You are hereBlogs / davidswanson's blog
Sandy Davies tells me, regarding the WWI Christmas truce on Christmas Day:
"When I was growing up, my godmother had a German helmet that was given to her father by a German officer after a soccer match in no-man's land that day. I also knew a South African former soldier who was on the front line in the desert near Cairo in 1942. He and his buddies became good friends with the Germans in the line across from them and used to pick up booze, hashish and other goodies for them whenever they went into Cairo. There was a sort of truce for a few months at that point, so they weren't shooting at each other. When a British Spitfire flew over and did start shooting at the Germans, Tony claimed it was the South Africans who shot it down!"
Does anybody know about this or have similar stories?
This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."
The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police state. The doomsday clock of our republic just got noticeably closer to midnight, and the fact that almost nobody knows it, simply moves that fatal minute-hand a bit further still.
I'm not referring to the “doomsday” predicted by Leon Panetta should military spending be scaled back to the obscenely inflated levels of 2007. I'm talking about the complete failure to keep the republic that Benjamin Franklin warned we might not. Practices that were avoided, outsourced, or kept secret when Bill Clinton was president were directly engaged in on such a scale under president George W. Bush that they became common knowledge. Under President Obama they are becoming formal law and acceptable policy.
Here is the text of a portion of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act marked up to indicate changes made by the conference committee. The changes in red gave the White House "flexibility" but did nothing to save the Bill of Rights from this assault.
Subtitle D--Detainee Matters
SEC. 1031. AFFIRMATION OF AUTHORITY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE UNITED STATES TO DETAIN COVERED PERSONS PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF MILITARY FORCE.
(a) In General- Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.
(b) Covered Persons- A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) Disposition Under Law of War- The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(2) Trial under chapter 47A of title 10, United States Code (as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 (title XVIII of Public Law 111-84)).
(3) Transfer for trial by an alternative court or competent tribunal having lawful jurisdiction.
(4) Transfer to the custody or control of the person's country of origin, any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity.
(d) Construction- Nothing in this section is intended to limit or expand the authority of the President or the scope of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
(e) Authorities- Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
(f) Requirement for Briefings of Congress- The Secretary of Defense shall regularly brief Congress regarding the application of the authority described in this section, including the organizations, entities, and individuals considered to be `covered persons' for purposes of subsection (b)(2).
SEC. 1032. REQUIREMENT FOR MILITARY CUSTODY.
(a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
(2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined--
(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
(B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
(3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
(4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The
Secretary of Defense President may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary President submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
(c) Implementation Procedures-
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.
(2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:
(A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.
(B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.
(C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.
(D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.
(E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.
(d) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody.
(e) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.
Well, 220 years is a pretty good run, eh? Just in time for Thursday's Bill of Rights Day, Congress has included in a massive war and weapons funding bill an authorization of presidents and the military to imprison you or anyone else forever without a trial.
Step One: Call your representative and your two senators and demand that they vote No on final passage of the "Defense Authorization Act." 202-224-3121
Get the staffer you speak with to tell you why their boss would even consider voting yes on imprisonment with no trial. Post what they tell you at http://warisacrime.org/nomohabeas
Step Two: Tell the president to veto.
Step Three: Take part in an event on Thursday: http://bordc.org/ndaa
The current President and Congress are destroying our Constitutional rights, our planet's climate, and the vestiges of a social safety net, and you are obsessing over a freak show of self-hating homosexuals and anti-intellectual intellectuals jumping through hoops in a corporate media circus with Ringmaster Donald Trump. Is this a good use of your time?
I'm editing a book in which one of the contributors writes:
In 1971, Congress passed the Anti-Detention Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a), which states that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." Fred Koramatsu, who had brought the unsuccessful case before the Supreme Court, was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor. Congress apologized and provided for limited reparations for this heinous act.
Presumably this would be trashed by the bill now before the conference committee and soon headed to the President for a signature or veto.
