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The Struggle for Merdeka in West Papua

It has been argued that nonviolent struggles to liberate occupied countries – such as West Papua, Tibet, Palestine, Kanaky and Western Sahara – have failed far more often than they have succeeded but that secessionist struggles (that have sought to separate territory from an existing state in order to establish a new one) conducted by nonviolent means have always failed. See Why Civil Resistance Works: The strategic logic of nonviolent conflict.

 

Sanders campaign offers a historic opportunity: We Need a Mass Movement Demanding Real Social Security and Medicare for All

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The rising fortunes of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist US senator from Vermont, in the Democratic presidential primaries, provides a unique opportunity for organizing a new radical movement around key political goals including a national health care program for all Americans, not just the elderly and disabled, and a national retirement program that people can actually live on.

Join the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and friends for THE REAL STATE OF THE UNION

January 12, 2016 1:30 pm

On the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court building, across from the Capitol

As Obama delivers his final State of the Union address, we call on him to speak the truth.  The Union, and indeed the whole world, is ravaged after years of endless war. 

Because of the wars:

We are making enemies across the globe.

We have no money left to help those who are struggling and living in poverty. 

Our Mother Earth is dying and the climate is in crisis. 

Violence is escalating here at home, especially against people of color.

What can we do?  Join us on January 12 for a peaceful rally and hear inspiring speakers with real solutions.  Bring signs and banners, and materials to share with others in making signs.  If you are considering risking arrest in an action of nonviolent civil resistance, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

Note: Beginning at 11:00 am there will be indoor meeting space for activists – see schedule below for details.

SCHEDULE FOR JANUARY 12

11:00 am - People can begin gathering at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation at 212 East Captiol St. NE for networking, leafleting, and making signs and banners.  If you can bring materials for people to use in making signs (markers and placards) please do so.

11:30 am -12:30 pm - Group risking arrest will meet at the church for final planning of action.

12:30 - 1:30 pm - Open mic giving activists an opportunity to share information on their group and what they are doing in working for peace and justice.

1:30 pm - Rally with signs and banners, speakers and reading of the petition (see below) outside on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court building, across the street from the Capitol

Sometime around 2:30 or 3:00 pm - Those risking arrest will attempt to deliver the petition to Congress and the President in an action of nonviolent civil resistance.  If you are planning to risk arrest or want to find out more, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com.

Please contact malachykilbride@yahoo.com to sign onto the petition below that will be delivered to Congress and to the President on January 12.

PETITION TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: WE URGE YOU TO CHANGE YOUR POLICIES, AND TO USE THE STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH TO RENOUNCE  INEQUALITY, MILITARISM AND ECOCIDE

January 12, 2016

Dear Mr. President,

 As friends and representatives of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), we are writing to request that you use the State of the Union speech to indicate you will do your best to change the direction of this country.  A real State of the Union would be a frank speech which would condemn our country’s addiction to economic inequality, racial injustice, warmongering and the destruction of our planet.  After being honest about our failures, you would then urge our elected officials to go in a new direction, based on a democratic ideal for we the people, and not for we the wealthy.   Tell them to listen to the people, and not the corporations.  You could inform them that you will utilize diplomacy and other peaceful means.  You could tell them to listen to the scientific community and not the fossil fuel industry.

You could also state that you will immediately end the illegal and immoral killer drone program, and will never resort again to assassination as a foreign policy.  And most importantly, you would close down the Pentagon, the Department of War, and renounce nuclear weaponry.  Finally, you would pledge to save Mother Earth.  The Pentagon would become the Department of Peace with Justice, and its mission would be to shape the sustainable future.

 We write to you as people committed to nonviolent social change with a deep concern for a variety of issues that are all interrelated. Please heed our petition—end our government’s continuing wars and military incursions around the world and use these tax dollars as a solution to end growing poverty which is a plague throughout this country in which vast wealth is controlled by a tiny percentage of its citizens. Establish a living wage for all workers. Condemn forcefully the policy of mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and the rampant police violence. Pledging to end the addiction to militarism will have a positive effect on our planet's climate and habitat.  Should you show any interest in our demands, we would be available to assist in this process.

NCNR members have consistently participated in witnesses of nonviolent civil resistance calling on our government to take meaningful action to confront the climate crisis, the unending wars, the root causes of poverty, the bigotry and antipathy to African Americans, Muslims, and other minorities, and the structural violence of the military-security state. By listening to the millions of people at home and abroad your administration has recently taken laudable steps to avoid using military force with Iran and to reduce carbon emissions, but more significant action is still needed.

Instead of the State Department, your administration uses the Pentagon to deal with conflict, and such behavior in concert with our allies greatly contributes to a violent and destabilized world. The U.S. use of armed drones by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency is inflicting enormous human suffering, is unconstitutional, and is only creating more “terrorists.” Your administration should cease its hostile rhetoric and sanctions against North Korea, Russia, and Iran. Furthermore, the US should seek a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria, disband NATO, and end the increasing military presence in Southeast Asia, commonly referred to as the "Asian Pivot," which threatens China. You must end all military aid to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other countries in the Middle East. A new approach must be taken by your administration to free the Palestinians from over half a century of violent Israeli oppression. Diplomacy is the only answer to stop the cycle of violence. Regardless of whether noncombatants suffer or not, violence and war are not the answers to conflict. Diplomatic efforts to end the sanctions and hostile relations with Cuba are a good example of the positive path that can be taken and should be followed with other countries labeled as our enemies.

Nuclear weapons can never be used, and the plan to use a trillion tax dollars to “upgrade” the nuclear arsenal is madness. A study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, reports that the actual costs your administration plans for updating the nuclear triad — the intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear warheads – will cost one trillion dollars. This is beyond senselessly wasteful!  It is immoral and actually illegal under international law to possess such weapons capable of global annihilation thousands of times greater than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These tax dollars must be re-allocated towards reviving our sagging infrastructure and supporting social services desperately needed by the poor.  The tax dollars could also be utilized to assist former prisoners returning to their communities.

Almost half the people on this planet live off less than $2.50 a day and around 22,000 children die every day due to poverty according to UNICEF.  However, the U.S. has continued to expend half of the federal discretionary budget on warmongering.  Besides wasting tax dollars, the wars have resulted in untold numbers of lives lost, injured millions of refugees, and contributed to ecocide. 

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty "More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families."

 Unending war and imperialism means rampant death and destruction.  Within the last 13 years, we have experienced how the United States has responded to international crisis with violence.  Our government has waged wars in violation of international law.   The failed Middle East policy leaves a whole region mired in violence and instability including an enormous refugee crisis. The continuing support for Israel’s apartheid state and oppression of the Palestinian people must end.  Furthermore, so many continue to be victimized by killer drones or are tortured and illegally detained now. We welcome the long overdue release in 2015 of some prisoners from Guantanamo but you must follow through on your promise to close this shameful illegal detention camp which has come to represent the racism and structural violence of the American empire.  Even in this country, solitary confinement and mass incarceration is the norm, and undocumented immigrants, who have fled strife and poverty caused by international economic agreements, are held for long periods of time before being deported back into the poverty and instability they desperately tried to escape.

 Our disregard for the causes of climate chaos is leading to the destruction of the planet.  Being controlled, in part, by the fossil fuel industry, our government has not been willing to sign onto international treaties to end climate chaos.  In the article “Greenwashing the Pentagon”, Joseph Nevins states, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

 We believe that another way is possible and that there are alternatives to the life threatening policies that our government has promoted and that have been so destructive to Mother Earth and the people of the world.

Use the State of the Union as a platform to renounce the past and to promote necessary and positive social change. Unless our elected officials take immediate and significant actions, Mother Earth is doomed.

Please sign onto this petition by emailing malachykilbride@yahoo.com

Cities of the World, Unite Against Nations' Wars

What if the very worst result of George W. Bush's war lies is that people stop taking seriously the danger of actual nuclear weapons actually falling into the hands of actual lunatics? Arguably the very worst result of Woodrow Wilson's lies about German atrocities in World War I was excessive skepticism about reports of Nazi atrocities leading up to and during World War II. The fact is that nuclear weapons are being recklessly maintained, built, developed, tested, and proliferated. The fact is that governments make mistakes, fail, collapse, and engage in evil actions.

