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Prisoners risking death by refusing food in the Pelican Bay supermax, and those hunger striking in solidarity in prisons around California are a judgment of our sickness. "The degree of civilization in a society," said Dostoyevsky, "can be judged by entering its prisons."
Civilization is something we no longer seem to aspire to. The United States locks up more people and a greater percentage of its people than anyone else. We lock them in training centers for anger and violence. We subject them to rape, assault, humiliation, and isolation. We throw the innocent in with the guilty, the young with the old, the nonviolent with the violent, the hopeful with those who've lost all interest in life.
The French boat "Dignité/Karama" (Dignity) left the Greek island Kastellorizo around 8:30PM local time on Saturday July 16, 2011, heading south. The ten passengers onboard view themselves as representatives of the whole Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human. The rest of the Flotilla's ships have been detained in different Greek ports, through bureaucratic obstruction, sabotage, sudden restrictions and withdrawals of flags.
The Dignité, sailing under a French flag, left Corsica on June 25th, and has, over the past weeks, been in Greek waters. It has now left- so far without being followed by the Greek coast guard or Navy.
July 17, 2011 - This Sunday, July 17, 2011, marks the 13th International Justice Day, commemorating the adoption of the Rome Statute, the document that established the International Criminal Court.
Melissa Kaplan, Deputy Director of Government Relations at Citizens for Global Solutions and Coordinator of the Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court (WICC) said,
I have very tragic news to report from Jeju Island South Korea.At the crack of dawn on Thursday, undercover police officers came to Gangjeong village and arrested three major leaders of the peaceful resistance: Village Chief Kang Dong-Kyun, renowned peace activist Brother Song Kang-Ho, and base opposition leader Ko Kwon-Il.The South Korean Navy (ROKN) and Minister of Justice Lee Gui Nam also issued a notice to Gangjeong village leader Kang Dong-Kyun and 76 other villagers and peace activists. This notice is a threat to these 77 individuals and civil society organizations for disturbing the construction of the naval base.
Book Review by Gar Smith
It’s a good sign when the testimonials on the back of a 440-page autobiography include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Ed Asner and Martin Sheen. But that only hints at the praise directed at S. Brian Willson’s long-awaited memoir. The testimonials continue on the inside — for another seven pages — and include plaudits from Cindy Sheehan, William Blum, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Solomon, Peter Dale Scott, Cynthia McKinney and Country Joe McDonald.
This whopping epic (published by Oakland’s feisty PM Press) tells the story of a Vietnam-era soldier who entered the war as a red-blooded small-town recruit and emerged as a die-hard dissident, driven to expose and oppose not only warfare in general but also the US’ unique role in spreading military terror around the world.
Willson returned home to become a leading war resister — a man whose dogged determination to confront the war machine lead him to fast on the steps of the US capital and eventually cost him both legs — severed on September 1, 1987, when he was run over by an ammunitions-filled locomotive on the first day of a nonviolent protest on the railroad tracks leading to the Concord Weapons Station.
By John Grant
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? ... You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.
--Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
Lately, I find myself reading “noir” crime fiction and thinking about the genre as a way to explain the world. It may have something to do with the fact I’m an American critical of my government and losing hope that positive change is even possible. As hope evaporates, there seems less and less space between political reality and the criminal underworld. Or maybe it's the obverse of a militarist obsession with Tom Clancy and War On Terror thrillers.
The adherents of wealth, power and violence seem so entrenched and in control that those without power become doomed to ineffectual marginalization and, if they poke their heads up too far, in danger of having their intentions and actions criminalized.
Multiple Wars are Symptoms of the Need to Escape the Quagmire of Empire
By Kevin Zeese
I can't remember a time when the U.S. military has been stuck in so many war quagmires at once. Libya seems destined to fail unless the U.S. gets a lucky shot and kills Gaddafi. U.S. militarists are openly maneuvering to stay in Iraq -- the war Obama told us was over. Relations with nuclear-armed Pakistan are at their lowest levels ever. And, Afghanistan is getting worse with Obama’s minimal, slow withdrawal looking more like staying than leaving.
