You are hereNonviolent Resistance

Nonviolent Resistance


Occupy Beale AFB Anti-Drone Protestors to Put Drone Warfare on Trial


Beale AFB, April, 2013

TRIAL DATE:  Monday, Feb. 3, 9:00 am    

 We Need You There!  Contact for Bay Area Carpool:  510-215-5974

 
(Defendants:  Martha Hubert, Robin Ryan, Bill Doub and Toby Blome)

Where:   Sacramento, U.S. Courthouse, 50l  I St. 
8:00-9:00 am:   Pre-trial Anti-Drone Rally,  bring signs and visuals or help hold ours!
8:30am: press conference outside the courthouse 
9:00am:  Trial begins.  Courtroom supporters needed.

In April, 2013, 5 activists were arrested while attempting to deliver a letter to the Commander at Beale AFB during a nonviolent protest of drone warfare.  The letter was our attempt to hold accountable all military personnel and officials involved in the drone program, directly or indirectly, by charging them with crimes against humanity and violations of the law. (see full letter below).  Four of the defendants now face trespassing charges and a maximum of 6 months in jail.
 
While the defendants are likely to get community service and a fine, it is critical at this time to increase the public outcry over the brutality of drone warfare.  Please attend the pre-trial rally and join us in the courtroom as we attempt to put drone assassination on trial.  If you can't attend, please try to find someone who can be there in your place.  
WE MUST NOT BE SILENT.
In memory of the 13 wedding party attendants who were murdered in Yemen last December and all victims of illegal drone surveillance and attacks......may we one day GROUND THE DRONES for good!
 
 

OPEN LETTER TO BEALE AIR FORCE BASE PERSONEL (April 30, 2013)

 

We, the people, charge the US President, Barak Obama, and the full military chain of command, to Beale Air Force Base Commander Colonel Col. Phil Stewart, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, every drone crew, and service members at Beale Air Force Base, and every other U.S. base involved directly or indirectly with the U.S. drone program with crimes against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians.

US military and CIA Drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in the Middle East,  Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  In the name of combating terrorism against the U.S. we are terrorizing innocent people, and creating many more enemies and potential terrorists in the process.

Our government has become lawless powers, acting as judge, jury and executioner, just because it can.  The U.S. uses remote-controlled drones to kill women in their kitchens, elders meeting in their jirgas, mourners at funerals, and rescuers who try to help the wounded.  By most independent studies, the vast majority of those killed are civilians.

 

We therefore, demand:

(1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing

(2) A halt all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia

 (3) A prohibition on the sale, and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security and

(4) An immediate end to  this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.

79 year old peace activist jailed in Ireland

79 year old Irish peace activist Margaretta D'Arcy lay down on the runway of Shannon Airport to prevent U.S. war planes from using it as a stopover to the battlefield in Afghanistan.  When this feisty lady refused to sign away her right to protest, she was sentenced to serve a three month prison sentence, in spite of the fact that she suffers from Parkinsons disease and is being treated for cancer.  She has been at Limerick prison since January 16th, her supporters have been holding daily protests in Ireland, and supporters from Iceland, Britain, the U.S., and international organizations, notably the Global Women's Strike (GWS Ireland), are demanding her release.
 
I see this amazing woman as an inspiration much like our own sweet Father Louie Vitale, honest and fearless in condemning the needlessly vicious warmongering of the Pentagon and its Anglo, Israeli, and NATO cohorts.
 
Here are a few youtubes about Galway protests in support of Margaretta:
youtube clips re protests last Fri

 

 Here is a letter written by her son:
The Guardian, Monday 20 January 2014 21.00 GMT

My mother, the anti-war activist and writer Margaretta D'Arcy, is serving a three-month sentence in Limerick prison for trying to stop the violation of Irish neutrality by US military planes, which stop over at Shannon airport on the way to and from the war in Afghanistan. She took peaceful direct action to stop crime being committed by lying down on the runway of the airport. Margaretta, the widow of playwright John Arden, is 79 and undergoing treatment for cancer. Imprisoning her for an act of conscience is inhumane. I call upon the Irish government to release her immediately and for the British government to use its influence to secure her release. To keep her spirits up while she remains in prison, I urge readers to send cards c/o Limerick Prison, Mulgrave Street, Limerick, Ireland.
Jake Arden

Here is an excerpt from a statement by her colleagues:

...

We first met Margaretta at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp outside the US Air Force nuclear weapons base in Berkshire UK, where we lived during 1983/84.  Margaretta stayed there in the ’80s and ’90s, living outside for weeks at a time, helping maintain the camp’s presence and anti-war activities at Yellow (Main) Gate. Yellow Gate women fought and eventually won the fantastic legal victory that the base was illegal and the Common was restored to the people.
Invest in caring not killing!
Kay and Sian
(Orange Gate 1983-84) 
 
and finally I forward this:
 
Statement to the Press and the Public

We are outraged to learn that our dear sister and colleague Margaretta D’Arcy has been jailed – and for three months! – for protesting the use of the civilian airport at Shannon for US wars.  And we are deeply worried about her health and well-being as a cancer patient.  One of the many public services Ms D’Arcy has performed is to protest the Irish government’s many years of complicity in US war crimes and its destruction of Irish neutrality.  She has been dedicated to highlighting that the most devastating impact of war is on women and our children, both directly from the bombs that rain down on us, and by paying with our poverty for the horrendous weapons of massive destruction that surround us all.   
Ms D’Arcy is a veteran of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, which opposed the US military placing cruise missiles on common land in England, and won – the camp is no longer a military base.  To dissent from a perspective of permanent war and austerity, and demand the protection of life and the planet, is increasingly labeled subversive and even criminal behavior.  While war criminals are allowed to pass through Irish airports and financial criminals go unpunished, the Irish State in thrall to the US, UK, EU and IMF Masters of War has imprisoned a pensioner who has dedicated herself to highlighting and preventing war crimes.
An attack on courageous and principled Margaretta D’Arcy is an attack on us all.
We demand the immediate release of Margaretta D’Arcy.
Selma James                           
on behalf of Global Women’s Strike

Maggie Ronayne
on behalf of Global Women’s Strike, Ireland

There is access to an
online petition contact.ie/node/271
Comments can be registered at gws@globalwomenstrike.org
Updates are available from Clare Daly (Clare.Daly@Oireachtas.ie)

Thank you for sharing this story with any and all persons you can reach who are concerned with issues of free speech, social justice, and over all, peace.

