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The U.S. Institute of Peace has a great name, our tax dollars, and a terrible record. Let’s move it in a better direction.
If you’ve never heard of the U.S. Institute of Peace, please keep reading. It works everyday with your money in a fancy new building next to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It just doesn’t work for peace.
If you know the USIP’s record and consider it a lost cause, please keep reading. This institute can be made to do some good. A number of us will be meeting with USIP in late September and bringing along this petition. Please click here to sign it.
The petition to USIP reads: “We urge you to oppose U.S. militarism and begin working for an end to U.S. war-making by providing to Congress and the public information on the disastrous results of recent U.S. wars and the superior results of nonviolence and diplomacy. We ask that you recommend to the President of the United States the removal from your board of Stephen Hadley, Eric Edelman, and Frederick M. Padilla, and their replacement by three seasoned peace activists, along with a recommendation to maintain at least three seasoned peace activists on your board at all times — right now there are none.”
The U.S. Institute of Peace is a federal government institute created by a bill signed into law in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and funded annually by Congress as well as sometimes receiving funding from the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the military. The law states that the “Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the Director of Central Intelligence each may assign officers and employees of his respective department or agency, on a rotating basis to be determined by the Board, to the Institute.”
The Institute has never opposed a U.S. war and claims that it can only support things, not oppose them. But in fact, the law only forbids it from seeking “to influence the passage or defeat of legislation … except that the personnel of the Institute may testify or make other appropriate communication when formally requested to do so by a legislative body, a committee, or a member thereof.” Most U.S. wars, including the war on Libya, the newly revived war on Iraq (and Syria), and the drone wars on Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, have been launched without legislation. And, even if there were legislation involved, it would not be at all difficult for USIP to ask a single member of Congress to request its opinion, thereby freeing it to provide its views and its research. USIP makes no claim that it cannot provide the public with information on the negative results of U.S. wars; it simply fails to do so.
The Institute in fact makes recommendations to Congress, including in formally presented testimony, it just recommends things like supporting the Syrian opposition, training and arming troops to fight both ISIS and the Syrian government, and creating a “no fly zone” in Syria, rather than working toward an arms embargo or aid or diplomacy. The Institute has recommended diplomacy with Iran, and could do so in a dozen other cases, although its notion that weapons sales is part of diplomacy may be less than helpful.
The law requires that the USIP Board include 15 voting members, including the Secretaries of State and “Defense,” the President of the National “Defense” University, and 12 members appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and each having “practical or academic experience in peace and conflict resolution.” The law also states that “No member of the Board may participate in any decision, action, or recommendation with respect to any matter which directly and financially benefits the member or pertains specifically to any public body or any private or nonprofit firm or organization with which the member is then formally associated or has been formally associated within a period of two years.” There are a number of mechanisms for removing a board member, including 8 or more board members making that recommendation to the President.
The USIP does do some work aimed at peace, including hosting speakers and producing publications aimed at peace, sending skilled mediators into conflict zones, making research grants, holding essay contests, and conducting conflict-resolution trainings, but such efforts are deeply compromised by the following concerns:
USIP board member and chairman, Stephen Hadley, urges the bombing of Syria and the militarization of Ukraine, while encouraging European nations to double their military spending, and himself profiting from war as a board member of Raytheon.
USIP board member Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary at the Pentagon, promotes higher military spending, an attack on Iran, and deployment of nuclear weapons to nations on Russia’s border.
USIP board member Major General Frederick M. Padilla, USMC, is career military.
USIP promotes the overthrow of the Syrian government.
USIP is not known to have ever opposed a U.S. war, U.S. weapons exports, U.S. foreign bases, or U.S. military spending.
USIP promotes trade embargoes, economic austerity programs, and electoral interventions as tools of aggression, not peace building.
USIP funds many more supporters than opponents of militarism.
USIP hosts pro-war talks by leading war advocates.
Appropriate board members for USIP exist in large numbers, and many of them would no doubt be happy to serve. Here are a few examples of the many possible names: Kathy Kelly, Michael McPhearson, Ann Wright, Paul Chappell, Noura Erekat, Dennis Kucinich, David Vine, Matt Daloisio, John Dear, Bruce Gagnon, Phil Donahue, Mel Duncan, David Hartsough, Mubarak Awad, Leslie Cagan, Roy Bourgeois, Cornell West, Lennox Yearwood, Osagyefo Sekou, Phyllis Bennis, Andy Shallal, Helena Cobban, Noam Chomsky, Elliott Adams.
Appropriate events that USIP could host might include:
How to Finally End the Korean War,
Abolition of Armed Drones,
A Plan to Close Overseas Bases,
Why Does NATO Still Exist?,
How Can the Kellogg-Briand Pact Be Complied With?,
What Could $2 Trillion a Year Buy Instead of War?,
Military Abolition and the Costa Rican Model,
Pondering Polling: How Did the U.S. Become Seen as the Greatest Threat to World Peace?,
Pinkerism and the Myth that War Is Vanishing,
WMD Tales From Iraq to Iran,
Vietnam Syndrome: Illness or Health?,
Benefits of Joining the International Criminal Court,
If War Makes Us Less Safe Why Can’t We Stop?,
The Economic and Moral Benefits of Transition to Peaceful Industries,
The ICCPR Ban on War Propaganda,
Diplomacy in Iran: Why Not in Eight Other Places?,
Why Arm Dictatorships?,
Whose Land Is Guantanamo?,
The Convention on the Rights of the Child – Why Not?,
What Is Preventing Spacefaring Powers from Banning Weapons in Space?,
Why Not Reinstate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty?,
Should Palestinians Have Human Rights?,
Remembering the Maine, the Lusitania, Tonkin Gulf . . . What Would Accurate History Change?,
What Would Compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Look Like?
