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By Iara Lee
I was in Seoul, South Korea this month at the invitation of the wonderful EBS TV Documentary Festival, and was truly, happily surprised to see a resurgence of activism among ordinary Koreans. Don't get me wrong. Since its founding, Korea has had a tradition of fierce, die-hard activism (which Koreans themselves may attribute to a diet high in garlic and red pepper, as well as their commitment to social justice), but this ferocity seemed to have gone dormant in the mid-nineties. I was overjoyed to find that this was no longer the case.
By Ann Wright
Yesterday, August 24, 2011, sirens wailed for citizens to come to the main gate of the Naval Base in Kang Jeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea where the Korean Navy wants to continue construction of a naval base for 18 ships and a 2 submarines in an area that will destroy a pristine shoreline and endanger marine life. Local villagers and activists from the mainland of South Korea have struggled for five years to prevent the construction of the base.
Sirens signal an emergency-the mayor and four activists are arrested
By Marjorie Cohn Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam without sufficient remedial action by the U.S. government. One of the most shameful legacies of the Vietnam War, Agent Orange continues to poison Vietnam and the people exposed to the chemicals, as well as their offspring. H.R. 2634, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, which California Congressman Bob Filner just introduced in the House, would provide crucial assistance for social and health services to Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and U.S. victims of Agent Orange. From 1961 to 1971, approximately 19 million gallons of herbicides, primarily Agent Orange, were sprayed over the southern region of Vietnam. Much of it was contaminated with dioxin, a deadly chemical.
By CHRISTINE AHN, New York Times
SEOUL — Gangjeong, a small fishing and farming village on Jeju Island 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula, is a pristine Unesco-designated ecological reserve where elderly Korean women sea divers, haenyo, still forage for seafood. It is also the site of a fierce resistance movement by villagers who oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on the island that will become part of the U.S. missile defense system to contain China.
South Korea’s president, Lee Myungbak, says the base is needed to protect Seoul from an attack from Pyongyang. The problem with that assertion is that the Aegis destroyers that Lee pledged to deploy at the base aren’t designed to protect South Korea from North Korean Taepodong ballistic missiles (TBM).
I have very tragic news to report from Jeju Island South Korea.At the crack of dawn on Thursday, undercover police officers came to Gangjeong village and arrested three major leaders of the peaceful resistance: Village Chief Kang Dong-Kyun, renowned peace activist Brother Song Kang-Ho, and base opposition leader Ko Kwon-Il.The South Korean Navy (ROKN) and Minister of Justice Lee Gui Nam also issued a notice to Gangjeong village leader Kang Dong-Kyun and 76 other villagers and peace activists. This notice is a threat to these 77 individuals and civil society organizations for disturbing the construction of the naval base.
From Organizing Notes
New barges are being brought into the ocean area just off the coast of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. They are preparing to put a huge cement structure called a Caisson into the water which will be part of the piers being built.
When village protester Brother Song tried to get on the barge 20 Samsung Construction and Navy employees attacked and beat him with bamboo clubs. He was injured and passed out. The emergency medical service came and took him to the hospital. The village people are angry about Brother Song's beating and went to the Naval base office where they held a mass protest.
The village people told the Navy to remove the barge. Even though Brother Song was injured, the Samsung Construction guys answered, "What's the big deal?"
One supporter reported on the Save Gangjeong Facebook page, "I just got off the phone with Brother Song and he is okay. He woke up and although he says he is bruised up and hurt his hip, he doesn't have any broken bones even though he was kicked and beaten and pushed off the barge and fell onto another boat below. The villagers have asked him to rest in the hospital now so he is doing that. He thanks everyone for their support and urges us to keep on resisting."
MacGregor Eddy returns home today after ten days in the Gangjeong village doing support work. We thank her for making the trip and carrying the Global Network's messages of solidarity to Jeju Island.
