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David Swanson discusses his new book When the World Outlawed War in Charlottesville, Va., November 16, 2011.
Charlottesville Event with David Swanson's New Book: "When the World Outlawed War"
WHAT: David Swanson with his new book "When the World Outlawed War" and thoughts on activism past and present
WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., November 16, 2011
WHERE: Random Row Books
315 West Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
THIS EVENT IS A DICK CHENEY FREE ZONE
NO ALUMINUM TUBES OR YELLOW CAKE ALLOWED
Occupy City Council
At 5 p.m. on Monday rally at Lee Park.
March at 6 p.m. to City Hall.
At 6:30 everyone sign up for 3 minutes of speaking time at the 7 p.m. City Council meeting.
The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." But Congress has abridged freedom of the press by giving our air waves to international mega-conglomerates and granting them monopolistic control over what an overworked undereducated populace learns. Our local governments have abridged the right to peacably assemble by forbidding gatherings in public places without special limited permits. How are we to petition our government in Washington for a redress of grievances? Mail, faxes, telephones, and emails don't seem to be working. The government is radically opposing super-majority opinion on taxing the wealthy, taxing corporations, ending wars, cutting military spending, protecting the environment, enforcing laws against the powerful, criminalizing bribery and otherwise reforming the election system. Not everyone can move to Washington, D.C., to exercise their First Amendment rights. And if they did, how would their particular mis-Representative and Senators pick them out in the crowd? Local Occupy camps are a means of petitioning the national government and identifying the petitioners.
Occupy Cville is located across the street from Wells Fargo, to which the occupiers have brought their message. Wells Fargo is arguably a branch of the U.S. federal government. Wells Fargo is one of the largest institutions in the nation. It pays negative taxes. That is, it is richer after taxes than before. It receives funding from our tax dollars. To be specific, Wells Fargo has been given $18 billion in tax breaks during the past three years, resulting in its negative tax rate despite its massive profits. Our federal government is also committed to bailing out Wells Fargo when it runs into trouble and has given it tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Unlike human beings, schools, the economy, the natural environment, our health system, our grandparents, our children, the ill, the hungry, or the unclothed, Wells Fargo is guaranteed protection and assistance whenever it is in need. Wells Fargo pays for our elections, funnelling millions of our tax dollars back into the campaigns of its preferred candidates. In return, Wells Fargo is free to ruin families and neighborhoods through predatory lending, housing cost inflation, insider trading and speculation without any risk of criminal prosecution.
It is in the interests of the City of Charlottesville not to interfere with the First Amendment rights of flesh and blood human beings in assembling and petitioning our corporate-congressional complex for a redress of a great many grievances. —D.S.
Not yet 30, Evan Knappenberger has already lived several lives. His story destroys the U.S. government's case against whistleblower Bradley Manning, exposes the toxic mix of fraud and incompetence that creates U.S. war policies, and highlights the damage so often done to soldiers who come home without visible injuries.
Knappenberger, seen in this video, was trained as an "intelligence analyst" at the U.S. Army's Intelligence Training Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 2003 and 2004, the same school attended by Bradley Manning. In April of this year, the PBS show Frontline, responding to an article Knappenberger had published, flew him to Los Angeles on a private jet, and interviewed him for four hours.
Number 5. When John Yoo came here, he got a good rowdy rule-of-law unwelcome, which no doubt made the Miller Center hesitate to promise Cheney a room free of decent human beings.
Number 4. Our brothers and sisters in San Francisco confronted Cheney with his crimes last week.
Number 3. It's a heck of a lot of crimes.
Number 2. Cheney just might have found himself face-to-face with a set of handcuffs.
I've just sent this letter by email.
In this past weekend's festival of idiocy known as the Republican Presidential Debate, one of the more idiotic of the idiots Newt Gingrich said that if he were president he would murder Iranians and deny responsibility, while another of the more idiotic of the idiots Senator Rick Santorum said that he was aware Iranian scientists had already been being killed and that he sincerely hoped the United States was behind those murders.
Also this past weekend, another Iranian scientist was murdered, with sources crediting Mossad. In other words, the United States is either central to or complicit in and tolerant of at least some of the murders. Whether Santorum will now endorse Obama for the Republican nomination is still unclear.
Congress Members Engage in Routine Insider Trading; Topic Reduces 60 Minutes to Non-Corporate Media Status
Here is a video by 60 Minutes all about the making of a story by 60 Minutes. The reason is the extreme lengths the show thinks it went to to get comments from a member of Congress: staking out their public events and likely appearances, the same thing everyone else who wants to ask the important questions has always had to do for years. The story here is not exactly as presented. The story is that 60 Minutes has dared to address an unacceptable topic. The topic in this case is Congressional insider trading, a topic upon which — as with most important topics — there is complete bipartisan harmony, and yet somehow no public satisfaction.