Reports USIP could usefully write include:
U.S. arms sales to each foreign nation, as compared to the sales of other nations — a report the Congressional Research Service has ceased producing.
U.S. military spending, as compared to non-military government spending — a report the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency has ceased producing.
Initial Signers of the Petition Are:
When: Monday, September 14, 2015, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
What: A Nonviolent Vigil and Prayer Service for Peace during the AFA $310 per plate banquet (please bring a candle)
Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD 20745.
We will meet for the vigil at the corner of Waterfront St. and St. George Blvd., directly across from the Gaylord National Resort.
By Kathy Kelly
“A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will "thingify" them—make them things. Therefore they will exploit them, and poor people generally, economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have foreign investments and everything else, and will have to use its military to protect them. All of these problems are tied together. What I am saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, 'America, you must be born again!'” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speaking on behalf of indigenous people in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, earlier this summer, Pope Francis apologized for the role the Catholic Church played in oppressing Latin America’s indigenous people. He called for a worldwide grass roots movement that would shatter global corporate abuses of “the new colonialism.” Political elites in the U.S. should follow his lead and apologize for the genocidal destruction U.S. people waged against indigenous peoples. They should look toward indigenous people for guidance about ways to make reparations.
By Kent Shifferd
In World War II, good American boys who wouldn’t have kicked a cat flew bombers that set cities filled with innocent German children on fire. German boys, who were raised to be kind and decent, participated in the atrocities of the Holocaust. How is it that normally decent people who are raised to be kind and respectful of others can commit acts of horrible violence during wars? How do they put aside their normal reluctance to hurt others and make the decision to shoot or bomb not only enemy combatants but civilians including women and children?
Some years ago, the psychologist Albert Bandura listed eight mental tricks people play to disengage their consciences so they can perform the acts of violence they would normally abhor.
- Moral Justification: one is persuaded, for example, that killing the enemy serves a higher moral purpose such as protecting one’s country or serving God’s plan, etc.
- Euphemistic Labeling: people mask the true nature of behavior they know is unethical, such as labeling “enhanced interrogation” for torture, “servicing the target” for shooting the enemy, and “disinformation” for lying.
- Advantageous Comparison: as in “What I am doing is not as bad as what they are doing.”
- Displacement of Responsibility: Uncritically following orders, as in the Nazi concentration camp workers or SS execution squads.
- Diffusion of Responsibility: when a whole group decides on the unethical action or when the action is divided into many subparts, for example, the building of nuclear weapons. (“All I do is assemble this little electronic part.” Or, “I’m just driving a truck bring supplies—I don’t shoot anybody.”)
- Disregard or Distortion of Consequences: for example, when harm is inflicted at a distance (as in officers in Montana who guide drones that make “bug splats” in Afghanistan) or dropping bombs from a plane on “targets” even though women and children and old men are being killed below.
- Dehumanization: labeling the victims of one’s violence as non- or subhuman, as in calling Vietnamese people “slants” and “gooks” during that war, or Germans “Huns” in WWI, or Arabs “towel heads” and “sand niggers” in the First Gulf War.
- Attribution of Blame: or blaming the victim who is seen as deserving the mistreatment or seen as having brought it on themselves. For example, “These German civilians we are killing below should not have voted for Hitler; therefore they are to blame for our bombings.
Generally speaking, in the run-up to a war and during it, most or all of these powerful psychological techniques are employed by governments and their militaries on both sides.
Such propaganda is often based on lies made up by governments, as in the myth propagated in World War I by the British propaganda office that German lancers had speared babies, thus arousing rage against the Germans.
And I would add one other explanation—not a trick, but an existential situation. Once a war has started and soldiers are caught up in it, it becomes a self-perpetuating “me or them” situation. If I don’t kill them, they will kill me and vice-versa. And if I refuse out of conscience to shoot at the “enemy,” my own military command will carry out a summary court martial and could execute me.
To avoid the "me or them" situation, we have to learn critical thinking so we can see through the propaganda and lies that tell us harming others is tolerable under the conditions of war. Violence is not something that should ever be tolerated. The fact that we have to trick ourselves into making violence acceptable clarifies just how truly unacceptable it really is.
Kent Shifferd, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of From War To Peace: a Guide To the Next Hundred Years and former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Institute For Peace and Conflict Studies.
Tell Senator Warner: SECURITY WITH DIPLOMACY! NO WAR WITH IRAN!
WHERE: Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Forum
FOUNDERS INN and SPA
5641 Indian River Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
WHEN: Noon until 2pm
WHY: Warner is ON THE FENCE. Obama needs his support. Without this agreement, we are headed into WAR WITH IRAN. The warmongers are pouring millions into defeating diplomacy.
