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City on the Ledge

I just read a terrific novel set in contemporary Quito, Ecuador, with the main characters employees of the U.S. State Department and the CIA.

This is not an easy one to write about without spoiling the plot.  Let me just say that it's politically and psychologically insightful.  It doesn't simplify or glorify.  It doesn't beautify or brutalize human behavior.  And you will find yourself trusting that it's going somewhere good, but you will not be able to say exactly where.

If Bradley Manning didn't exist we would have to invent him.  Kraske has invented a narrative that takes us inside the workings of our government in a way that no collection of State Department cables ever could.  For better or worse, I suspect he's taken us to a place very closely resembling the real thing.

 

Audio: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss NBC's New War Reality Show

Charlottesville Right Now: 7-30-12 David Swanson

David Swanson from davidswanson.org joins the show to discuss a new NBC show called Stars Earn Stripes that turns war into a reality show. LISTEN.

And then ...

Do Something About It!

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

If you've watched the Olympics on NBC you've probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality. 

The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn't try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in "war competition" on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes"  will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.

"Stars Earn Stripes" is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event.  But the sport it's exhibiting is war.

On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly.  NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs.  Other nations' media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events.  Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.  While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can't seem to get enough of our tax dollars.  In the spirit of transferring veterans' care to the realm of private charity, "Stars Earn Stripes" will give prize money each week to "military-based charities" in order to "send a message." 

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as financial profit.  (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war.  And consider for a moment who that retired general is.  During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.

StarsEarnStripes.org  is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months.  We've provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

69 Nations Have More U.S. Troops Than Olympic Athletes

Here is a link to a list of U.S. troops deployed to various nations around the world: PDF. These are permanent deployments openly admitted to by the U.S. military.  When U.S. Special Forces drive off a bridge in Mali, as recently happened, we discover that U.S. troops are in Mali in greater numbers than we knew, but those troops aren't listed here or considered in the calculation below.  No secret forces are considered here, no allied forces funded or trained or armed by the United States, and of course no drones.

Here is a link to the number of athletes participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics from countries around the world: Link.

Video: Greg Muttitt on the Untold Story of the War on Iraq for Oil

Greg Muttitt Speaks About His Book "Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq"
Charlottesville, VA
July 24, 2012
Random Row Books

Talk Nation Radio: Clinical Psychologist Bruce Levine Says U.S. Citizenry Particularly Inactive

Clinical psychologist Bruce Levine says the U.S. public is particularly inactive.  Levine explains how we got this way, and how we might be cured.  Levine is the author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.  He also contributed a chapter to The Military Industrial Complex at 50.  Levine's website is http://brucelevine.net

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

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Roots Action

Want to be part of most progressive strategic and fast growing online group I know of, and keep it growing, and keep me employed? Go take an action (it takes 30 seconds) at http://rootsaction.org

THANKS!
David

Greg Muttitt in Charlottesville, VA, on Tuesday, July 24th

Greg Muttitt, visiting from the U.K., is the author of the brand new book on Iraq that is making a lot of news.  It's called Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq.

"Nothing short of a secret history of the war" -- Naomi Klein.

Democracy Now aired this interview of Greg this week.

Greg will speak and answer your questions:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 7 p.m.

Random Row Books
315 West Main Street 
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 295-2493
Map

Please sign up and spread the word on FaceBook!

Please email and tell everyone you know!

About Fuel on the Fire:

The departure of the last U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011 left a broken country and a host of unanswered questions. What was the war really about? Why and how did the occupation drag on for nearly nine years, while most Iraqis, Britons, and Americans desperately wanted it to end? And why did the troops have to leave?

Now, in a gripping account of the war that dominated US and UK foreign policy over the last decade, investigative reporter and activist Greg Muttitt takes us behind the scenes to answer some of these questions and reveals the previously untold story of the oil politics that played out
through the occupation of Iraq.

