Monday, January 22, 2018

The US Syria “Strategy” – Recipe for Continued Disaster Even for the US

The US Syria “Strategy” – Recipe for Continued Disaster Even for the US
Jan Oberg | Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research – TRANSCEND Media Service
19 Jan 2018 – Most media covering the speech that US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, gave at the Hoover Institution on January 17, 2018 merely points out that he said that the United States would stay in Syria – open-ended – in the future and until President Bashar al-Assad has left the scene. Read the full speech here.

Reuters even twists it all to mean that the US is now more patient about Assad’s removal.
Before I continue, it is a significant sign of the Western crisis, including moral and legal decay, that it raises few eyebrows – and none in NATO circles – that a top official of the leader of the Western world:

1.  expresses no regrets about anything done so far in this conflict or in the larger Middle East,
2. states clearly that it will continue what must in legal terms be characterized as foreign military aggression and presence on the territory of a legal state member of the UN,
3. that it will work for regime change (there too) and
4. will make various kinds of aid dependent on Assad’s demise. Remember it is one of the largest post-1945 humanitarian crises – in the category of, say, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Yemen – all of which have, by no coincidence, US and allied warfare as their main feature.

   Irrespective of what we may think of Syria, this is little but a full-scale assault on international law and the normative system embedded in the UN Charter that has taken decades of hard work to build, a fundamental cornerstone of the management and civilizational development of the world order system.

  Seen in comparison with the other attempts at undermining the UN – which began in the 1990s in Bosnia-Herzegovina – this should be a cause of deep concern among people in the truly civilizational corners of our world.

   And it can’t be sold to the world under the headline of a Responsibility to Protect. But it does provoke the question: Shouldn’t there be a Responsibility to Protest – even among those allies that Tillerson seems to take for granted are all lining up behind the US (and perhaps they are)?

  If there is anyone who can talk the US to some sense these days, it must be allies and friends predominantly in NATO and the EU. But will they?

   Although held at Stanford University – and therefore supposed to contain some kind of decent academic-intellectual analysis – Tillerson’s presentation is from such perspectives incredibly poor.

   Although he says that he will give “a broad historical and political context”, there is neither broadness, nor history nor context. Indeed, just a few words later he starts out in this manner which offers the framework for the rest of what he says:

   For nearly 50 years, the Syrian people have suffered under the dictatorship of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar al-Assad. The nature of the Assad regime, like that of its sponsor Iran, is malignant. It has promoted state terror. It has empowered groups that kill American soldiers, such as al-Qaida. It has backed Hizballah and Hamas. And it has violently suppressed political opposition… and on an on it goes.

   If this is the best historycontext and analysis of what the underlying conflicts and the reasons for all the violence in Syria are that the United States of America’s top foreign policy official can muster you may ask at least two questions: What is so terribly deficient, narrow-minded and self-serving about US academia in this field? Or is that academic world actually excellent but not listened to at all in decision-making circles and why did he make that speech at a university?

   I don’t know what the answer is, perhaps it is a combination of the two? But as a professor in peace and conflict studies I would ask an undergraduate student making writing such a piece of history and conflict analysis to read a couple of books more and come back to me with a revised paper. I would not let that student pass the exam.

   Interestingly, the transcript of the speech reveals that the audience had no chance to ask questions or otherwise debate with the speaker. After Tillerson’s speech there is only a conversation between him and former foreign secretary,  Condoleezza Rice. That’s unusual at a university where free debate should reign.

   Secondly, there is nothing that indicates that Tillerson has a grasp on how his “strategy” for Syria relates to a more comprehensive policy for the Middle East region as a whole.
He doesn’t mention – for understandable reasons, you may say – that the US also has some other policies and goals for its future presence in Syria such as building permanent bases – in a kind of base race with Russia – and supporting Kurdish forces in the Syrian side of the border to Turkey – the second largest military power in NATO that is of course furious and calls it a terrorist army that it is ready to fight.

  It will only push Turkey closer to Russia and eventually and predictably Turkey will turn its back completely on Europe and leave NATO.

  We’ve of course seen it all before. It’s about bases (like, say, Kosovo), about control of resources (like, say, Iraq), about regime change (like, say Saddam Hussein and Moamar Khadafi) and it’s about the exceptionalist belief that God’s own country has God’s mandate to create US Imperial peace everywhere – no matter how many times it has already gone madly wrong and no matter how many innocent people are killed and wounded in the process.

