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Briefly, on Bradley Manning & Changing the World

 There is, and should be, serious debate and discussion of how Bradley Manning affected our world by transferring a trove of classified US documents revealing war crimes to Wikileaks in 2010, and of his apology for doing so yesterday,

A New Holiday Is Being Created for Peace

When I wrote When the World Outlawed War, I was struck by the significance of a forgotten day, a day matching the description in the 1950 folk song that begins "Last night I had the strangest dream . . . "  On this day, August 27, 1928, the major nations of the world sent representatives to a room in Paris, France, in which they signed a treaty banning war and committing to the peaceful settlement of all disputes. 

The treaty they signed, which is still on the books, has been used over the decades to prevent wars, end wars, and prosecute war makers.  The Peace Pact is listed as in force on the U.S. State Department website (open the document, scroll to page 454). But, unlike a corporate trade agreement, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is, shall we say, less than strictly adhered to -- or even remembered.

Few people strolling down Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota, have any idea that it's named for Frank Kellogg or who he was. 

They're about to find out.

At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, a resolution will be introduced and voted on by the St. Paul City Council.  This resolution is being brought forward by Council member David Thune for the purpose of proclaiming August 27, 2013, to be "Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day" in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing.

Council member Dave Thune's ward includes Kellogg's former house.  Thune will be introducing the proclamation at the request of St. Paul residents, including members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of Veterans For Peace. The Kellogg-Briand Pact  "renounces war as an instrument of National Policy" which is the exact wording found in the (more recently created) Statement of Purpose of Veterans For Peace. 

Here is the resolution that is being introduced:

Whereas Frank Billings Kellogg has rightly been honored around the world, including with a Nobel Peace Prize presented to him in 1930,

Whereas Frank Kellogg is honored in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where his ashes lie, and where the Kellogg window in the Kellogg Bay bears these words: "In grateful memory of Frank Billings Kellogg, LL.D., 1856-1937, Senator of the United States from Minnesota, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Secretary of State, a Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Joint Author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in Fidelity to American Ideals he served his nation with conspicuous ability and sought equity and peace among the nations of the world, his body rests in this cathedral,"

Whereas Frank Kellogg's family moved to Minnesota in 1865 and Kellogg moved to St. Paul in 1886, and Kellogg's home from 1899 to 1937 was the house at 633 Fairmont Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is now a National Historic Landmark,

Whereas Frank Kellogg's name is remembered in St. Paul as the name of Kellogg Boulevard, but memory of what Kellogg did to merit such honors is fading,

Whereas Frank Kellogg as U.S. Secretary of State heeded the passionate and almost universal desire of the people of this and other nations for peace, and in particular the proposal of the Outlawry Movement to legally ban war,

Whereas Frank Kellogg surprised his State Department staff and many others in 1927 by working carefully and diligently to bring many of the world's nations together to ban war,

Whereas war had not previously been a crime, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact made it one, resulting in a nearly complete end to the legal recognition of territorial gains made through war, and resulting in the prosecution following World War II of the new crime of making war,

Whereas the wealthy well-armed nations of the world have not gone to war with each other since those prosecutions -- the elimination of war upon and among the world's poorer nations remaining an important goal toward which greater recognition of the Kellogg-Briand Pact might contribute,

Whereas the Kellogg-Briand Pact is recognized as in force by the U.S. State Department with 84 nations currently parties to it, and the pact open to any other nations that choose to join,

Whereas the Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full, "The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.  The High Contracting Parties agree that settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means,"

Whereas compliance with the law is more likely to occur if we remember what the law is,

Whereas then French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand remarked at the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 1928: "For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations.  Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy.  For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must indur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories,"

Therefore, in hopes of encouraging awareness of the work of Frank Kellogg and of the peace movement of the 1920s that moved him to action, the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, proclaims August 27th to be Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day.

On August 27th a celebration is planned at the Kellogg house.  Meanwhile, in Illinois, an award ceremony is planned for the winners of the first annual essay contest dedicated to the question "How Can We Obey the Law Against War?"  But why shouldn't there be celebrations everywhere?  Why not recognition for Salmon Oliver Levinson of Chicago, whose movement persuaded Kellogg to act?  Why not remembrance of Kellogg in Washington, D.C., where he's buried?  Why not celebration of the activists of the 1920s who made up the Outlawry Movement, and who were from every part of the United States and many other nations?  Why not a day of celebrating peace and advancing the cause of the abolition of war, including by collectively urging new nations to sign onto the Peace Pact?

Here's a petition that can be signed, and the signatures from any town or state printed out to be used in local lobbying.  St. Paul is leading the way, but it need not do so alone.  The petition reads:

"We support local, state, national, and international legislation that would make August 27th a holiday in honor of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Peace Pact, that was signed on this date in 1928. The International Pact which renounced war as an instrument of national policy and committed nations to settling disputes exclusively by peaceful means was passed into U.S. law in 1929 with only one Senator in opposition. The co-authors were Republican Secretary of State Frank Kellogg from Minnesota and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Pact is still U.S. and International Law."

The Noah Principle: Put Up or Shut Up

The Moral Imperative of Activism -- Like Now

August 12, 2013

Editor Note:  Today’s crises – endless war, environmental catastrophe, desperate poverty and more – can seem so daunting that they paralyze action rather than inspire activism. But the imperative to do something in the face of injustice defines one’s moral place in the universe.  (With apologies for failing to find a recent photo of Aquinas)

By Ray McGovern

That America is in deep moral and legal trouble was pretty much obvious to everyone before Edward Snowden released official documents showing the extent to which the U.S. government has been playing fast and loose with the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.

