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Monday, August 27, 2012
Gather at 4:30 at the NW corner of 42nd and Lexington. Enter Grand Central at 5 pm.
Walkers will hold "I am Bradley Manning" masks, carry small flags saying "Free Bradley Manning" and "Blowing the Whistle on War Crimes Is NOT a Crime." We will walk and freeze to the sound of whistles and will flier those scurrying to get their trains. -
By Coleen Rowley
Some nonpartisan commentators finally recognize that current US foreign policy continues to escalate militarily as though on steroids. It has become evident that use of deadly force by a US-dominated NATO is not only outside the parameters of international and constitutional law, but also in some cases outside basic legal principles that have stood the test of time not only for decades, but for centuries. One explanation, however, for why American civil society, in general, has not pushed back is the "better rhetoric" now being used to sell war.
Washington Opposes Peace
by Stephen Lendman
America's history is blood-drenched. Permanent war is policy. Peace and stability are verboten.
One nation after another is targeted. Aggressive wars follow. Rule of law principles and democratic values are discarded. Wealth, power and unchallengeable dominance alone matter.
Historic Tehran NAM Summit
by Stephen Lendman
After the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is the most important world body. Hopefully its 16th summit will infuse it with new life.
As host, Iran has a historic opportunity. At the same time, it can enhance its own prestige and enlist support against hostile Washington/Israeli designs.
What really scandalizes us is that the Western world is encouraging this rise of sectarian violence just to topple the [al-Assad] regime. Mother Agnes Miriam, Syria
NATO and Saudi supported Free Syrian Army democracy warriors are attacking and killing Christians in Syria. Reports indicate that various Christian denominations are special targets for kidnapping, violence and intimidation. (Image) For example:
"Syrian rebel forces have trapped over 12,000 Greek Catholics in a village near the Lebanese border, causing shortages of food, medicine and other urgent supplies." CNA, August 25
The Greek Catholics in the village of Reblah may suffer the same fate as Christians in Qusair who were forced to seek refuge in Lebanon recently after their village lost supplies for days thanks to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The residents were told to leave or face annihilation. They chose to leave.
In a few places around the country groups are working to make August 27th a local or national holiday as a result of reading "When the World Outlawed War."
“Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before,” wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song. “I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men. And the paper they were signing said they’d never fight again.” (Here are a few videos: Johnny Cash - Pete Seeger - Simon and Garfunkel - John Denver - Serena Ryder.)
That scene had happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books (and on the U.S. State Department’s website) to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls “the supreme Law of the Land.” Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar — so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the “Liberty ships” that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II. Kellogg was dead at the time. So, many believed, were prospects for world peace. But following World War II, for the first time ever people were prosecuted for the brand new crime of making war -- these charges explicitly justified by the Kellogg-Briand Pact. And the wealthy nations have not gone to war with each other since. War continues against and among poor nations only, much to our shame. But the possibility of eliminating war entirely if we choose has been well established.
IMAGE: the author at Frank Kellogg's house in St. Paul, Minn. Photo by Coleen Rowley.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive. This treaty gathered the adherence of the world’s nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand. We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war — understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations — continues to develop.
We might begin by remembering what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is and where it came from. Perhaps, in between celebrating Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Yellow Ribbon Day, Patriots Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Iraq-Afghanistan Wars Day legislated by Congress in 2011, not to mention the militaristic festival that bombards us every September 11th, we could squeeze in a day marking a step toward peace. I propose we do so every August 27th. Perhaps a national focus for Kellogg-Briand Day might be on an event in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., (if it safely reopens following the recent earthquake) where the inscription below the Kellogg Window gives Kellogg, who is buried there, credit for having “sought equity and peace among the nations of the world.”
We would be celebrating a step toward peace, not its achievement. We celebrate steps taken toward establishing civil rights, despite that remaining a work in progress. By marking partial achievements we help build the momentum that will achieve more. We also, of course, respect and celebrate the ancient establishment of laws banning murder and theft, although murder and theft are still with us. The earliest laws making war into a crime, something it had not been before, are just as significant and will long be remembered if the movement for the Outlawry of war succeeds. If it does not, and if the nuclear proliferation, economic exploitation, and environmental degradation that come with our wars continue, then before long there may be nobody remembering anything at all.
Another way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it. When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a court reporter’s note added to, but not actually part of, a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back. When the Department of Justice wants to “legalize” torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era. If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is actually law. And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support. The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full,
The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony,
For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations. Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy. For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must incur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories.
Please sign up on FaceBook:
Please bring signs, banners, posters!
1 p.m. at the Free Speech Wall.
Please print lots of these flyers to hand out:
Here's what the flyers say:
Go, Obama, Go!
While you wait . . .
It's important that we remind ourselves why we're here, and what we're cheering for!
