate intent?” Elaine L., Elk Grove, California
“I am responding in support of James Risen. Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of our democracy and should never be trampled on by government.” Lois D., San Jacinto, California
“Freedom of the press is more important than some stinking government attempt to find out how bad shenanigans made it into the press. Quit this crap about trying to make a reporter reveal his or her sources. We need good reporting a lot more than lousy stinking politicians trying to shut up the truth.” Ralph M., Bakerstown, Pennsylvania
“Without a free press tyranny will ensue.” Bob P., Holland, Pennsylvania
“I thought Mr. Obama was supposed to be a Constitutional lawyer and swore to uphold it. I thought the Attorney General was supposed to also protect the Constitution. It seems you both have abandoned those duties. Prove you hold the Constitution as the authority from which you derive your own and cease this persecution of a reporter who epitomizes one of the crucial things the Constitution stands for -- a truly free press.” Michael S., Tukwila, Washington
“I've seen mud more transparent than the Obama admin.” Paul H., Carlton, Oregon
“Wow, this coming from the Obama administration who supposedly is for open govt. Isn't it a police state when the govt cracks down on reporters for telling the truth? James Risen is a hero who will go to jail before revealing his source and the fact that you want to throw him in jail is the real crime here.” Gayle J., Seattle, Washington
“Shocking.” Peggy K., Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin
“You have way overstepped your authority. I consider myself a moderate, but your aggressive pursuit of journalists and whistleblowers strikes fear in my heart. Your use of intimidation to weaken the press is contributing to the dismantling of our democracy.” Marcia B., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“Quit trying to silence journalists! This is a Vladimir Putin approach to government. Hope and Change? Get Real!” Rich W., Grass Valley, California
“Stop destroying our heroes, the courageous whistleblowers and journalists, including Risen and others who should be thanked, not prosecuted! You know damn well that the People want these people honored!” Nancy G., Palm Desert, California
“Please recognize the need for a journalist to be free of coercion to reveal confidential sources. Bravo to James Risen for having the courage to resist this onerous government intimidation.” Thomas S., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“We are already seeing freedom of the press undermined by consolidation of media ownership. The founding fathers believed that we could only keep this republic if we have free press and an informed public. Stop the suppression of information. Free access to information is not an optional ingredient.” Janelle J., Buffalo, Missouri
“Stop persecuting journalists and whistleblowers. Information is the lifeblood of a democracy.” William C., Sherman Oaks, California
“Our government has become big brother. Journalists must not be forced to name their sources if we are to know the truth.” Carolyn S., Los Angeles, California
“A free press is gone if confidential sources are revealed.” Vincent H., Rutledge, Tennessee
“Frankly, Mr. President, I'm surprised at you, and I have to say, disappointed. This seems like something that happens in totalitarian countries.” Karen B., Felton, California
“Freedom of the press is already under siege because big business controls so much of the message. The Obama administration must respect James Risen’s right to withhold his source.” Patricia B., Marco Island, Florida
“Whistleblowers are vital to keeping our democracy from turning into a police state. And a free press is vital to keeping us informed. Drop this case, and uphold the principles of our Constitution.” Cynthia D., E. Boston, MA
“The press should be free to do its job! How about some of that ‘most transparent administration’ stuff. If an administration has nothing to hide it has nothing to fear.” Mike H., Terre Haute, Indiana
“James Risen is an investigative reporter of high repute who should not be subjected to state harassment and punishment for upholding his pledge of confidentiality to his sources. These encroachments on our Fourth Estate’s watchdog function as a check on the abuse of power must not stand.” Barbara K., Santa Fe, New Mexico
“You both have to stop talking out of both sides of your mouth, i.e. lying. We are fighting for freedom of the press. Stop being enemies to us people.” Judith N., North Bonneville, Washington
“Please don't trash the Bill of Rights. Protect the freedom and independence of the press. Drop the case against James Risen.” Andrew M., Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania
“Daniel Ellsberg was right. James Risen is right.” Leonore J., Toledo, Ohio
“When the light of free press is no more, darkness prevails and evildoers flourish. I know this is what this corrupt government wants but over our dead bodies.” Felix C., San Antonio, Texas
“What Mr. Risen did in this instance, was not criminal. Rather it was EXACTLY what a free press should do, without fear of reprisal. Stop the strong arm tactics.” John S., Trumbull, Connecticut
“The investigative work of journalists sheds light on the world and what is happening. The increasing punishment of journalists is pushing our world and news into a scary age of non-information. Safeguard the confidentiality of journalists and their sources.” Christin B., Barnegat Light, New Jersey
“Stop persecuting journalists and truth tellers.” Phyllis B., Desert Hot Springs, California
Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. 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
Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. 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
US “Dirty” Wars, Targeted Killing & Secret Operations Supercede Military Occupations – But Are Still Illegitimate
Join us at the Left Forum, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 W. 59th St, New York City on Sunday, June 1, 10:00 - 11:50 am to hear this panel on US dirty wars, especially drone warfare. It not only will provide historical background and context to the issues facing us and the world today, it is action-oriented, grappling with how to challenge how people think. Come, participate and help plan mass action to stop the crimes of your government.
“We must use all available options,
which have been given to us,
to end the global suffering.”
The future is always present. The caterpillar contains the information of the butterfly. Behind the global violence, the dream of a new Earth develops.
With this perspective we are able to look into the insanity of our epoch, which has reached its climax. Every day uncountable human beings, animals and biotopes die in order to maintain a system from which ever fewer people profit. Big parts of the Earth are systematically destabilized. Many of the current wars serve – exactly as in the establishment of world spanning “free trade zones” – the extension of capitalist power in the direction of a totalitarian world order. Humanity is heading toward a global catastrophe.
We are facing the decision: Planetary collapse or comprehensive system change?
What we now need is engaged women and men to join powers for the development of concrete perspectives and corresponding strategies for their distribution. It is no longer possible to bear witness to the worldwide atrocities without working on a convincing alternative.
We invite activists, decision-makers, journalists, investors, musicians, artists and researchers from all over the world to the Summer University in Tamera. We especially invite all participants of the worldwide Terra Nova School to meet here, connect with each other and strengthen themselves. We invite you to co-create a global alliance for a future without war.
The ten-day Summer University is an intense community experience and a space for strategic planning and creative work. In a variety of different groups, we want to develop answers to the following questions:
Instead of paying a regular “event fee” we invite you to participate in our current spiritual experiment of redirecting money into models for the future. Our suggestion is that each participant tries to acquire a minimum amount of 1000€ in addition to the 20€ day rate. Please take a moment to read this, and join in.
Just as Greenpeace has to be financed by donations, building functioning peace models needs broad financial support. For this purpose we currently launch a big action. We invite sponsors and people from the financial world to no longer invest money in an outdated economic system, but in the implementation of a profound future perspective – in the development of Tamera and the Healing Biotopes Project. There are many people in this world today who do not know where they can put their money and are searching for meaningful ways to invest in a decent future perspective. We ask all of you to participate in this big fundraising experiment.
We want our International Summer University to become a planetary meeting place for peace workers and to use the event, in the spirit of this money campaign, for a common spiritual experiment. With your contribution you will cover operating costs of Tamera and help to support three of our operations & projects that currently require financial support. For more details on how the 1000€ will be used, please check the Summer University event description on the Tamera website: www.tamera.org.
By participating in this experiment all together, we build a common power field of success. We invite you to become active in seducing money flows in the process.
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Institute for Global Peace Work (IGP)
Tamera Peace Research Center
Monte do Cerro, P-7630-303 Colos, Portugal
Phone: +351-283 635 484, Fax: - 374