Or as the Pentagon Post puts it:
As American troops head out of Iraq, U.S. officials are being forced to bring in more private security contractors.
The withdrawal of the remaining troops from Iraq — 33,000 at last count — has caused U.S. officials to move quickly to fill a series of security gaps to ensure the continued protection of American diplomatic personnel as well as U.S. goods.
Open flyer: PDF.
Another year, another war criminal book-touring at the Miller Center. This time, on Wednesday, November 16th, it’ll be Dick Cheney, who . . .
- lied to the public and Congress to launch a war on Iraq;
- pressured the CIA to assist in fraud;
- threatened and worked to promote war on Iran;
- lied to the public and Congress in an effort to launch war on Iran;
- led a campaign of retribution against a whistleblower;
- refused a Congressional subpoena;
- obstructed DOJ investigations;
- profited from his own war making;
- led the creation of programs of warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment, and torture;
- created a secret energy task force that violated open-government laws;
- mishandled classified information and destroyed visitors logs;
- suppressed evidence in the California energy crisis;
- continues to make false claims and to openly brag about his offenses.
The Miller Center is making people contact firstname.lastname@example.org for permission to attend, and appears to be screening out those who oppose the policies listed above.
But the Miller Center cannot prevent us protesting outside.
9 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011
Lawn in front of Miller Center
2201 Old Ivy Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Park at University Hall or Lannigan Field or in a nearby parking lot on Old Ivy Road.
You meet simply wonderful and incredibly smart people at nonviolent occupations. At least I do. I just met someone who knows exactly what they are talking about but does not want to be identified in any way other than by the name "Prof." Prof has been thinking about how to strengthen the Occupy movement, how to build a structure for it -- or rather how to allow it to build one itself, from the ground up, with ideas moving up levels of representation, not down as we're all so used to, and with people who cannot or will not or anyway do not sleep in public squares able to take part in a lasting and effective way. I cannot recommend too strongly that every Occupation look into this and click the links, hold trainings, and get this rolling. --David Swanson
Believe it or not, November 11th was not made a holiday in order to celebrate war, support troops, or cheer the 11th year of occupying Afghanistan. This day was made a holiday in order to celebrate an armistice that ended what was up until that point, in 1918, one of the worst things our species had thus far done to itself, namely World War I.
World War I, then known simply as the world war or the great war, had been marketed as a war to end war. Celebrating its end was also understood as celebrating the end of all wars. A ten-year campaign was launched in 1918 that in 1928 created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, legally banning all wars. That treaty is still on the books, which is why war making is a criminal act and how Nazis came to be prosecuted for it.
Feints and baby steps in the direction of eventually ending a massive crime are not enough. Hoping to meet a distant deadline for ending a war that cannot be justified for a single day is not enough. A new misunderstanding should not be piled on top of other fictional accomplishments (the closing of Guantanamo, the complete withdrawal from Iraq, universal health coverage, etc.). But if we don't understand that we are beginning to move things in the right direction many among us will lose heart and others will miscalculate.
This is what the Associated Press had to say on Thursday morning as we prepared to march on the White House and the Treasury to demand a serious effort from Obama in France to bring the G20 (and the Congress) to back a financial transaction tax, and as planning continued to protest the ever-less-popular Obama's expected authorization of a disastrous tar sands pipeline:
What struck me in reading Cville Weekly's excellent new profile of an Afghanistan War veteran, and in writing this profile of another Army veteran who never made it into (foreign) combat, is how many times I've heard the same story. Kids grow up admiring their parents' and grandparents' military "service," then join the military, and then afterwards find out how traumatic and horrific their family members' experiences were. What if veterans told their kids the truth early on, in an age-appropriate manner as their children grew up? Some studies say a majority of recruits are from military families. What if those potential recruits had known the truth prior to having to learn it first-hand?
Can occupations survive a winter of global weirding, escalated police brutality, and the corporate media's venom? Should they?
In some parts of the country there will be no cold weather. In others, police abuses will result in larger occupations, not smaller. And it's certainly possible that for the first time in recent years an independent progressive populist campaign will survive the enmity of the corporate media.
In other cases, the cold, the communications assaults, fatigue, and the difficulties encountered by activist camps that also become homes for the homeless and the mentally ill may begin to erode the usefulness of encampments.
What to do?
Here's one activist's recommendations:
Weaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon's plan is to give them their own state as well.
Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines. The full state of Colorado is itself 104,000 square miles. Rhode Island is 1,000 square miles. Virginia, where I live, is 43,000 square miles.
