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Why We Must Go to the Pentagon on September 26, 2016

A call to action from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR):

As people of conscience and nonviolence we go to the Pentagon, the seat of the United States military might, to call for an end to the ongoing wars and occupations waged and supported by the US. War is directly linked to poverty and the destruction of the Earth’s habitat. The preparations for more war and a new US nuclear arsenal are a threat to all life on the planet.

This September as we observe the United Nations International Day of Peace, the great many actions around the country for Campaign Nonviolence, and the “No War 2016” conference in Washington, DC we call upon our political leaders, and those at the Pentagon to stop the planning and waging of war.

September 11, 2016 marked 15 years since the Bush regime used the criminal terrorist attacks as an excuse to wage a series of unending wars and occupations continuing still under President Obama. These wars and occupations waged by the US are in fact illegal and immoral and must end.

We demand that the planning and production for a new nuclear arsenal stop. As the first and only country to use nuclear weapons on civilians, we call upon the US to take the lead in real and meaningful nuclear disarmament initiatives so that one day all nuclear weapons will be abolished.

We demand an end to NATO and other military war-games around the world.  NATO must be disbanded as it is clearly hostile to Russia thus threatening world peace. Military plans commonly referred to as the US’ “Asian Pivot” are provoking and creating ill will with China. Instead we call for real diplomatic efforts to address conflict with both China and Russia.

We demand that the US immediately start closing its military bases abroad. The US has hundreds of military bases and installations around the world. There is no need for the US to continue to have bases and military installations in Europe, Asia, and Africa while expanding its military alliances with India and the Philippines. All of this does nothing to create a secure and peaceful world.

We demand an end to environmental ecocide resulting from war. The Pentagon is the largest single polluter of fossil fuels in the world. Our dependence on fossil fuels is destroying Mother Earth. Resource wars are a reality we must avoid. An end to war and occupation will lead us on a path to saving our planet.

We demand an end to US military and foreign aid and support for proxy wars. Saudi Arabia is waging an illegal war against the people of Yemen. The US is supplying weapons and military intelligence to this corrupt undemocratic country ruled by a despotic and extremist royal family which oppresses women, LGBT people, other minorities, and dissidents within Saudi Arabia. The US gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israel where the Palestinian people have faced decades of oppression and dispossession. Israel has continuously used its military might on the unarmed Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank. It imposes an Apartheid state and prison camp conditions on the Palestinian people. We call on the US to cut off all foreign and military aid to these countries violating international law and human rights.

We demand the US government renounce regime change as a policy against the Assad government of Syria. It must cease funding Islamic extremists and other groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. Supporting groups fighting to overthrow Assad does nothing for peace and even justice for the people of Syria.

We demand the US government support refugees fleeing from war-torn countries.  The unending wars and occupations have created the largest refugee crisis since the last world war. Our wars and occupations are causing human misery by forcing people to leave their homes. If the US cannot bring about peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and the Middle East then it must withdraw, end military funding for proxy wars and occupations, and allow others to work towards stability and peace.

Since September 11, 2001 US society has seen its local police forces become militarized, civil liberties attacked, mass surveillance by the government, the rise in Islamophobia, all while our children are still recruited in the schools by the military. The path to war since that day has not made us safer or the world more secure. The path to war has been an utter failure for almost all on the planet except for those who profit from war and the economic system which impoverishes us all in so many ways.  We don’t have to live in a world like this. This is not sustainable.

Therefore, we go to the Pentagon where the empire’s wars are planned and waged. We demand an end to this madness. We call for a new beginning where Mother Earth is protected and where poverty will be eradicated because we will all share our resources and redirect our economy towards a world without war.

To join us, sign up at http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016

We will also be delivering to the Pentagon a petition to close Ramstein Air Base in Germany, as U.S. whistleblowers and Germans together deliver it to the German government in Berlin. Sign that petition at http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12254

The event at the Pentagon at 9 a.m. Monday, September 26, follows a three day conference, with a planning and training session at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 25. See the full agenda:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016agenda

Documents: How Big Oil Pushed to Make Dakota Access-Style Permitting a New Normal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In the two months leading up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to issue to the Dakota Access pipeline project an allotment of Nationwide 12 permits (NWP) — a de facto fast-track federal authorization of the project — an army of oil industry players submitted comments to the Corps to ensure that fast-track authority remains in place going forward.

