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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.
Remembering Brian Haw - by Stephen Lendman
Early morning June 18, lung cancer claimed 62 year old UK anti-war activist Haw after a long battle, a man London Independent contributor Mark Wallinger called "the conscience of the nation grown quiescent."
His family left a message, saying: "He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight," ending three months of treatment in Germany. His long vigil, in fact, contributed to his poor heath. It also led to a divorce and largely separated him from his seven children.
After others stopped protesting America's Afghan and Iraq wars, Brian was steadfast against his own government's complicity. In fact, from June 2001, months before 9/11, he camped out in London's Parliament Square against the UN's appalling economic sanctions. They got former UN representative for Iraq's Oil and Food program Denis Halliday to resign for being asked to commit the equivalent of genocide, killing 5,000 children monthly.
We're years behind Tunisia and Egypt in public understanding of how government of, by, and for the people works, but some in the United States have been inspired and begun forming a path that has real potential. In New York City, students, academics, activists, and workers have joined together to resist the global-national-local agenda of plutocracy being pushed by Mayor Bloomberg.
The numbers are small, but the alliance joining workers with students important. And the approach is exactly right. This group is attempting to interfere with the work of City Hall until City Hall comes to represent the people of New York City. And they are attempting to do this, not for an hour or a day, but until they are satisfied that the tide is turning in a better direction.
See this blog: http://bloombergvillenow.org
And this one: http://nocutsny.wordpress.com
And this one: http://www.nycisnot4sale.com
Netroots Nation has yet to admit there are wars and would never include a discussion of nonviolent resistance to the U.S. government's crimes, but the Arab Spring has not only removed dictators; it has also penetrated Netroots Nation with this panel:
Video: Nonviolent protest in Barcelona infiltrated by violent provocateurs, police respond with violence against peaceful protesters and are then obliged to escort their provocateurs to safety
By John Grant
Some years ago, I was photographing a constitutional law professor for a magazine article on his book, and while I composed my shots I employed the usual half-minded topical banter to keep things on course. The professor was pretty progressive and knew I was a veteran antiwar activist. I was muttering something about constitutional rights.
In the lens, I noticed him chuckling at something, so I pulled my eye away from the camera and looked at him. He was grinning now.
“John, you know they abrogated the Constitution long ago,” he said, his tone a bit patronizing but also mixed with camaraderie and humor.
“Oh, yeh!” I said. “I forgot about that.” We both laughed, and I went on with the shoot.
I couldn’t help thinking about that conversation as I read the story in The New York Times about the new powers being given to individual FBI agents to snoop on citizens they subjectively deem dangerous.
Exciting times over here, to say the least! The June 14th Flag Day Rebellion against economic tyranny is growing much stronger and more rapidly than anticipated. As a small part of a decentralized movement, it’s hard to measure the overall impact, but my email inbox is exploding with support and interest. This movement is definitely succeeding in uniting people from all over the political spectrum. Hardcore progressives and libertarians have found common cause. Liberals who are sick of “spineless Democrats.” Conservatives who have had enough of “crony-capitalist and imperial Republicans.” Apolitical people who are sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to get by. The foreclosed upon. The unemployed. People desperately surviving off of food stamps.
A Global Day of Action Set for November 26, 2011
by Stephanie Westbrook
This past weekend in the Montpellier, France, over 100 activists from 9 countries gathered for the first ever European Forum Against Agrexco. Delegates from Italy, UK, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Palestine joined the French organizers for two full days of workshops aimed at strengthening the boycott campaign against the Israeli agricultural export giant.
Agrexco is Israel's largest fresh produce exporter and European markets account for the vast majority of their sales under the brand Carmel. The Israeli government's 50% stake in the company as well as their marketing of 60-70% of the fruit and vegetables grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have made Agrexco a prime strategic target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
By Dave Lindorff
Federal Judge Filipe Restrepo, a man with a solid history as a defender of civil liberties and civil rights, and a defense attorney by training and private practice experience, seems sadly to have gotten a bit thin-skinned after donning the robes of a federal judge.
As my colleague Linn Washington wrote earlier this week, the judge lost it when Hampton Coleman had the effrontery to write a 28-word letter to Restrepo questioning the judge’s integrity and his commitment to “blind justice,” and warning that “we the people” would be “watching and listening very carefully” to the judge.
Feed the hungry, get arrested. Repeat.
When other nations' governments go off track, their people do something about it. In Tunisia and Egypt people have nonviolently claimed power in a way that has inspired Americans in Wisconsin and other states, as well as the people of Spain and the rest of the world.
Washington, D.C., is the weakest point in our democracy, without which state-level reform cannot succeed. Most Americans want our wars ended, our corporations and billionaires taxed, and our rights expanded rather than curtailed. We want our money invested in jobs and green energy, not a global military that can't stop itself. Our government in Washington goes in the opposite direction, opposing popular will on these major issues, regardless of personality or party.
The big banks have sold us out.
Democrats and Republicans have sold us out.
No one is defending our interests.
Our future is going up in flames.
It’s time for us to stand up and defend ourselves.
Trillions of dollars in fraudulent activity by the big banks on Wall Street caused our current economic crisis. Paid off politicians from both parties, along with secret deals made by the Federal Reserve, gave trillions of taxpayer dollars and subsidies to the very people who caused our crisis. After taking our tax dollars, they had the audacity to give themselves all-time recording-breaking bonuses and consolidate wealth in unprecedented fashion within the economic top 0.01% of the population.
By Bruce Gagnon
A weak and thin Yang Yoon-Mo (right) released from jail after 60 day hunger strike
Gloria Steinem bows along the Gangjeong coastProfessor Yang was released from jail today. He was sentenced to one and one-half years in jail with a suspended sentence but with two years probation. There can be no doubt that the international outcry on his behalf has helped spring him from the jailhouse.
Regina Pyon, staff person at SPARK in South Korea, reports, "Yang didn't mention yet about his hunger strike. The first word he spoke was 'Is Gangjeong peaceful?' and 'My struggle will be continued to the end. Gangjeong villagers are the teacher who led me to the road of justice.'
Sung-Hee Choi will go on trial June 10. She has ended her hunger strike and urges others to end their hunger strikes at this time.
We are thrilled at the release of Professor Yang Yoon-Mo but deplore the strict conditions of a two year probation which is obviously intended to silence him politically.
Our plan to send MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island on behalf of the Global Network remains in place. She will be there for the June 10 trial of fellow Global Network board member Sung-Hee. People are already responding to our fund appeal to pay for her travel. We must not let our voices die down now. People must continue to spread news about Jeju Island and keep the heat on to halt the Navy base construction.
American feminist activist Gloria Steinem visited the Gangjeong village in recent days along with a delegation of Korean women. I am certain that her visit was a huge lift to the villagers who have been working so hard for the past four years to bring this issue to the world's attention.
We are so proud of our friends in Gangjeong village and all the South Korean activists who have worked so hard to support them. It is an honor for us to work together in this good struggle for peace.
Many NGOs in South Korea launched the "Korean National Committee against Jeju Naval Base Construction" on June 1. They plan to hold a press conference on June 8 and are requesting that international activists send a joint statement for the news conference. We will begin now to put that statement together. Let me know if your organization would like to be listed as a signatory on this basic statement of our support for the Gangjeong village struggle against the Navy base.
We will keep you posted as we get more news about Yang and Sung-Hee. Thanks for keeping up with all this.
By Ken Ferguson
Cupar, Scotland--This county town of Fife, is not exactly a news hot spot. Probably the last big story here was the landing of Italian
balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi nearby in 1785 at the end of a 43-mile flight from
However the small town’s sleepy Sheriff court is about to host a key
legal case involving a US student from New York and two anti Israeli
protestors who have been charged with racism.
For the information of US readers, in Scotland the Sheriff isn’t some John Wayne figure with the star on his chest, but is rather the bewigged judge presiding over the local court.
This case centers on an incident at nearby St. Andrews University, where
two students are facing racially aggravated conduct charges after
allegedly making comments and gestures critical of the State of Israel
and its flag.
