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Happy Human Rights Day, and what ever happened to the right to life?
We need to stop imagining that when wars come home to the land of their creators that the suffering created is something separate from war. And we need to stop imagining that racist cruelty at home doesn't fuel the distant wars.
Imagine a country in which people condemn gun violence and police violence while actively pushing for a new cold war with Russia or urging the bombing of Syria or cheering a string of drone murders and tolerating the expansion of the U.S. military presence to darn near the whole globe. Or a peace movement that condemns foreign drone murders while failing to focus on the higher number of murders creating by U.S. police officers.
Weapons dealing is an integrated global enterprise that feeds on racist, bigoted, violent, and macho ideologies wherever it can find them. Trying to defeat it with separate anti-gun and anti-war movements not united in their work won't succeed. Most of the guns are sold abroad, many of them deployed against U.S. fighters in the wars. Many gun owners' fantasies are closely related to war.
When local police are given weapons by the U.S. military and training by the militaries of the United States and other nations, and when they employ veterans of the military, which employs veterans of the police and prison industries in turn, demanding that the warlike behavior that results on our streets and in our homes be restricted to foreign wars will not work, not practically and not morally. It makes as much sense as a protester asking that an oil pipeline be rerouted somewhere else. The damage to the earth will still be done, no matter the route. Donald Trump says he'll have less war but more military spending. That's like having more ice cream to lose weight.
This text is the foreword to a new book by Pat Elder called Military Recruiting in the United States.
Most people in the United States are far from aware of the full extent of military marketing, advertising, and recruitment efforts. We run into movies and comic books and video games and toys and school worksheets and science fairs and television shows and websites all the time that have been funded by and created in collaboration with the U.S. military. But we don’t know it. Or we know it, but we have so internalized the idea that the most expensive and extensive military the earth has ever known is simply normal, that we don’t think of its role in our educational and entertainment systems as in any way questionable. We don’t even think of the military’s marketing as being aimed at recruitment, much less ask each other whether that’s a good thing or being done in a proper way, or whether we ourselves should be forking over some $600 million a year just for the military’s advertising budget.
Chip Gibbons is the Policy and Legislative Counsel for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He is also a writer whose work has been featured in Jacobin, Truthout, and Counterpunch. We discuss U.S. Congressional efforts to censor criticism of the Israeli government, and to create a new McCarthyite Anti-Russia Committee.
The petition we mention is here.
The account of a sleeping Congress Member we mention is here.
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Charlottesville City Council Member Wes Bellamy is being widely denounced for tweets he tweeted years ago. I think he should be given a break.
I don't know Bellamy well and have not communicated with him about this. I don't support everything he's done even in recent years. I have almost nothing but contempt for the Democratic Party. I don't believe Bellamy deserves more of a break than would anyone else from some other demographic. I don't sympathize in the least with the disgusting things he tweeted.
And yet I find this criticism of him outrageous. And I find it consistent with some disturbing trends that extend well beyond Charlottesville.
Bellamy speaking at a rally on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville.
The problem of unfair privilege here is not one of race or class or gender but of age and position. If you grew up before every Spring Break lunacy and adolescent pretense was enshrined forever on the internet (outside of wise European efforts to provide a Right to Be Forgotten), you must be very careful in criticizing those who have grown up since that underappreciated age. If you have not stuck your neck out into the fire of partisan politics, you must give careful consideration to what most-ugly and most-deeply-forgotten thing you would be at risk of becoming known for if you did.
[NOTE: The website for this blog post [ www.afriendlyletter.com ] abruptly disappeared from the web about 36 hours after it was posted. As of this writing, three days later, the site is still down; the host says only that it is “working on it.” This version has been pieced together for distribution by other means.]
Millennials Organize Gun Violence Prevention Intersectionality Summit to Bring People Together Post-Election to Combat Divisiveness and Hate for a Day of Education, Organizing, Solidarity, and Art
Strength in Synergy Summit to be help December 10th at American University, DC
WASHINGTON, DC – On Saturday, December 10 from 9:30am - 7:30pm, a gun violence prevention summit organized by millennials will hold workshops, panel discussions, breakout grassroots organizing sessions, and conclude with a concert featuring local DC artists such as: Shepard Kings, Terry Gibson, and WERK for Peace. Workshops will be led by April Goggans (Black Lives Matter), Rachel Graber (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), Miriam Pembleton (Institute for Policy Studies), and other significant members of gun violence prevention actions. To find more information about workshops and presenters click here.
Leading a workshops on intersections between domestic and foreign violence and racism will be David Swanson (World Beyond War and RootsAction.org), Jamani Montague (RootsAction.org), and Leah Muskin-Pierret.
