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Too Little Whistleblowing on Vietman

The Lasting Pain from Vietnam Silence

May 1, 2015

Editor Note:  Many reflections on America’s final days in Vietnam miss the point, pondering whether the war could have been won or lamenting the fate of U.S. collaborators left behind. The bigger questions are why did the U.S. go to war and why wasn’t the bloodletting stopped sooner, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern reflects.

By Ray McGovern

Ecclesiastessays there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. The fortieth anniversary of the ugly end of the U.S. adventure in Vietnam is a time to speak – and especially of the squandered opportunities that existed earlier in the war to blow the whistle and stop the killing.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - May 2, 2015


VIDEO: 'Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweize responds to criticism - MSNBC


VIDEO: 'Clinton Cash’ author Peter Schweize defends book - Fox News


Charges fly over alleged Indian money to Clintons to push nuclear deal - The Times of India


Hotelier Alleges He Paid Off Hillary Clinton to push India nuclear deal - Oyster.com


Indian Congress Wants Inquiry Into 'Clinton Cash' Donations Of Party Leader - Breitbart


VIDEO: White House on Clinton Foundation: No evidence to indicate that those contributions had any impact on any policy decisions - ijreview


Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal - NYTimes.com


Canadian Charity's Revenue Dropped Substantially the Year Hillary Clinton Resigned as Secretary of State - Breitbart


Uranium Company's Lobbyist Podesta Has Clinton Ties - The Daily Caller


Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Podesta Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar - Steve Horn


Bill Clinton paid $2.5 million in speaking fees by firms that lobbied Hillary - ibtimes


181 Clinton Foundation donors who lobbied Hillary's State Department - Vox


Goldman Paid Bill Clinton $200,000 For Speech Before Bank Lobbied Hillary Clinton - ibtimes


Clinton cash — the GE-Algeria connection - Power Line


GE CEO: I will not release the Hillary emails during the period in which GE was donating to the Clinton Foundation - The Daily Caller


Inside Morocco’s Campaign To Influence Hillary Clinton and Other U.S. Leaders - The Intercept


Firms tied to Clintons profited in post-quake Haiti - Fox News


VIDEO (Full Report): The Tangled Clinton Web – Fox News Reporting


11 Explosive Clinton Cash Facts Mainstream Media Confirm are Accurate - Government Accountability Institute


Twenty-Plus Errors, Fabrications, And Distortions In Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash - Media Matters for America


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Canadian Partnership Shielded Identities of 1,100 Donors to Clinton Foundation - NYTimes.com

 

Clinton charity never provided foreign donor data as required under White House agreement, Boston group admits to mistakes - Boston Globe


Clinton charities will refile tax returns after Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments - Reuters


VIDEO: Clinton Broke Confirmation Hearing Promise To Disclose Foreign Donations - CBS


VIDEO: State Department Spokeswoman: I Don't 'Automatically Assume Problematic' Hillary Broke White House Disclosure Agreement - Breitbart


Common Cause Urges Independent Audit of Donations to Clinton Foundation - Common Cause


Watchdog: Clinton foundation got $140 million in cash and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid, bulk of windfall spent on administration, travel, salaries and bonuses - New York Post


VIDEO: Report: Clinton Foundation gives only 10 percent to charity - Fox News


Clinton Foundation in tailspin, Donors are having second thoughts about big giving as accusations fly about Hillary Clinton’s role - POLITICO


Clinton Charities Raked in Millions of Taxpayer Dollars - Washington Free Beacon


Clinton Foundation distributed useless drugs to AIDS patients - wnd.com

 

JW Sues State Dept for Clinton's iPad and iPhone Records - judicialwatch.org


Watchdog blasts State Dept., Clintons after four-year battle for documents - Fox News


State Department allowing Clinton Foundation to approve emails for release - WashingtonExaminer.com


Trey Gowdy: I might take Hillary Clinton's word on emails if it’s under oath - Washington Times


Boehner on Hillary emails: 'These things just don't go away' - WashingtonExaminer.com


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POLL: Americans doubt Clinton's honesty after emails - AP


POLL: 63% Think Hillary Clinton May Have Helped Foreign Donors As Secretary of State - Rasmussen Reports


POLL: In Virginia Republicans gaining on Clinton - The Washington Post


POLL: Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul closest Republicans to Hillary Clinton in Iowa - Washington Times


Want to know what sets Bernie Sanders apart from Hillary Clinton? Look at their donors - Vox


Hillary Clinton a Free Trader, or Not, Depending on the Moment - Bloomberg Politics


Why Larry Flynt Is Endorsing Hillary Clinton (VIDEO) - Bloomberg Politics

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

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Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Anthony "Tony" Podesta began lobbying in late 2013 on behalf of a company co-owned by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum aiming to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the global market. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, former top climate change adviser to President Barack Obama and current top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid for president

Tony Podesta Golden Pass LNG

Brother of Hillary Clinton's Top Campaign Aide Lobbied for Fracked Gas Export Terminal Co-Owned by Qatar

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Anthony "Tony" Podesta began lobbying in late 2013 on behalf of a company co-owned by ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum aiming to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the global market. Tony is the brother of John Podesta, former top climate change adviser to President Barack Obama and current top campaign aide for Hillary Clinton's 2016 bid for president

Tony Podesta Golden Pass LNG

Invest in Activism, Not Bernie Sanders

Yes, Bernie Sanders would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton.

That requires a bit of elaboration. Something I just scraped off my shoe would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton, but Sanders would actually be good in a whole lot of ways. He has numerous imperfections, but the contrast with Clinton is like day to night.

I'd rather have him running than not.

But please do not give him or Hillary or the wonderful Jill Stein or any other candidate a dime or a moment of your life. Instead, join the movement that's in the streets of Baltimore opposing police murder, that's in the halls of the United Nations pushing to abolish nukes, that's blocking mountaintop removal, divesting from Israel, advancing renewable energy, and struggling to create fair elections through steps like automatic registration in Oregon, and pushing legislation to provide free media, match small donors, give each voter a tax credit to contribute, or take the power to establish plutocracy away from the Supreme Court. 

I'm not against elections. I think we should have one some day. At the presidential level we do not currently have elections. That office is not up for election; it is up for sale.

The point is not that we should abandon all hope or that when the going gets tough we should just give up. The point is that there is a huge opportunity here. Hillary Clinton expects to bring in billions (with a B) in bribery for her campaign (primary and general). To begin to compete with Hillary, Sanders would have to bring in a big chunk of that, at least some hundreds of millions of dollars.

For that kind of money we could create a television network dedicated to peace and justice and democracy from here on out. Or we could open a counter-recruiting office next-door to every military recruitment office in the United States. Or we could organize and bus people in for the largest and longest march on Washington against racism, militarism, extreme materialism, and the corruption of our elections ever seen, complete with food supplies and bail funds for as long as it takes. Instead of a march for nothing, how about an occupation for no more Bushes or Clintons or anyone like them?

The complete breakdown of the presidential election system is made obvious to some by the pairing of another Clinton against another Bush. Sanders muddies that clear picture, but only if you imagine he actually has a chance. On that basis, some will now propose to take a year away from policy-based principled activism, after which, the thinking will go, what's another half a year for hold-your-nose lesserevilist Clinton campaigning? And, please understand, by entering the Democratic primaries, Sanders has committed to supporting the Democratic Party nominee and to encouraging his supporters to support her.

Activism gave women the right to vote. Activism got kids out of factories. Activism got the Navy out of Vieques. Activism won the last civil rights movement. Activism has always been the driving force for change. Two years of "registering voters" busy work out of every four years, and the reliance on corrupt figures that it creates, drains away our activism. It was activism that forced President Bush in 2008 to end the war on Iraq as of 2011 in a treaty signed by himself and Iraqi President Maliki. It was the antiwar uproar of the Bush years that led Congress members to think twice about voting for a new war in 2013 and has left them incapable of formally supporting the new war in Iraq that President Obama launched in 2014 despite the feelings of any number of people who believed that voting for him was somehow a significant act.

I worked as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich for president in 2004. I watched him make all the right points and win the most standing ovations in debates with the other Democrats. The reports the next day tended to mention him in the last paragraph as having also been there. And if you asked people in the room cheering for him they'd say "Yeah, I'd vote for him if he had a chance." And inwardly, and sometimes outwardly, I'd rage at them: "Imagine the chance he'd have if all you morons weren't bowing down to your televisions? Why show up and act as if you have an independent brain if you're just going to do what your television told you to do?"

So, here I am in the role of "that jerk" telling Bernie Sanders fanatics that it's hopeless -- a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom if ever there was one. But we have limited time, energy, and money. I don't think saving the planet is hopeless. I just think the best place to put our resources is into uncorrupted, principled, policy-driven, nonviolent, creative activism -- including the activism needed to create fair, open, verifiable elections.

Sure, we now have the internet in a slightly larger way than a decade ago. Sure, a few more people are disgusted enough with Clinton without yet being disgusted with the whole broken system. Sanders is coming to speak in a very small church in my town next week and I'll probably go listen. Any tiny influence the corporate media will allow him on the conversation, so much the better. Maybe with only two Democrats running they'll be forced to allow him a few seconds here and there. Maybe he'll point out that a corrupt corporate hack who voted for the war on Iraq was unacceptable last time and should be again. And yet, she'll be accepted.

The price has been rising. The media has been worsening. Sanders will be skillfully marginalized and mocked. Hillary will avoid debating him. And the election will place either a Democratic or a Republican catastrophe in the White House. Not because I have some sort of wisdom due to having been around a few years. Not because I'm in a bad mood. But because the media monopolies that Clinton's husband facilitated have demonstrably grown more powerful than ever, and elections have grown more corrupted by money -- Just ask Hillary who pretends to oppose it.

Now anything is technically possible. But considering the scandals already known about Hillary Clinton, what sort of new one could make a difference? None that I can even imagine. She could suffer some unfortunate sudden illness or accident, but in that unlikely and undesirable scenario, the media would hand the election to the Republican, even blame Sanders for Clinton's illness or death. You think I'm kidding? The Washington Post just suggested that a victim of Baltimore Police murder broke his own spine.

There's no need for any hard feelings at all among those who mean well. You think the smartest strategy is raising funds for Bernie, we can still be the best of friends. I just happen to disagree. The real question is not whether the next President will be a walking disaster, but what sort of popular movement will have been developed to resist it.

Sandy Tolan: The One-State Conundrum

Here’s a punchline the Obama administration could affix to the Middle East right now: With allies like these, who needs enemies?

40 years after Vietnam: Celebrating the End of One War, and Witnessing the Start of a New One Here at Home

By Dave Lindorff


It was 40 years ago today that the last troops from America’s criminal war against the people of Vietnam scurried ignominiously onto a helicopter on the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and fled the country where US forces had killed some 3-4 million people in the name of “fighting Communism.” 


Grand Canyon Sized Outrage Over Plans for Grand Canyon

"What a horrible idea! Leave this magnificent place as nature made it!" — Mikell Werder

"NO! NO! NO! Leave our natural wonder ALONE!" — cathy blaivas

RootsAction.org has posted a lot of petitions, but most have not gathered 30,000 signatures in the first day. This one's off to an enthusiastic start and includes comments like these.

"The Grand Canyon is a world treasure; leave it alone!" — Carol & David Moudry

"Developing the Grand Canyon would be and is one of the worst ideas ever!!! Where will this money grubbing desire stop?" — Joseph Gleason

What has people so upset? One of the most deservedly celebrated natural wonders in North America is also among the most endangered. Plans for uranium mining, a tourist tram line, and massive "development" threaten the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. So we're going to deliver this petition to the U.S. Forest Service.