This fast-track permitting process is used to bypass more rigorous environmental and public review for major pipeline infrastructure projects by treating them as smaller projects.

Push-ups, September 11, and Veteran Deaths

By Gar Smith

A new PR campaign is calling on Americans of all ages to do "22 push-ups in 22 days" to dramatize the fact that, on average, 22 American combat veterans commit suicide every day.

September 11 marks the day when 2,996 Americans lost their lives in attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, leading to the start of George W. Bush's War on Terror—an "endless" battle that now has US troops engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.

By September 11, 2016, 5,588 US soldiers will have committed suicide—nearly twice as many as the number of Americans lost in the 2001 terror attacks. 5,588: That's a lot of push-ups.

(Note: This accounting does not include the thousands of soldiers killed in combat or the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians whose epitaphs read:  "Collateral damage.")

By the end of 2016, 8,030, soldiers will have committed suicide owing to the unendurable trauma of the "War on Terror."

What can we conclude from these figures? (1) Serving as a US soldier must be one of the world's most demoralizing jobs and, (2) The War on Terror is a bloody failure.

#NoWar2016 Events Planned for Washington, D.C.

A major conference presenting alternatives to permanent war has been planned for September 23-25 at American University in Washington, D.C.
Main webpage:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016

Events on the first two days and the third morning will be in the Founders Room of the School of International Service. Closing events will be at the Kay Center nearby on the campus of American University. Media cameras and journalists are welcome throughout. But RSVP. Rooms are expected to be at full capacity.
Detailed agenda:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016agenda

Speakers will include: Dennis Kucinich, Kathy Kelly, Miriam Pemberton, David Vine, Kozue Akibayashi, Harvey Wasserman, Jeff Bachman, Peter Kuznick, Medea Benjamin, Maurice Carney, David Swanson, Leah Bolger, David Hartsough, Pat Elder, John Dear, Mel Duncan, Kimberley Phillips, Ira Helfand, Darakshan Raja, Bill Fletcher Jr., Lindsey German, Maria Santelli, Mark Engler, Maja Groff, Robert Fantina, Barbara Wien, Jodie Evans, Odile Hugonot Haber, Gar Alperovitz, Sam Husseini, Christopher Simpson, Brenna Gautam, Patrick Hiller, Mubarak Awad, Michelle Kwak, John Washburn, Bruce Gagnon, David Cortright, Michael McPhearson, Sharon Tennison, Gareth Porter, John Reuwer, Pat Alviso, Larry Wilkerson, Thomas Drake, Larry Johnson, John Kiriakou, Craig Murray, Raed Jarrar, Alli McCracken, Lilly Daigle, and Alice Slater.
Speakers' bios and photos:
http://worldbeyondwar.org/nowar2016speakers

World Beyond War is a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace.

Partners Include: Jubitz Family Foundation, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, RootsAction.org, Code Pink, International Peace Bureau, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Jane Addams Peace Association, Veterans For Peace, Delaware Peace Club, United for Peace and Justice.

Co-Sponsors Include: Washington Peace Center, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, Liberty Tree Foundation, TheRealNews.com, Nonviolence International, Peace Action Montgomery, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Military Families Speak Out, Peace Action, WILPF-DC, International Movement for a Just World (JUST), Center for Bangladesh Studies, Society for Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University, Nuke Watch, Friends of Franz Jagerstatter, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR), WILPF-DC, International Society for Inter Cultural Study and Research (ISISAR), Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, On Earth Peace, The Virginia Defenders, UNAC, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund/Peace Tax Foundation.

U.S. Groups, Citizens Ask World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes

The following letter is being delivered to the New York U.N. consulate office of every nation on earth:

This year’s UN General Assembly comes at a critical moment for humanity – 3 minutes to midnight on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock. Recognizing our country’s primary role in this crisis, 11,644 Americans and 46 U.S.-based organizations have thus far signed this "Appeal from the United States to the World: Help Us Resist U.S. Crimes," which we are submitting to all the world’s governments. Please work with your colleagues at the General Assembly to respond to this appeal.

