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From Egypt to Afghanistan : Free woman, free world

Sherif Samir, writing from Egypt

 In the past year, during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, when the darkness of fanatical Muslims beset Egypt, and when it seemed that the spirit of resistance was fading, and people were giving up, I was observing women, wondering how the new situation was affecting their looks, their clothes, and their make-up, and I kept hope as long as women kept wearing tight pants, and lipstick, as long as I saw girls and boys walking together and laughing out loud. “Fanatical groups will never own the heart of Egypt,” I thought to myself, “as long as women in tights are guarding the spirit of life.” And I was right. 

You know that women are half of the human race, and they can change the future by raising a free new generation. Now you might be saying "Nonsense" - women in the west wear hot shorts but people there are still suffering under capitalism. Right, but remember, I'm Egyptian. The majority of women here are told to cover all their bodies all the time. Many are treated as though they are nothing but a piece of meat, and taught that they hold the honour of men between their legs. Religion sees women as a threat, dictatorship sees women as a threat, and parents see their daughters as a threat. Husbands see their wives as threat, and treat them as property with support from religion, law, and masculine society. They see in women a dangerous revolutionary potential. Sadly, almost 99%of Egyptian women face this oppression.

You see the point here? Women have got to realise how important and effective a free woman is. The reality now is, however, a sad one: many women ironically defend the misogynous values of masculine society.  Even educated women still expect to be owned by men and to cultivate in their children the same beliefs that oppress women today. That's how women are supposed to be in a devout Islamic country. So, I’m looking up to Egyptian women, wanting them to revolt, to change their destiny and thereby help change the world.

Dr Hakim, writing from Afghanistan

She stammers.

Once, her eyeliners darker than usual, she complained indignantly about a girl who had misquoted her,” Ei…ei…either she..she goes, or I go!”

She works hard, weighing out the synthetic wool which 60 Afghan ladies use to make winter duvets. Her movements are more determined than that of most men. She is as ready to agree as she is to disagree.

One afternoon in Afghanistan, where music was once banned, she attended a music program. Two professional Afghan singers were invited, a Hazara and a Pashtun, both male. There were about 20 girls and just as many boys in the medium-sized, L-shaped room, the singers at the corner, and the girls on rows of duvets placed on the short arm of the L.

“Would anyone in the audience like to sing?”

Heads turned away. Eyes gazed down. Then…”Me!” she gestured. Her mouth wasn’t smiling. Her face was looking quite serious.

She took the microphone. A Pashtun music enthusiast, a drummer boy, sat down near her with the Afghan drum, the ‘dol’.

From outside, like a cloak, conservative public opinion seemed to weigh down on the roof, and to push against the windows : Patriarchs ask, “ A girl singing?”. The religious council delivers an edict stating that women are second to men. Over the airwaves, a conservative American militarist proclaims, as if in jest, that the most powerful army in the world is here to protect the rights of Afghan women like her, while more than 2500 women had committed suicide in a year.

She took the microphone, which was larger than her hand. Her eyelids were half-drawn, in momentary meditation, with a slight rhythm swaying in her neck.

She took the microphone…

The room paid attention. The audience hesitated. The‘dol’ and the ‘dambura’ ( an Afghan two-stringed, banjo-like instrument ) were played by two men, as accompaniment.

With a scattering of tone-deaf notes, but with no stammers, she sang!

It appeared to me that the whole world broke out clapping.                                 

 

 

Sherif Samir is an Egyptian writer and an Arabic teacher. He was the 2012 winner of the International Contest of Microfiction, awarded by Museo de la Palabra in Spain

Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

Misplaced Lessons of Tahrir

I still want Dirty Wars to win the Oscar, but The Square is a documentary worth serious discussion as we hit the three-year point since the famous occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo that overthrew Mubarak -- in particular because a lot of people seem to get a lot of the lessons wrong.

I suppose some people will leave Dirty Wars imagining that we need clean wars, whatever those would be.  But too many people seem to be drawing from The Square lessons they brought with them to it, including these: Thou shalt have a leader; thou shalt work within a major political party; thou shalt have an identifiable group of individuals ready to take power.  I don't think following these commandments would have easily changed the past three years in Egypt; I don't think they're where Egyptians should be heading; and I'm even more confident they're blind alleys in the United States -- where they serve as supposed remedies for the supposed failings of Occupy.

Many lessons that might be drawn from The Square seem right to me.  Did the people leave the square too early? Hell yes.  Was the movement divided when the Muslim Brotherhood sought to claim victory exclusively for itself and not for all of the people of Egypt? Of course it was.  Let that be a lesson to us indeed.  We agree, virtually all of us in the U.S., on a lot of needed reforms.  We're all getting collectively screwed.  But we divide ourselves over stupid petty stuff, irrelevant stuff, secondary stuff -- cultural issues, ideologies, superficial identities, and -- yes -- big-name leaders (think how many opponents of militarism and Big Brother you could agree with if they weren't "Ron Paulers").  Preferring one tyrant to another because of their religion or race is not a flaw the Egyptians have a monopoly on (think of all the Christian support for Bush and African-American support for Obama). 

Was trusting the military a horrible idea? No. It wasn't a horrible idea.  It was the most catastrophically stupendously stupid notion ever to enter a human skull.  Militaries don't support people.  People support militaries through their useful and exploited labor.  Costa Rica had to disband its military to stop having coups.  When a military exists, appealing to the humanity of its individual members is wise indeed.  But expecting the military as a whole to be democratic to the point of handing over power before it's compelled to do so is decidedly foolish.  None of which is to say the Egyptians have had much choice or that their project is yet completed.  Between them and us the question of which group is learning faster is no contest at all.

Do the people of Egypt need a Constitution rather than a pharaoh? Yes, absolutely. Does the Occupy movement need demands? Yes, of course it does.  Must we all create an ongoing culture of nonviolent action? Yes, sir-ee.  While The Square doesn't explicitly make the point, would better nonviolent discipline help? Undoubtedly.  Is the key lesson to never give up? Indeed.  All of these lessons should soak in deep.

But other points are less clear, in both The Square and common discussions of Egyptian revolution.  Tahrir Square didn't begin in 2011, and neither did the Muslim Brotherhood.  The foundations for the popular movement and for the religious party were laid over a period of years.  Foundations are being laid for nonviolent revolution in other places now. 