War Criminals Appearances / Protests August - September 2013

Here is the August-September 2013 list war criminals appearances in the US.   Check out a demonstration in you areas or plan one yourselves. We're here to assist if you need it.  

 

George W. Bush

9-9-13 Denver CO

Dick Cheney

The Bradley Manning Trial: A Charade

by Terri Suess           Under the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles, a soldier's responsibility is to do exactly what Bradley Manning did – expose any and all war crimes. NurembergPrinciple VII states, "Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

Watch the video of "Collateral Murder" – the Army's own videotape of soldiers shooting unarmed reporters and civilians and laughing about it. Then tell me if Bradley Manning –who released this information to the public – is the war criminal.

Now Two States Pursue Truly Affordable Education

Maryland may soon join Oregon in exploring solutions to the crisis of student debt and unaffordable education.

Education is supposed to be a human right.  But the United States puts people into deep debt to pay for it.  Short of taxing billionaires or dismantling bombers (both of which we're all, I hope, working on), what's the solution?

The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  See Katrina vanden Heuvel: An Oregon Trail to End Student Debt.

This is not a plan to make education truly free, and that would probably be ideal.  But this is not, I think, a step that would move us away from that goal -- in the way that strengthening but tweaking the private health insurance system arguably moves us away from a single-payer solution.

This is, however, a plan that makes college tuition at state universities initially free.  Students would pay nothing up-front and borrow nothing from loan sharks.  Then they would pay the state back 3% of their income for some number of years, possibly 20.  The graduate who brings in $100 million per year would hand over $3 million.  The graduate who brings in $10,000 would pay $300.  While the purpose of an education for many students may not be related to money, in terms of money one is paying for what one gets.  If you buy an unmarketable skill, you pay nothing for it.  Some have responded by calling this perfect capitalism, while others have noted its correspondence with the ideal of "from each according to his/her means."  This system also seems fair to those not interested in college: they pay nothing.

There are shortcomings, of course.  Wealthy users of private universities contribute nothing to public universities under this scheme.  Pursuers of high-paying careers might drift in greater numbers toward private universities, if they can afford to.  A big investment is need to start this up, and then long-term trust in the public system is needed to keep it going in the face of inevitable pretenses that it's collapsing like Social Security (which -- breaking news! -- is not collapsing).  Most importantly, perhaps, the Oregon model covers only tuition. Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

But this is a creative possible step forward that could someday spread to every state and to private institutions as well, which might discover it is needed for them to compete. 

RootsAction.org members in every state and Washington, D.C., recently emailed their state legislators by the thousands asking them to set up commissions similar to Oregon's and to seriously pursue solutions to unaffordable education.  You can do the same.

Here's the email that's being sent (you can edit it): 

"As a constituent, I urge you to consider:

"The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  Under this plan, tuition at state universities will not be paid upfront or borrowed from loan sharks.  Graduates will pay the state back by handing over 3% of their income for some number of years.

"The Oregon model could be improved.  As proposed it covers only tuition.  Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

"Getting such a program started will take serious investment and political will.

"For our children and our grandchildren, please exercise the sort of leadership needed and move our state toward treating education as a right, not a privilege."
 

Almost immediately, RootsAction heard from Maryland State Delegate Kirill Reznik who said he had been considering this idea and wanted to move on it now.  He sent out this announcement:

"DELEGATE KIRILL REZNIK TO INTRODUCE “PAY IT FORWARD, PAY IT BACK” INITIATIVE IN 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

"(ANNAPOLIS, MD) August 2, 2013 Following the recent passage of the 'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back' bill that overwhelmingly passed the Oregon State Legislature in July, Delegate Kirill Reznik (D- Germantown) plans to introduce a similar bill in Maryland. If passed, Maryland would become the second state to explore alternative options to the mounting student loan debt epidemic.

"'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back,' is an idea that originated out of a Capstone Seminar on student debt out of Portland State University, generating an innovative solution to student loan debt. Whereby students would go to college tuition free and then give back a small percentage of their gross annual income over the next 20-25 years until their tuition was paid in full. Ironically, Oregon passed the “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” bill on the same day that Congress voted to double student loan rates.

"Delegate Reznik will be introducing legislation to authorize a study to determine whether or not such an idea will work and how best to roll it out.

"'Receiving a higher education is the most effective way to promote economic mobility. Unfortunately, the cost of education shuts out those opportunities for too many Marylanders. As the State with the best public education system in the country, we should also be on the forefront of expanding higher education. The economic opportunities that will come along with this innovative approach will make Maryland a top destination for business and industry,' said Delegate Reznik.

###

"Delegate Kirill Reznik is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 39th District in Montgomery County. His district includes the areas of Gaithersburg, Germantown, Montgomery Village, Washington Grove, North Potomac and segments of Darnestown, and Derwood. He began serving in the House of Delegates in October 2007, and sits on the Health Government Operations committee. He was currently appointed to serve as the Chair of the County Affairs Committee within the Montgomery County House Delegation."

Now, the question arises: What about your state?!