The appeal has been signed here: http://bit.ly/usappeal The first 11,644 individual signers and their comments are contained in a PDF document here: http://bit.ly/usappealsigners

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States of America has systematically violated the prohibition against the threat or use of force contained in the UN Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. It has carved out a regime of impunity for its crimes based on its UN Security Council veto, non-recognition of international courts and sophisticated "information warfare" that undermines the rule of law with political justifications for otherwise illegal threats and uses of force.

Former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin B. Ferencz has compared current U.S. policy to the illegal German "preemptive first strike" policy for which senior German officials were convicted of aggression at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.

In 2002, the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy described post-September 11th U.S. doctrine as "a call for 21st century American imperialism that no other nation can or should accept." And yet the U.S. government has succeeded in assembling alliances and ad hoc "coalitions" to support threats and attacks on a series of targeted countries, while other countries have stood by silently or vacillated in their efforts to uphold international law. In effect, the U.S. has pursued a successful diplomatic policy of "divide and conquer" to neutralize global opposition to wars that have killed about 2 million people and plunged country after country into intractable chaos.

As representatives of civil society in the United States, the undersigned U.S. citizens and advocacy groups are sending this emergency appeal to our neighbors in our increasingly interconnected but threatened world. We ask you to stop providing military, diplomatic or political support for U.S. threats or uses of force; and to support new initiatives for multilateral cooperation and leadership, not dominated by the United States, to respond to aggression and settle international disputes peacefully as required by the UN Charter.

We pledge to support and cooperate with international efforts to stand up to and stop our country's systematic aggression and other war crimes. We believe that a world united to uphold the UN Charter, the rule of international law and our common humanity can and must enforce U.S. compliance with the rule of law to bring lasting peace to the world we all share.

A Good Beginning

By Kathy Kelly

It seems that some who have the ears of U.S. elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia and China.

In recent articles, Zbigniew Brzezinskiand Thomas Graham, two architects of the U.S. cold war with Russia, have acknowledged that the era of uncontested U.S. global imperialism is coming to an end.  Both analysts urge more cooperation with Russia and China to achieve traditional, still imperial, U.S. aims. Mr. Graham recommends a shifting mix of competition and cooperation, aiming toward a “confident management of ambiguity.”  Mr. Brzezinski calls for deputizing other countries, such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran to carry out the combined aims of the U.S., Russia and China so that this triumvirate could control other people’s land and resources.

It’s surely worthwhile to wonder what effect opinions such as Brzezinski's and Graham's might have upon how U.S. resources are allotted, whether to meet human needs or to further enlarge the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and further enrich the corporations that profit from U.S. investments in weapons technology.

Obama Admin Moves Oil, Gas Lease Bids Online To Quell Protests

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On August 30, the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it would utilize Congress' blessing, given to it in the form of passed legislation, to proceed with online bidding for oil and gas located on U.S. public lands. 

Dakota Access Pipeline Tribal Liaison Formerly Worked For Agency Issuing Permit To Cross Tribal Land

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Standing Rock tribe has filed a lawsuit against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for using the controversial Nationwide Permit 12 to fast-track authorization of the hotly contested Dakota Access pipeline.

The Debut of Our Revolution: Great Potential. But.

By Norman Solomon

While Bernie Sanders was doing a brilliant job of ripping into the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the livestreamed launch of the Our Revolution organization on Wednesday night, CNN was airing a phone interview with Hillary Clinton and MSNBC was interviewing Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

That sums up the contrast between the enduring value of the Bernie campaign and the corporate media’s fixation on the political establishment. Fortunately, Our Revolution won’t depend on mainline media. That said, the group’s debut foreshadowed not only great potential but also real pitfalls.

Even the best election campaigns aren’t really “movements.” Ideally, campaigns strengthen movements and vice versa. As Bernie has often pointed out, essential changes don’t come from Congress simply because of who has been elected; those changes depend on strong grassroots pressure for the long haul.

It’s all to the good that Our Revolution is encouraging progressives around the country to plan far ahead for effective electoral races, whether for school board, city council, state legislature or Congress. Too many progressives have treated election campaigns as impulse items, like candy bars in a checkout line.

Opportunities await for campaigns that might be well-funded much as Bernie’s presidential race was funded, from many small online donations. But except for presidential races, the politics of elections are overwhelmingly local -- and therein lies a hazard for Our Revolution.

TYRANNOSAURUS DEMOCRATICUS

By Jim Hartz

We seem on the verge of arriving at our final destination, the terminus of our “voyage of discovery,” initiated by Christopher Columbus and his merry band of Bible-thumping genocidal lunatics, five centuries ago.