Did the Egyptians fail? And did they fail because they are great protesters but bad democrats who should be condescended to by enlightened Americans?  No.  First, it isn't over.  Second, the United States has a failed system of government itself, as 80-90 percent of the people here have been telling pollsters for years.  Third, although I caught only one very quick little hint at it in The Square, the major financial and military backer of the brutal, corrupt regimes in Egypt -- before Tahrir and since -- is the United States government.  To the extent that Egyptians have failed they've failed with our help.  And whether we're unaware of the billions of dollars of our grandchildren's unearned wages that we give to Egyptian thugs to assault the Egyptian people every year, or aware and unable to do anything about it -- either way, our democracy hardly shines out as a model for the world.

A leader would have divided the Tahrir movement or the Occupy movement.  That we don't think of ourselves as having leaders is a function of the corporate media giving no microphones to people who favor major improvements to the world.  Ironically, just like coverage of New York Police Department brutality, this helps us to build a stronger movement.  That is to say, it helps us in so far as it allows a movement not focused on a leader.  Yes, we'd be much stronger with major media coverage, but the possible development of leaders recognized and named as such would be a downside.  And a successful movement behind a leader would only be able to put that leader into power if it succeeded far beyond where Egypt arrived in 2011 -- and it would only be able to get that leader back out of power again if it succeeded even further.

Is the lesson of Tahrir that Occupiers should back candidates in the Democratic Party?  Is an organized party that can challenge the Muslim Brotherhood or the Democrats the answer?  Not within a corrupt system it isn't.  When our goal is not a better regime but something approaching democracy, then what's needed is the nonviolent imposition of democracy on whatever individuals are in power, and the development of a culture of eternal vigilance to maintain it.  You can't elect your way out of a system of corrupt elections.  You can't impose a group of populist leaders on a government by coup d'etat and then write a democratic constitution afterwards. 

No, that is not what happened in the United States, and not just because the old government got on ships and sailed away, but because the Constitution was fundamentally anti-democratic.  The United States has gained democracy through nonviolent movements of public pressure, imposed reforms, amendments, court rulings, and the changing of the culture.  Reforms are needed more badly than ever now, and whether they're imposed at the federal level or through the states or through secession, they must come through popular nonviolent pressure, as bullets and ballots are virtually helpless here.

The lesson I take away from The Square is that we must prevent the operation of business as usual until the institution itself, not its face, is fixed.  We can put up giant posters of a black man followed by a white woman followed by some other demographic symbol, but the posters will still be on the walls of prisons, barracks, and homeless shelters, unless we fix the structure of things.  That means:

  • Rights for people, and for the natural environment, not for corporations.
  • Spending money on elections is not a human right of free speech.
  • Elections entirely publicly financed.
  • The right to vote, to have time off work to vote, and to vote on a paper ballot publicly counted at the polling place.
  • Free air time, ballot access, and debate participation to all candidates who have collected sufficient signatures of potential constituents.
  • A citizens branch and public initiative power by signature collection.
  • The application of criminal laws to authorities who commit crimes or abuse their office.
  • Mandatory impeachment and recall votes for officials facing prosecution.
  • The right to a decent income, housing, healthcare, education, peace, a healthy environment, and freedom from debt.
  • The rights of the natural environment to continue and thrive.
  • The institution of minimum and maximum wages and a ban on extreme wealth.
  • Demilitarization.
  • Dismantling of the prison industry.

Give me all of that or give me death.  Take your bullshit rhetoric about "liberty" and name a square after it.

Hear David Swanson Speak in Maine

Visit PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick.

David Swanson in Brunswick, Maine
Feb. 15, 2014 Saturday
3 - 5 p.m. Curtis Memorial Library
Sign up on Facebook.
Flyer: PDF.

David Swanson in Portland, Maine
Feb. 15, 2014 Saturday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Lee Hall, Wishcamper Center, USM, 34 Bedford Street
Parking in garage next to Wishcamper
Flyer: PDF.

Talks & Book signings.

Free and open to the public.

David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of his new book, War No More: The Case for Abolition.

Swanson's books include When the World Outlawed War, named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read; the best-selling classic War Is A Lie, and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, of which Glenn Greenwald said, "There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends."

Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a
communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign.

He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

These events are co-sponsored by: PeaceWorks, PeaceActionMaine, GlobalNetWork, CodePink Maine, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Maine Veterans for Peace, Brunswick Friends Meeing, PAM Action Committee.

For more information contact mSpiess@myfairpoint.net 207-865-3802.

They Never Announce When You Prevent a War

There exists, I suppose, some slight chance of this one making it into the State of the Union address, no doubt in a distorted, bellicose, and xenophobic disguise.  Typically, there's no chance of any announcement at all. 

We're stopping another war.

There are a million qualifications that need to be put on that statement.  None of them render it false.  A bill looked likely to move through Congress that would have imposed new sanctions on Iran, shredded the negotiated agreement with Iran, and committed the United States to join in any Israeli war on Iran.  This would be a step toward war and has become understood as such by large numbers of people.  Efforts to sell sanctions as an alternative to war failed. Tons of pushback has come, and is still coming, from the public, including from numerous organizations not always known for their opposition to war.  And the bill, for the moment, seems much less likely to pass. 

This is no time to let up, but to recognize our power and press harder for peace.

Pushback against the sanctions bill has come from the White House, from within the military, and from elsewhere within the government. But this bill was something the warmongers wanted, AIPAC wanted, a majority of U.S. senators wanted, and corporate media outlets were happy to support.  The underlying pretense that Iran has a nuclear weapons program that endangers the world had the support of the White House and most other opponents of the March-to-War bill.  That pretense has been successfully sold to much of the public. The additional supporting pretense that sanctions have helped, rather than hindered, diplomacy has similar widespread backing. But when it comes to a measure understood as a step into war, the public is saying no, and that public response is a factor in the likely outcome.

In this instance, President Obama has been on the right side of the debate. I've never known that to actually be true before. But there's been a whole infrastructure of activism set up and fine-tuned for five years now, all based around the pretense that Obama was right on various points and Congress wrong.  So, when that actually happened to be true, numerous organizations knew exactly what to do with it. War opposition and Obama-following merged.  But let's remember back to August and September.  That was a different situation in which . . .

We stopped another war.

Raytheon's stock was soaring. The corporate media wanted those missiles to hit Syria. Obama and the leadership of both parties wanted those missiles to hit Syria.  The missiles didn't fly.

Public pressure led the British Parliament to refuse a prime minister's demand for war for the first time since the surrender at Yorktown, and the U.S. Congress followed suit by making clear to the U.S. president that his proposed authorization for war on Syria would not pass through either the Senate or the House.  Numerous Congress members, from both houses and both parties, said they heard more from the public against this war than ever before on any issue. It helped that Congress was on break and holding town hall meetings.  It helped that it was Jewish holidays and AIPAC wasn't around. 

