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Letter from a Drone Protester's Jail

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota!  As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off.  Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.

In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May.

FINLAND: Total objector Jesse Kamila sentenced to 180 days of 'home detention'


War Resisters' International, London, 15 February 2013

 

 

Jesse Kamila, a 24 year-old conscientious objector from Joensuu, Finland was sentenced to 180 days of home detention on Tuesday 12 February by Itä-Uudenmaan käräjäoikeus (Eastren Uusimaa district court). He had refused to do military service on 21 May 2012. He was charged with "refusal from civilian service" (siviilipalveluksesta kieltäytyminen).

You can send a protest email here.

Background information

House arrest has been possible for total objectors in Finland since November 2011. The prisoner must wear an electronic ankle bracelet and is allowed to work or study outside home during the sentence, but otherwise must stay at home. Since its introduction home detention has been used frequently for total objectors, however some have been imprisoned.

Jesse Kamila has refused to do civilian service because he sees it as a punishment for refusing violence. Civilian service lasts 347 days, whereas the shortest military service is only 165 days.

The UN Commission on Human Rights declared that any alternative service required of conscientious objectors in lieu of compulsory military service must be compatible with the reasons for the objection, of a civilian character, in the public interest and not of a punitive nature e.g. in its duration (Resolution 1998/77, OP4.). The length of the substitute service in Finland, however, is punitive.

Furthermore, in Foin v France (1999) the Human Rights Committee established its position that any difference in length must be “based on reasonable and objective criteria, such as the nature of the specific service concerned, or the need for a special training in order to accomplish that service” (Foin v France, Communication No. 666/1995) CCPR/C/D/666/1995, 9 November 1999, para. 10.3).

Solidarity

International pressure is important at this stage, since Jesse's sentence has not yet started. War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Tapani Katainen, or to Finnish embassies abroad. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/21245. A list of Finnish embassies can be found here.

War Resisters' International calls for Jesse Kamila's sentence to be quashed.

Hannah Brock
War Resisters' International

Nine Brave People Arrested Blocking Gate to Hancock Drone Murder Base in Upstate NY

(UPDATED WITH THEIR STATEMENT BELOW)

Nine opponents of killing human beings with missiles shot from drones were arrested on Wednesday nonviolently interfering with the drone kill program (taken to include the routine use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the targeted kill list) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.

The nine arrested for disturbing the war were: Matt Ryan, Carmen Trotta, Nancy Gowan, Bill Pickard, Bill Streit, Jim Clune, Ellen Grady, Linda Letender, and Mary Anne Grady Flores.

Below are signs they displayed while blocking the gate.

Report and photos courtesy of Ellen Grady.

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars: Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.

 9  ARRESTED AT HANCOCK AIR BASE TODAY FOR OPPOSING REAPER DRONE WAR CRIMES

Around 3:30pm today, 9 individuals were arrested by DeWitt Police and Onondaga County Sheriffs for peaceably blocking the main entrance to

Hancock Air Base on East Molloy Rd in the town of DeWitt, a Syracuse, NY suburb.  Hancock is the regional hub for the hunter/killer Reaper drone deployed over Afghanistan, Pakistan and, increasingly, elsewhere.

This nonviolent civil resistance is the most recent in a series of actions at Hancock meant to expose and deter the Reaper war crimes originating there. Over the last two years dozens of Upstate Drone Action members have been arrested as we sought to communicate our concerns to the Base Command and personnel by delivering to them a Citizens’ War Crimes Indictment [see attached]. Ironically, at a base bristling with lethal weaponry, the bases Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Earl A. Evans, once again, requested and received from the Dewitt Town Court an order of protection against the nonviolent activists. The activists are bewildered by the request and the Courts acquiescence to it, not merely for its demeaning implications but for its as yet unknown legal ramifications. Currently, 20 non-violent citizens have received this order.  

According to Upstate Drone Action member,  Jim Clune, 

        “The Reaper strikes and the United States’ killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murder, violation of national sovereignty, and violation of due process are all illegal acts.”

Father Bill Pickard , member of Pax Christi, further noted:

        “We came to Hancock Air Base 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 weaponized drones.”

Those arrested today include:

   Bill Frankel-Streit, Trevilians, VA…. Nancy Gowen, Richmond, VA…. Ellen Grady, Ithaca, NY….

   Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Springs, NY….Rev. Bill Pickard, Scranton, PA…. Matt  Ryan, Ithaca...

   Mary Anne Grady, Ithaca, NY…. Carmen Trotta, New York, NY,  Jim Clune, Binghamton.###

 

Statement of the Defendants

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, 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.

 



WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT

To President Obama, to Secretary of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of De Witt, NY:

Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.

This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.

The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.

One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.

The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to “save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”

This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.

Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone--civilian, military, government officials, or judge- who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.

Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you are required to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.

Based on all the above,
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, BARAK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND TO COMMANDER COLONEL GREG SEMMEL,
EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT
HANCOCK AIR BASE, WITH
CRIMES AGAINST PEACE &
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH
VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS,
WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

We charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of the 174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.

These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.

Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.

It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.

There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used, no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.

In support of this indictment we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force.... The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum.... In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.” See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14 .24.Add6.pdf

The drone attacks either originating at Hancock or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution.

By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes.

 

We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.

As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world, we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.

We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.

Signed by:
THE UPSTATE COALITION TO
GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS

 

35 Resisters Awaiting Trial for Opposing the Drone Murder Program

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars.

Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.

Why only these?

Jeju Protester Given 18 Month Jail Sentence

By

002 Prof. YangProf. Yang Yoon-Mo was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for protesting against the construction of the naval base in Gangjeong Village! The crime?  Obstruction of business and jeopardizing the construction of the so called ‘joint civilian-military use base’!

Not only do the ROK government and the ROK Navy continue the lies and deception, but the courts do their part to beat back those who protest the military expansion of the U.S. in Asia and the Pacific.

Professor Yang has risked everything to stop the construction. This is Prof. Yang’s fourth prison sentence. He previously went on a hunger strike for 70 days. Professor Yang left a 30 year career as a prominent South Korean film critic to protest against the base on a full-time basis. During my stay, I had the privilege of meeting him and filming his daily protests at the gates. Professor Yang will be given a prominent role in my documentary.

http://www.indiegogo.com/savejeju

The video clip of Prof. Yang resisting the police is by Korean filmmaker Cho, Sung-bong.

