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Israeli Chooses "Honorable Life" Over Joining Military

Danielle Yaor is 19, Israeli, and refusing to take part in the Israeli military. She is one of 150 who have committed themselves, thus far, to this position:

danielleWe, citizens of the state of Israel, are designated for army service. We appeal to the readers of this letter to set aside what has always been taken for granted and to reconsider the implications of military service.

We, the undersigned, intend to refuse to serve in the army and the main reason for this refusal is our opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinians in the occupied territories live under Israeli rule though they did not choose to do so, and have no legal recourse to influence this regime or its decision-making processes. This is neither egalitarian nor just. In these territories, human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis. These include assassinations (extrajudicial killings), the construction of settlements on occupied lands, administrative detentions, torture, collective punishment and the unequal allocation of resources such as electricity and water. Any form of military service reinforces this status quo, and, therefore, in accordance with our conscience, we cannot take part in a system that perpetrates the above-mentioned acts.

The problem with the army does not begin or end with the damage it inflicts on Palestinian society. It infiltrates everyday life in Israeli society too: it shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination.

We refuse to aid the military system in promoting and perpetuating male dominance. In our opinion, the army encourages a violent and militaristic masculine ideal whereby ‘might is right’. This ideal is detrimental to everyone, especially those who do not fit it. Furthermore, we oppose the oppressive, discriminatory, and heavily gendered power structures within the army itself.

We refuse to forsake our principles as a condition to being accepted in our society. We have thought about our refusal deeply and we stand by our decisions.

We appeal to our peers, to those currently serving in the army and/or reserve duty, and to the Israeli public at large, to reconsider their stance on the occupation, the army, and the role of the military in civil society. We believe in the power and ability of civilians to change reality for the better by creating a more fair and just society. Our refusal expresses this belief.

Only a few of the 150 or so resisters are in prison. Danielle says that going to prison helps to make a statement. In fact, here’s one of her fellow refuseniks on CNN because he went to prison. But going to prison is essentially optional, Danielle says, because the military (IDF) has to pay 250 Shekels a day ($66, cheap by U.S. standards) to keep someone in prison and has little interest in doing so. Instead, many claim mental illness, says Yaor, with the military well-aware that what they’re really claiming is an unwillingness to be part of the military. The IDF gives men more trouble than women, she says, and mostly uses men in the occupation of Gaza. To go to prison, you need a supportive family, and Danielle says her own family does not support her decision to refuse.

Why refuse something your family and society expect of you? Danielle Yaor says that most Israelis do not know about the suffering of Palestinians. She knows and chooses not to be a part of it. “I have to refuse to take part in the war crimes that my country does,” she says. “Israel has become a very fascist country that doesn’t accept others. Since I was young we’ve been trained to be these masculine soldiers who solve problems by violence. I want to use peace to make the world better.”

Yaor is touring the United States, speaking at events together with a Palestinian. She describes the events thus far as “amazing” and says that people “are very supportive.” Stopping the hatred and violence is “everyone’s responsibility,” she says — “all the people of the world.”

In November she’ll be back in Israel, speaking and demonstrating. With what goal?

One state, not two. “There’s not enough space anymore for two states. There can be one state of Israel-Palestine, based on peace and love and people living together.” How can we get there?

As people become aware of Palestinians’ suffering, says Danielle, they should support BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions). The U.S. government should end its financial support for Israel and its occupation.

Since the latest attacks on Gaza, Israel has moved further to the right, she says, and it has become harder to “encourage youth not to be part of the brainwashing that is part of the education system.” The letter above was published “everywhere possible” and was the first many had ever heard that there was a choice available other than the military.

“We want the occupation to end,” says Danielle Yaor, “so that we can all live an honorable life in which all of our rights will be respected.”

Learn more.

Understanding and Defeating Resurgent Fascism

As fascism is being intruded more widely and deeply into key areas of world politics, it is important to identify this trend, to explain the psychology of fascism and to nominate key elements of any strategy to defeat it.

THREE NSA DRONE PROTESTERS ACQUITTED ON 1 CHARGE, LOW FINES ON OTHERS

A quick but comprehensive trial today in US District Court in Baltimore, MD,
for 3 women who protested drone targeting at the National Security Agency
at Ft Meade, MD, resulted in acquittal on one charge and conviction but low
fines on the other two charges.
 
Allowed to speak rather freely, in less than 3 hours Marilyn Carlisle and Ellen
Barfield of Baltimore, and Manijeh Saba of Somerset, NJ, and their activist
colleague Malachy Kilbride of Camp Springs, MD, essentially put NSA
surveillance for drone targeting on trial by showing photos, naming names and
mourning children killed by drones, and asserted their First Amendment and
Nuremberg justifications. As defendant Saba in the closing statement said,
"Why would we, in a democracy, be expected to obey an order that violates
exercise of our Constitutional rights and responsibilities?"
 
Refusing to comment on drones or the NSA, Magistrate Judge Timothy
Sullivan exclaimed that it was "way beyond my pay grade" to make rulings
on government policies. He did agree with the defendants that areas which
are generally open to public access cannot become "protected property"
when certain activities take place, and denied the "attempting to enter...",
essentially a trespass, charge. He convicted the women on failure to comply
and disorderly conduct charges, but gave respectively $25 and $5 fines,
which with fees for processing total $100, much less than the possible $1365
fines and fees the women had faced.
 