And there were other factors.  After the public pushed Congress to demand a say, Obama agreed to that.  Perhaps he wanted something so controversial -- something being talked about as "the next Iraq" -- to go to Congress.  Perhaps he expected Congress would probably say No.  In such a scenario, the decisive factor would remain the past decade of growing public sentiment against wars.  But I don't think that's what happened.  Obama and Kerry were pushing hard and publicly for those missiles to fly.  When they couldn't get the "intelligence" agencies to back their fraudulent case, they announced it anyway.  Those lies are just being exposed now, in a very different context from that in which the Iraq war lies or the Afghanistan or Libya war lies have been exposed.  Obama told us to watch videos of children suffering and dying in Syria and to choose between war and inaction.  We rejected that choice, opposed war, and supported humanitarian aid (which hasn't happened on remotely the necessary scale).

In the space of a day, discussions in Washington, D.C., shifted from the supposed necessity of war to the clear desirability of avoiding war. The Russians' proposal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons had already been known to the White House but was being rejected. When Kerry publicly suggested that Syria could avoid a war by handing over its chemical weapons, everyone knew he didn't mean it.  In fact, when Russia called his bluff and Syria immediately agreed, Kerry's staff put out this statement: "Secretary Kerry was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used. His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons, otherwise he would have done so long ago. That's why the world faces this moment." In other words: stop getting in the way of our war! By the next day, however, with Congress rejecting war, Kerry was claiming to have meant his remark quite seriously and to believe the process had a good chance of succeeding, as of course it did.  Diplomatic solutions are always available.  What compelled Obama to accept diplomacy as the last resort was the public's and Congress's refusal to allow war.

These victories are limited and tentative.  The machinery that pushes for war hasn't gone away.  The arms are still flowing into Syria.  Efforts to negotiate peace there seem less than wholehearted.  The U.S. puppeteer has stuck its arm up the rear end of the United Nations and uninvited Iran from the talks.  The people of Syria and Iran are no better off.

But they're also no worse off. No U.S. bombs are falling from their skies.

There could be other proposals for wars that we'll find much harder to prevent.  That's precisely why we must recognize the possibility of stopping those proposals too, a possibility established by the examples above, from which we should stop fleeing in panic as if the possibility that everything we do might have some point to it horrifies us.

Any war can be stopped.  Any pretended necessity to hurry up and kill large numbers of people can be transformed into a negotiation at a table using words rather than missiles.  And if we come to understand that, we'll be able to start dismantling the weaponry, which in turn will make the tendency to think of war as the first option less likely.  By steps we can move to a world in which our government doesn't propose bombing someone new every few months but instead proposes helping someone new. 

If we can stop one war, if we can stop two wars, why can't we stop them all and put our resources into protection rather than destruction?  Why can't we move to a world beyond war?

The Thugs of Halftime

Three remarkable items in Thursday's Charlottesville Daily Progress.  First, a football player explaining that when he proclaimed his superiority to his opponent after a game he was caught up in the game's passion, and that the overblown reaction to his obnoxious comments seems racist. Indeed it does, but it seems to reflect another type of willful ignorance as well.

Spectators at gladiator matches don't want to see too deeply into the minds of the gladiators.  We want to watch violent sports without peering inside the helmets. Do they have to tell themselves the other team is dirt? Are they scared? Are they vicious? We don't want to know that stuff.  We want them to give the other guy brain damage and then jump up and talk to the microphone like a coach: "They played a great game today, and in my analysis we won by outplaying them at the game of football. That's what it really comes down to."

Football players are the least of it. Their thoughts would be far more acceptable in prime time than the thoughts of some other people on that field.  In many ways, football games have become advertisements for wars and militarism.  Jets fly over. Soldiers hold flags. Guns are fired. War-based national anthems are sung. Troops are honored. But do those troops chant what they chant in basic training? Do they scream about how blood makes the grass grow? Do they shout their racism and bigotry and insatiable desire to kill? Of course not.  Barbara Bush didn't want her beautiful mind disturbed with body counts and why should we?

If Richard Sherman is a thug for saying he's better than an opposing player, what are soldiers, sailors, Marines, and drone "pilots" who have been conditioned to kill on command because they are so far better than the men, women, children, infants, and grandparents they kill, as to consider those lives expendable?  Football fans don't want to know.  Who wants to see what went into a hotdog? Who wants to know what it means to have panem with your circenses? Who wants to experience what it takes to make the United States -- in a recent poll of 65 nations -- the overwhelming leader as the greatest threat to peace in the world? Who wants to hear that Pat Tillman came to oppose the war he was engaged in and was killed by "friendly fire" with no "enemies" for miles around?  It's a good thing the uniformed thugs of halftime don't speak unrehearsed into microphones.

I recall in a recent Super Bowl hearing the announcer thank U.S. troops for watching from 177 countries. That number could go up a little this year. To put it in context, there are 196 countries on earth.  What are armed Americans doing in 177 countries? They're making their fellow Americans hated.  Look at this week's election in Okinawa, where the victorious mayoral candidate ran on a platform of opposing the U.S. bases.  Look at Italy, where the entire nation turned against the massive U.S. base construction at Vicenza.  Look at South Korea, where the people of Jeju Island are willing to give their lives to stop the construction of a huge base for U.S. ships.  Look at Bahrain, where the people are courageously resisted a vicious monarch, a thug if ever there was a thug, and the United States that stands behind him for the sake of docking its deadly ships in his little boat-dock nation. Look at Yemen, whose corrupt government was forced to admit last week to a major humanitarian crisis of traumatized children -- traumatized by the constant buzzing of U.S. drones. Who wants to know that? I want to see cheerleaders and funny commercials!

Item number two: "Kaine Talks War Powers Bill." This article suggests that Senator Tim Kaine wants to restore warmaking powers to Congress.  But read Kaine's press release.  This bill would violate the Constitution which gave war powers to Congress, and the War Powers Resolution which retained partial war powers for Congress.  Rather than a Congressional authorization, under Kaine's bill, presidents would just have to talk to Congress, after which they could tell Congress to go to hell and proceed with their desired wars (except for endless drone wars, for which Kaine says the requirement to talk to Congress is waived).  And why undo the War Powers Resolution? The thinking, as recounted in the article, is that, since presidents keep violating it, repealing it is the way to uphold "the rule of law."  So, what will uphold the new law?  If presidents don't even talk to Congress -- as Obama went out of his way to avoid doing before bombing Libya -- will the new law have to be repealed to uphold "the rule of law"?

One would think presidents couldn't be impeached and prosecuted.

If only there were someone to ask about that!