Charges of "Disorderly Conduct-Blocking Passage" Not Presented in Timely Fashion by Prosecution
Washington, DC—The pro se trial scheduled to begin today for 19 peace activists – including members of Veterans for Peace and one World War II veteran – stemmed from arrests made on March 19, 2011, on the sidewalk near the White House, and has been postponed after the two sides disagreed on the version of the law that should be used in the trial.
DC Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan continued the trial until 9:30 am, Monday, August 29, 2011 – only after defense attorneys Ann Wilcox and Deborah C. Anderson raised concerns that Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Tamara Barnett, brought forth new charges just days before the start of the trial date. The judge was concerned that the defendants had not been properly arraigned and notified of these charges.
By Ann Wright
This morning at 10am, the shore electricity was cut off to the Audacity of Hope, the US Boat to Gaza , that has been impounded at the US Embassy/Greek Coast Guard dock, near Piraeus, Greece, just outside of Athens.
Its over 100 degrees and a Russian grain ship loading grain is spewing grain and dust over the entire.area-it is miserable! Six women that are staying onboard to protect the boat' four are over 60 years old.
The Greek Coast Guard is probably caught in the middle--they are probably ready to release us, but the political part of the government wants to keep us in port to suck up to the Israeli government even more!.
Call the Greek Embassy in Washington and .the Greek consulates around the Country and the State Department-Kim Richter Write a text message 202-647-8308
Embassy of Greece
2217 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Consulate General - New York
69 East 79th Street
How often have we been told that we can't have a serious nonviolent movement resisting our government's destructive path as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?
How often have we been told that we can't back third-party candidates as long as the Democrats are better than the Republicans?
This week has seen an inordinate number of realizations that the Democrats are as bad as or worse than the Republicans. And what has the response been?
Activist groups are proposing not to donate money to President Barack Obama. Some have even suggested declining to volunteer for him. Most responses have been even weaker than that. Citizens have transformed themselves into pundits and announced that Obama will not be reelected.
On Monday, July 11, 2011, nineteen veterans, members of Catholic Worker and other long-time peace activists will have a pro se trial in DC Superior Court, stemming from arrests on the White House sidewalk March 19, 2011, the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
After the 8:00 a.m. press conference, they will then proceed to a trial, which will be held in Courtroom 313 of DC Superior Court.
The March 19 action raised issues of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cost of the war to American society, and the continued detention of whistleblower Bradley Manning. One hundred thirteen persons were arrested on the White House sidewalk by US Park Police, and 19 of those will proceed to a trial on charges of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order and Unlawful Assembly-Disorderly Conduct.
By Dave Lindorff
In ways little and huge, it is clear that we live in a nation, a culture and a society that is terminally ill.
The latest outrage -- the likely execution of a Mexican convicted in Texas of the brutal slaying of a 16-year-old girl in blatant violation of a universally adopted international treaty that requires that as a foreigner he be able to notify his home country’s consulate of his case -- is evidence of this sickness, which appears to have both physical and mental aspects.
As a journalist I have traveled widely in the world, often in police states like China or Laos, and I have always trusted in the fact that if I ran afoul of those police, at least I could count on the fact that the authorities would be legally bound to notify my embassy, so that I could get international attention and, hopefully, legal assistance.
This Friday, July 8, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are planning to fly to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport in a display of solidarity with Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
According to organisers, at least 500 people have already scheduled flights to Israel, including Palestinians that will fly from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa.
Strike Could Involve Thousands of Prisoners
Press Contact: Isaac Ontiveros
Prison Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition
Office: 510 444 0484
Cell: 510 517 6612
Oakland— More than 100 hours into an indefinite hunger strike started at Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit, prisoners in at least 6 state prisons have joined in, with participation potentially growing into the thousands. Hunger strikers at Pelican Bay and other prisoners participating are protesting the conditions in the Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit (SHU).
Dozens of U.S.-based and international human rights organizations have condemned Security Housing Units as having cruel, inhumane, and torturous conditions. SHU prisoners are kept in windowless, 6 by 10 foot cells, 23½ hours a day, for years at a time. The CDCR operates four Security Housing Units in its system at Corcoran, California Correctional Institution (CCI), Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) as well as Pelican Bay.
'Thirty captains' on intercepted Canadian boat for Gaza
Thirty pro-Palestinian activists on a Canadian boat bound for Gaza that was stopped out of a Greek port Monday for breaking a ban, defied authorities by claiming they had all captained the ship.
By Dave Lindorff
Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that the nation’s founders, gathered in Philadelphia a few miles from my house (which as it happens was already standing and about 28 years old already at the time), at great personal risk, signed the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing declaration that all men--Americans and everyone else, too--are born equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Five years ago at this time, I was just starting my road trip promoting my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), which documents the wholesale assault, by then President George W. Bush, and his chief consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney, on those bold concepts and on the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights which those same founders set up as the guiding principles of this nation.
By Nick Mottern
The morning sky was blue and cloudless on Monday, June 27, 2011 as Gayle Dunkelberger, Bennett Weiss and I stood on the entry road to West Point’s Stony Lonesome Gate to greet the cadet Class of 2015 on R-Day, reception day, as they arrived with family and friends to be inducted into the Army and US military culture.
It was a beautiful day as the rising sun brought long, diminishing shadows from the woods along the road and lit the grass and trees on the surrounding hillsides to brilliant greens. It was a perfect day for young men and women to embark on a college career that also carries with it the glory attached to military service and the benefits that might accrue from being an officer graduated from the most famous military school in the United States.
U.S. Boat to Gaza Seized by Greek Authorities
and Captain Jailed
Passengers Determined to Free Captain
and Set Sail Again
Athens--After a two hour stand off at sea, the U.S. Boat to Gaza - The Audacity of Hope - was seized by the Greek Coast Guard and forced to return to the port of Piraeus under military escort. The boat's captain has been put in jail, charged with disturbing sea traffic--which includes endangering the lives of those on the ships-- and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. The crew is being detained on the boat, which is being held at a military dock just outside Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the captain and crew.
By John Grant
Israel and its international operatives are working overtime to stop the 10-ship Gaza flotilla from leaving Athens. The Audacity Of Hope, with 40 Americans on board, tried to leave the harbor Friday only to be chased down and threatened by an armed Greek Coast Guard boat and forced to return to a dock. Trumped-up charges may be brought against the captain of the boat. Greece is now prohibiting all boats from leaving. Another boat had a propeller shaft cut and a third was equally disabled by some kind of sabotage. Others have suddenly been plagued with questions about their insurance or their seaworthiness. Israel has openly threatened to bar news organizations with reporters onboard a flotilla boat from entering Israel for ten years. The US government has made vague threats that it might charge US citizens in the flotilla with something.
One of the most important foreign policy statements of the year came from Ehud Barak, Israel’s Defense Minister, on May 16. Responding to non-violent protests at Israeli borders and military posts, he said, “The Palestinians' transition from terrorism and suicide bombings to deliberately unarmed mass demonstrations is a transition that will present us with difficult challenges.”
In spite of Obama’s campaign promises to close Guantanamo, and in spite of the fact that he signed an executive order to close the prison on his second day in office, Guantanamo remains open. There are still 170 men illegally detained there. Most of them are innocent of any wrong-doing and have been cleared for release by our government. Yet they have no hope of ever being charged with any crime, having a trial, and worst of all, no hope of ever being released and reunited with their loved ones. They were tortured under the Bush Administration. Though torture may not continue in the same way under the Obama Administration, being held indefinitely with no hope of ever again holding your loved ones in your arms, looking into their eyes, building a life together – that would be torture.
Urgent posting on behalf of Kathy Kelly, who is now on the US Boat to Gaza.
June 27, 2011
Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training. We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, "The Audacity of Hope." Our team, and nine other ships' crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans. The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza's sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza's economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel's staunchest ally.
By John Grant
Two veteran friends of mine will be on one of the ships planning to leave Athens next week to challenge the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza. The Israeli government, after attacking a previous flotilla in May 2010 and killing nine people, has said it will use violence if necessary to prevent the ships from entering what any reasonable person by now should agree are Palestinian waters.
This confrontation should not be necessary. The Israeli military occupation over Palestinian life should have been eased and sovereign rights established for Palestinians long ago. The crisis of Palestinian status has reached the level of a disaster, and like the creation of Israel itself it is more than a Jewish problem: It is a world problem.
Fifty years ago, freedom riders traveled by bus into the U.S. South. Now American freedom riders are joining their allies from around the world on a flotilla bound for Gaza. The U.S. ship is called The Audacity of Hope.
The heroes on this ship have pledged to sail unarmed and to refuse to use violence. The Israeli military, which continues to illegally blockade Gaza, causing endless suffering to the Gazan people, has pledged to use violent force to prevent the ships getting through.
Last May, the Israeli military, in international waters, illegally boarded another ship on a similar mission, the Mavi Marmara, killing nine people, including one American, and wounding dozens. Israel claimed, in its defense, that the Mavi Marmara carried no humanitarian aid, that all such supplies were on other ships in the flotilla.
The 36 American passengers (plus 4 crew and 10 members of the press) on board The Audacity of Hope have publicly stated that they will carry only letters: "thousands of letters of support and friendship from people throughout the U.S. to the women, children and men of Gaza."
This selfless courage will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with these freedom riders. Some of the ones I know best and am deeply concerned for the safety of are Ann Wright, Ray McGovern, Kathy Kelly, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland. These are people who habitually take risks for others. One comes to expect it of them, but also to expect them to always be there doing it. Robert Naiman will be on this ship, and Alice Walker, and Hedy Epstein. Below are videos of 17 of these heroes explaining why they are going.
The Freedom Riders of 1961 asked the U.S. government to protect them. Its efforts to do so were too little too late. The Freedom Riders of 2011 have also asked the U.S. government to protect them, and thus far received no such commitment. We can ask the U.S. State Department to ask Israel (recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. weaponry every year) not to assault this flotilla, and to allow those transporting aid and letters of good will to reach the suffering people of Gaza unharmed.
CONTACT THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
You have urged our fellow citizens not to participate in an unarmed nonviolent humanitarian mission to Gaza by sea.
But have you urged Israel not to interfere with ships in international waters?
Have you urged Israel not to harm unarmed activists engaged in an actual humanitarian mission, the very thing your government pretends its wars are?
Have you urged Israel to lift the illegal and murderous blockade of Gaza?
We encourage you to take these steps to ensure the safety of Americans on board The Audacity of Hope sailing for Gaza in the Freedom Flotilla. And we encourage you to pressure Israel in the way that only a nation providing Israel with billions of dollars worth of weapons every year can, by threatening to cut them off.
We look forward to your response.
Videos and other resources at the same link.
The White House has just announced that the U.S. will host a major international meeting of NATO, the US-commanded and financed 28-nation military alliance, in Chicago from May 15 to May 22, 2012. It was further announced that at the same time and place, there will be a summit of the G-8 world powers. The meetings are expected to draw heads of state, generals and countless others.
At a day-long meeting in New York City on Saturday, June 18, the United National Antiwar Committee’s national coordinating committee of 69 participants, representing, 47 organizations, unanimously passed a resolution to call for action at the upcoming NATO meeting.
UNAC is determined to mount a massive united outpouring in Chicago during the NATO gathering to put forth demands opposing endless wars and calling for billions spent on war and destruction be spent instead on people’s needs for jobs, health care, housing and education.
CHALLENGE THE NATO WAR MAKERS
Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October2011 Movement. This fusion of peace, social justice, environmental, student, and immigrant rights organizations is in solidarity with all who seek a peaceful, just, and sustainable future and stands ready to engage in its own campaign of nonviolent resistance beginning in Washington, D.C., this October. We recognize that your revolution is our revolution, that American Empire prevents you from achieving self-determination and economic justice, and that only together can we achieve our shared goals.