The testimony of potential witnesses Col. (Rtd) Ann Wright and Code Pink
leader Medea Benjamin, with expertise in the illegality and immorality of
drones, was not surprisingly ruled inadmissible. 
 
The courtroom was gratifyingly full of over a dozen supporters, who Judge
Sullivan acknowledged as likely to join future NSA actions after he heard that
Keep Space for Peace Week, a frequent time to demonstrate at the NSA to
protest space weapons, is appropriately happening this week.

A Call to Action from Tim DeChristopher and Rev Lennox Yearwood

    After the historic and inspiring People’s Climate March and Flood Wall Street actions showed the potential of our growing movement, discussion is taking place about how to put that power into action. The power demonstrated on the streets of New York was a signal that we are big enough and strong enough to take our government out of the grip of the fossil fuel industry.  Without question we need to step it up and organize campaigns and actions that are at the scale and boldness needed, including multi-day direct action at specific targets.

    We are writing to urge participation by as many people as possible in one such initiative: a week-long series of confrontational activities in Washington, D.C. November 1-7—Beyond Extreme Energy.

    By taking these actions during election week, we will be sending a message to both parties in Washington that supporting extreme energy extraction is no longer the path of least political resistance. We recognize that party loyalty is incompatible with political power for a social movement, and we have been taken for granted for too long by politicians who are scared to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. It’s time to make it clear that a politician who green lights the fossil fuels industry’s attempts to poison our communities and ruin our climate will not get our votes under any circumstances. 



    The week will begin on Saturday, November 1, as the Great March for Climate Action concludes its cross-country walk, begun in early March in Los Angeles. These heroic marchers have inspired us with their determined, day-after-day commitment over what will be eight months when they march into DC.

    Then, from November 3-7, following a day of meeting, planning and training on November 2, there will be nonviolent direct actions every morning to block the two entrances to FERC. On July 14th 25 people did this and were successful in disrupting business-as-usual for two hours until they were arrested. That experience will inform the bigger and stronger actions being planned for November.

    There will also be demonstrations at other locations—perhaps the Energy Department, Dominion Resources, the White House, the American Petroleum Institute, Democratic National Committee headquarters, and neighborhoods in DC impacted by environmental and racial injustices—in the afternoon, challenging the web of denial throughout the government and industry about the seriousness of the emergency we are in.

    Our invitation to you is this:  Join the Beyond Extreme Energy actions for one or more days in Washington DC, November 1-7. Help sound a call for stepped-up multi-day actions and campaigns commensurate with the scale of escalating fossil fuel extraction, rampant environmental injustices in low-income and people of color communities throughout the world, and the emergencies inherent in climate change. Help model for others what necessary and effective climate action looks like as atmospheric carbon climbs ever faster on its way past 400 parts per million. Help build a movement that is more committed to climate justice than the fossil fuel industry is to profits.

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Oh my friends, there are resources in us on which we have not drawn.”  Let’s engage those vast resources of people power in our struggle for climate justice so we can keep fossil fuels in the ground. We know we have the power to stop extreme energy extraction, and now is the time to use it.

In solidarity,

Tim DeChristopher and Rev Lennox Yearwood


Tim DeChristopher is a co-founder of Peaceful Uprising. His trial and subsequent two year prison sentence for disrupting a 2008 federal auction of oil and gas leases was the subject of the award winning documentary "Bidder 70".

The Reverend Lennox Yearwood is the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, a national nonprofit organization that equips young people to participate in elections, policy analysis, and service project.

Creating a World Culture that is Nonviolent

As we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October, the International Day of Nonviolence, we have the chance to reflect on our progress in creating a nonviolent world. Obviously, creating a nonviolent world has many facets and is a long-term work-in-progress. But if we are to regenerate human society in accord with principles of love, nonviolence, justice, equity and sustainability, it is emphatically clear that we need to dramatically recreate much of our culture, particularly in the West, where hatred, violence and injustice are ‘built-in’. How can we do this?

Taking the Climate March to the U.N.

OCCUPY THE U.N. CLIMATE SUMMIT

9.21.14

Join us at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Between 46th & 47th Sts and 1st and 2nd Aves, across from U.N.


The Climate March is only the prelude.


Throughout the day people will be leaving the March to assemble in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across the avenue from the U.N. While it is impossible to predict how events there will unfold, there will be a significant number who will attempt to occupy the plaza for the duration of the U.N. Climate Summit, which ends on Wednesday, September 24.

 

This action is not intended to compete with the messages of either the People's Climate March on Sunday the 21st or the FLOOD WALL STREET action the following day, Monday the 22nd. Please feel free to join any two or all three. All three actions amplify a common message:


THE PEOPLE DEMAND ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

AND ITS ROOT CAUSES


Why demonstrate at the UN?


The UN represents the nations of the world. Nations are not people. They are political constructs that reflect the interests of those who keep them in power. WE ARE PEOPLE. We want our presence felt throughout the Summit. We want the world to see our resolve and understand our sense of urgency.


