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Lies, Damn Lies, and Nuclear Lies

Remarks at protest at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the International Day of Peace, 2012

 

Our government likes to lie to us about nuclear weapons.  This poor impoverished nation halfway around the world is about to nuke us.  No, that one is.  The result, of course, is mass murder.  But there's another result potentially even worse.  We begin to think there's something wrong with being terrified of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.  There isn't.  This stuff should scare the hell out of us.  And the arrogant lunacy of imagining that even an honest and accountable authority, much less our government, could set up a commission to regulate the winds of hell and deadly substances with a half-life as long as the age of the Earth must give us serious pause.

US Media War on Islam

 

US Media War on Islam

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America never treated Muslims respectfully. US media and Hollywood play lead roles. Jack Shaheen's book "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People" documented how American filmmakers slander them.

 

Bailout Fraud and Unaccountability

 

Bailout Fraud and Unaccountability

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On December 8, 2008, the Senate confirmed Neil Barofsky's nomination as Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) watchdog. He assumed the post of SIGTARP (Special Inspector General for TARP).

 

LINK TV to Show Ray McGovern Talk on Israel-Iran Starting Sept. 21

Israel and Iran: Facts ≠ Fear — Ray McGovern Talk Starts Playing Tomorrow on LINK TV

Ray’s Sept. 2 speech (and the Q&A following) on Israel & Iran: Facts ≠ Fear starts showing on LINK TV Friday, Sept. 21, at 3:00 Eastern.  Ray gave the talk at a benefit for a Justice-oriented non-profit he admires very much – the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) in Berkeley, CA.  In the following URL, LINK TV lists the schedule for its running (six more times in the coming days).

http://www.linktv.org/programs/ray-mcgovern-israel-and-iran

Rally: NO NUKES – NO WAR / Occupy the NRC

When: September 21, 2012 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Where: NRC Headquarters
11545 Rockville Pike
Rockville
Maryland

Cost: Free
Contact: info@coalitionagainstnukes.org
Categories: Action
   

Rally NO NUKES NO WAR!! / Occupy The NRC @ 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, This will include a peaceful protest outside the building and a public meeting inside the building if possible. This Rally will have a NO NUKES/NO WAR theme and is taking place on what the United Nations has designated as the International Day of Peace or “Peace Day”. Speakers will address radiation and public health, the NRC’s reclassifying of depleted uranium to be used for weapons making, uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear weapons and war, and the relationship between the nuclear energy industry and the war machine.  Confirmed speakers for this historic demonstration include Green Party presidential candidate Jill SteinSierra Club environmental justice organizer and native Rights Activist Robert Tohe, Congressional Fellow for the Physicians for a

National Health Program Dr. Margaret Flowers,  War is a Crime.org peace activist David Swanson, Its Our Economy activist Kevin Zeese and grassroots voices from across the country from Vermont Yankee to Indian Point to North Anna to Palisades to Davis Besse to Fermi to Hanford to San Onofre and beyond! The rally will also address the NRC’s reclassifying of depleted uranium to be used for weapons making, uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear weapons and war, and the relationship between the nuclear energy industry and the war machine. 2pm – 5pm (confirmed)

Attacking American Sovereign Soil Diminishes the Rights of Religion

 


 


by Walter Brasch


 


The terrorists who attacked the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the attacks were retaliation for the publication on You Tube of an anti-Muslim film. That YouTube video was a 14-minute trailer for a one-hour film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that was not only a vicious bigoted attack against Islam but also of no artistic merit.  


 One of the extremist political parties in Egypt plucked the trailer from obscurity and used it as part of a newscast, inflaming the people of Egypt, who mounted a demonstration against the U.S. embassy. Within a week, the trailer had more than 10 million hits on YouTube.

Protests Againt Drones Multiplying

Protests against U.S. drone killing and drone surveillance are breaking out all over -- there are events happening in state after state, and just about anyone who agrees it's time to say ENOUGH! can find others near them that are actively protesting the drones. Live in the Midwest? Get together with protesters in Ohio - who were bird-dogging Barack Obama and picketing Congressman Mike Turner about their support for drones this week ... or Occupy Chicago, which deposited coffins representing drone victims at the doorstep of Obama 2012 Campaign HQ last week ...

Seeing Afghanistan Differently than the Occupiers See It

Plans by the U.S. to maintain a Special Forces occupation of Afghanistan until 2024 are being severely tested. But only press from other countries reports what the two main reasons why the people of Afghanistan demand that U.S. forces just leave are:  • Continued aerial bombing by NATO/US forces. Sunday, NATO claimed it killed 45 "insurgents" in an airstrike in a remote province east of Kabul. But villagers brought the bodies of 8 women, including a girl 10 years old, to the governor's office. They were shouting "death to America.  They were condemning the attack," said an Afghan official, according to Agence France Presse.  How many times has this happened in almost 11 years?  The U.S. NATO commanders dismiss it as necessary "collateral damage." People who are allegedly being "saved" are expendable.

TSA propaganda: sex, lies, and video clips by Bill Fisher

Despite overwhelming Congressional and public criticism of its personnel and policies, the TSA continues undaunted in its public relations program, which many have deemed a propaganda campaign. Instead of addressing the documented shortcomings within the agency, the TSA opts instead to waste effort planting spurious press releases and making false claims.

READ THE REST AT TSA NEWS.

Hypocrisy not Democracy in America

 

Hypocrisy Not Democracy in America

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

US elections are farcical. Obama and Romney represent two sides of the same coin. Neither offers choice. Democracy never existed and doesn't now. Rhetoric substitutes for reality.

 

Republicans and Democrats offer the worst of all possible worlds. Ordinary people are entirely shut out. Growing numbers reject both parties for good reason. Money power owns them.