Here’s a brief video of Professor Yang.

Video: Rosalie Riegle on Her Book "Doing Time for Peace"

Random Row Books, Charlottesville VA, January 2013, More: http://davidswanson.org/node/3919.

The Sierra Club Begins to Get Serious

The Sierra Club has decided to promote nonviolent civil disobedience for the first time.  Before a climate habitable for humans collapsed was probably the right moment, I'd say.  Now might be a time to support and encourage the Sierra Club.  And now might be a time to nudge it further.  The top destroyer of the environment right now is the U.S. military, and the Sierra Club has never wanted to challenge it, but almost began to indirectly when it recently objected to the U.S./South Korean construction of a naval base on Jeju Island.  The Sierra Club is defending its decision to nonviolently resist evil on the grounds that doing so is "patriotic," as if patriotism is a force alligned with preservation of the earth.  More progress is needed.

Protesters Arrested at Lockheed Martin on MLK Day

By Georgina Shanley

Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA, Monday, January 21, 2013 -- As part of the Brandywine Peace Community's noontime Martin Luther King Day of Nonviolent Resistance at Lockheed Martin, more than fifty people stood with banners and signs in front of the King of Prussia, PA complex of the world's largest war profiteer, Lockheed Martin. Many of those gathered (just as in previous years) were from the New Jerusalem Laura, a faith-based addiction recovery community in North Philadelphia. 

As people arrived for the day's demonstration honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his message of nonviolent action for justice and peace, excepts of many of Dr. King's sermons and speeches were being broadcast loudly in front of Lockheed Martin, located directly behind the King of Prussia Mall, the area's largest shopping mall (indeed, the largest mall on the East Coast). 

The demonstration began with a series of chants (Honor King’s Legacy; For peace, Stop Lockheed Martin!; Inaugurate Justice, Make War No More; Many Suffer, Few Profit) and focus readings as Barack Obama was concluding his inaugural speech in Washington, DC. and just as drone strikes were again raining down on Yemen.

8 arrested in Die-in at Bangor WA Nuclear Sub Base honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

Activists from a local peace group blocked the main gate and staged a die-in at the Navy’s West Coast Trident nuclear submarine base for more than a half hour in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.



Nearly fifty people participated in Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s annual celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

Under the theme “We Are One,” the day focused on Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence and his opposition to war and nuclear weapons.

The day’s activities included a viewing of a video about King’s 1967 sermon in opposition to the Vietnam war. That followed with a
discussion of the sermon’s relevance in the context of today’s unending wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and the effects on the poor and disenfranchised in the US, as well as the entire world. Participants also participated in nonviolence training, education about the Trident nuclear weapons system and the Bangor submarine base, and preparations for the vigil and nonviolent direct action planned for the afternoon at Bangor.

The African-American Army

Escaped slaves fought on the British side, which promised to free them, during the American war for independence for white men.  But nobody liked to talk about that much after the French won the war, although -- come to think of it -- nobody much likes to talk about the French winning the war, or for that matter about the big losers being, not the British but the Native Americans. 

White folks weren't eager to arm slaves, although an NRA-type genius just said on U.S. televisions this week that if slaves had only been armed they wouldn't have been slaves.  The militias famously protected by the Second Amendment included, perhaps primarily, white militias aimed at crushing slave rebellions.  Escaped slaves fought for the Union in the Civil War, which may not have been an insignificant factor in Lincoln's decision to announce their freedom. 

The massacring of Native Americans conditioned black troops as well as white for the brutalities they would inflict in the name of freedom and democracy on the Philippines and Cuba.  Imperial wars abroad brought with them huge surges of violence at home.  During the days in which the United States liberated Filipinos and Cubans from their lives, thousands of lynchings and hundreds of riots brought freedom and liberty to African Americans at home.  While Haitians were occupied, blacks were attacked in Harlem and Alabama. 

African Americans were included in the U.S. military during World War II, in segregated units, and often in non-combat units.  The pretense was that they couldn't fight, never had, never would.  And yet, just as they had before, many did -- with less training, less equipment, and in riskier positions.  And many came to grasp what it all meant.  A jim crow nation that locked up Japanese Americans and rioted against blacks and Mexicans, slaughtered innocent civilians for imperial gain in the name of opposing imperialism.  "Just carve on my tombstone," said an African American soldier in 1942, "here lies a black man who died fighting a yellow man for the protection of the white man."

The draft was segregated.  The military was segregated.  Blacks were largely confined to the support labor that is now hired out to contractors.  When FDR was finally pushed to support blacks' participation in the army, he insisted that they make up no more than 10 percent and be kept in segregated units.  And yet, when African American soldiers in World War II weren't facing the Germans or the Japanese, they were still at great risk of violent assault by white U.S. soldiers, not to mention the abuses they would face back home after their "service."  In Guam, U.S. commanders allowed white troops to prepare for assaults on Japanese troops by abusing African American sailors, including by tossing live grenades at them.

African Americans launched a Double Victory Campaign, whose symbol was two V for victory signs, desiring as they did a victory over fascism abroad and at home.  Some saw through the military madness, understood the connection between violence abroad and at home, and refused to enlist -- or got themselves declared mentally unfit, as Malcolm X did.  Black soldiers resisted, struck, and mutinied.  In April 1945, sixty black officers defied a ban on their use of an officers' club and were arrested.  Another group defied the ban, and they were arrested.  And then another.

Before he integrated baseball, Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of a bus on Fort Hood. 

A budding movement could be recognized that was also forming within U.S. prisons where black and white conscientious objectors were confronting domestic injustice in new ways.

As black and white troops prepared to return from France, black soldiers had their guns confiscated, while white soldiers guarding German prisoners kept theirs and turned them on the African American troops as well.  Lest you imagine this the hypocrisy of a few bad apples who failed to grasp the great moral purpose of the war, let's not forget that as the victors put the Nazis on trial for crimes including human experimentation, the United States was giving syphilis to Guatemalans to see what would happen, just as it had long been and would long continue studying (and not treating) African Americans with syphilis in Alabama.  In fact, German and Italian troops being held prisoners of war helped white U.S. troops enforce segregation.  And Nazi war criminals found an eager employer in the Pentagon.  Black veterans of World War II were shot and lynched in such numbers in 1946 that a Chicago Defender columnist wrote that "the Negro press still reads like war."