PLEASE JOIN US & PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD

 

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Another Drone Protester Found Not-Guilty

From upstatedroneaction.org

Eve Tetaz, 83, found NOT GUILTY last night in De Witt town court for opposing Reaper Drone War Crime at 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY

Immediately after Onondaga County prosecutor Jordan McNamara rested his case against DC peace and justice activist Eve Tetaz, DeWitt town judge David Gideon granted Ms Tetaz’ motion to dismiss. Ms Tetaz represented herself pro se with the support of DC attorney Mark Goldstone.

Ms. Tetaz had been arrested on April 28, 2013, along with 30 others as she stood reading aloud Preamble to the UN Charter and the First Amendment of the Constitution on the edge of the driveway leading into the Hancock Reaper drone base on East Molloy Rd., Town of De Witt. The prosecution’s video of Ms Tetaz’ arrest showed the arresting officer grabbing those documents from her hands and tossing them aside.

When police ordered her to stop, Ms Tetaz continued her reading aloud, facing the base, thereby expressing her First Amendment right to peacefully “petition my government for redress of grievances” – i.e. the war crimes being committed by the weaponized Reaper drone robots piloted over Afghanistan by the Hancock Attack Wing.

Ms. Tetaz’ trial is one of the ongoing series of trials of those arrested on April 28, 2013 scheduled through spring of 2015. Many will be jury trials due to the misdemeanor charge of obstruction of government administration. The next jury trial -- that of Bronx Catholic Worker Mark Colville -- will begin at 8:30 a.m. this Thursday, Sept 18.

A Future That Values Everyone

By Robert C. Koehler, http://commonwonders.com/world/a-future-that-values-everyone/

“I think if we had a gun we would have been shot immediately.”

This is as good a place to start as any, at the logical limits of violent self-defense. The speaker is Andres Gutierrez of Nonviolent Peaceforce, a nonprofit organization that has engaged in peacekeeping work in troubled regions of the world for the last decade. Gutierrez, the organization’s team leader in South Sudan, along with colleague Derek Oakley, got caught in the chaos last April when the city of Bor was attacked, with armed men overrunning the perimeter of a U.N. base where thousands of civilians had sought protection. The two took shelter inside a mud hut.

More than 60 people were killed in the ethnic massacre, but Gutierrez and Oakley, the unarmed peacekeepers, kept that total from being higher. Four women and nine children were inside the hut as well.

As noted on the Nonviolent Peaceforce website: “On three separate occasions men with guns came and ordered the peacekeepers out so they could kill the women and kids. The peacekeepers refused, holding up their (Nonviolent Peaceforce) IDs and saying they were unarmed, there to protect civilians and would not leave. After the third time the armed men left. The people were saved.”

The armed men gave up; thirteen people, plus the two peacekeepers, are still alive. This calls for a moment of awe. This calls for reverence and, most of all, remembrance.

Mel Duncan, a cofounder of Nonviolent Peaceforce, brought the incident to my attention because I had lamented last week that “the popular imagination doesn’t even entertain the possibility” that there are effective, nonlethal forms of keeping order in a community or on the planet. Safety, as proscribed by Hollywood and the media — the vast public-relations industry of the military-industrial complex — requires good guys with guns (and bombs) continually blowing evil to Kingdom Come. It doesn’t matter that this is an obscene oversimplification of the real world, that violence generally expands the scope of human misery and comes back to haunt the perpetrator. We all harbor darkness in our souls, but we’re socially addicted to violence.

So how did the two unarmed peacekeepers save the lives of thirteen women and children? Intense training in nonviolent methods and strategy helped them keep their cool in a dangerous situation. If they’d been armed, as Gutierrez said, the attackers would have killed them without further thought.

But being unarmed doesn’t mean being disempowered. This is worth paying attention to. In South Sudan, unarmed, international peacekeepers have credibility. They stand above the local conflict, facilitating communication between the various sides but not taking sides themselves. In addition, Gutierrez and Oakley were in sync with one another and didn’t panic.

“We also had a humanitarian mandate,” Gutierrez said in an interview. Being unarmed “opens the doors to look for solutions. If we were armed peacekeepers, the solution is you shoot back. Because we were unarmed we could find other ways. (We knew) that the people who were attacking don’t want the blood of ex-pat humanitarians on their hands.”

They were, it seems to me, representatives of the collective human conscience, standing their ground against men with the AK-47s. Without their presence, that conscience would have been absent and the civilians in the mud hut would have been slaughtered, along with the other civilians who were killed in the attack.

This is worth deep consideration as we think about the human future. Perhaps such a courageous, unarmed stance will not work in all circumstances, but it worked here — and not because the two were “lucky.” It worked because brute, linear force and physical domination aren’t the only factors involved in creating safety. Life is far more complex than that. So is “evil.” Armed killers often have functioning consciences, which can be addressed.

Gutierrez and Oakley not only saved thirteen people’s lives, they also saved the gunmen from further violation of their consciences. This could mean they will be less likely to kill again.

Building real peace requires such effort, over and over and over. The military definition of peace is that it’s the uneasy lull between violence. Thus, only violence is inevitable. I don’t believe this. I believe there is a better definition of peace: that it is the creation of healthy souls, put together slowly, one courageous and loving action at a time.

We need to embrace such effort, socially, politically, financially. I mean this column to be such an embrace. I also believe that peacebuilding efforts are far more prevalent than we realize — and more prevalent, certainly, than the mainstream media notice and acknowledge.