Sign up: http://strengthinsynergy.com
“My host sister was murdered in Portland in 2008 by a man who bought a gun from a gun show with no background check; she was one of the many victims that would be alive today if we had a comprehensive, inclusive response to gun violence. Preventing the type of horror that affected my family is one of the most important issues to me. I recognize that gun violence is a deeply intersectional issue with the many oppressions that people face. With Trump’s violent and hateful rhetoric being quickly normalized, now is the time to bring our communities together.”
- Martha Durkee-Neuman, 20, CODEPINK.
Co-sponsoring/co-organizing organizations include: the Brady Campaign, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Black Lives Matter DC, the Institute for Policy Studies, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, CODEPINK, WERK For Peace, Gays Against Guns, the Coalition of Concerned Mothers, the Timothy Dawkins El Project, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, the DC Anti-Violence Project, and MomsRising.
Visit http://strengthinsynergy.com for more information,
or on Facebook: https://facebook.com/events/157950498008430
NATIONAL BIRD This incendiary new film was produced by legendary filmmakers Wim Wenders and Errol Morris. Three U.S. military veterans have recently become whistleblowers by breaking the silence surrounding America’s secret drone war. Tortured by guilt for their participation in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, and despite the threat of being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, these three veterans offer an unprecedented look inside this secret program. Filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck follows one of the protagonists to war torn Afghanistan where she sees firsthand the human cost of America’s global drone strikes. Her journey gives some hope for peace and redemption. (92 mins)
David Swanson is the author of War Is A Lie and War Is Never Just. He is an activist, journalist, and public speaker. His previous books include When the World Outlawed War, and War No More: The Case forAbolition. Swanson serves as director of World Beyond War, and host of Talk Nation Radio. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He is based in Charlottesville, Va.
Wounded Knee III in the making?: It’s Cowboy Cops Cavalry against Peaceful Indians and their Anglo Supporters at Standing Rock
By Dave Lindorff
There’s a chapter in a new book by Dorothie and Martin Hellman called A New Map for Relationships that outlines seven international relationships between the United States and others in which many people in the United States have not understood their government’s abusive behavior. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
What would people in the United States make of the information, if they had it, that Russians are infuriated when the West doesn’t recognize their suffering in the course of their defeat of Nazi Germany? The single city where Vladimir Putin’s parents lived lost more civilian lives to Germany in WWII than all U.S. military losses in the war. Yet the U.S. boycotts Russia’s 70th anniversary victory celebration in order to protest the choice of the people of Crimea to rejoin Russia following a violent right-wing coup in Ukraine facilitated by the United States. And Russians remember Harry Truman saying that the United States should help Germany if Russia was winning and Russia if Germany was winning, so that more people would die. They remember the U.S. delay for years in launching D-Day until Russia had been bled dry. The remember Winston Churchill’s proposal to launch a war on Russia using Nazi troops within hours of the Nazi defeat. They remember the U.S.-British-French invasion of 1917. They remember the U.S. promise not to expand NATO eastward when Germany reunited. They watch every military expansion on their border. They listen to every lie and provocation. And people in the United States remain oblivious, aloof, arrogant, and abusive. If this were a marriage, one partner would be told to do a little bit better listening.
How many people in the United States know that Jimmy Carter met with North Korea’s government in 1994 and made an agreement between the United States and North Korea that North Korea upheld for years? How many know that the United States chose not to uphold its side of the agreement while at the same time labeling North Korea part of an “axis of evil,” invading Iraq, and declaring in a “National Security Strategy” the U.S. right to attack such other countries? And that only after that, North Korea pulled out of the Nonproliferation Treaty and kicked out inspectors, and four years later conducted its first nuclear test? How many have considered the North Korean perspective on Libya’s agreement to give up nuclear weapons, followed by the violent overthrow of the Libyan government and the savage torture and murder of Libya’s president? Is there any awareness in the United States that North Korea views U.S./South Korean simulations of bombing North Korea (again) as threatening? Without, needless to say, declaring any partner in any relationship to be a saint (except my wife who actually is), isn’t it possible that a good counselor for this relationship would gently invite the United States to remove its head from its posterior?
A New Map for Relationships looks at these two and five other relationships from the perspective of personal, specifically marriage, relations. While I found other sections of the book analyzing the authors’ own marriage far less valuable, that could be in part because I already largely agreed with them. I appreciate their particular insights and facts once they turn to foreign policy, but someone inclined to believe hostility and arrogance to be entirely appropriate in foreign policy might be shaken in that perspective if they read the book in its entirety. (And if you think such people don’t exist, go back and watch Senator Ron Paul booed in a presidential primary debate in South Carolina for suggesting that foreign policy utilize the Golden Rule.)
That being said, I think there are a couple of dangers that must be carefully avoided every time we do the personal-to-international analogy. One is that propagandists and propagandizees are not identical. Those concocting fraudulent justifications for war are often completely aware of what they are doing. We have Pentagon officials now openly talking about hyping the Russian threat for bureaucratic and profit motives. Those are very different problems than lack of information or empathy. And empathy and understanding may not be the tools we principally need to apply in order to alter the actions of the propagandists; sometimes massive nonviolent disruption may be more useful. The distinction between those in power and those out is muddied by the use (by these authors and virtually every human being in the United States) of the term “we” to refer to the United States military or government.