Like a Tyrannosaur armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and hyper-alert to an impending sense it might be on the verge of extinction, we are very dangerous, capable of anything. We would incinerate the entire universe rather than lose; we would destroy the world in order to save it. Our God must prevail. Otherwise, we don’t exist—we would be non-existent, little specks of dust blown away in the wind like Fred Dobbs’ gold dust in Treasure of the Sierre Madre.

The exhilaration we feel, the rush of adrenalin to defend our dialectically reasoned Sky God perched atop a throne of skulls at the apex of the universe, watching over our carefully stacked piles of loot down below, a mummy with a Happy Face pasted over His grimace, fills us with a sense of awe and power brimming over with a desire to defend our territory, our wealth, our sense of privilege, our gloriousness, to the bitter end.

We are the embodiment of Goodness, of Smartness, of “Compassion,” and we cannot allow the followers of a Lesser God to impede our way to complete and total victory, to Global Dominion, so we can get down to the more serious task, our real work: conquering the rest of the universe! We might be microscopic, but we think Big.

So, this is a fight to the death, and we have the weapons to “get the job done.” So, who will soon lead us at this crucial juncture in our gallant and epiphanic march to spread “democracy” to the rest of the universe: a genuine bigot; a two-faced warmonger; or a decent, intelligent good-hearted and brave human being who will do her best to put an end to this madness?

One City Is Following Through on Protests of Confederate Monuments

Charlottesville is a diverse, enlightened, and progressive college town in Virginia with its public spaces dominated by war memorials, in particular memorials to Confederate soldiers not from Charlottesville who represent a five-year moment in the centuries of this place's history, as viewed by one wealthy white male racist donor at another moment in the 1920s. As the Black Lives Matter movement took off nationally this year, many Charlottesville residents demanded that imposing monuments to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be removed from their places of prominence.

The city of Charlottesville has set up a commission on race, memorials, and public spaces. I've attended portions of two meetings and am genuinely impressed by the open, civil, and democratic process underway to find solutions and possibly consensus. The process has already been educational for me and for other members of the public and of the commission. Some white residents have mentioned realizing for the first time that African Americans do not see their history in Charlottesville's public memorials.

I am not African American, but I certainly feel the same way. I'm disgusted by the monuments to those who participated in land theft and genocide against Native Americans, by the monument to the war on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that killed some six million people who go unmentioned on the monument, and by the Lee, Jackson, and generic Confederate soldier statues. The possibility of seeing people and movements and causes I actually care about memorialized in public space is exhilarating and not previously hoped for.

Missing from Charlottesville's public spaces now is pretty much the entire rest of its history. Needed are educational signs, memorials, and art works that tell a million missing stories. I don't think a year should go by in which the city does not introduce a new public creation downtown as well as one in a particular neighborhood. Great public art would improve the community and even perhaps its tourism. The ideas percolating in the commission's meetings are numerous and wonderful. Participants have produced lists of hundreds of ideas.

I'd love to see the story of Native American life here pre-Charlottesville recognized, and some mention somewhere perhaps of who Charlottesville's namesake Queen Charlotte was and what role her African ancestry may have played in her absence heretofore. I think there is a place for the stories of injustice: slavery, segregation, eugenics, war, and the misguided destruction of neighborhoods. But I think we also need the stories of struggle, the civil rights work, the women's rights movement, environmentalism, worker's rights, integration, education, arts, sports, and peace as a counterpoint to all the glorifying of war.

There are countless individuals to be remembered and taught about. A memorial to Julian Bond who taught for years at the University of Virginia is a popular idea that I support -- his work for both civil rights and peace should be recognized. And as long as we're going to have a tree named for Banastre Tarleton who led efforts in Parliament to keep the slave trade going, we should have Virginia's first monument to Olaudah Equiano who was probably once a slave in Virginia and whose work in England was critical to ending the slave trade and slavery in the British empire. I also think many public markings of past events need not focus on a single individual.

There is a contingent in Charlottesville for removing Confederate war monuments, and a contingent for keeping them. There appears to be consensus around adding at least a few of the many things that are missing. Personally I've been proposing and organizing support for a peace memorial and a memorial to Charlottesville's sister cities. The two could be combined in a peace pole bearing the words "May peace prevail on earth" on each side in the languages of each sister city, as well as English and other languages most spoken in Charlottesville. Charlottesville's city council has repeatedly taken stands for peace, but nothing in public space makes note of that.

