You are hereActivism
by Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait We learned while in a strange, airless, windowless trailer-like military court at the infamous Ft. Meade, during the trial of Bradley Manning on Thursday, June 28, that the U.S. military has blocked access, worldwide, for anyone in the military to the website of The Guardian, apparently in reaction to the leaks by Edward Snowden on vast surveillance of whole populations by the National Security Administration. Ironically, or not, Ft. Meade is the home of the NSA.
On Wednesday, July 10, at 7:15 p.m. the great Naro Cinema in Norfolk Va will be screening the great film Dirty Wars, and I'll be leading a discussion at the conclusion of the screening of the issues covered by the film and actions that can be taken. (The film itself is about 90 minutes.)
Public Support Grows for Snowden in Europe: Germany and France Should offer NSA Whistleblower Asylum
By Dave Lindorff
Europeans are pissed off at the US, in the wake of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s latest revelation that the US was aggressively spying on its European allies, both at their and the European Union’s embassies in Washington, and in Europe itself, gleaning not information about terrorism, but inside-track knowledge about trade negotiation positions and other areas of disagreement or negotiation.
I just returned to my home in Wisconsin after spending four days in the Washington, DC area, participating in two actions against drones organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR). I flew to DC on Thursday. On Friday we returned to the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria, VA to follow up on the criminal complaint we filed in May, and on Saturday we did an action at the CIA where six of us were arrested. I had purchased a one-way ticket to fly out there because I did not know when I would be able to return home.
By Alfredo Lopez
In one of the most innovative uses of the bizarre rules of international travel, whistle-blower Edward Snowden sits in an airport transit lounge outside the customs barrier that is Russian enough to not invade but not Russian enough to claim the Russians are hiding him. He has now reportedly applied for asylum in Russia.
Brazilian Protesters Force Improvements in Public Services (If in U.S. You Are Advised to Ignore the Example)
Ft. Hood command still plan to deploy private to Afghanistan despite CO claim
Killeen, Texas - A soldier seeking a discharge from the Army based on a conscientious objection to war has been told by the command at Fort Hood that it still intends to deploy him to Afghanistan sometime in the coming weeks.
Private Second Class Christopher Munoz, 22, applied for a C.O. (conscientious objector) discharge on June 25, 2013. He has also asked for his deployment to be delayed until request for discharge would be given a fair hearing.
Servicemembers are eligible for C.O. status if they can prove to military authorities that they are opposed to all wars, and that the opposition is grounded in religious belief or moral conviction that is sincere and occurred at some point after enlistment. PV2 Munoz's application asserts that he qualified for this status according to the provisions of Army Regulation 600-43.
As a C.O applicant, PV2 Munoz cannot be made to carry weapons or munitions if deployed.
“If deployed, PV2 Munoz will be at significant risk for harassment by his fellow soldiers since he will effectively be a 'dead weight' on the unit. Despite these very real risks, PV2 Munoz's command has said that a delay of his deployment will not be considered,” said James M. Branum, an attorney who represents PV2 Munoz.
Click Read More to learn more about the case and see how you can help.
240 people came together on short notice on June 19,2013 in The Great Hall of Cooper Union in NYC, and hundreds more watched online as we united to say “We will not be complicit... We DO NOT Consent.” The room reverberated with outrage, support for Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, and, in some cases, newly acquired knowledge of the crime against humanity unfolding at Guantanamo, where over 100 prisoners are on a hunger strike.
By Dave Lindorff
Would you be shocked to learn that the FBI apparently knew that some organization, perhaps even a law enforcement agency or private security outfit, had contingency plans to assassinate peaceful protestors in a major American city — and did nothing to intervene?
Bradley Manning has supporters around the U.S. and the world who recognize him as a hero. But in the fourth week of his trial, those attending it, joined by some press, are being taunted by the prosecutor because the public seats in the courtroom are not filled every day.
Phil Mickelson's Choice, Support Corporate Criminals or Social Justice?
Forbes Magazine lists Phil Mickelson as the world's 7th highest paid athlete, with prize money earnings of $4.8 million and endorsements of $43 million for a very comfortable $47.8 million a year.[i] With his beaming smile, swashbuckling style of play, beautiful wife and children, $47.8 million a year; one could call them the All American Family.
When the wealthy nations of the world meet as the G8 or in any other gathering, it's interesting to imagine what they would do if they followed the golden rule, valued grandchildren, disliked unnecessary suffering, or wished to outgrow ancient forms of barbarism, or any combination of those.