Returning black troops faced "jim crow shock," when they imagined they'd just killed and risked dying for freedom but got home to find none.  Some were more equal than others under the G.I. Bill and within U.S. society.  Compared to the mythical "spitting on the troops" after the Vietnam War or the lack of interest or awareness during the -- yes -- still ongoing endless war on everywhere that started in 2001, this was a heavy blow.  It led to suicides and violence of all variety. 

It did not lead to complete rejection of the military and military "service."  For African Americans disproportionately, the military was the best available means of obtaining a paycheck or any sort of skilled employment, as well as a way to prove one's manhood and the right to citizenship.  Discrimination within the military, rather than the existence of the military and its draining impact on other possible pursuits and investments, was enemy number one.  Everything currently said about gays or women in the military was said about blacks in the military, and -- as in the newer controversies -- even those claiming to oppose militarism prioritized equal access to participate fully in it.

In 1948, A. Phillip Randolph warned,

"I would like to make clear to the Senate Armed Services Committee and through you, to Congress and the American people that passage now of a Jim Crow draft may only result in a mass civil disobedience movement along the lines of the magnificent struggles of the people of India against British imperialism." 

Senator Wayne Morse -- remembered, when he is remembered, as an opponent of the war on Vietnam -- charged Randolph with treason.

Truman announced an integrated military, with an executive order, much as Obama closed Guantanamo.  Blacks joined up in 1948 and 1949, mainly for the money, expecting an integrated military but finding a completely segregated one.  Even brothels providing sex slaves to soldiers in Japan were segregated for black and white. 

During the war on Korea, however, the military moved in the direction of integration, and of full combat roles for blacks.  The draft disproportionately brought blacks into the military, while at the same time they lost the publicly understood disadvantage of being kept away from combat and acquired the disadvantage understood by soldiers of being sent into combat -- sent into more dangerous combat than others, in fact, and accused of cowardice as a reward. 

While black soldiers like James Forman were coming to recognize their participation in foreign occupations for what it was, blacks were enlisting, reenlisting, and being drafted in record numbers -- largely for economic reasons, needing the employment and lacking qualifying grounds for deferment, such as college.  From the Korean War forward, blacks were no longer kept out of the U.S. military through quota limits, but made up a greater percentage of the military than of the population at large.

At the same time, in contrast to World War II, the war on Korea met with opposition from many prominent African Americans, and a movement against militarism began to grow, as did the movement at home for civil rights.  African American newspapers in the north began sending their war correspondents to places like Mississippi.  J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant murdered Emmett Till in 1955 for supposedly whistling at a white woman.  Milam said he'd done to Till exactly what he'd done to Germans during World War II -- the war that never stops giving.  Conscientious objectors Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, William Worthy, James Farmer, James Lawson, and Bob Moses organized in the U.S. South against violence of all varieties, joined by John Lewis, Julian Bond, Diane Nash, and Gwen Patton.

Vietnam was the same story: ever more African Americans in the military, and yet ever stronger activism against it, including resistance by GIs.  The day three SNCC volunteers -- Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney disappeared were found -- was also the day of the pretended Gulf of Tonkin incident.  Robert McNamara in 1966 announced Project 100,000, aimed at lifting 100,000 men out of poverty by moving them into the military and sending them to war.  Between 1966 and 1971, the project brought 400,000 men into the military, 40 percent of them African American.  Increasingly, through the 1960s, African Americans' opinions turned against war.  The Last Poets' 1970 "The Black Soldier" said:

"Here's to you black soldier
"fightin' in Vietnam
"helping your oppressor
"oppress another man."

I found this and a detailed discussion of much of the above in a new book by Kimberley L. Phillips called "War: What Is It Good For? Black Freedom Struggles and the U.S. Military From World War II to Iraq."  The author's father fought in Vietnam.  Her parents were unable to buy a home in San Luis Obispo because, "local residents' equal disdain for the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement meant no one would sell a black soldier a home."

Phillips, who is the dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Brooklyn College, writes that "since the Vietnam War, the armed forces have served as a de facto jobs program for black Americans and a symbol of a gain in their long struggle for full citizenship.  In a postindustrial economy of the late twentieth century, the military has provided steady work and important benefits, including health care, child care, and education.  For increasing numbers of black immigrants, military service has provided a step toward legal citizenship."  That hideous step is being imposed on all sorts of immigrants today.

African Americans disproportionately opposed wars, enlisted in the military, and gave their loyalty to the Democratic Party.  So, what happened when a Republican President led major wars that even white people opposed?  Between 2000 and 2005, black enlistments in the military dropped 40%, and black presence in the military 25%.  These trends continued through 2008, at which point they began to turn back around.

Maybe that's the economy's fault.  Maybe it's misperceptions that the war is over.  Or maybe it's a question of what the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize President looks like.  But the U.S. military is targeting Africa in a big new way, and targeting Asia and the Middle East in a big familiar way.  Why should anyone participate in oppressing anyone anywhere for the Pentagon?

A poet in Qatar was recently given a life-sentence in prison for reciting a poem.  This is a translation:

Oh, Prime Minister, Mohammad al-Ghannoushi, if we consider your power, it doesn’t come from the Constitution.
We are not nostalgic for Ben Ali, nor for his times, which represent merely a dot on the line of history
Dictatorship is a repressive and tyrannical system and Tunisia has announced its people's revolt.
If we criticize, it is to decry what is base and disgraceful
If we praise, we do it in first person
The revolt began with the blood of the people rising up and has painted liberation on the face of every living creature.
We know they'll do what they wish and that all victories bear tragic events,
But pity the country that lets itself be governed by ignorance and believes in the strength of the American army,
And pity that country that starves its people while the government rejoices of its economic success
And pity that country whose people go to sleep a citizen and wake up poor and stateless
Pity that system that inherits repression
Until when shall we be slaves of all that selfishness?
When shall the people realize their worthiness?
That worthiness that is hidden from them and that they soon forget?
Why don't governments ever choose a way to end a tyrannical power system that is aware of its disease
and at the same time poisons its people who know that tomorrow a successor shall occupy that very seat of power?
He doesn't take into account that the country bears its name and that of his family,
the self-same country that preserves its glory in the glories of the people,
the people that answers with one voice to a single destiny: in the face of the oppressor we are all Tunisian!
Arab governments and those who lead them, all are thieves, to the same degree.
That question that causes sleepless nights for those who ask it will not find an answer from those who embody officialdom.