By Dick Cheney's calculation, if there was a 1% chance that a pile of ridiculous lies was true, it justified all out war on the world, destabilizing a region, killing and making homeless millions, and birthing radical new terrorist forces. By my calculation, there is a 100% chance that if we continue current nuclear policies, sooner or later, a huge number of people -- quite possibly all people -- will die, many of them with melted skin, eyes hanging out of their sockets, noses burnt off, and screams of bitter envy for those already dead. Surely this justifies some slight action of some sort, apart from more fracking or building internment camps for Muslims.

I say that's my calculation, but the idea actually arises -- one of many -- from my reading of an excellent book called City, Save Thyself! Nuclear Terror and the Urban Ballot. It was written by David Wylie, a former Cambridge, Mass., city councilor who helped initiate the first municipal Commission on Peace and Disarmament, the twenty U.S.-Soviet Sister City alliances, and an urban referendum effort against nuclear weapons.

What if we were to confront real dangers of nuclear apocalypse and climate apocalypse without the fear that produces stupidity, but with smart strategic action aimed at substantive change? That brings me to a second favorite idea from Wylie's book, and what I take to be his central proposal. Democratic people power is the force that can put a halt to the war profiteers and weapons proliferators. Democratic people power can best be created at the level of towns and cities. Towns and cities of the world can together form a federalist structure of global power of the sort that nations will never produce and which the United Nations has fervently resisted since its creation.

Do you live in a town or city in the United States? When you organize, are you able in some small way to influence your local government? Would people in your town be willing to communicate with people in a foreign town, perhaps a largely Muslim foreign town? Would people in your town be interested in a world that reduced and eliminated weapons of mass destruction? Would people in your town appreciate major new resources for education, infrastructure, green energy, and jobs -- resources that would become available with reductions in military spending? Would the people of your city like to tell the people of a foreign nation that, despite many differences and mutual ignorance of each other, you'd prefer not to see the U.S. military bomb them, and you'd in fact like to get to know them better through cultural exchanges and joint action as members of a global security committee?

None of this is far fetched. Cities and towns are in fact where it is entirely possible to get things done. While activist groups focus their efforts on doomed bills in Congress, U.S. cities are taking huge strides on election reform, green energy, education, voting rights, etc. We need to shift our worldviews to properly pursue this course. We need to stop identifying ourselves by the name of a nation, and instead think of ourselves in terms of our towns and the world. There is overwhelming evidence that redirecting political engagement from national advocacy that almost always fails into local advocacy that often works would be less a redirection of a finite amount of civic action and more a generation of vast new quantities of popular democratic work.

Sister and twin cities, Mayors for Peace, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the League of Historical Cities, and other such organizations point to the potential for giving local political strength a broader grip on the world. Communication across distances and languages is growing easier by the minute. Agreement that our communities would be better off not burned to the ground by either bombs or climate chaos is among the easiest and least controversial notions available to be proposed to a diverse group of democratic-spirited representatives from planet earth.

Here in Charlottesville, Virginia, I, as a Charlottesvillian and World Citizen, am pleased to report that our local city council has in recent years passed resolutions against possible wars on various countries, including Iraq and Iran, in favor of conversion to peaceful industries, and against the use of drones. Our city council, like most, routinely informs its state general assembly of its wishes. And the influence of the city's official voice does not end there. Cville's past resolutions on Iraq, military spending, uranium, and other matters have inspired other localities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to raise their voices as well. Some of these resolutions have been directed to the federal government, to which the residents of Charlottesville pay taxes and whose laws the residents of Charlottesville are subject to.

This is how our federalist republic is supposed to work. City council members in Virginia take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Cities and towns routinely send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across the United States. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.

In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) that "one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known."

Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol, etc. We are not an island. If we become environmentally sustainable, others will ruin our climate. If we ban assault weapons, they'll arrive at our borders. And if the skies of the United States are filled with drones, it will become ever more difficult for Charlottesville to keep them out.

Wylie's proposal would further empower my city and thousands of other cities, each of which would appoint a representative to a global body. If nations won't protect the climate, cities of the world can nonetheless agree to do so. If nations won't resolve disputes by peaceful means, cities can nonetheless make that happen. If nations won't invest in peaceful industries, cities and towns can nonetheless create programs of economic conversion to industries that provide greater economic benefit while also reducing the chances of violent death by nuclear hell fire.

Wylie's proposal should be read in its entirety in his book, which outlines numerous ways for cities to advance this process, including ways to encourage and recognize world citizens, and to encourage and recognize world cities. Cities can also use referenda, rather than council votes, to give democratic weight and wisdom to their actions. And national politicians who denounce the broken system they are part of can take actions to strengthen the local-level system that still has life in it.

The proposal here is not to risk federal prosecution by secretly negotiating with foreign national governments. Rather the idea is to risk an outbreak of peace and mutual understanding by publicly interacting with local governments from one's own and other parts of the world. This public diplomacy could be truly public in the sense of publishing full video of all of its interactions on the public internet. (An outline for such transparency can be found in the remnants of broken campaign promises from a certain national U.S. political candidate of 2008.)

Wylie's book is a guide to action and includes in it a model letter to your local mayor or city council, a model resolution, a model agenda for a first meeting of a municipal security assembly, and a rich bibliography for deeper understanding of how to make this work. I highly recommend it.

It's Time to Make Nominations for the Next Nobel Peace Prize

By Fredrik S. Heffermehl and Tomas Magnusson

"… this year's Peace Prize … speaks to the core of Alfred Nobel's will and Nobel's vision of fraternity, disarmament and peace-building forums. Not because the [Tunisian] Quartet has actively sought to promote disarmament, but because its work has led to a better platform for peace and non-violent resolution of conflicts. This is a story about building strong institutions to ensure justice and stability, and demonstrating the will to engage in dialogue and cooperation." —Nobel committee chair Kaci Kullmann Five, in opening words of 2015 Nobel speech                                                                           

  1. WHO SHOULD WIN THE 2016 NOBEL? – MAKE NOMINATIONS 

The quote above very likely is a result of the lawsuit the NPPW initiated in Sweden. It means that the Nobel Peace Prize Watch campaign to reclaim the peace prize is making progress. Eight years ago Nobel and his will were entirely forgotten; in 2015 his intention was the opening of the committee chair's speech.

The progress should be used to promote good nominations, of qualified candidates, for 2016. The right to nominate is limited, to parliamentarians, certain professors, and others, all over the world. See details and list here: http://nobelpeaceprize.org/en_GB/nomination_intro/nomination_criteria/ . Absolute, final deadline is Feb. 1. Send by Jan 31 to postmaster@nobel.no.

If you are not entitled to nominate, please seek out someone who is.

For the first time since the 1990 speech for Gorbachev, the Nobel awarders have addressed and (honestly) confirmed Nobel's intention. It may be only a tactical move in the lawsuit. To lock the committee to their words we recommend all nominations to open by commending the committee chair's opening words in the speech for the Tunisian Quartet, adding that Nobel clearly had the relations between nations, globalpeace-building forums,” in mind. (The correspondence about the peace prize between Alfred Nobel and Bertha von Suttner makes this perfectly clear).

A good nomination takes time, please start the process at once – and please give an extra thought to potential candidates from non-Western countries.

  1. LAWSUIT TO SECURE PRIZE FOR CORE PEACE WORK

We wish to see an end to the misuse of the prize for Western political agendas. After 8 years of futile attempts to have Alfred Nobel's intention respected we initiated a lawsuit in Stockholm. See our website http://www.nobelwill.org.

For an illustration of who Nobel intended to support see our list of the 25 qualified to win among the near 300 actually nominated for 2015: http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7#list

While there, please sign the appeal and consider a donation to the work of NPPW/Lay Down your Arms to promote a weapons-free world An ambitious goal – but why should we be less bold and ambitious than Nobel (and Bertha von Suttner, and Andrew Carnegie) were over 100 years ago?