A second problem is false equivalence. In a marriage, two partners should be, and in many ways usually are, relatively equal. In a relationship between the United States and Iran, for example, one of them spends hundreds of times what the other does on militarism, has bases on the other’s borders, threatens the other with war, has invaded the other’s neighbors, possesses nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, routinely engages in wars and drone murders, spies on and assassinates members of and sabotages the other, and has attempted to frame the other and falsely accuse the other of crimes. This same “equal partner” once overthrew the other’s democracy and installed and for years propped up a brutal dictator, and then assisted the other’s neighbor in a war against it that included massive killing with chemical weapons, to which the other chose not to respond in kind. In this sort of situation, asking each equal partner to admit equal blame is not a path to resolution. Asking each partner to admit some blame may make sense, but there’s an obvious reason why one of them should go first.
With those caveats, there is much to be gained by examining the sometimes-overlapping attitudes toward international relations of the public and those in power. Doing so allows the Hellmans to reach key insights about Los Alamos scientists, presidents, and dictators. And, I think, as presidents more and more closely resemble dictators, their nations’ foreign policy more and more resembles their personal relationships. When Donald Trump is handed the power, not to execute the laws of Congress, but to make laws and launch wars and spy and kidnap and imprison and torture and murder at will, it becomes very relevant how he relates to people or nations. It begins to matter that he has personal property all over the globe, some of which will almost certainly be attacked by terrorists. It begins to matter more that he may be more insecure and paranoid than Richard Nixon. But if he swears off hostility toward other nations and tries to work with them as partners, that may be an enormous silver lining to his cloudy rise to power. If on the other hand he wants war, there may be a silver lining for our resistance: if he is more naively open about his motivations — if he blurts out “steal their oil!” and “kill their families!” — then the rest of us may have an easier time avoiding the trap of imagining that the people he wants to slaughter have deeply offended us.
President Obama waited until after the election last week to propose an unpopular idea. He asked Congress for $11.6 billion extra — outside the huge existing military budget — for wars. Here’s his letter including all the gory details. Please read it yourself when you begin to hope that I’m making up some of what follows.
This massive pile of money, equivalent to the annual spending that the United Nations says could end the lack of clean drinking water globally, adds between 1% and 2% to U.S. military spending — but is by itself more than the entire military budget of all but 14 other nations on earth, 12 of which top-spending nations are U.S. allies.
I knew John Heuer was elderly from the day I met him, years ago, and came to know him as one of the most dedicated advocates of peace on earth. Losing him is a blow. He was youthful, vibrant, recently married, and intent on ridding the world of pointless mass slaughter. John was active in every organization and independently. He advanced nonviolent action, lobbying, education, and inspiration.
John wrote this four years ago:
Dear young citizens,
First, I want to congratulate you on your many accomplishments. Second, I want to counsel you on your roles as citizens.
When I graduated 8th grade in 1960, citizens could not vote until they were 21. Boys could be drafted into the army and sent to war at age 18, but they could not fully participate as citizens, including engagement in public, democratic decisions about whether or not the nation should send our boys to war. This travesty was somewhat remedied by passage of the 26th amendment to the US Constitution in 1971, granting the right to vote to 18 year-olds.
I say “somewhat” a remedy, because the issue of the rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties of citizens under the age of 18 have not been addressed. It is these rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties about which I write today: Your citizenship.
As rising 9th graders, you are well aware that your education is, as yet, incomplete. But it will come as a surprise to many and a shock to some to learn that your education has contained deep strains of fraud, about who actually runs our government and how. Here are three examples:
OLF – The US Navy proposed construction of “Outlying Landing Fields” (OLF) in wildlife sanctuaries near North Carolina’s east coast, in order to practice landings and take-offs for military aircraft. Public outcry caused the Navy to scuttle these plans.
Sonar Training Field off the Florida—Georgia coast. The Navy has proposed designating hundreds of square miles of Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the southern US for submarine sonar training, despite opposition of environmental groups which point out that these areas are breeding grounds for whales, and that high frequency sonar is known to drive marine mammals insane. The US Supreme Court overruled the environmentalists with the judgment that, while there could be incidental injury, there was also a lack of proof that the sonar testing area would threaten any species’ extinction.
$185 Billion Dollars is what our government proposes to spend in the next 10 years to modernize our nuclear weapons arsenal. It is difficult to measure (or imagine) $185 Billion, but it would pay for a lot of school lunches, teachers’ salaries and school nurses. Besides, what business do we have maintaining a military arsenal designed to incinerate cities?
When you consider these government programs, you have to wonder if our government has gone mad, and what we, as citizens, of all ages, can do about it.