Drawing upon hundreds of unreleased government documents and extensive interviews with senior American, British, and Iraqi officials, Muttitt exposes the plans and preparations that were in place to shape policies in favor of American and British energy interests. But he also tells the inspiring story of how Iraqi trade unions organized not only to defend their members’ rights, but also to thwart many of the USA’s oil plans  -- with remarkable success. Through their stories, we begin to see a very different Iraq from the one our politicians have told us about.

In light of the Arab revolutions, the war in Libya, and renewed threats against Iran, Fuel on the Fire provides a vital guide to the lessons from Iraq and of the global consequences of our persistent oil addiction.

"Excellent... a textbook example of how international pressures are put on politicians to get them to buckle" - The Guardian

"Set to turn our understanding of the war on its head" - The Independent

"Will trouble the most ardent liberal interventionist" -
Petroleum Economist

"The Iraqi civil society voices resound with dignity in this brilliant, comprehensive account" - New Internationalist

Military NASCAR Sponsorships Live On

We lost 202-216 on cutting military NASCAR sponsorships. We could have used a tiny bit more push. In contrast, the proposal to cut military band $$ lost 166-250 with nobody pushing against it at all.

Minnesota Town Bans Signs in Yards Unless They're Pro-War

At a festival called Peacestock in Wisconsin last weekend, I met a woman who lives in Little Falls, Minnesota.  That city had forced her to take down signs in her own yard, signs that said "Occupy Wall Street," "Back the 99 Percent" and "Boycott Monsanto."

But Robin Hensel noticed that the city itself was displaying, in violation of the same ordinance, a banner reading "We Support Our Troops." 

For anyone who's been visiting outerspace for the past half-century, "support our troops" is, of course, a phrase meaning "support whatever wars our government engages in."  Thus, we ocassionally see signs reading "Support our troops: Bring them home," a message that is understood to reverse the common meaning of "support our troops" by giving it a literal interpretation. 

Well, Hensel proposed that the banner come down, in compliance with the law -- acting on the idea that even bad laws should be enforced fairly. 

And then came the death threats.

These kinds of incidents -- and I've been through them too, and can testify to the viciousness the threats can take on -- expose the darker meaning behind "support our troops."  That meaning is "death to the other side."  Needless to say, the work of troops is killing.  Those on the other side in a war are supposed to die.  The official bragging about how many have died, so common during the Vietnam War, has not been entirely absent from the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hensel placed herself in the enemy camp, in the minds of some war proponents.  And therefore she needed to die.  The threats flooded in.

Hensel was also turned down by the city in a request for permission to set up an Occupy encampment, but corporate groups were permitted to do everything she'd requested and more.

Hensel is now suing Little Falls in district court, with help from a local attorney and from former associate deputy attorney general of the United States Bruce Fein, who can be expected to denounce the city's assault on the First Amendment in the most powerful and eloquent manner.  The complaint filed states:

"The city of Little Falls has no excuse in law for wrongfully harassing a 58-year-old grandmother because she colorfully expressed an unpopular viewpoint on her own property. And that is exactly what the Defendant City did. Indeed, at every turn the Defendants brandished their government authority to suppress or burden Plaintiff's viewpoints because of hostility to their ideas and to facilitate and promote viewpoints they found agreeable."

A columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jon Tevlin, has reported on this story three times, here, here, and here. How many other stories like this go unreported?

Little Falls' city government needs an overhaul, and Robin Hensel is going to run for office.

Our mental slavery needs an overhaul as well.  The idea that by murdering large numbers of foreign Muslims we expand our "freedoms" coexists with radical curtailment of our rights.  Our rights shrink in direct proportion to military spending.  We can be spied on without warrant, locked up without charge, or murdered -- all as a result of the latest war for "freedom."  We can also be locked in free-speech cages for protests and see our freedom to speak, assemble, or petition our government shut down -- all in the name of the war that is supposed to make us free by killing people.

The only bit of truth to echo through the Orwellian hum of our militarism is that "freedom isn't free."  That's right.  It takes struggle.  It takes exactly the kind of risk that Robin Hensel is engaged in.