   He also does not mention that the US under the Trump administration has chosen to promote and support the new fundamentalist Islamist-Zionist team, Saudi-Arabia and Israel, supported by the Gulf States, to gang up against the Iran that is seen as a huge threat to the US, the world and the region. But which – unfortunately for that view – isn’t.

   It is conspicuous in that this otherwise totally split and in-fighting administration/Deep State is united in basically in one thing: hating Iran. Iran is also about the only issue where President Trump holds the same views while he was in the campaign as he does now he is in the White House.

   Furthermore, the Trump administration is doing nothing but undermining the welfare of the Iranian people (and supporting the hardliners and corrupt sectors) by means of the sanctions that are still in function through financial mechanisms. And coming up repeatedly with nonsensical perceptions of the country and permanent threat à la all options are on the table.

 That is going to go madly wrong too, sooner or later.

   Much can be said about Tillerson’s speech. If it wasn’t coming out of the world’s strongest military power – but now losing on all other power scales – nobody would bother to read it. But you should! (Or see it below on video which also reveals how ritualistic the whole event is from the intro by the Hoover president and onwards).

   Heartbreakingly, it spells prolonged hell for fellow human beings in Syria and – open-ended – troubles for Iran and its people.

   Its peace-and-military stability philosophy is a fake as fake can be. Peace means war, open-ended war.

  Can anything good be said about it?

Probably only that this type of policy will eventually become the famous nail in the US Empire’s coffin. Thereafter, both the US Republic and the world will be a much better place.
But wouldn’t it be so much better for all of us if that piece of history could unfold in a peaceful, intellectually honest and moral manner instead of open-ended warfare to the end?

The day after this was published the New York Times carried this editorial.

TFF Director Prof. Jan Oberg is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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

Retribution and Revenge in the Wisconsin John Doe

Retribution and Revenge in the Wisconsin John Doe

Saturday, January 20, 2018

By Mary BottariPR Watch | Report

If billionaires are now allowed to give secret campaign contributions to get lawsuits against them thrown out of court, perhaps Attorney General Brad Schimel should issue a price list?
If billionaires are now allowed to give secret campaign contributions to get lawsuits against them thrown out of court, perhaps Attorney General Brad Schimel should issue a price list? (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