Sen. Kaine will also attend the forum. He already announces he will support the plan. We can thank him.
HOW: Non-violent peaceful presence outside the forum.
BRING: Signs saying "No War With Iran!", "Thank You, Sen. Kaine!", "Sen. Warner: Do You Want Another War?"
Kim Williams for Norfolk Catholic Worker/
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On August 4, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit shot down the Sierra Club's petition for rehearing motion for the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. The decision effectively writes the final chapter of a years-long legal battle in federal courts.
FROM THE DANE COUNTY JAIL IN MADISON, WISC., TO VOLK FIELD NEAR CAMP DOUGLAS
Madison--20 activists from across the U.S. will participate in a pro-peace, anti-drone demonstration and walk from August 17 – August 25th beginning in Madison, WI and ending outside of Volk Field. Marchers will be walking about 90 miles from Madison’s City-County Building to the Wisconsin Air National Guard base at Camp Douglas. The Air National Guard Base trains pilots to operate “Shadow Drones” that are used in surveillance, flying over other countries to determine targets for the Predator and Reaper drones.
The walkers aim to educate the public on racial profiling both locally, as it relates to the propensity of police officers to use violence against people of color; and internationally, as it relates to the propensity of drone surveillance to target foreign nationals deemed “nefarious” on not much more than a hunch, resulting in the death of innocent people, including many children.
On Monday, August 17, in Madison’s Edgewood College, a kick-off event will begin at 7:00 p.m. The daily walks will range from 12 -16 miles.
In Baraboo, on August 21st, at 7:00 p.m., a public event will be held at the United Methodist Church at 615 Broadway.
In Mauston on August 23rd walk participants will be part of a discussion on fracking in the Community Room of the Mauston City Hall from 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm.
The walk ends on Tuesday, August 25th, with a vigil against drones, from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the gates of Volk Field. Some individuals may engage in nonviolent civil resistance during the vigil.
The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has been holding monthly vigils at the gates of Volk Field for 3 ½ years.
For information about daily starting times, and updates on where the walkers are at a given time, please call the contact numbers listed above.
The walk is sponsored by:
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Vets for Peace Madison Clarence Kailin Chapter 25
Vets for Peace Janesville Chapter 970
Upstate Drone Action
Madison Women's International League for Peace & Freedom
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Senator Mark Warner's staff says he's holding only unannounced, closed-door meetings in Virginia this summer.
It's a good thing he doesn't have a job that requires knowing what the people of Virginia think about anything.
Virginians can click here to ask Warner by email to appear in public.
It's hardly an unreasonable demand. While Congress is on summer break, most senators and representatives attend publicly announced public meetings at which they speak about their work and hear comments from, and answer questions from, their constituents.
Warner could play a decisive role in upholding or rejecting the Iran deal (on which he has taken no public position), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and all sorts of other projects of critical interest to the people of Virginia.
On the Iran agreement, Warner is on a shrinking list of Democratic senators who continue to maintain the pretense that they're carefully reviewing the data on whether peace or war is preferable.
On the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, rumor has it that Warner will be meeting behind closed doors to discuss imposing that inevitable disaster on Virginians.
The TPP itself is secret because, in the view of several who have seen it, if it were to appear openly the public would never stand for it. Maybe Warner has the same idea for himself.
Shouldn't he want to know what Virginians think?
From U.S. Peace Memorial
The Board of Directors of the US Peace Memorial Foundation voted unanimously to award its 2015 Peace Prize to The Honorable Kathy F. Kelly “for inspiring nonviolence and risking her own life and freedom for peace and the victims of war.”
Michael Knox, Chair of the Foundation, presented the award on August 9 during an event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki. This Nagasaki day event, hosted by Pace e Bene and its Campaign Nonviolence, was held on the stage at Ashley Pond, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This is the place, geographically, where the first atom bombs were constructed.
In his remarks, Knox thanked Kelly for her service, great courage, and for all that she has sacrificed. “Kathy Kelly is a consistent and clear voice for peace and nonviolence. She is a national treasure and an inspiration to the world.”
In addition to receiving the 2015 Peace Prize, our highest honor, Kelly has also been designated as a Founding Member of the US Peace Memorial Foundation. She joins previous Peace Prize recipients CODEPINK Women for Peace, Chelsea Manning, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, and Cindy Sheehan. Nominees considered by the Board this year include Jodie Evans, Dr. Glenn D. Paige, Coleen Rowley, World Beyond War, and Ann Wright. You can read about the antiwar/peace activities of all recipients and nominees in our publication, the US Peace Registry.
Upon learning of the award, Kathy Kelly said, “I’m grateful for the US Peace Memorial Foundation's recognition of realities about war and peace. War is worse than an earthquake. Following an earthquake, relief teams from around the world assemble, helping find survivors, comforting the afflicted, and initiating reconstruction. But as wars rage, many people watch the killing on television screens, feeling helpless to make a difference. Worse yet, many people sense with queasy discomfort that they themselves helped supply the weapons being used.