We need 10,000s of USDs for lawyer fees, so please contribute. A lawsuit is different. For once, our movement has a legal right to respect for its arguments. We can win! A small investment can secure an annual $1 million for efforts for a weapons-free world! This is good, efficient fundraising, but we have to be very precise. As long as we wish all kinds of peace work to win, the awarders will also feel free to promote the Obamas, the EU …, and continue to ignore the antimilitarist core purpose of Nobel.

Emails: US Government Facilitated LNG Business Deals Before Terminals Got Required Federal Permits

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Emails and documents obtained by DeSmog reveal that the U.S. Department of Trade has actively promoted and facilitated  business deals for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry and export terminal owners, even before some of the terminals have the federal regulatory agency permits needed to open for business. 

Obama's Oily Christmas Gift: Faster Pipeline Approvals

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

Act for Peace and Environment in DC on January 12, 2016

PETITION TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: WE URGE YOU TO CHANGE YOUR POLICIES, AND TO USE THE STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH TO RENOUNCE  INEQUALITY, MILITARISM AND ECOCIDE
January 12, 2016
Dear Mr. President,
 As friends and representatives of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), we are writing to request that you use the State of the Union speech to indicate you will do your best to change the direction of this country.  A real State of the Union would be a frank speech which would condemn our country’s addiction to economic inequality, racial injustice, warmongering and the destruction of our planet.  After being honest about our failures, you would then urge our elected officials to go in a new direction, based on a democratic ideal for we the people, and not for we the wealthy.   Tell them to listen to the people, and not the corporations.  You could inform them that you will utilize diplomacy and other peaceful means.  You could tell them to listen to the scientific community and not the fossil fuel industry.

 You could also state that you will immediately end the illegal and immoral killer drone program, and will never resort again to assassination as a foreign policy.  And most importantly, you would close down the Pentagon, the Department of War, and renounce nuclear weaponry.  Finally, you would pledge to save Mother Earth.  The Pentagon would become the Department of Peace with Justice, and its mission would be to shape the sustainable future.

 We write to you as people committed to nonviolent social change with a deep concern for a variety of issues that are all interrelated. Please heed our petition—end our government’s continuing wars and military incursions around the world and use these tax dollars as a solution to end growing poverty which is a plague throughout this country in which vast wealth is controlled by a tiny percentage of its citizens. Establish a living wage for all workers. Condemn forcefully the policy of mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and the rampant police violence. Pledging to end the addiction to militarism will have a positive effect on our planet's climate and habitat.  Should you show any interest in our demands, we would be available to assist in this process.

NCNR members have consistently participated in witnesses of nonviolent civil resistance calling on our government to take meaningful action to confront the climate crisis, the unending wars, the root causes of poverty, the bigotry and antipathy to African Americans, Muslims, and other minorities, and the structural violence of the military-security state. By listening to the millions of people at home and abroad your administration has recently taken laudable steps to avoid using military force with Iran and to reduce carbon emissions, but more significant action is still needed.

 Instead of the State Department, your administration uses the Pentagon to deal with conflict, and such behavior in concert with our allies greatly contributes to a violent and destabilized world. The U.S. use of armed drones by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency is inflicting enormous human suffering, is unconstitutional, and is only creating more “terrorists.” Your administration should cease its hostile rhetoric and sanctions against North Korea, Russia, and Iran. Furthermore, the US should seek a diplomatic solution to the civil war in Syria, disband NATO, and end the increasing military presence in Southeast Asia, commonly referred to as the "Asian Pivot," which threatens China. You must end all military aid to Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the other countries in the Middle East. A new approach must be taken by your administration to free the Palestinians from over half a century of violent Israeli oppression. Diplomacy is the only answer to stop the cycle of violence. Regardless of whether noncombatants suffer or not, violence and war are not the answers to conflict. Diplomatic efforts to end the sanctions and hostile relations with Cuba are a good example of the positive path that can be taken and should be followed with other countries labeled as our enemies.

Nuclear weapons can never be used, and the plan to use a trillion tax dollars to “upgrade” the nuclear arsenal is madness. A study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, an independent think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, reports that the actual costs your administration plans for updating the nuclear triad — the intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear warheads – will cost one trillion dollars. This is beyond senselessly wasteful!  It is immoral and actually illegal under international law to possess such weapons capable of global annihilation thousands of times greater than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These tax dollars must be re-allocated towards reviving our sagging infrastructure and supporting social services desperately needed by the poor.  The tax dollars could also be utilized to assist former prisoners returning to their communities.

Almost half the people on this planet live off less than $2.50 a day and around 22,000 children die every day due to poverty according to UNICEF.  However, the U.S. has continued to expend half of the federal discretionary budget on warmongering.  Besides wasting tax dollars, the wars have resulted in untold numbers of lives lost, injured millions of refugees, and contributed to ecocide.

According to the National Center for Children in Poverty "More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level – $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families."

 Unending war and imperialism means rampant death and destruction.  Within the last 13 years, we have experienced how the United States has responded to international crisis with violence.  Our government has waged wars in violation of international law.   The failed Middle East policy leaves a whole region mired in violence and instability including an enormous refugee crisis. The continuing support for Israel’s apartheid state and oppression of the Palestinian people must end.  Furthermore, so many continue to be victimized by killer drones or are tortured and illegally detained now. We welcome the long overdue release in 2015 of some prisoners from Guantanamo but you must follow through on your promise to close this shameful illegal detention camp which has come to represent the racism and structural violence of the American empire.  Even in this country, solitary confinement and mass incarceration is the norm, and undocumented immigrants, who have fled strife and poverty caused by international economic agreements, are held for long periods of time before being deported back into the poverty and instability they desperately tried to escape.

 Our disregard for the causes of climate chaos is leading to the destruction of the planet.  Being controlled, in part, by the fossil fuel industry, our government has not been willing to sign onto international treaties to end climate chaos.  In the article “Greenwashing the Pentagon”, Joseph Nevins states, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

  We believe that another way is possible and that there are alternatives to the life threatening policies that our government has promoted and that have been so destructive to Mother Earth and the people of the world.

Use the State of the Union as a platform to renounce the past and to promote necessary and positive social change. Unless our elected officials take immediate and significant actions, Mother Earth is doomed.
 
Please sign onto this petition by emailing malachykilbride@yahoo.com


CALL TO ACTION TO DECLARE THE REAL STATE OF THE UNION – JAN. 12, 2016

Guided by conscience, reason, and deeply held convictions, the National Campaign for Nonvi...olent Resistance calls upon all people of good will to come to Washington, DC on Tuesday January 12, 2016 to actively participate in a witness of nonviolent civil resistance, challenging President Barack Obama and the United States Congress to address the real state of the union, to immediately stop all U.S. acts of war, and to make significant changes that will put the people of the United States on the path to acting cooperatively with all in the world so that we can all live together in a world of peace, sharing our resources fairly.

The president will deliver his State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress on that day and tragically for the world, without a doubt, his presentation will once again be a threadbare act of political theatre with no relevance to the masses of people here in the United States or around the world. The escalating violence and tyranny of an expanding American empire abroad is destabilizing the world. The US Congress is bought and paid for by corporations and a wealthy minority who believe that assertion of global military control is the only way to ensure their corporate success. Congress willingly rubber stamps empire’s ongoing wars, with U.S. citizens footing the bill, paying the trillions of dollars in military costs benefiting only the 1 percent while causing crippling injuries, deaths, extreme hardship and suffering for so much of the world. Congress is nothing more than a bipartisan betrayer of the people. The ongoing wars for empire must end if humanity is to survive.

To be more specific, the perpetual wars waged by the U.S. are illegal, immoral, and enriching the wealthy financial corporate elites as millions within the U.S. lack basic needs, and billions around the world live in extreme poverty. We see how the wars and occupations abroad, fueled by fear and profit, have literally and figuratively turned inwards against the American people, impoverishing and imprisoning us. The US drone wars are directed at the poorest and least powerful in places like Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries around the world. The people of Syria are now experiencing the US neocon strategy to "redraw the map of the Middle East", greatly exacerbating the international refugee crisis. The region is further threatened by the continued oppression and persecution of the Palestinians with US consent and complicity. The ultimate weapon in the U.S. arsenal still poses a serious danger to all on this planet and all these weapons must be eliminated by all countries which control them.