Why don’t we hear more about these grave assaults on planet earth and this terrible squander of our wealth? The fact is that the agents that propose these travesties are the same ones that often own our newspapers and write your textbooks.
So, what are we to do? One of the 1st steps, I think, is for you to understand that the wealth being squandered and the planet being desecrated belongs to you, your generation, your children, grand children and posterity.
The 2nd step is to realize, however painfully, that your parents and grandparents have failed to establish your legacy of peaceful nations living together on an abundant earth.
The 3rd is to exercise your rights, responsibilities, privileges and duties of your citizenship to carefully study your local resources in order to propose a reconfiguration of those resources to meet the needs of your community, and to engage your peers in an earnest identification of those needs. Start with identifying the military footprint in your district and discuss how much, if any, that investment enhances the security of your community, and how redirecting that investment could improve the security of your community. Use your networking capabilities not just for socializing, but for building solidarity among your peers. Use that solidarity to demand a school curriculum that addresses the needs of your community or create your own curriculum.
Finally, a word about citizenship. Many of you go to school with non-citizens of the USA. Please recognize them as guests, and afford them as much hospitality as you can. Remember, your US citizenship may be established by the Constitution and subsequent laws, but we are all world citizens by virtue of our birth.
Here's a proposal backed by RootsAction.org, WorldBeyondWar.org, Pax Christi Charlottesville, Amnesty International Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, and 257 people who have signed this petition: http://bit.ly/cvillepeacepole
Charlottesville, Virginia, has the potential to be a leader for peace at home and abroad. Our city council in recent years passed resolutions against the war on Iraq, against threatening Iran, against drones, and in favor of moving resources from wasteful and deadly military spending to human and environmental needs. Other cities and towns followed Charlottesville's lead on some of these measures. Our voices were heard in Richmond and in Washington.
We now need to be a voice for peace and nonviolence more than ever. Wearing a safety pin is a wonderful way to communicate that one is a safe person not inclined toward bigotry or violence. But we need something more visible as well.
Charlottesville's monuments to wars, including the Native American genocide, the defense of slavery, and the slaughter of 3.8 million Vietnamese, dominate public space. Charlottesville's support for peace is nowhere visible on the public landscape.
Charlottesville has four sister cities, and signs indicating them are visible in Charlottesville. But the motto of Sister Cities International, "Peace Through People," is nowhere to be found. There is no location set aside to celebrate these relationships, as there could be in combination with a peace pole.
A couple of dozen young people marched back and forth through downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday evening shouting "Love Not Hate!" and "No Human Being Is Illegal!" and "Black Lives Matter!" and similar anti-Trump inspired slogans. They didn't hand out flyers or interact with other people at all, though I cheered for them.
Meanwhile some people my age looked on and made scornful condescending comments to the effect that the election was over and these fools should get over it. And one drunk guy, restrained by his wife or girlfriend, announced that "Black lives aren't worth s---!"
My response is different, if perhaps equally cynical. I'd like all the fools not marching and rallying to recognize that the dream of self-governance is over and to get over it. I'd like everyone to have gotten over it last month or last year or last decade.
I love that people march around shouting "Love Not Hate!" And the fact that anyone would object to that statement of preference ought to deeply disturb the most apathetic voter/consumer/spectator. In fact I've just helped set up a petition that reads:
"We will not stand by as hatred and violence are promoted by our president-elect. Racism and bigotry at home have been fueled by U.S. wars abroad, but also make more such wars easier. We commit to nonviolently resisting hateful attacks on our fellow human beings wherever they live."
I also love and am practicing the new trend of wearing a safety pin to indicate that one is a safe and caring person to anyone who might be worried about any variety of bigotry.
But here's where I get a bit cynical. Hillary Clinton told a room full of Goldman Sachs bankers that creating a no fly zone in Syria would require killing lots of Syrians. And she told the public she wanted to create that no fly zone. And if she had been declared the winner of the election, I can guarantee you that nobody would have been marching up and down my street yelling "Love Not Hate."
So, I worry that even those who value kindness to others value it only for the 4% of humanity in the United States but not so much for the other 96%, or value it only as directed by the less hateful of the two big political parties.
I also worry that it's even worse than that. I worry that, as cheerleaders for one political party over the other, people have lost touch with the idea of bringing demands from the public to the government. For seven years we had protests of the war on Afghanistan, for example. Then for eight years we didn't, even as the U.S. forces there grew by over 300 percent before declining. Perhaps next year those protests will recommence, but probably only in the unlikely event that the Democratic Party raises the issue.
Where was the outrage over the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Or over the lack of single-payer healthcare? Or over the failure to restrain inequality or environmental destruction? Or over the threat of a nuclear war with Russia? Why the selective outrage on-command as directed by televised coverage of the model or template protest in New York City?
But, really, what choice do people have? If they want others to join in, if they want the local media to cover them, they have to go where the momentum is. And when the momentum is for love against hate, everybody should be cheering and joining.