Rally, March, and Die Against Drone Wars in Washington, D.C., on Monday

What you can do to stop drone wars and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s opposition to militarism, racism, and extreme materialism.

1. Take 30 seconds to join 60,000 others in pushing for a ban on weaponized drones.

2. Take 30 seconds to demand that the millions being wasted on inaugural balls go to those who have lost their jobs, healthcare, and homes.

3. Be in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to say: No Blank Check for Israel!
Condition U.S. aid to Israel on compliance with U.S. and international law!
4-6 p.m. in Farragut Square

4. Join a meeting of anti-drone activists in Washington, D.C., on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church located at 400 I (Eye) Street, SW Washington, DC (near Arena Stage); Metro: 1 block from Waterfront Metro (GREEN LINE). Contact 571-501-3729.

5. Attend a rally and march in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning. 
9-10 a.m. Rally with prominent speakers and music at Meridian Hill Park (lower level) at Florida Avenue and 16th Street NW, Washington DC, 20008.  At 10 a.m. parade forms and marches down 16th Street NW to K Street NW. Contact 202-422-6275.

6. Do a die-in Monday in Washington, D.C., organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR).  At the U.S. Capitol sometime after noon.  Those dying-in will be risking arrest, and as we lie on the ground we will cover our bodies with a red-painted sheet to represent a bloody shroud, and with a large picture of a drone victim.  We invite you to participate in this action -- either risking arrest, or to be there in solidarity and witness.  We call on all participating to commit to nonviolence.  There are a number of people who would like to participate in both the Arc of Justice Rally and Parade, and then participate in the die-in.  We have organized our action so that people will be able to do both.  If you are planning or thinking about risking arrest, please contact mobuszewski@verizon.net – especially if you will be joining us at 11:45 am after the Arc of Justice Parade.
January 21, Inauguration Day.  Meet at 8 a.m. at the food court at Union Station near King BBQ and Vittorio's Gelato. OR:  Rendezvous point for people hooking up after Arc of Justice Parade will be at 11:45 a.m. in the same location
.   We will leave Union Station as a group at 12:15 p.m. and move towards the Capitol for the die-in. Photos of drone victims and shrouds will be provided for people risking arrest. We will need people to hand out flyers during the die-in.  It is suggested that those dying-in bring a piece of plastic to put underneath them on the sidewalk.  Temperatures are supposed to be in the upper 30s or low 40s and we may be lying on the ground for up to an hour.  If you can play a support role for the action, please contact joyfirst5@gmail.com or 608 239-4327.

7. Attend the launching of a new book: We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in The 21st Century.  Reading, signing and discussion of new book in honor of MLK Day. 7-9 p.m. on Monday at 1525 Newton Street NW, Washington, DC 20010


 

 

 

 

What's Good for Northrop Grumman Is Not Good for America or Anyone Else

Watch this through the initial propaganda. It gets better:

High Noon in America or: How I Learned to Love Gun Control

 

By John Grant


Since gun control is such a hot topic, the elite think tank the Project For a New American Decade (PNAD) has come up with a modest proposal to add to the national conversation. We think it’s worth a try.

First, we do the obvious, most sensible things: we establish universal background checks and dignified mental health services for those who exhibit a need for it. The third leg of the current gun control imbroglio -- banning AR-15s -- is a bit trickier.

13 PEACE, VETERANS, AND FAITH GROUPS ASK GOVERNOR KITZHABER TO KEEP OREGON NATIONAL GUARD FROM DEPLOYMENT TO AFGHANISTAN IN 2013

On January 10, thirteen peace, veterans and faith organizations from
various parts of Oregon sent a letter to Governor John Kitzhaber urging
him to keep the Oregon National Guard from its planned deployment of 1800
Oregonians to Afghanistan in 2014. The groups' letter cites a 2009 effort
to keep the Guard in Oregon through the legislative process, and a
similar letter sent to Governor Ted Kulongoski in 2008. The full text of
the new letter is below and on line at
http://www.pjw.info./guardletter2013.pdf .

The groups listed on the letter are:
Peace and Justice Works, Military Families Speak Out of Oregon, Veterans
for Peace Chapter 132 (Corvallis), Veterans for Peace Chapter 72
(Portland), Rogue Valley Veterans for Peace Chapter 156 (Grants Pass),
Community Alliance of Lane County, Citizens for Peace & Justice
(Medford/Rogue Valley), Peace House (Ashland), Oregon PeaceWorks, Oregon
Physicians for Social Responsibility, War Resisters League--Portland
Chapter, 18th Avenue Peace House (Portland), and Augustana Lutheran Church
(Portland).

The groups include locally based and statewide groups, groups connected
to national organizations, and groups based in at least 6 of Oregon's
36 Counties. Two Portland area peace activists also signed the letter.

For more information contact Peace and Justice Works at 503-236-3065.

--------------------
Peace and Justice Works
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
503-236-3065


To: Governor John Kitzhaber
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301-4047(by e-mail and postal mail)

January 10, 2013

Governor Kitzhaber

We are writing you today as organizations who, in 2009, worked with the
legislature to keep the Oregon National Guard from deploying into
undeclared military conflict zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, hoping you
will exercise your authority of the Commander in Chief of the Guard to
keep them from the planned deployment to Afghanistan in 2014.

Over 5500 people signed the petition supporting our legislation, known as
HB 2556, and nearly 50 organizations supported the effort. We had pledges
from at least 30 members of the House to support the legislation, but it
was never brought to the floor.

The legal framework of the legislation was that the Authorization for Use
of Military Force of September 18, 2001, which launched the "War on
Terror," is overly broad and has allowed the United States to occupy
Afghanistan and attack Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere, invade Iraq, as
well as enabling the opening of the prison camp at Guantanamo, the PATRIOT
act, military tribunals, and other affronts to human, civil and
constitutional rights. The 2001 AUMF has been renewed annually by
Presidents Bush and Obama, and has no provision to end the "war," a
termination date nor a process or procedure to determine when the
authorization should terminate.

