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I recently sat down for 90 minutes to speak with six Afghan judges, all of them women, and an English-Dari interpreter, a man. They spoke to me as individuals. They aren't preparing any investigations or indictments. The relevance of their being judges is that they know the law. They've studied international law, and they were visiting the United States to learn about our legal and political systems. They believe the United States is guilty of war crimes.
I was the one who raised the subject. I pointed to Italian convictions of CIA agents for kidnapping, Spanish investigations of U.S. officials for torture, etc., and asked what these judges' views were on international law violations, universal jurisdiction, and what appear to be clear crimes committed by the United States in Afghanistan.
Salon.com deleted these paragraphs:
After witnessing Israel's brutal assault of Gaza in 2008, many peace activists also joined the movement for human right and justice in Israel and Palestine, engaging in campaigns to boycott and divest from the occupation, organizing boats and caravans to break through the crippling blockade of Gaza, providing support to non-violent actions against home demolitions and the “apartheid wall” in the West Bank, and challenging the stranglehold that pro-Israel lobbies have on U.S. policy.
Finally, we have been busy trying to insert the anti-war message in the broader movements for social and economic justice. While our message is sometimes rebuffed or marginalized in activities closely linked to the Democratic Party, at every major rally for jobs, civil rights or corporate responsibility, you’ll find anti-war activists.
from this article. Was there some good reason for this? Was one of the paragraphs just to accompany the other that Salon.com really didn't want? Or did it really not want both of them?
This "editing" job goes some way toward answering the question under discussion: why is the peace movement held back?
A government that works for Wall Street and a war machine will sooner or later create schools that work for the same ends.
Here's a vicious cycle: rather than funding good schools, we fund the military and its recruiters. Then we lower the qualifications for teachers as long as the applicants have participated in wars. We funnel the same "Troops to Teachers" applicants into "public charter schools" too, even though we're paying them public dollars. And we move the whole program from the Department of Education to the Department of "Defense". That was President Barack Obama's idea. Do you like it? Pretty creative, huh? One step ahead of those teapartiers!
By David Swanson, RootsAction.org
The wealthiest nation on earth is not actually obliged to starve our senior citizens. We don't need a military 670% more expensive than the next largest one on earth. We don't need to fund health insurance corporations instead of healthcare. And we don't need tax breaks for billionaires. In fact, we don't need billionaires. That's the message RootsAction is taking to Congress.
Image supplied by Jacob Anikulapo
Imagine how radically different the current debate over the Giant Debt Ceiling Monster would look if we moved it to one of those nations we're bombing into a democracy. Imagine us all still U.S. residents with the same views we have now, but imagine that our representatives in Washington, D.C., were obliged to give a damn what we thought.
Prisoners risking death by refusing food in the Pelican Bay supermax, and those hunger striking in solidarity in prisons around California are a judgment of our sickness. "The degree of civilization in a society," said Dostoyevsky, "can be judged by entering its prisons."
Civilization is something we no longer seem to aspire to. The United States locks up more people and a greater percentage of its people than anyone else. We lock them in training centers for anger and violence. We subject them to rape, assault, humiliation, and isolation. We throw the innocent in with the guilty, the young with the old, the nonviolent with the violent, the hopeful with those who've lost all interest in life.
From Press TV
The West's mainstream media outlets easily ignore serious government issues and only magnify diversionary stories and celebrity scandals, says David Swanson, an author and co-founder of Warisacrime.org.
“When it comes to investigating the claims of national governments and the arguments for wars based on blatant lies, these same media outlets act as dutiful stenographers," David Swanson told Press TV's U.S. Desk in a Sunday interview.
“So it really is giving a quite distorted picture of an aggressive reportorial organization that when it comes to matter of importance...it really isn't," the author of "War Is A Lie" added.
Swanson made a reference to the recent phone hacking scandal by a subsidiary newspaper of media magnate Rupert Murdoch and said that such issues receive media coverage in certain areas such as when a celebrity's phone is for instance also hacked in the scandal.
However, he said, "I just would much prefer that they (Murdoch) were prosecuted for the crimes of selling illegal wars, something that he openly confesses to and doesn't result in the same sort of scandal."