Furthermore, the racist nature of empire with its structures of violence and oppression are directed at all of us. Islamophobia, racism, police violence, and the growing security surveillance state must be resisted to protect the liberty of all. From schools to the prison industrial complex with mass incarceration and solitary confinement at home, to Guantanamo and other sites of indefinite detention and torture abroad, we are all caught up in the empire’s systemic violence threatening the freedom of all. Undocumented people, victims of US economic trade deals and support of oppressive governments, are rounded up, held in for-profit jails for extended periods of time before deportation. The empire’s short-sighted thirst for profit, strategic domination, control of fossil fuels and other natural resources are leading us to more war and destruction of earth’s habitat and climate. We must actively resist and oppose the racism and violence of empire! We must save Mother Earth! Our resources must be directed away from the war machine and used for peaceful purposes, placing people over profit, with the goal as nothing less than saving of all life on our planet.

We urge those who are not able to be in Washington on January 12 to organize actions locally. We especially encourage those who are already speaking out against drones across the country to consider a simultaneous action. We support our friends in California who are already working on an action there. For information on the actions at Creech and Beale, contact mailto:smallworldradio@outlook.com
Join us in the streets of Washington, D.C., on January 12, 2016 as we all present our message on the real State of the Union to President Obama and the Congress.

For more information or to get involved contact: malachykilbride@yahoo.com joyfirst5@gmail.com or mobuszewski@verizon.net

Federal Court Gives Blessing to Covertly Approved Enbridge Cross-Border Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A federal court has ruled that the Enbridge Alberta Clipper (Line 67) cross-border tar sands pipeline expansion project, permitted covertly and behind closed doors by the Obama Administration, got its greenlight in a legal manner. 

Groups Ask Columbia University To Reveal Funding Behind Exxon-Tied Center on Global Energy Policy

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Final exams and winter break loom large for students at Columbia University, but at the upper echelons of the university's administration, new calls for transparency about the funding of a university affiliated center are likely to create plenty of homework as well. 

Meet the Lobbyists and Big Money Interests Pushing to End the Oil Exports Ban

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The ongoing push to lift the ban on exports of U.S.-produced crude oil appears to be coming to a close, with Congress agreeing to a budget deal with a provision to end the decades-old embargo

The Nobel Foundation taken to court on the Peace Prize

By Jan Oberg, TFF co-founder and director, TFF PressInfo # 351
Lund, Sweden, December 10, 2015

On the day of the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony at Oslo City Hall

Alfred Nobel decided to give one fifth of his fortune for a prize to promote disarmament and resolution of all conflicts through negotiations and legal means, never through violence. 

It should go to "champions of peace" - to reducing or abolishing standing armies, promoting peace congresses and creating fraternity between nations...  

Here is the full text of Nobel's will of 1895 here.

The Nobel Committee in Oslo has, over the years, awarded this prize to several people whose activities are in clear violation of those goals, even with a broader, updated interpretation. 

Can such a prize, with a so clearly stated goal, be changed to serve the opposite idea and be given again and again to recipients who promote arms races and believe in militarism and war?

This question will soon be answered, after Mairead Maguire, Jan Oberg, David Swanson, and Lay Down Your Arms took the case to the Stockholm District Court on Friday 4th of December 2015.

The specific case to be tested is the 2012 award to the European Union.

Here is the full text of the summons.

All other relevant information is available at the Nobel Peace Prize Watch.

Norwegian lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl and Jan Oberg took the initiative in 2007 to reclaim the Prize to its original purposes.

Since then Fredrik Heffermehl has done research on its history and decision-making processes. One of the main results is his internationally acclaimed 2010 book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, 239 pages. 

More information here.

In Fantasyland Your Neighbors Live in, More War Is a Smart Idea

By David Swanson

People in the United States want tighter gun laws within the United States. They probably can't be, and certainly aren't being, polled on the U.S. role as top weapons supplier to the world. You can't poll people on something they've never heard of.

People in the United States want more done to protect the environment. They have no clue that their government is politely destroying all hope for future human life at a nice conference in Paris. They've never heard that the U.S. military is the single biggest destroyer of the environment. These are topics you can't poll on.

People in the United States believe that ISIS is present within the United States trying to kill them. You can't poll them on what to do in the actual universe, because they're living in that one. In their la-la land they say the United States should wage more war on ISIS.

Even in an alternative universe in which ISIS members from Honduras have snuck Ebola into Planned Parenthood clinics, waging war on ISIS makes no sense. The war and the accompanying bigotry and hatred are the greatest gift ISIS could ask for. And it did ask for them. And the United States has obliged, helping ISIS's recruitment soar. Blowback isn't reduced by escalating. You can't use terrorism to eliminate terrorism.

But here's where the important delusions come in. More than a matter of immediate facts, good Americans suffer from a twisted worldview in which blowback is spontaneously generated by irrational subhuman urges in lesser races and religious groups, wars waged abroad by the United States don't hurt anyone -- other than evil beasts, the war on Iraq benefited Iraq, and wars can be made even better than normal by making them multicultural feminist environmentalist Geneva-Conventionized local efforts with dark-skinned inhabitants doing the dying but the United States doing the deciding.

Let's try a little context.

It is no more "defensive" now than it was in 2003 or any other year to bomb people's homes thousands of miles from your shores.

It is not an act of generosity -- except to the weapons makers -- to kill huge numbers of people for no good reason.

War is not a last resort, and imagining it is while cheering and pushing for it, is self-delusional in a very basic way, no matter how poorly informed you are.

As your World War II myths can probably be removed only with invasive surgery, just look at the past 70 years and find a war that worked on its own terms, that didn't produce more harm than it halted.

The politicians who lie to you about everything other than war, and the media that tries to bias you in disastrous directions on everything other than war, both do the exact same thing when it comes to war.

Two years ago you didn't want to join a war on Syria on the side of al Qaeda, but you didn't want to be bothered to really stop it, end the provision of arms and trainers, pull the CIA out, permit the world to negotiate peace. Now you want to join a war on Syria on the side of al Qaeda while simultaneously joining it on the side against al Qaeda under the new name ISIS.

Why? Because ISIS is evil, so evil you can't talk to them.

ISIS is a large and growing number of people. Do you intend to murder them all? Do you have any idea of the global storm of hatred and vengeance that doing so would unleash on the United States including from people within the United States who can't be kept out by some idiotic walls? Because if you don't intend to murder them all, but only some of them (generating more of them than you kill), then you're going to have to talk with those who survive.

I'm not even asking you to talk to them. I'm asking you to stop making matters worse. Stop bombing. Stop shooting. Stop flooding the region with weapons. Stop supporting governments that fund ISIS. Protect people at risk with actual defensive protection if needed, but don't use them as excuses for escalated war. Send in aid and peaceworkers. Let professionals at conflict resolution speak to ISIS. Go back to television and shopping. Just stop telling pollsters you want more war.

CALL TO ACTION TO DECLARE THE REAL STATE OF THE UNION – JAN. 12, 2016

Guided by conscience, reason, and deeply held convictions, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance calls upon all people of good will to come to Washington, DC on Tuesday January 12, 2016 to actively participate in a witness of nonviolent civil resistance, challenging President Barack Obama and the  United States Congress to address the real state of the union, to immediately stop all U.S. acts of war, and to make significant changes that will put the people of the United States on the path to acting cooperatively with all in the world so that we can all live together in a world of peace, sharing our resources fairly.

The president will deliver his State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress on that day and tragically for the world, without a doubt, his presentation will once again be a threadbare act of political theatre with no relevance to the masses of people here in the United States or around the world. The escalating violence and tyranny of an expanding American empire abroad is destabilizing the world. The US Congress is bought and paid for by corporations and a wealthy minority who believe that assertion of global military control is the only way to ensure their corporate success. Congress willingly rubber stamps empire’s ongoing wars, with U.S. citizens  footing the bill, paying the trillions of dollars in military costs benefiting only the 1 percent while causing crippling injuries, deaths, extreme hardship and suffering for so much of the world. Congress is nothing more than a bipartisan betrayer of the people. The ongoing wars for empire must end if humanity is to survive.