Remaking the World from Madison Wisconsin

I'm on my way to Madison, Wisconsin, and I hope you are too, and not just for the beer and (veggie) bratwursts.  Here are seven other good reasons:

·      The Student Power Convergence, Aug. 1-5 (ending now, but folks sticking around).

·      The Democracy Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      The Veterans For Peace Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      Marking the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with opponents of war.

·      The opening of Dirty Wars with after-screening talks with Jeremy Scahill.

·      The daily singing and protesting in the state capitol!

·      And the big town hall meeting, Aug. 7, on "Illegal Wars, Torture & Spying: Millions Demanded Bush's Impeachment; Should Obama be Impeached for Continuing Bush's Crimes?"

Activists are converging on Madison, allowing for cross-fertilization and creative planning of future actions for peace and justice in the United States.  I recently invited Roshan Bliss of the Student Power Convergence, Ben Manski of Democracy Convention, and Doug Rawlings of Veterans For Peace to discuss these events on my radio show, Talk Nation Radio.  Click and take a listen.

The town hall on impeachment is, I think, the first of its kind I will speak at since Obama moved into the White House and began continuing the crimes for which a majority of Americans in various polls favored Bush's impeachment.  It's not that I've turned down other invitations.  It's not that I haven't been invited.  This is the first Impeach Obama (for sane reasons) meeting I've heard of.  Check it out.  Also speaking: Coleen Rowley, Debra Sweet, Buzz Davis, Don McKeating, Joe Elder -- and you if you can make it.

The VFP Convention is the 28th such event.  Veterans For Peace, a leading antiwar organization with members in every U.S. state and several other countries, will hold its 28th national convention at the Concourse Hotel at 1 Dayton Street.  The convention, open to veterans and non-veterans, will feature speakers, entertainers, and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to the advancement of peace and the abolition of war.

Free public events include:

Lanterns for Peace,commemorating Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aug. 6, 7-9:30 p.m. Tenney Park Shelter
Poetry Night, Aug. 7, 8-10:30 p.m. Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W Gorham Street
Activist Night with national and local speakers, open mic, music, Aug. 8, 7-10 p.m., Concourse Hotel Ballroom
Rally and Peace Parade, families invited, bring peace banners, Aug. 10, 4 p.m., State Street and Capitol Square
Tribute to Lincoln Grahlfs, Aug. 11, 9-11 a.m., Capitol Lakes Retirement Center, 333 West Main Street
Iraq Veterans Against the War Art Exhibit, Aug 7-11, Rainbow Bookstore, 426 W. Gilman Street

Speakers at the VFP convention include:

Elliott Adams, former VFP president, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Carlos Arredondo, Costa Rican-American peace activist and American Red Cross volunteer.
Leah Bolger,former VFP president, Drones Quilt Project.
Paul Chappell,
Iraq War veteran, author, peace leadership director at Nuclear Age Peace Fdtn.
Ben Griffin, UK war resister.
Tarak Kauff, Vietnam War veteran, VFP board member, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders.
Sister Maureen McDonnell, OP, Dominican sister of Sinsinawa and a spiritual guide.
Michael McPhearson, Gulf War veteran, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice.
Patrick McCann,
Vietnam War resister, president of Veterans For Peace.
David Newby,
founder of U.S. Labor Against the War and former President of WI AFL-CIO.
Scott Olsen, Iraq War veteran, shot in the head at Occupy Oakland.
John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders.
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.
Paul Soglin, mayor of Madison.
Margaret Stevens, VFP board member and Director of the Urban Issues Institute at Essex County College.
Nick Turse, journalist, historian, and author.
Mike Wiggins Jr., tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
S. Brian Willson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Diane Wilson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, fisherwoman, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Col. Ann Wright (ret.), recently returned from meeting with families of drone victims in Pakistan.
James Yee, former U.S. Army chaplain at Guantanamo, falsely accused of "aiding the enemy."

Entertainers at the convention will include Lem Genovese, Ryan Harvey, Solidarity singalong, Forward Marching Band, Madison Raging Grannies, Watermelon Slim, Honor Among Thieves, Jim Walktendonk. Also Regis Tremblay will be screening his new film The Ghosts of Jeju. A drones quilt will be displayed during the convention.

Workshops at the VFP convention will include such topics as: Veterans farming, Creating a culture of peace, Educating the community, Agent Orange, Nonviolent bioregional revolutionary strategies, Debt and death: making clear the costs of war, Labor's role, Environmental disaster, the United Nations, Helping homeless veterans, Palestine, Veteran suicide, Military sexual trauma and suicides, Voices of Iraq: resolution, reconciliation, reparation, The written word for peace and reconciliation, Bradley Manning and G.I. resisters, The perversion of just war reasoning, U.S. policy in the Middle East, The long war for central Asia, Building peace in Vietnam, and Abolishing war as an instrument of national policy.  The full program is available at http://VFPNationalConvention.org

Democracy Convention - register nowGar Alperovitz who authored an important book on the decision to drop the nuclear bombs on Japan will be in town, but he'll be speaking at the Democracy Convention on the topic of worker ownership and how people can create enough power to fix our broken democracy. He recently discussed his new book on Talk Nation Radio. Take a listen.  Peter Kuznick, another great writer on the nuclear decision, currently in Japan with Oliver Stone, was also a recent guest. Listen here.

The Democracy Convention is a real movement and coalition building project pulling together activists from a wide variety of sectors to find strength and inspiration in numbers.  Several conferences will overlap and interact, including:

The Race and Democracy Conference.