Unconditional Surrender in Chicago

 

Unconditional Surrender in Chicago

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

September 18, 2012 will be remembered in Chicago as a day of infamy. Corrupt city officials and union bosses won. Teachers, parents, and kids lost. 

 

On September 10, teachers walked out. Core issues were at stake. Most important is saving public education. An American tradition is disappearing.

 

Italy 1, CIA Torturers 0

Forza Italia! After years of appeals, Italy's highest court has upheld the conviction of 23 Americans involved in a CIA kidnapping of a man off the street in Milan, whom the CIA shipped to Egypt to be brutally tortured.  This ruling could result in Italy demanding their extradition.  For, you see, the 23 are living comfortably in the United States.  They look just like decent people.  They blend in.  I don't advise Italy to kidnap (or "rendition") these Americans just because President Obama says that's legal.  But I do encourage Italy to demand extradition.  And I hope that one or another of them will be so good as to seek sanctuary in an Ecuadorean Embassy, just to see how many heads explode in Washington as people try to determine what they're supposed to think of that.

For background on this case, sadly still relevant, here's something I wrote on November 6, 2010:

One Place to Cut Spending: Kidnapping and Torture

By David Swanson

I know it seems like more of a noble sacrifice to cut spending on things people less fortunate than ourselves need, but can somebody explain to me why it wouldn't be at least that noble to eliminate the budget of the CIA, which serves no one?

The Washington Post and the Obama administration have been busy telling us that it's legal to kidnap people and send them to countries that torture. They may call it "renditioning" to nations that use "enhanced interrogation techniques," but a new book details what this means in English.

A man was walking near his home in Milano, Italy, and was stopped and questioned by a policeman. When they had been engaged in conversation for some minutes, the side door of a van parked behind the man crashed open with a thunderous sound, two extremely large and strong men grabbed the civilian and hauled him inside, and the door slammed shut three seconds after it had opened, as the van accelerated and the two men hit and kicked their victim repeatedly in the dark of the van's interior, pounding his head, chest, stomach, and legs. They stopped. They stuffed a gag in his mouth and put a hood over his head, as they cinched cords tight around his wrists and ankles. Hours later they threw him into another vehicle. An hour later they took him out, stood him up, cut his clothes off, shoved something hard up his anus, stuck a diaper and pajamas on him, wrapped his head almost entirely with duct tape, and tossed him in an airplane.

The torture he received when he got where he was going left him nearly dead, prematurely aged, and barely able to walk. It was US-sponsored and Egyptian administered. And it is described in all of its almost unbearable detail in Steve Hendricks' "A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial."

Believe it or not, most of this book is enjoyable. Hendricks knows the United States and Italy and how to write about one for readers in the other. His remarks on Italian culture are outdone only by his background on Muslim terrorism, his account of who this kidnapping victim was, and the inclusion of dialogue picked up by Italian wiretaps of terrorism suspects' private conversations. But just as terrific reading are Hendricks' histories of the practice of rendition, of the use of torture, of U.S.-Italian relations, of domestic Italian terrorism, and of modern Egypt.

Not to ruin the punch line -- and this has long been public knowledge -- the kidnapping, transporting, imprisoning, and torturing of this man and many others is paid for with U.S. tax dollars. I'm sure it all sounds very important and rational given how demonically evil Muslims are supposed to be. But how do you justify the dozens of CIA agents living it up in Italy's most luxurious hotels while plotting this operation? And how do you rationalize the damage done to U.S. relations with Italy? Of course, Italians quickly discovered that the CIA was behind this crime. It would have been harder to track them if they'd worn neon signs on their chests. They used cell phones and frequent flyer accounts that were easily identified, not to mention names and addresses similar to their real ones. Hendricks describes their methods as Keystone Kommandoism.

No doubt some of these CIA bunglers and butchers were outsourced and untrained, but they also believed they were above the law. They thought they had immunity. Italian law enforcement thought otherwise. For decades during the Cold War, the CIA kept an army and caches of weapons in Italy to be used if communists were ever able to gain significant political power. A long list of abuses has come to light and no one ever been held accountable. Magistrate Armando Spataro, like many Italians, adored the United States. When reporters asked him why he had indicted two dozen CIA agents, Spataro said he was opposing lawlessness, not his beloved United States. He warned of following the path of Mussolini. He pointed out that Italy had defeated domestic terrorists with the rule of law. He showed that the new U.S. lawlessness was just encouraging terror. His record of prosecuting leftist terrorists and his indictment for terrorism of the victim himself of the U.S. kidnapping made claims of bias difficult to pin on Spataro. The approach resorted to by the U.S. media was -- to the extent possible -- to ignore the whole thing, especially when Spataro won convictions of the agents tried in absentia.

The Italian legal system is one thing, its government in Rome quite another. The latter will never ask the United States to extradite the convicts unless the U.S. president requests it first, just as the United States would never kidnap a man in Italy without telling the Italian president and the Italian spy service first. So, none of the culprits are behind bars, but they are unable to live in or travel to Europe. And a strong signal has been sent about the likelihood of Italy tolerating more such crimes. This is the sort of message Nancy Pelosi would have sent by impeaching Bush even if the Senate had not convicted him.

Hendricks tracked down most of the scofflaws. They're spread around the United States engaged in a variety of work, most of them completely unknown to the public. The man chiefly responsible, on the other hand, is undergoing a public rehabilitation and it about to open a presidential library, while the man responsible for the continued practice and for the freedom of his predecessor has two more years in the White House.

Hearts and Mines

Russell Snyder's new book is called "Hearts and Mines: With the Marines in Al-Anbar: A Story of Psychological Warfare in Iraq." It's a beautiful book and one that may move you to outraged action, but not in the way you might expect.