To be more specific, the perpetual wars waged by the U.S. are illegal, immoral, and enriching the wealthy financial corporate elites as millions within the U.S. lack basic needs, and billions around the world live in extreme poverty. We see how the wars and occupations abroad, fueled by fear and profit, have literally and figuratively turned inwards against the American people, impoverishing and imprisoning us. The US drone wars are directed at the poorest and least powerful in places like Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries around the world. The people of Syria are now experiencing the US neocon strategy to "redraw the map of the Middle East", greatly exacerbating the international refugee crisis. The region is further threatened by the continued oppression and persecution of the Palestinians with US consent and complicity. The ultimate weapon in the U.S. arsenal still poses a serious danger to all on this planet and all these weapons must be eliminated by all countries which control them.

Furthermore, the racist nature of empire with its structures of violence and oppression are directed at all of us.  Islamophobia, racism, police violence, and the growing security surveillance state must be resisted to protect the liberty of all. From schools to the prison industrial complex with mass incarceration and solitary confinement at home, to Guantanamo and other sites of indefinite detention and torture abroad, we are all caught up in the empire’s systemic violence threatening the freedom of all. Undocumented people, victims of US economic trade deals and support of oppressive governments, are rounded up, held in for-profit jails for extended periods of time before deportation. The empire’s short-sighted thirst for profit, strategic domination, control of fossil fuels and other natural resources are leading us to more war and destruction of earth’s habitat and climate. We must actively resist and oppose the racism and violence of empire! We must save Mother Earth!  Our resources must be directed away from the war machine and used for peaceful purposes, placing people over profit, with the goal as nothing less than saving of all life on our planet.

We urge those who are not able to be in Washington on January 12 to organize actions locally. We especially encourage those who are already speaking out against drones across the country to consider a simultaneous action. We support our friends in California who are already working on an action there. For information on the actions at Creech and Beale, contact mailto:smallworldradio@outlook.com

Join us in the streets of Washington, D.C., on January 12, 2016 as we all present ourmessage on the real State of the Union to President Obama and the Congress.

For more information or to get involved contact: malachykilbride@yahoo.com   joyfirst5@gmail.com   or mobuszewski@verizon.net

Regime change in Chicago!: Cover-Up of a Police Murder Requires Resignation of Chicago Mayor Emanuel

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold yet belated move when he fired his embattled police superintendent in the wake of a national uproar surrounding the release of a chilling video that captured the police killing of a teen--a ward of the city of Chicago.

Rally in London

It is Time to Choose Peace and Compassion in Middle East

The world is wracked with shock, anger, and a deep sadness following the attacks in Paris last week.  No one should go through that kind of horror and have their lives destroyed.  We grieve with France over the loss of life and over the terror that has gripped the nation. 

However, living with that kind of fear is the constant reality for many people in the Middle East with drones flying overhead and with soldiers and mercenaries occupying the land.  I think about the mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, people living in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen whose lives are no more than “collateral damage” to the US government, people who are being murdered with total disregard for their humanity.  We must also grieve for them and not let them be forgotten.

We have known for a long time that our government’s drone warfare program in the Middle East is both immoral and illegal, but the release of the Drone Papers several weeks ago confirms what we already knew.  This was a ground-breaking months-long investigation using U.S. government intelligence documents leaked by an anonymous whistleblower from the intelligence community.  The report provided chilling insight into the US drone program that is responsible for death and destruction.  The report gives us details that support the dismantling of this program that is the best recruitment tool ever for Al-Queda and ISIS.

The Drone Papers provide documentation showing that, through the use of unreliable data using cell phones and other electronic devices to provide target location, nearly 90% of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended victims.  However the Obama administration masks the true number of civilians killed in drone strikes by categorizing unidentified people killed in a strike as enemies, even if they were not the targets.  The people who are being murdered by our government have names and people who love them and miss them, and almost all of them are peacefully living their lives when they are struck down by a missile from a drone.

How many innocent people must die in France, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in the US, and other places around the world before we learn that violence only creates more violence, before we realize that the US government’s “War on Terror” is failing miserably, before we understand that we are all in this together, and the only way we will survive is by working together to create peace?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was so clear when he declared:

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Arming some groups and bombing others in the Middle East is doing nothing but creating more organizations that become radicalized and want to strike out against us because we are killing their people.  We must call for an immediate stop to all U.S./NATO air attacks in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and stop all U.S./NATO support for Saudi air attacks in Yemen.

We must also call for an immediate stop to all U.S. "targeted killing" actions globally, including drone surveillance and drone assassinations.

We must provide entry and refuge for those fleeing the wars in the Middle East.  The people who are fleeing the Middle East are mothers and fathers who want their children to have a chance at a good life.  They are running away from the same people who organized the attacks in Paris.  Governor Walker is so wrong in saying that he will not let refugees into the state.  His comments are racist, hateful, prejudicial, and are not based in kind of reality.

Our voices must spring up across the world demanding an end to violence, hatred, and killing.  We must call for new solutions, working together, providing support to those who need it, and creating a lasting peace to this world where we are all connected, where we are one human family.

Joy First, PhD,  Mount Horeb, WI, is a long-time peace activist and a member of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance and Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.  She engages in nonviolent civil resistance to call attention to and bring an end to the crimes of the government. 

Warmongers & Peacemongers: Learning How Not to Rule the World

By John Grant

 

[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.

Okinawa delegation in Washington to Challenge Construction of U.S. Marine Air Base Runway

By Ann Wright

A 26 person delegation from the All Okinawa Council will be in Washington, DC November 19 and 20 to ask members of the U.S. Congress to use their power to stop the construction of runway for the U.S. Marine base at Henoko into the pristine waters of the South China Sea.

The delegation is concerned about the environmental impact of the new facilities, including a runway to be built into the coral areas and natural habitat of the marine mammal, the dugong and the continued militarization of their island. Over 90% of all U.S. military bases in Japan are located in Okinawa.

The Henoko construction plan faces substantial opposition from the people of Okinawa.  Protests of 35,000 citizens, Including many senior citizens, against the construction of the base have rocked the island.  

The issue of the Henoko relocation plan has taken a critical turn. On October 13th, 2015, Okinawa’s new Governor Takshi Onaga revoked the land reclamation approval for the Henoko base construction, which was granted by the previous governor in December 2013. 

 The All Okinawa Council is a civil society organization, consisting of members of civil society organizations/groups, local assemblies, local communities, and business establishments.

Members of the delegation will have meetings with several Congresspersons and staffers on November 19 and 20 and will hold a briefing in the U.S. House of Representatives in Rayburn building room 2226 at 3pm on Thursday, November 19. The briefing is open to the public.

At 6pm on Thursday, November 19, the delegation will host a showing of the documentary “Okinawa: The Afterburn” at the Brookland Busboys and Poets, 625 Monroe St., NE, Washington, DC 20017. 

The film is a comprehensive picture of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the 70-year occupation of the island by the US military.

On Friday, November 20, the delegation will hold a rally at the White House at noon and asks for support from local organizations opposed to expansion of U.S. military bases around the world.

The Henoko base construction in Okinawa would be the second base in Asia and the Pacific to be used by US military that has faced enormous citizen outrage as both bases will destroy environmentally sensitive areas and increase the militarization of their countries.  The construction of the South Korean naval base on Jeju Island that will homeport ships carrying the US Aegis missiles has caused massive citizen protests.  

About the Author:  Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.  She has travelled to both Okinawa and Jeju Island to speak on U.S. military bases and sexual assault by US military members on women in the local communities.

TransCanada's Next Move After Keystone XL: Flood Mexico with Fracked Gas with State Department Help

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

TransCanada, the owner of the recently-nixed northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has won a bid from Mexico's government to build a 155-mile pipeline carrying gas from hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the United States to Mexico's electricity grid. 