A mining company, Energy Fuels Resources, is seeking to reopen the Canyon Mine uranium mine near the south rim of the Grand Canyon and sink an additional 1,200 feet of shaft to reach ore. A proposed 1.6-mile tramway would take tourists from new commercial developments on the canyon's rim to the canyon's floor. The nearby town of Tusayan, Ariz., is proposing a mega-development that the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park has called one of the greatest threats in the park's 96-year history. The Stilo Development Group, based in Italy, would build in Kaibab National Forest, and profit from, 2,000 homes, 3 million square feet of commercial space, a spa, a dude ranch, and even a water slide -- with no source of water identified. Porca miseria, cosa farete, amici nostri italiani?!

People are taking this very seriously:

"This leaves me speechless. What has become of America? If we allow even the Grand Canyon to become a sacrifice zone for profit, maybe America isn't worth saving. I have visited the Grand Canyon, and it is magnificent. Let's keep it that way." — Lucia Dutton

"It boggles the mind that anyone would even consider developing this unparalleled resource. This is only shameless profiteering." — Rod Danner

It boggles the mind because even as we go merrily about rendering the earth uninhabitable, we expect the Grand Canyon to remain unharmed. Instead it could exist for millions of years with human-made touristy crap clinging all over it. There may be few if any people to see it, but we still know it will be that way, and it upsets people. I mean, what if our grandchildren survive and have to look at it? So, we're asking the Forest Service to reject the town's special use permit.

Numerous petition signers are denouncing greed:

"What hideous, short-sighted proposals. Must every natural wonder be peed-upon by developers/profit making interests? Hearing of this makes me sick at heart, especially since commercial interests get their way so much of the time in the U.S. where nothing is sacred except for the dollar. The uranium mine proposal is equally appalling. What is the end use of this uranium …for another Fukushima? …for depleted uranium in missiles and bullets (which cause birth defects, cancer, immunity problems as in Iraq). These development ideas are not meant to serve the public; they are for individual short-term-profit...where everything and everybody is for sale. Do not sell out the Grand Canyon." — Kathy Hamilton

"This whole area is known to the world as a beautiful wonder which would be protected forever by any other nation. The Forest Service is our only hope for protection of our treasured Grand Canyon here in the US, as corporate greed has overrun our very government! PLEASE PROTECT IT!" — Dorothy Richmond

People who've seen other spots ruined want this one spared:

"Really? you want to spoil that beautiful place? Just came back from Phoenix and that has been over built and ruined with only fountains and Wisconsin style grass to replace the beauty of the desert. Please leave the Grand Canyon alone." — Joan Ouellette

"The Grand Canyon is too important to sell off. It is irreplaceable, and the kind of development under consideration will destroy this Natural Wonder forever. Doesn't the Grand Canyon belong to all of us? Doesn't the Grand Canyon belong to Future Generations? Is there nothing more important than profits anymore? Do not sell what belongs to ME. Do not sell what belongs to YOU. Do not sell what belongs to OUR FUTURE. Thank you." — marcus white

"Anyone asking the Hopis about these plans?" — Lynne Lee

A number of commenters appeal to enlightened capitalism:

"Please do not allow any construction whatsoever in or near the glorious Grand Canyon, which is not only a national treasure but a treasure for the entire planet - worth so much more than any amount of uranium or additional tourist dollars! Indeed, many tourists will avoid an over-exploited Grand." — Judi Avery

"The fact that it is unspoiled by development is the major attraction. This is just more pandering to corporations if development and mining is allowed." — Marshall A. Boyler

Some ask the Forest Service to do its job:

"I had the impression that this was set aside to be preserved for future generations, not EXPLOITED/destroyed by this one. DO YOUR JOB." — jon cooper

Some ask those involved to find their lost souls:

"The natural world does not exist for human plunder and commercial profit. It is inconceivable to me that anyone could visit the canyon and completely miss its beauty and sacredness. Anyone who can stand on the edge of this awesome site and scheme about how to make money has truly lost his/her soul." — Wallace Schultz

A Preview of Coming Wars: Do Black Lives Matter in Africa?

Reading Nick Turse's new book, Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, raises the question of whether black lives in Africa matter to the U.S. military any more than black lives in the United States matter to the police lately trained and armed by that military.

Turse scouts out the still little told tale of U.S. military expansion into Africa over the past 14 years, and primarily over the past 6 years. Five to eight thousand U.S. troops plus mercenaries are training, arming, and fighting alongside and against African militaries and rebel groups in nearly every nation in Africa. Major land and water routes to bring in the U.S. armaments, and all the accouterments of bases housing U.S. troops, have been established to avoid the local suspicions created by building and improving airports. And yet, the U.S. military has proceeded to acquire local agreements to make use of 29 international airports and gotten to work building and improving runways at a number of them.

The U.S. militarization of Africa includes airstrikes and commando raids in Libya; "black ops" missions and drone murders in Somalia; a proxy war in Mali; secretive actions in Chad; anti-piracy operations that result in increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea; wide-ranging drone operations out of bases in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, and the Seychelles; "special" operations out of bases in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; CIA bungling in Somalia; over a dozen joint training exercises a year; arming and training of soldiers in places like Uganda, Burundi, and Kenya; a "joint special operations" operation in Burkina Faso; base construction aimed at accommodating future "surges" of troops; legions of mercenary spies; the expansion of a former French foreign legion base in Djibouti and joint war-making with France in Mali (Turse must be reminded of that other wonderfully successful U.S. takeover of French colonialism known as the war on Vietnam).

AFRICOM (Africa Command) is in fact headquartered in Germany with plans to be based at the giant new U.S. base built in Vicenza, Italy, against the will of the Vicentini. Important parts of AFRICOM's structure are in Sigonella, Sicily; Rota, Spain; Aruba; and Souda Bay, Greece -- all U.S. military outposts.

Recent U.S. military actions in Africa are mostly quiet interventions that stand a good chance of leading to enough chaos to be used as justifications for future public "interventions" in the form of larger wars that will be marketed without mention of their causation. Future famous evil forces that may one day be threatening U.S. homes with vague but scary Islamic and demonic threats in U.S. "news" reports are discussed in Turse's book now and are arising now in response to militarism rarely discussed in corporate U.S. news media.

AFRICOM is advancing with as much secrecy as it can, trying to maintain the pretense of self-governance by local government "partners," as well as to avoid the scrutiny of the world. So, it hasn't been invited by public demand. It isn't riding in to prevent some horror. There has been no public debate or decision by the U.S. public. Why, then, is the United States moving U.S. war making into Africa?

AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham explains the U.S. militarization of Africa as a response to the problems it may in the future manage to create: "The absolute imperative for the United States military is to protect America, Americans, and American interests [clearly something other than Americans]; in our case, in my case, to protect us from threats that may emerge from the African continent." Asked to identify such a threat in current existence, AFRICOM cannot do so, struggling instead to pretend that African rebels are part of al Qaeda because Osama bin Laden once praised them. During the course of AFRICOM's operations, violence has been expanding, insurgent groups proliferating, terrorism rising, and failed states multiplying -- and not by coincidence.

The reference to "American interests" may be a clue to real motivations. The word "profit" may have been accidentally omitted. In any case, the stated purposes are not working out very well.

The 2011 war on Libya led to war in Mali and anarchy in Libya. And less public operations have been no less disastrous. U.S.-backed war in Mali led to attacks in Algeria, Niger, and Libya. The U.S. response to greater violence in Libya has been still more violence. The U.S. embassy in Tunisia was attacked and burned. Congolese soldiers trained by the United States have mass raped women and girls, matching the atrocities committed by U.S.-trained Ethiopian soldiers. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has arisen. The Central African Republic has had a coup. The Great Lakes region has seen violence rise. South Sudan, which the United States helped to create, has fallen into civil war and humanitarian disaster. Et cetera. This is not entirely new. U.S. roles in instigating long wars in Congo, Sudan, and elsewhere predate the current Africa "pivot." African nations, like nations in the rest of the world, tend to believe the United States is the greatest threat to peace on earth.

Turse reports that AFRICOM's spokesman Benjamin Benson used to claim the Gulf of Guinea as the sole supposed success story, until doing so became so untenable that he began claiming he'd never done so. Turse also reports that the Benghazi disaster, contrary to what common sense might suggest, became a basis for further expansion of U.S. militarism in Africa. When something's not working, try more of it! Says Greg Wilderman, the Military Construction Program manager for Naval Facilities Engineering Command, "We will be in Africa for some time to come. There's lots more to do there."

Someone recently told me that China had threatened to cut of U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson's profits from casinos in China if he continued to fund Congress members who insisted on going to war with Iran. The alleged motivation for this was that China can better buy oil from Iran if Iran is not at war. True or not, this fits Turse's description of China's approach to Africa. The U.S. relies heavily on war making. China relies more on aid and funding. The U.S. creates a nation doomed to collapse (South Sudan) and China buys its oil. This of course raises an interesting question: Why can't the United States leave the world in peace and still, like China, make itself welcome through aid and assistance, and still, like China, buy up the fossil fuels with which to destroy life on earth by means other than warfare?

The other pressing question raised by the Obama government's militarization of Africa, of course, is: Can you imagine the ear-splitting everlasting biblical proportions of the outrage had a white Republican done this?

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Graphic from TomDispatch.

A Better Way to Read the First Amendment

Madison's Music: On Reading the First Amendment, a new book by Burt Neuborne, at first appears an unlikely work to serve much purpose today. Who wants to celebrate slave owner James Madison's view of freedom as embodied in a long outdated Constitution in desperate need of updating or rewriting? And who wants to hear it from a former legal director of the ACLU who just signed a petition supporting the hiring of Harold Koh, defender of drone murders and presidential wars of aggression, to teach human rights law at New York University, a petition by a bunch of stuffy corrupted professors countering the moral stand being taken by students?

But Neuborne's main thesis is not the worship of James Madison, and he merely suffers the same blindness to war as the rest of his society, believing, as he writes, that the world is "dependent on the anchor of American power" (whether the world wants it or not). While legalizing murder may not be a problem for Neuborne's view of the Constitution, legalizing bribery is. And that's where Madison's Music becomes useful. Each time the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of plutocracy it is ruling against precedents, common sense, basic decency, and a coherent and plausible reading of the Bill of Rights that reads the various amendments as aimed at strengthening democracy.

It's also ruling against a Constitution that nowhere gave it, the Supreme Court, any right to rule on any such things. While there is, sadly, no way to read the Supreme Court out of the Constitution, it can be quite easily understood as subject to the laws of Congress rather than vice versa. Not that today's Congress gets us any closer to democracy than does today's Supreme Court, but when our culture is ready for reform, the paths available will be numerous and each and every institution subject to reform or abolition.

The first amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Neuborne, to his credit, does not choose to read this as the ACLU does, namely as including a defense of bribery and private election spending.

Madison's original draft, severely edited by the Senate -- one of those institutions worthy of abolition, and one for which Madison himself was in part to blame -- began with protection of both religious and secular conscience. The final draft begins by forbidding the government from imposing religion, and then forbids it from prohibiting anyone's religion. The point is to establish, in an eighteenth century manner, the freedom of thought. From thought, one moves on to speech, and from ordinary speech one moves on to the press. Each of these is guaranteed freedom. Beyond speech and press, the trajectory of an idea in a democracy proceeds to mass action: the right to assemble; and beyond that there remains the right to petition the government.