I got the book from its author at a Veterans For Peace convention.  I assumed it was an anti-war book.  I was startled first by the literary skill of the author, who paints a powerful picture of his time in Iraq.  I was startled second, slowly, gradually, as I waited for the author to turn against the war.  I've read many other accounts by soldiers who came to regret their actions.  They suffer from the actions they have taken.  They deeply regret having killed innocent people.  They find it almost too much to bear.  They lay down their guns.  They resist.  They go AWOL. They file for conscientious objector status. Or they receive their discharge and then denounce the institution of war, committing never to be a part of it again.

That never quite happens with Snyder.

Here's an intelligent, sensitive young man capable of describing a wide array of conflicting emotions that soldiers experience in wartime.  He enjoys the camaraderie of the military.  He respects the professionalism.  He honors the self-sacrifice.  And he resents the stupidity, fears for his life, and questions the wisdom of the entire enterprise.  Just questions.  He doesn't reject.  This is not a book aimed at moving you to demand an end to military spending.  This is a book aimed -- intentionally or not -- at moving you to seek out and struggle against the cultural habits that allow people to accept war so completely that they can recognize it as an unnecessary piece of barbarism and nonetheless take part in it with pride.

"It's a worrisome flaw humanity has yet to overcome that in our modern age we still accept the butchery of our human brothers and sisters as a means of settling our politicians' and religious leaders' disagreements," writes Snyder in the introduction.  He writes that his viewpoint evolved there.  But the narrative of the book doesn't display evolution so much as complexity and contradiction. 

Snyder's job was to blast loud messages in Arabic at Iraqi villages, in order to win their hearts and minds.  He notes that in shooting practice "two in the heart, one in the mind" meant two bullets to the chest and one to the head -- mocking the futility of "psy-ops."  When, in Chapter 2, Snyder puts bullets into live humans, he describes the success of the conditioning that allowed him to do so without thought.  That thoughtlessness largely remains, at least on the surface, for the rest of the book. 

Snyder describes the difficulties of "winning" an occupation of a country, the inability to trust anyone, the cycles of revenge, the brutality, the lack of understanding, the torture, the sadism, and the tricking of Iraqi children into cursing their country in English or drinking urine.  Snyder describes a remarkable number of incidents in which he could easily have died, as well as learning that someone was offering $5,000 to whoever destroyed his loudspeaker truck or killed his Iraqi translator.  This is a book with more "action" in it than most such accounts I've read -- even as it still manages to convey the deadly boredom these incidents interspersed, and the adrenaline high that drove soldiers and Marines to seek out more activity, even at the risk of death.  Snyder describes the fear of death, the resort to religion, and ultimately his attempt to believe that God saved him (while, of course, not saving thousands of others). 

Snyder disapproves of the worst attitudes and actions he recounts.  "It felt hypocritical," he writes, "that we should attempt to convince [Iraqis] security was improving and they shouldn't be worried while we Americans swaddled ourselves head to toe in armor and protective gear.  Our hosts must have sometimes regarded our argument as condescending. Since we didn't allow them to have armor or weapons, it seemed to imply their lives were not deserving of the same level of protection as our own."  At various other times, Snyder writes that his actions had the merit of possibly saving Marines' lives.  Not lives, Marines' lives. 

Snyder describes himself as torn. "My soul ached, torn between feeling a sense of contractual obligation, a desire to fulfill my duties as a soldier and to commiserate with my brothers in uniform while mourning the seemingly pointless extinction of so much innocent life.  Not only the little girls whose stiffening corpses were now rotting like refuse in the backyard, or the baby chicks that had survived two tank rounds only to succumb to the sadistic whims of bored Marines, but the countless thousands of other human lives destroyed by war and remembered only as collateral damage. . . .  Prolonging the war seemed akin to setting fire to a neighbor's house and then attempting to extinguish the flames with more fire.  I felt at once very weary, exhausted by the heavy knowledge of so much violence and needless death.  But I remained quiet as I crawled into the turret, resigned to accept my own sinful role."  In fact, the possibility of acting otherwise is never mentioned in the book -- except for others.  Snyder writes that he "lamented the state of what I imagined to be my countrymen's lack of awareness that permitted their collective conscience to embrace a war . . . ."  In reality, there is no collective in such matters.  We each have to act alone.  We each bear a different share of guilt.  But most of us at least were not taking part in what we were lamenting.  Snyder ends the book feeling more guilt over his decision not to reenlist than anything else.

It's possible that some of what Snyder has experienced and taken part in lies buried within him, threatening to erupt years or decades from now.  "I might never live," he writes, "long enough to atone for everything that troubled me, but maybe I didn't have to if I made a sincere effort to live a life that benefitted others."  In my view, what's needed is not further suffering by Russell Snyder.  More suffering benefits no one.  If he is able to move on to a productive nonviolent life, I only hope that it includes more writing.  What's needed, I think, is for the rest of us to appreciate how a book like this one already benefits others. 

Start with Snyder's condemnation of the effort underway during his time in Iraq to recruit Iraqis to take over the killing of Iraqis.  A similar effort is failing miserably in Afghanistan right now, without any alternative entering the minds of our public policy decision makers. 

Look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's bewilderment at the Libyans' lack of appreciation for all that our bombs have done to their country.  Here's a book that could ease our national case of bewilderment as to why the recipients of our "aid" tend to show so little gratitude. 

The importance of this book is that it takes someone who largely believes (or used to believe) in U.S. propaganda and puts him into face-to-face exchanges with its victims.  These exchanges are riveting:

After Snyder's team blasts an area with an instruction to leave, they find an old man in a house with two young boys.  The old man asks where in the world he was supposed to go, the desert? 