Item number three: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to speak at UVA's Miller Center at 3 p.m. Thursday. Public not welcome. 

I don't recall the exercise of one's rights under the First Amendment requiring an invitation. Do you?

Talk Nation Radio: The Congo and the U.S.-Backed Deadliest Conflict Since WWII

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-the-congo

Maurice Carney is cofounder and executive director of the Friends of the Congo ( http://www.friendsofthecongo.org ). He discusses the history of the Congo and its abuse and exploitation by Belgium and the United States. If the worst conflict on earth is off our radar screens, it's not because our government isn't involved. Also watch this film: http://congojustice.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Hear David Swanson Speak in Maine

Sign up on Facebook.

Get flyer: PDF.

David Swanson in Brunswick, Maine
Feb 15, 2014 Saturday
3 - 5 PM Curtis Memorial Library

Talk & Book signing
Free and open to the public

David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of his new book, War No More: The Case for Abolition.
Swanson's books include When the World Outlawed War, named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read; the best-selling classic War Is A Lie, and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, of which Glenn
Greenwald said, "There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends."

Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a
communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidenttial campaign.

He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

This event is co-sponsored by: PeaceWorks, PeaceActionMaine, GlobalNetWork, CodePink Maine, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Maine Veterans for Peace.

FMI or to co-sponsor contact mSpiess@myfairpoint.net 207-865-3802

Obama Fans Aren't Even Pretending That Was a Good Speech

President Barack Obama gave a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment on Friday, and not even his fans are proclaiming victory.  In this moment when Obama is actually doing one thing I agree with (talking to Iran), more and more people seem to be slowly, agonizingly slowly, finally, finally, finally, recognizing what a complete huckster he is when it comes to pretty speeches about his crimes.

Obama's speech and new "policy directive" eliminate the Fourth Amendment.  Massive bulk collection of everybody's data will continue unconstitutionally, but Obama has expressed a certain vague desire to end it, sort of, except for the parts that are needed, but not to do so right away.  The comparisons to the closure of the Guantanamo death camp began instantly.

Far from halting or apologizing for the abuses of the NSA, Obama defends them as necessitated by the danger of a new 911. While drones over Yemen and troops in Afghanistan and "special" forces in three-quarters of the world are widely understood to endanger us, and while alternatives that upheld the rule of law and made us safer would not require secrecy or human rights violations, Obama wants to continue the counterproductive and immoral militarism while holding off all blowback through the omniscience of Big Brother.

However, Obama's own panel and every other panel that has looked into it found zero evidence that the new abusive NSA programs have prevented any violent attacks.  And it is well-documented that (even given the disastrous policies that produced 911) the attacks of that day could have been stopped at the last minute by sharing existing data or responding to urgent memos to the president with any sort of serious effort.

Obama has not proposed to end abuses. He's proposed to appoint two new bureaucrats plus John Podesta. Out of this speech we get reviews of policies, a commitment to tell the Director of National Intelligence to read court rulings that impact the crimes and abuses he's engaged in, and a promise that the "Intelligence Community" will inspect itself. (Congress, the courts, and the people don't come up in this list of reforms.) Usually this sort of imperial-presidential fluff wins praise from Obama's followers. This time, I'm not hearing it.

True, after EFF created a great pre-speech scorecard, when Obama scored a big fat zero, EFF said it was encouraged that he might score a point some day. But they didn't sound impassioned about their encouragement.

Obama's promises not to abuse unchecked secret powers (and implied promise that none of his successors or subordinates will abuse them either) is not credible, or acceptable, while it just might be impeachable.  We're talking here about the same government that listens in on soldiers' phone sex, Congress members' daily lives, and everything it can get its hands on related to the actual, rather than rhetorical, promotion of liberty, justice, or peace.  A report today quotes various members of the government with security clearance who want to murder Edward Snowden.  We're supposed to just trust them with the right to our persons, houses, papers, and effects without probable cause or warrant? Are we also to trust the corporations they ask to do their dirty work, should the theoretical future reform of this outrage involve paying corporations to own our info?

Obama claims the "debate" -- in which no debate opponent was given a minute at the microphone -- is valuable.  But the whistleblowers who create such debates "endanger" us, Obama says.  This he claims without evidence. 

If the debate was so useful, why not give the man who made you hold it with yourself his passport back?

Obama began Friday's speech with a Sarah Palinesque bit of Paul Revere history.  Revere is now an honorary NSA spy. In reality, the British would have hit Revere with a hellfire missile if Obama had been their king. It all depends on which side of a war you imagine someone to be on, and on whether you imagine war itself is an acceptable form of human behavior at this late date.  Without the endless war on the world, the need for secrecy would go away, and with it the powers that secrecy bestows, and with them the arrogant speeches by rulers who clearly hold us all in contempt.

Resisters of royalty came up with a cure back in Paul Revere's day.  They called it impeachment.  Of course it would be highly inappropriate to use. It might get in the way of the Fight for Freedom.

Photo by Ted Majdosz.

Talk Nation Radio: After the Legalization of Marijuana

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/after-the-legalization-of

Jon Walker is a writer and a senior policy analyst at FireDogLake.com and the author of the new book After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy in America. We look into his crystal ball.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Building a Global Movement to End All War

I've been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I've seen.  When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you've announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning -- and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it's time to start thinking about what you're going to help build as a movement.

In this case I'm talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org -- and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There's a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we'll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also -- as part of these actions -- the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how "the next war" will be fought.

So, we've set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We've also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth's natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria -- which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we've seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies. 

But we've only just begun to work out our plans, and we'd like everyone's input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

"I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution." — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

"As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons." —Ann Wright

"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." — Noam Chomsky

"It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war--everywhere. And it's great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King's call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into 'life-affirming activities.' Bravo!" —Medea Benjamin

"We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex." — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

"The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity." — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

"War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people's children. As former President Eisenhower said, 'I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.' When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world's people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us." —David Hartsough

http://WorldBeyondWar.org

Close GITMO March on the Washington Photos from Today by Ted Majdosz

Click for more:

 

Vowing to “Make Guantanamo History,” human rights advocates from around the country marked the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp with a dramatic protest at the National Museum of American History. 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for more than two hours, speaking out against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.

The activists hung banners, stood in stress positions in hoods and jumpsuits, spoke to the tourists, and with their bodies and voices revised the museum’s “Price of Freedom” exhibit to include twelve years of torture and indefinite detention as the bitter cost of the United States’ misguided pursuit of “national security.”

In a booming chorus, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups read from a statement that closed with the lines: “to honor freedom and justice and the struggles of Americans for these things, we must end torture, close the prison and make Guantanamo history.”