Recognizing that in 1986, Congress passed and the President signed the
"Montgomery Amendment," which provides that a governor cannot withhold
consent with regard to active duty outside the United States because of
any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such duty, we
hold that the President must act pursuant to the Constitution and laws of
the United States. The War Powers Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-148)
specifically limits the power of the President of the United States to
wage war without the approval of Congress. the 2001 AUMF could provide for
the National Guard to be deployed indefinitely.

Deployment of Oregon National Guard members in Afghanistan has resulted,
and continues to result, in significant harm to guard members and their
families, including death and injury, loss of time together, and financial
hardship.

While the bill at that time focused on the then-upcoming deployment of the
Guard to Iraq, we feel it is your duty to ensure that the request by the
federal government for Oregon's sons and daughters to be called into
harm's way are lawful and Constitutional.

We concur with the Eugene Register-Guard, which wrote in its editorial on
December 4, "The Oregon Army National Guard's 41st Infantry Brigade Combat
team, with a battalion based in Springfield, is scheduled to deploy 1,800
soldiers to Afghanistan in 2014. It's Oregon's second-largest overseas
deployment since World War II -- and it is a deployment that can be
avoided if Obama heeds the advice of the U.S. Senate and decides that the
time has come, not for sending more troops to Afghanistan, but for
bringing the 66,000 who are there now home as quickly as possible."

Thank you for your consideration

Sincerely,

Dan Handelman
for
Peace and Justice Works

Adele Kubein
for
Military Families Speak Out of Oregon

Bart Bolger
for
Veterans for Peace Chapter 132 (Corvallis)

Clayton Knight
for
Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 (Portland)

Jim Woods
for
Rogue Valley Veterans for Peace Chapter 156 (Grants Pass)

Michael Carrigan
for
Community Alliance of Lane County

Allen Hallmark
for
Citizens for Peace & Justice (Medford/Rogue Valley)

Herbert Rothschild
for
Peace House (Ashland)

Peter Bergel
for
Oregon PeaceWorks

Kelly Campbell
for
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

John Grueschow
for
War Resisters League--Portland Chapter

John Schweibert
for
18th Avenue Peace House (Portland)

Rev. W. J. Mark Knutson
for
Augustana Lutheran Church (Portland)

Geraldine Foote, St. Luke Lutheran Peace and Justice Advocacy Group*

Trudy Cooper, American Iranian Friendship Council*

*organizations listed for identification purposes only

reference: Read excerpts from our August 11, 2008 letter to Governor
Kulongoski at
http://www.pjw.info/kulongoskiletter08summary.html

Former U.S. Intelligence Analysis Chief to Receive Award at the Oxford Union

Oxford Union Press Office

The Oxford Union will be hosting the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence award presentation on 23rd January 2013. The ceremony will feature several individuals well known in intelligence and related fields, including, via video-stream, remarks by Julian Assange, winner of the Sam Adams award in 2010.
 
The annual award presentation provides a rare occasion for accolades to “whistleblowers” – conscience-driven women and men willing to take risks to honor the public’s need to know.
 
This year’s recipient is Professor Thomas Fingar, a Stanford University professor now teaching at Stanford. Dr. Fingar served from 2005 to 2008 as Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
 
In that role, Dr. Fingar oversaw preparation of the landmark 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, in which all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies concluded with ‘high confidence’ that Iran had halted its nuclear weapon design and weaponization work in 2003. The Estimate’s key judgments were declassified and made public, and have been revalidated every year since.
 
Those pressing for an attack on Iran in 2008 found themselves fighting uphill. This time, thanks largely to Dr. Fingar and the professional intelligence analysts he led in 2007, intelligence analysis on Iran was fearlessly honest. A consummate intelligence professional, Fingar would not allow the NIE to be “fixed around the policy,” the damning phrase used in the famous “Downing St. Memo” of July 23, 2002 to describe the unconscionable process that served up fraudulent intelligence to “justify” war with Iraq.
 
We are delighted to be welcoming several previous Sam Adams awardees, including Coleen Rowley, Katharine Gun, Craig Murray, Thomas Drake, and Julian Assange (by video-stream) – as well as other Sam Adams associates from both sides of the Atlantic, including Ray McGovern, Brady Kiesling, Davdi McMichael, Elizabeth Murray, Todd Pierce and Ann Wright.
 
We feel that the Oxford Union, dedicated to upholding freedom of speech and providing a platform for all points of view, is a fitting venue. The traditional acceptance speech by Dr. Fingar will be followed by briefer remarks by a few previous Sam Adams awardees.  They will be followed by Julian Assange who will speak for 20 minutes immediately before the Q&A, during which the audience will be invited to put questions on any topic to any of the presenters.
 
Assange is clearly a figure who generates controversy for reasons ranging from the allegations made against him in Sweden, to the perceived recklessness of some WikiLeaks activities. We would therefore encourage those who disagree with him, or with any of our other speakers, to participate in the Q&A session.
 
Last but not least, we are happy to note that Dr. Fingar, will be with us for the entire term. Professor Fingar has just begun teaching a course at the University of Oxford on global trends and transnational issues, as part of Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program. He will also give guest lectures and public talks while here at Oxford (January-March 2013).
 
Professor Fingar holds a PhD in political science from Stanford. His most recent book is Reducing Uncertainty: Intelligence Analysis and National Security (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Countdown to Jail

By bgrothus

When I was in high school, opposed to the Vietnam “war” and impressionable, I read Emma Goldman and discovered Peacemakers.  I believed in anarchism and embraced civil disobedience.

I modified my thinking over time, but I remain politically active and call myself progressive.  Among the more difficult of my struggles personally has been the line I’ve walked between art and politics, not because they don’t go together but because I never fully committed my life to art.  But that’s another story.

Politically, I have become increasingly disillusioned, and I embrace OWS, in my case (un)Occupy, as one of the few movements in my lifetime in the US that addresses the broad and disparate crises of our failing economy (and capitalism), the horrors of climate change and perhaps most important, exercises a methodology of equality and inclusion.  It has inspired young people who are smart, tech-savy and committed to change and the future.