Leah Bolger of Oregon is the Vice President of Veterans for Peace, is occupying Freedom Plaza, and risked jail on Wednesday, with another case pending against her, to speak up in the Super Congress (Deficit Committee) hearing, in which she was arrested. She has been released.
Bolger comments: "I had to speak up. The witness, Douglas Elmendorf, was hiding the fact that military spending has increased dramatically in real terms and as a percentage of discretionary spending. He was focused on percentage of GDP, as if war spending should increase whenever it can, not whenever it has to. The simple deficit solution of taxing the rich and curtailing the militarism is favored by the majority of the public. The 99% had no other voice in that room to compete with those of the corporate lobbyists."
Members of Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupations are in the hearing room and marching to rally outside it.
Hensarling, co-chair of Supercons, just lied that military budget has shrunk as % of budget -- see the facts.
Neither Patty Murray, D from Boeing, or Hensarling, R from Texas, has mentioned taxing the rich.
Their witness today sure ought to bring it up.
Douglas Elmendorf is NOT thus far talking about taxing the super rich. He is talking about spending, including military spending, which he calls "defense." He is not using the larger category of "security," prefering to use "defense." But he is talking entirely about discretionary spending, which is a huge problem for this gang and its efforts to go after things it's not allowed to go after -- like Social Security.
Elmendorf describes "defense" spending as declining as percentage of GDP, not as percentage of discretionary spending.
He is proposing very slight caps on base "defense" budget, not counting wars, and on non-"defense" spending. He's offering more than one option.
The C-Span camera is angled to avoid any audience members. The public has been told signs cannot be held and no one can speak.
I am not in the room because of the recent trend toward treating laptop computers as threats to committee hearings.
Here's the testimony from Elmendorf.
Murray is eager to cut nondiscretionary "entitlements," totally avoids possibility of taxing billionaires or corporations, claims that eliminating all discretionary spending would still leave deficit. Elmendorf does not address that claim but agrees that discretionary spending is a shrinking share of all spending.
Excerpt from the testimony:
Discretionary funding for 2011 totaled $1,277 billion: budget authority of $712 bil-
lion for defense and funding totaling $566 billion for nondefense activities, including
$54 billion in obligation limitations for some transportation programs (see Table1).
Budget authority provided for defense activities in 2011 was $3 billion (or less than
1percent) below the amount provided the year before; the sum of discretionary bud-
get authority and obligation limitations for nondefense programs was $39 billion (or
7percent) below the amount provided in 2010. Nevertheless, discretionary outlays in
2011 were close to the amounts spent in 2010, CBO estimates, because of spending
from funds appropriated in previous years.
Questioning continues but lacks a little something I like to call:
TAX THE RICH!
Also, the crowd out in the hallway, outside a number of thick marble walls is giving up and moving on, having not -- as far as I know -- been heard inside the committee room.
Update: the folks say they WERE heard, the doors opened, the media made aware.
Apparently the military spending fairy is in the room too.
Baucus points out that military spending is higher now in inflation-adjusted dollars than during the Korean or Vietnam or Cold wars. Elmendorf admits it. $700 billion now compares to $240 billion during the Korean war. He points out that no caps have been put on or proposed for wars. Baucus gets Elmendorf to admit the obvious point that capping war spending would save money.
Rep Clyburn now points out the CBO's own study linked above showing the upper 1% has increased avg income by 275% while middle 60% of us have seen an increase of 40% over the same period of 28 years.
Rep Clyburn lamely and folksily mentions taxes, but doesn't propose taxing the wealthy or corporations.
Sen Rob Portman (R, Ohio) points out that "defense" has grown from 25% to 50% of discretionary budget.
The march has returned to Freedom Plaza.
The Washington Post says we're wearing out our welcome; we're also using the Washington Post as a welcome mat.
I'm stopping watching the hearing.
In other news, a bankster is being prosecuted.
One of the most valuable benefits of putting political action into the form of nonviolent encampments is that we learn each other's stories as we occupy our public parks and squares. Here's a story from the October2011 occupation in Freedom Plaza, Washington, D.C. There are many more, and we'd like to hear yours when you join us.
Aristine Maharry is 29 years old and now lives in Freedom Plaza. She grew up in a very military family, with members of her family having participated in every major U.S. war going back to the war for independence, and with members of every generation having joined the military.
Maharry's family did not encourage her to aspire to a military career, but -- as in many such stories I've heard -- actions spoke more loudly than words. Maharry was proud of her father's military experience. She hoped from a very young age to join the U.S. Army. She grew up playing at army with her half-brothers. They would flip the couch on its side and toss pretend grenades. She loved the board game Risk. The biggest holiday in Aristine's family was the Fourth of July. She doesn't say she bled red white and blue. She says she bled green, Army green. She wanted to serve her country and other people. She was willing to die for her country. She was proud of her country.