Press reports are already in danger of prejudging the case, with
Memorial and Veterans Day Hypocrisy - by Stephen Lendman
Annually America's warrior tradition is commemorated in major media editorials and op-eds, honoring fallen men and women for reasons not explained. More on that below.
On May 29, The New York Times headlined, "Among the Graves This Memorial Day," saying:
Besides families mourning soldiers "recently lost in Iraq or Afghanistan....(t)here is still a generation mourning friends, relatives and fellow servicemen lost in Vietnam, Korea and World War II...."
"Whatever you make of the wars in which those soldiers fought, whatever you make of war itself, their sacrifices are real and permanent," omitting what most needs explained about imperial arrogance responsibility for lost lives.
The Chicago Tribune headlined, "Hoist a glass for Red," saying:
By Anthony Scott, Killeen Daily Herald
Out of protest against the deployment of soldiers with mental injuries to war, Iraq Veterans Against the War teamed up with Under the Hood Outreach Center and Cafe to set up a watchtower outside Fort Hood's East Gate.
The protesters stood their ground all day Thursday, from start to finish of the post's entire duty day. As cars went by, some passengers honked and shouted.
"We built a tower and the tower's based on putting (III Corps and Fort Hood Commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell Jr.) accountable to all the suicides that are happening at Fort Hood and to all the soldiers not getting the proper (mental health) treatment that they need," said Kyle Wesolowski, an Iraq war veteran who recently left the Army with a conscientious objector discharge.
Wesolowski toured Iraq from 2008-09 with the 1st Cavalry Division and is now the manager at Under The Hood Cafe, an outreach center for soldiers.
"We're going to leave him accountable for all of these things now and until the future," he said. "Now we're trying to talk to (Campbell) to sit down with him. We've given him over 600 emails to be sent to him from our supporters from IVAW members alike."
Wesolowski said one of the things that needs to be done is let soldiers heal from mental health problems before deployment.
"A lot of soldiers are falling through the cracks," he said. "They're being redeployed to Iraq with many of these mental conditions."
The protest was part of Operation Recovery, an IVAW campaign to stop the deployment of traumatized troops.
Prior to the protest, the group went on post Wednesday morning to III Corps Headquarters and asked for a meeting with Campbell, said veteran and organizer Aaron Hughes.
"We were refused again," he said. "We're tired of being ignored."
Led by Wesolowski, a group of six of the veterans went to III Corps Headquarters and asked to meet with Campbell at the reception desk. The Army did not grant the request, said organizer Scott Kimball, a veteran who recounted the experience on the IVAW website.
Kimball said because they did not make contact with Campbell the group was putting him on watch.
The next day at the watch tower, Wesolowski led the crew of protesters by listing a number of complaints, including the fact that in 2009 more than 7,000 soldiers were on antidepressant or antipsychotic medication and military suicide rates increased 150 percent from 2001 to 2009.
Fort Hood also has the highest suicide rate of any Army post at 22 cases of suicide last year, nearly twice as many cases as any other post. Increased cases of military sexual trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury were also problems, he added.
"We believe they need to get the help they need," Wesolowski said. "To heal, and not be redeployed: That to me is an Army value. To respect every service member when they're in trouble."
Contact Anthony Scott at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.
I left the Wisconsin Capitol today (May 25, 2011) with a heavy heart after Walker signed into law one of the most oppressive voting rights laws in the country.
However, it lifts my spirits to see that the people of Wisconsin are continuing to act in resistance and we are not going to roll over and take whatever Walker wants to give us.
The Resistance in Obama Time
By BILL QUIGLEY, COUNTERPUNCH
Since President Obama was inaugurated, there have been over two thousand six hundred arrests of activists protesting in the US. Research shows over 670 people have been arrested in protests inside the US already in 2011, over 1290 were arrested in 2010, and 665 arrested in 2009. These figures certainly underestimate the number actually arrested as arrests in US protests are rarely covered by the mainstream media outlets which focus so intently on arrests of protestors in other countries.
Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the “moral force of non-violence” in places like Egypt and Tunisia.