But we should also be directing our energy toward strategic areas for systemic change.
Is it a problem that the winner of the popular vote can be denied the U.S. presidency? Then let's compel our state legislatures to change the law to distribute electors in proportion to actual votes.
Is it a problem that a small cartel of major media corporations can choose to give someone like Donald Trump wall-to-wall free airtime, effectively handing him a nomination for president? Then let's channel widespread (including Trump's) disdain for the media into breaking up that cartel.
Is it a problem that the Democratic Party can slant the playing field of its primary to guarantee a win to a weak candidate? We should disempower and democratize parties, including by ending the corruption of privately financed elections, and by creating ranked-choice voting in the other 49 states as Maine's voters just did there.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead for the moment, and the president-elect made at least 1,000 speeches condemning NAFTA. Let's put an end to NAFTA, and not replace it with something worse.
It took President Obama two days after the election to put in his request for more billions for more war. Trump has already said he wants to end the arming of fighters in Syria. Let's end that supplemental spending bill along with that policy. And let's make clear that we won't stand for another form of escalation in Syria or Iraq.
Is it too early to impeach Trump? Then let's focus on blocking his horrendous cabinet nominations.
Much of recent Trump-driven hatred took the form of voter suppression. Let's demand investigations and prosecutions.
And what about loving future generations? Let's work to advance a wiser environmental policy at the local, state, and international levels, and to make clear to Congress and the president-elect that we will not stand for the destruction of the earth's climate.
Let's energize and strategize with everyone marching against the recent election. Let's take these protests where their leaders think they need to go. Even if we're just telling each other and the world that we're not among those accepting hatred and violence, that's all to the good.
But let's not start to believe that activism is principally for displaying our identities. Let's make sure we're transforming major structures that impact millions and billions of those whom we need to love and not hate.
Of silver linings: Trump’s Presidency, the Demise of the Major Parties, and the Need for a New Progressive Movement
By Dave Lindorff
Let’s look on the bright side.
Are you finding yourselves suddenly a bit doubtful of the wisdom of drone wars? Presidential wars without Congress? Massive investment in new, smaller, "more usable" nuclear weapons? The expansion of bases across Africa and Asia? Are you disturbed by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen? Can total surveillance and the persecution of whistleblowers hit a point where they've gone too far? Is the new Cold War with Russia looking less than ideal now? How about the militarization of U.S. police: is it time to consider alternatives to that?
I hear you. I'm with you. Let's build a movement together to end the madness of constantly overthrowing governments with bombs. Let's propose nonviolent alternatives to a culture gone mad with war. Let's end the mindset that creates war in the first place.
We have opportunities as well as dangers. A President Trump is unpredictable. He wants to proliferate nuclear weapons, bomb people, kill people, stir up hatred of people, and increase yet further military spending. But he also said the new Cold War was a bad idea. He said he wanted to end NATO, not to mention NAFTA, as well as breaking the habit of overthrowing countries left and right. Trump seems to immediately back off such positions under the slightest pressure. Will he adhere to them under massive pressure from across the political spectrum? It's worth a try.
We have an opportunity to build a movement that includes a focus on and participation from refugees/immigrants. We have a chance to create opposition to racist wars and racism at home. We may just discover that what's left of the U.S. labor movement is suddenly more open to opposing wars. Environmental groups may find a willingness to oppose the world's top destroyer of the environment: the U.S. military. Civil liberties groups may at long last be willing to take on the militarism that creates the atrocities they oppose. We have to work for such a broader movement. We have to build on the trend of protesting the national anthem and make it a trend of actively resisting the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.
I know you're feeling a little beat down at the moment. You shouldn't. You had a winning candidate in Bernie Sanders. Your party cheated him out of the nomination. All that stuff you tell yourselves about encouraging demographic trends and the better positions of young people is all true. You just looked for love in all the wrong places. Running an unpopular candidate in a broken election system is not the way to change the world. Even a working election system would not be the central means by which to improve anything. There's no getting back the mountains of money and energy invested in this election. But activism is an unlimited resource. Directing your energies now in more strategic directions can inspire others who in turn can re-inspire you.
Your outsider is threatening insiderness. He's got the same tribe of DC corporate lobbyists planning his nominations that Hillary Clinton had lined up for hers. Can we resist that trend? Can we insist that the wars be ended? Can those moments of off-the-cuff honesty about dinosaurs like NATO be turned into actual action? Donald Trump took a lot of heat for proposing to be fair to Palestinians as well as Israelis, and he backed off fast. Can we encourage him to stand behind that initial inclination?
Can we stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership and end NAFTA as well? We heard a million speeches about how bad NAFTA is. How about actually ending it? Can we stop the looming war supplemental spending bill? Can we put a swift halt to efforts in Congress to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism?
How about all that well deserved disgust with the corporate media? Can we actually break up that cartel and allow opportunities for media entrepreneurs?