"A tear formed in a wrinkled corner of the man's eye and sparkled down his cheek.

"'I have my son's family here too.  You shot him driving his tractor home.  He was a good man, an innocent man.'

"He pointed up the street to the burnt-out remnant of a vehicle.  The Marines had destroyed several vehicles with tank rounds during the push into the city, which they identified as potential suicide car bombs. It was pointless to wonder whose version of events was true.  The son was dead, or at the very least his father was a good actor.

"'I'm sorry to hear of your loss, but sometimes there are accidents in war.  You fought against Iran, did you not?  You know things like this happen.  There are bad people here, people who want to kill us.  We have to protect ourselves.  It is our job to make Iraq safer, and sometimes that means making hard decisions.  Maybe sometimes the wrong people do get caught in the middle.  We try to be careful, believe me.  The terrorists will stop at nothing, even killing children, but we Americans do our best to avoid unnecessary violence.  We follow the Geneva Conventions.  We want to help you.  That doesn't bring your son back, I know, but we are only trying to do our job.'

"The man rebutted my statement, morosely shaking his head in disbelief that I could be so wrong.

"'Iraq was safe before you came.  My town was quiet before you bombed it.  Now I cannot even go outside.  We don't have water.' He sighed. 'If you can just let me go to the water valve down the street, I can maybe turn the water back on.'

"'I can't make that decision.  Our commander wants everyone to stay home.  It's better if you stay inside, safer.  We can bring you water later.'

"I turned to Sonny. 'Ask him if he has ever seen strangers here.'

"I looked back in the old man's eyes. 'Has he seen foreign fighters here.'

"Sonny paused.  'He says, "Just you."'

"I squeezed my eyes shut at the old man's audacity and pinched the bridge of my nose.  It was a true statement, from his perspective, that I was a foreign fighter, but not the answer I looked for.

"'There are dead Africans in the street up there.  He never saw anyone like that?'

"The man shook his head.

"'He didn't know there was a torture dungeon just down the road, where they kept captured border guards?  He never heard a scream? They didn't think it was safe here.'

"I carefully watched the man's reaction to the news there had been such crimes committed so close to his home.  He showed no surprise.

"'If you say so,' the old man replied. 'I don't know anything.'"

Report on the TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee by Wendy Thomson

Don't let the dry title fool you. Powerful post by Wendy Thomson. Read the whole thing at TSA News.

Talk Nation Radio: War Tax Resistance

Ruth Benn explains the why and how of not paying taxes for war and war preparation.  Benn is the Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC), a position she has held since 2003. She co-edited with Ed Hedemann the fourth and fifth editions of the book War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, published by the War Resisters League.  Benn has a Masters in Education with a concentration in Peace Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She began refusing 100% of federal income taxes owed in 1989 and has filed and refused to send a check to the IRS each year since then. Ruth redirects taxes not paid to the federal government to organizations that feed the hungry, care for victims of war, house the homeless, and work for peace and justice. Ruth regularly counsels people who are considering refusing to pay for war or who have run into problems with the IRS. She attended the International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns in the Netherlands (1989), Washington, DC (2000), and Manchester, England (2008).  Learn more: http://nwtrcc.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Frequent flyers rate the TSA: epic fail

Remember that TSA Gallup poll from a few weeks ago?

A few of our writers took it apart here at TSA News, most notably Bill Fisher and Phil Weber. They pointed out that of the people polled who claimed that the TSA is doing a good job, half of them hadn’t flown at all.

The Birthday of Occupy

 

By Charles M. Young


Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?


Chicago's War on Education

 

Chicago's War on Education

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Corrupt city officials and union bosses want teacher rights marginalized and kids denied education. It's longstanding policy.

 

War is waged on labor. Doing so harms parents and children. Public education's future is up for grabs. A nearly four century American tradition is disappearing.

 

Syria's Divided Opposition

 

Syria's Divided Opposition

 

Violent and nonviolent elements comprise Syria's opposition. Peaceful ones want differences resolved diplomatically and politically. 

 

Violent ones are responsible for ravaging Syria since March 2011. No end of conflict looks imminent.

 

Syria News - Sep 19

 

 

Turkish Polls Show Waning Support for Ankara's Syria Policy, Only 18 percent of Turks back their government's support for the Syrian opposition - VOA

Turks Weary of Leaders’ Support for Syria Uprising - NYTimes.com

Syrian battle rages on Turkish border - The Irish Times

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Syrian Catholic Archbishopric of Homs set on fire, Christians form "popular committees" armed to prevent violence from jihadist groups - Vatican Fides Service

Syrian Christian opposition leader to meet Pope: report - afp

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Syria’s Secular and Islamist Rebels: Who Are the Saudis and the Qataris Arming? - TIME.com

VIDEO: Terrorist Aide's Confessions about Infamous FSA Homs Commander Abdul Razzak Tlas, Horror Story about Rape and Murder - YouTube

Syrian rebels fragmented and unruly , SNC official: more than 30 different rebel groups with Jihadists, Islamists, pro-al-Qaida and secular fighters – Hurriyet

Syrian rebels deny report of al-Assad bounty, Turkish agency reports $25 million bounty on Syrian president's head - CNN

VIDEO: Carnage and Chaos as FSA  Attack Aleppo - YouTube

VIDEO: Syrian rebels burn farm land - YouTube

VIDEO: Masked Terrorists Execute a Syrian Citizen - YouTube

VIDEO: Civilians falling victim to foreign-backed unrest in Syria - YouTube

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VIDEO: Evidence of Thermobaric Bombs Used by the Syrian Army - Brown Moses Blog

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

Veterans to Stand Firm as Afghan War Enters Year 12

Dedicated and disciplined nonviolent activists, and in particular military veterans, are being openly invited to join members of Veterans For Peace in a peaceful vigil in New York City that will as likely as not result in their wrongful arrest and prosecution.