Jeannette

Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Trial Continues This Week

Jan 23/24 - Thursday & Friday 5pm
Town of De Witt Court, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY.

The Hancock 17 trial began January 3, 2014 and will continue this week on January 23 and most likely January 24. Please come in support!

After 12 hours in the courtroom on January 3rd and 6th, the prosecution case is nearly complete. With one exception, the defendants are going pro se, which means that they are defending themselves. Their defense is based on the fact that they were not at the base to break the law, but rather to uphold the U.S. Constitution and international law. 

Listen to the powerful opening statements of Ed Kinane and Clare Grady at 
http://upstatedroneaction.org/wordpress/2014/01/11/opening-statements-of-hancock-17-defendants-jan-3/



It is expected that the defense case will begin Thursday, January 23, most likely continuing on the Friday the 24th. The defendants' case is supported by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, international law experts Francis Boyle and  Mary Ellen O'Connell, and a an Afghani man whose brother-in-law was killed in a drone strike. 

On October 25, 2012, they had been arrested for symbolically blocking the three gates at Hancock Air National Guard Base, from which MQ 9 Reaper drones are piloted over Afghanistan and where MQ9 Reaper pilots, sensor operators and technicians are trained. They stood in front of the gates with banners and and signs calling for an end to drone warfare, and read a Citizen's War Crimes Indictment to the base personnel. They called for an end of attacks on civilians that are illegal under international war. 
 
After more than two hours outside the gates, they were arrested and arraigned on charges of Trespass and Disorderly Conduct (both violations)  and  were issued  Orders of Protection for Col. Earl Evans which require them to stay away from the base (his place of work). Violating these Orders of Protection carries potential misdemeanor or even felony charges. 

Defendants:
Elliott Adams, Sharon Springs, NY                           
Judy Bello,  Rochester, NY                                        
Daniel Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY                               
Mark Colville, New Haven, CT                                     
Paul Frazier, Syr. & Rochester, NY                               
Clare Grady, Ithaca, NY                                                 
Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca, NY 
Martha Hennessy, New York, NY                                 
Brian Hynes, Bronx, NY                                                 
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY                                           
Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY                            
Andrea Levine, Trumansburg, NY                       
Michael Perry,Trumansburg, NY                              
James Ricks, Enfield, NY                                          
Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg,NY          
Patricia Weiland, Northampton, MA    

IRELAND: Jailed for Refusing to Be Silent – Peace Activist Margaretta D’Arcy

This is a repost from www.news-beacon-ireland.info. The article appered first on Shannonwatch.org.


 



 


Margaretta D’Arcy is not a war criminal. Nor is she a human rights abuser, or the commander of an invading army. But she has spent many years drawing attention to the fact that these type of people pass through Shannon Airport regularly. The legally and morally correct response from the Irish police would be to investigate this complicity in wrongdoing at Shannon. Instead they imprisoned 79 year old Margaretta because she wouldn’t promise to stay away from the airport.


 

Days Before Casselton Oil Train Explosion, Obama Signed Bill Hastening Fracking Permits on ND Public Lands

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On December 20, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed a little-noticed bill to expedite permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on public lands in the Bakken Shale basin, located predominantly in North Dakota. And on December 26, President Obama signed the bill into law. 

2014 and Beyond: Chaos or Community?

This is a cross-post from Transcend Media Services


 


Nonviolence vs. Nonexistence!


Nearly 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” That choice is becoming ever more profound as we enter the new year of 2014. For billions of people around the world, and for the earth itself, life is hanging by a thread. The choice is do we foster a world free of war, poverty, and climate crisis through non-violent action, or do we continue on the downward spiral toward nonexistence.

Dollarocracy: U.S. Congressmen Refuse to Address Keystone XL Southern Half Spill Concerns

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

What's the U.S. congressional response to the safety issues with the 485-mile southern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline raised by Public Citizen's Texas office? Mostly what Simon & Garfunkel called "The Sound of Silence" in their famous song.

Keystone XL Fork in the Road: TransCanada's Houston Lateral Pipeline

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Only Barack Obama knows the fate of the northern half of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  But in the meantime, TransCanada is preparing the southern half of the line to open for commercial operations on January 22.

Two cheers for Pope Francis: About Time American Idiocy and Paranoia over Marxism Got Called Out

By Dave Lindorff


So Pope Francis, the new pope who has conservative American Catholics, particularly those in politics and the media, freaked out because he is criticizing capitalist greed, knows Marxists who are "good people,"  and isn't upset to be labeled one of them, even though he says "Marxist ideology is wrong.".

Lobbying Elites: The Fast Track to Extinction

As we evaluate the outcomes of the recent UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, one lesson that we are invited to learn, again, relates to our strategy for getting effective action taken on the ongoing climate catastrophe and other critical environmental problems. Is lobbying elites to change their behaviour an effective strategy for change?

My experience, reinforced by decades of casual observation, is that lobbying elites is a complete waste of time and that a strategy that focuses on inviting ordinary individuals and groups to take action in the desired direction is far more effective. Why do I say this?

Why Don't We Try to Understand and End Human Violence?

The pre-eminent problem confronting humankind is human violence. It is our own violence, in its various guises, including the ongoing possibility of nuclear war and the ongoing devastation of the natural environment, that threaten to consign us to the fossil record within decades, if not sooner. And yet we devote virtually no effort to trying to understand human violence and to developing strategies to end it. Why?

4 Arrested at Beale Air Force Base while resisting drone warfare

Report Back: Occupy Beale AFB and Resisting Drones, November 2013



On November 25-26, we held our monthly vigil that included a surprise “pre-emptive peace response”

direct action on Tuesday morning against drone warfare at Beale Air Force Base. We were wearing

white clothes with blue scarves in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan who want peace.



 www.TheBlueScarf.org “The Blue Scarf represents the expansive blue sky we all share and has

become a global symbol for togetherness. It was set in motion by a brave group of women in

Afghanistan ready to be heard and is now being worn around the world as a way for people to

express their solidity as global citizens for a better world.”



On Monday afternoon, four of us from the Bay area went to the Doolittle Gate. There were another 6

at the Wheatland gate. Meeting at the main gate at 5:30pm, in the dark and cold, we were visited by a

security detail from the base during our potluck. They advised us of the nighttime cold. When Flora,

a local activist, arrived with MacGregor, we gladly accepted an offer of her warm house for the night.

After our potluck, we shared two birthday cakes to celebrate the completion of our 3rd year at Beale.

Three years ago this month, Toby, Martha, Lisa and Eleanor dared to come to Beale AFB in the dark of

the early November morning for the first drone warfare vigil. We have since had nearly 100 different

people join the vigil, 4 road blockades and numerous arrests. These past 3 years, many more people in

our country have become aware of the immoral use of drones against civilians, women and children in

other lands. As more and more innocents are being slaughtered by drones the outrage is intensifying.



On Tuesday morning, shortly after 5am we headed out to the Wheatland gate on S. Beale Rd., a heavily

used artery into the base. 12 of us were able to again block traffic into the base at the Wheatland

gate for over 30 minutes. Traffic had backed up for nearly a mile. We held out large banners with

messages of peace, including the beautiful drone victim quilt, with panels of paintings showing some

of the many children who have been murdered by drone warfare. The large NO DRONES light brigade

signs glowed brightly in the night. The vast majority of vehicles respected our blockade without physical

confrontation, but several irate motorists forced their way through the vigil. One dragged our drone

quilt and other visuals several hundred feet, and put one Veteran For Peace activist, John Reiger, at risk,

though luckily he was unharmed. (This led to a length discussion and learning experience for how to

deal with confrontational motorists: peacefully let them through). Not all of us were able to risk arrest,

thus we moved aside after Highway patrolman, Dan Yeager, arrived and gave several warnings. It is our

deepest hope that in that brief period of the morning, as the war machine was momentarily halted, that

maybe a human life in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere was saved.



Four of us, Shirley, Flora, Michael and MacGregor then walked about ½ mile down the road to the

waiting military police at the base boundary, McGregor handed over the vigil’s signed letter she

had prepared to the base commander demanding a halt in the base participation in the drone wars.

Michael, as a military veteran, told the soldiers he was there to speak on their behalf to condemn

the U.S. government for forcing our military personnel to be involved in war crimes against innocent

civilians. After waiting over 15 minutes for a representative of the commander, who never came, the

four of us walked onto the base and were immediately arrested. We were treated well and were

processed out just after 9am to the greetings of many of our fellow vigilers who had braved the cold

morning air another 2 hours to support us. We then closed our usual vigil with breakfast, debriefing

and planning for future drone resistance at the Brick Coffeehouse in Marysville. We will be back and we

hope you will join us the next time.



Written by Michael Kerr, Martha Hubert and Toby Blome

US Court Denies Halt on Pipeline Set to Replace Keystone XL Northern Half

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The ever-wise Yogi Berra once quipped "It's like déjà vu all over again," a truism applicable to a recent huge decision handed down by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 

The real criminal, our government, jails the real hero: The Hero and the Villains: the Jeremy Hammond Sentence

By Alfredo Lopez


This past Friday, Internet activist Jeremy Hammond stood in a federal courtroom and told Judge Loretta A. Preska why he released a trove of emails and other information uncovering the possibly illegal and certainly immoral collaboration of a major surveillance corporation called Stratfor with our government.

WHO IS THE REAL THREAT TO COMMUNITIES? Acting in resistance to killer drones

By Joy First, Mt. Horeb, WI

As our government continues the illegal and immoral killer drone program, terrorizing communities around the world, members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) continue our resistance.  As part of that resistance I was on trial with four other activists in US District Court in Alexandria,VA on October 22.  Joining me were Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski, Phil Runkel, and Janice Sevre-Duszynska.  Cindy Sheehan was also arrested with us, but was unable to attend the trial because of an illness.

We began our resistance against the CIA drone program when we filed a criminal complaint against the CIA with the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria, VA on May 23, 2013.  As citizen activists we are responsible for reporting crimes that we know are being committed.  So we went to the US Attorney’s office and we were able to meet with Assistant US Attorney Eugene Rossi.  He talked with us for about 40 minutes and accepted our complaint.  We then followed up with phone calls and emails to his office in our attempt to hold the CIA accountable for their crimes.  However, we did not receive any response. 

We decided to continue our resistance with a letter to CIA Director John Brennan.  In the letter we told him why we oppose the drones and we asked for a meeting to discuss our concerns.  When we didn’t get a response from him, we went to the CIA on June 29, 2013.  Our crime was to walk onto the CIA property with a copy of the unanswered letter in our hands and ask for a meeting with CIA officials.

We were arrested and charged with trespassing.  After some preliminary matters, including a motion filed for extended discovery (which was denied) our trial was scheduled for October 22.  We made plans to defend ourselves, pro se, and at about 10:00am on October 22 we walked into Judge Ivan Davis’ courtroom in the US District Court in Alexandria, VA as he was finishing up with another case.

As our case was called, we walked to the front of the courtroom, and the five of us crowded around the defense table.  I got ready to take notes on the proceedings, and as the trial began and the judge immediately began to chastise Max, the first words I wrote were “He’s scary”.  Right from the start he was very antagonistic and argumentative towards Max.  Max tried to argue again for extended discovery and the judge did not want to hear anything about it.

The prosecutor, US Attorney on special assignment from the CIA, Stacy Chaffin, gave a short opening statement and framed the case for the judge stating this was a simple case of trespass and that though we would try to bring the issue of drone warfare into the trial, this was only about us trespassing on CIA property on June 29.  It was not about drones, she emphasized.

Ms. Chaffin had one witness, Police Officer Davilla.  He said that we had a letter that we wanted to deliver, and it was accepted by an official with the CIA.  He said there was a mock air strike and the defendants fell across the police line and were allowed to lie there, but when they got up and moved forward he read us a warning and when we didn’t leave we were arrested. 

Max cross-examined Davilla and Ms. Chaffin objected to almost every question he asked with Judge Davis sustaining the objections.  Max asked if the letter that Davilla mentioned could be entered as evidence and the judge refused this request.  When questioned by Max, Davilla claimed he didn’t know that the mock air strike was supposed to be a simulated drone strike.  Malachy followed up, asking Davilla to read the police report.  In the police report, written by Davilla, it was noted that it was a mock drone strike.  The government was working hard to try to keep the word “drone” out of the proceedings.

Throughout the questioning of the government witness Judge Davis repeated over and over that what Max and Malachy were saying was not relevant.  He shut them down at every turn and seemed very angry. 

I took the stand as the first defense witness, and gave background information.  I said that I live in Mt. Horeb, WI.  I am a wife of 41 years, a mother of five, and a grandmother of six, with a seventh on the way.  I have my PhD in Women’s Studies.  Spending time with my grandchildren and doing the work I am involved in for peace and social justice are the things I spend most of my time on.  The two are very interconnected.  My grandchildren inspire me to do this work.  I said that I think about what kind of world my grandchildren will live in when they grow up and that makes me continue with this work.  I felt very overwhelmed by emotion as I talked about being a grandmother, and stated that as a grandmother I don’t just think of my own grandchildren, but I think of all the children of the world.  I want to spread my arms wide around all the children of the world and keep them safe.  I think about the children who are dying from drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other places around the world.  I am a member of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) and we have been acting in resistance to the illegal actions of our government since 2003.  We have done actions at the White House, the Pentagon, Congress, and the Department of Justice.  We write letters to both elected officials and government personnel about our concerns before each visit.  It has become clear that those in our government feel they are no longer accountable to the citizens of this country because we have never once gotten any kind of reply to any of our letters.  When we don’t get a response we follow up with a visit in person and have often been arrested simply for seeking a meeting with a government official.

The statute for trespassing states that unauthorized people are not allowed on the property, but under cross-examination I stated that I believed I was authorized to be there under the First Amendment and that I was obligated to be there under the principles that came out of Nuremberg.  I talked about what happened at the CIA on June 29 and was able to say that we were there because of our concerns that thousands of innocent people, including children, are dying as a result of our government’s illegal activities. 

After seeing the judges response to Max and Malachy, I was very surprised that he let me say all that I said. 

Janice took the stand next.  She talked about being a teacher and about how it is important to show children how to resolve conflict through mediation.  She testified that many of the children she taught in ESL classes were from war-torn countries and that she doesn’t want to see this kind of suffering anymore.  She stated that it is more than the US Constitution that gives her the right to do what she did on June 29, but that she has that right as a human being.

I gave the closing statement (see below) and then without any deliberation at all, the judge found us guilty.  I looked him right in the eye during the last sentence of my closing, “We ask that you please find us not guilty as charged and join us in working for peace and true justice in the world.” but he refused to open his heart to what we were saying.      

His arguments for the conviction were that there was police tape with the words “Do not cross” and this should have put us on notice.  He said that the defendants could argue that because they were allowed to be there, according police testimony and the police report, that meant they were authorized.  However when Officer Davilla read the warning that we should leave or we would be arrested, we should have know we would be arrested at that point and we should have left.  He argued that although the defendants said that we did not intend to break the law, this was not a crime of intent and so our intention was irrelevant.  He also said that Nuremberg does not apply because there were no international laws broken.  This was an astonishing statement to hear the judge make. 

Also unbelievable were statements made by Judge Davis that the Bill of Rights were irrelevant, Nuremberg was irrelevant, and drone strikes were irrelevant.  He said this is a court of law, not morality.

The prosecutor asked for unsupervised probation, reasoning that we were obviously nonviolent.  This was a surprise because she had told Max and Malachy at a pre-trial hearing that she would ask for supervised probation. 

All the defendants, except for me, gave moving sentencing statements.  I said what I needed to in the closing and didn’t need to say more, but I am glad the others were able to speak out so clearly about our need to be there and to be doing what we did.

The judge gave us one year unsupervised probation and said that we should not violate the law in that year or return to the CIA for protesting in an unauthorized fashion.  We would also be fined $300 plus court costs.

Malachy asked for clarification on the sentence because he vigils outside the gates of the CIA monthly.  The judge said that would be acceptable as long as he does not go onto CIA property. 

What happened next was something I have never seen before.  Judge Davis said that now that the whole thing was over he had a question he wanted to ask us just to satisfy his curiosity.  He said that all we tried to do all morning was to talk about drones, but what if there was a plane with a pilot who killed someone, would we be there?  Of course we would be there, we responded.  But what was the meaning of this question?  Was he putting us down and making fun of us?  Of course he knew how we would answer to that question.

On our way out of the courthouse we were required to check in at the probation office.  Though we have been on unsupervised probation, we have never had to do check in with the probation office before.  We were given a stack of forms to fill out and were surprised when we realized they wanted us to sign releases for access to medical, psychiatric, financial, educational, and jobs records.  Though we all know the government is spying on us and getting this information, we were not going to willingly submit and give our permission for this kind of serious intrusion of privacy.  After raising our concerns to the receptionist, we were able to talk to a supervisor who said we did not have to fill out the forms, but if they needed the information they would come after us.

The trial was two weeks ago.  It takes a lot out of you emotionally and physically, but in one week I will return to DC to ttend the CodePink drone summit.  NCNR is organizing an action of nonviolent civil resistance on Capitol Hill for Nov. 18 and then I will be traveling from DC to the SOA Watch in Georgia.  I will be so looking forward to returning home on Nov. 24 to spend the holidays with my family, even as I remember those who are not able to spend time with their loved ones because of the US drone attacks.

We filed for an appeal and we also filed a motion to stay the execution of the sentence pending the appeal.  I am feeling deeply conflicted about the year of probation with the order to not get arrested during that time or face the serious consequences of Judge Davis’ courtroom.  In the mail today I received a counter motion, for the stay of execution, filed by the prosecutor.  She wrote that she is willing to stay the payment of the fine, but not to stay the year of unsupervised probation.  In her motion she states, “the probation is necessary to protect the community…”.  How arrogant and ironic and ridiculous!  Ask Nabila who poses a threat to her community.

It is wrong whether a bomb is dropped from a plane with a pilot or from a drone.  It is wrong if it is soldiers on the ground fighting to expand the empire through the pain, suffering, and death of innocent children, women, and men around the world.  As long as these crimes continue, I will join my compatriots in standing in resistance and calling for an end to the illegal actions of our government.  We will work together for a world where communities are a place of peace and justice and where children can play happy and free.   

 

Closing Statement

CIA Arrest   June 29, 2013     Trial  October 22, 2013

Joy First

Good morning/ afternoon Your Honor.  My name is Joy First, defendant pro se and I will be giving the closing statement for our group.

We are standing before you today, Your Honor, being charged with Trespassing - Entering or remaining on an Agency Installation without proper authorization. 

But the government did not \prove our guilt on that charge beyond a reasonable doubt.   We have shown that we did not go to the CIA on June 29, 2013 to break the law; rather we went there to uphold the law.

It should not be presumed that we were there to engage in unlawful activities.  We are people of nonviolence, involved in Constitutionally-protected speech.  Our intent was to seek a meeting with Mr. Brennan and to influence him, wake him up, affect his conscience, and shame him perhaps, but we never engaged in any criminal activity.

You heard testimony that the police knew we were coming and had erected a police line at the main entrance gate of the Central Intelligence Agency on Dolley Madison Boulevard.

You heard testimony that we were given mixed messages from the police regarding this line.  First being told we would be arrested if we crossed the line of police tape, but then according to the police report as we crossed the police line, “CIA Police Personnel backed up and allowed them to lie on the ground.”  Then, as we moved further onto the property we were arrested.  To us, it was not clear what the boundaries were, and what we could and could not do.  We were on CIA property during the rally, and we were on CIA property when we did the die-in.  We did not know if or when we would be arrested.

You heard testimony that we did, in fact, go to the CIA on June 29 and ask for a meeting with Mr. Brennan or one of his representatives to discuss our concerns.

You heard testimony that it was only when that meeting was refused that we were moved by our conscience to walk peacefully onto CIA property expressing our very deep concerns about the CIA involvement in illegal drone strikes.

We were charged with trespassing – being on the CIA base without “proper authorization.”  But you heard witnesses state that they believed that not only were we authorized under the US Constitution, but we were obligated to be there under the principles of Nuremberg.  

You heard testimony that though the police told us we had to leave, we believed it was our right and our duty to refuse that order. 

You heard from both government and defense witnesses that we acted in a nonviolent and a peaceful and cooperative manner throughout the whole process.

Sadly, a large portion of the citizenry are unable or unwilling to challenge the government when it engages in activities which are unlawful.  However, these five defendants have a long and worthy history of engaging in the legislative process.  We defendants are citizen activists, who have engaged in dialogue with many elected officials mostly over peace and justice matters.  We recognized a long time ago that War Is Not the Answer.  It is wrong on many levels—wasting tax dollars which could go to social programs, creating enemies when random acts of violence attack generally poor people in the Middle East and make our government representatives to be hypocrites when challenging another country’s human rights violations. 

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confirms that we were authorized to engage with government representatives: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” However, we were instead arrested.

According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values.  It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters to speak out.  Robert Jackson, the United States judge at the Nuremberg trials said, “The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.”

Your honor, the bottom line is that thousands of innocent people are dying and it is up to all of us to do everything we can to stop the pain and suffering and death being inflicted on these people by our government.

We ask that you please find us not guilty as charged and join us in working for peace and true justice in the world. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this case.

My Promise to Children

Every day, human adults kill 35,000 of our children. We kill them in wars. We kill them with drones. We kill them in our homes. We also kill children in vast numbers by starving them to death in Africa, Asia and Central/South America because we use military violence to maintain an ‘economic’ system that allocates resources for military weapons, as well as corporate profits for the wealthy, instead of resources for living.

Imprisoned pregnant war resister seeks early release for birth of son

ctr495 supporters from around the world write letters in support of clemency application

Donations to assist the Rivera Family can be made online here. 100% of donated funds will assist the Rivera Family.

By James Branum and Courage to Resist. November 4, 2013

Fort Carson, Colorado – Imprisoned war resister PFC Kimberly Rivera has submitted a clemency application seeking a reduction by 45 days in the 10 month prison sentence she received for seeking asylum in Canada rather return to her unit in Iraq.

The request for clemency was based on humanitarian reasons due to pregnancy. Unless clemency is granted, Private First Class Kimberly Rivera will be forced to give birth in prison and then immediately relinquish custody of her son while she continues to serve the remainder of her sentence.

Unfortunately military regulations provide no provisions for her to be able to breastfeed her infant son while she is in prison.

Fort Carson Senior Commander Brigadier General Michael A. Bills will be making a decision on PFC Rivera’s clemency request in the coming weeks.

PFC Rivera’s case made international news when she was the first female US soldier in the current era to flee to Canada for reasons of conscience. After a protracted struggle through the Canadian legal system, she was deported back to the United States in September 2012. She was then immediately arrested and sent back to the Army to stand trial.

ctrIn an interview with Courage to Resist  on the eve of her court-martial, Rivera said, “When I saw the little girl [in Iraq] shaking in fear, in fear of me, because of my uniform, I couldn’t fathom what she had been through and all I saw was my little girl and I just wanted to hold her and comfort her. But I knew I couldn’t. It broke my heart. I am against hurting anyone… I would harm myself first. I felt this also made me a liability to my unit and I could not let me be a reason for anyone to be harmed—so I left... Even though I did not fill out the official application to obtain conscientious objector status, I consider myself a conscientious objector to all war.”

On April 29, 2013, PFC Rivera pled to charges of desertion. She was sentenced by the military judge to fourteen months in prison, loss of rank and pay, and a dishonorable discharge; thanks to a pre-trial agreement her sentence was reduced to an actual sentence to ten months of confinement and a bad-conduct discharge.

Kimberly Rivera has been recognized by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience.” She is the mother of four children, ages 11, 9, 4 and 2.

Kimberly Rivera’s request for clemency was accompanied by 495 letters of support, written by family members, friends, as well as members of Amnesty International from 19 countries.

“We have many organizations to thank for the outpouring of support for Kimberly Rivera, including Amnesty International, Courage to Resist, the War Resisters Support Campaign of Canada, Veterans for Peace and Coffee Strong,” said James M. Branum, civilian defense attorney for PFC Rivera. “We also want to recognize the tireless efforts of local supporters in Colorado Springs and San Diego who have taken the time to visit Kim in prison as well as to provide important support to Kim’s family in her absence.”

While the official clemency request is now complete, supporters of PFC Rivera are still encouraged to continue to speak out on her behalf. Letters in support of PFC Rivera’s clemency request can be sent directly to:

Brigadier General Michael A. Bills
c/o Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
1626 Ellis Street
Suite 200, Building 1118
Fort Carson, CO 80913
(fax: 1-719-526-1021)

Supporters are also encouraged to sign an online petition posted at:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/752/756/678/free-a-pregnant-war-resister/

ctr

Photos: Top-Kimberly with husband Mario during her court martial. Middle-Kimberly in Canada prior to being deported. Bottom-Courage to Resist rallies outside Canadian Consulate, San Francisco CA, prior to Kimberly's forced return.

DE WITT, NY JUDGE RE-ISSUES HANCOCK AIR BASE DEFENDANTS’ EXPIRED ORDERS OF PROTECTION, SUPPRESSING THEIR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO PROTEST DRONE WAR CRIMES THERE

In 2012 on October 25, seventeen U.S. Americans, as part of Upstate Drone Action’s ongoing campaign to expose the extensive killings of innocent civilians by weaponized Reaper drones piloted from Hancock Air Base, were arrested as they protested outside the base, blocking its three entrances.

Upon arraignment that day in the DeWitt, New York town court, the 17 were given year-long Orders of Protection (OOP), at the request of Col. Earl A. Evans, forbidding their return to Hancock, home of the 174th Attack [sic] Wingof the NY Air National Guard.

Typically a court uses an OOP to protect vulnerable women and children from domestic violence. In this case, according to defendant Ed Kinane of Syracuse, “the court is bastardizing the OOP to suppress our First Amendment right to petition our government for redress of grievance.” (On Oct. 25, 2012 the defendants had unsuccessfully attempted to bring a citizens’ war crime indictment to Hancock.)

Last night (Oct. 30) DeWitt court Judge David Gideon renewed the expired OOP until April 30, 2014 (or until the conclusion of the 17’s trial for trespass and disorderly conduct, now finally scheduled last night for 5 pm December 12.)

Protesters of Drones in Upstate NY Are Acquitted

In a historic decision, five Catholic Worker activists were acquitted Thursday of disorderly conduct charges for blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard, Syracuse, New York.

Hancock is a Reaper drone hub whose technicians pilot weaponized drones over Afghanistan. The five went “pro se," defending themselves in the De Witt town court of Judge Robert Jokl. In his closing statement Fr. Bill Picard said, "We pray for you, Judge Jokl, to have the courage to do the right and courageous thing."

After the verdict was announced, the D.A. objected, and the judge said to him that he hadn’t found mens rea, Latin for "guilty mind."  The five defendants, with powerful eloquence, convinced the judge that their intent was to uphold, not break, the law.  This acquittal marks a major breakthrough by those who have sought to strengthen international law, and stop U.S. war crimes, including extra-judicial murder by the illegal drones.

Defendant Carmen Trotta said, "We are happy to be part of a groundswell of opposition to the drones. What a joy to win such a verdict on what is officially United Nations day.  We told the judge that we were not alienated citizens, but rather engaged citizens! Ultimately it seems he was moved by our consciences." Carmen noted the recent groundswell included Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and the head of the Jesuits Order, Alfanso Nicolas, UN Special Rapporteur Mr. Emmerson, and the Nobel Peace Nominee, the young Pakastani girl shot for promoting education for women and girls, in Pakistan, all of whom have condemned drone U.S. drone strikes.

Defendant Linda LeTendre stated, "My hope is that dissent is once again welcome in the US and we turn away from killing to caring as a country."

Ellen Grady stated, "We pray and will continue to act that the children of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and all countries will some day soon be without the terror of drones or any wars!"

They are:
~ Fr. Bill Frankle-Streit of Virginia;
~ Linda Le Tendre of Saratoga Springs; NY
~ Ellen Grady of Ithaca, NY;
~ Carmen Trotta of New York, NY;
~ Fr. Bill Pickard of Scranton, PA.

Ash Wednesday Statement - Feb. 13, 2013

We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintainence and Training Center, this Ash Wednesday, to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God's forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children.  The killer drone strikes and the US's killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Somalia. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murders, violations of national sovereignty, and violations of due process are ALL illegal acts.

We come to Hancock Airfield this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these drones. We remind ourselves that our lives are brief and mysterious, and that "from dust we were created and to dust we shall return!" The significance of our brief animation is the degree to which we love one another.

Lent is a time to repent--literally, to change our minds. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' command to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' radical, non-violent message love.

Stop the Killing. Ground the Drones. STOP the Wars.

The Struggle for Meaning in a World of Violence

What is the measure of a human being? Is it their wealth? Their wisdom? Their spirituality? Is it something that can be measured from the outside? What if it is something else altogether?

Each human being is genetically programmed with a drive to seek and find meaning in life and it will endeavour to do this throughout its life if it is allowed to do so. What constitutes ‘meaning in life’ varies from one individual to the next and is dependent on many factors (including the genetic endowment, social context and the natural environment) but the ultimate outcome would be what is sometimes described as consciousness or Self-realization in a form that would be unique for each individual.

CITIZEN ACTIVISTS GO ON TRIAL FOR DEMANDING AN END TO THE CIA'S KILLER DRONE PROGRAM

WHO: Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] have been active in challenging U.S. invasions and attacks of Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.  Frequently NCNR members have been arrested, and then in court speak out against such U.S. policies. On May 23, 2013 members of NCNR filed a criminal complaint with the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia against the CIA’s use of drone strikes to assassinate people in various countries, including Pakistan. The citizen activists never received a response.

WHAT:Subsequently, NCNR gathered some 200 signatures on a letter to CIA Director John Brennan seeking a meeting to discuss ending the assassination program.  Again there was no response. On June 29, 2013 six activists went to the Central Intelligence Agency hoping to arrange a meeting with CIA officials.  While a CIA representative accepted the letter, he would not speak with the petitioners.  Sothese petitioners engaged in a die-in to represent the victims of the assassination program.  The police then arrested Joy First, Mt. Horeb, WI, Malachy Kilbride, Arlington, VA, Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD, Phil Runkel, Milwaukee, WI, Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA, and   Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Lexington, KY, and charged them with “enter or remain on installation without authorization.”  Now they are scheduled for trial.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 9 AM

WHERE: U.S. District Court, 401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA

WHY: Activists across the country continue to work to bring an end to the illegal and immoral killer drone strikes which have killed around 3500-4500 people, including hundreds of children, around the globe with no due process. The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance is one of the groups working against this assassination program.

