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My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail by Brian Terrell


“What happened to us was a shakedown by gangsters wearing police uniforms and judges’ robes, not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the civic infrastructure behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas with dollars squeezed out of its poorest citizens.”

“The degree of civilization in a society,” wrote the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, “can be judged by entering its prisons.” As a frequent visitor to Nevada in recent years, I have often been surprised by the cultural diversity and spiritual richness that can be found in Las Vegas. Still, I think that Dostoyevsky was right. A more accurate assessment of the degree of civilization in Las Vegas and for the broader society that the city claims to be “The Entertainment Capital” of can be made by entering the cells of the Clark County Correctional Center than by going to the top of the Stratosphere, cruising the Strip or even by taking in a Cirque du Soleil show.

Brian and renee arrest

I was one of twenty five arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police at Creech Air Force Base, the center of drone assassination by the US Air Force and the CIA some forty miles northwest of the city on March 31 and April 1. “Shut Down Creech” was a weeklong convergence of activists from around the country. Most of us staying in tents at a makeshift “Camp Justice” in the desert across the highway from the base, our days of discussion, study, song, reflection and strategizing built up to a dramatic series of coordinated actions, including street theater and blockades, that disrupted the lethal business as usual of Creech. While we expected to be arrested, this was not our desire or our goal. Once again, the police arrested the wrong people as they abetted the criminals and took those who acted to stop a crime in progress down town to be booked.

Since 2009, I have had at least two other trips on the police from Creech to the county jail at the prestigious address, 330 S Casino Center Blvd in Las Vegas, to undergo the tedious process of booking, the fingerprinting, mugshots and other indignities before getting kicked out onto the sidewalk a few long hours later. This time, however, after my friends and comrades were released one by one, I remained behind. I was kept in jail for the next four days, not for my part in the day’s protest, but on a bench warrant due to an unpaid traffic fine.

What Is a Global Citizen, and Can it Save Us?

Headlines this past week claimed that for the first time ever more than half of poll respondents around the world said they saw themselves more as a global citizen than as a citizen of a country. What did they mean in saying that?

Well, first of all, to lower the heart-rate of U.S. readers, we should state that they clearly did not mean that they were aware of a secret global government to which they had sworn loyalty until the Dark Side crushes all light from the Force, or until Mom, apple pie, and sacred national sovereignty expire in the satanic flames of Internationalism. How do I know this? Well, for one thing, something that a majority of the planet is aware of is the opposite of a secret. But, more importantly, what's at issue here is the poll respondents' attitude, not their situation. In many nations, the responses were almost evenly split; half the people weren't wrong, they were just differently minded.

Still, what did they mean?

In the United States, rather stunningly, 22 percent of respondents supposedly said they strongly agreed that they saw themselves more as a global citizen, while another 21 percent somewhat agreed. How you can somewhat agree with a binary choice I haven't the foggiest idea, but supposedly they did. That's 43 percent total agreeing either strongly or somewhat in the land of flag-waving militarized exceptionalism, if you can believe it -- or if it doesn't actually mean much.

Canada is slightly higher at 53 percent. But what does it mean? Were respondents shocked into agreement with a sensible sounding idea they'd never heard mentioned before? Is a strong minority really enlightened beyond the common nationalism? Russia, Germany, Chile, and Mexico had the least identification as global citizens. Should we look down on that? Nigeria, China, Peru, and India had the highest. Should we emulate that? Are people identifying with humanity or against their country or in support of their own desire to emigrate, or against the desires of others to immigrate? Or are people employed by globalized capital actually turning against nationalism?

I've always thought that if people would stop speaking in the first person about the crimes of their country's military, and start identifying with all of humanity, we might achieve peace. So I compared the "global citizen" results with the results of a 2014 poll that asked if people would be willing to fight in a war for their country. The results of that poll were also stunningly encouraging, with strong majorities in many countries saying they would not fight in a war. But there does not appear to be a correlation between the two polls. Unless we can find a way to correct for other important factors, it does not seem that being a global citizen and refusing to fight have anything consistently in common. Nationalistic countries are and are not willing to fight in wars. "Global citizen" countries are and are not willing to fight in wars.

Of course, the willingness to fight responses are sheer nonsense. The United States has numerous wars up and running, recruitment offices in most towns, and 44% of the country saying it "would" fight if there were a war. (What's stopping them?) And, again, the global citizen responses may be largely nonsense too. Still, Canada does roughly as much better than the United States in each of the two polls. Perhaps they make the sort of sense I'm looking for but only in North America. Asian nations, however, are both biggest on global citizenship and most willing to participate in wars (or to make that claim to a pollster).

Whatever it may mean, I take it to be wonderful news that a majority of humanity identifies with the world. It's up to us to now make it mean what it should. We need to develop a belief in world citizenship that begins by recognizing every other human on earth, and other living things in their own way, as sharing in it. A citizen of the globe does not expect to necessarily have much in common with the inhabitants of some far-off corner of the earth, but does certainly understand that no war can be waged against fellow citizens.

We don't need clean elections or an end to war profits or the expansion of the ICC to impose the rule of law on countries outside of Africa in order to create world citizenship. We just need our own minds. And if we get it right in our own minds, all of those other things had better get ready to happen.

So how do we think like world citizens? Try this. Read an article about a distant place. Think: "That happened to some of us." By "us" mean humanity. Read an article about peace activists protesting war who say aloud "We are bombing innocent people," identifying themselves with the U.S. military. Work at it until you can find such statements incomprehensible. Search online for articles mentioning "enemy." Correct them to reflect the fact that everyone has the same enemies: war, environmental destruction, disease, starvation. Search for "them" and "those people" and change it to us and we humans.