Talk Nation Radio: Laurence Shoup on the Power of the Council on Foreign Relations

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-laurence-shoup-on-the-power-of-the-council-on-foreign-relations 

Laurence H. Shoup has taught U.S. history at the university level and has been a historical consultant on California history for over 30 years, authoring or co-authoring over 200 reports for a variety of clients. His new book which we discuss is Wall Street's Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014. Among his past books is Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy. Find Shoup at http://rulersandrebels.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

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Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

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Trans-Atlantic abuses and protests: Police Brutality Unites Demonstrations in Paris and D.C.

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Protests against rampant police brutality occurred recently in the respective capitals of France and the United States – two nations that proclaim strict fidelity to the rule of law yet two professed democracy-loving nations where officials routinely condone rampant lawlessness by law enforcers.

Europe’s privacy rules conflict with NSA spying: EU Court Declares NSA Surveillance Illegal

By Alfredo Lopez

 

As expected, the European Union court has thrown out an agreement, forged in 2000, that allows virtually uninhibited data sharing and transfer between the United States and EU countries and is the legal basis for National Security Agency's on-line surveillance and data capture programs.

U.S. Government Decides Voting Is Less Important Than a Military Draft

I know what you're thinking. There is no draft. There hasn't been a draft in decades. They'd let entire Central American nations immigrate, pay recruits six-figure salaries, and let robots fly the drones before they'd create a draft. Crackpot Congress members only bring up a draft as a supposed bank-shot maneuver for ending all the damn wars. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Your government has nonetheless decided that registering men for a possible draft (whether they like it or not, and even though nobody believes there will ever be a draft) is far more important than allowing them to register to vote.

And not just the U.S. government, but most of the 50 state governments have chosen this priority.

Don't take it from me, look at the numbers. If you're male and you get a driver's license in any of these places, you're signed up automatically with, or you're given the option to sign up automatically with, or -- in most cases -- you're required to sign up with the Selective Service System: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

Also Maryland enacted driver's license legislation in 2002, but has not yet implemented it.

This is a work in progress. Some states have yet to climb on board. It's a bit of extra work for state and federal governments, but the technology is pretty simple, and they clearly consider it worth the effort to spread awareness that all men might have to kill on behalf of some war crazed president or Congress, and that -- as the SSS website says -- "It's What a Man's Got to Do. It's quick, it's easy, it's the Law."

Actually it's against any number of laws, including protections of conscientious objectors (you're not offered any choice of that when the process is automated), and including obviously the laws against war -- the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter.

But what does this have to do with voting? Ruining Iraq or Libya or Afghanistan or Yemen in the name of "democracy" isn't exactly about voting in the United States, is it?

Well here's the deal. Two states -- two (2), count 'em, TWO -- have just made voter registration as easy as 39 states make draft registration. Those two states make it optional. If you don't want to register to vote when you get a driver's license, you can opt out. So, that's different. And it works for women as well as men. So, that's different, and simpler. And there's no need to interact with the federal government, so that, too, is different and easier. But otherwise it's the same deal. The state division of motor vehicles is identifying you for a driver's license or ID through a more rigorous process than is usually used to register voters. After doing that, it's hardly any extra work to simply consider you registered to vote as well.

Only two states have done this. If you'd like to see which two they are, or if you'd like to click a button to email your state legislators and governor about doing the same, click here.

Now, the federal government doesn't do driver's licenses, but it does do Social Security numbers, and it and many other institutions rely on Social Security numbers as a reliable means of identification. There is no reason that a person possessing a Social Security number cannot be considered eligible to vote. (Making sure that the 8 people who try to drive around voting in more than one state get caught would be identical to how that's done now.) The federal government chooses not to do this. Forty-eight state governments plus various occupied territories choose not to do this, even though it would be far easier than draft registration and even though its connection to actual democracy is much more straightforward.

At least half the country is pretty well disgusted with both of the two big political parties and all of their elected members. And most members of the U.S. House of Representatives are gerrymandered and sponsored into their seats more or less for life or until promotion to the lobbying league. But the general theory holds, nonetheless, that higher voter turnout is better for Democrats than Republicans. The two states that have acted so far have done so with Democratic legislatures and governors. But many Democratic states have not acted yet, and the benefits of acting would be very much to small-d democracy.

With more voters, candidates would have to appeal to more people, including more poor people. More candidates might gain traction. The range of debate would be widened. It would also become easier to place public initiatives on the ballot through the process of gathering the signatures of registered voters. Political polling would more accurately reflect public sentiments, because pollsters would have more registered voters to poll.

In addition, each state government would save the expense of the existing ridiculous system of "registering" people it already knows and has identified. This would free up time and energy and money for other things. "Let's get [people] on the rolls automatically and put all the resources and energy we've put into voter registration into voter education," says California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

It wouldn't be just state governments doing that. Every election season, thousands of volunteers for political parties and candidates across the country spend endless hours registering people to vote. They think of this as useful work. Many even think of it as "activism." Let's imagine that work were eliminated. What could those thousands of volunteers do instead? They could educate and organize around the issues and policies they care about. What a gift to democracy that would be! Better than any bloody foreign quagmire I can imagine!

When Peace Activists Met With the U.S. Institute of Peace

I was part of a debate on Tuesday that involved a larger disagreement than any exhibited at the Democratic presidential candidates debate that evening. A group of peace activists met with the president, a board member, some vice presidents, and a senior fellow of the so-called U.S. Institute of Peace, a U.S. government institution that spends tens of millions of public dollars every year on things tangentially related to peace (including promoting wars) but has yet to oppose a single U.S. war in its 30-year history.

usip

(Photo of David Swanson and Nancy Lindborg by Alli McCracken.)

Without CNN’s Anderson Cooper there to steer us away from the issues into name calling and triviality, we dove right into the substance. The gap between the culture of peace activists and that of the U.S. Institute of “Peace” (USIP) is immense.

We had created and took the occasion to deliver a petition which you should sign if you haven’t, urging USIP to remove from its board prominent war mongers and members of the boards of weapons companies. The petition also recommends numerous ideas for useful projects USIP could work on. I blogged about this earlier here and here.

We showed up Tuesday at USIP’s fancy new building next to the Lincoln Memorial. Carved in the marble are the names of USIP’s sponsors, from Lockheed Martin on down through many of the major weapons and oil corporations.

At the meeting from the peace movement were Medea Benjamin, Kevin Zeese, Michaela Anang, Alli McCracken, and me. Representing USIP were President Nancy Lindborg, Acting Vice President Middle East and Africa Center Manal Omar, Director of Peace Funders Collaborative Steve Riskin, Board Member Joseph Eldridge, and Senior Policy Fellow Maria Stephan. They took 90 minutes or so to talk with us but seemed to have no interest in meeting any of our requests.

They claimed the Board was no impediment to anything they wanted to do, so there was no point in changing board members. They claimed to have already done some of the projects we proposed (and we look forward to seeing those details), yet they were uninterested in pursuing any of them.

When we proposed that they advocate against U.S. militarism in any number of possible ways, they replied with a couple of main justifications for not doing so. First, they claimed that if they did anything that displeased Congress, their funding would dry up. That’s likely true. Second, they claimed they could not advocate for or against anything at all. But that isn’t true. They’ve advocated for a no-fly zone in Syria, regime change in Syria, arming and training killers in Iraq and Syria, and (more peacefully) for upholding the nuclear agreement with Iran. They testify before Congress and in the media all the time, advocating for things left and right. I don’t care if they call such activities something other than advocacy, I’d just like to see them do more of what they’ve done on Iran and less of what they’ve done on Syria. And by law they are perfectly free to advocate even on legislation as long as a member of Congress asks them to.

When I had first communicated about our petition with USIP they had expressed interest in possibly working on one or more of the projects we proposed, possibly including reports we suggest in the petition that they write. When I asked about those report ideas on Tuesday, the reply was that they just didn’t have the staff. They have hundreds of staff, they said, but they’re all busy. They’ve made thousands of grants, they said, but couldn’t make one for anything like that.

What may help explain the array of excuses we were offered is another factor I haven’t yet touched on. USIP seems to actually believe in war. The president of USIP Nancy Lindborg had an odd response when I suggested that inviting Senator Tom Cotton to come speak at USIP on the need for a longer war on Afghanistan was a problem. She said USIP had to please Congress. OK, fine. Then she added that she believed there was room to disagree about exactly how we were going to make peace in Afghanistan, that there was more than one possible path to peace. Of course I didn’t think “we” were going to make peace in Afghanistan, I wanted “us” to get out of there and allow Afghans to start working on that problem. But I asked Lindborg if one of her possible paths to peace was through war. She asked me to define war. I said that war was the use of the U.S. military to kill people. She said that “non-combat troops” could be the answer. (I note that for all their non-combatting, people still just burned to death in a hospital.)

Syria brought out a similar perspective. While Lindborg claimed that USIP’s promotion of war on Syria had all been the unofficial work of one staffer, she described the war in Syria in a completely one-sided manner and asked what could be done about a brutal dictator like Assad killing people with “barrel bombs,” lamenting the lack of “action.” She believed the hospital bombing in Afghanistan would make President Obama even more reluctant to use force. (If this is reluctance, I’d hate to see eagerness!)

So what does USIP do if it doesn’t do war opposition? If it won’t oppose military spending? If it won’t encourage transition to peaceful industries? If there’s nothing it will risk its funding for, what is the good work it is protecting? Lindborg said that USIP spent its first decade creating the field of peace studies by developing the curriculum for it. I’m pretty sure that’s a bit anachronistic and exaggerated, but it would help explain the lack of war opposition in peace studies programs.

Since then, USIP has worked on the sorts of things taught in peace studies programs by funding groups on the ground in troubled countries. Somehow the troubled countries that get the greatest attention tend to be those like Syria that the U.S. government wants to overthrow, rather than those like Bahrain that the U.S. government wants to prop up. Still, there is plenty of good work funded. It’s just work that doesn’t too directly oppose U.S. militarism. And because the U.S. is the top arms supplier to the world and the top investor in and user of war in the world, and because it’s impossible to build peace under U.S. bombs, this work is severely limited.

The constraints that USIP is under or believes it is under or doesn’t mind being under (and enthusiasts for creating a “Department of Peace” should pay attention) are those created by a corrupt and militaristic Congress and White House. USIP openly said in our meeting that the root problem is corrupt elections. But when some section of the government does something less militaristic than some other section, such as negotiating the agreement with Iran, USIP can play a role. So our role, perhaps, is to nudge them toward playing that role as much as possible, as well as away from such outrages as promoting war in Syria (which it sounds like they may leave largely to their board members now).

When we discussed USIP’s board members and got nowhere, we suggested an advisory board that could include peace activists. That went nowhere. So we suggested that they create a liaison to the peace movement. USIP liked that idea. So, be prepared to liaise with the Institute. Please start by signing the petition.

An Open Letter from the U.S. Peace Council to All Our Friends and Comrades in the Peace Movement

Dear Friends and Comrades in Peace,

As you are well aware, our world is at a critically dangerous juncture: the possibility of a military, potentially a nuclear, confrontation between NATO, led by the United States, and Russia. The militaries of the two nuclear superpowers are once again facing each other, this time in Eastern Europe, especially in Ukraine, and in Syria. And tensions are increasing each passing day.

In a sense, we can say that a world war is already taking place. Currently, the governments of 15 countries are bombing Syria. They include seven allied NATO countries: US, UK, France, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, and Netherlands. They also include non-NATO allies of the United States: Israel, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and Australia; and most recently, Russia.

On the western borders of Russia, another dangerous war is going on. NATO is expanding its forces into countries bordering Russia. All the borderland governments are now allowing NATO and US military forces on their territory, where threatening NATO military exercises are taking place only a few miles from major Russian cities. This is certainly causing a great deal of tension for the Russian government, as it would naturally do the same for the US government if Russian forces were stationed on the US-Mexico and US-Canada borders, carrying out military exercises a few miles from major American cities.

Either, or both, of these situations can easily lead to a direct confrontation between US and its NATO allies on the one hand, and Russia on the other; a confrontation that has the potential of escalating into a nuclear war with disastrous consequences.

It is in light of this dangerous situation that we are addressing our friends and comrades in the peace and anti-nuclear movement. It seems to us that many of our allies in the movement are paying scant attention to the dangers that threaten the whole existence of humanity on a global scale today, and are limiting their reactions to just protesting this or that action on the part of
this or that side. At best, they are saying to the US and Russia “a plague on both your houses,” criticizing both sides for equally increasing the tensions. This, in our view, is a passive, ahistorical, and more importantly ineffective, response that ignores the urgency of the existing threat. Moreover, by bestowing blame in equal measure, it masks its real causes.

But the roots of the current crisis are much deeper than the recent conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. It all goes back to the destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the desire of the US, as the sole remaining

superpower, to unilaterally dominate the whole world. This fact is very bluntly stated in the document published by the neo-cons in September 2000, titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century,” upon which the current US policy is based (forgive us for this lengthy reminder):

“At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible. There are, however, potentially powerful states dissatisfied with the current situation and eager to change it....”

“Today its [the military’s] task is to ... deter the rise of a new great-power competitor; defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East; and to preserve American preeminence.... Today, that same security can only be acquired at the “retail” level, by deterring or, when needed, by compelling regional foes to act in ways that protect American interests and principles....”

“It is now commonly understood that information and other new technologies ... are creating a dynamic that may threaten America’s ability to exercise its dominant military power. Potential rivals such as

China are anxious to exploit these transformational technologies broadly, while adversaries like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are rushing to develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a deterrent to American intervention in regions they seek to dominate.... If an American peace is to be maintained, and expanded, it must have a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence....”

“[T]he reality of the today’s world is that there is no magic wand with which to eliminate [nuclear] weapons ... and that deterring their use requires a reliable and dominant U.S. nuclear capability.... Nuclear weapons remain a critical component of American military power....

“It addition, there may be a need to develop a new family of nuclear weapons designed to address new sets of military requirements, such as would be required in targeting the very deep underground, hardened bunkers that are being built by many of our potential adversaries.... U.S. nuclear superiority is nothing to be ashamed of; rather, it will be an essential element in preserving American leadership....”

“[M]aintaining or restoring a favorable order in vital regions in the world such as Europe, the Middle East and East Asia places a unique responsibility on U.S. armed forces....”

“For one, they demand American political leadership rather than that of the United Nations.... Nor can the United States assume a UN-like stance of neutrality; the preponderance of American power is so great and its global interests so wide that it cannot pretend to be indifferent to the political outcome in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf or even when it deploys forces in Africa.... American forces must remain deployed abroad, in large numbers.... Neglect or withdrawal from constabulary missions will ... encourage petty tyrants to defy American interests and ideals. And the failure to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges will ensure that the current Pax Americana comes to an early end....”

“[I]t is important that NATO not be replaced by the European Union, leaving the United States without a voice in European security affairs....”

“Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to U.S. interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should U.S.-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-based forces in the region would

still be an essential element in U.S. security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region....”

“[T]he value of land power continues to appeal to a global superpower, whose security interests rest upon ... the ability to win wars. While maintaining its combat role, the U.S. Army has acquired new missions in the past decade – most immediately ... defending American interests in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. These new missions will require the continued stationing of U.S. Army units abroad.... [E]lements of U.S. Army Europe should be redeployed to Southeast Europe, while a permanent unit should be based in the Persian Gulf region....”

“When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces. That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – “already have or are developing ballistic missiles” that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad.... Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace. “The ability to control this emerging threat through traditional nonproliferation treaties is limited....”

“The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small, inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership....”

And, most importantly, none of these can be achieved “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor....” (all emphases added)

And this document has been the guiding principle of US policy ever since, for both Bush and Obama administrations. Every aspect of US policy today is in line with the letter of this document, from the Middle East, to Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, bypassing the UN as global peacekeeper and replacing it with NATO’s military power as the global enforcer, as recommended in this document. Any leader or government that resists the planned US domination of the world must go, by use of military force if necessary!