 When the citizen activists went to the CIA, over 60 people rallied at the gates of the CIA with speakers who have been to Pakistan and who have spoken to families affected by drone strikes.Of course, the CIA would refuse to meet with the activists, as the assassination program wreaks of unlawfulness.  In court the defendants will argue they were authorized to be at the CIA, and should not have been arrested. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confirms that they were authorized to engage with government representatives: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

NCNR citizen activists believe they have the right and a Nuremberg responsibility to highlight perceived illegal government operations.  Moreover, the Nuremberg trials pointed out that citizens must act to prevent their government from further illegal activities.  

It seems a child has said what most politicians choose to ignore. Malala Yousafzai met with President Obama.  Philip Rucker of THE WASHINGTON POST on Oct. 11, 2013 wrote this: “Yousafzai said she was honored to meet Obama and that she raised concerns with him about the administration's use of drones, saying they are ‘fueling terrorism.’" And killer drone strikes are a blatant disregard of due process and an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars. The defendants intend to raise these points in court, and will continue their efforts to end the CIA’s assassination program, regardless of the verdict.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Why We Are Here

US Court: Transcanada's Keystone XL Profits More Important than Environment

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In a major ruling that's flown under the radar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit - based in Denver, Colorado - decided not to grant the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Future Oklahoma a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline

The Court's decision hinged on an "injury" balancing test: Would Transcanada be hurt more financially from receiving an injunction? Had it lost, it would be stuck with one until Sierra Club, et al receive a U.S. District Court decision on the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant Transcanada a Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for construction of what's now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline in February 2012. 

Or would ecosystems suffer even greater and potentially incalculable damage from the 485-mile, 700,000 barrels per day pipeline crossing 2,227 streams?

In a 2-1 decision, the Court sided with Transcanada, and by extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Court ruled, "the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause Transcanada."

Commenting on the case brought by Sierra Club, et al, Judge Jerome A. Holmes and Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. - appointees of President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush, respectively - shot down the arguments sharply.

U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes; Photo Credit: The White House

Holmes and Kelly ruled that Sierra Club, et al failed to show how the pipeline will have a significant environmental impact despite the fact it's been deemed a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet" by retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen. 

Construction of Keystone XL's southern half - subject of significant grassroots activism by the Tar Sands Blockade and others - is now nearly complete. Tar sands dilbit is slated to begin to flow through it in early 2014. 

NWP 12: "New Normal" for Tar Sands Pipeline Approval

After protestors succeeded initially in delaying Keystone XL, Big Oil has chosen a "new normal" stealth approval method: the non-transparent NWP 12. 

This avoids the more strenuous National Environmental Protection Act permitting process overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires public hearings and public comments for major federal pipeline projects. NEPA compels the EPA to take comments into account in response throughout the Environmental Impact Statement phase, allowing robust public participation in the process.

Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes explained in an interview with DeSmogBlog that NWP 12 is for utility projects with up to a half an acre of stream or wetland impacts, and has never been used for tar sands pipelines before Keystone XL's southern half.

The southern half of the pipeline was approved via Executive Order by President Barack Obama in March 2012, directly after Obama gave a speech in front of a Cushing, OK pipeyard.

President Barack Obama speaks in Cushing, OK in March 2013; Photo Credit: White House

"The Corps is abusing the nationwide permit program. Nationwide permits were intended to permit categories of projects with truly minimal impacts, not tar sands oil pipelines crossing several states," said Hayes. 

Utilizing tricky legal loopholes, Transcanada used NWP 12 to push through Keystone XL's southern half in February 2012, calling each half acre segment of Keystone XL's southern half a "single and complete project." The Army Corps of Engineers agreed despite the fact that Transcanada refers to the pipeline at-large as the "Gulf Coast Pipeline project."

"What the Corps is doing is artificially dividing up these massive pipelines, treating them as thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review," Hayes explained. "In this case, there were 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, so the Corps has treated the Gulf Coast Pipeline as 2,227 'single and complete projects,' each of which qualifies under NWP 12."

Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes; Photo Credit: Sierra Club

Why, I asked Hayes? 

"The Corps artificially treats these massive pipelines as thousands of individual projects so as to qualify under NWP 12 and avoid NEPA compliance."

NWP 12 has also been utilized by Enbridge for the Flanagan South Pipeline, a 600-mile, 600,000 barrels per day pipeline set to shuttle tar sands crude from Flanagan, IL to Cushing, OK, crossing over 2,000 streams. That pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2014, demonstrating how NWP 12 is the "new normal" way to fast-track domestic tar sands pipelines. 

Dissent: Laws Violated, Economic Harm Transcanada's Fault

Perhaps the biggest irony of the Appeals Court decision is that Judges Holmes and Kelly barely grappled with the central issue of the legal challenge to begin with: using NWP 12 rather than going through the NEPA process. 

"The majority opinion avoided addressing the legal questions that are central to this lawsuit - whether the Corps violated the law in permitting this pipeline - and instead it was based on how much money a delay in construction would cost TransCanada," said Hayes. 

Though Judges Holmes and Kelly stayed mum about these issues, dissenting U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez - an Obama appointee - did not, pulling no punches in doing so. 

U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez; Photo Credit: Judgepedia

"Given the totality of the circumstances...I believe the...Gulf Coast Pipeline required a comprehensive NEPA analysis," Martínez wrote.

"There are also no specific findings in support of the Corps' conclusion that the Gulf Coast Pipeline, as a whole, would have minimal cumulative impact. The failure to consider the cumulative effects of all of the water crossings involved in the Gulf Coast Pipeline violates the terms of NWP 12, and, therefore, the approval of the use of NWP 12 for construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline violated the law." 

Though Judges Holmes and Kelly grappled with the issue of water crossings - belittling the amount of water Keystone XL's southern half would cross over - Martínez said it's about much more than just water. 

There is "real and signifcant harm caused by the actual construction of the pipeline, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, removing topsoil, filling wetlands, building access roads, and clearing an eighty-five foot construction right-of-way for the length of the pipeline," he stated.