It’s hard to look in the mirror and see lost opportunities to be peacemakers. But we can become rehabilitated, as a society, transformed from a menacing, fearsome empire in decline into a society that earnestly wants to align with people dedicated to building peaceable societies.”
Kelly continued, “During a recent trip to Kabul, after listening to young friends envision growth of the street kid’s school they’ve begun, I felt a blend of relief and anxiety. It’s a relief to behold the youthful resolve which has enabled children from three different ethnic backgrounds to join under the same roof and learn, together, to read. It’s a relief to know that in spite of the fissures and the torrents of violence and despair, our young friends feel determined to persevere.
But I was anxious as to whether or not internationals would find the wherewithal to fund the school. In a moment of pique, I raised my voice and insisted to my young friends that all of the countries who’ve fought in Afghanistan, and most especially the U.S., should be paying reparations. ‘Kathy,’ Zekerullah gently admonished me, ‘please don’t make people in your country feel guilty. Don’t you think most people would rather build than destroy?’”
Kelly concluded, “Zekerullah would deftly assure us that even as one hand holds a mirror for us to look into, the other offers to reassuringly balance us, hold us, steady us. The US Peace Memorial helps build this steadying influence, urging us to keep one foot planted amid people bearing the brunt of war, and one foot just as firmly planted amid those who nonviolently resist war making. The US Peace Memorial Foundation helps us find our equilibrium, helps us rise.”
The US Peace Memorial Foundation directs a nationwide effort to honor Americans who stand for peace by publishing the US Peace Registry, awarding an annual Peace Prize, and planning for the US Peace Memorial in Washington, DC. These education projects help move the United States toward a culture of peace, as we honor the millions of thoughtful and courageous Americans and U.S. organizations that have taken a public stand against one or more U.S. wars or who have devoted their time, energy, and other resources to finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts. We celebrate these role models to inspire other Americans to speak out against war and for peace.
Please help us continue this important work. Join the Peace Prize recipients as a Founding Member and have your name permanently associated with peace. Founding Members are listed on our Website, in our publication the US Peace Registry, and eventually at the National Monument.
By Michael McPhearson
As those committed to social justice in St. Louis prepare to mark the August 9th killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown Jr. by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, we know that many in the region would like us to just go away. Enough already, they say. Why commemorate something so sad and wrong, anyway? Let’s just move on.
But we’re at the beginning, not the end of this struggle. It’s not time to move on, and this day calls for reflection. We want to remember Brown’s life as well as commemorate the uprising of resistance against police misconduct generally, and the killing of Black people in particular.
We will remember and grieve with the Brown family. Families of countless people who have been killed by police violence grieve alone every day. This August 9th, we will remember Michael Brown and all lives lost to police violence. We have not forgotten Kajieme Powell or Vonderitt Meyers or countless others.
We will honor those in the Ferguson community who said no more to police violence and took action to stop it. Their courage and perseverance has inspired millions around the world.
And we will celebrate the activism of the St. Louis Region demanding long overdue and much needed change in how Black people are treated and perceived by police, the courts and the St. Louis community as a whole. We will celebrate as we plan and prepare to keep up the struggle. We know we face a long and difficult struggle. But we will not give up because we know that change will not come by itself, and we can no longer endure the status quo. To live, we must make the change that we seek.
Finally, we will commemorate the day to remind the St. Louis Region and the world that the movement for Black Lives is dynamic, creative and ready for action. We will not go back to a time when a Black person killed by law enforcement was only a headline, without scrutiny or accountability. We understand the system will not stop killing us unless we make it. We will see this struggle through, for we have nothing to lose but our chains, and everything to gain. We seek a world where we don't have to say Black Lives Matter.
We call on all people who want to see a peaceful and just world to join the movement for change. Don’t stand on the sidelines observing the struggle for Black Lives. Our community can only heal if we work together. The fight to end racism and the legacy of slavery is far from over.
To end police abuse, economic inequity and racist laws is not a win for Black people, it’s a win for all of us. We are a better nation because of slavery’s end and the Civil Rights movement’s relative success. We are a better, safer and more prosperous nation when all people receive fair and just treatment at the hands of government and fellow citizens. In commemorating Michael Brown’s death, we are redoubling our efforts to secure a world in which black lives really do matter. Now is the opportunity to be part of the change, on the right side of history.
Michael McPhearson is Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, based in St. Louis, MO, and co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition. Don’t Shoot formed in the direct aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson. McPhearson is a former Field Artillery Captain in the United States Army. He served in the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division during Desert Shield /Desert Storm, also known as Gulf War I. He is a Distinguished Military ROTC graduate of Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina with a B.S. degree in Sociology.
Tonight, Monday, August 3, 2015, 6-7pm CT
Listen to David Swanson on Chicago's WCEV, 1450 AM, or http://tunein.com/radio/WCEV-1450-s23599/
And phone in with questions and comments 312-263-4752
Event coming up in Chicago on 27th: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451800825124185/
PUBLIC FORUM ON IRAN DEAL
To be held exactly 70 years after nuclear age opened in Hiroshima (including time zone difference).
7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 5, 2015
At The Haven, 112 W. Market Street Charlottesville, VA 22902
Sponsored by World Beyond War, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, RootsAction.org, and Amnesty International Charlottesville, (more welcome to join).