At our annual Global Network membership meeting yesterday we made the decision to send another of our board members to Jeju Island at the end of July. We have asked Matt Hoey to go to Jeju and to continue the work that MacGregor started for us. He has agreed to go. We are strongly urging other organizations around the world to send representatives to Gangjeong village during the last week of July. So far we have heard from German church groups and from Korean-American organizations that they will also be sending representatives during late July. Please let us know if you are interested and we can help make arrangements.
Things are really starting to heat up in the village so we all need to step up our support work. The first thing we need to do is get more people to know about this situation so please share this information and send people to the Facebook page. We also need to get some international media coverage of this crisis so any assistance you can give would be helpful.
Brother Song has also requested international assistance in raising $3,500 for another boat that they can use to protest the barges that are increasingly working offshore. If you are inclined to help with that fundraising please let us know.
By the way, be sure to boycott Samsung products!
By Bruce Gagnon
A weak and thin Yang Yoon-Mo (right) released from jail after 60 day hunger strike
Gloria Steinem bows along the Gangjeong coastProfessor Yang was released from jail today. He was sentenced to one and one-half years in jail with a suspended sentence but with two years probation. There can be no doubt that the international outcry on his behalf has helped spring him from the jailhouse.
Regina Pyon, staff person at SPARK in South Korea, reports, "Yang didn't mention yet about his hunger strike. The first word he spoke was 'Is Gangjeong peaceful?' and 'My struggle will be continued to the end. Gangjeong villagers are the teacher who led me to the road of justice.'
Sung-Hee Choi will go on trial June 10. She has ended her hunger strike and urges others to end their hunger strikes at this time.
We are thrilled at the release of Professor Yang Yoon-Mo but deplore the strict conditions of a two year probation which is obviously intended to silence him politically.
Our plan to send MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island on behalf of the Global Network remains in place. She will be there for the June 10 trial of fellow Global Network board member Sung-Hee. People are already responding to our fund appeal to pay for her travel. We must not let our voices die down now. People must continue to spread news about Jeju Island and keep the heat on to halt the Navy base construction.
American feminist activist Gloria Steinem visited the Gangjeong village in recent days along with a delegation of Korean women. I am certain that her visit was a huge lift to the villagers who have been working so hard for the past four years to bring this issue to the world's attention.
We are so proud of our friends in Gangjeong village and all the South Korean activists who have worked so hard to support them. It is an honor for us to work together in this good struggle for peace.
Many NGOs in South Korea launched the "Korean National Committee against Jeju Naval Base Construction" on June 1. They plan to hold a press conference on June 8 and are requesting that international activists send a joint statement for the news conference. We will begin now to put that statement together. Let me know if your organization would like to be listed as a signatory on this basic statement of our support for the Gangjeong village struggle against the Navy base.
We will keep you posted as we get more news about Yang and Sung-Hee. Thanks for keeping up with all this.
The Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) sent a protest note to the US President Barack Obama on May 23, regarding a news report that it had conducted a new form of nuclear tests in November 2010 and in March 2011. Following is the note.
May 23, 2011
Mr. Barack OBAMA
United States of America
We protest against your conducting a new form of nuclear tests and urge you to make efforts in good faith to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
The U.S. Department of Energy (the National Nuclear Security Administration) made public by May 21 that it had conducted the new form of nuclear tests twice in November 2010 and in March 2011.
US flexes muscle in the Black Sea
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
The Black Sea is about to lose its historical exclusivity as a Russian-Turkish preserve. A visit by the USA-TRANSCOM commander General Duncan McNabb to Bucharest has sealed the fate of the Black Sea as the latest entry into the chronicles of the "new great game".
The US had requested to use Romania's two military infrastructures as transit place for the carriage of troops and military hardware to and from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe. On May 2, Romania's Supreme Council for National Defense (CSAT) approved the use of the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airport and the Port of Constanta for transit. McNabb swiftly descended on Bucharest on Thursday to seal the deal.
By Catherine Hornby
ROME | Wed May 18, 2011
(Reuters) - Up to 27 million people are modern-day slaves, and migrants fleeing violence in North Africa are among those most at risk of being exploited, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Countries where migrants arrive should try to identify potential victims and protect them, rather than opting for immediate repatriation which often sends them back into the hands of human traffickers, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said.
Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing turmoil in North Africa, with many trying to reach Europe by boat, but the problem of slavery exists all over the world and India, Thailand and Malaysia are among the worst-affected countries.
Back in mid-April, the phone rang one evening. You have a call from Ed, the woman’s voice said. I was in end-of-day mode, not the best time for a tele-scammer to invade my home life. I hung up, and the phone rang again almost immediately. That dance took two more turns, before I switched to sardonic. Ed’s not here, I answered in my most blandly convivial voice, but she insisted. It’s a call from Ed.
By Bruce K. Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
This morning I received an urgent message (see below) from Jeju Island, South Korea saying that yesterday eight leaders of the protest effort against construction of a Navy base had been arrested. Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi was one of those arrested - her second time in recent months.
Gangjeong village resident Professor Yang Yoon-Mo is now in his 45th day of his hunger strike while in jail for trying to block a construction truck. He has vowed to die in jail unless base construction is halted.
By Russia Today
Further deployment of the US missile defense system in Europe gives Russia the right to withdraw from the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said.
"START may become a hostage of the so-called US European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA)," Ryabkov said at Monday’s meeting of the Expert Council on cooperation between Russia and NATO at the State Duma.
The official noted that Moscow has repeatedly warned its partners that if the scale of the US missile defense system creates a threat to Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, Russia has the right to withdraw from the agreement. That would be considered “an exceptional circumstance” mentioned in Article 14 of the New START.
He added that Russia will have to take responsive measures if the US and NATO develop their missile defense shield without taking Moscow’s opinion into account.
By Bruce Gagnon
Yumi Kikuchi & Gen Morita are our good friends who live in Japan. They are anti-war & anti-nuclear activists who have done so much good work, both in Japan & internationally on these issues. Yumi & Gen translated "ADDICTED To WAR" into Japanese and were responsible for over 70,000 copies being sold in Japan. They also put Japanese subtitles on my film “What I’ve Learned About U. S. Foreign Policy” and screened it at the first ever Tokyo Peace Film Festival, which they organized. I could go on & on listing many of the things they have done to promote Peace in the world. Below is what they are asking us to do to help them now.
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 007 Los Angles, CA
The petition can be accessed through Yumi Kikuchi's blog below or contact her at email@example.com
Warns Any Radiation Exposure Is Unsafe
Washington, DC - March 19, 2011 – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) today called for a nationwide
moratorium on new nuclear reactors in the United States and a suspension of operations at the nuclear reactors with a similar design as those involved in the disaster in Japan, as well as those on fault lines. PSR cited the medical risks associated with any level of radiation exposure regardless of how small. Lower doses result in less chance of harm than higher doses, but any dose level can put an individual at risk.
By Dave Lindorff
Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor indicted for the murder of two young Pakistani motorcyclists, whom he gunned down in the back in broad daylight through his car windshield in a busy section of Lahore, Pakistan, has been freed, after the payment of $2.34 million in “blood money,” called diyya, to relatives of the two slain men.
The surprise “deal,” which Pakistani news reports are saying appears to have been forced on the relatives of the two men, who up to March 15 had insisted they wanted no blood money, but only justice, was announced in a court session March 16 in Lahore, at which the prosecution’s case of murder was to have been presented.
By Dave Lindorff
It seems rather silly now, doesn’t it, all the US concern about terrorism?
The nuclear crisis in Japan, which continues to worsen, threatens to become a total multiple meltdown, combined with the perhaps even more disastrous explosion and fire in one or several spent fuel rod ponds. If any of these things happen, not to mention many of them, several hundred square miles of Japan would be rendered indefinitely uninhabitable, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could be worse. If the winds are blowing south during such a disaster, all of Tokyo, which has a metropolitan population of over 30 million, could have to be evacuated.
A study by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 1997, found that one spend fuel disaster could devastate almost 200 square miles of the US, and cause half a trillion dollars in damage!