Hayes agreed with this assessment, pointing to examples of things the Judges simply ignored in their assessment. 

"[T]he court's balancing test ignored the host of environmental impacts associated with this pipeline, including the risks of tar sands oil spills," said Hayes.

"Remember that the 2010 tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan is still being cleaned up, and so far has cost over a billion dollars. It's a bit of a Catch-22 to say that this is all just about a few acres of wetlands loss, when the whole point of this lawsuit is that the Corps avoided analyzing any of the pipeline's environmental impacts as required by NEPA."

Lastly, Martínez put the onus on Transcanada for its economic decision-making.

"Transcanada chose to incur its economic harm by entering into contracts for services before the Gulf Coast Pipeline was approved, even in light of the controversial nature of the Pipeline," said Martínez (emphasis his).

U.S. District Court Decision Forthcoming, Activism Persists 

Sierra Club, et al now await a summary judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on whether Keystone XL failed the dictates of NEPA. It's a key decision, Hayes says, because "a ruling in our favor could prevent the Corps from doing this in the future."

While they await this lower court judgment, activists continue efforts to fend off these pipeline projects. 

"This decision yet again demonstrates why direct action is necessary. The permitting process for Keystone XL's southern leg was illegal, yet regulators, inspectors, Obama, and the courts are failing to do what is necessary to protect the people and ecosystems threatened by this toxic pipeline," said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesman

"If all the branches of government are so helplessly captured by industry that they will do nothing to stave off climate change, then the people must rise up and take the defense of the environment into their own hands."

Photo Credit: tankist276 | ShutterStock

Human Violence: Understanding it. Ending it.

Violence is the most pervasive and destructive human problem of them all. It has been present for as long as history records. We are mired in it, all over the world, every day of our lives. It now threatens to obliterate us from the historical record within decades, if not sooner.

What is violence? Let me define this phenomenon more precisely so that we might tackle it more effectively.

Violence is social interference in the genetically programmed feelings, thoughts, sensing and/or behavior of another organism. It might be inflicted by an individual or an institution.

Park rangers ‘punked’: Government Shuts Down But Perversions Persist

By Linn Washington, Jr.


On the first day of the federal government shut-down, as hundreds of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Liberty Bell and other fabled sites within the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia, Richard Dyost stood near the building housing the Bell and received a big laugh.

Nonviolent Progress in Syria Despite the Violent "Opposition"

By Ken Meyercord

One thing about the ongoing crisis in Syria almost never mentioned in our media - even the alternative media - is the role of the nonviolent opposition to the Baathist regime. After the uprising began in the spring of  2011, the government engaged this opposition in discussions about reform of the Syrian political system. Out of these discussions came a new constitution, approved in February 2012 by 90% of the electorate in a popular referendum with a 57% turnout rate.

Prior to the new constitution, Syria was officially a one-party state: the Baathist party, to which the current and former president belonged, being that party. In 2007 the nomination by the Syrian parliament of Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria was approved by 98% of the electorate with a 96% turnout rate - just the sort of mandate you would expect of an authoritarian regime. Under the new constitution Syria became a multiparty state; elections to parliament were open to any political party.

In May of last year parliamentary elections under the new constitution were held. There were two blocs contending for the vote: the pro-government National Progressive Front, comprised of 6 parties, and the oppositional Popular Front for Change and Liberation, which included two parties. Of the 250 seats in the assembly, the Baathists won 134 seats with 34 seats distributed among the other parties in the National Front, including 6 seats for the two factions of the Communist Party. The opposition shared 5 seats. Seventy-seven members of the new parliament were not affiliated with any party. The constitution stipulates that at least half of the members of the assembly must be workers or farmers.

In other words, the Syrian parliament encompasses a diversity of opinion we can only dream of seeing in our own Congress - quite a coup for the nonviolent opposition. An election for President is scheduled for next May, quite a concession for a man our media labels a "thug", "dictator", "tyrant", especially as most governments, including our own, when facing a stressful situation become more authoritarian (e.g., Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Palmer Raids of the 1920s, the Patriot Act, etc.) . It can be argued that the Syrian peaceful revolution is the most successful transition to democracy of the Arab Spring. What more does the violent opposition want? No wonder they have to rely on foreign Jihadists to do their fighting!

Critics of the Syrian regime will claim the elections were fraudulent, or, as the Obama administration put it, "ludicrous". I have no idea whether this is the case and would welcome the views of those better informed than me. I suspect critics of the elections seldom offer any supporting evidence for their claims. Every country grapples with seeing that their elections are fair (cf. Voter ID laws). Before we dismiss the newfound democracy in Syria as a sham, maybe we should give it a chance, especially as the lives of thousands of people - mostly Syrian but perhaps some of our own - are at risk. If the administration's goal in Syria is regime change, maybe it should wait and see whether the Syrian people effect it in a peaceful manner next spring or, if the incumbent is re-elected, accept the fact that democracy doesn't always work out the way we would like.

Postscript: If you didn't know about recent political developments in Syria, don't feel bad. I attended an event the other day where none of the speakers - neither Cole Bockenfeld and Stephen McInerney of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) nor Shadi Hamid, Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution - were aware of the elections held under the new Syrian constitution.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ken Meyercord produces a public access TV show called Worlddocs which "brings the world to the people of the Washington, DC area through documentaries you won't see broadcast on corporate TV." He has a Master's in Middle East History from the American University of Beirut.

Israel, Palestine and Iran It's Time To Feed the Hungry Peace Wolves

By John Grant

 


All we are saying is give peace a chance
        - John Lennon
 

Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.

Life on the Line: Can Humanity Survive?

As we approach the International Day of Nonviolence on 2 October, which recognizes Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, one challenge we face is to celebrate his life in a way that Gandhi himself would have found meaningful. Gandhi was not a man of token gestures. His life was dedicated to his search for the Truth and guided by his passionate belief that nonviolence was the means to reach it. He was a visionary who was profoundly aware of the damage human violence is doing to ourselves, each other and the Earth.

Despite his example, most of us are familiar with those horror lists that reveal the extent of our ongoing violence. Here is a sample just to refresh your memory.

Support WarIsACrime



Donate.








Tweet your Congress critters here.


Advertise on this site!




Facebook      Twitter





Our Stores:























Movie Memorabilia.



The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.