As Neuborne points out, the first amendment depicts a functioning democracy; it doesn't simply list unrelated rights. Nor is freedom of speech the only real right it lists, with the other rights being simply particular instances of it. Rather, freedom of thought and press and assembly and petition are unique rights with their own purposes. But none of them are ends in themselves. The purpose of the whole array of rights is to shape a government and a society in which popular thought (at one time of wealthy white males, later expanded) has at least some significant impact on public policy. Currently, of course, it does not, and Neuborne puts much of the blame for that on the Supreme Court's choices over the centuries, well meaning and otherwise, in how to read the first amendment.

As Neuborne suggests, the right to petition the government has been neglected. Nothing goes to a vote in the House of so-called Representatives unless approved by the majority party leader. Forty-one senators representing a tiny sliver of the population can stop almost any bill in the Senate. A democratic understanding of the right of petition might allow the public to compel votes in Congress on matters of public interest. In fact, I think this understanding would not be a new one. Jefferson's Manual, which is part of the rules of the House, allows for petitions and memorials, which are often submitted to Congress by local and state governments and groups. And at least in the case of impeachment proceedings, it lists a petition and memorial (written statement of facts accompanying the petition) as one of the means of initiating impeachment proceedings. I know because thousands of us collected millions of signatures on petitions to begin the impeachment of President George W. Bush, the desirability of which also reached a majority in public opinion polls despite zero action or discussion in Washington. The public was unable to even compel a vote. Our grievances were not redressed.

The right of assembly has been confined in free-speech cages, the right of free press has been corporate-monopolized, and the right of free speech has been shriveled away in the right places and expanded in the wrong places.

I'm not convinced by those who argue against all limits on speech. Speech is, appropriately enough, not considered free when it comes to threats, blackmail, extortion, false statements causing harm, obscenity, "fighting words," commercial speech urging illegal action, or egregiously false and misleading commercial speech. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a party, "any propaganda for war" must be prohibited, a standard which, if enforced, would eliminate a big chunk of U.S. television viewing.

So, we must choose where to allow speech and where not to, and as Neuborne documents, this is currently done with zero respect for logic. Spending money to elect a plutocratic-friendly candidate is considered "pure speech," deserving of the highest protection, but contributing money to that candidate's campaign is "indirect speech," deserving of a bit less protection and therefore subject to limits. Meanwhile burning a draft card is merely "communicative conduct" and when a voter writes in a name as a protest vote that gets no protection at all and can be banned. The Supremes do not allow judges to hear cases in which one litigant is a major benefactor of the judge, yet allow elected officials to govern people who buy them their seats. Corporations get first amendment rights despite lacking the human dignity to qualify for the fifth amendment's right to remain silent; are we supposed to pretend corporations are human or not? The Court upheld an Indiana voter ID requirement despite understanding that it would disproportionately harm the poor and despite not a single case of voter fraud being found anywhere in Indiana. If the right to outspend anyone else and effectively buy a candidate an election is the highest form of protected speech, why is the right to vote the lowest? Why are long lines to vote in poor neighborhoods allowed? Why can districts be gerrymandered to guarantee election of a candidate or party? Why can a criminal conviction strip away the right to vote? Why can elections be designed to benefit a two-party duopoly rather than the voters?

Neuborne writes that, "the robust third-party culture of the nineteenth century rested on ease of ballot access and the ability to cross-endorse. The Supreme Court has wiped out both, leaving a Republicrat cartel that stifles new ideas that might threaten the status quo."

Neuborne suggests many of the usual, and very good, solutions: creating free media on our air waves, providing tax credits to effectively give every person money to spend on elections, matching small donations as New York City does, creating automatic registration as Oregon just did, creating an election day holiday. Neuborne proposes a duty to vote, allowing an opt-out -- I'd rather add an option to vote for "none of the above." But the real solution is a popular movement that compels one or more branches of our government to view its purpose as supporting democracy, not just bombing other countries in its name.

Which brings us to the primary thing our government does, which even its detractors among law professors approve, namely war. To his credit, Neuborne favors the right to conscientious objection, as well as the free-speech right of groups or individuals to teach nonviolent action techniques to groups labeled "terrorist." Yet he supports hiring as a teacher of so-called human rights law a man who used his law background to tell Congress it had no war powers, to legitimate a brutal and blatantly illegal attack on Libya that has left behind a possibly permanent catastrophe from which helpless people are fleeing by boat, and to sanction the practice of murdering men, women, and children in large numbers by missile from drone.

I would love to see the explanation from Professor Neuborne as to how it can be the government's right to murder him (and anyone near him) with a hellfire missile, while it is simultaneously his right to be secure in his person against unreasonable search and seizure, his right not to be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, his right to a speedy and public trial, his right to be informed of the accusation and to be confronted by the witnesses, his right to subpoena witnesses, his right to a trial by jury, and his right not to suffer cruel or unusual punishment.

‘F*%king horrible’: The Public Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

In August 1936 nearly 20,000 excited spectators filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. That hanging would be the last public execution in America.

Andrew Cockburn: How Assassination Sold Drugs and Promoted Terrorism

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Mother Earth is Weeping for her Children: The US Military Must Stop Environmental Ecocide

By Joy First      

As I traveled to DC to risk arrest in an action organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) I was feeling nervous, but also knowing this is what I needed to be doing.  This would be my first arrest since I was arrested at the CIA in June 2013, and served a one-year probation sentence after an October 2013 trial.  Taking almost two years off from risking arrest helped me to really examine what I was doing and why, and I was committed to continuing to live a life in resistance to the crimes of our government.

I have been a part of NCNR for 12 years - since the run-up to the war in Iraq in 2003.  As the number of people involved in the anti-war movement declines, I know that we must keep up the resistance.  Though we don’t have big numbers now, it is more important than ever that we speak the truth about what is happening in the wars in Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen, in the drone warfare program, and in looking at ways in which the climate crisis is exacerbated by the military.

There are so many ways in which the military is destroying our planet through the use of fossil fuels, nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, spraying poisonous chemicals on fields in the “War on Drugs” in South America, and through the several hundred military bases around the world.  Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War is still affecting the environment.  According to Joseph Nevins, in an article published by CommonDreams.org, Greenwashing the Pentagon, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

WE MUST TAKE ACTION TO END THIS DESTRUCTION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT BY THE U.S. MILTARY.

NCNR began planning an Earth Day action several months ago where we hold the military accountable for their role in the destruction of the planet.  I was sending quite a few emails to various individuals and lists as we continued our planning.  Then about 6 weeks ago I was contacted by Elliot Grollman from the Department of Homeland Security.  He wondered what we were doing, and as a way to try and get more information from me, he asked if he could help facilitate our action on April 22.  What was very surprising to me was that he told me he knew about our action by reading my private email correspondence.  We cannot ever think that anything we say will not be monitored.  He called my home phone number in Mount Horeb, WI at 7:00 am on the morning of the action.  Of course I was in Washington, DC and my husband told him that and gave him my cell phone number.

On Earth Day, April 22, I joined other activists to deliver a letter to Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, calling on the EPA to do their job in monitoring and bringing an end to the military’s complicity in causing climate chaos, and then we went to the Pentagon where we would try to deliver a letter to the Secretary of Defense.  Both of these letters were mailed several weeks before the action and we never received a response.  In both of these letters we asked for a meeting to discuss our concerns. 

About thirty people gathered outside the EPA at 10:00 am on the day of the action.  David Barrows made a large banner that read “EPA – Do Your Job;  Pentagon – Stop Your Ecocide”.  There was a picture of the earth in flames on the banner.  We also had 8 smaller posters with quotes from our letter to Ashton Carter.

Max started the program and talked about Mother Earth weeping as she was being destroyed by her children.  Beth Adams read a statement, followed by Ed Kinane reading a statement by environmentalist Pat Hynes.

We had the letter we wanted to deliver to the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, or to a representative in a policy-making position.  Instead the EPA sent someone from their Public Relations office out to receive our letter.  They said they would get back to us, and I will be surprised if they do. 

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo then spoke.  Marsha had been an employee of the EPA until she blew the whistle on activities they were part of that were killing people.  When she spoke up they told her to keep silent.  But Marsha talked about how she would see people like us outside the window protesting against the EPA.  Those protestors gave her courage to continue to push for an end to the crimes being committed by the EPA, even though she was fired.  Marsha told us that by us being outside the EPA, we were offering inspiration to people who wanted to speak up, but were feeling scared to do so.

We had more work to do and so we left the EPA and took the Metro to the Pentagon City mall food court where we had a final briefing before heading over to the Pentagon.

We had about fifty people processing to the Pentagon with people holding puppets made by Sue Frankel-Streit taking the lead.

As we approached the Pentagon I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and my legs were feeling like they were turning to jelly.  But I was with a group of people who I knew and trusted and I knew that I needed to be a part of this action.

We entered the Pentagon reservation and walked on the sidewalk towards the Pentagon.  At least 30 officers waiting for us.  There was a metal fence along the sidewalk with a small opening that we were ushered through onto a grassy area.  This area on the other side of the fence was designated as the “free speech zone”. 

Malachy led the program and, as usual, he spoke eloquently about why we need to continue this work.  He talked about NCNR writing letters to elected and appointed officials over the last several years.  We have NEVER received a response.  This is chilling.  As citizens, we should be able to communicate with our government about our concerns.  There is something gravely wrong with our country that they do not pay attention to what we say.  If we were lobbyists for a defense contractor, big oil, or another big corporation we would be welcomed into the offices on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon.  But we, as citizens, do not have any access to government officials.  How do we try to change the world when those in power refuse to listen to us?

Hendrik Vos spoke movingly about how our government supports undemocratic governments in Latin America.  He talked about the importance of our civil resistance action with our willingness to risk arrest.  Paul Magno was inspiring as he talked about the many civil resistance actions that we are building on, including the Plowshare activists.   

After listening to the speakers eight of us who were risking arrest walked through the small opening onto the sidewalk to try to deliver our letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, or a representative in a policy-making position.  We were on a sidewalk that the public regularly walks on to enter the Pentagon. 

We were immediately stopped by Officer Ballard.  He did not look very friendly as he told us we were blocking the sidewalk and that we had to re-enter the “free speech zone”.  We told him we would stand against the fence so people could freely pass by.  

Again, someone with no power from the PR office came to meet us and accept our letter, but we were told there would be no dialogue.  Ballard told us we had to leave or we would be arrested. 

We were eight concerned nonviolent individuals standing peacefully against the fence on a public sidewalk.  When we said we couldn’t leave until we talked to someone in a position of authority, Ballard told another officer to give us our three warnings.

Malachy began to read the letter we wanted to deliver to Secretary Carter as the three warnings were given.

After the third warning, they closed the opening to the free speech area, and about 20 officers from the SWAT team, who were waiting 30 feet away, came charging at us.  I will never forget the look of rage on the face of the officer who came towards Malachy and violently snatched the letter out of his hands and put him in cuffs.

I could see this was going to be another violent arrest at the Pentagon.  In April of 2011, NCNR organized an action at the Pentagon and there was a lot of violence by the police at that time also.  They knocked Eve Tetaz to the ground and violently wrenching my arm up behind my back.  I heard reports from others that they were also roughed up that day.

My arresting officer told me to put my hands behind my back.  The cuffs were tightened and he jerked them tighter still, causing a great deal of pain.  Five days after the arrest my hand is still bruised and tender.

Trudy was crying out in pain because her cuffs were so tight.  She asked that they be loosened, and the officer told her that if she didn’t like it, she should not be doing this again.  None of the arresting officers were wearing nametags and so could not be identified.