The Earth Democracy Conference.

The Democratizing Defense Conference.

The Constitutional Reform Conference.

The Education for Democracy Conference.

The Economic Democracy Conference.

The Media Democracy Conference.

The Representative Democracy Conference.

The Local Democracy Conference.

Think for a minute about who you'd most like to see leading conferences on those topics.  Then click the links, and in most cases I think you'll find that they are doing so! We hope you can join us!

The Democracy Convention website describes Madison thus:

"You've seen the images and reports of the mass protests in Madison. The Wisconsin uprising was the first wave of the global anti-austerity protests to arrive in the United States. But it should be no surprise that Madison, Wisconsin, is at the center of the national movement against corporate power and economic austerity.

"Since Wisconsin statehood, in the revolutionary year of 1848, Madisonians have led the way, co-founding and leading the National Organization for Women (NOW), United States Student Association (USSA), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Sierra Club, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and four national political parties: the early, radical Republican Party, and then later, the Progressive Party of the 1920-30s, and the New Party and Green Party. Madison, Wisconsin, has long served as the capital city of the heartland of the progressive movement.

"Today, the Madison Common Council and Dane County Board are populated with progressive alders and supervisors, and a newly returned mayor, Paul Soglin, famous for his progressive leadership as mayor in the 1970s. Madison is a labor city with a very high density of union membership, as well as a center of the cooperative and credit union movements; nearly half the population of Madison belongs to some form of cooperatively owned and operated economic enterprise.

"If you've ever visited Madison in late August, you know you're in for great weather in a wonderful city. Join us this August 7-11 in downtown Madison, near the now world-famous Wisconsin State Capitol, easily one of the most stunning buildings in North America. In visiting, you will have the opportunity to take part in our downtown farmers market, one the world's largest, and the nation's oldest. You can also take some time off on the shores of one of Madison's four (or five, depending on how you count them) major lakes. If you've been wanting to return to Madison and Wisconsin, or to visit for the first time, August 7-11 will be the time to do that."

Celebration of the Life of Quaker Bayard Rustin, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Friends Meeting of Washington
2111 Florida Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Sunday, August 25, 2013

2:00pm -- Quaker-style worship

3:00pm -- Light refreshments

3:30pm -- “Brother Outsider” film & panel discussion with filmmaker Bennett Singer (schedule permitting), Mandy Carter (National Coordinator Bayard Rustin 2013 Commemoration Project National Black Justice Coalition), David McReynolds (War Resisters League)

http://quakersdc.org/directions

Sponsored by Friends Meeting of Washington Peace & Social Concerns Committee and endorsed by American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends Meeting of Washington is just north of Dupont Circle Metro (Red Line)

For more information, contact Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee:

smcneil@afsc.org or 415-350-9305

Bringing Gitmo to the Senate

By Tarak Kauff, Board of Directors Veterans For Peace, Member CODEPINK

This is the 57th day of Kauff's hunger strike. 

On July 30 we had a combined action both inside and outside the Hart Senate Bldg. A gaunt looking Elliott Adams, on day 73 of his hunger strike, managed to get there from his home in upstate NY and spoke outside the Hart. Perhaps not quite as gaunt, I also spoke to those assembled. Cynthia Papermaster also spoke. Diane Wilson was there and spoke passionately. Tighe and Gail from CODEPINK with Dr. Margaret Flowers commenting staged a simulated forced feeding which was so well done and powerful that for me at least, it was hard to watch.

Seven of us, six VFP members and one from CODEPINK, Cynthia Papermaster, Mike Tork, Margaret Flowers, Will Thomas, Crystal Zevon, Jay Wenk and myself went inside to read compiled accurate information put in first person mode statements from prisoners at Guantanamo and from prisoners in long-term solitary confinement here in the U.S.

We positioned ourselves at different locations and floors around the atrium, Tighe Barry somehow got a 5 ft. length of heavy chain and lock inside and brought it to me and then helped me wrap it around my waist and to the railing on the 2nd floor. Once that was in place I began to speak. Having the chain wrapped around me meant I would have more time to speak, which was the intention. I’ve linked to the video by Eddie Becker and here's one by Crystal Zevon. Besides filming Crystal was one of the arrestees. Ellen Davidson took great pictures so a good part of the action can be seen.



Speaking with the others afterwards we all felt it was a powerful experience for each of us, being able to speak for those whose voices have been essentially silenced and shut away.  We spoke for prisoners in Guantanamo and for those locked up in long-term solitary here in the U.S., including two women who have been in and out of solitary since they were sixteen.

Since I had the most time to speak, being chained, I also spoke about the debt of gratitude people worldwide have for Bradley Manning’s courageous actions in revealing the crimes of our government and military and also much of what we know about Guantanamo.

Personally, I’m finally starting to feel a bit more mellow - which is good, but also a bit weaker, which I guess comes with the territory of me feeling more mellow. Been taking in 300 calories/day mostly liquid form but these last four days before breaking the fast will be on water only. Don’t ask me why I’m going to water only, now. I just got a strong inner feeling that is what I should do these last days so that's what I will do. Looking forward to breaking the fast on Sunday at the Masjid As-Salam, that's the Mosque in Albany, NY. 

I want to express my gratitude to all the people who have taken this issue to their hearts and to those who have made the commitment to see this through, however long it takes, so that justice will prevail and we can someday see all human beings, and the earth, to which we depend upon, treated with dignity and respect.