Talk Nation Radio: U.S. Poverty Is Expanding and Worsening

Poverty in the United States is surrounded by myths and misunderstanding.  Poverty is expanding, and extreme poverty is expanding.  The social safety net is retracting.  Congress has just slashed food stamps.  But corporate media coverage that misleads us on the nature and causes of poverty is neither expanding nor improving.  Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.  She discusses this project, which is producing reporting on poverty while providing work to unemployed and under-employed journalists. Learn more at http://economichardship.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

Peacestock Videos


 

Abolishing War: One Last Step

Remarks delivered at Peacestock 2012

I want to thank Bill Habedank for inviting me here and everyone who's been involved in setting up this wonderful event, which ought to be replicated all over this country. Almost our entire population claims to favor peace. At least three quarters of us favor getting the U.S. military out of Afghanistan and ending that particular war, which by the way isn't ending. When carefully surveyed and shown what the federal budget is, a large majority of U.S. residents favors cutting huge amounts of money out of the military and putting it to better use.

Unchecked Military Spending Threatens National Security!

House of Representatives Should Vote:

“YES” for Jobs Program, Federal Aid to States and Vital Social Services! and

“NO” on current proposed FY2013 Pentagon Budget!

Ralph Nader Lists 11 Books You Should Read

Below is Nader's list of books you should read to jolt your mind into action. 

I'm going to skip number 8 because I wrote it, but I'd like to offer it to you at a discount.

When the World Outlawed War Graphic
For the paperback, kindle, epub, PDF, or audio book, just go to:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jolting the mind for action

These are suggested summer readings from Ralph Nader to activate the citizen’s mind:

  1. Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2012. This book is for corporate accountability and the grossly uneven relationships between corporate personhood and real people. Clear, historically founded, compellingly invigorating and connected to a growing movement (see freespeechforpeople.org).
  2. The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley, Patagonia Books, Ventura, California, 2012. You may be wearing the apparel of this outdoor clothing company, but you may not be aware of the remarkable pioneering practices and counter-intuitive wisdom of this successful company and its casual, underworking founder and outdoorsman, Yvon Chouinard.
  3. Government is Good by Douglas J. Amy, creator of governmentisgood.com, Dog Ear Publishing, Indianapolis, IN 2011. This professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College debunks the myths of corporatist-Republican propaganda, surfaces the realities of government’s services, explains the war on government and how to revitalize both democracy and government from its present distortions by self-seeking organized private power. Douglas Amy is the man Cong. Paul Ryan would never debate.
  4. Buying America Back by Alan Uke, Selectbooks, New York, 2012. Uke is a domestic manufacturer of Scuba diving and industrial lighting products and the architect of the federal Automobile Smog Index. The book’s dedication is “to the workers displaced, the factories closed, the small towns decimated and the opportunities denied to the people of America. It is also dedicated to all of us, the consumers, whose money has been harvested by those who work against us.” He has proposed to put a specific fight-back tool in our hands.
  5. We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley, Vanguard Press, New York, 2012. The former U.S. Senator and basketball start delivers his wide-ranging thoughts on the book’s title. The book is short, clear and tells you where he stands. If presidential campaigns covered such subjects, the people would know where the candidates stand, instead of the blizzard of trivia, repetition and distortion to which they are exposed.
  6. Bad Brake: Ford Trucks Deadly When Parked, by Robert Zausner, Camino Books, Philadelphia, 2012. If you want to see the gripping persistent pursuit of the rights of people whose lives were devastated by a popular truck defective brake design by trial lawyers at their creative best, read this documented story. As Arthur Bryant, director of Public Justice, wrote: “The book shows how trial lawyers are our last line of defense against corporations maximizing profits over people’s safety and lives.”
  7. The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs by David C. Unger, Penguin Press, New York, 2012. The book’s title understates the depth of the author’s indictment of the national security state – built by both political parties – into a folly that has traded away “the country’s greatest strengths for a fleeting illusion of safety.” Unger does not leave his readers hanging. He provides them with ten proposals to reverse course.
  8. When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson, (self-published, 2011). The author of several books, political activist and civic leader, brings to contemporary memory the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that outlawed war. Still on the books and signed by 54 countries, including the United States, the Treaty was the result of the leadership of assertive citizens in many countries and their governmental officials, including our Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, following the horrors of that preventable World War I. Our forebears’ vision should stimulate their descendants today into a reawakening for muscular institutions of peace.
  9. My Seventy Years in the Labor Movement by Harry Kelber, Labor Educator Press, New York, 2006. Now at age 98 and writing articles every week on his blog http://laboreducator.org, Harry Kelber has been championing working men and women for seventy-five years and holding slugglishy-led trade unions’ feet to the fire. With no one else stepping up, he is running for the presidency of the AFL-CIO on a detailed reform platform of greater activism. An inspirational, instructive auto-biography.
  10. Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite by Bruce E. Levine, Chelsea Green, 2011. Going beyond the how-to-become-active civic handbook, Levine, a clinical psychologist invites us to explore what he calls the “learned helplessness” that has “taken hold for a great many Americans…locked into an abuse syndrome in which revelations about their victimization by a corporate-government partnership produce increased anesthetization rather than constructive action.” The author, citing historian Lawrence Goodwy, then shows many ways toward “individual self-respect” and “collective self-confidence,” the “cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.”
  11. Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Nation Books, New York, 2012. This brilliant combination of prose and graphic comics reports from the field on four of the poorest, most abandoned areas of the U.S. The plight of the Americans barely existing there reflects the power of the corporate supremacists and their indentured governments to exploit and deny.

Want to disturb your routine and enliven your vision for human possibilities, read through the above works. It will take you a lot less time than the authors spent delivering their minds to yours.

Talk Nation Radio: An Israeli General's Son Meets Palestinians, Reverses His Beliefs

What happens when an Israeli from a Zionist military family meets Palestinians and hears their side of the story?  Miko Peled was brought around to researching the history of Israel and of his own family.  His grandfather signed Israel's Declaration of Independence.  His father was a general in the war of 1967.  His neice was killed in a suicide attack in Jersalem.  He has come to see the story of Israel as virtually the reverse of what he had believed.  Peled discusses his new book, The General's Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, with a foreword by Alice Walker.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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

Friendly Peaceful Canada Actually the Worst Place on Earth?

By Douglas Ou-ee-ii-jay-ii Jack

OH - CANADA

As a Canadian, I would like to propose that Canada is a much larger belligerent aggressor per capita in the world than media, the public and organizations like the United Nations recognize. Canada's silent role as a (perhaps 'the') major world leader in living off of the trade proceeds of war, death, injury and destruction, remains outside public consciousness. Canada and the USA seem to act as indivisible twins of death, yet Canada hides behind a media-military-industrial-complex which continues to portray Canada as a 'pacifist' nation.

Hope to See You in Minnesota and Wisconsin This Weekend

On Friday July 13th, David Swanson will be speaking at 7 p.m. at Mayday Books
301 Cedar Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Learn more.

And Saturday, July 14th is PEACESTOCK 2012 in Hager City, WI, with music, tents for shade, lots of cold water, and speakers including Father Roy Bourgeois, the Rev. Duane Kamrath, Josh Ruebner, and David Swanson. Learn more at
http://peacestockvfp.org

Talk Nation Radio: Bombs Bursting in Air, Alice Slater on Nuclear Weaponry in the World Today

Host David Swanson provides his thoughts on the Fourth of July, and interviews guest Alice Slater on the state of nuclear weaponry in the United States and around the world.  Slater is New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a Founder of Abolition 2000, a Board Member of the Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy, a member of the Steering Committee of Shut Down Indian Point, and of the Energy Committee of the New York City Bar Association, a member of the Antiwar and Environmental Solidarity Working Groups at Occupy Wall Street, and on the advisory boards of the Rideau Institute and the Global Network Against Weapons in Space.  Slater provides the listener with an overview of nuclear weaponry and nuclear power.  Who has the weapons?  Where are they?  What is their legal status?  What is being done to reduce or proliferate?  Can nations acquire nuclear power without nuclear weapons?  And is the Obama administration helping or hurting?