I also think Charlottesville's public space could be improved if instead of its next purchase of dozens of U.S. flags it invests in a Charlottesville flag of a design that the public supports.

The public meetings of the commission thus far have taught me things about segregation in Charlottesville that I did not know. I hope this process can somehow be continued indefinitely. But a crucial question is what the commission will end up proposing to the city council next month, and what the city council will do with that proposal.

My recommendation is that the public nature of the brainstorming process be continued and expanded in the decision-making process, that the commission create a proposal with the idea that it will receive strong support in a public referendum, and that it in fact go to a public referendum.

Whether the city council or the public decides, however, a major question will be funding. If the question goes to the public, I think the public ought to be given the option of, say, creating 50 new memorials and opting out of one new highway interchange in order to cover the cost. The public ought not to be presented with a costly proposal and no say over the rest of a budget that I suspect in great measure lacks public support.

Of course if unwanted monuments are removed, one option would be to sell them to the highest bidder willing to remove them from public space and to display them in a private space accessible in some manner to the public. A museum of Confederate statues to which one can buy a ticket would be a far different public statement from Confederate statues dominating downtown parks.

It's tempting to look for private funding for new public creations, rather than foregoing an intersection or taxing the wealthiest residents, but such funding will inevitably corrupt the decision making process, and that's where the giant old racist soldiers on horses came from in the first place.

Yes, There Is an Antiwar Movement

By David Swanson

The demise of the antiwar movement has been greatly exaggerated. Working on planning a series of events in Washington, D.C., next month, and related events around the world, I'm finding tons of enthusiasm for organizing and mobilizing to end war. In fact all kinds of events are being organized all the time, from conferences to marches to protests, a peace fleet taking on a military fleet in Seattle, a crowd demanding the closure of a U.S. base in Germany or Korea, counter recruiters keeping military tests out of schools, solidarity actions and support actions with victims and refugees around the world, and many other stories that flood in under the corporate radar.

Peace activists to meet the U.S. Navy Fleet arrival at Seafair on Tuesday, August 2, 2016 in Elliott Bay

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
www.gzcenter.org

Seattle, Washington:  Local activists will stage a water-based nonviolent protest against the glorification of weapons of war at the Seattle Seafair festival.  Peace activists will meet the U.S. Navy fleet in Elliott Bay.

This year the Peace Fleet will be joined with the original peace ship, the Golden Rule, that set sail in 1958 to the South Pacific to stop nuclear testing in the atmosphere, and which inspired the many peace makers and peace ships that followed.  See http://www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org.

Other peace activists will meet on the Seattle waterfront on the rooftop of the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 at the same time for a nonviolent demonstration against weapons of war. 

What:  Peace activists at Seafair.  This is the fifteenth year for this demonstration. 

When:  Tuesday, August 2, noon, Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay.  Demonstration on land on the rooftop of the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66 at 1 PM.
            
Where:  Elliott Bay, near Pier 66.  Demonstration on land on the rooftop of the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal at Pier 66.

The Activist as a Young Girl

Clare Hanrahan's memoir The Half Life of a Free Radical: Growing Up Irish Catholic in Jim Crow Memphis is a remarkable feat: part Jack Kerouac, part Dorothy Day, part Howard Zinn, and a bit of Forest Gump.

First and foremost this is an entertaining and irreverent tale of childhood and adolescence told with great humor, honesty, and empathy. But it's also told by someone who became a peace and justice and environmentalist activist in later life, someone able to look back on the poverty, racism, consumerism, militarism, sexism, and Catholicism of her youth with passion and perspective -- even appreciation for all the good that was mixed in with the bad. Hanrahan writes what in outline form would read like an endless tale of misfortune, and yet leaves you with the thought of how much riotous fun she and her eight siblings and other acquaintances had.

I know Clare, though I learned much more about her from this book, and I wouldn't risk changing her if I had a time machine and magical powers. But I still found myself wondering, as with most stories of most people in the United States and much of the world, how different Hanrahan's life would have been in a society with the decency to provide free college and free job training as needed, or a society that integrated civic activism into everyone's life, or a society in which peace activist careers were marketed on the level of military recruitment ads or even marketed at all so that they weren't so frequently found so late, or a society in which some of the best people didn't live below a taxable salary level so as not to pay taxes for wars.