Global Hot Spots

Remarks at the War Resisters League's 90th Year Convention at Georgetown University, August 2, 2013.

Videos here.

Congratulations on 90 years! The War Resisters League is almost as old as the Espionage Act and may outlast it yet. 

So I sat down yesterday to think about what connects global hot spots, and the first obvious answer I thought of for a great many of them was the United States military.  By some strange coincidence numerous war-torn places on the globe have been given or sold weapons or sent troops or been visited by airplanes or drones courtesy of the same nation that spends the most on its military, keeps the most troops stationed in the most countries, engages in the most conflicts, sells the most weaponry to others, and thumbs its nose most blatantly at the use of courts to restrain its warmaking or even, any more, to put individuals on trial who can just as easily be hit with a hellfire missile.  When I heard that our government had set up an atrocities prevention board, I immediately pictured a 2x4 being stuck through the door handles at the Pentagon to keep the place closed.  That would truly be an atrocities prevention board.

(Is that espionage to say that, or have people heard of 2x4s before?)

I've been working on a book about abolishing war, and most of those writing on the subject who think it can't be done, and those who think it can, and those who think war is already abolishing itself so there's really nothing to worry about, all tend to treat war as arising out of poor nations of dark skinned people.  So the debates over whether this factor or that factor makes war inevitable focus on things like resource scarcity or population density.  The evidence is overwhelming, by the way, that no such factor makes war inevitable.  Missing from the debate are the factors contributing most significantly to war-making right now: the power of the military industrial complex, the skill of propagandists, the open bribery and corruption of our politics, and the perversion and impoverishment of our educational and entertainment and civic engagement systems that lead so many people in the United States to support and so many others to tolerate a permanent state of war in search of enemies and profits despite decades-long demonstrations that the war machine makes us less safe, drains our economy, strips away our rights, degrades our environment, distributes our income ever upward, debases our morality, and bestows on the wealthiest nation on earth miserably low rankings in life-expectancy, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. 

None of these factors are insurmountable, but we won't surmount them if we imagine the path to peace is to impose our superior will on backward foreigners by means of cluster bombs and napalm meant to prevent atrocities.

According to the standards of a White House fact sheet posted on April 23, 2012, and addressing nations guilty of atrocities, if the standards were consistently applied, then actions taken by the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and other countries should compel the U.S. government to sanction itself, deny itself entry into itself, surge civilians from the State Department and USAID into itself, write reports about itself, block the flow of money to itself, prosecute itself for its crimes, seek to have itself prosecuted internationally, and unleash its military against itself as needed. The same standards seem to require action against Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and numerous other nations where the United States chooses to support atrocities rather than dropping new atrocities from the sky to prevent the existing ones.  In fact, it seems the United States has a moral responsibility to join in on both sides of the war in Syria, given the horrors each side has by now committed, and the responsibility the war machine believes it has to wage war against anyone waging war.

We are a nation of misconceptions.  A majority of people in the United States believes Iraq benefitted from the war that destroyed Iraq.  And a plurality believes the Iraqis are grateful.  Those who admit that the weapons of mass destruction were fictional claim the U.S. still needed to overthrow Saddam Hussein, even though Bush reportedly told the Prime Minister of Spain that Hussein had offered to leave if he could keep $1 billion.  He'd also offered to withdraw from Kuwait before the previous war.  And even further back in the mists of time, the U.S. government had supported and armed him. 

Not only did the U.S. government not need to overthrow Hussein, not only could it have refrained from supporting him in the first place, but overthrowing a government is a crime, war is a crime, and these wars are one-sided slaughters.  Iraq lost 1.4 million men, women, and children at best estimate.  U.S. deaths were 0.3% of the deaths, yet people in the U.S. think they suffered while Iraq benefitted.  As important as it is for Americans to hear about financial costs and costs to U.S. troops, which are certainly horrendous, we're going to have to do a better job of spreading the news about the costs to the wars' victims.  Those reluctant to invade Syria because the Syrians aren't worth it will be ready to support the next war if a case is made that it's in U.S. interests. 

What ended the war in Iraq, after eight years of efforts by Iraqis and five years or so by a significant U.S. peace movement, wasn't the Nobel laureate in the White House pushing Iraq to allow U.S. personnel to stay in Iraq with immunity from prosecution for the crimes they would commit.  What helped the Iraqi government to reject those demands was the evidence of past murder and torture made public by a heroic young man named Bradley Manning.

If you want Manning to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, go to ManningNobel.org.

You know, we could be far better off ourselves in this country and make ourselves the most beloved people in the world at the same time.  We could do it by practicing democracy rather than preaching it.  We could end starvation around the globe for a year, for a third of what we just spent for year #13 of the supposedly winding down war in Afghanistan still scheduled to go on for longer than most wars used to take from beginning to end.  We could give the world clean drinking water for a third of what it cost us to keep kids from starving.  Al Qaeda is gaining popularity in places like Yemen where it was barely heard of before by opposing U.S. drone strikes and by providing basic services to people.  The United States has the resources, if it could find the humility to distribute them respectfully, to make itself remarkably popular by coating the globe with schools and hospitals and solar panels.

I'm tired of hearing that such things would cost money.  We're building the world's largest building in Utah dedicated purely to violating the Fourth Amendment.  We're putting drone blimps in the skies above Washington.  If anybody has a War Resisters League pie chart on them, I can point out exactly where the money would come from, and the billions extra that we could set aside for the things we'll become capable of imagining only after war is gone.