The time will be 6 p.m. on October 7, 2012, as the United States and NATO complete the eleventh year of the current occupation of Afghanistan and launch the twelfth.  The crowd at the Republican National Convention cheered for complete immediate withdrawal, but the nominee's plans don't include it.  The crowds at rallies for President Obama's reelection cheer for both the continuation of the war and its supposed status as "ending," even though the timetable for that "ending" is longer than most past wars, and a massive occupation is supposed to remain after the occupation "ends."  Veterans For Peace, an organization dedicated to the abolition of war, is hoping to inject a discordant note into this happy discourse -- something that the ongoing reports of deaths just don't seem to manage.

The place will be Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza, 55 Water Street, New York City.  It was there that some of the same veterans gathering this October were arrested last May First.  The memorial is normally open around the clock, but on that day the New York Police Department decided to close it at 10 p.m. in order to evict the Occupy Movement's nonviolent general assembly.  Eight members of the Veterans Peace Team and two members of Occupy Faith were arrested for refusing to leave.  Since that day, a small metal sign has been posted at the park stating that it closes at 10 p.m.  This October 7th, the veterans have a permit for sound equipment lasting until 10 p.m., but they intend to remain overnight.

Vietnam vet Paul Appell says, "War veterans, loved ones of the fallen, and certainly those living in war zones do not have the option of closing down their memories at 10 p.m. There is a good reason why suicide is an attractive option for many. It is truly the only sure way of ending the memories. For a memorial to shut down at some convenient time for the city is an insult to all those who do not have the luxury of shutting down their war memories at a specific time. I know that many want us war vets to go out of sight and not bother them, except when we are needed for some parade. Some of us are not going away at 10 p.m. or any other time. If they do not like it, maybe they should have thought of that before they sent us to war.

Tarak Kauff, U.S. Army, 1959-1962, and one of the organizers of VFP's Veterans Peace Team, says, "We will be there standing together and getting arrested again if necessary for our right to remember the fallen, to oppose and 'abolish war as an instrument of national policy' and to affirm our right to do so in a public place of remembrance that has great meaning for all veterans."

The plan is not for a mass demonstration.  In fact, many are explicitly not invited.  Non-veterans are enthusiastically welcome, including associate members of Veterans For Peace and anyone else dedicated to ending violence in the world.  But "diversity of tactics" is unapologetically rejected.  Anyone inclined toward violence, provocation, or threats, including violence to inanimate objects, is kindly asked on this day, to respect the Memorial, the veterans, and the commitment to nonviolence.  This event will involve hundreds of activists who intend to peacefully vigil all night, and who will not respond to police violence with any violence of their own.

Speakers at the vigil will oppose a single additional day of U.S. warmaking in Afghanistan.  Speakers will include Leah Bolger, Margaret Flowers, Glen Ford, Mike Hastie, Chris Hedges, George Packard, Donna Schaper, Kevin Zeese, and Michael Zweig. Dr. Cornel West has also been invited.  At 9:30 p.m. participants will lay flowers for the fallen.

The purpose of this action, which will succeed whether the police interfere or not, is well expressed by several vets planning to take part.  Mike Ferner, Navy Corpsman 1969-1973, and past president of Veterans For Peace, says, "I'm coming to NYC October 7th because I need to do more for myself and the world than just get angry at the misery and suffering.  Being with my comrades again and standing up for peace uplifts my spirit."

Rev. George E. Packard, Retired, Bishop for the Armed Forces of the Episcopal Church, asks, "How can we, as Americans and compassionate human beings, tolerate even one more day creating a toxic battle environment in that southwest Asian country? We increase the lethality of our weaponry -- more drones, more firepower -- so we can protect our troops and not face the bad news of casualties at home. But it is a useless scheme and one that sacrifices the lives primarily of Afghan women and children, the real collateral damage.  Also, this destruction becomes latent in our culture as the postponed agony of PTSD in thousands of troops extends to their immediate families in the United States. Entire segments of our population are sentenced to living addicted or arrested lives because we weren't wise enough to figure out a more humane and effective foreign policy."

Ellen Barfield, Heavy Equipment Mechanic Sergeant, U.S. Army, 1977-1981, adds, "I will mourn the New York U.S. soldiers dead from Vietnam whose names are there on that wall, and the thousands of U.S. and other soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in these more recent wars, and the millions of civilians who were killed in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. But I will also express our right to visit memorials and speak out against wars at any time of the day or night. Sadly, war trauma does not sleep, so setting arbitrary curfews at war memorials is cruel and unjust. We will object with our bodies to the repression of mourning and dissent."

Erik Lobo, Navy veteran, remarks, "I will be at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because the oath I took -- both in the Navy and during 28 years in law enforcement -- to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, does not have an expiration date."

David Ross, Vietnam veteran, explains, "Once again I will be honored to stand with my sisters and brothers and our friends regardless of the inconvenience. I owe this and, looking back over 40 years of veteran organizing, the need to take a stand has never been greater."

William P. Homans, a.k.a. Watermelon Slim, Vietnam veteran, says, "I will be returning to the New York Vietnam Memorial to play Taps. . . .  I will also be there because the American right to dissent from 'business as usual' is at risk. I was in the anti-Vietnam War movement back in the early '70s when I returned from Vietnam, and I never considered the absolute right to speak and dissent to be threatened. . . . But mostly I will be there to mourn."