President Obama keeps a list of "nominees" for murder and holds meetings on Tuesdays to pick the winners. We can ask him who got the nod yesterday. The list includes adults and children, men and women, boys and girls, Americans and non-Americans. See: New York Times, May 29, 2012.
President Obama has enlarged the U.S. military three years in a row, deployed it to more nations, engaged it in more secret wars, and invented a new form of warfare using drones. The drone wars are killing large numbers of people and creating vastly greater numbers of refugees. Their illegality is not a concern, following Obama's war in Libya conducted despite the opposition of Congress, and the current U.S. role in a civil war in Syria unilaterally announced by the White House. These are on top of a war in Afghanistan that Obama tripled in size and intends to continue for two-and-a-half more years before continuing at an unspecified smaller scale for 10 more years after that, despite 70 percent public opposition now.
In fact, legality has been removed from all discussion, as President Obama has publicly instructed the Attorney General of the United States not to prosecute any members of the Central Intelligence Agency for torture. President Obama, together with Congress, has "legalized" imprisonment without trial for Americans or non-Americans (something Obama's Justice Department is currently struggling to uphold in court), as well as rendition, and torture (now a policy choice rather than a crime).
The Obama administration has engaged in an unprecedented assault on whistleblowers, charging more than all previous administrations combined under the Espionage Act, creating a climate of secrecy and fear, torturing Bradley Manning, and maneuvering in an extensive effort to gain custody of Julian Assange and try or at least punish him for journalism.
This unprecedented militarism was the inevitable result of our failure to hold Bush and Cheney responsible for their crimes. It carries with it the inevitable trade-off on the domestic side. Over half of federal discretionary spending (and rising) now goes to war preparation. Obama's major complaint with the U.S. media is that, "He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security" (New York Times, Aug. 7, 2012). The concentration of wealth in the hands of the few has advanced faster under Obama than under Bush. Corporate trade agreements have been created at a faster pace. The destruction of the earth's atmosphere has continued at a faster pace.
The Horrible Romney Alternative
OF COURSE you should not vote for Romney. But civil rights were not gained by avoiding the responsibilities of citizenship in order to pretend that every day is election day. Today is not election day. Today is an opportunity to communicate a message to the holder of an office that has been given unprecedented power (again, by allowing Bush to walk free). Women did not vote themselves the right to vote. The labor movement was not built by the current strategy of funding a corporate political party with working people's hard-earned pay. In that moment of voting, vote as you see fit. But censoring your criticism of your government, cheering as a spectator for one half of a corrupt government, treating government of the people as a spectator sport is working against what has always done the good you are intending to do here. We don't need well-meaning props in electoral commercials so much as we need activists, organizers, mobilizers, educators. If we reject any cuts to our Social Security and Medicare, if we insist on an end to all the killing, we will move the culture of the country and with it all the politicians. That's what's worked for centuries. Avoiding ugly facts has never gotten us anywhere.
By Dave Lindorff
Sometimes a journalist just has to go with the story, even if it’s going all wrong.
Iran War Weekly
August 26, 2012
Hello All – Once again the front-burner drama this week re: Iran’s nuclear program was the debate within Israel about whether it should attack Iran’s nuclear sites, and especially whether Israel would/should attack before the US presidential election. As noted below, elite opinion in Israel is running strongly against Netanyahu and the bombs-away camp; and increasingly Israelis are accusing Netanyahu of attempting to intervene in the US election to help out Mitt Romney. While US experts largely discount the possibility of an Israeli attack, I think it’s a pretty unstable situation.
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
Inventing an Iranian Threat
by Stephen Lendman
Iran threatens no one. Western and Israeli leaders know it. So do over 100 Non-Aligned Movement countries coming to Tehran. They'll be there from August 26 - 31. They'll participate in NAM's 16th summit.
Their presence endorses Iran's legitimacy, extends support, shows disapproval of Western hostility and belligerence, and confers prestige when Tehran most needs it.
Getting Away with Torture in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
Torture is illegal at all times under all circumstances with no allowed exceptions. Israel's Supreme Court ruled both ways.
On the one hand, it banned torture. On the other, it permitted physical force in "ticking bomb" cases. At the time, Court President Aharon Barak claimed it saves lives. He authorized use of the "necessity defense" to get away with lawless practices.
Risking Nuclear Armageddon
by Stephen Lendman
Irresponsible leaders risk the unthinkable. Media scoundrels cheerlead mindlessly. So do neocon think tanks. Ordinary people are more concerned about mundane trivia than survival.
Trillions Stashed in Tax Havens
by Stephen Lendman
A new Tax Justice Network (TJN) USA report reveals an estimated $21 - $32 trillion of hidden and stolen wealth stashed largely tax-free secretly.
Titled "The Price of Offshore Revisited," it explains what financial insiders know but won't discuss. Many of them have their own hidden wealth.