Nonviolent Drone Protester Arrested in Tucson

JOHN HEID ARRESTED AT DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, HOME OF ACTIVE COMBAT PREDATOR DRONE UNIT

On the morning of the Feast of Holy Innocents, December 28, about 15 peace activists gathered outside the gates of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona to commemorate and grieve the contemporary slaughter of innocents.  The group held signs calling for an end to drone warfare.  An Arizona Air National Guard unit based at Davis-Monthan since 2007 operates armed Predator drones used by U.S. military in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
 
John Heid read his statement to the group (see below).  The names of children killed by U.S. drones were then recited.   
 
Heid, Gretchen Nielsen and Jim Marx met with the security people at the gate to request a meeting with the person in charge of the drone program.  The request was refused and Tucson police were called.  They arrested Heid when he refused to leave.  He was charged with trespass and released from jail at 11 p.m.
 
For more information, contact John Heid at <jefhsparrow@yahoo.com>.

 
                                           Holy Innocents Drone Vigil 12/28/12


  “I saw men, women and children die during that time. I never thought I’d kill that many people. In fact I thought I couldn’t kill anyone at all.” -- former drone operator Brandon Bryant.


  The U.S. carried out 333 drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2012 alone – more than the entire number of drone attacks in Pakistan over the past eight years combined.

   Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is the staging site for the 214th Reconnaissance Group of the Arizona Air National Guard, a Predator drone unit. Personnel of the 214th have conducted more than 3,000 sorties since 2007 and provided more than 55,000 flying hours of combat mission support from Tucson.

  The U.S. military has begun to use the term “harvest” to describe the killing done in this push-button combat of drone warfare. Recently the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Britain documented 178 children among over 900 civilians killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan and Yemen alone.   

  Why is there such an aversion to acknowledging the human cost? Our drones are harvesting their children. These revelations are too much to bear sitting still.

  “They had their whole lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.”  Thus said President Obama at the memorial service for the 20 children killed in a Connecticut school two weeks ago. The president added: “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this.”

  Today, December 28th, on the Commemoration of the slaughter of Holy Innocents, we embrace President Obama’s exhortation on behalf of the children by coming to Davis-Monthan AFB to call for a change of heart, of policy and practice. Cease drone operations immediately on behalf of the children and all victims of this warfare including U.S. drone pilots who are increasingly being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress syndrome. Our plea is for an end to all warfare. May we pursue peace by peaceful means.

john heid

Casa Mariposa
Tucson, AZ

Conscientious objector Natan Blanc sentenced to prison for the third time for his refusal to join the Israeli Army

Natan Blanc, 19 years old from Haifa, arrived, Sunday, 22.12.12 , to the Induction Base in Tal-hashomer, where he again declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli Army. he was sentenced to 14 days of imprisonment for his refusal, in the military prison No. 6 near Atlit.

In his refusal declaration Natan Blanc wrote:

Rosalie Riegle, Author of "Doing Time for Peace" to Speak in Charlottesville on January 24, 2013

Click to enlarge image:

Rosalie Riegle, author of the new book on nonviolent resistance to war, Doing Time for Peace, will be in Charlottesville, Va., on January 24, 2013, to speak and sign copies of the book at Random Row Books on West Main Street at 6 p.m.

Joining her will be Sue and Bill Frankel-Streit, who are among the many resisters featured in the book.

Please click here to sign up for the event on FaceBook.

Click for PDF flyer.

ENDORSED BY Veterans For Peace, and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.

Talk Nation Radio: David Hartsough on Peace Work

David Hartsough has been a peace activist since the 1950s, a conscientious objector, a civil disobedient, arrested over 100 times.  In 2002 he cofounded the Nonviolent Peace Force (nonviolentpeaceforce.org).  Hartsough is the executive director of Peace Workers (peaceworkersus.org).  He discusses the current status of war and peace in our culture.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Doing Time for Peace

Hundreds of Americans, young and old, are regularly going to prison, sometimes for months or years or decades, for nonviolently resisting U.S. militarism

They block ports, ships, submarines, trains full of weapons, trucks full of weapons, and gates to military bases.  They take hammers to weapons of mass destruction, cause millions of dollars worth of damage, hang up banners, and wait to be arrested.  They cause weapons systems to be canceled, facilities to be closed, and Pentagon policies to be changed.  They educate and inspire greater resistance.

The people who do this take great risks.  U.S. courts are extremely unpredictable, and the same action can easily result in no jail time or years behind bars.  Many of these people have families, and the separation is usually painful.  But many say they could not do this without their families or without their close-knit communities of like-thinking resisters.  A support network of several people is generally needed for each resister.

More often than not, a great sacrifice is made with no apparent success in terms of governmental behavior, either immediately or even after a lengthy passage of time.

Police are becoming more violent.  Sentences are growing longer, and prisons are becoming more awful.

Increasingly, the corporate media ignores such actions, dramatically reducing the educational and inspirational benefits.  When Steve Downs was arrested for wearing a "give peace a chance" t-shirt in a shopping mall, a reporter called up a local peace group and tried to get them to admit they'd prompted Downs' action.  When they said they'd never heard of him, the reporter replied, "Oh, then it's a legitimate story!"  "In other words," says Downs, "if a group protests in support of their constitutional rights, it's not a legitimate story.  If one hapless individual blunders into an arrest, then it is!"

And yet, people who devote themselves to nonviolently resisting war can know that they are part of a movement that does result in improved policies.  And they can know that if more people joined them their chances of success would increase without limit.  That is to say, if enough people joined in, complete success would be guaranteed.  That is to say, peace on earth.

Rosalie Riegle has just published a wonderful collection called "Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community," in which she transcribes her interviews of 68 peace resisters, friends, and family members -- selected from 173 whom Riegle interviewed between 2004 and 2007.  The book is not in the least polemical, more sociological.  The speakers struggle with their memories and goals, and with questions about whether what they do is worth it.

The question of whether a sacrifice has been worth the effort often remains an open question for a very long time.  This book collects heroic, inspiring, and eye-opening actions and presents them with undeniable honesty and humility.  Imagine if millions of people were to read this book.  Suddenly countless actions done quietly or with little notice would be having a whole new kind of impact, and actions engaged in decades back would be revived -- perhaps in a more illuminating manner than before, as a result of the insights gained by the participants.