Hanrahan gives us her family genealogy first, and by doing so teaches some U.S. history that echoes through the book and the years. So, she shows us the cruelty of Jim Crow, for example, through personal experiences as a white girl, but illuminates it with an understanding of its origins, and -- even more importantly -- an awareness of its latest incarnations today. She also contrasts what she knows of the history of Memphis with what she was taught in school in Memphis growing up.

Hanrahan tells her story largely in chronological order, with no lengthy flashbacks, but with numerous quick bits of foreshadowing. For example:

"Brother Tommy gouged his initials, TPH, with a pocket knife on that same bannister long before the American war in Viet Nam maimed his hand, stole his youth, poisoned him with Agent Orange, and eventually took his life and that of his twin brother Danny. The bannister was later knocked down by a speeding car that careened into the porch stopping just short of the front bedroom."

Tommy returned from Vietnam to a  hospital. "In my naiveté," Hanrahan writes,

"I rushed to my brother's bedside to embrace him. I may even have called him 'my hero' as I approached, expecting a hug. Lightning fast his good arm flailed out knocking me across the room and onto the floor. 'Wake up!' he said. 'Wake up you stupid bitch.' I can still hear those harsh words. Dazed and confused, I picked myself up and backed away. This was not the brother I had sent away with a patriotic poem, proudly recited before my senior class."

Hanrahan's two veteran brothers suffered in many ways, and failed to fit back into society in many ways, but it was the cruelty toward women that they came back from the war with that their sister Clare eventually found intolerable.

When Hanrahan left Memphis she saw a lot of the country and a bit of the world, including living off the grid on land and water, joining intentional communities and finding her way to a job writing for peace. She also protested for peace and spent six months behind bars. During the course of her ramblings, Hanrahan managed to be present at or part of an extraordinary number of crucial events and developments in recent U.S. history. Hanrahan became editor of Rural Southern Voice for Peace just in time for the first Gulf War and the awful wars that have followed.

Hanrahan found her way back to Memphis on numerous occasions, sometimes for funerals, but also to be part of activist efforts such as the successful campaign to preserve the band shell in Overton Park launched by one of her brothers. Hanrahan intersperses her memories with her dreams and poetry, adding emotional depth to an account of an extraordinary family in a struggling city that I've enjoyed visiting but would like to visit again with this book as a guide.

Obama Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Frack Jobs in Gulf of Mexico: Corporate Media Ignored It

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On June 24, the independent news website TruthOut broke a doozy of a story: the Obama Administration has secretly approved over 1,500 instances of offshore hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the Gulf of Mexico, including during the Deepwater Horizon offshore spill disaster. 

How IOGCC-Spawned Lawsuit Overturning BLM Fracking Regulations on Public Lands

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In a ruling on the Obama Administration's proposed regulations of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on U.S. public lands, U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming Judge Scott Skavdahl — a President Obama appointee — struck down the rules as an illegal violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. 

 Photo Credit: WildEarth Guardians | Flickr

Internet divide issues persist: An Emancipation Proclamation for the Digital Age

By Alfredo Lopez and Jackie Smith

 

We just celebrated "Juneteenth" (the start of the end of slavery in the U.S.) amid tumultuous and sometimes confusing politics and what appears to be an increase in racist mobilization. For internet activists the situation begs the question: what, at this moment in our history, is the relationship between technology and black people?

After Keystone XL: TransCanada Building North American Fracked Gas Pipeline Empire

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Though President Barack Obama and his State Department nixed the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November, the Canadian pipeline company giant has continued the fight in a federal lawsuit in Houston,  claiming the Obama Administration does not have the authority to deny a presidential pipeline permit on the basis claimed that he did.

Fox in Hen House: Online Auctions For Public Lands Oil and Gas Bids May Be Industry-Owned, Run

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

If the recent past serves as prologue, then online leasing of oil and gas on U.S. federal lands may resemble the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, with one eBay-like company in particular standing to profiteer from the industry's proposed e-bidding scheme.