The acceptance speech of the Republican candidate for U.S. president in 1924 would have made a dramatic improvement on President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech of 2009. The 1924 speech was given by the incumbent president who would go on to win reelection and to act on his rhetorical commitments. His name was Calvin Coolidge.
The speech has been virtually erased from memory, as has the movement that inspired the section I want to recall. The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation doesn't list the speech on its website and cannot find it when asked. The American Presidency Project hasn't got it. The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum is no help. The Library of Congress Coolidge Papers don't have it. The Private Coolidge papers don't have it. The University of North Carolina - Charlotte claims to have it but doesn't. However, the Lewiston Evening Journal printed the speech on August 14, 1924, and you can read it on Google.
The speech is, of course, chock full of distortions, exaggerations, U.S. exceptionalism, racism, bigotry, nationalism, religion, elitism, libertarianism, sexism, and other comforting touches that will make us feel at home and remind us of our own Republican National Conventions. It would take volumes to survey the many ways in which we've progressed, retrogressed, and failed to budge from that speech to today. But I want to point to one section on which we've lost tremendous ground. There was nothing like it in John McCain's speech in 2008 or in Obama's of that year. There will be nothing like it this season.
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally recognized American political prisoner, thwarted a Philadelphia judge’s secretive court order that could have eliminated his future appeal rights when he filed a last- minute motion on August 23rd challenging that order sentencing him to life-without-parole.
De profundis clamavi, or why we can talk till we’re blue in the face but until we put our money where our mouth is we won’t get rid of the TSA
At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war. What will you risk for peace?"
One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace. It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government."
Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act. Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons. The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour. The train would stop. The protesters would be removed from the tracks. That was the standard practice, and that was the law. But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.
It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence. Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist. Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train. Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody. That was the order given. The other protesters moved out of the way in time. Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not. The train ran him over. And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress.
But something else happened too. Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties. People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come. Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990. Celebrities showed up and held rallies. Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand. And similar actions sprang up around the country. Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero.
But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero. Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard. "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic. This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice. Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands.
"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries. We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas. Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives. Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."
Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere. It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help. The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living. If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Six out of seven protesters were arrested Thursday night after they held a peaceful sit-in inside President Obama's campaign headquarters and refused to leave.
The protesters marched to the headquarters after a 5 p.m. rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza in support of Bradley Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks.
No joke. A little innovative thinking and economic calculation, and someone has come up with a model in Niagara Falls that could restore the U.S. economy and every economy influenced by it, not to mention the natural environment and what's left of our miserable souls.
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has long been an economic drain (military spending produces fewer jobs than energy or education or infrastructure spending or even tax cuts), an environmental disaster (with the ground poisoned, what can replace this airport?), and a symbol of corruption (with the military trying to get rid of it, Congress members have insisted on keeping the base around as a make-work jobs program protected from charges of Socialism purely by its connection to war).
Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center has come up with an idea that could generate jobs, increase the area's clean energy production by 60% (and that's saying something in a place already benefitting from a fairly largish waterfall), avoid killing anybody anywhere in the world, and last as long as the sun shines, rather than as long as the Pentagon pigs out. (Playing along with the general pretense that the Pentagon is already facing big cuts may be a strategic move in getting these sorts of projects going, but the Pentagon is almost guaranteed to really face enormous cuts before the sun does.)
Bowman's idea is to cover the airport with solar panels. Covering 8 million square meters would produce 546 ongoing jobs maintaining the panels, plus power for 110,000 homes. Bowman has laid out various options and their costs and savings. The cost to the public would be no more than we now spend. Instead of one more military airport, we'd have all that clean energy and a model for the country showing how to develop a local economy. (What locality in this country doesn't have a military boondoggle that could be put to better use?) And if we kill fewer Pakistanis and Yemenis and Afghans and Iranians and Somalis in the process, generating a bit less hatred for our country, who's going to complain? The newly employed? I doubt it. Those benefitting from the clean electricity? We're talking about much of Western New York being powered by sunshine via panels that make a lot less noise and air pollution than military jets. We could try this in Eastern New York and Northern Pennsylvania and Southern Massachusetts, and … 110,000 houses here, 110,000 houses there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
Does this solution make sense? Does it in fact make so much sense as to threaten the Pentagon's bureaucrats? "Bureaucrat" is, of course, a French term meaning "We'll do things the way we've always done things even if it kills you." Never fear, bureaucrats! The Secretary of War is on the case. Leon Panetta, who 20 years ago favored exactly the kind of conversion proposed by Bowman, swooped in to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on August 9th waving around giant bags of cash. "We're committed to maintaining this base for the future," Panetta said. "It's important geographically, it's important to our mission going forward." Aha! Bet you didn't see that coming! We need an Air Reserve base in Niagara Falls to hold off the Canadian menace and suppress the growing violence between New York and Ohio. It's the geographic importance! Or Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul is a Democrat. One or the other. The solar lobby just doesn't buy campaigns the way war and oil profiteers do. Bowman is proposing 546 jobs at $50,000 each, but for a mere $52,950 total dumped into Hochul's campaigns (according to OpenSecrets.org), the "defense" industry seems to have out-bid him.
Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ($194,403) has come to the principled conclusion that the base should remain a military base, and the Pentagon should figure out some way to waste money on it. Schumer assures us that Panetta is a "thoughtful, perceptive and caring" man who understands the base's importance to the Western New York economy, according to the Buffalo News. But, Panetta warns, if Congress doesn't undo by next January the "cuts" to the military that it passed last year, heads will roll, jobs will be axed, and Western New York will be forced to employ more people at a lower cost while generating clean energy for its residents. Are you scared yet? Panetta's dire warning of $487 billion in cuts is, as he sometimes mentions, "over 10 years." This means that the cuts sound bigger if you multiply them by 10. That's all it means. The annual cuts are $48 billion. But not really, because the cuts are smaller while Panetta and his boss are actually around, with most of the cuts pushed off into the latter part of the 10-year period. On top of which, the cuts are to dream budgets, not to actual budgets. Panetta's teasing of the people of Niagara Falls (You'll lose your jobs! You'll keep your jobs! You'll lose your jobs!) is the equivalent of Lockheed Martin's sending out phony pink slips to scare its workers, and both are the equivalent of a hot steaming pile of what comes out the far side of a well-fed bull.
Following Panetta's shakedown of Western New York for the war profiteers in Northern Virginia, Charley Bowman responded:
"The August 9 performance at the Niagara Falls Air Base by our elected representatives -- and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta -- can be summed up: jobs at the air base are only available through war or military research. They should know better. Following a 'lengthy' speech about the need for defense cuts, Panetta promised the frantic search will continue to discover a new military mission for the air base. His intended message was: no third world country is off limits, as we continue our struggle in the war on terror. With serious expressions on their faces, Schumer, Hochul and [Congressman Brian ($52,500)] Higgins nodded in agreement. Secretary Panetta did bring $6 million with him saying a flight simulator will be built at the air base. None of our elected leaders brought up the fact that flight simulation does not need a functioning airport. Such simulation could be done just as well in an urban setting, such as Buffalo's East Side or downtown Niagara Falls. (During the 2.5 hour long vigil outside the Niagara Falls Air Base that day, I counted 3 planes landing -- barely surpassing the flight activity at grass landing strips in rural Western N.Y.)"
War of Words on Iran
by Stephen Lendman
If words could kill, imperial Washington long ago would have returned Iran to its nightmarish Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi days.
Propaganda wars rage daily. Tehran is wrongfully called an existential threat. Imagine a country wanting peace accused of belligerent intents. Repeating it enough times gets people to believe it. Big lies have impact.
Saving a Failed System
by Stephen Lendman
Combining 17 dissimilar countries under one monetary/fiscal system assured disaster waiting to happen. One size fits all rules don't work. Euro expert Bernard Connolly knew it before the euro's 1998 introduction.
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
My father fathered the way they did on black-and-white TV, though not so much Ward Cleaver as Ralph Kramden (if he and Alice had had kids). He went to work, Mom stayed home. Every night we ate dinner together, but I don’t remember Dad ever saying much. When he did, it was so unusual that it stuck with you.
By Dave Lindorff
The public is just beginning to pay attention to the key issues of the 2012 presidential campaign. Even at this early stage, there is a clear trend in opinion against vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher program. On this and other key issues, Ryan's very explicit positions and legislative proposals spell doom for the Romney campaign. Ryan's record and a Republican platform endorsing those extreme views are Romney's albatross.
A Pew Research poll, August 23, exposes the impact of one key campaign. Medicare Voucher Plan Remains Unpopular captures the impact of timing for Ryan's exposure as a hard core, right wing extremist.
Basically, Ryan destroys Medicare by turning it into a voucher system. Seniors would receive a grant from the Federal government to purchase their own coverage (on those useless exchanges Obama created, perhaps). The additional costs represent 35% of median senior income in 2022 and go up from there to 50% of median income by 2050. A Republican death panel, this approach will deny a major portion of seniors of part of all of their medical services.
Troubling Israeli Religious Fundamentalism
by Stephen Lendman
Islamic fundamentalism is vilified in the West. Extremist Jews are largely ignored. In Israel they're dangerous. They influence government policy. They seek control of Israel's rabbinical system.
New York Times Pro-Israeli Bias
by Stephen Lendman
The New York Times has a longstanding history of pro-Israeli bias. An earlier If Americans Knew report explained "highly disturbing patterns" of distorted, one-sided coverage.