Chantal deAlcuaz, a Witness Against Torture activist from Anchorage, Alaska spent the two hours in an orange jumpsuit and black hood. She reflected that: “We came here today because we want to see Guantanamo relegated to a museum — to be shuttered and condemned, but also understood as an example of where fear, hatred and violence can take us.”

The museum protest followed a robust and spirited rally at the White House that featured speeches from grassroots activists, Guantanamo attorneys and representatives of national human rights organizations.

“It was so great to see the spirit of hope at the White House, in the streets of DC and at the museum,” said Chris Knestrick, a divinity student form Chicago. “We definitely moved closer to our goal of closing Guantanamo today. And the work will continue!!”

Since Monday, January 6, Witness Against Torture activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in street theater, demonstrations, fasting and direct action to demand that Guantanamo be closed immediately.  There were also anti-Guantanamo protests and vigils throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.

Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. January 2014 is the eighth year the group has gathered annually in Washington, DC to call for justice and accountability. To learn more, visit www.witnesstorture.org

 

Talk Nation Radio: Edward Herman on the International Criminal Court (for Africa)

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-edward

This show opens with an awesome poem about drones by Misty Rowan.

Edward S. Herman says that Desmond Tutu is wrong to support the International Criminal Court, given its bias for prosecuting only Africans and only those Africans not working with the United States. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gave courses in micro- and macro-economics and financial regulation for 30 years. He also taught courses on The Political Economy of the Mass Media and on The Analysis of Media Bias at the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn for a decade.  He has a regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine and has published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals. Among his published books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984); Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988, revised editions 2002, 2008); The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990); and most recently, The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson, Monthly Review Press, 2010); and an edited volume, The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011).

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Thou Shalt Not Make Fun of World War I

From The Guardian:

<<Once, in Blackadder, the eponymous first-world-war British army captain learned that the Germans were stealing our battle plans. "You look surprised, Blackadder," said Stephen Fry's absurdly over-moustachioed, rubicund General Melchett.
"I certainly am, sir," retorted our hero. "I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
"Well, of course we have!" shouted Melchett. "How else do you think the battles are directed?"
"Our battles are directed, sir?"
"Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan."
"Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?"
"Great Scott!" exclaims Melchett. "Even you know it!">>

The Secretary of Education of the United Kingdom (The United Kingdom has education?!) is royally upset that anyone would make fun of World War I as that great and glorious event hits the 100-year mark. And he's not upset because British humor is so relentlessly unfunny. He's upset because people might laugh.

But of course if people had been permitted to make fun of World War I at the time, without being thrown in prison (Yes, that was also Woodrow -- the Obama delusion for liberals of his day -- Wilson's policy), well then, perhaps the stupid bloody idiocy could have been stopped or prevented.

The Secretary of Education, if he had a bit of -- what is that stuff? oh yeah -- education would know that the majority of observers have very good reasons for believing that World War I was, as he puts it, "a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite."

Well, what would you call it when a group of inbred cousins meet to squabble over petty matters of competing egos at all the best weddings and funerals and then return to ruling over their respective nations as divinely appointed monarchs and ministers eager to send their peoples off to murder each other for no particular reason, especially if these sociopaths and their sycophants each decide they must defensively attack the other first, not because war can begin so quickly but because it takes months to badger people into knocking off the wisecracks, abandoning all sense of human decency, and picking up a gun, and then to put those people on trains to send them on a trip to a big field in which imbeciles on horses with swords will try to conquer machine guns and poison gas, eventually realize how ridiculous they are being, and hide in tents far from the fighting while ordering millions of others who have no interest in the affair to kill each other year after year after year for no earthly reason and with nothing to show for it at the end -- an end pre-determined by mutual agreement, but with the fighting continuing until that appointed day and hour?

And that was the wise, deliberate, and admirable part of World War I.  The stupidity really took hold, along with the influenza falsely called Spanish and the brilliant notion of banning alcohol, with the settlement of the war in a royal French palace where it was decided to punish the entire nation of Germany severely, begin preparations for World War II, carve up the so-called Middle-East in order to produce a century of chaos there, and to tell Ho Chi Minh to go to hell, laying some early groundwork for the never-to-be-ridiculed war on Vietnam, which the U.S. government is now funding a major campaign to beautify (don't laugh!).

All right, so maybe I find it all too horrific to laugh at, but if others can laugh at it -- even when the jokes are predictable and stupid -- I can think of nothing better for the world.  In fact, I wholeheatedly encourage everyone to complete this line: How many Secretaries of Education does it take to change a lightbulb?

Take away the gun
From every mother's son
We're taught by God above
To forgive, forget, and love

The weary world is waiting for
Peace, forevermore
So take away the gun
From every mother's son

And put an end to war

—Al Jolson
 

 

Videos: The Virginia People's Assembly


Open for a lot more videos.

Top 10 Proofs People Can Be Completely Manipulated Without Hypnosis

1. Any article listing the top 10 of anything will be widely read.

2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity -- that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States -- is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it's in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It's hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.

3. Polls in the United States through the 2003-2011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as the result of a war that severely damaged -- even destroyed -- Iraq[1]. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast, believed they were worse off.[2] A majority in the United States believed Iraqis were grateful.[3] This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology. But people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept. Tenacious believers in tales of Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" tended to believe more, not less, firmly when shown the facts. The facts about Iraq are not pleasant, but they are important. To believe that the people who live where your nation's government has waged a war are better off for it, despite those people's contention that they are worse off, suggests an extreme sort of arrogance -- and a misplaced arrogance because you've just proven that a few slick politicians can make you believe up is down.

4. According to U.S.ians the greatest threat to peace on earth is a nation that hasn't threatened any other, and hasn't attacked any other in centuries, a nation that suffered horrible chemical weapons attacks and refused to use chemical weapons in response, a nation that has refused to develop nuclear weapons but been falsely accused of doing so by the U.S. government for decades. That's right: a bit of laughably bad propaganda, regurgitated in variations for 30 years, and the smart critical thinkers of the Land of the Free declare a nation with a military budget below 1% of their own -- Iran -- the Greatest Threat to Peace.[4] Edward Bernays is cackling wickedly in his grave.

5. Because no cartoon character has ever been named after Edward Bernays, nobody's ever heard of him.

6. In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That's right: "Work within the system." And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That's right: "We need to bring our system of government to others."

7. When U.S. military spending begins to inch below $1 trillion a year, military-friendly journalists declare the weapons lobby dead.  When it begins to inch back slightly above $1 trillion a year, slightly less military-friendly journalists declare the weapons profiteers alive but struggling. In both scenarios the level of spending remains roughly $1 trillion and the difference between the high end and the low end, while greater than most other public programs will ever see, is less than the Pentagon "misplaces" in an average 12-month period.