The United States alone is perfectly capable, if it chooses, of enacting a global marshall plan, or -- better -- a global rescue plan. Every year the United States spends, through various governmental departments, roughly $1.2 trillion on war and war preparations. Every year the United States foregoes well over $1 trillion in taxes that billionaires and centimillionaires and corporations should be paying.
If we understand that out-of-control military spending is making us less safe, rather than more -- just as Eisenhower warned and so many current experts agree -- it is clear that reducing military spending is a critical end in itself. If we add to that the understanding that military spending hurts, rather than helping, economic well-being, the imperative to reduce it is that much clearer.
If we understand that wealth in the United States is concentrated at medieval levels and that this concentration is destroying representative government, social cohesion, morality in our culture, and the pursuit of happiness for millions of people, it is clear that taxing extreme wealth and income are critical ends in themselves.
Still missing from our calculation is the unimaginably huge consideration of what we are not now doing but easily could do. It would cost us $30 billion per year to end hunger around the world. We just spent nearly $90 billion for another year of the "winding down" war on Afghanistan. Which would you rather have: three years of children not dying of hunger all over the earth, or year #13 of killing people in the mountains of central Asia? Which do you think would make the United States better liked around the world?
It would cost us $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water. We're spending $20 billion per year on just one of the well-known useless weapons systems that the military doesn't really want but which serves to make someone rich who controls Congress members and the White House with legalized campaign bribery and the threat of job elimination in key districts. Of course, such weapons begin to look justified once their manufacturers begin selling them to other countries too. Raise your hand if you think giving the world clean water would make us better liked abroad and safer at home.
For similar affordable amounts, the United States, with or without its wealthy allies, could provide the earth with education, programs of environmental sustainability, encouragement to empower women with rights and responsibilities, the elimination of major diseases, etc. For those who recognize the environmental crisis as another critical demand as urgent in its own right as the war-making crisis, the plutocracy crisis, or the unmet human needs crisis, a global rescue plan that invests in green energy and sustainable practices appears even more powerfully to be the moral demand of our time.
War-ending, earth-saving projects could be made profitable, just as prisons and coal mines and predatory lending are made profitable now by public policy. War-profiteering could be banned or rendered impractical. We have the resources, knowledge, and ability. We don't have the political will. The chicken-and-egg problem traps us. We can't take steps to advance democracy in the absence of democracy. A female face on an elite ruling class won't solve this. We can't compel our nation's government to treat other nations with respect when it has no respect even for us. A program of foreign aid imposed by imperial-minded arrogance won't work. Spreading subservience under the banner of "democracy" won't save us. Imposing peace through armed "peace-keepers" prepared to kill won't work. Disarming only so-much, while continuing to suppose that a "good war" might be needed, won't get us far. We need a better view of the world and a way to impose it on officials who can be made to actually represent us.
Such a project is possible, and understanding how easy it would be for powerful officials to enact a global rescue plan is part of how we can motivate ourselves to demand it. The money is available several times over. The globe we have to rescue will include our own country as well. We don't have to suffer more than we are suffering now in order to greatly benefit others. We can invest in health and education and green infrastructure in our own towns as well as others' for less than we now dump into bombs and billionaires.
Such a project would do well to consider programs of public service that involve us directly in the work to be done, and in the decisions to be made. Priority could be given to worker-owned and worker-run businesses. Such projects could avoid an unnecessary nationalistic focus. Public service, whether mandatory or voluntary, could include options to work for foreign and internationally run programs as well as those based in the United States. The service, after all, is to the world, not just one corner of it. Such service could include peace work, human shield work, and citizen diplomacy. Student exchange and public-servant exchange programs could add travel, adventure, and cross-cultural understanding. Nationalism, a phenomenon younger than and just as eliminable as war, would not be missed.
You may say I'm a dreamer. We number in the hundreds of millions.
World Can't Wait Left Forum Panel - 6/16/2013
Eleven years since the building of the US prison at Guantánamo, and nine years after disclosures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, US policy has settled into de facto indefinite detention of thousands. Included in the Democratic Party talking points of 2008 was a call to close Guantánamo; in 2012 they did not discuss it. Meanwhile, the largest body of prisoners held without the right to habeas corpus is in the US prison at Bagram, Afghanistan. The majority of prisoners at Guantánamo began a hunger strike in Feburary 2013 as a desperate call for public attention, as conditions for them have worsened under Obama.
EMERGENCY CALL TO ACTION
The White House, Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2013
Lynne Stewart's health is in rapid decline.