One resister quoted in "Doing Time for Peace," Kathleen Rumpf, recalled an action she was part of in 1983:

"[W]e went [into the hangar] and saw the B-52 and began hammering.  My little hammer would ping and then almost fly in my face without even leaving a mark.  I painted on the plane: 'This is our cry, this is our prayer of peace in the world.'  And the symbols we brought with us -- the pictures of the children, the indictment that we put on the plane, the blood we poured . . . . I hung paper peace cranes on the different engines.  (The FBI kept calling the cranes 'paper airplanes' like they called blood 'red substance.')

"We had decided we'd do twenty minutes of hammering and putting our stuff around, no more.  In reality, we were there for about two and a half hours.  We didn't want to do more destruction, and we kept wondering what to do next.  We phoned the press from their top security lines.  We sang and prayed out on the tarmac.  We went back in to go to the bathroom.  We went up into a B-52 and looked around.  Now, we were charged with sabotage.  Had we been about that, we certainly would have had time to do it.  Anyway, finally we were able to wave somebody down to arrest us.  They were going to take us to the Burger King and drop us off, like they usually do for protests at Griffiss.  I said, 'Well, gee!  You might want to check Hangar 101 before you release us.'

"So they go to the hangar and then they get on the walkie-talkies, and then we had about sixteen or eighteen guys with forty-inch necks, marching double time with M-16 rifles.  They made us kneel in the sand, holding rifles on us.

"Then sitting on that bus . . . for eight, nine hours . . . with my hands behind my back and hearing this constant 'Shut up! Shut up!' We'd say, 'Well, we didn't join the military, you did.'"

The heroes -- and I use the term intentionally -- in this book include atheists and members of various religions, but they are disproportionately Catholic and part of the Catholic Worker movement.  This raises all sorts of questions for an atheist like myself who believes both that the world would be better off without religion and that the world would be better off if more people behaved as do these religiously motivated Catholics.

The primary problem with activists is their insistence on knowing that success is likely before they act.  This results in a tremendous amount of inaction.  So, when these religious activists say they do not care about success, or they are acting in order to suffer, or they are seeking personal transformation, I'm not eager to reject their position.  I believe we are facing a crisis of militarism and environmental destruction that threatens human survival.  I believe we have a moral duty to act, regardless of the chances of success.  These peace resisters speak of opposing militarism in appropriately moral terms, I think.  But I believe our duty is to act in the manner most likely to succeed, as far as we can identify it.  Sometimes I think that is this sort of nonviolent resistance, but not always.

The resisters do not agree on everything.  Some go limp when arrested.  Some plead guilty.  Some request the harshest sentence.  Some view their defense in court and their attempt to achieve acquittal to be a central part of the action. 

And some have moved toward a type of action unlikely to result in prison time, namely travel to nations threatened by or under attack by the U.S. government or its allies.  Sending peace teams into zones threatened with war or facing ongoing war and occupation can involve great risk and sacrifice.  It can employ the hands-on, face-to-face interactions that peace resisters value.  Friendships and alliances can be built across borders that help to educate the people of both nations and influence their governments.  And all without the months behind bars.

Peace resisters are my kind of Catholics.  Compare them to the Pope, a former Nazi-youth whose Christmas message this week was, first, hatred for gay people, and, second, interaction between the world's religions -- not disarmament, not a cease-fire.  Outgrowing the need for religion, and in the process losing a cause of deadly division, wasn't mentioned, of course.  But the resisters in Riegle's collection often include their disbelief in death as part of what motivates them, what takes away their fear.  And why would I want to take that away from them? 

Albert Camus, generally identified as an atheist, is a frequent source of inspiration for religious resisters.  Camus was very much a mournful ex-theist ever in the process of very-regretfully losing his religion and proclaiming the world absurd without it.  These resisters manage to erase that absurdity.  They eliminate their worries over risks of horrible fates, through their willingness to put everything on the line.  Perhaps to some extent they believe they're fully insured.  They clearly feel a sense of freedom when they set all worry behind them and declare their willingness to accept any suffering whatsoever in order to promote peace and resist war making. 

More of us, all of us, should be moving in that direction.

The Government and Your Guns

We're in the grip of twin madnesses, and those who have overcome one of them can still be completely controlled by the other.

The first madness is the idea that spending a trillion dollars a year on weaponry and war preparations makes us safer, that 1,000 military bases abroad protect rather than provoke, that nuclear arsenals discourage terrorism, that drones have civilized the act of blowing up somebody's house, that the Pentagon's business really is "defense." 

Why should our 4% of humanity need more weaponry than the rest of the world for protection?  We can't be inherently that unlikable.  We're caught in a vicious cycle.  Our militarism encourages wars, and the wars justify more militarism.  The weapons makers that the Pentagon keeps in business arm the rest of the world as well.  Some imagine that even this weapons proliferation makes us safer.  Meanwhile, back in reality, we're draining our budget, hollowing out our representative government, poisoning our environment, and escalating completely avoidable conflicts.

From libertarians to liberals, there are large numbers of Americans who can say to Dwight Eisenhower and Martin Luther King alike: you're right, the guns are not helping.

There is a second madness, however.  It is a madness that appeals to those skeptical of governments.  It is attractive to those interested in radical change, popular power, and protection of civil liberties.  This is the madness that says: We need our personal supplies of guns to protect us from the government. 

If our loyalties are with individual rights, popular revolution, and resistance to the corrupt fascistic tendencies of unchecked power, it's hard for us to question this idea.  We hesitate, thinking, "Maybe the government does want our guns.  Maybe there will come a day when we need them." 

Our hesitation brings us into common ground with the gun lobby.  "Take your guns away?" we declare indignantly.  "Oh no! We would never want to take people's guns away.  We just want them to have the right kind of guns, the right kind of bullets, the right registrations and background checks and mental health screenings.  We want our personal militarism civilized by its own Geneva Conventions."

This still leaves huge gaps between those who would seek to limit and control gun ownership and the NRA.  And the "reasonable gun rights" coalition can indeed point to instances of a gun being used in actual defense.  But the notion of using guns to resist or reform or overthrow the government is bizarrely out of touch with reality.