Video of event to be widely distributed.
Speaker: Gareth Porter, independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He is the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, and the winner of the Gellhorn Prize for journalism in 2012 for exposing lies and propaganda about the Afghanistan War. Porter spent two weeks in Vienna covering the final round of negotiations and is now writing the definitive account of the how U.S. and Iran finally reached agreement.
From David Swanson:
Please indicate you're coming here and share it widely:https://www.facebook.com/
We have a long way to go to end war, and one way is to learn from the model of Kathy Kelly's work. Join me and her in Chicago where Outlawry of War was born.
And make sure you're part of World Beyond War.
Please join with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and other peacemakers for a nonviolent peace vigil to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan on August 6 and August 9, 1945 and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. See details below. Please share with other friends.
Seventy years ago the U.S. government did the "unspeakable" and dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Please join in a nonviolent witness as we seek to remember the pain, repent the sin and reclaim the future.
When and Where:
Thursday, August 6 (Anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the feast of the Transfiguration): nonviolent witness at the Pentagon. Meet on corner of Army-Navy Drive and Fern St. at 6:45 a.m. Witness from 7:00 - 8:30 a.m. (8:15 a.m. was the actual time of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima)
Please Join Us!
For more info contact: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker--202-882-9649, email@example.com
Shell Oil has announced it may take a page out of the BP "Beyond Petroleum" greenwashing book, rebranding itself as something other than an oil company for its United States-based unit.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Yes, I also want to say Free Mumia. In fact, I want to say Free all the prisoners. Turn the prison holding Mumia Abu-Jamal into a school and make him dean. And if you won't free all the prisoners, free one who has been punished to a level that ought to satisfy any retributive scheme for any crime he might have committed. And if you won't do that, free him because he was put into prison by a fraudulent and corrupt trial that hid as much evidence as it revealed, and fabricated the latter.
More importantly, Read Mumia. His new book is called Writing on the Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and it includes commentaries by Mumia from 1982 through 2014. Mumia went ahead and made his prison a school -- a school in history, in politics, and in morality. And his own moral teaching is primarily by example. He teaches the liberating lesson that, if you so choose, you can know right now that never ever will anyone be able to beat you down. You can be cheerful for the rest of your life and rest completely assured that nothing can ever take that away.
Why? Because Mumia was shot and beaten within an inch of his life by the police, who then tried to kill him in the hospital with cold air meant to bring death by pneumonia. Then he was framed up and railroaded into a "correctional" institution. Then he was subjected for as long as perhaps anyone alive to the torture of solitary confinement (which drives some to self-mutilation). He was essentially mock-executed twice with dates set for his murder by the state of Pennsylvania. And it's never let up, with a new effort to kill him through denial of medical care this year.
Yet from day-1 in prison to this day, Mumia has been creating written and radio commentaries that go after every injustice in the world, including those committed by the very prison guards who threaten his life. And one cannot find a word of self-pity in any of them. Nor a word of self-indulgence or of narrow focus. From behind bars, Mumia sees the global perspective better than most on the outside. He takes on the war machine as determinedly as poverty and draws the connections between them. With no fear. No bitterness. No paranoia. No despair. No let up. And no lack of love and understanding.
And that's not primarily why you should read Mumia. He's not a great wrongly-imprisoned-black writer. He's a great writer. And if he were free and on book tour, chances are certainly better that you would be reading him. Mumia's commentaries from prison are as informed and more insightful than many from academia. And less compromising -- Compromising being something he takes on effectively with his critiques of what W.E.B. Dubois called the Philadelphia Negro.
If you want a sports score on Mumia's insights, how about a list of accurate predictions?
He predicted the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
He predicted Colin Powell's performance long before his U.N. speech: "[A]s he has done all of his professional, military life, the General will follow the orders he's given, even if he is in disagreement with them." —Aug. 30, 2001
He predicted war disasters before the wars. He predicted who George W. Bush and Barack Obama would be prior to Bush's selection and Obama's election (and nailed the theft of Florida for Bush in 2000 before it was completed). Of Obama he said:
"Black faces in high places does not freedom make. Power is more than presence. It is the ability to meet people's political objectives of freedom, independence, and material well-being. We are as far from those objectives as we were in 1967." —Aug. 6, 2008
Mumia got Hillary Clinton right before she was even a senator, never mind before, as president, she started World War III:
"The Democratic senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton, in the aftermath of the Diallo killers' acquittal, issued a statement to the effect that 'police officers should work to understand the community, and the community should understand the risks faced by police officers.' This in the afterglow of a whitewash quasi-prosecution and acquittal of four cops who glocked Diallo to death in his doorway for committing the capital crime of 'standing while black.'--SWB. This in studied political reflection of a case where cops fired 41 shots at an unarmed man!" —March 13, 2000
Mumia answered "Why do they hate us?" on September 17, 2001. He got the Cuban Five right before they were freed. He got Black Lives Matter before leaders of that movement were born. He got Distant Lives Matter too, also right, before that movement was even born, if it ever is.
Mumia even addressed Bill Cosby with appropriate contempt decades before that was cool.