Book Review by Gar Smith
It’s a good sign when the testimonials on the back of a 440-page autobiography include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen. But that only hints at the praise directed at S. Brian Willson’s long-awaited memoir. The testimonials continue on the inside — for another seven pages — and include plaudits from Cindy Sheehan, William Blum, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Solomon, Peter Dale Scott, Cynthia McKinney and Country Joe McDonald.
This whopping epic (published by Oakland’s feisty PM Press) tells the story of a Vietnam-era soldier who entered the war as a red-blooded small-town recruit and emerged as a die-hard dissident, driven to expose and oppose not only warfare in general but also the US’ unique role in spreading military terror around the world.
Willson returned home to become a leading war resister — a man whose dogged determination to confront the war machine lead him to fast on the steps of the US capital and eventually cost him both legs — severed on September 1, 1987, when he was run over by an ammunitions-filled locomotive on the first day of a nonviolent protest on the railroad tracks leading to the Concord Weapons Station.
Nailing Rupert Murdoch for his employees' phone tapping or bribery would be a little like bringing down Al Capone for tax fraud, or George W. Bush for torture. I'd be glad to see it happen but there'd still be something perverse about it.
I remember how outraged Americans were in 2005 learning about our government's warrantless spying, or for that matter how furious some of my compatriots become when a census form expects them to reveal how many bathrooms are in their home.
I'm entirely supportive of outrage. I just have larger crimes in mind. Specifically this:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
"1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law."
The Fox News Channel is endless propaganda for war, and various other deadly policies. As Robin Beste points out,
LISTEN: Black Agenda Radio with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, on the Progressive Radio Network – Week of July 11, 2011
Anti-War Forces Weak in the House
David Swanson, publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime, calls congressional efforts to halt President Obama’s war on Libya a “huge muddle.” A bid to defund the Libya operation failed by 199 to 229, and legislation to cut off money for the war in Afghanistan garnered only 97 votes.
“I think you really have somewhere around 97 members of the House that are really serious about ending wars,” says Swanson. “You have 199 who will put up some kind of pretense,” but at least half of them are not really serious.
Dems and Labor: A Suicide Pact
Labor gives money and manpower to Democratic politicians, who then vote like servants of huge corporations, according to a commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce Dixon. The “murder-suicide” nature of the pact is exemplified by the National Education Association’s (NEA) early endorsement of President Obama’s reelection, despite the administration’s relentless attacks on public school teachers.
Arnie Duncan “Racist” and “Insane”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that Detroit will have “no viable future” as a community if it doesn’t buckle under to Obama’s draconian “Race to the Top” program of high stakes testing, teacher insecurity, and forced charterization. That’s “insane,” says Tom Stephens, a Detroit lawyer and activist, adding, “I thought it was clearly a racist statement” that Duncan would have never directed against a predominantly white city.
“Fear” and “Panic” Among School Teachers
Delegates to the National Education Association’s Chicago convention voted down a proposal to demand that Arne Duncan be fired. Among those on the losing side was Joyce Schon, of the Equal Opportunity Now Caucus of BAMN, By Any Means Necessary. “There was too much fear, too much panic, and too much lack of confidence in their own power and their own abilities to stand up for their own dignity and for the future of their students,” says Schon.
Victory for Affirmative Action in Michigan
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Proposition 2, the measure that outlawed affirmative action in Michigan public education, is unconstitutional. George Washington, representing the BAMN-affiliated Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, argued that Proposition 2 created “a separate and unequal system of political rights. Every group in Michigan can petition to the University of Michigan for special admission programs to benefit their members except racial minorities.” In effect, says Atty. Washington, Proposition 2 created a category of citizen with less rights than others.
It’s Race, Stupid
For more than 60 years, Black unemployment levels have been stuck at roughly twice that of whites. The grim ratio persists in good times and in bad across three generations. Andy Kroll, who wrote the article “The 60-Year Unemployment Scandal,” found that neither educational disparities nor de-industrialization nor other “race-neutral” factors explained the gap. In the end, “it comes down to discrimination in hiring and racism,” says Kroll.
The Texas chain-dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. at the hands of three white men shocked the nation, in 1998. An award-winning documentary on the victim, titled “Byrd: The Life and Tragic Death of James Byrd, Jr.” is now available on Amazon.com, says the film's creator, Eligah “Ricky” Jason. “This documentary focuses on Byrd as a person. It puts a face on the man.”
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 4:00pm ET on PRN. Length: One hour.