This is in fact a massive project, but apparently there are millions of us already identifying with it, and many hands make light work.

Why the best candidate can’t win the support of People of Color: Where the Bern is Fizzling

By Alfredo Lopez

 

In the recent New York primaries, Bernie Sanders experienced some very cold water thrown in his face. Not only did he lose, and soundly, but he was served a major lesson about one of the primary deficiencies in his campaign.

Talk Nation Radio: John Dear on Catholic Church Rejecting "Just War" Theory

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-dear-on-catholic-church-rejecting-just-war-theory

After 1700 years, the Catholic Church is turning against the idea that there can be a "just war." We speak with John Dear.

John Dear is an internationally recognized voice for peace and nonviolence. A priest, pastor, retreat leader, and author, he served for years as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the largest interfaith peace organization in the U.S. After September 11, 2001, he was a Red Cross coordinator of chaplains at the Family Assistance Center in New York, and counseled thousands of relatives and rescue workers. John has traveled the war zones of the world, been arrested some 75 times for peace, led Nobel Peace prize winners to Iraq, recently visited Afghanistan, given thousands of lectures on peace across the U.S., and served as a pastor of several churches in New Mexico.

His many books include: The Nonviolent Life; Walking the Way; Thomas Merton Peacemaker; A Persistent Peace; Transfiguration;  You Will Be My Witnesses;   Living Peace;  The Questions of Jesus;   The God of Peace;  Jesus the Rebel;   Peace Behind Bars;  and Disarming the Heart.  He has been nominated many times for the Nobel Peace Prize, including by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sen Barbara Mikulski. He works for www.campaignnonviolence.org, is a priest of the Diocese of Monterey, Cal., and lives in New Mexico. See: www.johndear.org

Statement from April 11-13 Vatican Meeting:
http://www.paxchristi.net/news/appeal-catholic-church-recommit-centrality-gospel-nonviolence/5855#sthash.gBLNmWLZ.Ko153230.dpbs

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Did the Vatican Just Throw Out Its Just War Doctrine?

By Erica Chenoweth

Last week, the Vatican hosted a conference on the theme of “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace along with the global Catholic peace network Pax Christi International. In their concluding appeal to Pope Francis, the 80 conference participants recommended that he reject Just War Doctrine as a viable or productive Catholic tradition. They also recommended that he write a new encyclical laying out the Catholic Church’s commitment to nonviolence in all of its manifestations—including nonviolent action as a means of engaging in conflict, nonviolent conflict resolution as a way of resolving conflict, and nonviolence as the principle doctrine of the Catholic Church.

If such an encyclical follows, this is a big deal. The just war tradition—which contains numerous doctrines morally justifying violence and war, as well as defining appropriate conduct during war—has served for the past 1500 years as the primary normative basis politicians have evoked (correctly or incorrectly) to validate their waging of war. Because the Catholic Church developed the doctrine between the 4th and 13th centuries, the just war canon has had a monopolistic influence on the way people in the West think about war and violence—whether they know it or not. Consequently, many people now take for granted concepts like the right to self-defense, the importance of weighing the goals of war against its potential human costs, the need to exhaust other options before going to war, and the necessity of only fighting wars you think you can win. Whether you’re the President of the United States in D.C., a police officer on the beat in Denver, or a student in a self-defense class in L.A., these moral concepts have probably had a deep impact on your thinking and your experience when it comes to the proper uses of violence.

Conference participants acknowledged the main sticking point for many skeptics of nonviolence—that promoting (or using) nonviolence can be difficult in the face of armed aggression. Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International and a participant at the conference, claimed that the group fully considered this challenge. Yet she argued that the international community hasn’t yet devoted resources to developing or discovering nonviolent alternatives to armed aggression because of our reflexive turn to violence as the only possible response. In her words, “as long as we keep saying we can do it with military force, we will not invest the creative energy, the deep thinking, the financial and human resources in creating or identifying the alternatives that actually could make a difference.”

So—why is the Catholic Church reconsidering now? Reporter Terrence Lynne argues that there are five primary reasons for this—among them the fact that contemporary weapons of war render obsolete any positive impacts that war might have; and what he calls “the compelling, thrilling saga of nonviolent action over the 60 years since Gandhi.” Indeed, among the arguments Pope Francis used to encourage the conference participants was the dramatic rise in the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance over the past century—a trend we hear a lot around the halls of the Korbel School. In fact, one of the participants in this landmark conference was my colleague Maria J. Stephan, whose work on civil resistance in a variety of struggles around the world helped to provide a strong empirical basis for this conference.

How’s that for engaged scholarship?

Erica Chenoweth is Professor & Associate Dean for Research | Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of DenverOriginally published at Political Violence at a Glance, republishing permitted.

Something’s happening in the presidential race: Clinton’s Crumbling, Bernie’s Surging ‘Political Revolution’ is in the Air

By Dave Lindorff


            Philadelphia -- Something “YUGE” is happening in the Democratic presidential campaign, and perhaps in the broader American body politic. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but like that feeling of your neck hairs rising off your skin as a big thunderstorm approaches, you know it’s big and it’s coming.

New TCBH! poem: 'Fishing the Red Herring'

We were at Shelby’s at the bar and Jeff,

Who was watching Fox News,

Slams down his empty bottle

And says,

I’m so sick of hearing about damn red herrings

David and Jan Hartsough: Why We Don't Pay Taxes

Hartsoughs 721 Shrader St., San Francisco, CA 94117
March 30, 2016

Dear Friends at the IRS,

We cannot in conscience pay for the killing of other human beings or pay for war and preparations for war. Human life is too precious to drop bombs on people because we do not like their governments. Developing a new generation of nuclear weapons which could put an end to life on our beautiful planet is insane.