John Spitzberg of Ashville VFP, puts it this way: "I speak for those who have died and for those who are so infirm that they are unable to come to New York on October 7th. We are the living and able who rally for you so that your voices are heard and are not in vain. We come to say 'Enough of this travesty of mindless war, mindless mayhem and devastation.'"

Finally, Kauff, who is doing a lot to organize this event, says, "I have a fury inside me against war and those rich fat cats who perpetrate wars and militarism. Yes, I take it personally.  These wars are not about defending freedom or democracy. They have nothing to do with that -- just the opposite. The top-down leaders, the corporate warlords, the politicians, the Masters of War don't give a damn about freedom and democracy, about the lives and money going from the poor and middle class to fight and pay for these wars. They and their kids don't fight, die and come home wounded in body and soul. No, they make fortunes selling weapons while destroying the world. It pains and angers me deeply, and I want to stop it.  On October 7th, while grieving for, remembering and respecting the fallen, I will take a stand for my and others' right to peacefully and nonviolently affirm this whenever and wherever we want to, especially at this hallowed place, where memories and reminders of the futility of war never cease, not at 10 p.m., not at any time."

The website is StopTheseWars.org  There you can register to participate, whether you wish to stand with the vets after 10 p.m. or to serve in a supporting role.

Will the 2012 Presidential Election Be Stolen?

Why would I even ask that question?  I've been trying (with virtually no success) to get everyone to drop the election obsession and focus on activism designed around policy changes, not personality changes.  I want those policy changes to include stripping presidents of imperial powers.  I don't see as much difference between the two available choices as most people; I see each as a different shade of disaster.  I don't get distressed by the thought of people "spoiling" an election by voting for a legitimately good candidate like Jill Stein.  Besides, won't Romney lose by a landslide if he doesn't tape his mouth shut during the coming weeks?  And yet . . .

It matters to me whether our elections are stolen in any number of ways in which they can be stolen, some of which would simply mean Romney robbing Obama, but others of which are related to the barriers facing non-corporate candidates.  Most of these dangers face congressional candidates as well; election theft is not exclusively a presidential problem. Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have just published "Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election? Corporate Vote Theft & the Future of American Democracy," with an introduction by Greg Palast.  I recommend it especially for the history of election fraud back through the centuries, but also for the collection of Fitrakis-Wasserman articles that make up the vast bulk of the book.  The book opens, however, with a systematic survey of the ways in which your vote can be disappeared.  Here's a taste:

"The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.The purpose of this book is to show how, and to dissect the larger -- potentially fatal -- warning signs for American democracy, no matter which corporate party is doing the stealing.Six basic factors make this year's theft a possibility:

"1.The power of corporate money, now vastly enhanced by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens' United decisions;

"2.The Electoral College, which narrows the number of votes needed to be moved to swing a presidential election;

"3.The systematic disenfranchisement of -- according to the Brennan Center -- ten million or more citizens (a million in Ohio alone), most of whom would otherwise be likely to vote Democratic;

"4.The accelerating use of electronic voting machines, which make election theft a relatively simple task for those who control them, including their owners and operators, who are predominantly Republican;

"5.The GOP control of nine of the governorships in the dozen swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2012 campaign; and,

"6.The likelihood that the core of the activist 'election protection' community that turned out in droves to monitor the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 has not been energized by his presidency and is thus unlikely to work for him again in 2012."

Each of these points is explained and elaborated in the book.  Why, you might ask, does it matter which party a governor belongs to?  Well . . .

"Without his brother Jeb as governor of Florida 2000, and Kathleen Harris as secretary of state, George W. Bush could not have become president of the United States.  As we have seen, Governor Bush purged Florida's voter rolls of tens of thousands of likely Democrats.  Various ballot 'problems' emerged, including the electronic 'glitch' in Volusia County.  Then Secretary of State Harris stalled a statewide recount and opened the door for the Supreme Court's Bush v Gore decision.  Without Governor Robert Taft and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio 2004, Bush could not have gotten a second term.  Taft facilitated another purge of voter rolls, removing some 300,000 names from the lists.  Then Blackwell ran an astonishing range of dirty tricks aimed at Democratic voters, culminating in his now-infamous late-night manipulation of the electronic vote count that moved the victory from Kerry to Bush.  The personal, private election day visit the President and Karl Rove paid to Blackwell in his Columbus office may have been their most important stop of the campaign."

Fitrakis and Wasserman also don't skimp on proposals for actual change of the sort you won't hear discussed much, if at all, in the Romnobama Debates in October:

"1.Money must come out of politics.  No nation can allow a tiny handful of million/billionaire corporatists to pour unlimited cash into our elections and expect to emerge with even a semblance of democracy.  If elections can be bought, so can our government, to the detriment of us all.  Citizens United must be reversed, corporations must be stripped of legal personhood, and money must be banned from the electoral process.  This will take an unprecedented nation-wide grassroots campaign resulting in at least one Constitutional amendment.  The odds may seem daunting.  But George III was not Divine, and corporations are not people. 

"2.Elections cannot be administered by partisans.  All local, state and federal election officials must be banned from playing any role in any campaign relating to the election they are administering.  A strict non-partisanship must apply to establishing congressional districts and all other aspects of our democratic process.

"3.All American citizens must be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18.  The arduous, unfair practice of forcing pro-democracy organizations to go out and register voters is nonsensical.  Voting is an inherent natural right and responsibility.  Citizens should be removed from voter rolls only upon death or renunciation of citizenship.

"4.All places of voting must be convenient, stable, well-known and easily accessible. 

"5.Voting should be available over a period of weeks by mail, and at polling stations through the Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday around Armistice Day, November 11.  The polls should be largely worked by high school and college students who will get school credit for the day, and who will get a holiday that Tuesday to count the ballots.