How often have we been told that we can't have a serious nonviolent movement resisting our government's destructive path as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?
How often have we been told that we can't back third-party candidates as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?
This week has seen an inordinate number of realizations that the Democrats are as bad as or worse than the Republicans. And what has the response been?
Activist groups are proposing not to donate money to President Barack Obama. Some have even suggested declining to volunteer for him. Most responses have been even weaker than that. Citizens have transformed themselves into pundits and announced that Obama will not be reelected.
The House of Representatives would be better off speaking Arabic. See if you can make heads or tails of this.
The House voted down a bill to end the Libya War.
At the same time, it passed a nonbinding House-only resolution that said the President "shall not" use ground troops in Libya, the war is unauthorized, and Congress could defund the war if it wanted to. The resolution requested that all kinds of information be reported to Congress by the President, much of which has not been reported by the specified deadline.
Next, the House passed an amendment blocking any funds, beginning in October, for troops or contractors on the ground in Libya.
At the same time, the House passed an amendment requiring that when the war is completed (and presumably the U.S. has control of Tripoli), the U.S. troops on the ground there must dig up the bodies of other U.S. troops buried there during a war 206 years ago.
"The fiscal good has to outweigh the pain," a nameless Democrat told the Washington Post regarding President Obama's latest proposal to massively cut Social Security, against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans, in order to fund a military 670% larger than the next largest in the world, keep in place tax cuts for billionaires, fail to tax corporations or estates or investments or carbon, and balance a budget that nobody gives a rat's ass about balancing when Wall Street comes asking for handouts.
"What's the point?" "We never win!" "Why bother trying?"
This time we won.
This is the point. Congressman Buck McKeon and Senator John McCain proposed to give Obama and all future presidents dramatically expanded powers to launch wars. They wanted to do so as part of the same "Defense Authorization Act" in which the House was restricting Obama's warmaking in Libya.
Activist groups like RootsAction pushed back. A great deal of support was generated for an amendment to strip the offending language out in the House, but the amendment failed. RootsAction, and other organizations, demanded that the Senate remove it:
On Friday I read in the New York Times that President Obama would be happy to cut $200 billion out of Medicare in order to inflict pain on his Democratic base, part of an imagined tradeoff in which the two parties inflict pain on their imagined bases in order to reduce the deficit without imposing sensible taxes on billionaires or shrinking military spending to sane levels. Also on Friday I got an Email from True Majority asking me to celebrate Obama's defense of Medicare.
We've progressed from "I feel your pain" to "I inflict your pain," and we're being told to like it.
Am I the only one who noticed that ex-Nixon lawyer John Dean's article "John Dean Knows How to Get Rid of Clarence Thomas" concludes thus: "In short, nothing is going to happen to Clarence Thomas." Talk about false advertising!
But Dean left out of consideration one strategy, the same one that five years ago he argued against pursuing with Bush and Cheney, whom many of us at that time wanted removed from office. The strategy is the one now being advanced by RootsAction: Impeach Clarence Thomas.
There's a great deal of disappointment, even distress, in the air as news spreads that Dominique Strauss-Kahn might not be charged with rape (or attempted rape, or sexual assault). He's guilty, the victim's character is being attacked in order to protect him, and the Culture of Rape will emerge triumphant once again -- or so I'm being told by various Emails, Tweets, etc.
On the other hand, the whole thing was a conspiracy to facilitate the pillaging of the Greek people and the replacement of DSK at the IMF by a robber baron more loyal to the Austerity Agenda. Or so I have been assured.
In addition, the entire episode illustrates the danger in recklessly charging people -- especially famous and important people -- with crimes, until they have first been proven guilty. Or so we are learning from Thoughtful pundits.
The Declaration of Independence is best remembered as a declaration of war, a war declared on the grounds that we wanted our own flag. The sheer stupidity and anachronism of the idea serves to discourage any thoughts about why Canada didn't need a bloody war, whether the U.S. war benefitted people outside the new aristocracy to whom power was transferred, what bothered Frederick Douglas so much about a day celebrating "independence," or what the Declaration of Independence actually said.
When you read the Declaration of Independence, it turns out to be an indictment of King George III for various abuses of power. And those abuses of power look fairly similar to abuses of power we happily permit U.S. presidents to engage in today, either as regards the people of this nation or the people of territories and nations that our military occupies today in a manner uncomfortably resembling Britain's rule over the 13 colonies.