We must take collective action creating a highly public presence in Washington, D.C. A Compassionate Release was recommended months ago by Warden Jody R. Upton, under whose watch Lynne has been incarcerated at Carswell Federal Prison. Compassionate Release papers remain sitting on the desk of Director, Charles E. Samuels, Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Prisons waiting to be signed. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is under the political leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.
Lynne's life hangs in the balance.
What will we do?
On Monday, June 24, 2013 at the White House, we will gather to continue "a long vigil for a long struggle" calling for Lynne Stewart's release.
It is urgent that we stand along side Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart's husband, demanding that Lynne Stewart be granted Compassionate Release before it is too late.
Reclaim Solidarity... Imagine Justice.
THE RIGHT TO RETURN HOME:
RELEASE LYNNE STEWART
Gathering Daily from
June 24, 2013 Onward
The White House
Travel assistance is available.
Please RSVP and spread the word on Facebook.
For more information write to:
RELEASE LYNNE STEWART
U.S. Federal Prison Carswell, Texas
April 26, 2013
Times Square, NYC
May 8, 2013
Foley Square, NYC
May 15, 2013
Federal Bureau of Prisons, Washington, D.C.
June 5, 2013
Foley Square, NYC
May 15, 2013
In Lynne's own words, "until my feet are planted like the Tree that grows in Brooklyn and I am around my friends, family and comrades... we must continue. Fight On!!"
WE WILL NOT BE SILENT is an artist/activist collective that has been in existence since 2006. Through the creative use of language embodied on shirts and at times emboldened on signs held up in public spaces, we respond to current social justice issues, encouraging creative, direct public-actions where many people can participate.
FACEBOOK / TWITTER
Through an act of tremendous courage and self-sacrifice, Edward Snowden has revealed the most massive government spying in history into the communications and activities of billions of people on the planet.
Peace and justice activist, Cindy Sheehan and Tour de Peace will be joining the husband of unjustly imprisoned attorney, Lynne Stewart, in vigil in front of the White House at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 21st.
Lynne Stewart has stage 4 cancer and is petitioning for compassionate release from Carswell Medical Facility in Ft. Worth, Texas. The warden there has agreed, and the friends and family of Lynne Stewart are only awaiting the U.S. Department of Justice to agree also.
This summer three national gatherings of activists will converge on Madison, Wisconsin, allowing for cross-fertilization and creative planning of future actions for peace and justice in the United States. YOU are invited.
Talk Nation Radio speaks with Roshan Bliss of the Student Power Convergence, Ben Manski of Democracy Convention, and Doug Rawlings of Veterans For Peace.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
If you're like me you've read several books that list inspiring examples of worker owned businesses and co-ops, suggesting that expanding on such models might begin to right the wrongs of an incredibly unequal society that is growing even more unequal by the day.
The best such collection I've found is in a new book by Gar Alperovitz called What Then Must We Do? This book also offers a powerful argument that radical change is needed, albeit an argument with some possible flaws. First the inspiring examples:
Workers own and run factories in Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington DC, Amarillo, and many other cities. Labor unions that once opposed worker ownership, including the Steelworkers and several others, now create worker-owned companies. Forty percent of Americans are members of cooperatives, including credit unions. People moved hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, from large banks to credit unions and small banks in 2011 and 2012. (That should continue!) Then there are community development corporations and land trusts, alive and thriving. There are even corporations redesigned, and labeled B Corps, chartered under new laws in 12 states to allow them to legally pursue the social good as well as profits.
Employee stock ownership plans make U.S. workers owners of their businesses in great numbers -- three million more than are members of unions in the private sector. Federal tax incentives (don't tell Congress!) encourage business owners to sell to their employees. Worker-owned firms are becoming more common. They are also more profitable than other similar companies.
It occurs to me that we need a Union-Label type operation to label and catalog the products of worker-owned companies so that we can put our support there.
Local governments are investing in local businesses and land development. A quarter of U.S. electricity comes from publicly owned co-ops. These power companies are more efficient and tend to be greener. The model is being followed by public broadband service. Proposals that meet the textbook definition of socialism are alive and growing in red and blue states alike, and at the local and state levels.
This matters because the national government in the United States is so thoroughly corrupted. I'm not sure Alperovitz ever directly answers the question of how a national plutocracy will be prevented from halting local and state progress on the ownership question, as it has halted local and state progress on other matters. If the trend toward democratizing ownership is happening under the radar, how can it possibly be kept there while succeeding on the necessary scale? If this approach to economic justice is somehow more inherently "American" than other more foreign ideas, how exactly does that protect it? Weren't family farms and free elections and the Fourth Amendment deemed very American at one point too? Alperovitz recommends a state-by-state approach to single-payer healthcare, but the refusal of California legislators to enact it has come at the bidding of those in Washington. None of which is to suggest that Alperovitz is wrong to promote this strategy -- just that it may be very difficult, and some other strategies may help too.
