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Stephen Zunes Thinks It's Not Too Late for Nonviolence to Dominate the Process and Win Peace and Justice in Syria
Unarmed Resistance Still Syria’s Best Hope
By Stephen Zunes, Nation of Change
The Syrian pro-democracy struggle has been both an enormous tragedy and a powerful inspiration. Indeed, as someone who has studied mass nonviolent civil insurrections in dozens of countries in recent decades, I know of no people who have demonstrated such courage and tenacity in the face of such savage repression as have the people of Syria these past 10 months.
The resulting decline in the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad's government gives hope that the opposition will eventually win. The question is how many more lives will be lost until then.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’
For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.
Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.
Park Police to Try to Remove All Tents From Both DC Occupations at Noon on Monday January 30th -- BE THERE!
Be nonviolent. Be determined. Be relentless.
Rise like Lions after slumber: In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew: Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many — they are few
Video of a Guantanamo Guard Who Won Conscientious Objector Status on Grounds That He'd Been Told to Torture People
On January 14, 2012 activists from a local peace group blocked entry to the main gate at the Navy’s West coast Trident nuclear submarine base for nearly a half hour in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.
GroundZero Center for Nonviolent Action held a peaceful vigil and nonviolent direct action at the main gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington. Thegroup protested the U.S. government’s continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Its continued reliance on nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy is in contravention of both U.S. and international laws.
This is where I can't go because I spoke.
And three of my friends got the same deal.
And in the next courtroom over our other friends were convicted by a jury of opposing torture.
And right across the hall our other friend completed her probation for having interrupted Netanyahu even though he thanked her and bragged about how she'd be treated worse in Iran, even though the assault she suffered in the US Capitol put her in a neck brace.
It was a great day for the First Amendment in Washington today.
Now, we're only banned for 6 months, and we can get invitations in writing from Congress or the Supreme Court to come and protest them as a way around the ban (I wonder how that's going to work).
We did happen to be in a Senate committee hearing when we spoke, but they were speaking quite endlessly about corporate trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea. They said they'd try to help some of the people they threw out of work. I asked why they didn't just leave them their jobs. I was arrested. Then they spoke a lot about Korean tariffs vs US tariffs on beef, and one of us criminals asked why we really needed to ship beef back and forth across the Pacific. Handcuffs on her. This was in October. Here we are in January finding out what is to be done to us to protect the Homeland.
It turns out we're not a threat to the Homeland at all, just to one little hill.
Dear Friends, We write to you this evening with the report that the jury found Brian Hynes, Mike Levinson, and Carmen Trotta guilty on all charges, but were “truly deadlocked” by the end of the day concerning Judith Kelly. The jury was sent home and will resume in the morning. With the close of the trial tomorrow, we will be shifting our efforts to be a presence on the street throughout the city. As we do so, we are ever mindful, as Matt Daloisio said tonight, that “there is a difficulty in choosing how to act and be in solidarity with those who have very little choice.” When we gathered tonight, instead of expressing in full our own reactions and questions of today’s court proceeding (we shared a single word each, which you will find below!), we read twice over the poetry of Abdul al Baddah, so that the most words shared in our circle would come from a man detained at Guantánamo.
Every time our court proceedings reconvene (and this happens several times a day because of the various breaks), these words are announced: “Now hearing the United States VS. Shakir Ami….” This statement never fails to surprise us. Mr. Aamer (as his name is correctly spelled) has been detained at Guantánamo since Febuary of 2002 and has spent much of his time there in solitary confinement. But Shaker Aamer’s name is spoken in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia today because two years ago on January 11th, Brian Hynes was arrested on the steps of the Capital Building and gave Mr. Aamer’s name as his own. Since then, within the District of Columbia, this name is legally (and bureaucratically) tied to Brian’s fingerprints. And beginning with an “A”, it has become the official title of our court case.
If you watch the above pitch for Oxytocin as the hormone of morality, it will quickly become clear that this guy and the rest of us actually know very little about how our brains and blood and bodies work. In fact, another guy claims that oxytocin is the hormone of ethnocentrism, not of universal love. Of course it's being marketed as a spray that can make people trust you. And a little reflection can make you realize that there is an enormous gap between personal relations and war making. If you trust your boss at the Pentagon more will you work for war less? Would we really want the peace movement purged of everyone in it who isn't terribly nice or trusting?
There is, however, in the above video something I find particularly interesting. It's the part where he says that testosterone may be an opponent of oxytocin but it also makes people (or at least men) more eager to punish immoral actions by others. Now, I have no idea if that is true or as simple as described. I would be willing to bet that description will change soon if it hasn't already. What interests me is the possibility of thinking of the punishment of war as sharing a motivation with war — whether or not that motivation is tied to testosterone.
Of course, I want war makers punished if it will prevent and deter war making, but I want them punished with prison and rehab. I don't want them punished with war. The idea behind the United Nations, and the League of Nations before it, not to mention NATO, is to use war to punish war. This results, of course, in lots of wars that merely pretend to punish war. And that would not be the case if we were not considering war an available option. Europe has stopped thinking of war as an option internally, but not abroad. The United States thinks of little other than war in foreign relations, and is beginning to train domestic police to make war on their own. What we need is not so much the right hormone as the right way of thinking. That way of thinking will of course exist in a complex physical event within brains, but "complex" is the key word. If peace can be sprayed up somebody's nose, today's scientists are nowhere near knowing how, and a general inclination to trust or love does not begin to approach it.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 is only the most widely known impromptu truce. But anecdotal accounts abound of other truces, trades and temporary accommodations.
This from Walter Lord's account of the sinking of the light cruiser USS Helena contained in Lonely Vigil: Coastwatchers of the Solomons.
Soon more planes arrived-but this time they were Zeros. Watching them approach, Major Kelly recalled the recent Bismarck Sea affair, where Allied aircraft strafed the Japanese life rafts after sinking their transports. This was no gentleman's war, and he steeled himself for the worst.
But the Zeros didn't shoot. The nearest pilot simply pulled back his canopy and looked at them closely. Circling, the planes made a second run, and again held their fire. As they circled for a third run, they got off a few short bursts, and Kelly felt sure that this time would be "it". As they roared by, practically touching the water, the lead pilot grinned, waved, waggled his wings…and then they were gone.
The Zero pilots could have machine gunned the survivors, but didn't. Perhaps they thought "Why waste ammunition?" But, then why wave and waggle?
The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World was launched simultaneously on 11 November 2011 at several locations around the world.
The aim of this Charter is to create a worldwide movement to end violence in all its forms. The People’s Charter will give voice to the millions of ordinary people around the world who want an end to war, oppression, environmental destruction and violence of all kinds. We hope that this Charter will support and unite the courageous nonviolent struggles of ordinary people all over the world.
As you will see, The People’s Charter describes very thoroughly the major forms of violence in the world. It also presents a strategy to end this violence.
We can each play a part in stopping violence and in creating a peaceful and just world. Some of us will focus on reducing our consumption, some of us will parent our children in a way that fosters children’s safety and empowerment, some of us will use nonviolent resistance in the face of military violence. Everyone’s contribution is important and needed. We hope this Charter will be a springboard for us all to take steps to create a peaceful and just world, however small and humble these steps may be. By listening to the deep truth of ourselves, each other and the Earth, each one of us can find our own unique way to help create this nonviolent world.
Why did we choose 11 November as the date to launch The People’s Charter?
‘When I was a boy … all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was at that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields at that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.’
(Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an atheist humanist, in his novel Breakfast of Champions.)
So far, the organising groups in various locations have organised launch events in their localities around the world. Some groups are organising follow-up events so that other people have the chance to become involved in local, personal networks.
See ‘Future Events’ for information about the next public event nearest you.
Signing the Charter
The People’s Charter can be read and signed online: click on ‘Read Charter’ or ‘Sign Charter’ in the sidebar.
‘A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’ Mohandas K. Gandhi
By Dan DeWalt
Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill [Carl Levin's S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being detained by our own military. If the government decides that you are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you're being held.
This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."
Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, who was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by a military court on 14 December 2011 following a re-trial, escalated his hunger strike on 18 December after more than 115 days. Previously, he had been drinking fruit juice with dairy, but since 18 December, he is only drinking water. With his hunger strike, he is demanding his release from prison.
By John Grant
Ft. Meade -- Saturday, December 17th was Bradley Manning’s 24th birthday, and at least 300 supporters gathered outside Fort Meade, Maryland, where the military was in its second day of a preliminary hearing process that’s expected to take about a week. Manning worked in military intelligence and is alleged to have released military secrets to WikiLeaks, which released the material publicly.
Local Newspaper The Hook Makes Me Runner Up Person of Year for Chasing Dick Cheney Away - Gotta Love Charlottesville
When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney's arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. "Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, warisacrime.org. Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney's visit would be postponed for "personal reasons" and that he'd reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.
Occupy Washington, DC Occupies Senator Levin's Office to Protest Defense Authorization
Focus of Protest is the Use of the Military Against U.S. Citizens Within the United States
Protesters from OccupyWashingtonDC.org will sit-in Sen. Carl Levin's Office (269 Russell Office Building) at 2:00 today.
The protest is against provisions of the Defense Authorization that allow the use of the military inside the United States. The provisions allow military detention without any finding of guilt, without a hearing in civil court, and apply to U.S. citizens and legal residents.
By David Lindorff Sr.