  The long running criminal investigation into whether or not Scott Walker and deep-pocketed dark money groups illegally coordinated the expenditure of some $30 million to win the 2012 recall elections should be old news by now. But the Wisconsin GOP is keeping it alive by undertaking a criminal investigation of a 2016 leak of documents to the Guardian newspaper, famous for its publication of the Snowden revelations and the Panama Papers.
In December, Attorney General Brad Schimel released a report on his findings. He failed to identify the leaker and claimed that potentially "hundreds" had access to material that was subject to "systematic and pervasive mishandling." Nevertheless, Schimel decided to recommend contempt charges be brought against a list of investigators, including Republican Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz, for allegedly mishandling evidence.
No sooner was the report released than it began to fall apart. The new Ethics Commission slammed the document for falsely claiming it failed to cooperate, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel demanded a correction for an unwarranted and false attack on the wife of a key John Doe reporter, and the John Doe judge overseeing the report was forced to step down after the discovery of past partisan tweets.
But the clown car really ran off the rails when the Wisconsin State Journal reported Schimel himself broke the law, by disclosing names and details of a closed ethics investigation he misleadingly labeled "John Doe III." The utter incompetence -- leaking names in the middle of a leak investigation -- prompted the John Doe judge who agreed to unseal the report to say that if he faced charges related to the matter "I would have to plead guilty."
The Capital Times called for Schimel's resignation charging that "his extreme partisanship has caused him to abandon basic legal standards."
See No Evil: Schimel Ignores Guardian Findings
Lost in the brouhaha are some underlying fundamentals. Schimel's report exculpates Walker and the dark money groups with the astounding claim "no piece of John Doe II or III evidence reviewed by DOJ suggests illegal or unethical conduct."
The lengthy Guardian report detailed the ugly story of one billionaire dark money donor, lead pigment manufacturer Harold Simmons, who was being sued by a group of children poisoned by lead paint. After Simmons gave $750,000 in personal and corporate checks to Wisconsin Club for Growth to defend Walker and state senators against recall, the GOP snuck a motion into a giant budget bill nullifying the lawsuits against him. (The legislature had rejected this same change to the law earlier, but after the checks flowed in the measure was passed and signed by Walker.)
If billionaires are now allowed to give secret campaign contributions to get lawsuits against them thrown out of court, perhaps the Attorney General should issue a price list so that the public can avail themselves of this nifty service?
In the face of evidence of coordination between Walker's campaign and express advocacy groups, including weekly meetings with the Republican Governor's Association which had sworn an oath not to coordinate with candidates, the Wisconsin Supreme Court cooked up a novel interpretation of the state's anti-coordination policy in order to let Team Walker off the hook. That ruling flew in the face of multiple US Supreme Court decisions and remains a national outlier today.
As it turns out, the same groups that secretly helped Walker had raised $10 million for four of the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices signing the controversial decision to end the John Doe investigation, and two justices asked to recuse in the case may have benefited from similar coordination.
Hear No Evil: Extraordinary Efforts to Suppress Evidence
No wonder the Supreme Court sealed proceedings, canceled oral arguments and initially ordered all materials destroyed. No wonder John Doe Judge Gregory A. Peterson ordered prosecutors to stop looking at any evidence -- unconscionably handicapping the lawyers appealing his order. No wonder Judge Rudolf Randa ordered the evidence destroyed before being overturned by the conservative 7th circuit. No wonder the GOP completely rewrote 40 years of clean election laws to retroactively legalize much of the behavior in question and to destroy the independent Government Accountability Board. No wonder Schimel worked to collect up every last printed page, electronic file and dust bunny in the basement of the former GAB.
Now the people that Schimel condemns lack access to his sealed charges and do not possess a shred of evidence to defend themselves.
While Schimel named nine people he thought might be involved in the leaks, Republican politicians have decided to go after a different group of people altogether, calling for the resignation of the head of the new elections commission and the ethics board they created in an absolute abuse of power.
Speak No Evil: Wisconsin's Dark Money Man Attacks Trump Special Counsel
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, accused Republicans of "rewriting the history of their own political scandals." But there is another reason the WI GOP wants to keep this story of "prosecutorial abuse" alive: it may become Exhibit A in a national effort to discredit Trump special investigator and former Republican FBI chief, Robert S. Mueller.
Wisconsin's dark money man Eric O'Keefe is already peddling this line on radio, as is US Senate hopeful Leah Vukmir in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. A resolute defender of secret money in politics, O'Keefe apparently leaked subpoenas to the Journal editorial board and admitted to violating the John Doe secrecy order "in some form everyday". Now O'Keefe is reading from a sealed grand jury subpoena from the Mueller investigation on air.
"The FBI was heavily involved in John Doe 1…and the director of the FBI during John Doe 1 was Robert S. Mueller III," says O'Keefe. "The Mueller investigation looks like another attempt by what might be called the administrative state or the deep state to overturn the election and remove Trump from office," he declares.
O'Keefe's tale of prosecutors run amok neglects to mention that John Doe I resulted in six convictions of Walker staff and associates, even though bid rigging charges were never brought against Walker. Every step of John Doe II was authorized by a judge and backed by five Republican and Democratic District Attorneys. Former Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen's office was sworn into John Doe II and ducked out without sending up a single flare about "prosecutorial misconduct."
For the defenders of secret money in politics, only pet politicians and prosecutors will do.
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Mary Bottari, the Center for Media and Democracy's deputy director, is an experienced policy wonk and consumer advocate who has served as a senior analyst on trade.
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Analysis
By Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Moyers & Company | News Analysis

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Palestinians Must Unite With Others the Trump Administration Deems Disposable

Palestinians Must Unite With Others the Trump Administration Deems Disposable

Sunday, January 21, 2018

By Jamil Khader, Truthout | Op-Ed

Hundreds protest the US's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in Philadelphia, December 8, 2017.Hundreds protest the US's declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in Philadelphia, December 8, 2017. (Image: Joe Piette / Flickr)
After dealing two devastating blows to the Palestinians on the status of Jerusalem and US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and/or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Trump might be ready to reverse US policy on the occupation. Although a spokesperson for the State Department denied that the US has changed its position on the Israeli occupation, it was reported that US Ambassador David Friedman has already ordered the State Department to refrain from using this word to refer to Israel's "alleged occupation" of the West Bank.
Trump could follow suit: He would not only strike the word "occupation" off the US playbook on Middle Eastern politics, but more dangerously endorse the Likud Party's Central Committee's colonialist policies of annexation of the West Bank.
Palestine and the Truth of Trump's Politics
Trump's putatively anti-Palestinian policies are part-and-parcel to a wider global campaign that aims at sharpening the national and international contradictions that inform the new shift toward authoritarian capitalist politics in the global capitalist system.
Trump does not have it in only for the Palestinians. Palestine is only one critical issue in a constellation of global crises and contradictions where the brutality of Trump's politics appears in its worst shape. These contradictions include the ecological catastropheimmigration (racism), resource warsfreedom of the presscivil rights and his war on the poor and haves-not in the new apartheid regime.
In his morally bankrupt ideology, Trump refers to these vulnerable and disposable groups, the 99 percent of the world's population, as the "worst of the worst." He has also reduced them to metaphors of "garbage" and waste (feces), the way he has done to Muslim refugees and immigrantsDeferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipientsSalvadoransHaitians and Africans. Palestinians must unite in solidarity with the "worst off" in the global capitalist system and actualize the promise for a radical change in the system.
Pax Americana's Motley Alliances
Trump's militaristic and oligarchic brand of authoritarian capitalism draws on ultra-right (white supremacist) and populist nationalist ideologies for support through the mediation of the transnational capitalist class. Trump's wager is that the instability that could result from the explosion of these contradictions would make it easier for ultra-right authoritarian regimes around the world to take over. However, this politics is not without its political and ideological inconsistencies.
At the political level, Trump's brazen attack on the Palestinians exposes the contradictions and limits of US hegemony and soft power in the world. In these times of geopolitical transitions, US hegemony in the Middle East and around the world is in decline, and other world powers, especially China, are ready to step in to fill the void left by the erosion of Pax Americana.
As it has become amply clear, the political and diplomatic agenda of the current White House on the Middle East is, for all intents and purposes, set outside the corridors of power in Washington. The Trump administration's agenda has been defined in collusion with foreign governments, including the Israeli government, through the mediation of business moguls who are willing and ready to compromise US national security and interests in return for massive foreign investments in their personal business empires.
The international reaction to Trump's anti-Palestinian politics clearly demonstrates this decline in US power around the world. When the number of the countries that voted for rescinding the Jerusalem declaration (128) is translated into world population size, these countries represent 90.5 percent of the world population, while 9 percent abstained and only 0.5 percent backed up the US.
Moreover, his immoral attack on the Palestinians reveals the ideological inconsistencies in the international fascist ultra-right alliances. Trump's anti-Semitic Zionist convictions might seem to benefit the settler-colonial project and the apartheid politics of the Israeli occupation in the short term, but the long-term ramifications of such proclamations to Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem still remain unclear.
Needless to mention, Arab governments have worked in cahoots with the Trump administration on what has been dubbed as the "deal of the century," which President Mahmoud Abbas has just referred to at the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Central Council meeting as "the slap of the century." This would grant autonomous status to certain parts of the West Bank under Jordanian tutelage, while putting Gaza under Egyptian control. This deal would not only end any hopes for a two-state solution; it will liquidate the Palestinian struggle in exchange for formalizing relations with Israel.
The Collapse of the Palestinian Authority
Trump's fervent anti-Palestinian politics has inadvertently exploded two major contradictions in the Palestinian struggle: the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the prospects of popular resistance.
In response to Trump's threat to cut off aid to the PA, many Palestinian activists and media pundits urged him to make good on his threats. They hoped that such a move would bring down the ineffective comprador Palestinian Authority and lead to its total collapse and the termination of all accords and agreements for which it stands.
Little, it seems, did Trump know about the controversy over international aid in Palestinian circles. Many Palestinians have accused international donors of financing the occupation, domesticating Palestinian civil society and undermining civil resistance.