By Harvey Wasserman, Editor, NukeFree.org
Had the massive 8.9 Richter-scale earthquake that has just savaged Japan hit off the California coast, it could have ripped apart at least four coastal reactors and sent a lethal cloud of radiation across the entire United States. (http://nukefree.org/ace-hoffman-computerized-graphic-what-if-chernobyl-h... )
The two huge reactors each at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are not designed to withstand such powerful shocks. All four are extremely close to major faults.
All four reactors are located relatively low to the coast. They are vulnerable to tsunamis like those now expected to hit as many as fifty countries.
San Onofre sits between San Diego and Los Angeles. A radioactive cloud spewing from one or both reactors there would do incalculable damage to either or both urban areas before carrying over the rest of southern and central California.
At a time when the issue of civilian casualties in Libya has been dominating the international agenda, our Recording Casualties of Armed Conflict programme has launched Every Casualty.org, a website aiming to raise the profile of casualty recording worldwide and the organisations that undertake it. The site is a one-stop shop for information on casualties of conflict worldwide. It engages 22 of the organisations that record them in the International Practitioner Network convened by ORG.
That was the argument made in a U.S. bestseller in 2009 written by a WWII historian whose father had raised the US flag on Iwo Jima. And the Roosevelt he had in mind was Teddy, not Franklin.
Needless to say, although countless people will say it quite angrily in my Email inbox in response to this article, you cannot simply blame an event on actions that occurred years before. A war is started by the people who start that war, in that instant, and there is no way for them to wiggle out of that responsibility. But, as everyone is eager to recognize when the context is more comfortable, all actions have consequences, and those consequences have further consequences. (As a warning that may further temper the vitriol, I would like to point out that Teddy was not a Democrat.)
By Dave Lindorff
A report today in the British Guardian newspaper is confirming that Raymond Davis, the man jailed in Lahore, Pakistan charged with murdering two young Pakistanis who were almost certainly themselves working for Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), is an employee of the CIA. The paper says that based upon its reporters' interviews with both Pakistani and US sources, it is "confirming" that Davis is a CIA spy.
The paper adds that Davis's wife provided information numbers for him to a local TV station and those numbers turned out to be the CIA. Meanwhile, Agence France Press reports that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), a loose-tongued member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also apparently inadvertently slipped up and disclosed on the Senate floor that Davis is an "agent", saying, "We can't throw this agent over."
Juan Cole has all the links.
Turkey on Friday made public its report on the May 31 Israeli attack on a humanitarian aid convoy that killed eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin and injured many others.
Turkey repeatedly asked Israel to officially apologize and pay compensation for all the loss and damages caused by its illegal attack.
The report, prepared by Turkish National Commission of Inquiry, has been submitted to the Panel of Inquiry set up by the UN Secretary-General in August 2010, in accordance with the Presidential Statement issued by the UN Security Council in June 2010 which called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.
A PANEL ON SOLIDARITY AND RESISTANCE TO US FOREIGN POLICY
*US Imperialism in the Middle East *the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent *Secret War in Pakistan *Israel’s War Plans *the Revolt in the Arab World
Sponsored by the International Socialist Organization
*Michael Schwartz on US Imperialism in the Middle East* (Author of “War Without End” and Professor of Sociology at SUNY Stonybrook)
*Arun Gupta on the US Government's Profound Hatred of Democracy and the War on Dissent*
(founding editor, Indypendent)
*Adaner Usmani on the Secret War in Pakistan* (Student Activist based in Karachi. Works with the Action for a Progressive Pakistan and Labour Party (LPP))
*Lamis Deek on Israel’s War Plans* (Activist with Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right of Return Coalition)
*Mostafa Omar on the Revolt in the Arab World* (Egyptian-American activist, member of the International Socialist Organization)
By Jeff Cohen
In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. questioned U.S. military interventions against progressive movements in the Third World by invoking a JFK quote: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Were he alive to have witnessed the last three decades of U.S. foreign policy, King might update that quote by noting: “Those who make secular revolution impossible will make extreme Islamist revolution inevitable.”
For decades beginning during the Cold War, U.S. policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements. Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the left.