Mumia above all has been a leading voice in helping to end the death penalty, and he has urged on and celebrated each step in that direction.
Mumia knows what is happening better from behind bars than do many on the outside, because he has access to books. He once recorded this radio review of one of my books, which I considered superior to any other review.
Those of us outside of prison have access to books, too, although many seem to forget it. We could all be as well-informed as Mumia. We could all know what's coming next before it hits us in the face. A good place to start would be by reading the Writing on the Wall.
Enbridge Stuffs Provision into Wisconsin Budget to Expedite Controversial Piece of "Keystone XL Clone"
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
On Thursday, July 3 on the eve of a long Fourth of July holiday weekend, Canadian pipeline company giant Enbridge landed a sweetheart deal: a provision in the 2015 Wisconsin Budget that will serve to expedite permitting for its controversial proposed Line 61 tar sands pipeline expansion project.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Keystone XL South was approved via a controversial Army Corps Nationwide Permit 12 and an accompanying March 2012 Executive Order from President Barack Obama. The pipeline, open for business since January 2014, will now carry tar sands crude from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas without the cloud of the legal challenge hanging over its head since 2012.
Barbara Myers: The Unknown Whistleblower
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
By Steve Horn and David Goodner
A DeSmog investigation has uncovered the identity of a land agent and the contract company he works with that allegedly offered to buy an Iowa farmer the services of two teenage sex workers in exchange for access to his land to build the controversial proposed Dakota Access pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners.
We would know much less about what our governments do were it not for those who are part of our governments until something becomes too horrible for their moral threshold, and who see a means available to inform the public. What this fact says about the proportion of governmental activity that is shameful is worth considering.
Whistleblowers in general have the broad support of the public. Even their biggest enemies got into office by falsely promising to defend and honor them. But individual whistleblowers are often effectively demonized by the corporate media while being persecuted and prosecuted by the government they have assisted.
There may be something of a trend toward recognizing that Edward Snowden and Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning have done us all a service, but they remain in prison or exile or effectively under house arrest. Jeffrey Sterling followed the steps through proper channels that whistleblowers are advised they should take, and now he's in prison, and what he informed Congress of (information critical to U.S. self-governance) remains largely unknown to the public.
Sterling's conviction on the basis of metadata (whom he called, for how many minutes, but not what was said) also sends a message to potential whistleblowers that even the appearance of acting on their moral and legal responsibility to uphold the law could land them in prison. And of course Congress's failure to act on Sterling's information sends the message that "proper channels" lead nowhere.
What's needed is a global movement that tells whistleblowers and potential whistleblowers that we've got their backs, that we will spread awareness far and wide of what they have risked their necks to reveal, that we will celebrate and honor their courage, and that we will do everything in our power to defend them against government retribution and misguided public condemnation.
So, here's the plan. During the week of June 1-7, all over the world, we stand up for truth by joining in the events and using the resources created at StandUpForTruth.org. The organizations and individuals behind this plan include ExposeFacts, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Modern Media Institute, Networkers SouthNorth, RootsAction.org, and Daniel Ellsberg.
People around the world are being invited, individually or as a group, to participate in any of a series of public webcasts / phone calls with whistleblowers and their supporters. (Click the names for full biographies.)
The webcasts will each last 60 minutes. To listen and type in questions, just point your web browser to http://cast.teletownhall.us/web_client/?id=roots_action_organd turn up your volume. Everyone is encouraged to use the webcast and to type in questions there. If you can't use a web browser, you can phone in. Just call 1-844-472-8237 (toll-free in U.S.) You can also ask these whistleblowers and truth tellers questions beforehand or during the webcasts by tweeting them to @Roots_Action -- You can even start asking questions right now.
Also check out theevents planned for Europe with Thomas Drake, Dan Ellsberg, Jesselyn Radack, Coleen Rowley, and Norman Solomon. They will deliver this petition in Berlin. If you sign it now your name and comment will be part of the presentation.
StandUpForTruth is encouraging everyone to plan your own events, during the first week of June or any other time. Here are some resources, some ideas for what to do:
Watch and discuss Shadows of Liberty.
Watch and discuss Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Government Surveillance.
Watch and discuss this video profile of William Binney.
Watch and discuss Invisible Manabout CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.
Set up a photo booth and add a photo of every person at the event to this FaceBook pagewhile they're each holding a piece of paper reading "Stand Up For Truth."
Hold a public forumto discuss issues of whistleblowing, surveillance, civil liberties and truth-telling.
Consider rallies, picket lines, vigils and other nonviolent protestsat appropriate government buildings and corporate offices.
Try to out-do the magnificent giant chalk drawing they're making in Los Angeles.
Here are some ways to get started. Like this FaceBook page. Then add your photo to it holding a piece of paper reading "Stand Up For Truth." Or retweet this tweet. It all helps to spread the word, which seems like the least we can do.
NEW YORK – A vigil imploring the German government to order the immediate closure of the United States drone satellite relay station at Ramstein Air Base will be held at 11:30 am, Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at the German Consulate, 871 U.N. Plaza.
The Ramstein relay station, according to an April 17, 2015 article in The Intercept, is essential to U.S. drone attacks because it “enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries.”