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy or RadioProject.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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RootsAction Sends 13,000 Emails to Ecuadorean Embassy Supporting Assange

The U.S. online activist group RootsAction has sent emails from over 13,000 people to the Ecuadorean Embassy in Washington, D.C. in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's request for asylum.

The emails are generated when anyone signs and clicks "Send" on this page
http://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6213

The flood of supportive messages has been publicly noted by the government of Ecuador.

"Sweden has a record of bowing to U.S. pressure, including the handing over of two men to the CIA in 2006 -- leading the U.N. to find Sweden complicit in torture," reads RootsAction's appeal.  The WikiLeaks founder faces the possibility of extradition to Sweden from England, and then to the United States from Sweden.

"The United States reportedly has a sealed indictment prepared for Assange, charging him with crimes against 'national security.'  The United States has a record of, and an open formal policy of, incarceration without proper trial, solitary confinement and other abusive treatment, and the death penalty.  Assange has the international human right to be protected from such a nation and to request asylum elsewhere.  Assange, neither charged with nor convicted of any crime, is acting out of fear of our nation's abuses of the rule of law.  It is the same fear that has led some of his WikiLeaks colleagues to quit doing the work that has so benefitted the people of our country and the world."

RootsAction is an online initiative dedicated to galvanizing millions of Americans who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars.  Learn more: http://rootsaction.org/about-rootsaction

American Autumn: An Occudoc

Dennis Trainor, Jr., has produced a full-length movie of the Occupy movement, and he's done a hell of a great job.

The Occupy movement was created, as are all movements in the United States, in large part by the corporate media.  They didn't understand it.  They didn't want it.  They didn't originate it or take part in it or develop its brilliants insights, effective techniques, or inspiring courage.  They transmitted what to them was an indecipherable code that reached their viewers and readers with the obvious clarity of a crack on the head.  They got huge assists from brutal cops and incompetent mayors.  But it was the corporate media that took something in one city and made it big and made it national. 

Then, as always, the corporate media turned hostile and lost interest and went away.

Talk Nation Radio: Contempt, Congress, and Elizabeth Holtzman on How to Prosecute George W. Bush

The political parties in Washington, D.C., have switched sides for the moment.  Now the Democrats accept presidential power abuses, while the Republicans are outraged, selectively, by a few of them.  Host David Swanson gives his thoughts.  Guest Elizabeth Holtzman discusses the possibility of creating a climate of accountability by prosecuting George W. Bush.  Holtzman was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.  She proposed the bill that required review of state secrets claims, as well as the bill that created a special prosecutor -- a law that was allowed to lapse following Kenneth Starr's abuse of it.  She was there for the creation of FISA.  She has brought Nazi war criminals to justice.  She was a leading advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.  Liz Holtzman's new book, co-authored with Cynthia Cooper, is called Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution, and What We Can Do About It.  In the book, and in this interview, Holzman builds a case that Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney went out of their way to carefully protect themselves from prosecution but nonetheless left themselves open to it.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive.org or AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy or RadioProject.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Embed on your own site with this code:

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The End Is Near

Apocalypse has been given a bad name.  The Seventh Day Adventists are still around.  The Nike sneaker cult failed to open Heaven's Gate.  The new millennium brought us George W. Bush, not Jesus H. Christ.  And everybody's terrified of "drinking the Kool-Aid."

But our species is living beyond its means.  If we continue down this path, the planet, our food supplies, our climate, and life as we know it will collapse.  If we bring population growth, consumption, and pollution under control, the damage already set in motion will play out for centuries, but complete catastrophe will likely be averted.

Nobody likes to be told that the end might be near.  Either it is or it isn't.  And the question is resolved by a personal lifestyle choice.  Do I wish to be a pessimist or an optimist?  Of course, optimist is far more popular.  Even most predictors of apocalypse have actually believed they were predicting a good thing.  The world was to be replaced with something better.  Even our best environmentalists who understand the radical changes needed for survival guarantee they will happen.  Harvey Wasserman says he simply believes in happy endings.