Dear United States,
Donald Trump admitted we had a broken election system and for a while pretended that he would operate outside of it by funding his own campaign. It's time to actually fix it. It's time to end the system of legalized bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create the public hand-counting of paper ballots at every polling place, and create ranked choice voting as Maine just did.
Voter suppression efforts in this year's elections should be prosecuted in each state. And any indications of fraud in vote counting by machines should be investigated. We should take the opportunity created by all the McCarthyist nonsense allegations of Russian interference to get rid of unverifiable voting.
There are also areas in which localities and states, as well as international organizations and alliances, must now step up to take the lead. First and foremost is investing in a serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe. Second is addressing inequality that has surpassed the Middle Ages: both taxing the overclass and upholding the underclass must be pursued creatively. Mass incarceration and militarized police are problems that states can solve.
But we can advance a positive agenda across the board by understanding this election in the way that much of the world will understand it: as a vote against endless war. Let's end the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and cut the $1 trillion a year going into the military. Hell, why not demand that a businessman president for the first time ever audit the Pentagon and find out what it's spending money on?
We apologize for having elected President Trump as well as for nearly electing President Clinton. Many of you believe we defeated the representative of the enlightenment in favor of the sexist racist buffoon. This may be a good thing. Or at least it may be preferable to your eight-year-long delusion that President Obama was a man of peace and justice.
I hate to break it to you, but the United States government has been intent on dominating the rest of you since the day it was formed. If electing an obnoxious president helps you understand that, so much the better. Stop joining in U.S. "humanitarian wars" please. They never were humanitarian, and if you can recognize that now, so much the better. The new guy openly wants to "steal their oil." So did the last several presidents, although none of them said so. Are we awake now?
Shut down the U.S. bases in your country. They represent your subservience to Donald Trump. Close them.
Want to save the earth's climate? Build a nonviolent movement that resists destructive agendas coming out of the United States.
Want to uphold the rule of law, diplomacy, aid, decency, and humanitarianism? Stop making exceptions for U.S. crimes. Tell the International Criminal Court to indict a non-African. Prosecute the crime and crimes of war in your own courts. Stop cooperating in the surrounding and threatening of Russia, China, and Iran. Clinton wanted to send weapons to Ukraine and bomb Syria. Make sure Trump doesn't. Make peace in Ukraine and Syria before January.
It's time that we all began treating the institution of war as the unacceptable vestige of barbarism that it can appear when given an openly racist, sexist, bigoted face. We have the ability to use nonviolent tools to direct the world where we want it to go. We have to stop believing the two big lies: that we are generally powerless, and that our only power lies in elections. Let's finally get active. Let's start by ending war making.
At Standing Rock, A Native American Woman Elder Says "This is What I Have Been Waiting for My Entire Life!"
By Ann Wright
This time I have been at Standing Rock, North Dakota at the Oceti Shakowin camp to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) for four days during a whirlwind of national and international attention following two terrible displays of police brutality toward the water protectors.
On October 27, over 100 local and state police and National Guard dressed in riot gear with helmets, face masks, batons and other protective clothing, carrying assault rifles stormed the Front Line North camp. They had other military equipment such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Personnel carriers (MRAP) and Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) and a full assortment of tasers, bean bag bullets and clubs/batons. They arrested 141 persons, destroyed the Frontline camp and threw the personal possessions of those arrested in garbage dumpsters. The Morton county sheriff reportedly is investigating the purposeful destruction of personal property.
In another overreaction to the unarmed civilian water protectors, on November 2, police shot tear gas and beanbag bullets at water protectors who were standing in a small tributary to the Missouri River. They were standing in the frigid water to protect a handmade bridge across the river to sacred burial sites that was being destroyed by the police. Police snipers stood on the ridge of the burial hill with their feet on sacred burial sites.
On October 3, in solidarity with water protectors, almost 500 religious leaders from all over the United States arrived to join water protectors in a day of prayer for stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline. Retired Episcopal Priest John Flogerty had put out a national call for clergy to come to Standing Rock. He said he was stunned that in less than ten days, 474 leaders answered the call to stand for protection of Mother Earth. lDuring the two hour interfaith witness, discussion and prayer near the current digging of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), one could hear the digging machines destroying the ridge line to the south of Highway 1806.
1. Stop the efforts to ram through the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the lame duck.
2. Stop the efforts to ram through a supplemental war spending bill for assorted future wars during the lame duck.
3. Stop the efforts to repeal the right to sue Saudi Arabia and other nations for their wars and lesser acts of terrorism during the lame duck.
4. Build a nonpartisan movement to effect real change.
5. Ban bribery, fund elections, make registration automatic, make election day a holiday, end gerrymandering, eliminate the electoral college, create the right to vote, create public hand counting of paper ballots at every polling place, create ranked choice voting.