Aristine was a good student and a good athlete. At age 7 she tested with an IQ of 185. She was placed in gifted and talented classes in all of the many public schools she attended. She got good grades, ran track, and was president of the Future Business Leaders of America at West Potomac High School in Northern Virginia, where at 16 she dual enrolled at George Mason University. She graduated from high school at 18 in the year 2000, was married the next January and pregnant in February.
Aristine knew that the military would be reluctant to enlist a mother of a child under 1 year of age. She hoped to take part in the Green to Gold program, enlisting and eventually becoming an officer. Her own father had dropped out of college to enlist and fight in Vietnam. She admired that history. However, when her first son was nine months old, Aristine became pregnant again. She headed to the recruiter's office when her second son turned one in May 2004. She had a family and a good job in management training new personnel in the pharmacy department of Liberty Medical Supply in Florida. But recruiters' job is to recruit, and Maharry didn't require any persuading.
She arranged to train at the same camp her father had trained at, Fort Leonardwood in Missouri. She headed there in December 2004, leaving behind a husband and two little boys for the holidays. Aristine says it was a very sad time for her, very difficult, and also very cold in Missouri. But, she thought to herself: "All the other soldiers have families too. They do it. I'm not different. I can serve too. I want to do my part as an American." She signed up to become a combat medic, hoping to care for injured soldiers.
The first few weeks of training in January were extremely hard, she says: lots of pushups, not a lot of sleep, but a great deal of hostility from drill sergeants conditioning recruits to face hostility in battle, struggling with their own post-traumatic stress, or simply acting out their sadism. Aristine characterized it as "ten times worse than in the movies." She was in Charlie Company, Third Battalion, 10th Unit, 4th Platoon. Her platoon had four drill sergeants, three of them male named Davis, Harris, and something like Fontana (she doesn't remember this name clearly), and one female drill sergeant named Gilliard.
The woman sergeant was not what you would call gentle and loving. Aristine witnessed Gilliard yank a male soldier across a desk and injure him. His offense had been to request a pen. Fontana (or whatever his exact name was) made Gilliard look sweet and delicate by comparison. He was shorter and meaner than the others, according to Maharry. She saw him slam a female private named Barr up against a wall.
Aristine is amazingly understanding of this abuse. The sergeants, she says, had just done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The training was their rest period between tours of combat. They were all, she believes, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Aristine's understanding this is even more amazing considering what happened next.
Yesterday, NPR's PR flack was haranguing me on the phone about how NPR had nothing to do with getting Lisa Simeone fired from an independent program called Soundprint. This was despite NPR having gone public with its concerns over Simeone's "unethical" participation in democracy, and Soundprint's referencing of NPR's "ethics" rules in firing Simeone. It was also despite NPR's clear intention to get Simeone removed from our airwaves.
I have no evidence that NPR contacted Soundprint, but "World of Opera" is a different story. Today I read that NPR has dropped distribution of "World of Opera," a program produced by WDAV which contracts with Simeone to host it. NPR's original frantic email and blog post had read:
By David Swanson, RootsAction.org
I just got an email from Huffington Post telling me that Obama was keeping his campaign promise to get U.S. troops out of Iraq. Not quite. Here's a video of Obama's promise.
In that 15-second video he says: "I will promise you this: that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank."
Here's the Huffington Post:
Lisa Simeone learned about her "ethical" lapse from NPR's public blog post, or rather from reporters calling her about it.
Lisa was soon thereafter fired by Soundprint, which cited NPR's "ethics" rules and according to Lisa would have been strongly influenced by NPR's post and email if they saw them (she doesn't know if they did).
There is no evidence whatsoever that NPR contacted Soundprint.
NPR's email and blog post said "We're in conversations with WDAV about how they intend to handle this. We of course take this issue very seriously." (The issue of participating in a democratic society and not backing a corporate agenda like bigshot NPR hosts who opinionate on Fox, in op-eds, and at big business speaking events for big bucks.)
Lisa was told to be on a phone call with NPR and WDAV yesterday morning, but NPR
and WDAV canceled the call without telling her, as she waited by the phone.
The most remarkable thing about the Occupy Movement is that it is happening without funding. Yes, donations are starting to pour into Occupy Wall Street, but not at the level that could really boost this campaign to replace plutocracy with popular participation. And most of the other occupations around the country are poor or penniless, with their futures in some doubt because of that status.
The movement that won women the right to vote got a huge boost when a supporter left $2 million to Carrie Chapman Catt for that purpose, and Catt was able to use almost half of that amount after holding off relatives of the deceased donor in court. The peace movement that gave us the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 was funded by robber barons and others to the tune of many millions of 2011 dollars per year. The civil rights movement depended on funding from its supporters.