Image Credit: Willis Nowell | Flickr

America’s party-line corporate media: The Democratic Primary Race Has Been Called Before 15% of the Country Votes

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Reading the papers and listening to the radio about the Democratic primary race, which is reaching its climax tomorrow in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota, I’m having a powerful sense of deja vu harking back to my years living and working as a journalist in China in the 1990s.

Documents: IOGCC-Spawned Loophole Creating Frackquake Crisis Faces Federal Lawsuit

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On May 4, several environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for an end to the regulatory exemption it carved out in the late 1980s for the oil and gas industry with regards to how it handles industrial waste.


Photo Credit: United States Geological Survey

A lesson here for Sanders?: 72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election

By Dave Lindorff

 

A 72-year-old college professor named Alexander van der Bellen, running for president as the candidate of the leftist Austrian Green Party, a fringe party that had never been considered a serious contender in post-war Austrian politics, just won a narrow victory over Norbert Hofer, a right-wing candidate of the neo-fascist Freedom Party who had been favored to win.

Big Oil Group Plots to Exclude Public from Public Lands Bidding, Calls for "eBay"-Style Auctions

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s 2016 meeting in Denver, Colorado this week, a representative from a prominent oil and gas lobbying group advocated that auctions of federal lands should happen online "eBay"-style — a clear attempt to shut the public out of the bidding process for fossil fuel leases on public lands. 

Bush-Obama Powers Will Pass to Next President

Remember when coups and assassinations were secretive, when presidents were obliged to go to Congress and tell lies and ask permission for wars, when torture, spying, and lawless imprisonment were illicit, when re-writing laws with signing statements and shutting down legal cases by yelling "state secrets!" was abusive, and when the idea of a president going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays to pick whom to have murdered would have been deemed an outrage?

All such resistance and outrage is in the past by mutual consent of those in power in Washington, D.C. Whoever becomes the next president of the United States could only unfairly and in violation of established bipartisan precedent be denied the powers of unlimited spying, imprisoning, and killing. That this is little known is largely a symptom of partisanship. Most Democrats still haven't allowed themselves to hear of the kill list. But the widespread ignorance is also a function of media, of what's reported, what's editorialized, what's asked about in campaign debates, and what isn't.

The new book, Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program, from Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, is terrific to see even more for what it represents than for what it actually teaches us. We've already learned the details it includes from the website of the Intercept, and they fit with similar details that have trickled out through numerous sources for years. But the fact that a media outlet is reporting on this topic and framing its concerns in a serious way around the dangerous expansion of presidential and governmental power is encouraging.

The United States is now working on putting into action drone ships and ships of drone planes, but has never worked out how in the world it is legal or moral or helpful to blow people up with missiles all over the earth. Drone wars once declared successful and preferable alternatives to ground wars are predictably evolving into small-scale ground wars, with great potential for escalation, and nobody in any place of power has considered what candidate Obama might have called ending the mindset that starts wars, perhaps by using the rule of law, aid, disarmament, and diplomacy.

I recommend starting The Assassination Complex with the afterword by Glenn Greenwald, because he reminds us of some of Senator and candidate Obama's statements in favor of restoring the rule of law and rejecting President George W. Bush's abuses. What Obama called unacceptable at Guantanamo, he has continued at Guantanamo and elsewhere, but expanded into a program that focuses on murder without "due process" rather than imprisonment without "due process."

"Somehow," writes Greenwald, "it was hideously wrong for George W. Bush to eavesdrop on and imprison suspected terrorists without judicial approval, yet it was perfectly permissible for Obama to assassinate them without due process of any kind." That is in fact a very generous depiction of the drone murder program, as The Assassination Complex also documents that, at least during one time period examined, "nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets." We should think of drones more as random killing machines than as machines killing particular people who are denied the right to a trail by jury but are suspected of something by somebody.

"It is hard," writes Greenwald, "to overstate the conflict between Obama's statements before he became president and his presidential actions." Yes, I suppose so, but it's also hard to overstate the conflict between some of his campaign statements and others of his campaign statements. If he was going to give people a fair hearing before abusing their rights, what are we to make of his campaign promises to start a drone war in Pakistan and escalate the war in Afghanistan? Greenwald is assuming that the right not to be murdered ranks somewhere fairly high alongside the right not to be spied on or imprisoned or tortured. But, in fact, a war-supporting society must understand all rights to have particular protection except the right to stay alive.