8. On Tuesdays, President Barack Obama goes through a list of men, women, and children, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered. Knowing this would conflict with hating exclusively a particular sub-group of our public sociopaths, so most people simply choose not to know it.

9. If Iraq had really had those weapons, and if Syria had demonstrably really killed a small number of its victims with the wrong type of weapons, and if Iran were really building nuclear weapons, . . . then launching wars on those countries would still be illegal, immoral, and disastrous. We all have opinions about the question the warmakers want asked, but not about the insanity that lies behind the question.

10. People have been dying since before recorded history, and yet only those who pretend to believe nobody dies can be considered serious, honest, upstanding folk. That there's another longer life helps us not worry so much about getting screwed during this one. Perhaps it also helps us in allowing our "representatives" to routinely end the lives of so many foreign, and thus ignorant, people.

Footnotes:

1. The last such poll may have been Gallup in August 2010.
2. Zogby, Dec. 20, 2011.
3. The last such poll may have been CBS News in August 2010.
4. Check out Gareth Porter's forthcoming book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

The Story of Gaza

Young authors of fiction from Gaza, some of whom say they are finding Palestine on the internet while unable to see it exist in reality, have just published a collection of stories, written in English, marking the five-year anniversary of the 23 days from December 27, 2008, until Obama's inauguration, during which Israel bombed the people of Gaza far more heavily than usual.  They're publishing a new excerpt of the book each of these 23 days on their FaceBook page. You can talk with them in an upcoming Google Hangout.

For five years, the world -- just like Obama -- has overwhelmingly been "looking forward" when it comes to crimes committed by nations aligned with the U.S. government.  But the crimes in Gaza then and now, and in other countries, have been exposed to unprecedented "looking present" through immediate real-time blogging available to those actively looking, even in the places responsible for the far-away terrorism-too-big-to-call-by-that-name. If everyone turned off their television and searched on a computer for news about their own country as reported in other countries, injustice, rather than our natural environment, would be endangered.

The telling of truer-than-news stories by these young Gazans has the potential to reach many more minds, and to set an example that just might scare off the next "humanitarian war" no matter where it's targeted.  If victims of military benevolence can have their stories read by people who matter, or who could matter if they acted, and if those stories inevitably effect understanding of the obvious-but-always-denied fact that they are like we, that those people are people just like these people, that something has "brought out their humanity," then the shock and awe might have to move from its fictional location in the streets of non-humans' cities to a real existence in the offices of Lockheed Martin. 

The stories in this book are of childhood and family, love and loss, soccer and toothaches. As with any story, people are placed in particularly special circumstances. A visit to the doctor is a visit to someone making decisions of triage: Will your father be sent to a specialist to be saved, or will this baby who has a better chance at living be sent instead? Two farmers, a Gazan and an Israeli unknowingly stand just inches or feet away from each other, separated by an impenetrable wall.  A Gazan and an Israeli are perhaps attracted to each other, but blocked by a wall that needs no physical presence. A child is listening to a bedtime story when a missile strikes the house. Who will live? And who will be traumatized? Or was everyone pre-traumatized already?

"I spent that night thinking of Thaer's home, of the distant life in Mama's eyes. I kept wondering what's more torturous: the awful buzz of the drone outside or the sounds of some tough questions inside. I guess I eventually slept with no answer, thanking the drone for not giving my inner uproar any chance to abate."

Children in Gaza know the names of books, of toys, of movies, of trees, and of deadly flying aircraft. Some of the latter are called "Apaches," named after a people marched, and imprisoned, and slaughtered by the U.S. military, people kept in camps that inspired the Nazis', whose camps in turn inspired what the nation of Israel now does to non-Jewish African immigrants.  How long will it be before little children in China are pointing to the sky in fear of a swarm of "Gazas"?

These stories are of people and of land, and of efforts to understand other people on the land. Understanding is a challenge:

"If a Palestinian bulldozer were ever invented (Haha, I know!) and I were given the chance to be in an orchard, in Haifa for instance, I would never uproot a tree an Israeli planted. No Palestinian would. To Palestinians, the tree is sacred, and so is the Land bearing it."

Gazans try to imagine what goes on in the minds of Israeli soldiers, particularly those soldiers who have killed their family members. One story tells the tale of an Israeli soldier's regret (or what we like to clinically and cleanly call PTSD), and of the soldier's wife's efforts to ease his pain:

"Honey, you were doing your job to follow orders. It's alright."

These words come as kind words of comfort, spoken to a man beyond the point of being able to hear them. And at the same time they come as an articulation of an ongoing horror of immense proportions. The contrast of these multiple meanings might make us all stop and question what we hear too often without thinking. Here in the United States, for example, any soldier in uniform gets on any airplane first and is thanked for his or her "service." Surely not thanking someone for their service would be impolite. But those who flip the switch on our prisons' electric chairs aren't thanked. Those who risk their lives to put out fires are not thanked. Only those who kill in war, even as their largest current killing operation -- in Afghanistan -- has the support of 17% in the U.S. and polling around the globe finds a consensus that the United States is the leading threat to peace on earth.

The stories from Gaza are not essays. They do not address the inevitable "What about the Gazans' own violence?" One need not misunderstand the nature of the occupation, the slow genocide, the international injustice, the vastly disproportionate violence and suffering imposed on one side of this so-called conflict in order to believe that "What about the Gazans' own violence?" is a reasonable question. Nor need one be a Gazan or an inexcusably arrogant and unsympathetic fool to have the right to disagree with the usual answer. The stories come with an introduction from the editor in which he expresses support for this well-known concept: "by any means necessary."  I prefer this phrasing: "by any means effective." Means that most easily express rage are sometimes misinterpreted as necessary, while means that have the best chance of succeeding are rejected for not having a greater chance than they do.

The stories themselves don't actually take up that debate. Rather they depict the struggle merely to survive, the bravery that we may in fact all need everywhere if the earth's climate goes the way scientists expect. These young people from Gaza may become leaders in a movement to create peace and justice before madness and disaster-imperialism overtake the comfortable and the forgotten alike.  I wonder if, and hope, they know the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and the people of No Dal Molin in Italy, and of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, and I hope they will join a new worldwide movement to end war that will be launching next year.

Sending Love to Gaza:

What Your Local Radio Stations Could Be Airing

Talk Nation Radio is a 29-minute program available every Wednesday for free to any radio station that wants to air it. Dozens are airing it now, and your local stations would probably be happy to do the same if they knew about it. Please let them know. It's syndicated by Pacifica Network. It's available at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio and it's FREE.