We were arrested at around 2:30 pm and released around 4:00 pm.  The processing was minimal. I noticed some of the men were patted down before we were put into the police van, but I wasn’t.  Once we arrived at the processing station, they cut our handcuffs off immediately as we entered the building, and then the women were put in one cell and the men in another.  They took mug shots of all of us, but did not fingerprint any us.  Fingerprinting takes a long time and maybe when they got our ids, they found that all of our fingerprints were already in their system.

Arrested were Manijeh Saba of New Jersey, Stephen Bush of Virginia, Max Obuszewski and Malachy Kilbride of Maryland, Trudy Silver and Felton Davis of New York, and Phil Runkel and Joy First of Wisconsin.

David Barrows and Paul Magno provided support and were waiting to meet us as we were released.

We were at the Pentagon exercising our First Amendment rights and our obligations under Nuremberg, and also as human beings concerned with the plight of Mother Earth.  We were on a sidewalk that was used by the public peacefully asking for a meeting with someone in the Pentagon, and then reading the letter that we had sent to the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. We did not commit a crime, but we were acting in resistance to the crimes of our government, and yet we were charged with violating a lawful order.  This is the definition of civil resistance

It is a very serious problem that our calls for peace and justice are going unheeded by government officials.  Even though it seems like we are not being listened to, it is very important to continue to act in resistance.  I know that even when we feel like we are ineffective, acting in resistance is my only choice to do what I can to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren and the children of the world.  Though it is difficult to know whether we are being effective, I believe that we all must do everything we can to continue our work for peace and justice.  That is our only hope.

Pictures from the arrests at the Pentagon.

Focus: Trans-Pacific Partnership - Apr 28, 2015


Obama Presses Case for Asia Trade Deal, Warns Failure Would Benefit China - WSJ


VIDEO (Full Interview): Obama: There is No Secret Free Trade Deal - WSJ


TRANSCRIPT: WSJ Interview with President Obama on TPP, China, Japan, Pope Francis, Cuba - WSJ


VIDEO: Obama Weekly Address: Fighting for Trade Deals that Put American Workers First - The White House


TRANSCRIPT: Obama Weekly Address: Fighting for Trade Deals that Put American Workers First - The White House


Is TPP trade deal a massive giveaway to major corporations? An exchange between Obama and Sherrod Brown - The Washington Post


VIDEO: Weekly Republican address: Rep. Paul Ryan pushes "fast-track" trade bill - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: Ryan Delivers Weekly Republican Address On Fast-track Trade Bill - House Committee on Ways & Means


In US-Japan trade and security talks, China is the elephant in the room - AP


Detroit’s Big Three fear Asian trade pact - detroitnews.com


Manufacturers' Group Knocks Japan Over Currency Manipulation - manufacturing.net


Rep. Debbie Dingell's Op-ed: Currency provisions essential in Asian trade pact, Japanese automakers now benefit from a yen that has weakened by around 40% during the past two years - freep.com


‘Stop Currency Manipulation’ The New Battle Cry of the Democrats - The Fiscal Times


Donald Trump Criticizes the Free Trade Deal With Japan - cray24.com

 

Japan Taps Lobbyists to Bolster U.S. Ties - Roll Call News


12-country TPP talks end without a breakthrough - The Japan Times


Top TPP Negotiators at Odds over Drug Patent, Intellectual Property - JIJI PRESS


---------------------------------------------------------

Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown call for immediate public disclosure of Obama trade deal, say accord has heavy input from corporate lobbyists - ibtimes


Text Of The Letter From Elizabeth Warren & Sherrod Brown To Obama On Secretive TPP Trade Deal - huffingtonpost.com


U.S. trade officials say the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership need to remain confidential to get the best possible agreement - Politico


What’s Behind Senator Warren’s ‘Secret’ Trade Deal Myth - U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Lawmakers pass up chance to read ‘secret’ trade text - TheHill


Progressives: Trade Fight Has Galvanized the Left - rollcall.com


Meet the Critics of President Obama’s Trade Deal - TIME


AFL-CIO president Trumka's Op-ed: Trade deals are too important to ‘fast track’ - The Seattle Times


Bill de Blasio opposes Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership - NY Daily News


Don’t forget consumers and patients in the Trans-Pacific Partnership - TheHill


Trans Pacific Partnership is bad deal for senior citizens - TheHill


Sierra Club Ad Buy Exposes Environmental Threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - Sierra Club National


Catholics Oppose Fast Tracking the TPP - huffingtonpost


Trans-Pacific Partnership Puts Harvard Law School Rivals on Opposite Sides, Again - NYTimes.com

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

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Talk Nation Radio: Sarah Thompson on Christian Peacemaker Teams

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-sarah-thompson-on-christian-peacemaker-teams/

Sarah Thompson is executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams. She talks about their work. See http://cpt.org
See upcoming event in Detroit here: http://www.cpt.org/PeacemakerCongressDetroit

Total run time: 29:00

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

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Christian Appy: From the Fall of Saigon to Our Fallen Empire

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Understanding the Suffering War Brings

Remarks at Houston Peace and Justice Center Conference on April 25, 2015.

I hope to be brief enough to leave lots of time for questions after I talk.

I know that most of you are probably exceptions to what I'm about to say, because I suspect that most of you came here voluntarily. If you're here on duty for the FBI, raise your hand.

You may all be the exceptions, but most people in the United States have no idea of the suffering that war brings.

War brings suffering first through the wasting of some $2 trillion every year, roughly half of it by the U.S. government alone, but much of the weaponry purchased with the other $1 trillion, spent by other governments, is U.S.-made weaponry. Never mind what the money is spent on. It could be dumped in a hole and burned and we'd all be better off, but the most suffering is caused by what it's not spent on.

For tens of billions of dollars the world could end starvation, unclean drinking water, and various health problems; it could invest in green energy and sustainable agriculture and education in massive, undreamed of ways. Yet $2 trillion is wasted every year on a criminal enterprise without redeeming merit of any sort. To get a sense of the scale of the funding, all the accumulated student debt of former and current students in the United States is $1.3 trillion. The United States spends $1.3 trillion on militarism in a single year, and the same amount again the next year, and the next year. For tens of billions, college could be free. Whether the students who emerged would have learned to love the bomb would depend on how the funding was handled and other factors, but a tiny fraction of military spending would do it -- I'm referring to military spending across numerous departments of the government, and it has doubled or close to it during the Bush-Obama wars. Military spending is over half the money Congress spends each year. The recently proposed Congressional Progressive Caucus budget proposed to cut military spending by 1%, which gives you an idea of the extreme limits of debate in U.S. politics, which I think Robert Jensen will be telling us more about. In fact, no statement from the Progressive Caucus even mentioned the existence of military spending; you had to hunt through the numbers to find the 1% cut.

Now, it's hard to separate deaths due to disease and starvation, from the direct effects of warfare, with warfare creating refugee crises and destroying farms and so forth. It's also true that the financial resources to address human needs could be found in another place other than war, namely in the pockets of the greediest 400 people in the United States. Their hoarding of wealth, even those of them not principally funded by the war machine, can certainly be blamed as well when a child starves to death anywhere on earth. But blame is not a finite quantity. You can blame plutocracy or militarism, and niether one exculpates the other. Military spending could end starvation for the price of a small rounding error and is therefore culpable.

Most people, I think, also fail to understand that the suffering created by military spending is mostly created by routine war preparations by an empire ever planning for more wars, and much less by the wars themselves. We need to stop announcing how many schools we could have had instead of a particular war, because we could have had 10 times as many instead of the routine so-called non-war military spending during the same period. Or, better, we could have provided 10 times as many to the world rather than to one particular little country that is far from the worst off.

Most people also fail to understand that there is no up side to military spending, that it doesn't balance the slaughter of human beings with the creation of jobs. The same money, if spent on peaceful enterprises, would create more jobs and better paying jobs. Military spending is a drain on the economy of the aggressor.

The U.S. weapons industry is the leading arms dealer to the world, and it arms and props up dictatorships on a permanent basis. Who can calculate the suffering that causes? A former president of Egypt was just sentenced to prison for killing protesters, while the current president tortures them to death and gets a personal phone call from President Obama promising him more free weaponry -- billions of dollars worth for free every year, just as for Israel. And when Israel engages in one of its genocidal fits of bombing, the U.S. rushes more weaponry over to fill the armories. The Saudi war on Yemen is a proxy war, not between Iran and anyone but between the United States and the United States. U.S. weapons provided to support a brutal dictator in Yemen are blown up by U.S. weapons sold to a brutal dictator in Saudi Arabia who also uses them to prop up the U.S.-armed brutal dictator in Bahrain.

Wars and arms races around the world are fueled by the United States, but the United States is also the leading direct user of war. And, again, I think most people do not understand the suffering inflicted. U.S. newspapers refer to the U.S. Civil War as the deadliest U.S. war. It killed some 750,000 people, or 2% of the population. Compare that to a million and a half killed out of a population of 6 or 7 million in the Philippines, or 2 million killed in Korea, or 4 million killed in Vietnam, or 3 million killed by war and sanctions in Iraq since 1991 -- 11% of the Iraqi population. Nobody knows these numbers, but even if they did, the lack of understanding would be intense because the United States still thinks of wars in the terms of the last war fought here, other than the wars of Native American genocide, namely the U.S. Civil War. Everyone still talks about so-called battlefields, while the wars are fought in people's cities, towns, and farms. Most people killed are on one side; most are civilian; as many are women and children and elderly as men. More are injured than killed. More are traumatized than injured. Huge areas are depopulated. Permanent refugee camps are created. Poisons unknown during the U.S. Civil War create permanent health crises and birth defect epidemics. Children unborn during wars die later when picking up cluster bombs. And urban societal structures of energy, health, transportation, and education, unknown in the 1860s, are devastated by war's destruction.

On January 26 of this year, Mohammed Tuaiman, age 13, of Marib, Yemen, became the third member of his family to be killed by a U.S. drone strike. The drone struck a car carrying Mohammed, his brother in law, Abdullah al-Zindani, and another man. Mohammed's older brother Maqded told the Guardian newspaper, "I saw all the bodies completely burned, like charcoal. When we arrived we couldn't do anything. We couldn't move the bodies so we just buried them there, near the car."

During the 20th century, not counting the lives that could have been saved with the same money, 190 million deaths could be directly and indirectly related to war -- more than in the previous four centuries. The 21st century is in the running to dwarf that record, or indeed to shatter it through nuclear or environmental catastrophe.

Is there any imaginable way in which the most recent 200 million war deaths could have each been just? If 200 million men, women, and children are guilty of something deserving murder, then must we not all be? If even 10 percent of them are, then must we not all be?

On May 15, 2012, Ahmed Abdullah Awadh of Ja'ar, Yemen, was killed. "It was 9 am in the morning," said his neighbor. "I was at home with my son, Majed. Suddenly we heard a loud noise and we all ran out to see what happened. Everyone in the neighborhood came out. To our surprise, we find our sweet neighbor, Ahmed, a taxi driver, burned and in pieces. About 15 minutes later a second strike struck the same place. I survived but my 25 year old son, Majed was hit pretty hard. 50% of his body was burned. When we went to the only clinic we have here in Ja'ar, they said he was too seriously injured to be treated there. The nearest hospital is in Aden, and the main road was closed. It took four hours to get there. I held him in my arms while we were driving, and he kept bleeding. On the third day in the hospital, at 2:30 a.m., Majed's heart stopped and he died."