There is no correlation between personal liberties in a nation and its gun ownership.  Campaigns of resistance to tyranny are more likely to succeed, and that success is more likely to be lasting when those campaigns are nonviolent.  Milosevic was thrown out of power in Serbia, not by violence, but by nonviolent action.  In East Timor, violent resistance failed for many years before the people resorted to nonviolence and began to win.  Last year in Tunisia, with not a gun in sight (or hidden away as an implied threat either), the people overthrew a dictatorship and inspired Egyptians to do the same.  Meanwhile, Americans are so loaded down with guns that we're killing our own children, by accident, by fits of rage and insanity -- and we can't overthrow a card table.

Are you kidding me?  If in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court openly stole an election, and our gun-heavy populace did nothing, if someone had predicted that our government would legalize warrantless spying, imprisonment without charge, torture, rendition, assassination, and wars fought by the CIA with flying robots before legalizing marijuana, who wouldn't have said that was crazy?  We've watched this being done to us.  We've watched our wealth being handed over to the war makers and the financiers.  We've bought more guns, and we've done nothing.  And the guns have done nothing.  And anything we could do with the guns would be counterproductive.

Violence does not work anymore, not even in the heart of a society devoted to violence.  Resistance movements here at home are hindered, not helped, by weaponry.  The government does not want your guns; it wants your obedience.  It's not afraid of your assault weapons; it's afraid of your noncooperation.  An abusive government has no cause for concern as long as people believe that violence is the field on which to compete.  But if we give up that mindset along with the guns, there's no telling what might happen.  We might even fix this place up now, without waiting for the apocalypse.

Thirteen anti-drone protesters found guilty of trespassing

By Charles Ellis, The Post-Standard

DeWitt, N.Y. -- Thirteen anti-drone protesters were convicted of trespassing Thursday night, and five were sentenced to two weeks in jail.

Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, and James Ricks, of Ithaca, went directly after their sentencing to the Jamesville Correctional Facility.

Rae Kramer, of Syracuse, and Ellen Grady and Clare Grady, of Ithaca, were ordered to report to Jamesville Correctional on Jan. 11, said Ann Tiffany, of Syracuse, who attended the trial, which took about 5 1/2 hours in DeWitt Town Court.

The jail terms were reserved for repeat offenders, Tiffany said.

All were fined $250 plus $125 in court costs. Those not sentenced to jail were given one-year conditional discharges and required to perform 25 hours of community service, Tiffany said.

The other defendants were Daniel Burns, of Ithaca; Judy Homanich, of Binghamton; George Homanich, of Binghamton; Mark Scibilia-Carver, of Ithaca; John Hamilton, of Ithaca; Dave McClellen, of Ithaca; Nate Lewis, of Trumansburg; and Dan Burgevin, of Trumansburg.

The protesters were charged after they spent more than two hours on June 28 at Hancock Air Base’s main entrance while attempting — and failing — to deliver a “citizens’ indictment” for what they are calling reaper drone war crimes committed at the base.

They were convicted by Judge Robert Jokl in DeWitt Town Court. The 13 defended themselves without using attorneys.

The base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard, pilots the MQ9 reaper drone, a weaponized aerial robot, over Afghanistan and serves as the national training center for Reaper maintenance.

The indictment, prepared in consultation with former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, invokes international law, the Nuremburg Protocols, and U.S. constitutional law. The indictment charges Hancock personnel and their chain of command with responsibility for large-scale civilian deaths and with terrorism.

Two others were arrested on June 28 at Hancock, but not charged.

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/12/thirteen_anti-drone_protesters_1.html

 

Write to Bradley Manning in prison. He's there for all of us:


Commander, HHC USAG
Attn. PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave. Bldg. 417
JBN-HH VA 22211

Talk Nation Radio: Erica Chenoweth on the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Erica Chenoweth is co-author with Maria J. Stephan of "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict."  Their research finds that nonviolent action works against tyrannical rule with a higher success rate than violence and with longer-lasting results.  Their book has received the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, as well as the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, which the American Political Science Association gives annually to the best book on government, politics, or international affairs published in the U.S. during the previous calendar year.  Listeners to Talk Nation Radio can pick up the newly-released paperback at a 30% discount from http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15682-0/why-civil-resistance-works by using the discount code WHYCHE. Learn more at http://ericachenoweth.com

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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Citizens Are Winning the Battle Over Cops and Cameras

 

By John Grant


Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence, Arizona, was walking in Times Square on a cold night in November and came across a New York City police officer giving a barefoot homeless man a pair of all-weather boots he had purchased out of his own pocket. Moved, she took out her cell phone and snapped a picture.

Veterans For Peace Appeals to Israeli Soldiers to Lay Down Their Arms

Israel's military has in recent days attacked the Gaza strip with drones and F-16s, and has apparently been preparing for a possible ground war. Israel is using weaponry provided by the United States at the expense to U.S. taxpayers of $3 billion per year. Veterans For Peace member Doug Rawlings addresses the following statement to members of the Israeli military:

"I have been to where you are going. From my heart, I beseech you not to join me. In 1969, I was sent to Vietnam as a reluctant soldier, a draftee, who did not have the courage of my convictions. I chose to follow the orders of my government rather than to follow the dictates of my conscience. It’s been over forty years now, and I still remember the faces of the Vietnamese people who were victimized by my lack of moral autonomy. I became one of Pharaoh’s army, and, to this day, I have been wading through the miasma of that murderous indecisiveness. Had I heeded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. instead of General William Westmoreland, I would have refused to serve as a pawn in my government’s immoral invasion and occupation of Vietnam.

"Westmoreland was one of many who appealed to some kind of base sense of national self-righteousness that relegated a whole people – the “enemy”-- to a form of sub-human existence. He, too, heard from chauvinist generals like yours who demanded that we '…bomb the Vietnamese people back to the Stone Age.' Dr. King, on the other hand, was imploring us to not exploit others, to recognize the sacredness of all people, and to not 'trample over others with the iron feet of oppression.' He recognized that '…peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.'

"You, my friends, have become the means of your government, and it is up to you to say that you would rather be warriors for peace than serve in Pharaoh’s legions. Follow the lead of the Dr. Kings of the world, not the generals who are willing to use the blood of others to seek some kind of political goals. Rejoin the 'beloved community' of world citizens who recognize the sanctity of all human life. Reject the immoral orders of those who would send you to do their bloody bidding. Refuse orders to attack Gaza. The world is waiting for the first army of peace-makers to turn back the tide of war. Why not start with you?"

Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

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