Giving the Pentagon hundreds of billions of dollars when we are cutting funds for schools, libraries, head start programs, job training and creation, and now even social security, does not increase the security of our people.

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and the use of drones have NOT increased our security, but have created more enemies of the United States in these countries, in Pakistan and around the world. Let’s end the war on terror and bring the tax dollars home to meet the needs of the American people.

We are Quakers and cannot in conscience contribute in any way to the killing of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Fifty percent of our tax dollars go for wars and preparations for wars. Together with our IRS Form, we are sending a check for $424 or 50% of what we owe to the Department of Health and Human Services and ask that you designate all those funds for health and education and human well-being – and NONE for war and killing.

The other $424 or 50% (the portion which goes for war and killing) we are contributing to organizations working for peace and justice and programs meeting human and environmental needs in the US and around the world.

Instead of paying for war and killing, we are joining together with others to build what Martin Luther King called the “Beloved Community”. We hope and pray that all the taxes from people all over the world can go for schools, good health care and housing for all people on earth and a healthy planet for our children and all future generations rather than for wars and killing one another.

Sincerely,  David and Jan Hartsough

Protest The Vanguard of Killing-for-Profit, April 20, Noon, Phila. Convention Center.

Spread the word! Protest the Vanguard Group at Speech of its CEO, F. Willian McNabb III

33_Drone Attacks

 
The  Brandywine Peace Community, KnowDrones.org, Phila. Area Anti-Drone Network, World Can't Wait, and other social justice, community and anti-war and anti-mass incarceration activists will demonstrate at noon on April 20 at the Philadelphia (PA) Convention Center to protest the unconscionable profit-making of the $3 trillion Vanguard Group on drone killing, private prisons and small arms manufacture.
 
The protesters will call on F. William McNabb III, CEO of Vanguard Group, headquartered in Malvern, PA, who will be speaking at the convention center during the protest, to drop Vanguard’s investments in:
  1. Military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Honeywell Corporation, and Boeing, all of which profit from from drone killing and war in general. Military hardware is Vanguard’s largest investment sector.
  1. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit private prison company in which Vanguard is the largest investor
  1. Smith & Wesson (SWHC) and Sturm-Ruger firearms manufacturers. Smith & Wesson manufactured two of the guns used in the San Bernardino massacre. Vanguard also invests in ammunition makers in Vista Outdoor (VSTO) and Orbital ATK (OA).
The group will also call on Amy Guttman, president of the University of Pennsylvania, who appears to have been paid over $1.2 million by Vanguard as a member of its board of directors, to take a public position against Vanguard’s investment in war, mass incarceration and small arms.  Guttmam's salary at UPenn is reportedly $3.4 million.  She has been on the Vanguard board since
2006.
 
Today, racism, xenophobia, Islamaphobia and  the hatred of immigrants and the undocumented fuels the  investments of the Vanguard Ground no less than presidential candidates that speak of  bigger and bigger walls, more bombing, and banning refugees fleeing U.S. wars from Syria to Afghanistan.    
 
Our protest is also directed at the gun industry and the scourge of violence  across the U.S., particularly in poor and communities of color which are also the targets of the for-profit prison industry that has grown alongside the U.S. system of economic apartheid: mass incarceration. 
 
Corrections Corporation of America
 
Drone warfare, gun violence, for-profit prisons and mass incarceration are the death ship on which the investments of the Vanguard group sail.
VanguardJoin the protest of  the Vanguard Group on Wednesday, April 20th 2016 from 12Noon - 2:00 p.m. outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center at the intersection of 12th and Arch Streets where F. William McNabb will be the keynote speaker for the Urban Land Institute's 2016 Convention.
 
For more information about the demonstration and what you can do, call the Brandywine Peace Community, (610) 544-1818

A Call For Actions During the NATO Summit in Warsaw July 8-9 2016

No to War

No to NATO Bases │ No to the Defence Missile Shield │ No to Arms Race│
Disarmament - Welfare Not Warfare │ Refugees Welcome Here │ Solidarity with peace and anti-war movements

The next NATO summit is planned to take place in Warsaw on 8-9 July. This summit will be held during a period of wars, heightened global instability and conflict. The wars raged by the West in the Middle East and Afghanistan have left hundreds of thousands dead; destroyed these countries’ infrastructure and ruined the conditions for political stability and social peace. The terrorism that has spread around the world is a terrible legacy of these conflicts. Millions of refugees have been forced to flee their homes in search of a safe place for them and their families to live. And when they reach the shores of Europe and the USA, they often meet hostility and racism from those very countries that started the wars from which they are escaping.

The promise of peaceful Europe in a peaceful world that was developed after the end of the Cold War has failed. One of the reasons is the enlargement of the NATO to the east. We are presently in the middle of a new East-West arms race, seen clearly in the area of Central and Eastern Europe. The war in the east of Ukraine, in which thousands have lost their lives, is a terrible example of this rivalry. The proposals of NATO to expand further to the East further threaten to escalate this conflict. The proposals of the present Polish government to station permanent NATO bases in Poland and build a new Missile Defence Shield in the country would not guarantee the country’s safety but rather place it on the frontline of these new hostilities. NATO is urging all member states to rise its military spending to at least 2% of GDP. Not only will this intensify the arms race in the world, but it will mean that during a time of economic austerity more funds will move from welfare to war. When the governments and Generals meet in Warsaw in July an alternative voice must be heard. A coalition of the peace and anti-war movements in Poland and internationally plan to hold a number of events during the NATO summit in Warsaw:

-        On Friday 8 July we shall hold a conference bringing together the organisations and activists of the peace and anti-war movements. This will be an opportunity to discuss and debate alternatives to the policies of militarisation and war being proposed by NATO. In the evening we shall hold a large public meeting. We already have a number of prominent speakers (both international and from Poland) confirmed, including former Colonel Ann Wright, Maite Mola, and Tarja Cronberg.