According to former U.S. general Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. military creates 10 new enemies for every innocent person it kills. But most of the people being killed are innocent, in the drone strikes, in the bombing campaigns, in the ground wars. Could that help explain why the U.S. loses every war? Why ISIS begs the U.S. to attack it and then watches its recruitment soar after the U.S. obliges? Why 65 nations polled at the end of 2013 almost all said the United States was the greatest threat to peace on earth? Imagine if Canada decides to continue down its current militarist path how many years it will have to work to generate anti-Canadian terrorist groups to match those the United States has germinated? Canada will have to shut down its schools and hospitals to invest in creating animosity abroad if it hopes to catch up at all.

If I weren't speaking to you exceptional people but to a typical group of Americans, I would be asked at the end how the U.S. might defend itself if it reduced its war preparations. Well, how do other nations do it? I don't mean who does France call on when it thinks Libya needs to be destroyed, the region thrown into chaos, thousands of desperate people left to risk their lives on rafts in the Mediterranean trying to escape post-liberation Libya. I mean, how does France defend itself from being conquered by evil foreign hordes? How does Costa Rica or Iceland or Japan or India? To match average military spending by all other nations, the United States would have to cut 95% of its military spending. And what does that extra 95% buy? It buys less safety, not more.

On January 23, 2012, an eight-year-old girl named Seena in Sanhan, Yemen, lost her father to a drone strike. "I want to play outside," she says. "But I can't dream of that ever happening anymore." Numerically, most victims of drone wars in Yemen and Pakistan are not those killed or injured, but those afraid to go outdoors. Families teach children at home rather than send them to school. But how do they teach them to live with the ongoing sense of horror created by the buzzing noise in the sky, the buzzing of an evil god that can obliterate their world at any moment and for no apparent reason? And how does forcing children to live that way "defend" the United States?

Exceptional as you all are, I doubt you can understand -- I certainly cannot understand -- what the weight of 190 million stories like Seena's feels like. Multiply that times 10 according to Stanley McChrystal. What does that feel like? During the war on Iraq of the last decade, U.S. commanders could plan operations that they expected to kill up to 30 innocent Iraqis. If they expected 31, then they had to get Donald Rumsfeld's approval -- which I dare suggest was something of a known known. U.S. deaths in that war amounted to about 0.3% of the death toll, and fittingly Iraqi deaths were valued by the U.S. government at 0.3% the dollar value of U.S. deaths. That is to say, the U.S. typically paid $0 to $5,000 dollars as compensation for an Iraqi life, while the State Department and Blackwater arrived at the figure of $15,000, but the lowest government value for a U.S. life was $5 million assigned by the Food and Drug Administration.

In Pakistan, the people terrorized by U.S. drones heard about the phrase that drone pilots in the United States use to refer to their murders. They call them "bug splat," because to them, on their video monitors, it looks like they are squishing bugs. So an artist created a giant image on a Pakistani farm, visible to drones above, of a young girl for a project called Not A Bug Splat.

Are we idiots? Do we not know that a girl thousands of miles away is a girl? Do we have to be told? Apparently we do. Our entire culture is permeated with the idea that humans must be "humanized" in order to be recognized as humans. When we see photos or hear personal stories with detail about a person or a group of people, when we learn someone's name and daily habits and little quirks and weaknesses, we declare, "Wow, that really humanizes them." Well, I'm sorry, but what the hell were they before they were humanized?

We have liberal law professors who believe that a drone murder that has been observed in close detail can remain in a state of legal limbo: if it's not part of a war then it's murder, but if it's part of a war then it's perfectly fine -- and whether it's part of a war is unknowable because President Obama claims his legal reasoning is officially secret even though we've already seen it. Even thought it blatantly makes no sense, we maintain the formal pretense that secretly it might.

Have any of you seen a movie called My Cousin Vinny? In it a woman screams at her boyfriend for worrying about what pair of pants to wear when he goes deer hunting. Her concern is for the life of the deer, not the pants of, if you can excuse the language, the SOB who shoots the deer. Here's a modified version of that little speech:

Imagine you're an Iraqi. You're walking along, you get thirsty, you stop for a drink of cool clear water... BAM! A fuckin missile rips you to shreds. Your brains are hanging on a tree in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya. Would you give a fuck whether the son of a bitch who shot you was part of a war or not?

I can't even say UN-authorized war because the U.S. no longer bothers with that.

I can't even say Congressionally authorized war because the president no longer bothers with that.

The latest stage in the U.S. war on Iraq is called Operation Inherent Resolve. Eager to maintain some pretense of relevance, Congress is constantly debating whether to debate whether to "authorize" this ongoing war, which Obama says will go on just the same with or without their feckless chattering. And somehow we're supposed to hear the name "Operation Inherent Resolve" and not burst out laughing at the sort of idiots who would think we were the sort of idiots who would like that name.

Unless of course we are.

But but but but what would you do about ISIS? That's the question, right? A group of rebels created by the previous U.S. war on Iraq kills some people in the style used on a much grander scale by U.S.-backed governments in places like Saudi Arabia, and suddenly it's my job to explain how to destroy ISIS using the same tools that created it? I wouldn't have created it in the first place. Like you, I protested the war that destroyed Iraq before it even began, and before it even began the first time in 1990. And now I have to choose yet more war or nothing, because the range of debate has been limited to another knowingly hopeless U.S. ground war or a knowingly hopeless U.S. air war with ground troops momentarily assigned as enemies of an enemy, albeit not of other enemies?

The Middle East is armed by the United States. The region explodes in death and destruction using weapons 80-90 percent of which come from the United States. The first step is to stop arming the Middle East. The second is to negotiate an arms embargo. The third is to stop propping up brutal dictators. The fourth is to provide humanitarian aid and diplomacy, peaceworkers, human shields, journalists, video cameras, green energy, doctors, agriculture. All of those steps could be launched on Monday. The urgency of the crisis demands it, in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

We need a shift from war to peace. This is why preventing the bombing of Syria in 2013 was a short-lived victory. Instead of taking an approach of peace, the CIA sent in arms and trainers and bided its time until better propaganda could be found.

Now, there are lots of things we can do. We can work on transition to peaceful industries at the local, state, and federal levels. We can build up democratic institutions, workplaces, and credit unions that divest from war and offer jobs to those considering the military or mercenary company careers. We can educate, protect, encourage peaceful alternatives, engage in cultural and educational and economic exchanges.

We can build a movement for the abolition of war like the one we are building at WorldBeyondWar.org where people in 112 countries have signed a statement supporting the ending of all war, and I hope you will too.

But one thing in particular that we can do, and related to my current topic, is that we can convey the reality of the human suffering created by war.

Until a video surfaced recently of South Carolina policeman Michael Slager murdering a man named Walter Scott, the media was reporting a package of lies manufactured by the police: a fight that never occurred, witnesses who didn't exist, the victim taking the policeman's taser, etc. The lies collapsed because the video appeared.

I find myself asking why videos of missiles blowing children into little bits and pieces can't dissolve the stories churned out by the Pentagon. With several qualifications, I think part of the answer is that there are not enough videos. The struggle for the right to videotape the police at home in the United States should be accompanied by a campaign to provide video cameras to populations targeted for wars. Of course the struggle to videotape people dying under a bombing campaign is at least as great a challenge as videotaping a murderous policeman, but enough cameras would produce some footage.

We can also search for stories and photographs and promote awareness of them to new audiences. The stories I've mentioned today, and more, are found at SupportYemen.org

We can find stories closer to home as well. The suffering of U.S. troops and mercenaries and their families is more than enough to shatter any heart with even the faintest beat in it. But there's an educational shortcoming. When we only tell the stories of U.S. troops, people imagine that they make up some significant portion of the victims, even half, even a majority. And people imagine that the other victims are also mostly troops and mercenaries. These are dangerous misconceptions that leave the U.S. population offering some significant degree of support for wars that the rest of the world sees as one-sided slaughters.

And, of course, encouraging Americans to think that they should only care about American lives is the root of the problem. It also merges subtly into cheerleading for the military, which merges imperceptibly into cheerleading for the wars.

We need a culture that opposes war and celebrates nonviolent action, peace, the rule of law, and sustainable practices that resist militarism, racism, and extreme materialism.

Yes, yes, yes, of course the presidents and congress members and generals get more blame than the rank and file. Yes, of course, everyone is redeemable, everyone remains human, every troop is a potential resister, whistleblower, and peace activist. But there is nothing accomplished by internalizing "support the troops" propaganda. Nobody says they oppose the death penalty but "support" the guy who flips the switch. Nobody says they oppose mass incarceration but "support" the prison guards. Why should they have to? What would that mean? Our failure to "support the prison guards" is not interpreted as some sort of treasonous plan to harm the prison guards. Why would it be? And, by the way, please go to RootsAction.org to email your state legislators to try to protect prisoners in Texas from dying of extreme heat and other inhumane conditions. You won't be failing to support the prison guards.

I live in Virginia, which probably does more for war than any other U.S. state. But on Thursday I got an email from Francis Boyle who wrote the Biological Weapons Act and who tends to notice when it's being violated. He was alerting people to a notice that the National Biocontainment Laboratories at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, as well as at Boston University, is, in his words, "aerosolizing BSL4 Biowarfare Agents—a telltale sign of offensive biowarfare work for delivery as a weapon by air to human beings." Now, I know that every corner of the United States is packed full of places to protest the military, but Galveston suddenly seems like an especially important one to me.

Another might be Ellington Airport from which I understand drone pilots have been killing people in Afghanistan. If there aren't protests of that yet, there are people in New York, Nevada, California, Virginia, etc., who can help. KnowDrones has been running TV ads in some of these places asking pilots to refuse to fly.

Another thing we can do is to stop celebrating war holidays and instead celebrate peace ones. We have a calendar of peace holidays at WorldBeyondWar.org. Today, for example, is the day on which, in 1974, the Carnation Revolution ended military rule in Portugal. Almost no shots were fired, and crowds of people stuck carnations into the muzzles of rifles and onto the uniforms of soldiers. There are in fact suitable holidays for peace every day of the year, just as there are for war. It's up to us which we choose to mark.

Four years ago Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee created a new holiday that I'm pleased to say I've never heard of anyone celebrating. This is the law as passed:

"The President shall designate a day entitled a National Day of Honor to celebrate members of the Armed Forces who are returning from deployment in support of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat areas."

Catchy, isn't it?

Did the president designate such a day? Just once or annually? I have no idea. But this is part of what the Congresswoman said in proposing it:

"Today I rise . . . to ask support for an amendment that can bring all of us together, the designation of a national day of honor to celebrate the members of the Armed Services who will be returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan and other combat areas. This national day of honor would recognize the enormous sacrifice and invaluable service that those phenomenal men and women have undertaken to protect our freedom and share the gift of democracy in other parts of the world. How many of us have stopped to say 'thank you' to a soldier walking alone in an airport. . . . "

Now, the alternative to this is not the apocryphal spitting on troops. The alternative to this is to grow out of a barbaric culture that continues to recruit and train and send off more troops, albeit in such insufficient numbers for the Pentagon that mercenaries and robots are coming to dominate. The alternative is to honestly recognize that even if you say "freedom" and "troops" in the same breath the fact remains unaltered that we lose our freedoms with every passing year of war. The alternative is to join the rest of the earth in recognizing the grotesqueness of pretending that the U.S. military has brought democracy to Iraq or Afghanistan or to the unnamed "other combat areas" that our great democracy does not always afford us the right to even know the names of.

Do not thank a soldier in an airport. If you're able to sit down and speak with a soldier, tell them that you know of veterans who suffer horribly, that you'd like to help, that if they ever want to consider a different career there may be a way to make that change. Give them your number or one for a GI Rights Hotline. And you can say more or less the same thing to the TSA agents in the airport as well of course.

Much more importantly is for us to figure out how we can say to the people of the many places the U.S. military makes war: we are sorry, we are with you, we are working to end it.