Another response I received from last week’s column, which was about the Ferguson protests, the militarization of police departments nationwide and “the courage to disarm,” was from Eli McCarthy, who told me about an organization called the DC Peace Team, an unarmed civilian peacekeeping effort in the nation’s capital.

One of the team’s projects involved identifying neighborhoods in the city where conflicts are likely to erupt. Their website describes the team’s effort in Gallery Place, a booming downtown neighborhood full of stores, theaters and restaurants — and teenagers, whom the merchants see as a threat.

“Between the police, the security guards, and Metro transit police, the area bristles with uniforms,” the website notes. “At least some of the time, young people respond to the defensiveness and occasional hostility they encounter by pushing the limits or applauding those who do. Violent incidents between youth and police have occurred, iPhone and wallet snatchings are not uncommon, even with the police presence, and violent incidents continue.”

Peace Team members took it upon themselves to add a different sort of presence to the neighborhood: “We practiced proactive presence by talking with the merchants, guards, and police as well as young people, adult residents, and tourists. Our intention was to offer respect for our equal dignity, active compassionate listening, and conflict transformation skills to all the parties involved and to be seen as non-partisan with resources to provide.”

Creating peace requires this kind of effort — and I will continue to explore these efforts of ordinary citizens representing not “the state” or the limited interests of those in power, but a future that values everyone.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

Oil Train Halted - Mother suspended above tracks!

From Backbone Campaign info@backbonecampaign.org

Rising Tide Seattle along with participants who attended Backbone Campaign's Localize This! Action Camp launched a technical blockade action early this morning effectively halting both Oil and Coal Trains!!
Tired of inaction by politicians?
Call Govenor Inslee to tell him actions like this inspire you not his foot-dragging.
***Demand Govenor Inslee Stops Stalling and Declares a Moratorium on all Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Projects - 360-902-4111

***Action Alert*** Oil Train HALTED!

RIGHT NOW, suspended above oil-by-rail train tracks, this courageous mother and climate justice activist is compelled to risk life and limb to protect our communities' and our children's future. Her righteous actions offers a stark contrast to the reckless actions by billionaires Warren Buffett and transnational corporations whose only allegiance is to profit.

It is the fearless defense of what we love by ordinary people that will bend our society towards justice, not the inaction of politicians embedded in the establishment.

Oil Train Halted by Tripod Blockade Action-                        Rising Tide SeattleAre you ready to take meaningful action?

The blockade continues strong! #noneshallpass

Donate to their action fund:bit.ly/1uxxN5q


EVERETT: Five local residents have stopped work at a Burlington Northern Santa-Fe Rail Yard in Everett by erecting a tripod structure on the outbound railroad tracks, directly in front of both a mile-long oil train and a coal train. Seattle resident Abby Brockway - a small business owner and mother - is suspended from the structure 18 feet above the tracks while four other residents are locked to the legs of the tripod. The group is demanding an immediate halt to all shipments of fossil fuels through the Northwest and calling on Governor Inslee to reject permits for all new fossil fuel projects in Washington, including proposed coal and oil terminals.

"People in the Pacific Northwest are forming a thin green line that will keep oil, coal and gas in the ground," said Brockway, "Just one of these proposed terminals would process enough carbon to push us past the global warming tipping point - we won't let that happen."

Today's protest has shut down work at BNSF's Delta Rail Yard in Everett. With the increase of fossil fuel transport in recent years the yard has become a crucial staging ground for coal trains headed to Canadian export terminals and oil trains bound for Washington refineries. An oil train carrying explosive bakken crude oil sat stalled while the protest continued.

"Exploding oil trains running through my town are just a reminder of how out of control the fossil fuel industry really is," said Jackie Minchew an Everett resident and retired educator locked to one of the tripod's poles.

In a controversial move, Burlington Northern Santa Fe recently announced a tentative deal with union leaders to reduce train crews from an engineer and conductor to a single engineer. The oil train that derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec was crewed by a single engineer. BNSF claims that oil trains will continue to have two-person crews, but critics point out that nothing in the proposed contract binds the company to that statement. Under the proposed deal, coal trains would be operated by a single crew-member.

Oil Train Halted by Tripod Blockade Action- Rising Tide            Seattle"BNSF is endangering workers, communities and our environment. They should keep the conductors and lose the oil trains," said Brockway.

The surge in oil train traffic is already impacting passenger rail and agricultural shipments. Farmers from the Midwest to Washington State have faced what they call "unprecedented" delays in moving Wheat and other products to West Coast ports. Amtrak service through fossil-fuel train corridors has also suffered significant disruption, and officials have expressed concern that the problem will only get worse as more terminals come online.

"Railroads can be part of the solution, transporting crops and people or part of the problem with coal and oil. We should make that decision, not the fossil fuel companies," Said Patrick Mazza, a longtime climate activist also locked to the tracks.

Mazza says he is taking this action for his daughter, who will turn 18 tomorrow.

"My last act as a father before my daughter reaches full adulthood tomorrow is to put my body on the line today," Said Mazza, "It is up to us of the parental generation to do our absolute best to leave the least climate disrupted world we can, to put our bodies on the line to give our kids a fighting chance to deal with what we have left them."