The “catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor” that they needed was handed to them on a silver platter on September 11, 2001 and the whole plan was put into motion. A new “enemy,” Islamic Terrorism, took the place of the old “enemy,” Communism. The “global war on terrorism” thus began. First came Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Libya, and now Syria, with Iran waiting for its turn (all of them listed in the document as targets of regime change by force). Similarly, based on the same strategy, Russia, and later China, as “global rivals” and “deterrents” to the US global domination, must also be weakened and contained. Hence, also, the amassing of NATO forces on Russian borders and the dispatch of US Navy carriers and warships to East Asia to encircle China.

Unfortunately, it seems, this overall strategic picture is being missed by a significant part of our peace movement. Many forget that the demonization of foreign leaders, and slogans like “Saddam Hussein must go,” “Gadhafi must go,” “Assad must go,” “Chavez must go,” “Maduro must go,” “Yanukovych must go,” and now, “Putin must go,” (all clearly in violation of international law and the UN Charter)

are all part and parcel of the same global domination strategy that is threatening peace and security of the whole world, and even the very existence of humanity as a whole.

The question, here, is not about defending this or that leader or government, or disregarding their violation of their citizens’ rights. The issue is that we cannot look at each one of these cases in isolation

from the others and deal with them piecemeal without seeing the root cause of all of them, i.e., the US drive for global domination. We cannot hope to eliminate nuclear weapons when the two most powerful nuclear states are on the verge of a military confrontation. We cannot protect innocent civilians by funding and arming extremists, directly or through allies. We cannot expect peace and cooperation with Russia while amassing NATO forces and carrying out military exercises on its borders. We cannot have security if we do not respect the sovereignty and security of other nations and peoples.

Being fair and objective does not mean being even-handed between the aggressor and its victims. We need to stop aggression before we can deal with the victims’ responses to the aggression. We ought not

blame the victim of aggression instead of the actions of the aggressor. And looking at the whole picture, there should be no doubt about who the aggressors are.

It is in light of these facts that we believe we cannot avoid the impending catastrophe without joining forces, with the needed sense of urgency, to demand the following in both words and action:

  1. NATO forces must be immediately withdrawn from the countries bordering Russia;

  2. All foreign forces must leave Syria immediately, and Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity must be guaranteed.

  3. Syrian conflict must be dealt with only through political processes and diplomatic negotiations. The US must withdraw its policy of “Assad must go” as a precondition, and stop blocking diplomatic talks.

  4. Negotiations must include the government of Syria especially, as well as all regional and global parties that are affected by the conflict.

5. The future of the Syrian government must be decided by the Syrian people alone, free of all external interferences.

  1. The US strategy for global domination must be abandoned in favor of peaceful coexistence of all countries and respect for every nation’s right to self-determination and sovereignty.

  2. The process of dismantling NATO must begin immediately.

We call upon all of our friends and comrades in the peace and anti-nuclear movement to join hands with us in a democratic coalition to end all wars of aggression. We wholeheartedly welcome all cooperative responses by our friends and comrades in the movement.

U.S. Peace Council October 10, 2015

Nobel Peace Prize for Peace

Alfred Nobel's will, written in 1895, left funding for a prize to be awarded to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

Most winners in recent years have either been people who did nice things that had nothing whatsoever to do with the relevant work (Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for promoting education, Liu Xiaobo for protesting in China, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. for opposing climate change, Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for economic development, etc.) or people who actually engaged in militarism and would have opposed the abolition or reduction of standing armies if asked, and one of whom said so in his acceptance speech (the European Union, Barack Obama, etc.).

The prize goes disproportionately, not to the leaders of organizations or movements for peace and disarmament, but to U.S. and European elected officials. Rumors swirled, prior to Friday's announcement, that Angela Merkel or John Kerry might win the prize. Thankfully, that did not happen. Another rumor suggested the prize could go to defenders of Article Nine, the section of the Japanese Constitution that bans war and has kept Japan out of war for 70 years. Sadly, that did not happen.

The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday morning to "the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011." The Nobel Committee's statement goes on to actually cite Nobel's will, which Nobel Peace Prize Watch (NobelWill.org) and other advocates have been insisting be followed (and which I'm a plaintiff in a lawsuit demanding compliance with, along with Mairead Maguire and Jan Oberg):

"The broad-based national dialogue that the Quartet succeeded in establishing countered the spread of violence in Tunisia and its function is therefore comparable to that of the peace congresses to which Alfred Nobel refers in his will."

This was not an award to a single individual or for work in a single year, but those are differences from the will that no one has really objected to. This was also not an award to a leading war maker or arms dealer. This was not a peace prize for a NATO member or a Western president or foreign secretary who did something less awful than usual. This is encouraging as far as that goes.

The award did not directly challenge the arms industry that is led by the United States and Europe along with Russia and China. The award did not go to international work at all but to work within a nation. And the leading reason offered was the building of a pluralistic democracy. This verges on the watered-down Nobel conception of peace as anything good or Western. However, the effort to claim strict compliance with one element of the will is quite useful. Even a domestic peace congress that prevents civil war is a worthy effort to replace war with peace. A nonviolent revolution in Tunisia did not directly challenge Western militarized imperialism, but neither was it in line with it. And its relative success, compared with the nations that have received the most "assistance" from the Pentagon (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc.) is worth highlighting. An honorable mention for Chelsea Manning for her role in inspiring the Arab Spring in Tunisia by releasing communications between the U.S. and Tunisian governments would not have been out of place.

So, I think the 2015 award could have been much worse. It could also have been much better. It could have gone to work opposing armaments and international warmongering. It could have gone to Article 9, or Abolition 2000, or the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, or the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, or the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Arms, or the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, all of which were nominated this year, or to any number of individuals nominated from around the world.

Nobel Peace Prize Watch is far from satisfied: "An encouragement to the Tunisian people is fine, but Nobel had a much greater perspective. Indisputable evidence shows that he intended his prize to support a visionary reorganization of international affairs. The language in his will is a clear confirmation of this," says Tomas Magnusson, Sweden, on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize Watch. "The committee continues reading the expressions of the testament as they like, instead of studying what type of 'champions of peace' and what peace ideas Nobel had in mind signing his will on Nov. 27, 1895. In February the Nobel Peace Prize Watch lifted the secrecy around the selection process when it published a list of 25 qualified candidates with the full nomination letters. By its choice for 2015, the committee has rejected the list and, again, is clearly outside the circle of recipients Nobel had in mind. In addition to not understanding the least bit of Nobel's idea the committee in Oslo has not understood the new situation in the committee's relation to its principals in Stockholm," continues Tomas Magnusson. "We must understand that the whole world today is under occupation, even our brains have become militarized to a degree where it is hard for people to imagine the alternative, demilitarized world that Nobel wished his prize to promote as a mandatory urgency. Nobel was a man of the world, able to transcend the national perspective and think of what would be best for the world as a whole. We have plenty for everyone's needs on this green planet if the nations of the world could only learn to co-operate and stop wasting precious resources on the military. The members of the Board of the Nobel Foundation risk personal liability if a prize amount is paid over to the winner in violation of the purpose. As late as three weeks ago seven members of the Foundation's Board were hit by initial steps in a lawsuit demanding that they repay to the Foundation the prize paid to the EU in December 2012. Among the plaintiffs are Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, a Nobel laureate; David Swanson, USA; Jan Oberg, Sweden, and the Nobel Peace Prize Watch (nobelwill.org). The lawsuit follows after a Norwegian attempt to regain the ultimate control of the peace prize was finally turned down by the Swedish Chamber Court in May 2014."

Speaking Events

2016

War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 19, Sarasota, FL, 7:00 p.m. Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, FL

May 20, Jacksonville, FL, 7:00 p.m., Florida Christian Center Auditorium, 1115 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville, FL 32205, (904) 381-4800.

May 21, Gainesville, FL
7:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville, Florida
4225 NW 34th St, Gainesville, FL 32605
(352) 377-1669
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May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
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May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
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May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710


June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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Other Events Here.

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