The vigil will mark the opening of a court case in Cologne, Germany on May 27, 2015 on behalf of Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Yemen who lost his brother-in-law and a nephew to a U.S. drone attack in 2012. His suit seeks to force the German government act to close the Ramstein relay station under a provision of German law that allows people to seek redress if they have suffered harm from activities generated on German soil, in this case drone execution without due process.
“This is an extremely important case not only because it has the potential for stopping U.S. drone attacks but because it may expose much about the U.S. drone program that has been kept secret from the American public and the world,” said Nick Mottern, Director of KnowDrones.com
The vigil will include music by the Raging Grannies singing group and display of a large model of the MQ-9 Reaper, the world’s most numerous and deadly drone. The event is being organized by: KnowDrones.com, the Granny Peace Brigade and World Can’t Wait.
By Dave Lindorff
A tectonic shift is occurring suddenly in the debate over climate change.
The number one error, engaged in by the majority of people, is failing to be an activist. The world's going to hell, countless situations can be easily improved, lives can be saved, and most people just sit there and do nothing. Others actively work to make matters worse. So, if you're working for peace and justice, you're among the tiny minority that's pretty much got the big stuff right. If constructive criticism drives you into despair, please stop reading this article right now and just continue what you're doing with your life. You have my gratitude.
If you're open to hearing some suggestions, for whatever they may be worth (and yes, of course, this list of errors will exclude those that I am myself guilty and unaware of), read on:
1. ELECTIONISM. We need elections but do not now have them in the United States, not at the federal level. Working for election reforms is one of the most important things anyone can do. But taking time off from activism to focus on elections is the biggest waste of resources we engage in. Election reform will come through creative nonviolent activism, education, organizing, media, disruption, resistance, and protest. It won't come through elections. Registering voters is not activism. Creating automatic registration, as just done in Oregon, is activism. Please stifle your compulsion to ask me who I'm voting for. You don't ask me if I want to win the lottery. (I do, but I will not buy a ticket or devote my life to staring at one.)
2. OBAMANISM. As bad as taking a break from activism every election cycle, is thinking and acting like a voter and a campaigner rather than an activist every day of every year, cheerleading for a team of corrupt officials rather than for policies, reforms, and actions that you support. "The nationalist," said Orwell, "not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." Nationalism is a huge problem, and its language, which has peace activists using the word "we" in saying "We are bombing Afghanistan," may contribute to identification with crimes. But the problem of managing not to even hear about them applies to partisanship as well. If a Republican were picking men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays, you'd see protests.
3. TOKENISM. "Black people are dumb." "Muslims are violent." These are understood to be ignorant hate speech. But "Women make better presidents" is not frowned on quite so much, despite its exactly equal idiocy. The problem is not the demographic characteristics of the president. The problem is having a single individual with the powers of a god, in debt to sociopathic billionaires, in a system dominated by militarism and corruption. We won't change it with a female or gay or Latina corporatist warmonger.
4. STRATEGISM. Winning a first and a second and a third step down a path to peace or justice is not best achieved through the means that many activists think of as "strategic." If you tell someone that they should halt one war so that the military can be better prepared for other wars, you weaken your argument against the one war, and you provide an argument for future wars. If you oppose the weapons that don't work, you give legitimacy to the far worse weapons that do work. If you object to a gimmick that boosts weapons spending over a mandated limit by transferring funds from a war budget, you shouldn't do so in a way that suggests either budget is acceptable at all, or in a way that suggests war spending is preferable to non-war-spending or budget trickery. Pre-compromising doesn't get you a compromise result; it gets you incoherence and lack of believability. A young woman pointing out to Jeb Bush that his brother (and Hillary and a few hundred others) created ISIS does a lot more to move people against war than do the strategies coming out of DC peace groups. War is counterproductive on its own terms, immoral, illegal, and catastrophic. Its funding should be eliminated. Our job is to demand that. A small reduction is a first step toward our goal.
5. IMPOTENTISM. The most pervasive and powerful propaganda is that of powerlessness. Telling yourself and each other that you are powerless is no different than Judith Miller repeating CIA lies about WMDs. It's exactly as ridiculous and exactly as damaging. We are not powerless. We quite easily have an impact frequently and could quite easily have a much bigger one. Expecting fairness won't help. We have to work uphill, but it's perfectly doable. Being impatient won't help. We have to keep working however long it takes and however few help out. Self-flagellation won't help. The money is against you and money is powerful. It's not your fault you haven't saved the world, but it might be thanks to you that your grandchildren save it.
6. PAROCHIALISM. We have to form uncomfortably large coalitions, and we really don't want to. I'm not advocating what I critiqued above as strategism. Don't sell your soul. Don't promote destructive ideologies for short-term gain. But don't be scared of guilt-by-association. Be willing to stand with people on an issue whose views and actions you deeply oppose on other issues.
7. LOCALISM. It's far more satisfying to find peace in your heart or sustainability in your backyard than to take on the military industrial complex. But if the earth dies, so will you. There are local and hyper-local angles that contribute to the greater cause. Cities and states can change nations. But individual action alone is not enough. Even small group action aimed too near is not enough. If everybody with solar panels on their roofs had put half the money into a movement to create public solar arrays, we'd have them.