The criminal abuse of Japanese Americans for which Congress had to apologize and pay reparations, and for which there is a misleadingly pro-war looking memorial hidden between the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, will now be sanctioned by the current Congress/President.
Can you feel the pride?
Are you fired up?
The more things CHANGE . . .
Please take some time to look through the new website of the new National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy: www.studentprivacy.org
I've just joined the board because I believe a great deal of good can be done.
The National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy is a one-trick pony and that trick is the ASVAB Campaign. In short, we call for the universal selection of Option 8 for students taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB in high schools across the country, thereby prohibiting the automatic release of test data to military recruiting services.
Sounds pretty obscure and technical, I suppose. But this is a relatively easy and proven model of denying the U.S. military what it needs in order to kill our young people by using them to kill others. Namely, it denies the military the illegal right to violate the privacy of our young people in furthering its recruitment efforts.
The website provides a detailed discussion of the insidious nature of the military's testing regime and provides a way for activists like you to contribute to its demise. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program is a fraudulent, criminal DoD venture that deceives the American public and violates state laws designed to protect the privacy of youth. We're going to bring it down with a disciplined, nuanced campaign that appeals to the most moderate of policymakers.
There's a tremendous amount of work to do. For instance, 10,000 kids in 142 Arkansas high schools are required to take the ASVAB without parental consent, and all of their data is used to recruit them. "We've always done it that way and no one has ever complained," explained one school counselor.
We're organizing a national complaint and we're succeeding. Across the country, the selection of ASVAB Option 8 has climbed from less than 1% in 2005 (our estimate) to 4.4% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2009 to 12.2% in 2010. The new data we're expecting through our most recent FOIA will show a substantial increase in the percentage of students taking the test under Option 8, reflecting two states and several hundred more schools and school systems that have moved to protect student privacy.
The website contains the most recent test data so you can select your state and find high schools in your community that allow the Pentagon to test children. You can also see how your state stacks up with the others, in terms of the numbers tested, those who are required to take the test, and the percentages of students who take the ASVAB under Option 8.
In addition, the website describes the national campaign in detail. It provides links to information pertaining to ASVAB testing in Catholic schools, military documents relevant to the student testing program, and legislative resources.
Most importantly, the site provides a template letter for you to email to your state's superintendent of schools and school board members. Quite frequently, educational policy makers don't know the option exists to allow the testing while keeping results away from recruiters. The letter sites the statistics released by USMEPCOM and calls for the universal selection of Option 8. Contact us and we'll send you a letter already containing your state's statistics, etc. and the email addresses of officials. We're working to include that information on the site.
If you've read this far you probably see potential in this campaign. Could you help us by contributing a few dollars? Support NCPSP Also, could you forward this to others who you think might be in a position to financially support our work? We want to raise funds to hire help.
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. - Jack London
The International Forum on Globalization has published the most concise, useful, readable, and damning denunciation of nuclear technology I've seen. And it's available for free as a PDF right here:
Nuclear energy suffers from the following drawbacks:
The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.
Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.
Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process. We are giving our children cancer at an astonishing pace, through each stage from mining to operation, and through additional steps including the use of depleted uranium weapons.
Also not counted is the cost of attempting to ensure that nuclear energy states do not become nuclear weapon states (or non-state actors).
Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.
The holy "marketplace" will not create or sustain a single nuclear plant. The good ol' tax payers are on the tab to eat the financial losses and cover the costs of major disasters. The meltdown of a single reactor in the U.S. (many of them built by GE in the same manner as the Fukushima plant in Japan) could irradiate an area the size of Pennsylvania.
Nuclear disasters are covered up (corporate newspapers still regularly claim nobody died at Three Mile Island) and near misses not discussed, in part because GE owns NBC while until 2000 Westinghouse owned CBS.
Nuclear is far less efficient when all factors are considered than other available energy sources, including wind, solar, wave, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Looking good in comparison with coal is a qualification that can still kill us.
Here in Virginia the government has just reopened a nuclear plant on a fault where it was damaged and shut down by an earthquake in August. Earhquakes have been increasing in frequency dramatically, thereby increasing the danger of nuclear catastrophe.