"6.All electronic voting and counting machines should be banned (as Ireland has just done, and as has long been the case in Canada, Japan, Germany and elsewhere) with all ballots cast on recycled paper, to be hand-counted."

Not a bad list.  Too bad you can't vote it into being.  But we probably won't get it at all if we lose every last pretense of legitimate elections.  Reforming our elections must be integral to our agenda, even once we've figured out that the Messiah hasn't been nominated.  After all, that realization is tightly connected to the realization that our elections need major repairs.  The Messiah will never be nominated, even after all of these reforms, but we might manage to nominate a junior assistant disciple -- which is actually preferable, and which will be far superior to the current crop of moneychangers.

A Sea Change in US-Israeli Relations?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The situation in the Middle East has reached a dangerous point, to be sure, but there are also signs that a sea change may be taking place here in the US which could herald a whole new relationship between the US, Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.


The Military Spending Cut Scare

The fearmongering is on.  Here's a typical article, this one from the only daily newspaper in my hometown:

"Defense spending could face large loss from federal cuts

"Charlottesville and Albemarle County could see a potential loss of $46.5 million in defense-related spending if federally mandated cuts, which are slated to start next year, come to fruition."

There are several ways in which this is misleading.  First, "defense" here means military, whether or not defensive.  Second, "cuts" in Washington-talk includes reductions in a budget from one year to the next, OR reductions from a desired dream-budget to a less-desired budget, even one that is an increase over last year's.  For the past 13 years, military spending has grown to levels not seen since World War II. It's over half of federal discretionary spending, and as much as the rest of the world combined.  The Pentagon's budget grew each year George W. Bush was president and the first three years that Barack Obama was president.  It is being cut by 2.6% this year, not the 9% used to calculate a portion of that $46.5 million figure.  If the mandated cuts mentioned above go through, the Pentagon will still be spending next year more than it did in 2006 at the height of the war on Iraq.

In addition, military contractors have been bringing in more federal dollars while cutting jobs.  They employed fewer people in 2011 with bigger contracts than in 2006 with smaller ones.  So the logic of bigger contracts = more jobs is essentially a bucket of hope and change.

And the Pentagon's base budget is less than half of total military spending. It's necessary to add in war spending (over $80 billion nationally this year), nuclear weapons spending through the Department of Energy, military operations through the State Department, USAID, and the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, etc., to get the real total. The Pentagon also has $83 billion in unobligated balances it can draw on.

The war industries in the United States are also by no means limited to the U.S. government.  U.S. weapons makers brought in $66.3 billion last year from foreign governments.  Many of those governments, like our own, are engaged in horrendous human rights abuses, but as long as we're being sociopathic about job creation, there's no reason to leave this out.

The article continues:

"The figures - compiled by the Center for Security Policy and the Coalition for the Common Defense, conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tanks - are based on publicly available information on Department of Defense contracts compiled and made available online through the Federal Procurement Data System website.

"The coalition describes itself as a group of individuals and local and national organizations 'committed to the Constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense and returning the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing its national security.'"

Never mind that the Constitution was written to include the creation of armies in times of war, not the permanent maintenance of a military industrial complex as a jobs program.  The above is how the two groups pushing the "news" in this article describe themselves.  How would a journalist describe them?  Well, as long as they're promoting military spending, it seems most relevant and significant to describe the ways in which they benefit from that spending.

The Center for Security Policy has a board of advisors packed with weapons makers executives and lobbyists from such disinterested parties as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.  The Coalition for the Common Defense has been maneuvering the anti-spending Tea Party behind massive military spending. Hence the Constitution-talk.  But the "Coalition" isn't run by Constitutional scholars.  It's dominated by weapons company lobbyists, including the Aerospace Industry Association, which represents Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, and other military industry corporations.  The Aerospace Industry Association spends over $2 million a year lobbying our government in Washignton.  Much of that money ends up being spent on luxurious lobbyist lifestyles in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  Never forget the danger of the loss of that source of job creation should Congress simply and unquestioningly take direction from the weapons makers.

The article goes on:

"The data is reported by fiscal year and does not include grants or loans.

"From 2000-2011, more than 14,000 Virginia businesses provided defense-related goods and services, according to a state level report prepared by for Common Defense.

"Based on fiscal year 2011 defense contract date, the estimated reduction in Albemarle County in 2013 would be $43.25 million; in the city, the reduction would be an estimated $3.25 million.

"Earlier this year, defense budgets were cut by about $487 billion, an average of a 9 percent cut over a decade. In addition, the reports reflect the impact of sequestration, a 2011 mandate for about $500 billion more in defense spending reductions from 2013-2021, which averages to about an overall 18 percent cut in defense spending."

Here it's worth pausing to note that the $487 billion figure has been multiplied by 10.  It's a figure "over a decade."  Divided by 10 it would be $48.7 billion "over a year."  Or, it could be multiplied by 100 to give us $4,870 billion "over a century."  The reasons to talk about the decade are two.  First, it sounds bigger that way.  Second, by loading the later years heavily, politicians can claim to be making big cuts while actually passing those cuts on to future politicians who may not make them.  While all the news articles deal with cuts "over a decade," Congress actually only passes budgets for a year at a time.

"Published earlier this year, the reports indicate the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions would see the most severe losses if the cuts are fully implemented, while the state overall could lose $7.24 billion in earnings and more than 122,000 jobs.

“'There’s no question that Virginia will be the most impacted,' Christine Brim, chief operating officer of the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Progress. 'Virginia has the largest amount of defense spending. This is, without a doubt, the state that is the most impacted.'