"We Are Many" shows how mobilization in 2003 set stage for Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street
Dec 8, 2011 - On Feb. 15, 2003, the planet experienced the greatest single non-military mobilization of humanity in the history of the world. People in 800 cities (and Antarctica) marched to voice their opposition as George Bush’s countdown clock ticked away the days toward the threatened U.S. invasion of Iraq. Estimates of the total numbers of protesters vary widely but it seems plausible that 15 million took to the streets.
Please take some time to look through the new website of the new National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy: www.studentprivacy.org
I've just joined the board because I believe a great deal of good can be done.
The National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy is a one-trick pony and that trick is the ASVAB Campaign. In short, we call for the universal selection of Option 8 for students taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB in high schools across the country, thereby prohibiting the automatic release of test data to military recruiting services.
Sounds pretty obscure and technical, I suppose. But this is a relatively easy and proven model of denying the U.S. military what it needs in order to kill our young people by using them to kill others. Namely, it denies the military the illegal right to violate the privacy of our young people in furthering its recruitment efforts.
The website provides a detailed discussion of the insidious nature of the military's testing regime and provides a way for activists like you to contribute to its demise. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program is a fraudulent, criminal DoD venture that deceives the American public and violates state laws designed to protect the privacy of youth. We're going to bring it down with a disciplined, nuanced campaign that appeals to the most moderate of policymakers.
There's a tremendous amount of work to do. For instance, 10,000 kids in 142 Arkansas high schools are required to take the ASVAB without parental consent, and all of their data is used to recruit them. "We've always done it that way and no one has ever complained," explained one school counselor.
We're organizing a national complaint and we're succeeding. Across the country, the selection of ASVAB Option 8 has climbed from less than 1% in 2005 (our estimate) to 4.4% in 2007 to 8.6% in 2009 to 12.2% in 2010. The new data we're expecting through our most recent FOIA will show a substantial increase in the percentage of students taking the test under Option 8, reflecting two states and several hundred more schools and school systems that have moved to protect student privacy.
The website contains the most recent test data so you can select your state and find high schools in your community that allow the Pentagon to test children. You can also see how your state stacks up with the others, in terms of the numbers tested, those who are required to take the test, and the percentages of students who take the ASVAB under Option 8.
In addition, the website describes the national campaign in detail. It provides links to information pertaining to ASVAB testing in Catholic schools, military documents relevant to the student testing program, and legislative resources.
Most importantly, the site provides a template letter for you to email to your state's superintendent of schools and school board members. Quite frequently, educational policy makers don't know the option exists to allow the testing while keeping results away from recruiters. The letter sites the statistics released by USMEPCOM and calls for the universal selection of Option 8. Contact us and we'll send you a letter already containing your state's statistics, etc. and the email addresses of officials. We're working to include that information on the site.
If you've read this far you probably see potential in this campaign. Could you help us by contributing a few dollars? Support NCPSP Also, could you forward this to others who you think might be in a position to financially support our work? We want to raise funds to hire help.
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog. - Jack London
By Dave Lindorff
Word that the Los Angeles Police, who sent in 1200 officers in riot gear to violently rout a few hundred Occupy Movement demonstrators from their LA encampment last week, had earlier sent 12 undercover young officers into the peaceful occupation camp to spy on the activists should come as no surprise.
DeWitt, N.Y. — DeWitt Town Justice David Gideon ruled Thursday night that 31 protesters were guilty on two charges of disorderly conduct.
But, Gideon said, he spent “many a sleepless night” before making his decision and that he learned a great deal during the five-day nonjury trial, which ended Nov. 5.
The defendants were among 38 people arrested April 22 after they participated in a “die-in” at the main entrance of the New York Air National Guard Base at Hancock Field to protest the MQ-9 Reaper drones, which the 174th Fighter Wing of the guard has been remotely flying over Afghanistan, from Syracuse, since late 2009.
Fred McRoberts, assigned by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute the case, asked the judge to sentence the defendants to 15 days in jail. Instead, Gideon gave no jail time to most of the defendants along with 20 or 25 hours of community service and $250 fines, plus a $125 state surcharge.
The defendants — with the help of testimony by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark — had argued that they should not be prosecuted for their actions. Instead, they should be applauded for trying to block the use of drones from which the United States fires on sovereign nations and uses to kill innocent civilians, in violation of international law, they said.
These are important victories and important lessons to those encampments voluntarily shutting down at the behest of police.
By Lori Spencer
This is Part II of a series of reports from our traveling correspondent in the American heartland. Part Icovered the arrest of 10 Occupy OKC protesters as they “mic checked” a local Walmart on Black Friday. Part II takes them through 13 hours in an Oklahoma jail. Part III will culminate in the occupiers' final standoff against police as they face a forceful eviction from Poet's Park.
By Linn Washington Jr.
London -- Standing on a picket line in front of her work place at a world renowned heart-lung hospital in London wasn’t Jeanette Anderson’s first choice for how to spend her day.