Down in Charlottesville VA we passed a city resolution against drones as at least three other cities have done since, and we quickly formed a coalition that included people who don't want to be spied on and people who don't want to murder foreigners. I think some of the peace activists came to value the need to avoid getting spied on. And I think some of the libertarians, civil and otherwise, came to understand the need to stop the president from picking men, women, and children to murder at meetings every Tuesday.  We didn't tone anything down.  We welcomed everything in. 

That's what I think abolition movements should do.  That's where the passion is.  We don't need to civilize war into a process that will supposedly someday exclude every crime but murder.  We need to put an end to murder along with all of the other abuses it inevitably drags along in its wake.

A weapons profiteer on National Pentagon Radio was asked what he would do if the occupation of Afghanistan were to end, and he replied that he hoped there could be an occupation of Libya. He was clearly joking. But had he joked about molesting children or practicing racism his comments would not have aired. Joking about a new war has not yet been made offensive.  It is not yet understood as joking about mass murder. 

I don't think it need take 90 more years.  I think we're closer than ever.  But I think we're going to have to resist harder the closer we get.

Join the War Resisters League.

The next big conference not to miss.

Bradey Manning was Right to Blow the Whistle on War Crimes

 

by Steering Committee of World Can't Wait     Today Bradley Manning was convicted in a military "show trial" of espionage and theft charges for making available to the public classified documents evidencing US war crimes and bullying of other countries. He could be sentenced to 136 years in prison.  The government’s prosecution aimed to make an example of Manning, imprisoning him under harsh conditions, and charging him with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, to intimidate others from standing up and speaking out against U.S. war crimes.

How You Can Help Bradley Manning

 

by Debra Sweet           Thursday July 18, the judge presiding over Bradley Manning's court martial denied defense motions to drop the most serious charge against him, "aiding the enemy." This is the same judge who will announce her decision, soon, on Bradley's guilt in 21 charges. Closing arguments will probably come the week of July 22.

 

His 'Crime' is Patriotism, not Betrayal Like Hale's Philip Nolan, Snowden has Become a 'Man Without a Country'

By  Dave Lindorff

 

In Edward Everett Hale's short story "The Man Without a Country," US Army Lt. Philip Nolan, following a court-martial, is exiled from his country, his citizenship snatched away, leaving him doomed to sail the seven seas confined to a Navy vessel, unable to make any country his home. His crime: being seduced by a treacherous leader to betray the US of A, the country of his birth.

Madison Wisconsin Forum August 7 With Buzz Davis, David Swanson, Coleen Rowley, Debra Sweet, Don McKeating

Free Town Hall Meeting August 7, 2013 Madison, WI 5:30-9PM

Location: Ingraham Hall, Rm. B10, 1155 Observatory Dr., top of Bascom Hill, W-Mad. Campus

 

Illegal Wars, Torture & Spying:

Millions Demanded Bush's Impeachment

Should Obama be Impeached for Continuing Bush's Crimes?

SIGN UP HERE TO ATTEND.

 Speaker Buzz Davis, "America Needs a Revolution: Shall It be Bloody or Peaceful?  Impeachment Process, Review of U.S. House Resolution to Impeach Bush & Why Not Obama?"  Davis,from Stoughton, WI, is a member of Veterans for Peace & led the WI Impeachment/Bring Our Troops Home Coalition.  He's aformer VISTA Volunteer ('65-66), 1st Lt.US Army (trained in infantry & signal corps '67-70 (S. Korea '69-70) &has a masters in urban affairs UW-Milw.('72) & a masters in public administration Syracuse Univ. ('73).  He's a retired planner with the state of WI, former elected official (city council & county board), union organizer & official, Democratic Party leader and is a senior activist & member of various boards.  608-239-5354 (cell), dbuzzdavis@aol.com

http://www.davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/images/davidsmiling.preview.jpg Speaker David Swanson, "The Imperial Presidency That Won't Go Away: Bush's Wars, Torture & Spying Become Obama's Accepted Policies."  Swanson's books include: War Is A Lie (2010), When the World Outlawed War (2011), and The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012).  He is the host of  Talk Nation Radio, has been a journalist, activist, organizer, educator, and agitator & helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011.  He holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of VA, has worked as a newspaper reporter & as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association & for three years as communications coordinator for ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.) He blogs at http://davidswanson.org & http://warisacrime.org & works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org  Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member & is Sec. of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

 Speaker:  Coleen Rowley, "Decreasing Personal Privacy and Civil Rights Coupled with Increasing Governmental Secrecy and Control is Unethical, Illegal and Counter-productive" Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division legal counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, leading to her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as a two year long Department of Justice Inspector General investigation.  She was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002 which honored “whistleblowers.”

 

 Speaker:  Debra Sweet.  Sweet is the Director of World Can’t Wait which began in 2005 to “drive out the Bush regime.” Based in New York City, she leads the organization’s work during the Obama administration’s repression of whistle-blowers and underlying war crimes, including the expansion of the unjust occupation of Afghanistan, the spreading secret drone wars, use of indefinite detention in Guantanamo and elsewhere, and vast surveillance on whole populations.

Speaker Don McKeating, "Economic, Social & Political Consequences of Our Double Standards."  McKeating was in an Army artillery unit in Vietnam '68-69, a police officer in IL for 27 years, a police union organizer & representative, a founding member of the Madison Area Peace Coalition, drafted the Madison city council resolution to defend the Bill of Rights & civil liberties after passage of the Patriot Act, organized & was the first president of VFP Ch. 25 Madison, WI, is president of VFP Ch. 119 St. Petersburg, FL & was a contributing author to the book Long Shadows:Veterans' Paths to Peaceaward winner in France.

High-resolution photo of Joseph (Joe) W. ElderModerator, Prof. Joe Elder.  Elder is a University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor in the Departments of Sociology, Languages and Cultures of Asia, and Integrated Liberal Studies. In addition to producing a lifetime of scholarly books, articles, and documentary films, Elder has helped organize campus "teach-ins" against US military activities in Vietnam and southwest Asia. In  2009 the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice awarded Elder its "Lifetime Peacemaker Award" for his reconciliation activities in My Lai (site of the 1968 massacre in Vietnam) and for serving as a Quaker message-carrier between opposing sides in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, the USA, Korea, and Sri Lanka.

Bradley Manning supporters buoyed by incompetent over-prosecution

 
 
Bradley Manning Support Network

Supporters holding vigil at Fort Meade

The U.S. government concluded its five-week case against PFC Bradley Manning the first week of July after providing a surprising lack of evidence that the Army soldier had “aided the enemy” by passing military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. In response, Bradley’s defense filed four motions to direct a verdict of not guilty on most of the greater offenses he’s charged with, including “aiding the enemy,” violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and stealing government property.

All four motions are filed under Rule for Court Martial 917 (d), which says a not-guilty verdict shall be granted in the “absence of some evidence which, together with all reasonable inferences and applicable presumptions, could reasonably tend to establish every essential element of an offense charged.” Each motion carefully lays out the ways in which the government’s own witnesses failed to confirm the prosecution’s arguments set forth in opening arguments.

 

Read more...


Defense concludes with star witness

On the final day of Bradley Manning’s defense’s case, Harvard Law Professor and renowned scholar Yochai Benkler testified about how the Internet has transformed journalism’s function in a democracy and why WikiLeaks should be considered a legitimate news organization that is devoted to exposing corruption. He testified that since its inception WikiLeaks has played a critical role in investigative journalism and that the leak of the Iraq and Afghan war logs revealed large disparities between civilian casulaties reported by the government those reported from the released documents.

Benkler was extremely critical of the unlawful pretrial abuse Bradley Manning endured and said that such abuse was meant to strike fear into future whistleblowers, and that it threatened investigative journalism as a whole. Further, the charges gainst Manning, if found guilty, would set a dangerous precedent whereby any news organization or journalist covering government corruption could be charged with 'aiding the enemy'. Earlier in the week former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Col. Morris Davis testified that the released Guantanamo Detainee Assessments were not a threat to national security and that they revealed much less than other documents that had already been published by the Pentagon.

Read daily reports from the courtroom...


Worldwide call to action July 27th


Marching for Bradley

On Friday, July 26, 2013 we will have our major protest in Washington D.C. outside the office of the convening authority for Bradley Manning's trial. The following day, July 27, we ask supporters around the world to hold solidarity actions for what will be the last coordinated Day of Action of Bradley Manning's trial.

Looking for an idea for an event? Consider putting on this street theatre performance written by Claire Lebowitz which was performed at NYC Pride and other solidarity events. It only requires 2 performers and its a wonderful way to charge your event and catch peoples interest!

July 26th

Washington, DC. Protest in front of Convening Authority Maj. General Buchanan's office

July 27th

Vancouver, BC. Rally and banner drop. (pdf poster)
Los Angeles, CA. Solidarity Rally.
Boston, MA. Solidarity with Bradley Manning Stand Out. 
Portland, ME. Support Bradley Manning Rally. 
Brussels, Belgium. March for Bradley Manning. 
Minneapolis, MN July 27th Solidarity Rally for Bradley Manning
London, UK. Peaceful vigil in front of the Amnesty International Secretariat office.
London, UK. International Day of Action for Bradley. 
Fairford, UK. Air Warrrrrrr! 
Perth, Australia. Education and Awareness-Whistleblowers. 

Find events and/or register our own.


Courtroom art auction to raise funds for Bradley's defense



Original Watercolor Portrait of Private Bradley Manning by Court Artist Debra Van Poolen. Medium: Watercolor

The Bradley Manning Support Network is pleased to announce that courtroom artists Kay Rudin, Clark Stoeckley, and Debra Van Poolen are auctioning off artwork which they have produced while observing the court martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. This week features art from Debra. New items will be added each week so check back often as we lead into the July 27 worldwide call to action!

The online auction will last three weeks, beginning July 9 and ending July 29. Each week new pieces will be added. The auction is timed to lead up to and encompass an International Day of Action on July 27 when people around the globe will demonstrate their support for Bradley.

View the courtroom art auction!


Help us continue to cover 100%
of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

Dirty Wars Comes to Charlottesville VA on July 19

The amazing anti-war film Dirty Wars is coming to Vinegar Hill Theater in Charlottesville, Va.

I've been working, on behalf of the producers, with peace groups around the country to spread the word about this film, and the feedback has been incredibly encouraging.  I've led discussions at the conclusion of the film in DC and Norfolk and will do so in Charlottesville following the 7:30 p.m. screening on Friday July 19.