-        On Saturday we will take our protest to the streets of Warsaw to express our opposition to the NATO summit.

-        On the Saturday evening a cultural/social event will be held.

-        On Sunday a meeting of peace activists and organisations will be held to give us a chance to discuss our further cooperation and activity in the pursuit of a peaceful world.

We invite you to participate and urge you to mobilise for this important event. If you wish more information or have any suggestions or questions please write to us: info@no-to-nato.org/ www.no-to-nato.org.

Our goal is a world without war and nuclear weapons. We are fighting to overcome NATO through the politics of common security and disarmament and solidarity with global peace, anti-war & anti-militaristic movements.

International Network No to War – No to NATO, Stop the War Initiative Poland, Social Justice Movement Poland, Warsaw Anarchist Federation,Workers Democracy Poland

 

 

Program of Alternative Summit (as of March 17)

Friday July 8th

12:00 opening of the alternative summit

-        NN Poland

-        Kristine Karch, No to War – No to NATO

12:15 – 14:00 Plenary: Why we are against NATO

-        NN Poland

-        Ludo de Brabander, vrede, Belgium

-        Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, GB

-        Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee, USA

-        Natalie Gauchet, Mouvement de la Paix, France

-        Claudia Haydt, Information Centre Militarization, Germany

-        Tatiana Zdanoka, MEP, Green Party, Latvia (tbc)

LUNCH

15:00 – 17:00 Working groups

-        Military spending

-        Nuclear weapons and weapons in space

-        How to overcome the war against terror?

-        Militarization and women rights

19:00 Public event: Peace politics in Europe – for a Europe of peace and social justice, for a common security

-        Barbara Lee, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, USA (video message)

-        Ann Wright, former Colonel of the US army, USA

-        Maite Mola, Vice President of the European Left, Spain

-        Reiner Braun, International Peace Bureau/ IALANA, Germany

-        NN Poland

-        NN Russia

-        Tarja Cronberg, former MEP, Green Party, Finland

Saturday July 9th

-        Demonstration

-        Peace gathering: exchange of information and lesson learnt from peace movements in Europe

-        Cultural evening event

Sunday July 10th

9:30 till 11:00 Special forum on refugees, migration and wars

Introduction: Lucas Wirl, No to War – No to NATO

11.30 till 13:30 How to come to peace in Europe? Ideas for strategy

With 10 minute introduction

13:30 END, Afterwards: common lunch

 

REGISTRATION and further information: info@no-to-nato.org

Talk Nation Radio: Paul Engler on THIS IS AN UPRISING

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-paul-engler-on-this-is-an-uprising

Paul Engler is founding director of the Center for the Working Poor and one of the founders of Momentum Training. He is co-author of the new book: This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century.

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Why I won’t be voting for Hillary in November: A Neolib Posing as a Progressive vs. a Reality TV Star Posing as a Fascist

By Dave Lindorff

 

            I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, and I won’t heed Bernie Sanders if, as he has vowed to do, he calls on his supporters to “come together” after the convention, should he lose, to support Clinton and prevent Donald Trump or another Republican from becoming president.

 

Protest Trump in DC


Its outrageous (but not surprising) that Donald Trump will be speaking Monday at the The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington D.C. Join CODEPINK outside the conference to protest both Trump and AIPAC’s dangerous racist, Islamophobic rhetoric which foments hatred and undermines efforts to achieve peace. 


When: Monday March 21 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM 

Where: Verizon Center 601 F St NW, Washington, DC - 
F St Entrance between 6th St and 7th St 

RSVP here. If you can, bring your handmade sign.

Co-sponsors include: CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace - D.C. chapter, Roots Action, Peace Action Montgomery, Interfaith Peace Builders, Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace.
 
Know Your Rights/Civil Disobedience Training Saturday March 19 3:00 PM. Contact ariel@codepink.org to attend.

$1,000 Prize for First Place Peace Essay

2016 Peace Essay-Response Contest Rules

The West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition is once again sponsoring a Peace Essay Contest with a $1,000.00 award to the winner, $300 for the runner-up, and $100 for third place. As in the previous year’s contest, essays will have to be directed to a person who can help promote knowledge of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (KBP) and, from whom a response is expected. Essays will be judged not only on the quality of the essay but on the impact of the response. Everyone is eligible to participate; there are no restrictions regarding age or country of residence. Participants are required to take the following 3 steps:

1.To enter the contest send a Peace Essay Request email to coordinator Frank Goetz at frankgoetz@comcast.net. Provide your Name, Mailing Address, Email Address, Phone Number, and, if under 19, Age. Also, provide the Name and Position of the person or persons to whom the Essay will be directed. Your application acceptance as a contest participant will be acknowledged in an email containing your assigned 4-digit Essay Number. [If information is missing or confusing you will be contacted by email or phone.]

2.In 800 words or less write your essay on: How Can We Obey the Law Against War? As soon as possible but at least by April 15, 2016 send the essay to the person named in your application and a copy to frankgoetz@comcast.net with your Essay Number in the Subject line.

3. By May 15, 2016 send Essay Response documentation to frankgoetz@comcast.net with your Essay Number in the Subject line.

Some examples of impact:

  1. The President agrees to explain the limitations placed on the government by KBP.

  2. A member of congress supports a resolution to make August 27 a Day of Reflection.

  3. The ACT or SAT administration agrees to include questions regarding KBP.

  4. A newspaper includes a KBP story.

  5. A school board revises its curriculum to expand KBP studies.

  6. A religious leader calls for nonviolent actions.

Act now: We may have to limit the number of contestants and it takes time to get responses. We will announce the Winners at a festive event honoring the 88th Anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 2016.