The advantage that comes from viewing small-scale drone murders as an escalation of small-scale imprisonment -- that is, as a violation of rights -- really comes when you carry logic one step further and view large-scale killing in war as also a violation of rights, as indeed murder on a larger scale. In fact, among the top areas in which I would add to Greenwald's summary of Obama's expansions of Bush powers are: torture, signing statements, and the creation of new wars of various types.

Obama has made torture a question of policy, not a crime to be prosecuted. Frowning on it and outsourcing it and hushing it up does not deny it to the next president in the way that prosecuting it in court would.

Obama campaigned against rewriting laws with signing statements. Then he proceeded to do just as Bush had done. That Obama has used fewer signing statements is largely due, I think, to the fact that fewer laws have been passed, combined with his creation of the silent signing statement. Remember that Obama announced that he would review Bush's signing statements and decide which to reject and which to keep. That is itself a remarkable power that now passes to the next president, who can keep or reject any of Bush's or Obama's signing statements. But as far as I know, Obama never did actually tell us which of Bush's he was keeping. In fact, Obama announced that he would silently assume any past signing statement to apply to a new and relevant law without restating the signing statement. Obama has also developed the practice of instructing the Office of Legal Counsel to write a memo in place of a law. And he's developed the additional technique of creating self-imposed restrictions, which have the benefit of not being laws at all when he violates them. A key example of this is his standards for whom to kill with drones.

On the question of starting wars, Obama has radically altered what is acceptable. He began a war on Libya without Congress. He told Congress in his last state of the union speech that he would wage a war in Syria with or without them (which statement they applauded). That power, further normalized by all the drone wars, will pass to the next president.

Lawyers have testified to Congress that drone killing is murder and illegal if not part of a war, but perfectly fine if part of a war, and that whether it's part of a war or not depends on secret presidential memos the public hasn't seen. The power to render murder possibly legal, and therefore effectively legal, by declaring the existence of a secret memo, is also a power that passes to the next president.

In reality, there is no way to even remotely begin to legalize drone murders, whether or not part of a war. The seven current U.S. wars that we know of are all illegal under the UN Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact. So, any element of them is also illegal. This is a simple point but a very difficult one for U.S. liberals to grasp, in the context of human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch taking a principled stand against recognizing the illegality of any war.

If, on the other hand, the drone murders are not part of an illegal war, they are still illegal, as murder is illegal everywhere under universal jurisdiction. The defense that a foreign dictator, exiled or otherwise, has granted permission to murder people in his country, so that sovereignty is not violated, misses the basic illegality of murder, not to mention the irony that helping dictators kill their people conflicts rather stunningly with the common U.S. excuse for launching wars of overthrow, namely punishment of a dictator for the ultimate sin of "killing his own people." Sovereignty is also an idea very selectively respected; just ask Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, or Syria.

Reporter Cora Currier, in The Assassination Complex, looks at Obama's self-imposed, but never met, restrictions on drone murders. Under these non-legal limitations it is required that drone missiles target only people who are "continuing, imminent threats to the American people," and who cannot be captured, and only when there is "near certainty" that no civilians will be killed or injured. Currier points out that Obama approves people for murder for months at a time, rendering dubious the already incoherent idea of a "continuing imminent threat." It's not clear that "capture" is ever a serious option, and it is clear that in many cases it is not. The "near certainty" about not killing civilians is thrown into doubt by the constant killing of civilians and, as Currier points out, by the White House claiming to have had that "near certainty" in a case in which it killed civilians who happened to be American and European, thus requiring some accountability.

Scahill and Greenwald also document in this book that sometimes what is targeting is a cell phone believed to belong to a particular person. That of course provides no "near certainty" that the targeted person is there or that anyone else isn't.

What might begin to restrain this madness? Will those who opposed Bush lawlessness but turned a blind eye to its expansion under Obama find themselves opposing it again? That seems highly unlikely under the best of the three remaining big-party presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders. I can't imagine ever getting a significant number of his supporters to even become aware of his foreign policy, so good is he on domestic issures. With Hillary Clinton the task would be extremely difficult as well, aided only by the likelihood that she would launch truly big-scale wars. With a President Trump, it does seem much more conceivable that millions of people would suddenly find themselves opposing what has been firmly put into place the past 16 years. Whether it would then be too late is a different question.

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