6. End the wars, end the weapons dealing, close the bases, and shift military spending to human and environmental needs.
7. Tax billionaires.
8. End mass incarceration and the death penalty and the militarization of police.
9. Create single-payer healthcare.
10. Support the rule of law, diplomacy, and aid.
11. Invest in serious effort to avoid climate catastrophe.
12. Apologize to the world for having elected President Clinton or Trump.
IF TRUMP WON
1. Build a movement that includes all the Democrats eager to get active.
2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants
3. Build a movement that resists racist violence at home.
4. Demand a swift end to NAFTA and NATO.
5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.
6. Break up the media cartel.
7. If win came through voter suppression, seek prosecution immediately.
8. If win came through fraudulent counting, launch massive campaign to compel Democrats to admit it and protest it.
IF CLINTON WON
1. Build a movement that includes all the Republicans and Libertarians eager to get active.
2. Build a movement that includes a focus on rights of refugees / immigrants
3. Build a movement that resists racist violence directed at nations abroad.
4. Demand serious action on climate change.
5. Oppose all the horrible nominations for high offices.
6. Break up the media cartel.
7. If win came through fraudulent counting, support Trump's noisy denunciation, and if it did not, then reject Trump's noisy denunciation.
IF STEIN WON
1. Support the independent media that made this possible.
2. Support all the wonderful nominees for higher office.
3. Help people in other countries turn their disastrous political systems around too.
4. Volunteer for public service.
Photo Credit: Richard Bluecloud Casteneda | Greenpeace USA
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
ANTI-WAR RALLY PROTESTS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES' PRO-WAR STANCE MARCH TO HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS IN BROOKLYN HEIGHTS
DATE: Saturday, November 5th
TIME: 1 pm
PLACE: Brooklyn Boro Hall (steps)
Anti-war activists fed up with the pro-war stances of both major parties' Presidential candidates will rally on Saturday, November 5, at 1 pm, on the steps of Brooklyn Boro Hall (209 Joralemon St. at Court St.).
They will march to Hillary Clinton's national campaign headquarters a few blocks away on Cadman Plaza.
In a time of division and disagreement, when people who all agree on something important sometimes spend more time bickering with each other than working on their collective cause, is it possible to craft an agenda that brings them together and adds to their numbers?
It turns out, somewhat to my surprise, the answer is yes.
I discovered this by creating a petition that has very quickly been endorsed by RootsAction, the Future of Freedom Foundation, World Beyond War, the Libertarian Institute, DailyKos, Black Vietnam Veterans of Atlanta, Progressive Democrats of America, Veterans For Peace Chicago Chapter, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Code Pink, Massachusetts Peace Action, Maryland United for Peace & Justice, Upstate Ground the Drones and End the Wars, Pax Christi Seed Planters, The War and Law League, Environmentalists Against War, the PDA Reno Chapter, Voters Occupy, Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition, Vietnam Echos, Spokane Veterans for Peace, Benedictines for Peace of Erie PA, Tyneside East Timor Solidarity, Palouse Peace Coalition, Helfenstein Soup Council, Timothy Dawkins El Project, Green Party of Collin County, Brian Boortz Public Relations, A Green Road, We The People for Democracy, Peaceworkers of San Francisco CA, Green Party of Spokane County, Montrose Peace Vigil, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Pax Christi Southern California, Veteran for Peace 72, Peaceful Skies, Granny Peace Brigade Philadelphia, The Clueit Foundation, Office of the Americas, Veterans For Peace of Western Pennsylvania, Presentation Sisters Justice Commission, Women Against War, Farmington Maine Friends Meeting, Secular Student Alliance at LaGuardia Community College, Faith & Social Justice Alliance Dayton Ohio, The Oracle Institute & Peace Pentagon HUB, Peace Action Maine, Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Northeast Philly for Peace & Justice, Citizens International, National Department of Peacebuilding Committee through the Peace, White Rabbit Grove RDNA, North American Climate Conservation and Environment, The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Colonie des Pionniers de Developpement, Malu 'Aina Center for Nonviolent Education & Action, the Carpe Diem Voice, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Corvallis, Mindfulness in Education, Brandywine Peace Community, Article V Convention for Our Children's Future, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution.
Yes, some of those groups I've never heard of. A few of them may consist of three guys with misspelled signs who've been standing on a lonely street corner so long their town has planted bushes around them. But that's sort of the point. A unifying effort should revive old organizations and give birth to new ones. It should also be uncomfortably large, bringing together people who want completely different policies on other issues but agree on this one.
So, what is it that the above organizations and 17,241 individuals thus far agree on? This:
Tell the next president: No more war!
Please sign this petition to the 45th President of the United States:
We call on you to end perpetual war by the United States Government. As signers of this petition, we commit ourselves to building nonviolent pressure to end continual U.S. warfare. We also reject our country's bloated military spending and massive arms sales that make the USA the world’s leading arms trafficker by a huge margin.