Faithpeace.org

WHISTLEBLOWERS TO SPEAK AT LAS VEGAS DRONE SYMPOSIUM

The U.S. drone war program will be examined on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 6 pm at a symposium at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Law entitled: “Inside Drone Warfare: Perspectives of Whistleblowers, Families of Drone Victims and Their Lawyers.”

Speakers include:

Christopher Aaron, a former counter-terrorism officer for the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program,

Cian Westmoreland, former drone program communications technician, 606 Air Control Squadron and the 73rd Expeditionary Control Squadron of the U.S. Air Force,

Human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack, Director of the Whistleblower & Resource Protection Progam (WHISPeR).

Shelby Sullivan-Bennis, counter-terrorism case worker for the human rights law firm Reprieve.org

Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson Law School, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and editor and contributor to “Drones and Targeted Killing.”

Rev. Chris Antal, a Unitarian Universalist minister who served as a military chaplain in Afghanistan, will also present.

“We are holding this symposium near Creech AFB because we would like members of the drone program there to attend the symposium,” said Nick Mottern, of KnowDrones.com, who, with retired Army Colonel Ann Wright, is an organizer of the symposium. He said that the Air Force was invited to have a representative appear on the symposium panel but that no response has been received.

Creech AFB, located about 65 miles from Las Vegas, is believed to be the largest drone control center inside the United States.

The symposium is being organized by Veterans for Peace and Knowdrones.com.

Two Upcoming Events on Drones in Charlottesville

Marjorie Cohn will discuss her thought-provoking book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, about the use and impact of drone warfare in today’s world.

”This book provides much-needed analysis of why America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu

TWO EVENTS:

Sat. March 19, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm, City Council Chambers, 605 E Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Hosted by: Amnesty International-Charlottesville

Sunday, March 20, 6:30 pm, Friends Meeting House, 1104 Forest St, Charlottesville, VA 22903,

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (San Diego, Calif.) and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. A legal scholar, political analyst and social critic, she writes books and articles, makes media appearances and lectures throughout the world on human rights and U.S. foreign policy and the contradiction between the two.

 

Fracking Supply Chain a Climate Disaster, Doing Little to Uplift Poor Communities: Studies

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Two recent studies further call into question the oil and gas industry's claims of the climate benefits and community benefits of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").



Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Everybody Turn Out for a Day of Peace and Solidarity in New York

What happens when there are endless wars accompanied by militarized policing, spreading racism, erosion of civil rights, and concentration of wealth, but the only news is election news, and none of the candidates wants to talk about shrinking the world's largest military?

We happen. That's what. We turn out for a Day of Solidarity and Peace in New York City on Sunday, March 13th. We start by signing up at http://peaceandsolidarity.org and inviting all of our friends to do so. If we can't come, we invite all of our friends anywhere near New York to sign up and be there. We sit down and think of every person we remember hearing ask "But what can we do?" and we tell them: You can do this.

We stopped the war mongers who wanted to rip up the agreement with Iran last year, and the political progress in Iran reflects the wisdom of diplomacy as an alternative to yet more war. We stopped a massive bombing campaign of Syria in 2013. Our brothers and sisters just this month stopped the construction of a U.S. military base in Okinawa.

But U.S. weapons and bases are spreading across the globe, ships are sailing provocatively toward China, drones are murdering in numerous nations with a new base just opened in Cameroon. The U.S. military is assisting Saudi Arabia in bombing Yemeni families with U.S. weapons. The U.S. war in Afghanistan is being accepted as permanent. And the U.S. wars in Iraq and Libya left behind such hell that the U.S. government is hoping to use more war to "fix" it -- and to add another overthrow in Syria.

Why will no candidate (in the two-party system) propose a serious reduction in military spending and war making, foreswear the use of killer drones, commit to making reparations to the nations recently attacked, or agree to join the International Criminal Court and to sign onto the many treaties limiting warfare on which the United States is a holdout? Because not enough of us have turned out and made noise, and brought new people into the movement.

Will you join us in New York City on March 13th to say "Money for Jobs and People's Needs, not War! Rebuild Flint! Rebuild our Cities! End the wars! Defend the Black Lives Matter movement! Aid the world, stop bombing it!"

Peace Poets, Raymond Nat Turner, Lynne Stewart, Ramsey Clark, and other speakers will be there.

Will your organization help spread the word? Please let us know and get listed as part of this effort by emailing UNACpeace [at] gmail.com. Can you help in other ways? Have ideas for how to make this stronger? Please write to that same address.

In a presidential debate in December a moderator asked one of the candidates: "Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief? . . . You are OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians?"

The candidate mumbled something in response instead of shouting Hell No, as any decent person was obliged to do and as we will do on the Day of Peace and Solidarity. How are your lungs? Ready to make some noise? Join us!

Are We Willing to Pay the Price for Peace?

BrianPointing3Premiering around the end of March will be one of the best films I’ve ever seen on peace activism: Paying the Price for Peace produced by Bo Boudart and others. The film focuses on S. Brian Willson while also informing the viewer on the state of U.S. warmaking and what can be done about it.

This is a story of courageous sacrifice, dedication, excitement, adventure, solidarity, and a service truly worthy of thanking the story’s hero for. If you’re imagining that war will give your life meaning, take a look at this film and see what trying to end war could do for you.

If you dislike war or poverty or environmental destruction, take a look at this film for examples of how we can all do more to make the world better. The film inspires, rather than shaming. But it inspires with examples that many find difficult to emulate.

“You have to be willing to risk life, limb, and prison,” Willson says in the film. “Then you’re free.”