Also here in Virginia the government is trying to charge people for producing electricity from solar and trying to lift a ban on uranium mining, with catastrophy not just risked but almost guaranteed.
It doesn't have to go this way. These choices are not driven by necessity, but by greed, corruption, and recklessness.
Share the above linked PDF with everyone you can. It's laid out like an argument and would make perfect preparation for a debate on nuclear energy. The author, Gar Smith, deserves huge credit. Please put it to good use.
So How Do We Hold Rallies to Protest the Day the Iran War Begins If It Has Already Begun and We're Being Eased Into It?
People are starting to call what the United States and its 51st state are doing in Iran a war. Not of course in the constitutional sense of requiring a declaration by Congress. Not even in the sense of the War Powers Resolution which Harold Koh has now informed us allows mass murder as long as those mass murdered are not US citizens. Not of course in the legal sense in which the Kellogg-Briand Pact banned war. Not even in the UN Charter sense as "defensive" or UN-authorized. Also, not in the sense of economic or civil or political transformnation from peace time to war time, as there is no longer any such thing as peace time. But people are calling it war in the sense in which people recall legends from the murky past. A powerful mythical word for these necessary and strategic kinetic overseas contingency operations is war. Remember to bring it up when you're on a talk show.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter World War II in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry and assisting in targeting of submarines as it had been doing. Of course, Germany's declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor and the immediate U.S. declaration of war on Japan, helped as well, but it was Pearl Harbor that radically converted the American people from opposition to support for war.
The funny thing about the bill that the Senate just passed that lets presidents and the military lock you up without a charge or a trial — well, not funny ha ha but funny unusual — is that the basic bill to which that little monstrosity was attached is even worse. It's a bill to dump over $650 billion into wars and aggressive weaponry, continue the slaughter in Afghanistan, ramp up the creation and use of drones, and expand U.S. military bases around the globe.
The Merkley amendment calling for a swifter withdrawal from Afghanistan passed on Wednesday. And a "compromise" was forced on Thursday over the section allowing process-free imprisonment of anyone, including U.S. citizens.
Sadly, the so-called compromise simply states that this new law will not change existing law. Yet this new law's language is worse than existing written law, and the Obama Administration's view of existing law is worse still.
We must demand a veto of this bill more clearly and loudly than ever.
This meaningless compromise was reach after the Senate voted down both Udall's amendment stripping out the offending language and an amendment from Feinstein creating an exception for U.S. citizens to the newly codified presidential power to imprison people without charge or trial.
We simply cannot accept our government allowing the President and the military to lock us away in violation of our Constitutional rights.
The Senate just voted against the Afghanistan war. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted by voice vote to pass an amendment that concludes thus:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that—
1) the President of the United States should expedite the transition of the responsibility for military and security operations to the Government of Afghanistan;
2) the President shall devise a plan based on inputs from military commanders, the diplomatic missions in the region, and appropriate members of the cabinet, along with the consultation of Congress, for expediting the drawdown of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan and accelerating the transfer of security authority to Afghan authorities prior to December 2014; and
| Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 11-30-11 David Swanson
David Swanson, of davidswanson.org joins Coy to weigh-in on the "Occupy Charlottesville" movement and freedom to assemble.
| Charlottesville Right Now (Subscribe)
Charlottesville Right Now: 11-29-11 Dave Norris
Has the First Amendment expired in your public square? Has your local park prioritized empty vistas over the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances, thereby adding one more grievance to the list?
Here's a proposal. Pack up all of your grievances in a bag and bring them to where the government responsible is located. Move your protest and yourself and as much of your Occupy community as you can bring with you to Freedom Plaza — http://occupywashingtondc.org — or McPherson Square — http://occupydc.org — in Washington, D.C. You need not bring anything else. Together we can keep the DC occupations sheltered and fed and supplied with resources.
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they appeared on every network lamenting his lack of clear demands or legislation and his failure to join forces with the Democratic Party.
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.
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:
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.