Think how many people would then hear shows like these!

(Which you can hear online anytime and embed on your own website or social media page.)

Robert Parry on Syria in Reality and in the New York Times

Lisa Simeone on How the TSA Trains Us in Complete Obedience

Doug Fry: Humans Have Not Evolved for War

Andy Shallal on Why He Should Be Mayor of Washington D.C.

Adam Hochschild on Ending Slavery and Not Ending War

I'm Thankful We Can Abolish Debt

Stephen Kinzer on The Dulles Brothers

Manuel Perez-Rocha: 20 Years of NAFTA Is Enough

Ann Jones on How the Wounded Return

Margaret Flowers: Web Failures Just a Symptom of Obamacare's Illness

Max Blumenthal on Israeli Ethnocracy

72 Cities Demand Clean Air Act Be Enforced to Protect Climate

Stephen Canty: Once a Marine.

Nathan Schneider on the Occupy Apocalypse

Taking Kent State to the United Nations

Iraqi Students in the U.S.

Rep. Alan Grayson on Syria: House Will Vote No, Obama Will Heed

Patrick Cockburn: Missiles Won't Make Peace in Syria

Jean Bricmont: Keep Humanitarian Imperialism Out of Syria

Tim Shorrock on Peace and Its Opponents in Korea

The EPA Lies for Frackers and Tar Sands Producers

Rooj Alwazir: U.S. Drones Terrorize Yemen

Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

Hunger Strikers and the Law vs. the Prison Industry

John Whitehead on Our Government of Wolves

Gar Alperovitz Points to Worker Ownership as Fix for Broken Democracy

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Says Syrians Oppose Intervention

Peter Kuznick Tells the Untold History of the United States

U.S. Peace and Justice Activists to Gather in Madison, Wisc.

Rick Rowley Tells How He Made the Film "Dirty Wars"

Guantanamo Is Getting Worse

David Vine on U.S. Bases All Over the World

Carl Gibson on Shutting Down the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Arun Gupta on Iraqis in California and Professor Petraeus

Highway Boondoggles Bypass Budget Crunch

Here Comes Corporate Nationhood

Pentagon Professor Says the U.S. Military Overpowers Civilian Rule and Should Be Demilitarized

Honduras Most Dangerous Country in World Thanks to Us

Jody Sokolower on Teaching Wars in U.S. Schools

Richard Wolff on Putting Workers in Charge at Work

Robert Shetterly's Portraits of Americans Who Tell the Truth

Wenonah Hauter on Foodopoly

Robert Fantina on War and the Bravery of Deserters

Norman Solomon on Iraq War Lies and New Online Activism

Nick Turse: Kill Everything That Moves

The Crisis in Mali and How to Stop Contributing to It

"I Killed People in Afghanistan: Was I Right or Wrong?"

Robert Pollin: There Is No Fiscal Crisis

Marcy Wheeler: Brennan Is Obama's Cheney

Reese Erlich on Bahrain and Syria

Stephen Zunes on Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Obama Part II

Shahid Buttar on Spying, Detention, Torture, and Zero Dark Thirty

Sam Pizzigati: What Serious Progressive Taxes Would Look Like

David Hartsough on Peace Work

Roy Hange on Struggle for Peace in Syria and Iran

Erica Chenoweth on the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Michael McPhearson and Michael Eisenscher on Jobs Not Wars

Glen Ford on Black and Progressive Activism in the Obama Era

William Blum on America's Deadliest Export: Democracy

Brian Terrell Is Headed to Prison for Protesting Drones

Gar Smith on Nuclear Roulette

Mike Elk on Employers Telling Workers How to Vote

Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein

Kucinich Says Failure to Impeach Bush Has Allowed Obama to Intensify Bush's Policies

How Did NATO Go Global?

Slow Democracy Is Better Democracy

Comedy as Political Force

War Tax Resistance

The Risks and Benefits of Political Theater in the West Bank

Sanctions on Iran -- March Toward War

How Young People Shut Down a Strip Mine in West Virginia and Why

The War on Whistleblowers With Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack

How Drones Appear from the Receiving End

Hidden History of the War on Iraq and Its Oil

Leah Bolger on the Upcoming National Convention of Veterans For Peace

Clinical Psychologist Bruce Levine Says U.S. Citizenry Particularly Inactive

U.S. Poverty Is Expanding and Worsening

An Israeli General's Son Meets Palestinians, Reverses His Beliefs

Bombs Bursting in Air, Alice Slater on Nuclear Weaponry in the World Today

Contempt, Congress, and Elizabeth Holtzman on How to Prosecute George W. Bush

Bruce Gagnon on U.S. Aggression Toward Russia and China

Sandy Davies on War, Weapons, and Obama

Chase Madar on the Passion of Bradley Manning

Marcy Winograd on Leaving the Democratic Party and Opposing War

Coleen Rowley's Top Ten Ways to Be a Good Citizen

Cindy Sheehan on the Venezuelan Constitution as a Model for the United States

Stephen M. Kohn on Our Government's Attacks on Whistleblowers

Rebecca Vilkomerson on Jewish Voice for Peace

Medea Benjamin on Drone Wars and This Weekend's Upcoming Drone Summit

Dahr Jamail: BP Oil Disaster Ongoing After Two Years

John Horgan on the End of War

Rocky Anderson on His Campaign for President

When a War Veteran Tortures His Daughter, and She Survives

The Power of Theater to End Militarism

3-Hour Military Test Secretly Administered in Thousands of High Schools

Students Hunger Strike for a Living Wage

Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy on Bahrain, AIPAC, and Military Spending

Paul Chappell on How We End War Forever 

##

Talk Nation Radio: Robert Parry on Syria in Reality and in the New York Times

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-robert-parry

Robert Parry reports that the New York Times has finally, and quietly, admitted that a key claim pushed in September by the New York Times and Human Rights Watch that nearly took the United States to war in Syria is false. Parry has been the editor of ConsortiumNews.com since 1995. He broke stories on Iran-Contra and the October Surprise for AP and Newsweek and other outlets. His books include America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes to Obama.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Talk Nation Radio: Lisa Simeone on How the TSA Trains Us in Complete Obedience

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-lisa-simeone

Listen to this show and you may not think of air travel the same way again. Lisa Simeone runs the civil liberties watchdog site TSA News Blog, where she and her writers keep track of the abuses of the Transportation Security Administration.  Simeone has been working in public radio and print for 30 years. She has hosted NPR's All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and Performance Today, also the independent documentary series Soundprint. She's written book reviews and op-eds for the Baltimore Sun and now writes on a variety of subjects for Style Magazine. In 2011, she was fired by Soundprint and blacklisted by NPR for her involvement in the Occupy movement. She managed to hang on to two radio gigs and continues her lifelong political activism.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

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

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

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

Senator Kirk's War Prayer

Senator Kirk was praying to Senators Schumer and Menendez, or rather to his god but for their benefit. He was praying in his office where the three were gathered late at night. He was praying for a chance to drop bombs on Iran.