Thank you.

 

PAINTING BY FARIBA ABEDIN.

Keeping the Pentagon honest: 40 Years After the Liberation of Vietnam, Washington is Saying it was a US Victory and a Good War

By Dave Lindorff


In this podcast of the latest "This Can't Be Happening!" weekly broadcast on PRN.fm, ThisCantBeHappening.net collective member John Grant, a Vietnam War veteran and long-time peace activist, talks with show host Dave Lindorff about a Veterans for Peace campaign to counter the Pentagon's latest PR initiative to rewrite and distort the history of the Vietnam War. Grant says the VFP's Vietnam War Full Disclosure Project is calling out the Pentagon to correct the historical falsehoods in its multi-million-dollar 50th Year Commemoration of the Vietnam War propaganda program.

Legacy of War

As the world continues to engage in various commemorations in relation to World War I, Australia approaches the centenary anniversary of a defining event in the nation’s history: ANZAC Day. On 25 April 1915, and for many days after, Australia suffered savage losses at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Sometimes when we reflect on war, we talk about sacrifice for a good cause. Other times, we talk about the cost, in lives or liberties lost. Occasionally, we talk about the horror. Sometimes we talk about the gains, nationally or internationally, for freedom and democracy. And rarely, we analyse the causes of war and lament that one day we might end it.

Focus: Trans-Pacific Partnership - Apr 25, 2015


Obama Blasts Democrats on Trade Deal - The Fiscal Times


VIDEO: President Obama Touts The Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal, Blast Democrats - YouTube


Obama defends free trade push to supporters: This isn’t NAFTA - The Washington Post


CHART: How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Improves on NAFTA - The White House


Obama fires back over ‘dishonest' attacks, says the text of the TPP is not secret and has been available to Congress for weeks - talkingpointsmemo


House panel approves Obama trade powers with fast track trade bill - TheHill


Congressional Panels Approve Fast Track for Trade Deal, With Conditions - NYTimes.com


GOP Blocks Consideration of Substitute to TPA Bill - Committee on Ways and Means, Democrats


White House on trade deal: Hillary Clinton is with us - POLITICO


No U.S.-Japan trade breakthrough expected during Abe visit: White House - Reuters


Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators agree trade rules for six subjects: Japan govt source - The Straits Times


What stands in the way of a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal - Fortune


Senators: China Could Join Trade Deal Designed to Counter Its Influence in Asia Pacific - Washington Free Beacon


-----------------------------------------------------------

Liberals furious with Obama's trade comments - MSNBC


'Secretive' trade strategy raises ire of Democratic lawmakers - BakersfieldCalifornian.com


Elizabeth Warren calls on Obama to make a proposed trade deal with Pacific Rim nations public to the American people  - Washington Times


VIDEO: Interview with Congressman Alan Grayson on the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal - YouTube


U.N. expert says secret trade negotiations exclude labor unions, environmental groups, food-safety and health professionals - Reuters


Agency overseeing Obama's Trans-pacific Partnership filled with former trade lobbyists for corporations benefiting from the deals - The Intercept


Top lobbying groups spent $64 million to influence Congress and White House in first three months of this year, on topics ranging from free trade to environmental and copyright laws - huffingtonpost


Three chapters that have been leaked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership - MarketWatch


Trans-Pacific Partnership’s Extrajudicial Dispute System Could Undermine Domestic Environmental Regulations - ACS


National financial regulations can be directly challenged under the deregulatory commitments in trade agreements - american for financial reform


Attorney general of New York state: Don't let Trans-Pacific Partnership gut state laws - POLITICO Magazine


Why Wyden Has It Wrong: How Fast Track And The TPP Undermine The Internet - Electronic Frontier Foundation


Doctors Without Borders Launches Ad Campaign to Highlight Health Dangers of TPP Trade Deal - MSF USA


TPP pill difficult to swallow for pharmaceuticals, A conflict between intellectual property protection and cheap medicine - smh.com.au


U.S. Cities Fight Back Against Washington's Secretive Trade Deal - huffingtonpost.com


How Pending "Trade" Deals Would Undermine Zoning and Local Land Use Rules - naked capitalism


Washington State Democrats urge NO vote on Fast Track - The Stand


VIDEO: Local union leaders gather to discuss the impact on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement - newsnet5.com, Cleveland


VIDEO: Protesters Take Over TPP Fast Track Hearing! - YouTube


VIDEO: Labor, Environment and Faith Community Stand Together Against Fast Track & TPP - YouTube

 

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Did a “nickel ride” kill Freddie Gray?: Philadelphians Know All About Police Murder by Van Ride

By Dave Lindorff


Philadelphians don’t have any problem figuring out what happened to Freddie Gray, the 25-year old black man who died as a result of a severed spine at the neck while being transported in a police van by Baltimore Police. 


Gradual Injustice

Chris Woods' excellent new book is called Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars. The title comes from a claim that then-President George W. Bush made for drone wars. The book actually tells a story of gradual injustice. The path from a U.S. government that condemned as criminal the type of murder that drones are used for to one that treats such killings as perfectly legal and routine has been a very gradual and completely extra-legal process.

Drone murders started in October 2001 and, typically enough, the first strike murdered the wrong people. The blame game involved a struggle for control among the Air Force, CENTCOM, and the CIA. The absurdity of the struggle might be brought out by modifying the "Imagine you're a deer" speech in the movie My Cousin Vinny: Imagine you're an Iraqi. You're walking along, you get thirsty, you stop for a drink of cool clear water... BAM! A fuckin missile rips you to shreds. Your brains are hanging on a tree in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya. Would you give a fuck which agency the son of a bitch who shot you was working for?

Yet much more attention has gone into which agency does what than into how best to pretend it's all legal. CIA team leaders began getting orders to kill rather than capture, and so they did. As of course did the Air Force and the Army. This was novel when it came to the murder of specific, named individuals as opposed to large numbers of unnamed enemies. According to Paul Pillar, deputy chief of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center in the late 1990s, "There was a sense that the White House did not want to put clearly on paper anything that would be seen as authorization to assassinate, but instead preferred more of a wink-and-nod to killing bin Laden."

In the early months of Bush-Cheney, the Air Force and CIA were each struggling to impose the drone murder program on the other. Neither wanted to end up in a heap of trouble for something so illegal. After September 11, Bush told Tenet the CIA could go ahead and murder people without asking for his permission each time. One model for this was Israel's targeted murder program, which the U.S. government denounced as illegal up until 9-11-2001. Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell was the lead author of an April 2001 U.S. government report that said Israel should cease and desist, and criticized its operation as failing to distinguish protests from terrorism. 

How did the U.S. government get from there to a "Homeland Security Department" that trains local police to consider protesters to be terrorists? The answer is: gradually and fundamentally through a change in behavior and culture rather than through legislation or court ruling. By late 2002, the U.S. State Department was being questioned in a press conference as to why it condemned Israeli murders but not similar U.S. murders. Why the double standard? The State Department had no answer whatsoever, and simply stopped criticizing Israel. The U.S. government kept quiet for years, however, about the fact that some of the people it was murdering were U.S. citizens. The groundwork had not yet been prepared sufficiently for the public to swallow that.

Some three-quarters of U.S. drone strikes have been in supposed battlefields. As one weapon among many in an existing war, armed drones have been deemed legal by lawyers and human rights groups across the full spectrum of the tiny percentage of humanity whose governments are engaged in the drone murders -- plus the "United Nations" that serves those governments. What makes the wars legal is never explained, but this sleight of hand was a foot in the door for the acceptance of drone murders. It was only when the drones killed people in other countries where there was no war underway, that any lawyers -- including some of the 750 who've recently signed a petition in support of allowing Harold Koh (who justified drone murders for the State Department) to teach so-called human rights law at New York University -- saw any need to concoct justifications. The UN never authorized the wars on Afghanistan or Iraq or Libya, not that it actually could do so under the Kellogg Briand Pact, and yet the illegal wars were taken as legalizing the bulk of the drone murders. From there, just a little liberal sophistry could "legalize" the rest.

The United Nations Human Rights Council's Asma Jahangir declared non-war drone murders to be murder at the end of 2002. UN investigator (and law partner of Tony Blair's wife) Ben Emmerson noted that in the U.S. view, war could now travel around the world to wherever bad guys went, thus making drone murders anywhere only as illegal as other wars, the legality of which nobody gave a damn about. In fact, the CIA's view, as explained to Congress by CIA General Counsel Caroline Krass in 2013, was that treaties and customary international law could be violated at will, while only domestic U.S. law need be complied with. (And, of course, domestic U.S. laws against murder in the United States might resemble domestic Pakistani or Yemeni laws against murder in Pakistan or Yemen, but resemblance is not identity, and only the U.S. laws matter.)

The growing acceptance of drone murders among Western imperialist lawyers led to all the usual attempts to tweak the crime around the edges: proportionality, careful targeting, etc. But "proportionality" is always in the eye of the killer. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed, along with various innocent people, when Stanley McChrystal declared it "proportionate" to blow up a whole house to murder one man. Was it? Was it not? There is no actual answer. Declaring murders "proportionate" is just rhetoric that lawyers have told politicians and generals to apply to human slaughter. In one drone strike in 2006, the CIA killed some 80 innocent people, most of them children. Ben Emmerson expressed mild displeasure. But the question of "proportionality" wasn't raised, because it wasn't helpful rhetoric in that case. During the occupation of Iraq, U.S. commanders could plan operations in which they expected to kill up to 30 innocent people, but if they expected 31 they needed to get Donald Rumsfeld to sign off on it. That's the sort of legal standard that drone murders fit into just fine, especially once any "military aged male" was redefined as an enemy. The CIA even counts innocent women and children as enemies, according to the New York Times.

As drone murders rapidly spread during the Bush-Cheney years (later to absolutely explode during the Obama years) the rank and file enjoyed sharing the videos around. Commanders tried to halt the practice. Then they began releasing select videos while keeping all the others strictly hidden.

As the practice of murdering people with drones in nations where mass-murder hadn't been somehow sanctioned by the banner of "war" became routine, human rights groups like Amnesty International began stating clearly that the United States was violating the law. But over the years, that clear language faded, replaced by doubt and uncertainty. Nowadays, human rights groups document numerous cases of drone murders of innocents and then declare them possibly illegal depending on whether or not they are part of a war, with the question of whether murders in a given country are part of a war having been opened up as a possibility, and with the answer resting at the discretion of the government launching the drones.

By the end of the Bush-Cheney years, the CIA's rules were supposedly changed from launching murderous drone strikes whenever they had a 90% chance of "success" to whenever they had a 50% chance. And how was this measured? It was in fact eliminated by the practice of "signature strikes" in which people are murdered without actually knowing who they are at all. Britain, for its part, cleared the way for murdering its citizens by stripping them of their citizenship as needed.

All of this went on in official secrecy, meaning it was known to anyone who cared to know, but it wasn't supposed to be talked about. The longest serving member of Germany's oversight committee admitted that Western governments were depending largely on the media to find out what their spies and militaries were doing.

The arrival of Captain Peace Prize in the White House took drone murders to a whole new level, destabilizing nations like Yemen, and targeting innocents in new ways, including by targeting the rescuers just arrived at the bloody scene of an earlier strike. Blow back against the U.S. picked up, as well as blow back against local populations by groups claiming to be acting in retaliation for U.S. drone murders. The damage drones did in places like Libya during the 2011 U.S.-NATO overthrow was not seen as a reason to step back, but as grounds for yet more drone killing. Growing chaos in Yemen, predicted by observers pointing to the counterproductive effects of the drones strikes, was claimed as a success by Obama. Drone pilots were now committing suicide and suffering moral stress in large numbers, but there was no turning back. A 90% majority in Yemen's National Dialogue wanted armed drones criminalized, but the U.S. State Department wanted the world's nations to buy drones too.

Rather than ending or scaling back the drone-murder program, the Obama White House began publicly defending it and advertising the President's role in authorizing the murders. Or at least that was the course after Harold Koh and gang figured out how exactly they wanted to pretend to "legalize" murder. Even Ben Emmerson says it took them so long because they hadn't yet figured out what excuses to use. Will the dozens of nations now acquiring armed drones need any excuse at all?

Engelhardt: The Future Foreseen (and Not)

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: A small reminder that the new title Dispatch Books has just released, Nick Turse’s remarkable and chilling Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, is available through our publisher Haymarket Books at a 40% discount right now.  To order it from Haymarketclick here and then, enter the code TBF40 at checkout for that special discount.  In addition, in return for a $100 contribution to TomDispatch, you can get a signed, personalized copy of the book from Nick. Check out our donation page for the details. (The next batch of signed books will go out in early May.) Either way, we hope you get your hands on a copy and give Dispatch Books and this website a meaningful little boost. Your support really does make a difference to us. Tom]

A Letter of Apology to My Grandson 
A Pox on Twenty-First-Century America 
By Tom Engelhardt

Dear Grandson,

Consider my address book -- and yes, the simple fact that I have one already tells you a good deal about me. All the names, street addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers that matter to me are still on paper, not in a computer or on an iPhone, and it’s not complicated to know what that means: I’m an old guy getting older. Going on 71, though I can hardly believe it. And that little book shows all the signs of where I’m headed. It wasn’t true a few years ago, but if I start flipping through the pages now, I can’t help but notice that the dead, with their addresses and phone numbers still beside them, are creeping up on the living, and that my little address book looks increasingly like a mausoleum.

Age has been on my mind of late, especially when I spend time with you.  This year, my father, your great-grandfather, who died in 1983, would have been 109 years old.  And somehow, I find that moving. I feel him a part of me in ways I wouldn’t have allowed myself to admit in my youth, and so think of myself as more than a century old.  Strangely, this leaves me with a modest, very personal sense of hope. Through my children (and perhaps you, too), someday long after I’m gone, I can imagine myself older still.  Don’t misunderstand me: I haven’t a spiritual bone in my body, but I do think that, in some fashion, we continue to live inside each other and so carry each other onward.

As happens with someone of my age, the future seems to be foreshortening and yet it remains the remarkable mystery it’s always been.  We can’t help ourselves: we dream about, wonder about, and predict what the future might hold in store for us.  It's an urge that, I suspect, is hardwired into us.  Yet, curiously enough, we’re regularly wrong in the futures we dream up. Every now and then, though, you peer ahead and see something that proves -- thanks to your perceptiveness or pure dumb luck (there’s no way to know which) -- eerily on target.

Focus: Trans-Pacific Partnership - Apr 23, 2015


U.S. legislation to give the White House 'fast track' authority to nail down Pacific trade pact clears Senate panel - Reuters


Wyden Statement on Finance Committee Passage of Trade Legislation - The United States Senate Committee on Finance


Senate panel rejects amendment on trade law to seek enforcement against currency manipulators - detroitnews.com


U.S. Senate committee backs extension of aid for trade-displaced workers - Daily Mail Online


U.S. House Democrat Levin proposes alternative to fast track trade bill - Reuters


House Dems Leaders back Levin’s alternative trade bill - TheHill


Levin Opening Statement at Hearing on Trade Promotion Authority - Committee on Ways and Means


Levin to Offer TPA Substitute to Put TPP on Right Track, Summary and Full Text of the Substitute Available Here  - Congressman Sandy Levin


Top House Democrat Levin backs plan on currency sanctions in trade bill - Reuters


Testimony by Ambassador Michael Froman to the Senate Finance Committee on Congressional Trade Priorities - United States Trade Representative


New Administration Report: Exports Helping to Support Jobs, Growth, Small Businesses Across America - United States Trade Representative


Hollywood joins push for Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal - LA Times


Leaked Email Reveals How Hollywood Opposed 'Fair Use' Protections In Secretive Trade Agreement - huffingtonpost.com


Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S. - NYTimes.com


Despite Leak Of TPP Text, Obama Officials Say Trade Deal Will Not Let Companies Overturn US Laws - .ibtimes.com


Elizabeth Warren's op-ed: The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose - The Washington Post


WikiLeaks - Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - Investment Chapter


REPORT: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress - Congressional Research Service  


Opinion: A Look at the Fast Track Bill Shows It’s the Wrong Thing to Do - BillMoyers.com


VIDEO: Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach talks about the "fast track" negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal - C-SPAN.org


Progressives ready big ad buy targeting fast track legislation that would expedite an Obama administration-backed trade deal with Pacific states - POLITICO


---------------------------------------------------------

VIDEO: President Obama on Hardball: Elizabeth Warren Is ‘Wrong’ On Trade - YouTube


Elizabeth Warren says Obama is the one who is wrong on trade, urges him to make the secretive trade deal public - POLITICO


VIDEO: Elizabeth Warren At The Stop Fast Track Rally! - YouTube


Statement by Elizabeth Warren: You can't read this - Elizabeth Warren for Senate


Hillary Clinton slammed for not taking sides on trade deal - NY Daily News


VIDEO: Hillary Co-Chair: 'I Don't Know' Where She Stands on TPP - Breitbart


Sanders stalled Senate committee vote on trade bill (VIDEO) - burlingtonfreepress.com


Sanders: Slow Down Fast Track - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont


Sanders’ letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman outlining serious concerns about the proposed trade agreement - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont 


U.S. Chamber, AFL-CIO clash at Senate hearing over Obama’s free trade push - The Washington Post


AFL-CIO's Trumka: USTR Told Us Murder Isn't A Violation Under U.S. Trade Deals - huffingtonpost.com


US Steel Warns Of Layoffs In Arkansas And Texas As Trans-Pacific Partnership Looms - ibtimes.com


Trans-Pacific Partnership: Japan, US Still Gridlocked Over Auto And Agricultural Exports, But China’s Growing Influence Could Change That - ibtimes.com


Opinion: Fast Track could lead to unlimited immigration - americanthinker.com


Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement - Electronic Frontier Foundation


New trade offer could block generic medicines from US - .statesmennews.com


Help us fix the TPP! - Doctors Without Borders USA


MoveOn Petitions: Vote no on fast track legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - MoveOn 

 

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Nick Turse: AFRICOM Behaving Badly

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: We have news and a special offer for TomDispatch readers today. As all TD obsessives know, for the last two years award-winning journalist Nick Turse has been covering a striking development tenaciously and practically alone: the “pivot” of U.S. Africa Command to that continent. It’s a major story that, at the moment, simply can’t be found elsewhere and it’s now in book form, thanks to our growing publishing program at Dispatch Books. Its title: Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and it’s that ominous “tomorrow” that catches just why we should all be concerned. Right now, when you think of war, American-style, what comes to mind is Iraq or Afghanistan or maybe Libya or even Yemen, but as Turse makes clear, tomorrow it could be Mali, or Nigeria, or Niger, or dozens of other places on the African continent. This story should be a significant beat for the mainstream media, but as of now almost no one’s paying attention except, of course, the U.S. military -- andTomDispatch. Glenn Greenwald calls Nick's new book “gripping and meticulous... his investigations... reveal a secret war with grave implications for Africans and Americans alike.” Noam Chomsky says, “Nick Turse’s investigative reporting has revealed a remarkable picture of evolving U.S. military operations in Africa that have been concealed from view, but have ominous portent, as he demonstrates vividly and in depth.” That’s why, both for your own information and to support a small operation that does big things, you really should pick up a copy of Nick’s remarkable new book of reportage, available now and officially published in a few days. (If you want to order it directly from our publisher, the stalwart and remarkable Haymarket Books, just click here and then, for a special publication date discount of 40%, enter this code, TBF40, at checkout.)

For those of you who would like to support TomDispatch in a slightly more grandiose way and help keep us atop the latest developments in a roiling world, a contribution of $100 to this site will get you a signed, personalized copy of Tomorrow’s Battlefield. It’s an offer we hope you’ll jump at, giving us the sort of financial boost we always need. Just check out our donation pagefor the details -- and, as ever, many thanks in advance. One small scheduling matter: for those of you who get your contributions to us within 36 hours of the posting of this piece, a signed book will be in the mail to you almost immediately. For the rest of you: be patient. The next batch of books won’t go out until early May. Tom]

There were those secret service agents sent to Colombia to protect the president on a summit trip and the prostitutes they brought back to their hotel rooms. There was the Air Force general on a major bender in Moscow (with more women involved). There were those Drug Enforcement Administration agents and their “sex parties” abroad (possibly in Colombia again) financed by -- no kidding! -- local drug cartels. And there were, of course, the two senior secret service agents who, after a night of drinking, ran their car into a White House security barrier.

That's what we do know from the headlines and news reports, when it comes to sex, drugs, and acting truly badly abroad (as well as at home). And yet there's so much more, as TomDispatch’s intrepid Nick Turse reports today. As you'll see, Turse has unearthed a continent’s worth of bad behavior, even as U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) went out of its way to obstruct his reporting and the documents he obtained under the Freedom of Information Act were so heavily redacted that ink companies must be making a fortune.  No one should, of course, be surprised that as AFRICOM has quietly and with almost no attention pivoted to Africa, making inroads in 49 of the 54 countries on that continent, a certain kind of all-American behavior has “pivoted” with it. In a revelatory piece today, Turse -- whose groundbreaking new book, Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, has just been published -- pulls the curtain back on one bit of scandalous and disturbing behavior after another on a continent that Washington is in the process of making its own; in other words (given the pattern of the last 13 years), that it’s helping to destabilize in a major way.

If you want a little bit of light comedy to leaven the news, only a few weeks ago, AFRICOM hosted military lawyers from 17 African nations at its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. The subject of the gathering: “the rule of law.” As Lieutenant General Steven Hummer, AFRICOM deputy to the commander of military operations, said in his opening remarks, “The rule of law is our most important export.” Turse has a slightly different interpretation of what the U.S. is “exporting” to Africa along with destabilization and blowback. Tom

 

Sex, Drugs, and Dead Soldiers 

What U.S. Africa Command Doesn’t Want You to Know 

By Nick Turse

Six people lay lifeless in the filthy brown water.

It was 5:09 a.m. when their Toyota Land Cruiser plunged off a bridge in the West African country of Mali.  For about two seconds, the SUV sailed through the air, pirouetting 180 degrees as it plunged 70 feet, crashing into the Niger River.

Three of the dead were American commandos.  The driver, a captain nicknamed “Whiskey Dan,” was the leader of a shadowy team of operatives never profiled in the media and rarely mentioned even in government publications.  One of the passengers was from an even more secretive unit whose work is often integral to Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which conducts clandestine kill-and-capture missions overseas.  Three of the others weren’t military personnel at all or even Americans.  They were Moroccan women alternately described as barmaids or "prostitutes."    

Ukraine: Coup, Couth, and Consequences

The West Snubs Russia over V-E Day

April 20, 2015

Editor Note:  Last year’s U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine – followed by violence and tensions – has soured plans for the May 9 commemoration in Moscow of World War II’s V-E Day, the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany, a war which cost the Russian people nearly 27 million dead.