Alperovitz frames his discussion within an understanding of serious systemic failure. Persistent long-term trends toward income and wealth inequality, monopolized corporate power, mass incarceration, and environmental devastation churn ahead in the face of elections, activism, lobbying, and reform legislation, not to mention flip-flopping between Republican and Democratic so-called "leadership." Alperovitz paints these as even longer term trends than we often suppose by dismissing the gains of the middle of the 20th century as an aberration produced by the Great Depression and World War II, and as gains that could not have come without a large labor movement -- something he now deems virtually impossible.
Most activist groups, Alperovitz points out, react to cuts in public services by demanding no cuts. This is purely defensive. Alperovitz acknowledges that some also advocate for progressive taxation, but deems this "obviously inadequate" although the obviousness of its inadequacy is not apparent to me, except in the sense that (just like the worker-ownership model) it hasn't succeeded yet on a major scale. Yes, the plutocrats buy the elections. The system is rigged against tax reform. But the goal of advancing the taxation (and elimination) of billionaires as power is gradually obtained seems critical.
Alperovitz seems at times to buy into the notion that there just isn't enough money around, even if the billionaires were to be taxed at 90 percent. But this is wrong, of course. The nation is rolling in money, and the money is piled up in the hands of several hundred people.
It's somewhere else as well, somewhere Alperovitz doesn't propose to look for it. President Obama's proposed budget for 2014 devotes 57% of discretionary spending to an illegal, immoral, counterproductive, and economically destructive operation known as war and preparation for war. While Alperovitz suggests that World War III could save the U.S. economy (were a new world war possible, which he says it isn't), economists say military spending as it exists does less for the economy than other public spending and even less than tax cuts for working people; that is to say, it is worse than nothing.
Alperovitz seems unaware that roughly half of military spending is outside the Pentagon, in Homeland Security, in the CIA, in the State Department, in the Energy Department, etc. So he uses the Pentagon budget alone to argue that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP. This does not of course make it low in terms of actual dollars or as a percentage of global military spending or as a percentage of public spending in the United States. Alperovitz believes there's little money for spending on human needs, but seems not to notice where 57% of discretionary spending is going.
While Alperovitz raises the topic of healthcare because it takes up, he says, 20 percent of GDP, the war machine that swallows 8 or 9 percent of GDP from U.S. government purchases alone (U.S. companies also dominating international weapons sales) gets no consideration. Leo Tolstoy, from whom the book's title is borrowed, would have noticed the existence of the military industrial complex. He would have considered the possibility of economic conversion. Connecticut created a commission this month to pursue conversion from war to peace manufacturing. I suspect Alperovitz would like that model if he took a look at it.
So, here's where I come down. We should be pursuing everything Alperovitz recommends, and then some. We should create worker ownership, tax the rich, cut the military, invest in our society, and act strategically at the local, state, and national levels. We should take very seriously long-term structural failures and stop imagining that another election will fix anything by itself. And we should, as Alperovitz wisely recommends, be preparing the ground for the best possible activism when a moment of greater possibilities arrives, or when we have succeeded in creating it.
A Cure for War – With Limitations.
by Erin Niemela
Earlier this week I wrote an editorial proposing a 28th constitutional amendment to abolish war. The NSA scandal, I argue, is tied to the more pervasive problem of violent foreign (and domestic) policy, and we’ll continue to see government abuses so long as war and inter-state military violence are the acceptable choices for conflict management. David Swanson, author of the brilliant history, “When the World Outlawed War,” thoughtfully responded to my plea by urging us to recall and reignite the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, an existing international pact renouncing war signed and ratified by the US president and Senate.
I agree with Mr. Swanson that any efforts to end war should point to existing law, and we agree that abolishing war is possible and necessary. However, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is not without its limitations, and a fresh, people-driven constitutional amendment could both address those limitations and offer current, culturally relevant and legally dispositive reinforcement.
We will not be Complicit…We DO NOT Consent! No Government Spying on Whole Populations.
Hands Off Snowden & Manning. Close Guantanamo NOW.
An Evening of Conscience: Hands Off Snowden & Manning! Close Guantanamo NOW!
The Great Hall at Cooper Union, Manhattan June 19,2013 - 7pm
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a pretty sad spectacle watching the US Congress toading up to the National Security Agency. With the exception of a few stalwarts like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and to a lesser extent Ron Wyden (D-OR), most of the talk in the halls of Congress is about how to keep the army of Washington private contractors from accessing too many of the government’s secrets (which need to be protected by government employees!), and about whether to try NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden for treason.