An aged stranger entered the office without a sound, despite the closed door.  He moved with slow and noiseless step toward Senator Kirk's desk, his eyes fixed upon the senator, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he reached the desk and stood there waiting. With shut lids the senator, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled senator did -- and took his place in the senator's leather chair. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience of three bewildered senators with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the room with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the senator -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the Iranians. O Lord our God, help us to tear their men and women and children and infants to bloody shreds with our missiles; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Apologies to Mark Twain.

The War on Marriage on Christmas

Very rarely does our government ask us what to have a war on.  The proposal for missile strikes into Syria was a rare occasion when public pressure and other factors compelled Congress to demand a say. Public pressure then compelled Congress to say No.

But daily drone buzzings over various nations aren't occasions for public debate.  We aren't being asked about another decade in Afghanistan or cooking up a future war on Iran.  And our current president and his predecessor combined have wiped out eight wedding parties (six in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and one in Yemen earlier this month) without our having ever been asked about any of them.

What if we were?

There are various ways a debate over whether to launch a war could go.  In a highly-informed debate, we might investigate whether a war would violate the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.N. Charter, and the U.S. Constitution.  We might ask how many adults, children, and infants would likely be killed, injured, and traumatized, how many refugees created, what sort of environmental damage, what economic cost, what erosion of our civil liberties, what heightened secrecy in government, what increase in violence throughout our culture and the country attacked, what likely blowback for decades to come, and what obvious alternatives are available to violence.  But, of course, if we asked all that, then we'd never have any wars.

In a more plausible scenario, we might expect a debate to squeeze its way onto our televisions that would ask questions like: How many U.S. troops will die?  How much will it cost?  Why are we on the same side as al Qaeda this time?  How will it end once begun?  How does bombing more people express our support for suffering people?  Or, depending on the circumstances, maybe even this: Haven't we been arming that dictator for decades -- why the urgency to overthrow him now? 

But how would a debate over whether to send hellfire missiles screaming into a wedding party look?  What if such a debate were to develop in our news media this Christmas season? 

In areas of frequent drone strikes, people are often afraid to get together in large numbers.  In Yemen, parents resort to home schooling for fear of letting their children out of the house.  Few and far between are the events deemed important enough to risk violating that rule.  One such event is a wedding. 

How much, we might hear our pundits ask, could be saved by killing 15 people at a wedding as opposed to killing them each separately?  (If the missiles alone cost $1 million each, the answer is well over $14 million.)  What element of surprise might be gained in obliterating people whose minds are distracted by love and friendship and an important right rite of passage?  What fear and respect might be placed into the minds of the survivors?  Let's say one of the wedding couple survives and the other doesn't; which one would it be most desirable to let live?  Does it matter what kind of dress the bride is wearing?  Should fashion consultants be brought in by the Pentagon, or should morning talk shows contribute that analysis as part of their patriotic duty?  Should the missiles hit just as little kids bearing flowers enter the scene?

The debate may sound absurd, but its creation would actually be a significant step toward sound government.  We ought to vote on or be represented by officials who vote on important decisions for us.  We ought to be informed, engaged, and consulted.  Therefore, a debate before the next wedding strike is a perfectly reasonable proposal -- unless of course we're going to unilaterally stop blowing up weddings.  Far be it from me to suggest anything that rash.

Bringing U.S. Crimes in Yemen to New York

By Nick Mottern
 
On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 18, 2013,  about 20 people - from the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB), World Can't Wait, KnowDrones.org, Mary House (the Catholic Worker House in NYC) and Concerned Families of Westchester County - gathered in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to witness on behalf of the 15 Yemeni wedding-goers who were killed by a US drone six days earlier.
 
  I brought a replica of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of the work horses of US drone killing, and as I carried the replica parts to be assembled in front of the cathedral, I was so heartened to see such a long line of witnesses.  Most were from the GPB, and the yellow smocks the Grannies wear at protests gave the line a heightened presence and assertion in the midst of a scene that was about anything but why we were there.  
 
  As the attached photos show, many, many people passed in front of us, with a fair number actively avoiding conversation and flyers, even when some of us approached them.   Although we were in front of one of the most renown houses of worship in the United States, and maybe the world, the atmosphere had no hint of spiritual intention.  St. Patrick's is in the heart of one of the most famous, some might say  infamous, shopping districts in America, and the prevailing energy had to do with commerce,  sight-seeing and rushing, constant rushing, rushing of souls flashing by pre-occupied with immediate demands.   Yemen, the drone dead and their families were galaxies away.
 
 
  The most pronounced, kindest evidence of a spiritual inspiration came from the NYC policeman who approached us when we gathered to begin the vigil.  He said he had been advised that we would be protesting, that we were free to stand on the broad sidewalk in front of the cathedral and that, if we wished, the police would, cordon off our spot, an offer we declined.  I have never experienced a policeman being welcoming in this way or to be so pleasant.   Conversely, when one of us went into the cathedral office to ask if someone might copy some additional flyers for us, he was told no and asked who gave us permission to be there anyway.  (Flyer attached)
 
  We arrived at 1:00 pm and left at 2:30, when we ran out of the 200 plus fliers.  The  end of the flyers was welcome in a way because the cold was beginning to establish a beachhead under our layers of clothing.    
 
  In terms of impact, I know that a man in his early 50's from Long Island, accompanied by his wife and children, was very interested in what we were doing, very sympathetic, and stood around for sometime.  I also found several passersby wanting to take a flyer, and two said they would definitely Facebook Pope Francis when I told them we were encouraging people to ask him to condemn drone warfare and drone surveillance.   I know others in our group had similar small signs of success, and I left feeling that at least for the time we were there we were honoring, and in some way praying for, those who had been killed in Yemen and for those who loved them.
 
  Pope Francis' Facebook address is:                     https://www.facebook.com/PopeFranciscus

Are There Just Wars?

What Drives War?

Talk Nation Radio: Doug Fry: Humans Have Not Evolved for War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-doug-fry

Douglas Fry administers the Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research program between the University of Tampere and Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He is the author of Beyond War and War, Peace, and Human Nature. He discussed the evidence that war is a new and eliminable development in our species.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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