8. FREUDISM. In a popular, simplistic notion of nonviolent communication, one never persuades anyone through rational argument. This is a claim, by the way, that comes out of an ideology supposedly dedicated to respecting people and their "needs." Apparently among those needs is not the need for a good reason to believe something. It would of course be equally simplistic to assert that all one ever needs are facts, or to ignore the age-old wisdom that it is hard to get someone to believe something they are paid not to. But when I tell people that college is free in other countries, their jaws drop, and it's not 30 seconds before they're saying it should be that way in the U.S. When I talk to non-self-selected groups about ending war, the majority say at the end that they have been moved toward believing that war can and should be ended. Facts are not enough, but they are one of the main things the corporate media deprives us of, and one of the key components of activism. They do nothing to help us see another's point of view if we're unwilling to look. They do nothing to alleviate high levels of fear. But it would be a mistake for us to become inversions of Edward Bernays working to manipulate people in a kinder, gentler manner.
9. FETISHISM. Here's a little secret. The people who speak the viewpoints that serve big money are not smarter, wittier, pithier, or better at framing a topic. They're on the air because they speak the viewpoints that serve big money. They may be more eloquent than you. They may be less so. But trying to think and sound like them in general is a quite risky proposition and completely unnecessary. There is nothing we need more than better media and better use of existing media by its readers, listeners, and viewers. There is no smarter place to invest as activists. But what we lack is not spokespeople. What we lack is microphones.
10. PINKERISM. "But haven't you heard? War is going away on its own? I heard it from someone who read a review of a book by Steven Pinker." War is not going to go away on its own. It is not even going away with our help. But it could go away if we really get our act together.
From Know Drones:
On Sunday, May 24, 3 pm (Rain date, Mon, Memorial Day, May 25, same time), gather at Peace Park, behind Village Hall, in New Paltz, NY for a sidewalk march to honor victims of governmental and corporate militarism, such as victims of: drone killings, other acts of war violence, Guatanamo, police militarism and racism and gender violence, and ecocide (think fracking, Lac Megantic, the rain forest, the oceans, the PA forest, etc.) One major theme will be: "This isn't ISIS, this is US"
Barbara Kidney, Drone Alert – Hudson Valley, an organizer of the march, said:
“We realize people may be away or committed to other plans on Memorial Day weekend. We decided to do this event despite that because we feel it is urgent to present to the community a real Memorial Day event, meaning one that does not glorify militarism on the Memorial Day weekend.
“We will also honor the protectors and champions of life, healthy community, and unalienable rights, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Earthfirst! and Hugh Sampson (the Army helicopter pilot who intervened to save people from his fellow military during the My Lai massacre).”
Feel free to bring signs to honor victims and/or champions of your choosing. The march will end with picnicking at Hasbrouck Park.
An organizational meeting will be held on Sunday, May 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 pm at Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 6 Church Street, New Paltz.
Other groups are very welcome to co-sponsor, Barbara said. You can text her at (845) 313-8035 or call Andrew Dalton at (845) 699-3051.
From Know Drones:
On Sunday, May 17, from 2 – 3:30 pm there will be an anti-drone war rally at the entrance of Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, MO. Cars will leave at 12:30 pm from 912 E. 31st Street, Kansas City, MO for the base. To carpool, call 913-206-4088.
Brian Terrell, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence (VCNV), will speak at the rally. He served 6 months in a federal prison camp for resistance at Whiteman AFB in 2012 after crossing a line on the entry road to protest remote control of killer drones from Whiteman and other bases.
Brian says, protesters plan to stay on the public right-of-way and will invite the base commander and officers “to join us to break bread and converse,” and that no civil resistance is planned. Last year Georgia Walker, of PeaceWorks-KC, and Kathy Kelly, of the Chicago-based VCNV, did civil resistance at Whiteman AFB. Georgia is on probation for a year, and Kathy served 3 months in a federal prison camp.
The rally is sponsored by PeaceWorks-KC, Mid-MO Fellowship of Reconciliation and PeaceWorks-Mid-MO.
From Know Drones:
Please plan a protest in your area on or before May 26 urging the German Government to order the U.S. to close the satellite relay station at Ramstein Air Base that is essential to U.S. drone surveillance and attacks globally. Numerous German human rights and antiwar organizations have issued the joint call, “Stop U.S. Drone Warfare Via Ramstein” and are asking U.S. organizations to support the call.
On May 27th a vigil will be held at the German Parliament in Berlin to draw attention to the opening of the court case of the bin Ali Jaber family of Yemen against the German Government. The family lost two of its members to a U.S. drone attack in 2012 and demands that Germany stop allowing Ramstein to be used for U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. Under German law, extra-judicial killings are illegal.
At this point, protests in the U.S. are being planned as follows:
- May 21 – Syracuse, NY – 4:15 – 5 pm at the front gate of Hancock Air Base, timed at the shift change.
- May 26 – New York City – 11:30 am – Outside the German Consulate, 871 United Nations Plaza, on First Avenue between East 48th and 49th Streets.
The German Embassy is in Washington, DC, and there are also German consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Any courthouse would be an appropriate point for a witness. http://www.germany.info/