There are things I myself don’t risk because I have a family to take care of. There are things I don’t risk because I believe I can do more good writing. And then there are things I don’t risk for really no good reason at all.

I recently read a comment from someone urging others not to protest at Trump rallies, for fear someone would be killed. History does not repeat, and comparisons are always strained, but would it have been good advice not to protest Adolf Hitler’s first rally? Because someone might get killed? Doesn’t that now sound ridiculous? Don’t we have a moral duty to protest all of these candidates who support the bombing of human beings in distant lands?

If that sounds outrageous, you should really, really see Paying the Price for Peace.

Brian Willson “served” in the U.S. military in Vietnam. His job was to assess the success or failure of bombing missions. He was literally sent to examine the damage. Frequently, what he found were undefended fishing villages that had been bombed with 500 lb. bombs from not very high up, and then napalmed. He found burned bodies, sometimes in such heaps he couldn’t get over them.

Here was a good kid, star athlete, high school valedictorian, doing what he’d been told, thinking as he’d been carefully taught to think. And he concluded that war and a great many other things were fundamentally lies. He came back to the United States ready to search for and promote other ways of living. He’s been doing so ever since and will likely keep doing so for years to come, much to our benefit.

In the movie, we see Willson’s decades of travels, protests, talks, demonstrations, fastings, and bicycling tours. We see him leading by example in his personal life, living peacefully and in an environmentally sustainable manner. We also see how passionately he and others have risked everything.

During protests of the war on Vietnam shown in the film, a veteran says, “If the American people sit down and just hold their fingers up and say ‘peace,’ they don’t deserve any better than Agnew or Nixon or the rest of the people they’ve got here, because they’re doing nothing and they’re as guilty as anyone who pulled the trigger in Vietnam.”

Well, what should we do? The film is packed with ideas, and shows them to us in action. When Ronald Reagan’s Contras were massacring civilians, Brian Willson and many others from the United States, at serious risk to themselves, went to Nicaragua and walked through the war zone observing and recording — and speaking against U.S. policy.

blood on the tracks s brian willsonMost famously, Willson and others sat on train tracks in California to prevent the shipment of weapons bound for Latin America. The military train intentionally sped up and ran Willson over. It was a risk he’d been aware of and been willing to take. He lost the lower portion of both of his legs. Others, during the protests of those weapons shipments, had limbs broken by police or were locked up for months. Willson’s injury didn’t slow him down.

When he traveled abroad after that horrific crime, people in places like Nicaragua saw him as a Yankee who had paid the price that they pay when they challenge abusive powers. Willson’s actions were actions of solidarity as well as resistance, and were understood as such.

The film shows us others who have risked or paid similar prices, and others who have done small bits in the same direction (I’m in the film briefly). Included are Occupy activists facing (militarized) police violence, and whistleblowers facing prison. Daniel Ellsberg says in the film that we also need people who will risk their reelections. Indeed.

And we need more Brian Willsons. But we are quite fortunate to have the one we have. Here’s a veteran who cares about veterans but keeps matters in proper perspective, caring also about the vast majority of victims of U.S. wars. If the victims of the Vietnam War were all listed on the memorial in Washington, D.C., Willson says, it would stretch at least as far as from its current location to the base of the Washington Monument.

“If we were willing to risk our lives for a war,” says veteran Leah Bolger in the movie, “surely we can risk some discomfort for peace.”

Here’s a service that would lead me to sincerely thank you for your service: spread the word about Paying the Price for Peace.

memorial3

Is This An Uprising?

The new book This Is An Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark Engler and Paul Engler is a terrific survey of direct action strategies, bringing out many of the strengths and weaknesses of activist efforts to effect major change in the United States and around the world since well before the twenty-first century. It should be taught in every level of our schools.

This book makes the case that disruptive mass movements are responsible for more positive social change than is the ordinary legislative "endgame" that follows. The authors examine the problem of well-meaning activist institutions becoming too well established and shying away from the most effective tools available. Picking apart an ideological dispute between institution-building campaigns of slow progress and unpredictable, immeasurable mass protest, the Englers find value in both and advocate for a hybrid approach exemplified by Otpor, the movement that overthrew Milosevic.

When I worked for ACORN, I saw our members achieve numerous substantive victories, but I also saw the tide moving against them. City legislation was overturned at the state level. Federal legislation was blocked by war madness, financial corruption, and a broken communications system. Leaving ACORN, as I did, to work for the doomed presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich might look like a reckless, non-strategic choice -- and maybe it was. But bringing prominence to one of the very few voices in Congress saying what was needed on numerous issues has a value that may be impossible to measure with precision, yet some have been able to quantify.

This Is An Uprising looks at a number of activist efforts that may at first have appeared defeats and were not. I've listed previously some examples of efforts that people thought were failures for many years. The Englers' examples involve more rapid revelation of success, for those willing and able to see it. Gandhi's salt march produced little in the way of solid commitments from the British. Martin Luther King's campaign in Birmingham failed to win its demands from the city. But the salt march had an international impact, and the Birmingham campaign a national impact far greater than the immediate results. Both inspired widespread activism, changed many minds, and won concrete policy changes well beyond the immediate demands. The Occupy movement didn't last in the spaces occupied, but it altered public discourse, inspired huge amounts of activism, and won many concrete changes. Dramatic mass action has a power that legislation or one-on-one communication does not. I made a similar case recently in arguing against the idea that peace rallies fail where counter-recruitment succeeds.