Although President Abbas has recently acknowledged that the PA is an "authority without any authority," the dissolution of the PA is not feasible and will not probably be allowed to happen. First, Palestinians do not have any leverage to dictate settlement terms or force concessions. Unlike Pakistan, for example, Palestine will not be able to use its own dissolution, the way Pakistan has, as a bargaining chip in any negotiations.
Second, Palestinians are aware that once the Palestinian Authority collapses, neighboring Arab countries are ready to step in and take over the West Bank and Gaza. Third, Israel will probably intercede with the Trump administration on behalf of the PA, as it did in the past, to keep the Palestinian Authority in place. The security cooperation between Israel and the PA is vital for the stability of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.
These days, the Palestinian Authority is flirting with the possibility of nixing both the Oslo Accords and the security coordination with Israel, but commentators concur that no "game-changing" strategies are in sight.
No New Intifada to Televise
The other contradiction that exploded as a result of Trump's anti-Palestinian politics centers around the decline of popular resistance in the occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza. The wedge between official Palestinian national discourse and popular resistance has been amplified as a result of Trump's politics and has been played out on the mobilization of the people in resisting Trump's decrees and the occupation.
Against all predictions, calls for "days of rage" right after Trump's Jerusalem declaration did not draw out the crowds and protesters that many media outlets were predicting. Although 20 Palestinians have been killed, thousands injured and more than a thousand arrested after clashes with the Israeli military and police, Jerusalem did not come crashing down and there was no revolution or new Intifada to televise.
With the eclipse of spontaneous or organized mass popular resistance, however, the debate about civil resistance and armed resistance is back in the news. The Israeli government's attempt to clamp down on civil, nonviolent resistance has created a gap which more violent forms of resistance are trying to fill.
Recently, Israel has not only detained Ahed Tamimi, a fearless young Palestinian woman who has been involved in unarmed civil resistance to the Israeli occupation all her life. Ahed's arrest has also reignited the international controversy about Israel's targeted killings and mistreatment of Palestinian children under detention.
The Israeli government has also published the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions blacklist, banning the members of 20 organizations, including pro-Palestinian Jewish activist organizations, from entering Israel.
This crackdown on peaceful and nonviolent resistance created the conditions for the return of armed resistance to the occupation. Although no Palestinian faction or organization has claimed responsibility for the killing of an Israeli settler rabbi in a drive-by shooting near Nablus, media pundits view this as an indication of a "pivotal change in the general Palestinian mood towards a return to armed resistance."
The Politics of "the Worst of the Worst"
Trump's campaign against the Palestinians echoes his anti-poor and anti-immigrant domestic politics as well as his attack on Black people in Africa and Haiti, and Palestinians must continue working in solidarity with communities that have been deemed disposable to make a difference. For this to happen, Palestinians must reject any real or fictional support system that can allegedly fulfill their national dreams or conveniently provide fantasies of national wholeness and unity.
The answer to the Palestinian struggle should not come from any belief in a Big White Hope, who will "one day reward the Palestinians for their good behavior." The most recent Palestinian Liberation Organization Central Committee meeting reveals that the Americans will still play a role in any future negotiations, even though it is not that of the "exclusive mediator."
Moreover, Palestinians seem to be gravitating toward the international community (EU, UN, etc.) for a solution, despite the fact that, as President Abbas noted, none of the 86 UN Security Council resolutions on Palestine were implemented.
Radical change lies with genuine identification with those left out of the global system -- the people Trump has deemed "garbage" and "waste." They are the truth of this system. By uniting with them in a common emancipatory struggle, Palestinians can actualize the universal ideals for which they stand, and reinvigorate the class struggle that Trump's politics has been intensifying around the world. Adapting a more politicized version of the renewed Poor People's Campaign to the local conditions in Palestine within the context of Tricontinental politics could be a place to start.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Dr. Jamil Khader is Dean of Research and Professor of English at Bethlehem University, Palestine. His numerous articles on postcolonial women writers, fantastic literature and cosmopolitanism have appeared in various national and international journals. He is also the author of Cartographies of Transnationalism in Postcolonial Feminisms: Geography, Culture, Identity, Politics (Lexington Books 2012) and is the coeditor, with Molly Rothenberg, of a collection of essays on the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, entitled, Žižek Now: Current Perspectives in Žižek Studies (Polity 2013). His political commentary has been featured on The Palestine Chronicle, Center for the Secular Research and Studies in the Arab World (Al-Hewar Al-Mutamaden), PPSArabia, News with Conscience, Aljazeera in English, Jadaliyya, and other venues. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the philosophical significance of the struggle for liberation in Palestine for radical and revolutionary internationalist politics.
By Carly A. Krakow, openDemocracy | News Analysis
By Donna Nevel, Truthout | Op-Ed
By Janine Jackson, FAIR | Interview