Get your tickets from Vinegar Hill or another ticket seller, but sign up here so I know you're coming and so you can invite your friends and ask them to invite their friends and so on.

Dirty Wars may be one of the best educational outreach opportunities the peace movement has had in a long time.  The film is about secretive aspects of U.S. wars: imprisonment, torture, night raids, drone kills.

Dirty Wars won the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2013 and the Grand Jury Prize at the Boston Independent Film Festival. Variety calls it "jaw-dropping ... [with] the power to pry open government lockboxes." The Sundance jury said it is "one of the most stunning looking documentaries [we've] ever seen."

Dirty Wars makes a powerful case that U.S. wars, aside from all of their known drawbacks, actually make the United States less safeDirty Wars also makes real the humanity of our wars' victims.  A great deal of activism has been generated by this film.  To learn about and take action on one outrage the film depicts, go here

More importantly, bring people to see the movie who have not been actively engaged in trying to end warmaking.  The discussion afterwards will be open to questions and comments from any and all points of view.  You can post questions or comments ahead of time here.

--David Swanson

SPONSORS:
WarIsACrime.org
Amnesty International - Charlottesville
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Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice

Denouncing NSA Surveillance Isn’t Enough -- We Need the Power to Stop It

By Norman Solomon

For more than a month, outrage has been profuse in response to news about NSA surveillance and other evidence that all three branches of the U.S. government are turning Uncle Sam into Big Brother.

Now what?

Continuing to expose and denounce the assaults on civil liberties is essential. So is supporting Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers -- past, present and future. But those vital efforts are far from sufficient.

For a moment, walk a mile in the iron-heeled shoes of the military-industrial-digital complex. Its leaders don’t like clarity about what they’re doing, and they certainly don’t like being exposed or denounced -- but right now the surveillance state is in no danger of losing what it needs to keep going: power.

The huge digi-tech firms and the government have become mutual tools for gaining humungous profits and tightening political control. The partnerships are deeply enmeshed in military and surveillance realms, whether cruise missiles and drones or vast metadata records and capacities to squirrel away trillions of emails.

At the core of the surveillance state is the hollowness of its democratic pretenses. Only with authentic democracy can we save ourselves from devastating evisceration of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

The enormous corporate leverage over government policies doesn’t change the fact that the nexus of the surveillance state -- and the only organization with enough potential torque to reverse its anti-democratic trajectory -- is government itself.

The necessity is to subdue the corporate-military forces that have so extensively hijacked the government. To do that, we’ll need to accomplish what progressives are currently ill-positioned for: democratic mobilization to challenge the surveillance state’s hold on power.

These days, progressives are way too deferential and nice to elected Democrats who should be confronted for their active or passive complicity with abysmal policies of the Obama White House. An example is Al Franken, senator from Minnesota, who declared his support for the NSA surveillance program last month: “I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people.”

The right-wing Tea Party types realized years ago what progressive activists and groups are much less likely to face -- that namby-pamby “lobbying” gets much weaker results than identifying crucial issues and making clear a willingness to mount primary challenges.

Progressives should be turning up the heat and building electoral capacities. But right now, many Democrats in Congress are cakewalking toward re-election in progressive districts where they should be on the defensive for their anemic “opposition” to -- or outright support for -- NSA surveillance.

Meanwhile, such officials with national profiles should encounter progressive pushback wherever they go. A step in that direction will happen just north of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears as guest of honor to raise money for the party (up to $32,400 per couple) at a Marin County reception. There will also be a different kind of reception that Pelosi hadn’t been counting on -- a picket line challenging her steadfast support for NSA surveillance.

In the first days of this week, upwards of 20,000 people responded to a RootsAction.org action alert by sending their senators and representative an email urging an end to the Insider Threat Program -- the creepily Orwellian concoction that, as McClatchy news service revealed last month, “requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Messages to Congress members, vocal protests and many other forms of public outcry are important -- but they should lay the groundwork for much stronger actions to wrest control of the government away from the military-industrial-digital complex. That may seem impossible, but it’s certainly imperative: if we’re going to prevent the destruction of civil liberties. In the long run, denunciations of the surveillance state will mean little unless we can build the political capacity to end it.

__________________________________

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

We Indict the US Government for War Crimes & Crimes Against Humanity

 

By The World Can't Wait Steering Committee         The U.S. government is prosecuting Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden who exposed war crimes and crimes against humanity by the U.S. Now is the time to issue a powerful people's indictment of the crimes of the US government and counter the war on truth tellers.

We urge people to go out publicly in every way they can think of. Read these indictments aloud on street corners, post them up online and on paper, tweet them, and participate in creative protests to bring the indispensable peoples' voice and actions into this politically intolerable scene.

Arrest & Prosecute Torture Architect John Yoo

 

"A Conversation with Professor John Yoo"  Deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, Yoo helped draft the Patriot Act and author the legal basis for the NSA 'PRISM' program.
World Can't Wait joins with a large section of the U.S. population -- and billions worldwide -- in outrage at the unconstitutional, illegitimate surveillance of whole populations by the U.S. which has been covered up and lied about for years.
We Defend Edward Snowden for his courageous action in revealing vast, unlawful surveillance by the United States.
We Call on others to join us in opposing the U.S. government's plans to gain custody of him, to try and imprison him on espionage charges. 

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