Development of extreme energy projects--like the Alberta tar sands, Bakken Shale oil and coal from the Powder River Basin--has fueled an explosion in proposed fossil fuel infrastructure in the Northwest. More than twenty new or expanded coal, oil, and gas terminals are proposed between British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. In both states and British Columbia, these proposals have been met with fierce local resistance. Local communities have challenged both the safety of transporting coal, oil, and volatile gas through their communities and the role of fossil fuel export in fueling catastrophic climate disruption. Proposed coal terminals in Longview and Bellingham, and oil terminals in Vancouver and Gray's Harbor, would lead to more carbon emissions than produced in the state of Washington each year.

"We could pass every climate initiative proposed by Governor Inslee, but if we let these terminals be built our future is on the chopping block," said Liz Spoerri a Seattle middle school teacher also locked on the tracks.

While proposed coal and oil terminals have been controversial for years, climate activists in the Northwest have significantly intensified their tactics this summer. In Montana, residents sat on the tracks to block a coal train last April, and again on August 16,. In early July a woman locked herself to a 55-gallon barrel filled with concrete, blocking oil-trains at a Portland facility. In a similar action on July 28, three people blocked oil-trains at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes by locking themselves to concrete filled barrels. Most recently, three Seattle residents, including state legislative candidate Jess Spear, were arrested blocking oil and coal trains near the Seattle Waterfront.

Oil Train Halted by Tripod Blockade Action- Rising Tide            Seattle"People in the Northwest are not going to allow this region to become a fossil fuel superhighway," said Mike LaPoint, an Everett small business owner locked on the tracks. "This is just a sample of the resistance that will happen if any large fossil fuel project is permitted."

Despite controversy, the number of fossil fuel trains on Washington's rails continues to rise. While larger coal and oil terminals are undergoing lengthy environmental reviews, projects at Washington's refineries have brought approximately two oil trains per day to communities like Seattle and Everett. While the Department of Ecology conducts a study on the safety of oil-by-rail construction continues on a new terminal at the Phillips 66 refinery in Ferndale, and local officials are attempting to fast-track an oil train terminal at Shell's Puget Sound Refinery without environmental review. Each of these projects could add up to six oil trains per week to the rails. Expansions at the Fraser Surrey Docks coal export facility in Vancouver, Canada, would increase the number of coal trains moving through Washington. Activists are demanding an immediate moratorium on all new fossil fuel terminals.

"Politicians play a blame game and talk about safety, but new terminals keep getting rubber stamped and built," said LaPoint, "If elected officials won't stop the fossil fuel takeover, we'll have to do it for them."

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Rising Tide Seattle is a grassroots, all-volunteer collective dedicated to taking direct action to confront the root causes of climate change, and support communities on the frontlines of extractive industries.

Want to Do More Than March for the Climate? Here's How.

This is from National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance:

Dear Friends,

As part of Campaign Nonviolence  (which has over 150 actions scheduled across the country the week of September 21-27NCNR is organizing an action of nonviolent civil resistance at the White House on Tuesday September 23.  

On September 23 we will gather on Pennsylvania Ave. mid-morning (exact time to be announced) for a short program before crossing to the White House to deliver the letter below and demand changes in policy that will bring about profound transformations in the areas of war, poverty, and the climate crisis.

Please email joyfirst5@gmail.com by Sept. 8 to sign onto the below letter.  The letter will be mailed to the White House so that Obama knows we are coming and what we are demanding.

If you are willing to risk arrest at the action on Sept. 23 or if you have questions, please email malachykilbride@yahoo.comor joyfirst5@gmail.com .

Please sign onto the letter by September 8 and join us at the White House on September 23.  And please share this letter with all your networks.

For more information on Campaign Nonviolence, go to campaignnonviolence.org

In hope for a better world,

Joy
Malachy
Max

 

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE

9635 Overland Rd.  Mount Horeb, WI 53572

 

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

August 21, 2014

Dear Mr. President,

We write to you as people committed to nonviolent social change with a deep concern for a variety of issues that are all interrelated. As representatives of organizations that normally do not have a voice and have little influence in the places of power in Washington, DC, we are organizing under Campaign Nonviolence, a campaign that is pulling people together across the country to nonviolently bring about change in the areas of poverty, war, and climate crisis.  These issues are too urgent to delay and not attend to immediately and so we would like to meet with you or a senior representative at the White House and discuss our concerns on September 23.  During the week of September 21, we will be joined in solidarity with hundreds of actions around the country focusing on war, poverty, and the climate crisis organized under Campaign Nonviolence..

Poverty is adversely affecting the quality of life for too many Americans.  The people are suffering from lack of food, health care, education, a living wage, adequate housing, and the list goes on.  For example, tens of millions of Americans represent just part of the 842 million hungry people in the world according to the United Nations World Food Programme. According to recent statistics from the US Department of Agriculture almost 15 percent of US households are food insecure.  It is unconscionable that we have children in the United States going to bed hungry.  These numbers do not reflect the recent cuts in food stamps that is now wreaking havoc across the country.  Just a portion of the bloated Pentagon budget redirected towards human need could alleviate this suffering.

Unending war and imperialism is destroying both our country and the world.  Within the last 13 years we have experienced how the United States has responded to international crisis with violence.  Our government has waged wars in violation of international law with a failed Middle East policy that leaves a whole region mired in violence and instability, launched an illegal drone war, tortured and illegally detained individuals, and refused to get rid of nuclear weapons capable of annihilation of all life on the planet.

Our disregard for the causes of climate chaos is leading to the destruction of the planet.  Being controlled, in part, by the fossil fuel industry our government has not been willing to sign onto international treaties to end climate chaos or to stand up against the Keystone Pipeline.  In the article Greenwashing the Pentagon, Joseph Nevins states, “The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate.”

We believe that another way is possible and that there are alternatives to the life threatening policies that our government has promoted and that have been so destructive to the people of the world.

When you were elected president, people had such hope for a change.  Yet what we got was a government that continued the policies of the Bush administration.  You are NOT the people’s president, and the voices of the people are not being heard.

We demand that you change course with the present policies and listen to the people and not the corporations.  Here are three policy changes that we want to see implemented before you leave office.  These changes would make the world a better place for all of our children and grandchildren, including yours.  These changes would only be a beginning, but would provide a good start.

1.      End all drone warfare.  It is illegal and immoral.
2.      Establish a living wage for all workers.
3.      Initiate and work for an international treaty for swift verifiable action to reverse climate change.  Listen to the scientific community and not the fossil fuel industry.

We have not had access to the decision-making process like the oil lobby, the financial and corporate sector, and the arms industry have over the years.  If people and groups such as ours had this same kind of access we very well may not have rushed to war and occupation on false pretense, "tortured folks", continued to operate the criminally complicit Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, had the devastating and destructive oil spills in addition to still considering the Keystone Pipeline, or had civil unrest caused by American society's structural violence, unresolved racism, and failed economic policies.

A new approach to leadership is required to address the problems and crises we all face.  We have the audacity to hope that you or a senior representative will meet with us on Tuesday September 23, 2014.  This is the day we will come to the White House from all around the country to meet with you.  Thank you President Obama.

Sincerely,

Ken Butigan, Pace e Bene Executive Director
John Dear, Pace e Bene Outreach Director
Joy First, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Malachy Kilbride, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance
Max Obuszewski, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Obama Opened Floodgates for Offshore Fracking in Recent Gulf of Mexico Lease

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In little-noticed news arising out of a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the floodgates have opened for Gulf offshore hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

State Dept. Overseers of Contentious Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Workaround Have Industry, Torture Ties

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other green groups recently revealed that pipeline giant Enbridge got U.S. State Department permission in response to its request to construct a U.S.-Canada border-crossing tar sands pipeline without earning an obligatory Presidential Permit.

Overseeing Koch Profits: The Roots of David Vitter’s Green Billionaires Club Report

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Kristina Moore, the Senate staffer listed as the author of U.S. Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) "green billionaire's club" report published by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on July 30, has career roots tracing back to the Koch Brothers' right-wing machine.

A Modest Suggestion: How To Dissipate the Protest in Ferguson

By John Grant


There was a moment during MSNBC's live coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night through 2AM Tuesday morning when Chris Hayes and one of his guests conceded the police (now augmented by National Guard troops said to be guarding a police command center) begrudgingly deserved a good grade because -- unlike riots in Newark and Los Angeles -- no one had been killed. This was after cops had "barked" at Hayes and threatened him with macing if he and his camera crew dared again venture "in front of" the police.

An Open Letter to My Palestinian Friends

As my heart bleeds for those of you suffering in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine, I want to add my voice to those who are encouraging you to consider revising your strategy of resistance to Israeli occupation. See, for example, ‘Wanted: A new strategy for Palestinian resistance’.

Drone Protester Aquitted by Jury

ACQUITTED! Vietnam Vet Drone Resister 

Syracuse July 31, 2014   After two hours of deliberation,Vietnam Veteran and Buffalonian Russell Brown,  was acquitted tonight by a six person jury in DeWitt Town Court, East Syracuse. He was facing charges of Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation.   Mr. Brown who went before the court Pro Se (he served as his own counsel) was assisted by Buffalo Attorneys Daire Irwin and Paul Fallon.  

Mr. Brown was arrested during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013. In a roadway across from the Airbase, he lay down to symbolize the death of drone victims.  There are biweekly demonstrations at Hancock Airbase.  Several times a year there are larger demonstrations and nationally coordinated events.  On six occasions there have been arrests, leading to six trials since 2011. Mr. Brown's trial is the second acquittal. There are twenty activists are facing prosecution, working with Upstate Drone Action.

During testimony, Russell told what he did leading up to the "Global April Days of Action" gathering in Syracuse. This included his writing a poem that links the drone attacks conducted at Hancock with the missions he conducted in Vietnam.  A marine from 1965 - 1967, he told of the war he experienced. His participation in senseless killing and brutality in Vietnam informed his understanding of the Drone War Program at the 174th Attack Wing.  Russell now finds allegiance with the victims of the drone attacks.

Laying on the street with "blood" spattered clothes lifted a weight of guilt from Russel.  Transforming guilt to regret makes possible a voice: poet, marcher in a 'legal' protest, drone victim laying in the street were deemed protected speech.  The message was closely attended by the jury.  Brian Hynes said, "They saw the human power of the message and the public value of the method used to deliver it. Drones kill senselessly and illegally and traumatize our airmen."

Russell said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I've experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said. "I was silent then in the face of those atrocities and I can't be silent anymore."

The jury was smiling as they returned to give the verdict. Later one juror asked a supporter to "Thank Russell for us!  My brother was in the Vietnam War and lost his leg. We know what the vets went through."  The juror also acknowledged the PTSD drone pilots experience.  Another juror said, "We did what was needed to be done.  It was fair and just".

 

                                                ###

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones.  The Hancock emerged following arrests at Creech Airforce Base in Nevada, and the Gandhian Wave of protest there has spearheaded national and international movements against the use of drones for assassination in countries we are not at war with and wars of occupation.

 

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, supported by local organizations such as the WNY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.


The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

$10,000 Bail Reduced to $100 for 2 Drone Resisters

Vietnam Vet Drone Resister's Trial Ongoing in DeWitt Town Court

 Syracuse July 31, 2014 Vietnam Veteran and Buffalo resident Russell Brown’s trial began today in DeWitt Town Court in East Syracuse.  Mr. Brown is representing himself and is facing charges stemming from his arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, on April 28, 2013. Mr. Brown laid down peacefully with red paint to symbolize the death of drone victims in a roadway across from the Airbase. He is charged with Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation.

Mr. Brown’s trial follows about a dozen trials since 2011 in the DeWitt Town Court and  is one of 20 upcoming trials of drone resisters working with Upstate Drone Action there.

Judge David S. Gideon imposed an Order of Protection (OOP) on Mr Brown on behalf of Colonel Greg Semmel, the Hancock commandant.  The OOPs have been imposed on more than 50 nonviolent civil resisters arrested at the Hancock Reaper drone hub in DeWitt since October 2012. Under oath, a military official acknowledged that the protesters were acting nonviolently and posed no threat to the Airbase or military personnel.

Before a six-person jury,  defense witness Jessica Azulay testified on Wednesday that Mr. Brown was well beyond the military base and was not obstructing traffic as the roadway had been blocked by local police ahead of the demonstration.  She spoke in support of his constitutional right to protest.

Mr Brown said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said.

                                                                                    ***

In other news of drone resistance, two upstate drone resisters had their bail drastically reduced after being arrested on July 23 outside Hancock.  Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy from New York Catholic Worker had been charged with violating an Order of Protection.  Judge Jokl of the DeWitt Town Court set their bail at $10,000 each. During a bail reduction hearing Monday Ms. Hennessy’s bail was reduced to $100.  Yesterday, Ms. Grady’s bail was also reduced to $100. Both women have been released, having been incarcerated for several days in the Onondaga County Justice Center.

Three  other co-defendants, Joan Pleune, 75 year-old, Civil Rights Movement Freedom Rider, and NYC Catholic Workers Erica Brock and Felton Davis remain in jail on $2,500 bail each. Ms. Pleune has a bail reduction hearing Thursday morning in Syracuse.

                                                                                            ***

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars [also known as Upstate Drone Action], supported by local organizations such as the Western NY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.

Greenpeace Report: Obama Exporting Climate Change by Exporting Coal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets.

Seven Arrested at Hancock Air Base Calling a Halt to Drone War Crimes: Order of Protection Delivered for the Children of the World

Seven Arrested at Hancock Air Base 

Halt Drone War Crimes! 

Order of Protection Delivered for the Children of the World

Syracuse July 23, 2014   Earlier today eight Atlantic Life Community activists joined with Upstate Drone Action at the main gate of Hancock Air Base, in Syracuse, New York. Hancock is the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State Air National Guard. The 174th Attack Wing pilots weaponized MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan – killing and terrorizing an uncountable number of civilians.

`

The eight delivered a People’s War Crimes Indictment to the Hancock chain of command by affixing it to the fence after being refused by the base personnel.  Also delivered was an Order of Protection on behalf of the children of the world who are subject to U.S. drone surveillance and attack.

The eight issued a statement that began with a list of names of persons who have been killed by drone strikes; “Syed Wali Shah, 7 years old, killed by an American drone strike. Momina Bibi, mother and midwife, killed by an American drone strike. Tarik Aziz, 16, killed by an American drone strike…  This Must Stop!  We are a community of peacemakers who resist war, racism and greed. We stand … in solidarity with men, women and children being terrorized by US military aggression.”

The group blocked the entrance to the base and took up positions for vigil.  Brian Hynes, NYC Catholic Worker, was allowed to vigil on the side of the main entrance, usually prohibited.  Seven from the group – from Vermont, Maryland, New York City, and Ithaca were arrested.

The seven are being charged with Trespass. Two of the defendants, Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy were also charged with violation of an Order of Protection.  Liz McAlister and Erica Brock were charged with Disorderly Conduct. Clare Grady and Martha Hennessy are being held on $10,000 bail. Felton Davis, Erica Brock, and Joan Pleune are all being held on $2,500 bail.

Three of the arrested are grandmothers.  On July 10th, 2014, drone activist and grandmother, Mary Anne Grady Flores, was sentenced to one year in jail for violation of the same Order of Protection, taken out on behalf of the Colonel of the base.  She is currently out on $5,000 bail pending appeal. A higher court has found the order to be invalid.  

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Warswww.upstatedroneaction.org is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.

 ###
 
 
 

Eight Activists Blockade Entrance Gate at Hancock Air Base, Syracuse, NY

Syed Wali Shah 7 years old, killed by an American Drone strike. Momina Bibi, mother and midwife, killed by an American drone strike. Tairk Aziz, 16, killed by an American drone strike…  This Must Stop!

We, members of the Atlantic Life Community, come to Hancock Air Force Base, the national maintenance and control center of the MQ9 Reaper Drone, to protest these lethal drones, the latest weapon being used in endless war.  We are a community of peacemakers who resist war, racism and greed. We stand here today in solidarity with the men, women and children being terrorized by US military aggression. Our witness mourns the senseless deaths of our brothers and sisters, victims of drone strikes from this base and adds our voice to all people of the world who cry for peace.

Today we deliver to the base two important documents central to our witness: a war crimes indictment addressed to President Obama, Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel, the full military chain of command, and the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of De Witt, NY. By continuing to protect the war crimes of drone warfare, these public officials perpetuate a legacy of violence and racism first imposed upon indigenous people on this land. The second document is a People’s Order of Protection, which asks the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard to stay away from the Children of the World and their families, including their homes, schools, places of play and work.

The terror and bloodshed caused by the Reaper drones lies on all of our shoulders. As Thomas Merton once wrote, “if you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”  Therefore, we come to the gates today in atonement for our complicity in these crimes and to resist the atrocities of drones, to resist our nation’s endless wars and to cultivate a culture of love and not fear. 

Bill Ofenloch  NYC Catholic Worker 

Liz McAlister  Jonah House, MD

Felton Davis   NYC Catholic Worker 

Martha Hennessy   NYC Catholic Worker

Clare Grady   Ithaca Catholic Worker

Joan Pleune Granny Peace Brigade  

Erica Brock   NYC Catholic Worker

The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions

All nonviolent struggles are conducted simultaneously in the political and strategic spheres, and these spheres, which are distinct, interact throughout. I have discussed this at length elsewhere: see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. Despite this, only rarely have nonviolent struggles been conducted with a conscious awareness of this vitally important relationship. Gandhi’s campaigns were very effective partly because he understood the distinction and relationship between politics and strategy in nonviolent struggle. And the failure of many campaigns can be attributed, in part, to the fact that most activists do not.

Another Hancock Anti-Drone Protester Convicted of a Misdemeanor

Jack Gilroy of Binghamton, NY was convicted after a two-day jury trial in DeWitt Town Court of charges stemming from his arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013.   Jack was convicted of Trespass, a violation, and Obstructing Governmental Administration, a misdemeanor by a jury of five women and one man.   He will be sentenced by Judge Robert Jokl on October 1st, a year and a half after his arrest.  The sentence for the latter charge may be up to one year in jail and a fine of $1000.  Jack’s Order of Protection was also reissued today as a 2 year Permanent Order protecting Commander Greg Semmel, the commanding officer at Hancock Base.
 
Jack testified that he joined the Army out of high school, and was stationed in Austria in the early 50s at a time when the Cold War was hot. He says that despite a climate of distrust and contempt towards Russians, when he actually had to look a young Russian soldier in the eye during a ceremonial event, he didn’t see the evil he’d been trained to expect.  Since then, Jack has spent 30 years as a teacher.   A member of Veterans for Peace and Peace Action New York, Jack  is currently working with Peace Action at Binghamton University to convince the college to offer a Peace Studies Program. 
 
Regarding the April 2013 protest, Jack testified that the boundaries of the base were unclear and unmarked at the time.   He said his intention was to send a message to base personnel and the public, not to disrupt the operation of the base.   Only one gate was affected by the symbolic die-in he participated in, which blocked the inbound lane of the access road.  Jack was arrested and removed 30 seconds after lying in the road so he had little effect on potential base traffic.
 
Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for MQ-9 Reaper drone support.  It is a training site for pilots and technicians, a drone test location and an active site in the ongoing wars overseas.  Heavily armed Reapers piloted at Hancock fly lethal missions over Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.   Hancock pilots also fly test flights from Fort Drum over Lake Ontario. 
 
Upstate Drone Action has been protesting the Drones at Hancock Base since 2009 with bimonthly vigils, annual rallies and a Gandhian Wave of civil resistance.  Mary Anne Grady Flores was convicted of violating an Order of Protection by standing in the road in front of Hancock Base and sentenced on July 9 to one year in prison.  There are 11 trials scheduled for Hancock protesters in DeWitt between now and next July stemming from the April 28 protest.   Several more trials are pending.   On July 30th and 31st Russell Brown will be tried pro se, serving as his own defense council, on the same charges Jack Gilroy faced today.
 

Drone Resister Sentenced to One Year in Prison; Base’s Order of Protection Begs Judgement

On July 10, grandmother of three, Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in prison for being found guilty of violating an order of protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.

These orders of protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse NY, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to “protect” Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock’s mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters “out of his driveway.”

Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?”

The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.

Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The next year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”

In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.

Her verdict is being appealed.

For information on how to support Mary Anne, contact Ellen Grady at demottgrady6@gmail.com.

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