On September 18, 2009, seven former heads of the CIA publicly told President Barack Obama not to prosecute CIA torturers. On April 16, 2009, Obama had already publicly told Attorney General Eric Holder not to prosecute CIA torturers. On September 18th, Holder publicly reassured the CIA.
The coast was clear. The books started flowing. George W. Bush and John Yoo put their books out in 2010, Donald Rumsfeld in 2011, and Dick Cheney's also later this summer.
Just as the torture techniques drifted down the chain of command from these dealers in death to the rank and file, so too the book contracts. The cogs in the machine are now documenting their bit parts in the past decade's torture epidemic with pride and publishing deals.
For the majority of people in the United States -- a majority does not vote, a majority believes the government is broken, a majority thinks our public policy is headed in the wrong direction -- the fact that we call this place a democracy is apparently outweighed by the fact that our national government almost never does what a majority of us want done. Some of the things we don't want done include the destruction of the planet's environment, the mass slaughter of war, the spreading of violence, and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny aristocracy while millions at home and billions abroad suffer horrifically for lack of readily available resources.
Constitution Must Not be a Doormat, Congress Must not Be a Rubber Stamp
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 24, 2011) -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who has led bipartisan opposition to the war in Libya, today addressed the House, urging his colleagues to take a two-step approach to ending the U.S. involvement in the war in Libya.
Congressman Kucinich will also be sending messages encouraging his colleagues to end the war with two votes. Step 1; Vote YES for H.R. 2278, which ends U.S. direct hostilities immediately, and Step 2; Vote YES for the Kucinich-Amash resolution to the FY 2012 Department of Defense Appropriations bill to end all involvement in the war by October 1, 2011.
The full text of Congressman Kucinich’s address follows:
“We have been in Afghanistan for ten years at a cost of over a half trillion dollars, in Iraq for eight years at a long term cost of at least three trillion.
Fifty years ago, freedom riders traveled by bus into the U.S. South. Now American freedom riders are joining their allies from around the world on a flotilla bound for Gaza. The U.S. ship is called The Audacity of Hope.
The heroes on this ship have pledged to sail unarmed and to refuse to use violence. The Israeli military, which continues to illegally blockade Gaza, causing endless suffering to the Gazan people, has pledged to use violent force to prevent the ships getting through.
Last May, the Israeli military, in international waters, illegally boarded another ship on a similar mission, the Mavi Marmara, killing nine people, including one American, and wounding dozens. Israel claimed, in its defense, that the Mavi Marmara carried no humanitarian aid, that all such supplies were on other ships in the flotilla.
The 36 American passengers (plus 4 crew and 10 members of the press) on board The Audacity of Hope have publicly stated that they will carry only letters: "thousands of letters of support and friendship from people throughout the U.S. to the women, children and men of Gaza."
This selfless courage will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with these freedom riders. Some of the ones I know best and am deeply concerned for the safety of are Ann Wright, Ray McGovern, Kathy Kelly, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland. These are people who habitually take risks for others. One comes to expect it of them, but also to expect them to always be there doing it. Robert Naiman will be on this ship, and Alice Walker, and Hedy Epstein. Below are videos of 17 of these heroes explaining why they are going.
The Freedom Riders of 1961 asked the U.S. government to protect them. Its efforts to do so were too little too late. The Freedom Riders of 2011 have also asked the U.S. government to protect them, and thus far received no such commitment. We can ask the U.S. State Department to ask Israel (recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. weaponry every year) not to assault this flotilla, and to allow those transporting aid and letters of good will to reach the suffering people of Gaza unharmed.
CONTACT THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
You have urged our fellow citizens not to participate in an unarmed nonviolent humanitarian mission to Gaza by sea.
But have you urged Israel not to interfere with ships in international waters?
Have you urged Israel not to harm unarmed activists engaged in an actual humanitarian mission, the very thing your government pretends its wars are?
Have you urged Israel to lift the illegal and murderous blockade of Gaza?
We encourage you to take these steps to ensure the safety of Americans on board The Audacity of Hope sailing for Gaza in the Freedom Flotilla. And we encourage you to pressure Israel in the way that only a nation providing Israel with billions of dollars worth of weapons every year can, by threatening to cut them off.
We look forward to your response.
Videos and other resources at the same link.