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The Last Whistleblowers

Whistleblowing in our federal government may soon be a thing of the past, not because whistleblowers face more vicious retribution than ever before -- although that is true; and not because important acts of whistleblowing now result in fewer reforms and less accountability than they used to -- although that is also true and is getting closer; but fundamentally because the actions against which we need whistles blown are publicly acknowledged.

Is Forever War Back in the "Defense Authorization Act"? The Washington Post Is Cheering for It

See this:

The bill contains one worthy anti-terrorism provision: a reaffirmation of the president’s authority to detain and to use military force against those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as well as those who are members of or who support al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces.

So, who's to say the next nation the President wants to bomb doesn't support those associated forces?  Not that the president wouldn't go ahead and bomb anyway, not that he would ask Congress's opinion, but this "legalizes" unconstitutional war in a manner that RootsAction.org and the ACLU had supposedly stopped months ago.

Add this horror to the reasons for opposing this bill provided by http://unitedforpeace.org below:

Bloomberg Ties Terror Plot to Lex Luthor

In a hastily thrown together press conference Sunday afternoon, several months in the planning, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his efforts to spread freedom beyond New York City had included the deployment of 1,000 NYPD officers to Schenectady, where they have just apprehended a young man inspired by Al Qaeda and Occupy Wall Street propaganda provided to him by the NYPD on a regular basis since September.

Ann Wright Detained for 5 Hours in Cairo Airport with 100-Person European Parliamentary Delegation to Gaza

This according to text messages from Ann.

Is this the new Egypt?

UPDATE:

Email from Ann:

I'm finally out of the Cairo airport after 5 hours of being detained.  Egyptian authorities told me that I was on a security risk list and they needed the approval of the US government before letting me in!!

I called the Operations Center of the State Department who then connected me to the Consul General of the US Embassy in Cairo whom I met in December, 2009 during the Gaza Freedom March (wonder if he put me on the security risk list?)  He said the US government has nothing to do with whom the Egyptians keep in or out of the country.

I reminded him that I was kept out of Canada because the US put me on the NCIC list and gave the list to the Canadian government.  He was suddenly silent.

We are off to Gaza tomorrow.  Pam Bailey and I are the only Americans with about 100 persons from 15 countries on the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR).

More to follow.

Ann

Jeju Island Gets a Reprieve

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

Thank you so much for your efforts of solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong! We did it! We stopped the blast of Gureombi—at least for the time being.

We’ve been informed that the Jeju police have turned down the companies’ request for blasting Gureombi for three reasons: insufficient documents, safety concerns, and the go-ahead from Jeju Governor Woo. 

Painted Torture

You walk into a large, bright gallery full of large colorful portraits, portraits of men.  They are fairly ordinary looking men.  They could be from Western Asia or the "Middle East." 

You approach one and look at him for an instant.  He looks normal, relaxed, almost expressionless, certainly expressing no very strong emotion. 

Before you can look long, your eyes are drawn to the curving lines of words swirling around the canvas like leaves in water.  You read words like these, twisting your head almost upside down to follow them:

"FROM THE TIME OF MORNING PRAYERS THEY WOULD DRAW A CIRCLE ON THE WALL, AND I HAD TO STAND ON MY TOES TWO HOURS WITH MY NOSE TOUCHING THE CIRCLE."

You read on as more words flow around this one canvas.  You read about dogs and cattle prods and death threats and harm to loved ones, sleep deprivation and confinement in a box and living human beings piled up like suitcases in a truck.

I'm Thankful for Occupy

I'm thankful that a growing number of us reject the idea of a mysterious being to which we should be thankful, and for the concomitant growing assumption of responsibility for our own fate.

I'm thankful that there are so many people doing so many things for which I am thankful.

I'm thankful for the best family I can imagine. Scratch that. I'm thankful for a better family than I could merely imagine.

I'm thankful too for better employers than I could merely imagine.

I'm thankful that so many other people have families and friends and allies and bosses and colleagues that facilitate work that benefits us all.

I'm thankful to those who are alone and find the strength to push on productively.

I'm thankful that when friends and allies disagree they can reconcile.

I'm thankful that when activists burn out they can revive.

Video: A Way to End War

David Swanson discusses his new book When the World Outlawed War in Charlottesville, Va., November 16, 2011.

Tonight and Monday in Charlottesville

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
434-295-2493
http://randomrow.wordpress.com

Flyer: PDF.

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.

Wear red.

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.

See http://occupycville.org
 

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.

AUDIO: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss Dick Cheney's Chickening Out of Charlottesville Event

Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 11-15-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Dick Cheney postponing his visit to The University of Virginia and Occupy Charlottesville.


LISTEN HERE

One Veteran's Rough Path from Killing and Torturing to Peace

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.

Top 5 Reasons Dick Cheney Won't Speak in Charlottesville VA This Week

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.

And the Number 1 reason Cheney won't be seen at the University of Virginia this week: The first part of a Chicken Hawk is the chicken.

Will Dick Cheney Be Arrested on Wednesday?

I've just sent this letter by email.

We Are Already at War With Iran and Failing to Struggle to End It

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.

Push back here.

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.

AUDIO: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss Dick Cheney, War, and Peace

Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 11-10-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Occupy Charlottesville, protesting Dick Cheney's visit to the University of Virginia, and his new book.

LISTEN

Army Sends More Mercenaries to Iraq to Comply With Treaty by Violating It

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.

Protest Dick Cheney in Charlottesville, Va., November 16th

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 dcforum@virginia.edu 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.  
Bring posters.  

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.

Including Non-Occupiers and Strengthening a Movement

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

Fahrenheit 11/11/11

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.

Video: Outlawing War

Public Pressure Is Slowly Ending Afghanistan War

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 If Veterans Told Their Children the Truth?

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?

Occupy the Winter of Our Discontent

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:

A 51st State for Armed Robotic Drones

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 Is My Hero

Take Action at RootsAction!

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."

Take Action at RootsAction!

Liveblogging Super Congress Hearing

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.

 

Audio: Joshua Frank and David Swanson on Activism and Elections

SolarTimes editor Sandy LeonVest hosts the first in a series of "progressive conversations" on strategies for the upcoming 2012 presidential elections. Her guests, David Swanson and Joshua Frank, are two of the country's leading progressive thinkers. While they agree that "politics as usual" needs to be challenged in the interest of maintaining (what remains of) democracy, their ideas as to the most effective strategies for pushing a truly progressive agenda differ. Tonight's show, "Can Progressives Organize a Viable Alternative to President Obama in 2012?" features a first-of-a-kind conversation on progressive electoral strategies for 2012. This conversation involves not whether progressives need to challenge the dominant two-party paradigm, but how to do it in the most effective way.


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