“If Music be the Food of Love…”
Piano concert in Taksim. Via @sinanchakmak
Istanbul, June 14, 1201 hrs.
Every revolution needs its heroes. Ours is called Davide. He is the pianoman.
Yesterday and tonight he has been playing in Taksim for twelve hours straight, until ten o’ clock in the morning. When the rain started, people held a canvas over him and his piano, and he continued to play. ‘Imagine’, ‘Let it be’, ‘We are the World’, ‘Bella Ciao’, etc. etc. Fifty meters away there was a row of police buses and water cannons ready for the final attack. On the other side, candles were burning in honour of the people who died in the protest.
Already over 30,000 people have signed a thank-you note to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at SupportEdwardSnowden.org -- a website set up by RootsAction.org.
The note reads: "We thank Edward Snowden for his principled and courageous actions as a whistleblower, informing the public about vast surveillance by the National Security Agency that undermines our civil liberties."
A few of the thousands of comments added read as follows:
"Your courage and integrity give hope to a hardened cynic. I will do what I can to raise awareness and campaign for change, and for your personal safety and liberty. Thank you."
"If only we had more people with your courage and convictions. You have helped restore my faith in humanity."
"What you've done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks."
"Your character and courage are inspirational. I only hope that if put in the same position I would do the right thing, as you have. Thank you for your lesson in being a human."
"'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' --George Orwell. Thank you."
"Thank you for your courageous actions in the defence of democracy, liberty and justice. You have demonstrated the highest form of loyalty and for that you have my respect and admiration. Good luck."
"They are trying to make a criminal out of the person who exposed the crime!"
"Just think how this world would be if everyone did the right thing! Thank you Edward."
"Your courage is so rare -- thank you for this brave action to defend the 4th amendment. Wishing you well."
"Thanks for calling attention to the Police State that we have become."
"Thank you, Edward. We can no longer say, as did people in Nazi Germany, that they didn't know what was going on."
"Thank you for stepping up for freedom. I am proud to join with the people of the world in applauding your conscience."
"Thank you for your honesty, incredible sacrifice, and clarity. We will not allow the government or the media call this anything less than a courageous move and wake up call to resuscitate Democracy."
"I can't thank you enough for this act of courage and personal sacrifice. You give me hope that the forces of oppression can eventually be overcome."
"Your bravery and your actions are more than commendable. I stand with you. Keep your spirit up in the challenges ahead. Thank you for standing up for Democracy and your fellow citizens. Well done. You are a true hero."
"Bravery for principle is very contagious, thank you!"
"Thank You Edward. 'The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.' - -Albert Einstein"
"You and Bradley Manning are my heroes. I am proud of you."
"Thank you for stepping forward and putting your life at risk to save our precious liberties. Thank you for believing in the bill of rights. Thank you for doing what is right even when our government prohibits it. Thank you for your efforts to stop the decline into the novel '1984'."
"Finally someone with guts."
"Bravo, Edward! You are an inspiration to all freedom-loving people!"
"Thank you for your courageous actions. I hope this will be contagious and result in many more stepping out to join you in exposing the terrible state of freedom here."
"Thank you for letting me know just how far towards fascism my supposedly democratic country has slid, all in the name of 'keeping me safe'. I salute your courage."
"Thank you Edward. We're with you all the way."
The note will be delivered to Snowden with all signatures and comments that anyone adds at SupportEdwardSnowden.org
firedoglake.com journalist Kevin Gosztola has been reporting on the Bradley Manning trial. On Sunday Gosztola was at World Can't Wait Left Forum panel and discussed the historical importance of the Bradley Manning case, the military’s efforts to muzzle the press, and the prosecution’s notion that Manning lacked agency — Gosztola disputed the Army’s assertion that Manning acted as an “agent” of wikileaks, hence committed espionage.
Attorney Jesselyn Radack also spoke at the Left Forum panel on whistleblowers. Radak discussed the treatment whistleblowers receive from the Government as well as her own experiences as an attorney who represented pariahs — individuals some regard as people of conscience but whom the federal government sees as enemies of the state.
Former NSA employee Thomas Drake spoke at the World Can't Wait Left Forum panel on Sunday. Drake discussed his attempts to report “high crimes and misdemeanors,” committed by intelligence agencies after 9/11, to the federal government. Drake recalled how his life changed after he became the subject of an FBI investigation in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities.