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OPEN LETTER TO THE CANADIAN PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT
We are writing you on behalf of thousands of military veterans in the United States who believe that Kimberly Rivera and her family should be allowed to remain in Canada.
As a U.S. soldier, Kimberly Rivera spent six months in Iraq where she witnessed the injustice caused by illegal U.S. war. Home on leave in the U.S., she decided that she could not in good conscience continue to be part of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Kimberly Rivera drove to Canada hoping to find a safe haven for herself, her husband, and their two young children.
Since arriving in Canada five years ago, the Riveras have had two more children, who are Canadian citizens by virtue of being born in Canada. How tragic it will be if these children are deported to the U.S. and then separated from their mother, who would be court-martialed and imprisoned.
Veterans For Peace includes members who fought in the Vietnam War, and also veterans who refused to go to Vietnam and found a safe haven in Canada.
We are extremely grateful to the Canadian people for providing us with sanctuary, along with so much understanding, love and care. Thirty thousand Americans who immigrated to Canada during the Vietnam War are now Canadian citizens who have led productive lives in the arts, academia, media, business and law.
We also want to thank the many Canadians who have supported our young men and women who did not want to return to the carnage of war in Iraq. According to polls, two-thirds of the Canadian people believe that U.S. war resisters should be allowed to remain in Canada. We are very grateful to the community groups, churches, unions, and Members of Parliament who have given so much support to these young people of conscience.
According to the UN Handbook on Refugees, soldiers who refuse to fight in wars that are widely condemned by the international community should be considered as refugees. Unfortunately, the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada has yet to grant asylum to a single person who refused to kill in the war against Iraq, a war that has most certainly been condemned by peoples and nations around the globe.
Surely there are humanitarian grounds that the Canadian government might invoke to keep Kimberly Rivera and other Iraq and Afghanistan war resisters from being deported to certain imprisonment in the United States.
Veterans For Peace believes that nobody who conscientiously refuses to be part of war should be punished. At our recent national convention, we called on the U.S. government to grant an unconditional amnesty to all war resisters. We will be working toward this goal in the coming months. In the meantime, we call upon the Canadian government to show compassion for these courageous conscientious objectors.
Please do not deport Kimberly Rivera and her four young children to the U.S., where she will face persecution and imprisonment, and her children will experience the trauma of separation from their mother.
The mission of Veterans For Peace is to abolish war altogether. We believe that this goal can be realized and must be realized if human civilization is to survive. Those powerful people who pursue wars of mass destruction are the ones who should be punished, not the poor people we are forced to fight wars for the one percent.
We hope the Canadian government will do its best to represent the will of the peace-loving Canadian people. Please let Kimberly Rivera stay. You will be glad that you did.
Sincerely for Peace,
Leah Bolger, President
Gerry Condon, Board of Directors
Veterans For Peace
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.
Bo has already interviewed Daniel Ellsberg, Father Roy Bourgeois, Medea Benjamin, Col. Ann Wright, Martin Sheen, Alice Walker, Phil Donahue, Bruce Gagnon, Camila Mejia, Charlie Clements, Charlie Liteky, Duncan Murphy, Ray McGovern, Lou Wolf, Leah Bolger (current president of Veterans For Peace), Elliot Adams (past president of VFP), Jeff Paterson (of Courage to Resist), David Swanson, Mike Prysner, Carlos Escorcia and others. He still plans to interview Blase Bonpane, Amy Goodman, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Kovic, Ed Asner, Kathy Kelly, Cindy Sheehan & Ramsey Clark. So far we have raised $13,350. We are trying to raise $55,000 by October 11th. Aris Anagnos gave $5,000 for this film. I put in $1,000. Medea Benjamin gave $500. Veterans For Peace LA Chapter gave $500. Veterans For Peace National gave $200. Many people have given $25, Some have given $50. Some $100. Some $200. Some $10. It all adds up. I hope you might be able to give whatever amount you are comfortable with. If you can’t afford any money at all, I do understand.
I have had Brian on two different book tours in Southern California in the last year. He also met me last November at the Annual School of the Americas Protest Vigil at Fort Benning, Georgia, where I tabled his book: “BLOOD ON THE TRACKS: The Life & Times of S. Brian Willson” and he signed copies. There is a short letter from Brian below.
Brian will be back in Los Angeles in November for two events. We are having a fundraising party for: "PAYING THE PRICE FOR PEACE” at our house in Culver City on Saturday Night, November 3rd.
Then Brian will be honored at the ARTIVIST FILM FESTIVAL on Sunday Night, November 4th at Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood.
If you would like to make a contribution but would rather not donate on-line, you can send a check to:
Bo Boudart Productions
PO Box 7395
Menlo Park, CA 94026
Or you can click on the picture of Brian & Bo to donate on-line.
Here is the Letter from Brian.
Just wanted to get this on your radar... and undoubtedly some of you have already heard about it.
While on my East Coast book tour last fall, a serendipitous connection was made with an award-winning documentary filmmaker named Bo Boudart. Following up on a suggestion from a friend, Bo began focusing his camera on me, and is now in the process of making a film that will revolve around my story while serving to amplify many other voices including those of a number of other peace veterans who have taken strong stands against war (e.g., Camilo Mejia, Ray McGovern, Charlie Liteky, Roy Bourgeois).
Based on the footage already collected by Bo over the last year -- which includes video captured at various book tour events, at last year's annual SOA Watch vigil, at this year's Veterans For Peace convention, plus many interviews, including one with Duncan Murphy, fellow faster and train blocker who recently passed away at age 92 -- this should be a very powerful film.
Like I said, I just wanted to get this on your radar. If you are inspired to spread the word through your own social networks, I support you in doing that, or even making a contribution of your own. Currently, an Indiegogo fundraising campaign is helping to raise funds for production costs, but Bo is committed to finding a way to raise the necessary funds to complete this film whether or not that campaign goal is met. (Click on photo link above for more information.) There is also a facebook page that is being used to help spread the word (facebook.com/
Two conscientious nonviolent activists, Brian Terrell and Ron Faust, were convicted on Monday of trespassing, for having attempted to deliver a document listing concerns about drones to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base near Jefferson City, Mo., last April. A third protester, Mark Kenney of Omaha, Neb., is serving a four-month sentence after having pled guilty in June to trespassing.
Veterans For Peace members were among those participating in a demonstration last April, and again on Monday, in support of Faust and Terrell, who will be sentenced in the coming weeks. Veterans For Peace applauds nonviolent resistance to the illegal and immoral use of drones, and stands in solidarity with those taking these risks to serve their country and the world.
Please sign the petition to stop the deportation from Canada of Iraq war Kimberly Rivera!!!
My name is Kimberly Rivera. I joined the U.S. Army when I was 24. At the time, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I thought it would make our country safer and bring democracy to Iraq. Once I was stationed in Iraq, I realized I had been lied to. I saw the true face of war: countless civilian casualties, and Iraqi children left devastated by loss and filled with fear. We were not bringing freedom to Iraq; we were bringing needless pain and suffering and death. How could I look my children in the eye and tell them to be good people, when I was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people on the other side of the world? As this became clear to me, my conscience would no longer let me participate in the war in Iraq. In 2007, my family and I came to Canada, where I applied for refugee status. Since that time, I have become active in my community in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I speak out against the war in Iraq - and for peace - at every opportunity. Mario and I now have four beautiful children, two of them born in Canada. We ask for only one thing: to continue to live our lives in Canada. We want our children to grow up in a peaceful country that values tolerance, respect, and community. Please sign this letter asking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to stop my deportation. My family and I thank you for responding to our urgent request for help. —Kim Rivera LEARN MORE
My name is Kimberly Rivera. I joined the U.S. Army when I was 24. At the time, I thought the war in Iraq was a good thing. I thought it would make our country safer and bring democracy to Iraq.
Once I was stationed in Iraq, I realized I had been lied to. I saw the true face of war: countless civilian casualties, and Iraqi children left devastated by loss and filled with fear. We were not bringing freedom to Iraq; we were bringing needless pain and suffering and death. How could I look my children in the eye and tell them to be good people, when I was contributing to causing harm and death to innocent people on the other side of the world?
As this became clear to me, my conscience would no longer let me participate in the war in Iraq.
In 2007, my family and I came to Canada, where I applied for refugee status. Since that time, I have become active in my community in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto. I speak out against the war in Iraq - and for peace - at every opportunity. Mario and I now have four beautiful children, two of them born in Canada.
We ask for only one thing: to continue to live our lives in Canada. We want our children to grow up in a peaceful country that values tolerance, respect, and community. Please sign this letter asking Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to stop my deportation.
My family and I thank you for responding to our urgent request for help.
By Ed Kinane
SYRACUSE, NY. -- Like the School of the Americas, the weaponized drone perpetrates terrorism. As Predator drones come to Ft. Benning, some SOA Watch activists are applying our SOAW experience to “outing” the Predator and Reaper drones already in our midst.
Syracuse’s Hancock Air National Guard Base has become one of the national hubs for piloting -- via computer screen and satellite -- the Reaper over Afghanistan. For three years upstate New York activists have been trying to educate our public and Hancock personnel about the war crimes being committed by these robotic killers [www.upstatedroneaction.org].
By Kathy Kelly
Anne Montgomery died yesterday. I remember her words to me and to our young Iraqi friend Eva, sitting in the Al Monzer hotel in Amman, Jordan. This was in 2006, and she’d waited three weeks for a visa to enter Iraq as a peace witness. Anne had crossed into zones of conflict more times than any other activist I’d known. During these weeks with us, she’d been meeting and working with Iraqi refugees, many of them undocumented and struggling to eke out a living in Jordan.
Now the wait was over. The visas were not forthcoming, and Anne had decided she was needed most in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron, where the Christian Peacemaker Team — at that point, she had been a “CPT-er” for 11 years — was particularly short staffed and had requested a month of her time. She was going to attempt the crossing from Jordan into Israel by taxi, since Israel could very well have refused her entry, and we were to save a bed for her. But for the moment, we treasured the chance to learn from her in case this was a parting.
It was, and a greater parting has now come, so I take comfort in her words, and rededicate myself to taking direction from them.
I asked Anne about one of her contemporaries, Barbara Deming, who had been active in the movements for civil rights, women’s equality and an end to the Vietnam War. While acknowledging that to succeed peace activists must become “many more than we are now,” Deming had nonetheless insisted that activists must joyfully and determinedly engage in what she termed “the further invention of nonviolence.” So I asked Anne for her recommendations about inventiveness and nonviolence. She said:
Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine spoke prior to Obama's speech on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. He had praise for anyone signing up to go to war in Afghanistan. "We can still put our positive thumbprint on that nation," he said, to wild cheers. Imagine the competition among the world's nations to get our thumbprint next! Imagine what it costs to get our assprint.
"So, who are you voting for?" an Obama follower asked me prior to the event. I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).
The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama's willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called "Bush" tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama's sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.
"So, who are you going to vote for?"
"Well," I said, "you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that's great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda -- that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?"
"Yeah, I see, but I'm trying to understand who you think we should vote for."
"Let me try again. Take Obama's kill list for . . . "
"President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don't mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?"
"Well what's the alternative?"
"The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don't know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people."
"No, what's the alternative to Obama? Isn't the other guy worse?"
"Let me try again. You'll grant me that women didn't vote themselves the right to vote. Will you go along with that? They didn't get the right to vote by voting for it?"
"And the civil rights movement didn't end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly? That wouldn't have worked as well and wouldn't have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right? We don't accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn't endorse candidates, right? And if you'd asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?"
"So, you're not going to vote for anybody?"
"I'm not sure I'm being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he's ending it. Romney doesn't mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we're satisfied -- regardless of who we're going to vote for?"
"Well, you can have your opinion about Afghanistan, but that's no reason to character assassinate the President."
"Seventy percent of the country is character assassinating the president by wanting to get out of Afghanistan? Or only if you mention it out loud? How do you character assassinate someone? Did you catch the part where I pointed out that Obama actually assassinates people?"
Three of us went into the event. I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue. We didn't go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he'd given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube. Thousands of people did that. We went in to disturb the war.
We wanted to shout. But what could we shout? We were only three. We were not near the front. (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You'll own the place.) We would have to be loud and clear. We couldn't mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people. We couldn't mention Social Security because they pretend Obama's not threatening it. We couldn't mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant. We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!
Here's how the Washington Post's blog reported on that:
"Protesters drown out Obama
"Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama’s speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard 'Get out of Afghanistan!' The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: 'Four more years!' and 'O-ba-ma!' Obama couldn't continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: 'I couldn’t hear what those young people had to say, but that's good that they got involved.' To the rest of the crowd, he said: 'Don't just chant! Vote!'"
Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people. He'd tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there. The crowd didn't shout us down till we'd run out of breath. They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their "U-S-A! U-S-A!" In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity. Don't just hold teach-ins, vote! Don't just occupy the square, vote! Don't just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.
As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us. After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service. The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration. The police had mentioned freedom of speech. The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent. The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they'd been able, and if they weren't suffering under the misconception that it's been closed.
Eva Westheimer was recently arrested for shutting down a strip mine in West Virginia, along with Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival ( http://rampscampaign.org ). Westheimer is a junior at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She describes the recent action she took, the ongoing campaign, and what motivates her.
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Joshua was trained as an Arabic translator and deployed with the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion to Abu Ghraib prison working as an interrogator from June 2004 to January 2005. Upon his return, Joshua applied for conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged in May 2005. His story is featured in the documentary film Soldiers of Conscience:
Joshua enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17, and later enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The rigidity and conformity of West Point was a turnoff so he left after just three months. The University of Iowa helped Casteel land on his feet, but his ROTC experience was similar to West Point.
With the military a lesser priority, Joshua enrolled at a university in Colorado for a year before returning to Iowa to earn his B.A. in Literature, Science, and Arts in 2002. He then earned a dual M.F.A. in Playwriting and Non-Fiction Writing, also from the University of Iowa in 2008. Joshua was working as a Graduate Arts Management Fellow at the University of Chicago before he was diagnosed with cancer.
Joshua served on IVAW’s Board of Directors in 2006. In addition, he stood with war resister Ricky Clousing at a press conference before Ricky turned himself in to the military. (Starting at 16:00 min)
In March 2008, Joshua led a panel on Racism and Dehumanization at Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2010, he testified at the Truth Commission on Conscience and War.
Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration.
Joshua was invited to speak at over 50 venues worldwide, including the UK, Sweden, South Korea, as well as two national tours of Ireland. In 2006, Joshua appeared on the stage of the Royal Court Theatre for Human Rights Watch’s Cries From the Heart performing a monologue from his play Returns, which premiered at the University of Iowa in February 2007, and then at Columbia College in Chicago. Some of Joshua’s essays on war and Christian ethics have become part of course curricula at Wheaton College and Duke Divinity School. He was also featured in the documentary film Iraq for Sale.
He grew up a in a devoted evangelical Christian household. His father Everett “Rick” Casteel, also an Army veteran, founded Caleb Ministries, a counseling and mediation agency in Cedar Rapids. Sadly, Rick also succumbed to cancer in 2010 and Joshua was with his father during those difficult days.
Our deepest sympathies go out to his loving family. Joshua was an inspiration to many of us in the military and veterans community. His conviction and willingness to speak the truth was an example to us all. Joshua was truly a soldier of conscience. May he rest in peace.
To Law Enforcement
Those who come to demonstrate at the RNC do not come to confront you.
They come to confront:
· those who give you your orders, our Elected Officials.
· those who give them their orders, the Power Elite.
We, police officers and protesters alike, should be standing together to remind our government that they work for us, the people. That it is WE THE PEOPLE who elect them, and we who give them their orders.
You have been told that we are coming to commit acts of violence and destruction. We are not.
We utilize peaceful means to promote peaceful ends and to stand up for justice...social, economic and environmental justice.
You have been told that we are coming to fight the police. We are not.
You are being abused right along with us. It is the Power Elite we are after. They are screwing over all of us and laugh at us when we fight one another.
We do not expect you to take our word for it. Hear it from retired Police Captain Ray Lewis on his interview where he can explain it:
It's time we stood together. We know who the real enemy is, and its neither you or us. So it's pointless to fight one another.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice. It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
If you are ordered to assault a non-violent peaceful crowd, we ask you to defy your orders. Stand for justice.
It is our sincere hope that you allow the demonstrators to do what they come to do, peacefully protest an unjust system. We stand for justice.
At this year's Veterans For Peace convention in Miami, VFP President Leah Bolger challenged members to take risks: "Many of you have risked a lot for war. What will you risk for peace?"
One VFP member, S. Brian Willson, gave his legs and part of his skull for peace. It was 1987, and the U.S. military was shipping weapons to port, in order to ship them to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they would be used to slaughter the people of those nations, where, in Willson's words "In one country, we supported a puppet government against a people's revolution; in the other, we supported a puppet revolution against a people's government."
Willson had decided that his own life was not worth more than the lives of non-Americans, that they were losing their lives and limbs as a direct result of our inaction, and that he had a moral responsibility to act. Willson and others sat down on a train track in front of a train full of weapons. The train usually traveled at 5 miles per hour. The train would stop. The protesters would be removed from the tracks. That was the standard practice, and that was the law. But that's not what happened the day Willson lost his legs.
It seems that the military had decided that nonviolent protesters did not exist, that everywhere in the world the only tool available was violence. Therefore, Wilson must be a violent terrorist. Therefore, he and his companions must be planning to jump aboard the train. Therefore, the train must speed up and stop for nothing and nobody. That was the order given. The other protesters moved out of the way in time. Willson, sitting cross-legged, could not. The train ran him over. And then the men driving the train sued Willson for causing them to suffer post traumatic stress.
But something else happened too. Hundreds of people ripped up the track and built a monument out of the railroad ties. People formed blockades of trains on that track for years to come. Every train and nearly every truck was blocked until January 1990. Celebrities showed up and held rallies. Ronald Reagan's daughter wrote a kind letter to Wilson, as did professional sports teams and other big whigs congratulating him on his courageous stand. And similar actions sprang up around the country. Visiting Nicaragua, Willson was treated as a national hero.
But Willson is from our nation, and he's a global hero. Probably his most valuable act, however, has been performed behind a keyboard. "Blood on the Tracks: The Life and Times of S. Brian Willson," with an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg, is an epic. This is the long and careful transformation from an eager soldier accepting of rightwing dogma to a principled and courageous advocate for peace and ecological justice. Willson now strives to live sustainably, and brings the reader to question not only the paying of war taxes but the consumption of corporate products generated by the cruel threat of force in foreign lands.
"One day," Willson writes, "the corporations that allow and often enable terrorism in countries like Colombia will be pushed out of those countries. We will no longer be able to buy one-dollar Cokes or ninety-nine-cent-a-pound bananas. Maybe when that day comes, we will finally realize that we do not even desire cheap goods at the cost of others' lives. Maybe we will finally realize that we all share a common humanity."
Willson's book is a tour, with him, of much of the world, from the killing he participated in in Viet Nam, to that he has tried to prevent in Latin America, Palestine, and elsewhere. It’s a philosophical journey, through the course of which Willson learns much from the people he is trying to help. The Zapatistas, the Cubans, and others are not just victims of imperialism, but pioneers in sustainable (and enjoyable!) living. If that idea strikes you as crazy but you're willing to consider a careful argument from someone who began far to your right and doesn't change easily … or if the idea strikes you as plausible and you like to see it laid out in a very human story … either way, you can't do better than to read "Blood on the Tracks," and perhaps we as a people -- and I mean the human people, not the people of some nation -- would be better off if a little more of the blood we are still spilling in such great quantities were spilled on railroad tracks for peace.
One of the most inspiring events thus far at the Veterans For Peace National Convention underway in Miami was a presentation on Thursday by several veterans who have refused to participate in war. Typically, they have done this at the risk of significant time in prison, or worse. In most cases these resisters avoided doing any time. Even when they did go behind bars, they did so with a feeling of liberation.
Gerry Condon refused to deploy to Vietnam, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, escaped from Fort Bragg, left the country, and came back campaigning for amnesty. President Jimmy Carter pardoned resisters as his first act in office. Condon never "served" a day, in either the military "service" or prison.
Peace activists stopped traffic briefly while other activists leafleted at the Navy’s West Coast Trident submarine base.
Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action held a peaceful early morning vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate as Navy and civilian employees entered the base. The vigil commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
|Resisters (from left to right): Betsy Lamb, George Rodkey & Ann Havill
(photo by Leonard Eiger)
A total of 16 persons engaged in the blockade. All were issued citations at the scene for “Walking on roadway where prohibited” and released. Those cited were Tom Rogers, Poulsbo, WA; Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA; Marion Ward, Vancouver, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; Mal Chaddock, Portland, OR; Ann Havill, Bend, OR; Betsy Lamb, Bend, OR; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA; Constance Mears, Poulsbo, WA; Gordon Sturrock, Eugene, OR; Brenda McMillan, Port Townsend, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Gilberto Z Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA; George W Rodkey, Tacoma, WA and Elizabeth Murray, Bellingham, WA.
|Anne & David Hall Leafleting (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
|Each leaflet had an origami crane attached
(photo by Berd Whitlock)
Monday’s vigil, nonviolent direct action and leafleting were the culmination of a weekend of events at Ground Zero Center. Participants commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings and celebrated 35 years of Ground Zero’s resistance to the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Participants had the opportunity to hear from Ground Zero co-founders Jim and Shelley Douglass, persistent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, and the (pepper sprayed) face of Seattle Occupy Dorli Rainey.
The weekend included nonviolence training, letter writing to elected officials, action planning, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall and a screening of the documentary “In My Lifetime.” The film, a presentation of the Nuclear World Project, is intended to help people develop an understanding of the realities of nuclear weapons.
Additional events were associated with the Ground Zero weekend.
Ground Zero's Glen Milner organized this year’s Peace Fleet, a flotilla of boats that sailed into Seattle’s Elliott Bay on August 1st to meet the U.S. Navy fleet in a protest against militarism.
Activists representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington Chapter, arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday during the Bike to the Bomb bicycle ride. Bike to the Bomb protests the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Japan, and spotlights the massive nuclear arsenal stored and deployed at Bangor.
Participants in the 2012 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future, which began in Portland, Oregon on July 22nd, also arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday to participate in the weekend’s activities. The walk is organized by Buddhist monks from Bainbridge Island, and carries a message of hope for peace and a nuclear free world.
|All 16 who blocked the roadway today. (photo by Berd Whitlock)|
For nearly thirty-five years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Six Peacemakers Arrested at the Pentagon to Commemorate the 67th anniversary of the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The theme of this week’s show: Guns and Media
- RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have launched a campaign targeting NBC’s new program, “Stars Earn Stripes,” a reality show co-hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark and co-starring Todd Palin, which the network is advertising during the Olympics. We discuss this with David Swanson
- Another mass shooting, this time in Wisconsin, has people wondering what can be done about gun violence, the gun lobby and the debate about second amendment protections. We discuss this with Ladd Everitt
More about this week’s guests:
David Swanson holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Quote: “NBC is marketing its new show during the Olympics as the next big sport, featuring former Olympic athletes, but the sport is war, with — so they tell us — real bullets, real explosives, and real danger. If NBC is really risking blowing off the head or arm or leg of Sarah Palin’s husband and the other stars, then we’ve regressed to ancient Rome. Bread and circuses are now Big Macs and NBC war-o-tainment shows. I suspect and hope that in fact NBC is not putting these people at risk and nobody is going to die on Stars Earn Stripes (note, link does not take you to the NBC show page). And I am certain that the 95 percent of casualties in U.S. wars who rarely get mentioned on any NBC program, namely the non-Americans, will not be featured. We will not see children and grandparents blown to pieces. We will not see cluster bombs picked up as toys. We may see doors kicked in, but not the screaming terrified families behind them. NBC is sanitizing and normalizing war as a sport. Gone is any concept of war as an emergency, any notion of war time as separate from peace time. We are into permanent war, and war for its own sake.”
Ladd Everitt is the Director of Communications of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He has served as the Director of Communications of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence since May 2006. In this position, he is responsible for developing and managing a wide range of communications activities in support of the organization’s overall mission.
Mr. Everitt has served in a volunteer capacity with the D.C. Crisis Response Team, a group which offers comfort, support and referral services to victims and survivors of homicide in the District of Columbia. From 2002-2007, he served as the volunteer President of the D.C. Chapter of the Million Mom March. Under his direction, the chapter conducted events for victims and survivors of gun violence, published letters and editorials in local and national periodicals, participated in press conferences and demonstrations calling for sensible gun laws, networked with other community groups who are interested in stemming the tide of gun violence, and authored a comprehensive resource book for victims and survivors, which was used by the Metropolitan Police Department.
Ladd relocated to the District of Columbia from New York in September of 1993 to pursue a Masters degree in U.S. Foreign Policy at American University. After completing his degree, he worked as a Research Associate with the U.S.‑Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, DC, and as a Chief of Policy Development for the Air Force Association in Arlington, Virginia.
A statement from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence issued in the wake of the incident in Colorado read in part: “Reports indicate that the shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes wore body armor and was armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle. He also released some type of chemical gas into the theater during the massacre. Twelve fatalities have been reported so far, with approximately 38 moviegoers injured, including 16 critically. “Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower. “The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws. “The truth is that there is no greater threat to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to assure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.”
By Eve Tetaz
I left Paris on June 28, 2012 and arrived in DC the same day to stand trial in DC Superiour Court on Wednesday, July 29th along with 13 co-defendants for having protested the death penalty on the steps of the Supreme Court in January. I was sentenced to 60 days in jail because I refused probation and to pay a fine on the grounds that although I broke a DC law, I was upholding my right under the first amendment of the Constitution to peacefully petition the government for a redress of grievances. I believe that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, and is a violation of the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution. Three of my codefendants opted to spend 5 days in jail rather than do community service in order to remain in solidarity with me.
Oak Ridge, TN—Early this past Saturday morning three plowshares activists performed a disarmament action in response to Government plans to invest $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex.
Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and
Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility before dawn.
They delivered an indictment citing U.S. Constitutional and Treaty Law as well as the
“The ongoing building and maintenance of Oak Ridge Y-12 constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. We are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.”
This action is one of a long tradition of Plowshares disarmament actions in the US and around the world which challenge war-making and weapons of mass destruction.
By David R. Weyeneth, Sr.
To accompany Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy" (PDF).
One: Focus on a problem or issue which needs change.
Two: Hold hearings and conduct research, including taking statements and affidavits of witnesses. The research may reveal a history of previous social change campaigns as well as being useful in outlining the current campaign. Keeping records will be useful in constructing a history of the current campaign for reference by others.
Three: Witness sites and events of the social problem.
Four: Negotiate with persons or agencies indicated as responsible or capable of alleviating the problem. Return to negotiations as needed.
Susan Crane, one of the five plowshares activists who entered the U.S.
Navy's Pacific Trident Naval Base at Kitsap Bangor (NBKB) in Washington
State in November 2009 has been ordered to appear before Judge Benjamin
Settle at the U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington on July 23, 2012.
Crane has already served 15 months in prison. The government is seeking
revocation of Crane’s current additional 1 year term of supervised release,
alleging noncompliance with some of the terms of her supervised release.
Crane, a mother of two grown children, and a grandmother, maintains now, as
she did throughout her trial, that the five came to the Navy base to
peaceably state the truth “Disarm Now: Trident Illegal and Immoral.”
Crane said, “The eight Trident submarines deployed from NBKB constantly
threaten to unleash nuclear holocaust. Each of the 800 nuclear weapons
by Common Dreams - Common Dreams staff
Environmental activists shut down dozens of Shell gas stations across the UK, Denmark and Germany on Monday. The action was part of environmental group Greenpeace's Save the Arctic Campaign -- a bid to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic slated to begin within the next three weeks. Greenpeace has ramped up its efforts against oil company Shell as its drilling vessels drift closer to its targets in the Arctic.
Earlier this week Shell's first drill rig to near the Arctic, Noble Discoverer, lost control during high winds and ran aground near Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
"Shell can't keep it's drill rig under control in a protected harbor, so what will happen when it faces 20 foot swells and sea ice while drilling in the Arctic? Shell's whole drilling program seems to be running aground...Shell cannot be trusted, and President Obama should not let its Arctic drilling program move forward," stated Greenpeace Lead Arctic Campaigner Jackie Dragon.
On Monday the activists scaled the roof of a Shell gas station, many in sickly polar bear costumes, used barriers to block off access to pumps, and covered a Shell sign with a Save the Arctic banner. In one instance they placed a life-sized polar bear model on a station's roof. Other campaigners chained themselves to pumps, a Greenpeace spokesman told the Independent.
Activists shut down pumps by switching emergency shut-off levers, which stop gas flow.
24 were arrested over the course of the planned actions.
What does Independence Day mean to you? The holiday can be a time to gather with family, friends and community. But it can also be an opportunity to reassess the direction of the country, the past struggles that secured rights and freedom, the challenges to power that rose up in the face of adversity, and the inequalities that still exist.