"Furthermore, Brim said the effects go beyond just the financial to the core of Virginia’s identity, history and culture as a state important to America’s defense, character traits that still hold true today."

Here's Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine claiming that one in three Virginians depends directly on military spending.  These claims are almost certainly exaggerated. They are for Albemarle County.  The county's website says: "The economy of Albemarle County is vital and growing. The predominant economic sectors are services, manufacturing, education, retail, tourism, trade,  care & social assistance, technical & professional services and agriculture. The County of Albemarle's labor force is roughly 53,000 and its unemployment rate of 2.6% is consistently lower than the state and national averages." 

"However, Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said the state does not yet have any estimates for the effect of sequestration in Virginia.

“'With so many variables involved, there is no firm number to delineate that impact on the commonwealth or any particular area,' Caldwell said by email.

"Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, called the looming cuts 'devastating' for his district, which encompasses most of the Charlottesville region.

“'The White House and the Senate must join with the House [of Representatives] in addressing this impending crisis so we can keep our military men and women adequately equipped, protect jobs across the 5th District and the Commonwealth, and reduce our national debt in a responsible manner,” Hurt said in a statement."

A few points missed in the above: First, refusing to cut military spending does the opposite of reducing the national debt.  Second, military spending is the least cost-efficient way to produce jobs.  It produces fewer jobs than spending on infrastructure, green energy, education, or even tax cuts for working people.  So, if the goal is to save money while producing jobs, military spending is exactly the place to cut.  Third, there is absolutely no evidence that "adequate equipment" is what's on the chopping block here.  Hurt makes it sound like putting the U.S. navy on Jeju Island, South Korea, against the passionate will of the people there, is being done not to threaten China but as an act of philanthropy for U.S. sailors.

"House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, whose 7th District encompasses portions of the Charlottesville region, issued an even more sharply worded statement on his website, calling the planned cuts a 'dangerous threat' and urging President Obama and Senate Democrats 'to take serious action to prevent these arbitrary, devastating cuts from taking place.'"

Did he offer any evidence for those sharp words?

"While Brim acknowledged the need and desire to cut federal spending, she said gutting the defense budget would derail America’s recovery from the recession.

"That’s because conflict would interrupt trade and commerce and 'there would be nothing more costly than having our trade routes disrupted,' she said."

Now this is a new one.  Unless we continue to borrow money from China with which to build up our military presence all over the globe, including in every location strategically helpful in cutting off China's trade routes, our trade routes will be disrupted.  What trade routes?!  Can she name one?  Conflict, indeed, dirupts peaceful activity.  But conflict comes from war spending.  War spending and war preparation spending does not reduce conflict.

"Local leaders, however, were more measured in their assessment of the effect of the cuts on the local economy.

“'While our area would be affected by any change in federal spending, the overall impact would be minimal given that defense spending constitutes a small percentage of our overall economy,' Chris Engel, Charlottesville’s economic development director said by email.

"Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin said recent reaffirmations of the county’s AAA bond rating in spite of potential defense-related reductions is an indicator of confidence and stability in the local economy.

“'However, we are home to several major federal installations and associated defense contractors who are valued and important partners in our economy, so we are concerned about funding uncertainty,' Catlin said by email.

"And if the spending cuts do come to pass, Engel expressed confidence that the region’s economy would persevere. 'I think our business community has proven itself to be very adaptable in the past and this could be another instance where that trait will be needed,' Engel said."

If these last paragraphs had come first, this would not have been a bad article at all.

September Surprise in Chicago

 

September Surprise in Chicago

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

September 17 marks Occupy Wall Street's first anniversary. Appropriate activities are planned. At issue are popular over money power rights. 

 

They matter everywhere. Chicago teachers demand them. So do parents and kids. September 17 marks day eight since strike action began.

 

Netanyahu at It Again

 

Netanyahu at It Again

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's undisciplined, unchecked, and unambiguous. He never knows when to leave well enough alone. He makes more enemies than friends. He's a consummate loudmouth bully. He hurls unrestrained verbal assaults. More on that below.

 

He presides over Israel's worst government. It's belligerent, hardline, and neoliberal. It's offensive to both Jews and Arabs. He menaces the entire region and beyond. 

Syria News - Sep 18

 

 

UN panel: Foreign jihadists making Syrian rebels radical - Yahoo! News

Syrian rebels tortured and executed detainees: HRW - Yahoo! News

Violence: Pope appeals for peace and reconciliation, condemns religious fundamentalism - tribune.com.ng

Barnabas Fund Highlights Humanitarian Crisis For Syrian Christians - christiantelegraph.com

VIDEO: Syrian Rebels Destroys Telbeseh Parking Garage With homemade explosives - YouTube

VIDEO: Syrian radical extremists shooting at Hotel Building targeting civilians - YouTube

VIDEO: Bodies of Dead Civilians Killed by Terorrists in Douma - YouTube

VIDEO: Snipers Try to Kill Child in Street, Syrians Struggle to Rescue Victim - YouTube

VIDEO: Syrian rebels burned, tortured about 11 bodies in Mu'adameyyatu-Sham - YouTube

------------------------------------------------------------------

Saudi Arabia stays away from Egypt-Iran-Turkey talks on Syria - todayszaman

Top US general in Ankara to discuss Syria crisis, Erdogan criticizes the Americans for not fulfilling "what is expected of them" - Now Lebanon

Turkey sends more military supplies to strengthen Syria border presence - PressTV

VIDEO: Anti-war protest against Turkish government in Antakya - YouTube

German against military intervention in Syria: Poll - PressTV

----------------------------------------------------------------

VIDEO: The secret garden of the 'Syrian Kurdistan', One corner of the country that can say it has relative peace - FRANCE 24


To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle@gmail.com

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