Meanwhile, we can barely get half of us in the United States to "believe" that global warming is happening.  Of course, we step outside and there's a sauna, but that could just be "natural."  So what if the ocean is a few inches higher?  The people who've been predicting that for decades have been wrong until now, and now they're only a little right -- if you even believe them.  The ocean looks about the same to me.  And if they predict exponential acceleration of such changes, meaning that once the changes have become visible it won't be long before they're enormous, well that just proves one thing: they've drunk the Kool-Aid.  They're pessimists.

Veterans For Peace Denounce Secrecy of Drone Programs

"President Barack Obama's administration on Wednesday refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for basic information on its drone programs," remarked President of Veterans For Peace Leah Bolger.  "While programs of assassination ought not to exist at all, this week's response provides further evidence of the extreme secrecy now surrounding so much of what our government does.

"The White House has refused to disclose to the ACLU or the New York Times basic information on drone programs that amount to war-making, claiming that Congress has insisted on such secrecy, even while rejecting inquiries into the drone programs from Congress as well.  Veterans For Peace supports efforts by the United Nations and the international human rights community to bring U.S. drone programs out into the open.

Oh Say, Maybe We Can't See: Another 4th of July

It's just possible that the space of 236 years and a truckload of fireworks are obscuring our vision.

It's hard for us to see what should be obvious.

Many nations -- including Canada as the nearest example -- have gained their independence without wars. We claim that a war was for independence, but if we could have had all the same advantages without the war, would that not have been better?

Back in 1986, a book was published by now Virginia State Delegate and Minority Leader David Toscano, the great nonviolent strategist Gene Sharp, and others, called "Resistance, Politics, and the American Struggle for Independence, 1765-1775."

How Small Abused Nations Could End War

An urgent plea to the nations that my nation likes to kick around.

The U.S. State Department has a list of the treaties it believes are in force and the United States a party to.  On that list one finds this:

RENUNCIATION OF WAR
Treaty providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy.
Signed at Paris August 27, 1928.
Entered into force July 24, 1929.
46 Stat. 2343; TS 796; 2 Bevans 732; 94 LNTS 57.
Parties
Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China 1, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia 2, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia 3, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 4, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Yugoslavia 5.
Notes
1 Pre-1949 convention, applicable only to Taiwan.
2 See note under CZECHOSLOVAKIA in Section 1.
3 See note under ETHIOPIA in Section 1.
4 See note under UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS in Section 1.
5 See note under YUGOSLAVIA in Section 1.

Treaties, under the U.S. Constitution, are the supreme law of the land.  Other nations are equally bound to abide by their treaties.  And this treaty bans war.  It was put in place in 1928 by the wealthy armed nations of the world.  They renounced war but not colonialism or racism.  They ended and avoided wars in the years that followed.  And only once more did they make war on each other -- that occasion being, of course, the catastrophe known as World War II.  As the first war after the establishment of a treaty banning war, World War II was the first war that was followed by criminal prosecution of the crime of war.  The prosecutors got it wrong, however.  The Pact of 1928 banned all war, not aggressive war.  The prosecutions were one-sided victors' justice.  But they, and the horrors of the war, had their impact.  The rich nations -- mine and the others -- never made war on each other again.  Now they exclusively make war on you.

You are the future.  Your populations are soaring while ours are not.  You live under the threat of economic pressure backed up by the threat of war.  I'm speaking to you small nations, but also some of the largest (China, this means you). Some of you are proposing that war be criminalized.  Here's such a proposal from Malaysia.  Why not take advantage of the fact that this has already been done?  Some of you have signed onto the Peace Pact of Paris, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and others could do so, including Malaysia.  You could then insist that all parties to the treaty comply with it.  You don't need anyone's permission to join this treaty.  It has built into it the requirement to accept all comers.  And it does not ban war of a particular description.  It bans ground wars, drone strikes, assassinations, and all non-peaceful means of foreign relations.  We couldn't dream up a better treaty.  We couldn't get the rich warmongering nations to join it if we did.  Thankfully, they've done it for us.  Now we need the non-war-making nations of the world to sign on and build pressure -- in partnership with peace activists in the heart of the empire -- for universal compliance.