The authors point to disruption, sacrifice, and escalation as key components of a successful momentum-building action, while readily admitting that not everything can be predicted. A plan of escalated disruption that involves sympathetic sacrifice by nonviolent actors, if adjusted as circumstances call for, has a chance. Occupy could have been Athens, instead of Birmingham or Selma, if the New York police had known how to control themselves. Or perhaps it was the skill of the Occupy organizers that provoked the police. In any case, it was the brutality of the police, and the willingness of the media to cover it, that produced Occupy. The authors note Occupy's many ongoing victories but also that it shrank when its public places were taken away. In fact, even as Occupiers continued to hold public space in numerous towns, its announced death in the media was accepted by those still engaged in it, and they gave up their occupations quite obediently. The momentum was gone.

An action that gains momentum, as Occupy did, taps into the energy of many people who, as the Englers write, are newly outraged by what they learn about injustice. It also, I think, taps into the energy of many people long outraged and waiting for a chance to act. When I helped organize "Camp Democracy" in Washington, D.C., in 2006, we were a bunch of radicals ready to occupy D.C. for peace and justice, but we were thinking like organizations with major resources. We were thinking about rallies with crowds bussed in by labor unions. So, we planned a wonderful lineup of speakers, arranged permits and tents, and brought together a tiny crowd of those already in agreement. We did a few disruptive actions, but that wasn't the focus. It should have been. We should have disrupted business as usual in a way carefully designed to make the cause sympathetic rather than resented or feared.

When many of us planned an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., in 2011 we had somewhat bigger plans for disruption, sacrifice, and escalation, but in the days just before we set up camp, those New York police put Occupy in the news at a 1,000-year flood level. An occupy camp appeared nearby us in D.C., and when we marched through the streets, people joined us, because of what they'd seen from New York on their televisions. I'd never witnessed that before. A lot of the actions we engaged in were disruptive, but we may have had too much of a focus on the occupation. We celebrated the police backing down on efforts to remove us. But we needed a way to escalate.

We also, I think, refused to accept that where the public sympathy had been created was for victims of Wall Street. Our original plan had involved what we saw as an appropriately large focus on war, in fact on the interlocking evils that King identified as militarism, racism, and extreme materialism. The dumbest action I was part of was probably our attempt to protest a pro-war exhibit at the Air and Space Museum. It was dumb because I sent people straight into pepper spray and should have scouted ahead to avoid that. But it was also dumb because even relatively progressive people were, in that moment, unable to hear the idea of opposing war, much less opposing the glorification of militarism by museums. They couldn't even hear the idea of opposing the "puppets" in Congress. One had to take on the puppet masters to be understood at all, and the puppet masters were the banks. "You switched from banks to the Smithsonian!?" In fact, we'd never focused on banks, but explanations weren't going to work. What was needed was to accept the moment.

What made that moment still looks, in large part, like luck. But unless smart strategic efforts are made to create such moments, they don't happen on their own. I'm not sure we can announce on day 1 of anything "This is an uprising!" but we can at least continually ask ourselves "Is this an uprising?" and keep ourselves aimed toward that goal.

This book's subtitle is "How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century." But nonviolent revolt as opposed to what? Virtually nobody is proposing violent revolt in the United States. Mostly this book is proposing nonviolent revolt rather than nonviolent compliance with the existing system, nonviolent tweaking of it within its own rules. But cases are also examined of nonviolent overthrows of dictators in various countries. The principles of success seem to be identical regardless of the type of government a group is up against.

But there is, of course, advocacy for violence in the United States -- advocacy so enormous that no one can see it. I've been teaching a course on war abolition, and the most intractable argument for the massive U.S. investment in violence is "What if we have to defend ourselves from a genocidal invasion?"

So it would have been nice had the authors of This Is An Uprising addressed the question of violent invasions. If we were to remove from our culture the fear of the "genocidal invasion," we could remove from our society trillion-dollar-a-year militarism, and with it the primary promotion of the idea that violence can succeed. The Englers note the damage that straying into violence does to nonviolent movements. Such straying would end in a culture that ceased believing violence can succeed.

I have a hard time getting students to go into much detail about their feared "genocidal invasion," or to name examples of such invasions. In part this may be because I preemptively go into great length about how World War II might have been avoided, what a radically different world from today's it occurred in, and how successful nonviolent actions were against the Nazis when attempted. Because, of course, "genocidal invasion" is mostly just a fancy phrase for "Hitler." I asked one student to name some genocidal invasions not engaged in or contributed to by either the U.S. military or Hitler. I reasoned that genocidal invasions produced by the U.S. military couldn't fairly be used to justify the U.S. military's existence.

I tried to produce my own list. Erica Chenoweth cites the Indonesian invasion of East Timor, where armed resistance failed for years but nonviolent resistance succeeded. A Syrian invasion of Lebanon was ended by nonviolence in 2005. Israel's genocidal invasions of Palestinian lands, while fueled by U.S. weapons, have been resisted more successfully thus far by nonviolence than violence. Going back in time, we could look at the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia 1968 or the German invasion of the Ruhr in 1923. But most of these, I was told, are not proper genocidal invasions. Well, what are?

My student gave me this list: "The Great Sioux War of 1868, The Holocaust, Israel's genocidal invasions of Palestinian lands." I objected that one was U.S.-armed in recent years, one was Hitler, and one was many many years ago. He then produced the alleged example of Bosnia. Why not the even more common case of Rwanda, I don't know. But neither was an invasion exactly. Both were completely avoidable horrors, one used as an excuse for war, one allowed to continue for the purpose of a desired regime change.

This is the book that I think we still need, the book that asks what works best when your nation is invaded. How can the people of Okinawa remove the U.S. bases? Why couldn't the people of the Philippines keep them out after they did remove them? What would it take for the people of the United States to remove from their minds the fear of "genocidal invasion" that dumps their resources into war preparations that produce war after war, risking nuclear apocalypse?

Do we dare tell the Iraqis they must not fight back while our bombs are falling? Well, no, because we ought to be engaged 24-7 in trying to stop the bombing. But the supposed impossibility of advising Iraqis of a more strategic response than fighting back, oddly enough, constitutes a central defense of the policy of building more and more bombs with which to bomb the Iraqis. That has to be ended.

For that we'll need a This Is An Uprising that objects to U.S. empire.

He’s the best, but is he all we need?: The ‘Bern’ and the Internet

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Bernie Sanders' stunning success in the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, highlighted by what is effectively a victory in the Iowa caucuses this past Monday, provokes serious thinking about what a Sanders presidency would look like.

The True Nobel Peace Candidates 2016

This list is still being added to at http://www.nobelwill.org/index.html?tab=7

Letter Feb. 2, 2016 from the Nobel Peace Prize Watch to the Nobel Committee:

Dear Kaci Kullmann Five, Thorbjørn Jagland, Berit Reiss-Andersen, Henrik Syse, Inger-
Marie Ytterhorn, members of the committee

If a Social Movement Falls Outside of the Media, Are Any Lives Improved?

When We Fight We Win! is the overly violent and overly optimistic title of a very good new book about recent nonviolent social struggles in the United States for LGBTQ rights, immigrants rights, economic justice, public education, a sustainable environment, and an end to mass incarceration.

My initial response to this book was very different from my considered response.

My initial response to a table of contents like the one in this book is always: Where the hell is war? Don't they know that war eats up all the money that could solve all these problems with ease? Haven't they considered that immigrants are refugees from war? That discrimination and hate feed off war? That the top destroyer of the environment is the military -- which destroys the environment in the process of killing people for oil with which to destroy the environment?! Goddamn it, when did acceptance of mass murder become progressive?!

Then I calm down a bit, wipe the blood off my forehead, pick up the broken dishes, apologize to the owner of the coffee shop, and read the book.

By the end of this book, I was wondering why a completely different topic was missing, or rather, why it wasn't in the headline since its shadow so dominates almost every page. That topic is media reform / media production.

The chapter on LGBTQ rights reminds us of the length and complexity of the struggle, and of how much it has been a struggle of communication. The chapter itself, like the rest of the book, is in fact not so much devoted to analyzing activist strategies as to actually engaging in the strategy of communicating the stories of the relevant people. The book is an act of communication, and such acts are the heart of the activism described.

Accounts of successes are inspiring, even if we harbor doubts that the oligarchy really objects to LGBTQ rights. But the point of the chapter is largely to do what a truly democratic television channel or newspaper or online journal could do: show us what is unfair, make us feel suffering, bring us in on people's struggles for justice, convert us to the cause.

When it comes to the defense of public education, we're dealing with a struggle against vast wealth, and it is mostly a losing struggle, but this book focuses on successes, including in Chicago where Rahm Emanuel got a little too greedy. The lessons learned include the need to organize and build personal relationships, but also the need to communicate through the media and through artwork and by aligning teachers with parents and community in a major struggle for huge goals, not technical details.

With mass incarceration and the environment we see potential in divestment campaigns and, again, the need to build large coalitions. But a big focus is media reform in the piecemeal sense of forcing the worst programing, such as Cops, off the air via public pressure. ColorofChange.org targets prisons by targeting ugly and racist portrayals of black men on television. (Peace groups have done the same with war shows.) Immigrants rights groups have persuaded the Associated Press to stop calling people "illegal."

They've also moved President Obama by standing up to him -- and meeting with him but refusing to shake his hand, refusing to censor outrage -- and by threatening to make news advancing their cause with one of his party's Republican rivals. Longtime organizer Marshall Ganz "advised the activists that their story could be their most potent tool for social change." The media attention given to the Occupy movement is also recorded as a successful tool for social change, and for state-level reforms that have been achieved in housing and lending.

It's not that everything is communications, or the media is all that matters, but the media is hugely important. You can watch Bernie Sanders in 1988 propose that labor unions and progressives pool their money and create media outlets. Apart from some small but significant steps on the internet, that's never really happened. I used to work for the AFL-CIO and lobby it to create media outlets, and it chose to put everything into pitching stories to the corporate media.

Seen any good stories about the struggles of working people in the corporate media lately?

And yet somehow Bernie Sanders, who's had the right positions on media reform for decades, has found his way into what amounts to a massive amount of media attention for someone saying something decent -- a significant percentage even of the media coverage Joe Biden received for not entering the presidential race; Sanders may even reach double figures in time spent belittling him as a percentage of the time spent hyping Donald Trump in the media. That could be worth many millions of dollars.

Bernie Sanders' platform is, of course, the same as the table of contents of When We Fight We Win. He's not communicating much, if anything, about peace as an alternative to war. But he's communicating a similar message to Occupy's about wealth and economic justice. If people actually don't know what Scandinavian countries do, or if people literally can't imagine funding education and retirement rather than billionaires, Bernie could be a single-handed movement for change. At the moment, I think he is.

But to the extent that what people learn is that a movement should be a presidential candidate, and should live or die with that candidate, then they are learning a deeply flawed lesson with great potential for debilitating disappointment and despair.

On all of the topics in When We Fight We Win, Bernie advances the discussion beyond where the usual candidates take it. If the media does to him what I've long assumed it will do, or if -- as I certainly hope -- it doesn't, the question will be the same: how can we seize opportunities to accomplish larger and more lasting steps forward, building on anything that anyone learned from his campaign?

A good place to start is with When We Fight We Win.

Leaked EPA Document Showing Water Contamination Could Be Smoking Gun in Federal Lawsuit

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A PowerPoint presentation obtained from a source and published by DeSmog in August 2013 has made its way into a major hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") related legal case, which is set to go to trial soon in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

The Struggle for Merdeka in West Papua

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

 

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