Importantly, this is a statement to whoever becomes U.S. president next year. It might be someone you considered a lesser evil or a wonderful national leader. It might be someone you believed would adopt a peaceful policy without any public pressure required. Or it might be someone you recognized would require a massive movement to restrain them from destroying the earth. It doesn't matter. You believe that representative government requires that people communicate how they want to be represented. You believe that peace is possible and preferable. You are in that strong majority of the U.S. public that believes the wars of the past 15 years have made us less safe, and you want to end them.
Also importantly -- for both better and worse -- this petition avoids the details of any particular war. Once a particular war is mentioned, many people expect a petition to be fairly lengthy, to list all the causes of the war, to mention all the criminals and profiteers on every side of the war, to stipulate exact relative levels of blame for each party involved, and to advocate for particular policies aimed at establishing justice. Yes, some of that will be necessary work. But it is also critical that we confront the problem illustrated by the sheer number of U.S. wars now raging and by the evil industry of weapons dealing that fuels so many sides of so many wars around the world.
If the U.S. and lesser arms dealers can be brought to abandon their deadly trade, if the wars can be ended and resisted, each in its turn, opportunities and resources will open up for positive approaches. But clearly the first two steps are (1) recognizing we have a problem, and (2) ceasing to make it worse. The panicked cries of two years ago to "Do something!" about ISIS (where "something" meant: bomb people) has predictably (and many of us did predict it) made everything worse. And the general public, not just the full-time activists, knows it.
There will be new opportunities to expand this coalition post-election and post-inauguration. But we should not miss the opportunity to spread it and expand it and make it known now as a movement of nonpartisan principled advocacy for peace.
The choice this year is easy: Why No Leftist, Progressive or Liberal Should Vote for Hillary Clinton
By Dave Lindorff
With one week to go in this year’s presidential election -- an astonishing and depressing contest in which the two least-liked and least-trusted candidates in history are the two choices put up by our two main political parties -- it’s time to look at why left and liberal people should not vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
This Natural Disaster Assistance Law Is Why Other States Are Policing Dakota Access Pipeline Protests
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Almost exactly 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill creating an interstate agreement for emergency management. That inconspicuous law has opened the door for the current flood of out-of-state law enforcement agents present at the continuing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
TigerSwan is one of several security firms under investigation for its work guarding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota while potentially without a permit. Besides this recent work on the Standing Rock Sioux protests in North Dakota, this company has offices in Iraq and Afghanistan and is run by a special forces Army veteran.
Imagine if a local business in your town invented a brand new tool that was intended to have an almost magical effect thousands of miles away. However, where the tool was kept and used locally became an area unsafe for children. Children who got near this tool tended to have increased blood pressure and increased stress hormones, lower reading skills, poorer memories, impaired auditory and speech perception, and impaired academic performance.
Most of us would find this situation at least a little concerning, unless the new invention was designed to murder lots of people. Then it'd be just fine.
Now, imagine if this same new tool ruined neighborhoods because people couldn't safely live near it. Imagine if the government had to compensate people but kick them out of living near the location of this tool. Again, I think, we might find that troubling if mass murder were not the mission.
Imagine also that this tool fairly frequently explodes, emitting highly toxic chemicals, particles, and fibers unsafe to breathe into the air for miles around. Normally, that'd be a problem. But if this tool is needed for killing lots of people, we'll work with its flaws, won't we?
Now, what if this new gadget was expected to cost at least $1,400,000,000,000 over 50 years? And what if that money had to be taken away from numerous other expenses more beneficial for the economy and the world? What if the $1.4 trillion was drained out of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a radical diminuition of resources for education, healthcare, housing, environmental protection, or humanitarian aid? Wouldn't that be a worry in some cases, I mean in those cases where the ability to kill tons of human beings wasn't at stake?
Back in the winter of 1982, Air Florida flight 90 took off from National Airport. The first officer noticed dangerous readings on some instruments and pointed them out to the captain. The captain told him he was wrong, and he accepted the captain's authority. He did nothing. Thirty seconds later the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge. Everyone on board died except for four passengers rescued out of the icy river.
During the latter decades of the 20th and first part of the 21st century, millions and millions of first officers on spaceship earth noticed that climate and nuclear dangers loomed. But every authoritative captain in sight, from elected officials to CEOs to media pundits, said "Don't be a fool. I've got this." And millions upon millions sat back and mumbled "Oh, all right, if you're sure."
The people pushing through the vote this week at the United Nations to create a treaty next year banning nuclear weapons are engaged in necessary disobedience to mainstream authority and acceptance. The people putting their bodies in the way of a pipeline in North Dakota are disobeying immoral orders.
Ira Chaleff's book, Intelligent Disobedience, re-examines the lessons of the Milgram and Stanford prison experiments, and other more recent demonstrations of the severe dangers of uncritical obedience. Chaleff highlights some techniques that can facilitate intelligent refusals to obey.