I wrote a book last year about how this treaty came to be.  Here's what this treaty says:

ARTICLE I
The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.

ARTICLE II
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.

ARTICLE III
The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the Preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.

This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at Washington and the Treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as; between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.

It shall be the duty of the Government of the United States to furnish each Government named in the Preamble and every Government subsequently adhering to this Treaty with a certified copy of the Treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of the United States telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.

IN FAITH WHEREOF the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty in the French and English languages both texts having equal force, and hereunto affix their seals.

DONE at Paris, the twenty seventh day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.

Contempt on Both Their Houses

Among those who refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas, never mind requests, while George W. Bush was president were: the Department of Justice, the Secretary of State ("not inclined" was Condi's explanation), the Vice President (who preemptively announced he would probably not comply with such silliness and didn't), the White House Counsel, the White House Chief of Staff, the White House Political Director, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, the White House Deputy Political Director, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and so on.  There's a collection of these subpoenas (the targets being Republicans) over at http://democrats.com/subpoenas

You Mean Muslims Make Art?

When Jesus used a good Samaritan to explain the need to appreciate foreigners, he can be forgiven for not having known that so many Samaritans would later convert to Islam.  It's not as if he was omniscient or something!  And think of how much he's forgiven us.  Nonetheless, since we can't reasonably be expected to appreciate Muslims -- at least not while we're teaching young people that Muslims deserve genocide --  that whole parable falls apart.

I doubt one film can solve this problem, but I did just get a chance to preview a beautiful documentary that will be airing on PBS on July 6th, called "Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World."  Susan Sarandon narrates, and the voices are all in English -- no dubbing or subtitles.  They're the voices of professors, art scholars, and artists.  The subtitle could be a reference to cultures of the distant past, as an early comment in the film suggests, or perhaps it carries some sort of religious meaning.

The art in the film is largely but not exclusively religious.  It's all art and architecture of "the Muslim world," taken to mean geographic areas dominated by Muslim culture now or in the past.  We learn about the heavy use of Arabic writing in Islamic art, in calligraphy, and in architectural inscriptions.  We tour great works of architecture in Palestine, Syria, Spain, Turkey, Mali, and India.  In the secular world, apart from the mosques, we see plates, bowls, pitchers, sculptures, and paintings depicting animals and people. 

In Isfahan, in the middle of Iran, so easily bombed, we find the origin of the blue and white ceramics we associate with a nation they spread to: China -- as well as stunning images of a beautiful blue mosque.  During the course of the movie we are told how various Muslim art forms were influenced by Christian or Hindu art.  And of course, the opposite has been just as common.  The interlocking histories of these cultures make it very difficult to speak of one as if it were separate from the others. 

I have to assume that someone who identified with a religion other than Islam could have as easy a time appreciating Islamic art as I do, being an atheist who would prefer to see the world leave religion behind. Some of the experts heard in the film instruct us that various art objects refer to prayer or heaven, or that the art provides the viewer with a religious experience.  And yet if I ignore the commentary what I see are incredible designs and colors developed around natural and mathematical beauty. 

God said: to know me, know my creations, we're told, and yet the flower designs woven into wonderful tapestries in Western Asia inspire even if I'm not trying to know something else that I can know by knowing them, if you know what I mean.

Talk Nation Radio: Bruce Gagnon on U.S. Aggression Toward Russia and China

Bruce Gagnon describes U.S. and NATO plans in the works to militarily surround and threaten both Russia and China.  Gagnon is co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space at http://space4peace.org.  He blogs at http://space4peace.blogspot.com He's the author of Come Together Right Now, and of a chapter in The Military Industrial Complex at 50.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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