By Ray McGovern

The controversy over alleged Russian “aggression” in Ukraine is already raining on the Kremlin parade with which Russia will mark the 70th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Adolf Hitler and the Nazis on May 9. U.S. President Barack Obama set the tone by turning down the Kremlin’s invitation to take part in the celebration, and allies in Western Europe have been equally uncouth in saying No.

Focus: Hillary Clinton - Apr 21, 2015


New book, ‘Clinton Cash,’ questions foreign donors to Foundation, they allegedly received favors from State Department in return - NYTimes


New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton book - POLITICO.com


During Hillary Clinton’s four years at the State Department her husband was paid $47.7 million for speaking fees - Bloomberg


ARCHIVE: State Department approved 215 Bill Clinton speeches worth $48m; Hillary's COS copied on all decisions - WashingtonExaminer.com


Hillary Criticizes High CEO Pay, Charges $300K Per Speech (VIDEO) -  foxnews.com


ARCHIVE: The Clintons: From ‘dead broke’ to multimillionaires - Washington Post


White House Won't Comment on Reports of Preferential Treatment for Clinton Foundation Donors - ABC News


VIDEO: White House Won’t Say Clinton Donations Didn’t Affect Policy - whitehousedossier


Hillary Clinton dismisses book on Foundation donations as an example of "distractions and attacks", She does not address allegations - BuzzFeed


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Dodges Question About 'Clinton Cash' Book - YouTube


VIDEO: Clinton Spokeswoman Finney: Book on Foundation "Rehashed" Publicly Available Information, "Not Necessarily New Information" - RealClearPolitics


VIDEO: John Podesta on Hillary and 'Clinton Cash' - YouTube


Clinton Cash Author Peter Schweizer's Long History Of Errors, Retractions, And Questionable Sourcing - Media Matters for America


Who Is Peter Schweizer, 'Clinton Cash' Author? 5 Things To Know About Hillary Clinton Book Writer - ibtimes.com


Hillary Clinton's Big Benefactor Has Trade Links with Iran - newsweek.com


Clinton Foundation scandal prevents further work in Dominican Republic - Fox News Latino


Menendez co-‘conspirator’ hosted Bill and Hillary at vacation getaway - New York Post


Upcoming Anti-Hillary books may be this season's new genre - CSMonitor.com


VIDEO (and transcript): Rand Paul says secret scandal will wreck Hillary Clinton's campaign - Fox News


Rand Paul is taking aim at Hillary and the Clinton Foundation on his Twitter page: "Do you know of Hillary Clinton accepting money from foreign countries? Report it now" - newsmax.com


VIDEO: Rep. Gowdy Wants Answers About Hillary’s Emails, But Without the ‘Theatrics’ or ‘Legal Drama’ - MRCTV


POLL: Hillary Clinton dominates Democratic field, GOP field remains too close to tell - WashingtonExaminer.com


Hillary Clinton ignores liberals' calls to expand Social Security benefits - Washington Times


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Emails: How Obama Administration Secretly Approved Expanding Piece of Enbridge's "Keystone XL Clone"

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog has obtained dozens of emails that lend an inside view of how the U.S. State Department secretly handed Enbridge a permit to expand the capacity of its U.S.-Canada border-crossing Alberta Clipper pipeline, which carries tar sands diluted bitumen ("dilbit") from Alberta to midwest markets. 

The Decline and Fall of the United States

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
--Robert Frost

After a speech I gave this past weekend, a young woman asked me whether a failure by the United States to properly surround and intimidate China might result in instability. I explained why I thought the opposite was true. Imagine if China had military bases along the Canadian and Mexican borders with the United States and ships in Bermuda and the Bahamas, Nova Scotia and Vancouver. Would you feel stabilized? Or might you feel something else?

The U.S. empire can continue to see itself as a force for good, doing things that would be unacceptable for anyone else but never to be questioned when performed by the global cop -- that is, it can go on not seeing itself at all, expanding, over-reaching, and collapsing from within. Or it can recognize what it's about, shift priorities, scale back militarism, reverse the concentration of wealth and power, invest in green energy and human needs, and undo the empire a bit sooner but far more beneficially. Collapse is not inevitable. Collapse or redirection is inevitable, and thus far the U.S. government is choosing the path toward the former.

Let's look at a few of the indicators.

FAILING DEMOCRACY

The United States bombs nations in the name of democracy, yet has one of the least democratic and least functioning of the states calling themselves democracies. The U.S. has the lowest voter turnout among wealthy, and lower even than many poor, countries. An election is looming for next year with leading contenders from two aristocratic dynasties. The United States does not use national public initiatives or referenda in the way that some countries do, so its low voter turnout (with over 60% of eligible voters choosing not to vote in 2014) matters all the more. The U.S. democracy is also less democratic than other wealthy democracies in terms of its internal functioning, with a single individual able to launch wars.

Low public participation is not the result of satisfaction so much as recognition of corruption, combined with antidemocratic barriers to participating. For years now 75% to 85% of the U.S. public has been saying its government is broken. And clearly a big part of that understanding is related to the system of legalized bribery that funds elections. Approval of Congress has been under 20% and sometimes under 10% for years now. Confidence in Congress is at 7% and falling quickly.

Recently a man, expecting to lose his job at the very least, landed a little bicycle-helicopter at the U.S. Capitol to try to deliver requests to clean the money out of elections. He cited as his motivation the "collapse of this country." Another man showed up at the U.S. Capitol with a sign reading "Tax the 1%" and proceeded to shoot himself in the head. Polls suggest those are not the only two people who see the problem -- and, it should be noted, the solution.

Of course, the U.S. "democracy" operates in greater and greater secrecy with ever greater powers of surveillance. The World Justice Project ranks the United States below many other nations in these categories: Publicized laws and government data; Right to information; Civic participation; and Complaint mechanisms.

The U.S. government is currently working on ratifying, in secret, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which empowers corporations to overturn laws enacted by the U.S. government.

WEALTH CONCENTRATION

A political system dominated by wealth could be democratic if wealth were evenly distributed. Sadly, the United States has a greater disparity of wealth than almost any other nation on earth. Four hundred U.S. billionaires have more money than half the people of the United States combined, and those 400 are celebrated for it rather than shamed. With the United States trailing most nations in income equality, this problem is only getting worse. The 10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn't look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built. And you have to be careful when you drive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution -- most often from military operations.

The core of the U.S. sales pitch to itself is that, for all its flaws it provides freedom and opportunity. In fact, it trails most European countries in economic mobility, self-assessment of wellbeing, and ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, according to Gallup, 2014.

DEGRADING INFRASTRUCTURE

The United States contains 4.5 percent of the world’s population and spends 42 percent of the world's health care expenses, and yet Americans are less healthy than the residents of nearly every other wealthy nation and a few poor ones as well. The U.S. ranks 36th in life expectancy and 47th in preventing infant mortality.

The U.S. spends more on criminal justice and has more crime, and more gun deaths than most countries, rich or poor. That includes shootings by U.S. police that kill about 1,000 per year, compared to single digits in various Western nations.

The U.S. comes in 57th in employment, stands against the trend of the world by providing no guarantee of paid parental leave or vacation, and trails in education by various measures. The United States, however, leads the way in putting students into debt for their education to the tune of $1.3 trillion, part of a wider problem of personal debt.

The United States is #1 in debt to other countries, including governmental debt, although #3 per capita. As others have pointed out, the U.S. is declining in terms of exports, and the power of the dollar and its use as currency for the globe are in doubt.

DROP IN POPULAR OPINION ABROAD

In early 2014 there were unusual news stories about Gallup's end-of-2013 polling because after polling in 65 countries with the question "Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?" the overwhelming winner had been the United States of America. In fact, the United States is less generous with aid but more profligate with bombs and missiles than other countries and trails generally in how it treats the rest of the world.

The United States leads the way in environmental destruction, trailing only China in carbon dioxide emissions but almost tripling China's emissions when measured per capita.

The second U.S.-backed dictator in Yemen in the past few years has now fled to Saudi Arabia and requested the bombing of his own country with U.S. weapons, a country in chaos in significant part because a U.S. drone war has given popular support to violent opposition to the U.S. and its servants.

ISIS produced a 60-minute film depicting itself as the leading enemy of the U.S. and essentially asking the U.S. to attack it. The U.S. did and its recruitment soared.

The United States is favored by brutal governments in Egypt and around the region, but not by popular support.

MILITARISM FOR ITS OWN SAKE

The United States is far and away the leading selling and giver of weapons to the world; the leading spender on its own military, with expenses having skyrocketed to now about $1.3 trillion per year, roughly equivalent to the rest of the world put together; the leading occupier of the world with troops in almost every other country; and the leading participant in and instigator of wars.

The United States is also, far and away, the leader in incarceration, with more people and a higher percentage of people locked up than in any other time or place, and with even more people on parole and probation and under the control of the prison system. More African-Americans are locked up than were slaves prior to the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. is likely the first and only place on earth where the majority of sexual assault victims are male.

Civil liberties are eroding rapidly. Surveillance is expanding dramatically. And all in the name of war without end. But the wars are endless defeats, generating enemies rather than any advantage. The wars empower and create enemies, enrich nations engaged in nonviolent investment, and empower the war profiteers to push for more wars. The propaganda for the wars fails to boost military enlistment at home, so the U.S. government turns to mercenaries (creating additional pressure for more wars) and to drones. But the drones boost the creation of hatred and enemies exponentially, generating blowback that sooner or later will include blowback by means of drones -- which the U.S. war profiteers are marketing around the globe.

RESISTANCE GROWING

Resistance to empire does not come only in the form of a replacement empire. It can take the form of violent and nonviolent resistance to militarism, economic resistance to exploitation, and collective agreement to improve the world. When Iran urges India, China, and Russia to oppose NATO's expansion, it is not necessarily dreaming of global empire or even of cold war, but certainly of resistance to NATO. When bankers suggest the Yuan will replace the dollar, that need not mean that China will duplicate the Pentagon.

The current U.S. trajectory threatens to collapse not just the United States but the world in one or both of two ways: nuclear or environmental apocalypse. Green energy models and antimilitarism constitute resistance to this path. The model of Costa Rica with no military, 100% renewable energy, and ranked at the top in happiness is a form of resistance too. At the end of 2014, Gallup of course did not dare ask again what nation was the greatest threat to peace but did ask if people would ever fight in a war. In many nations large majorities said No, never.

The United States is growing isolated in its support for the institution of war. Last year 31 Latin American and Caribbean nations declared that they would never use war. U.S. support for Israeli wars has left it virtually alone and up against a growing campaign for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The United States is increasingly understood as rogue, as it remains the lone or nearly lone holdout on the treaty on the rights of the child, the land mines treaty, the covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights, the International Criminal Court, etc.

Latin American nations are standing up to the United States. Some have kicked out its bases and ceased sending students to the School of the Americas. People are protesting at US bases in Italy, South Korea, England, and at US Embassies in Philippines, Czech Republic, Ukraine. German courts are hearing charges that it is illegally participating in US drone wars. Pakistani courts have indicted top CIA officials.

EXCEPTIONALISM ON THE ROPES

The idea of American exceptionalism is not a serious claim so much as an attitude among the U.S. public. While the U.S. trails other nations in various measures of health, happiness, education, sustainable energy, economic security, life expectancy, civil liberties, democratic representation, and peace, and while it sets new records for militarism, incarceration, surveillance, and secrecy, many Americans think of it as so exceptional as to excuse all sorts of actions that are unacceptable in others. Increasingly this requires willful self-deception. Increasingly the self-deception is failing.

When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on the military than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death he wasn't warning us. He was warning our parents and grandparents. We're the dead.

Can we be revived?

Speaking Events

2015

May 8 New Jersey

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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