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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

World Food Prize should become voice of regenerative agriculture/World Food Prize protesters get $50,000 payout after being shunted out of sight

World Food Prize should become voice of regenerative agriculture
Sharon Donovan, Iowa View contributor

Published 11:08 a.m. CT Jan. 18, 2018

(Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Register)

The Register's recent article "Iowa to pay $50,000 in lawsuit settlement," describing a lawsuit against the World Food Prize (WFP) and the state of Iowa by anti-GMO protesters, sheds light on the past manipulations of the WFP to guard its international image among fellow promoters of industrial agriculture. [See article below.]

As one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, I feel Iowa taxpayers need several additional facts to understand the motivation behind the lawsuit by last year's demonstrators.

In 2017, the WFP awarded its $250,000 prize to Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the head of the African Development Bank, who was quoted as saying his mission is to bring industrial agriculture to all of Africa. This is not the kind of agriculture we demonstrators want spread throughout the world. Heavy use of pesticides that support patented GMO seeds is not our idea of improving agriculture in lesser developed countries. It is a way for corporations to increase their profits.

As a result of the lawsuit, for the first time the WFP allowed protesters to assemble at an area near the Capitol entrance, not the usual 110 yards away. But it is important to note the WFP continued to commission a large marching band to play John Phillip Sousa music to blast away in the faces of demonstrators, essentially silencing us. They continue to hang three giant banners from the Capitol that spell out “World Food Prize” although signs are not allowed in or on the Capitol.

Iowa taxpayers paid the settlement to the plaintiffs on behalf of the WFP, but that is because Iowa taxpayers automatically give the WFP more than $1 million dollars a year to run its operation. This money is provided to an institution that had its start from a $10 million gift by John Ruan and continues to receive major support from large industrial ag corporations, among others. Where is the state money for those who speak on behalf of organic farmers, we ask?

The irony of it all is that Iowa is a perfect example of why demonstrators from Occupy the World Food Prize object to the WFP promotion of GMO farming practices. Our soils are dead, our drinking water contains toxic levels of nitrates, too many of our children are sick. Livestock confinement companies take their money out of state, leaving Iowa with the environmental destruction while outsiders profit.

Occupy the World Food Prize calls on the WFP to become the voice of regenerative agriculture for the world and to award only those who promote safe, healthy and organic food. That is the message of Occupy the World Food Prize and that is why we protest. Occupy the World Food Prize cries out against this ecological travesty. The WFP, benefiting from our tax money, could help change this reality.
Sharon Donovan <> of Clive is a member of the Occupy the World Food Prize Working Committee

World Food Prize protesters get $50,000 payout after being shunted out of sight

Published 1:01 p.m. CT Jan. 9, 2018 | Updated 10:21 a.m. CT Jan. 10, 2018

Iowa taxpayers will pay a $50,000 settlement to end a lawsuit filed by anti-GMO activists who claim state officials violated their First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit was filed against the World Food Prize and state officials last year in light of limits Iowa placed upon demonstrators at an annual awards ceremony held at the Capitol.
Frank Cordaro, a peace activist and founder of the Catholic Worker in Des Moines, and other protesters have for years been confined to a sidewalk area that is about 110 yards from the Capitol's west entrance at the foot of a steep hill — a location that makes them largely invisible to World Food Prize participants.
Since 2012, the protesters have used a megaphone to amplify their voices but have been drowned out by musical ensembles and marching bands that World Food Prize organizers have commissioned to perform while dignitaries enter the Capitol to participate in the event.
Cordaro, William Talen, an actor-turned-pastor from New York, and Sharon Donovan, a World Food Prize protester from Iowa, argued that the measures were taken to ensure they cannot "be heard in the marketplace of ideas."
The protesters were generally expressing their concerns about the environment, biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in the fight to end world hunger.
During the 2016 ceremonies, Cordaro and Talen were arrested as they attempted to leave the designated protest area so they could approach the Capitol building and be seen and heard by event participants.
Frank Cordaro, of Des Moines speaks to the crowd during the Stop the Bakken Pipeline Rally and Speak Out on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, outside the Iowa Utilities Board Office in Des Moines.Buy Photo
Frank Cordaro, of Des Moines speaks to the crowd during the Stop the Bakken Pipeline Rally and Speak Out on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, outside the Iowa Utilities Board Office in Des Moines. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)
The state attempted to prevent Cordaro and Talen from arguing a First Amendment defense in their 2016 trespass case, but after the court rejected the state's request, the charges were dropped.
The state subsequently allowed the protesters in the 2017 ceremony to demonstrate next to a driveway where the World Food Prize dignitaries were being transported, roughly 350 feet away.
Cordaro, Talen and Donovan sought class-action status of their complaint against the state.
The annual event is required to take place at the Capitol under Iowa law. It was state employees who had restricted the protesters.
The settlement was approved Tuesday by the Iowa Appeal Board.
Des Moines attorney Glen Downey, whose firm helped represent the plaintiffs, said the case underscores that violations of constitutional rights "can not be bought and paid for by the highest corporate bidder."
"We are happy the state recognized that violating the First Amendment rights of its citizens is not something that can be tolerated," Downey said.
Jeff Thompson, deputy attorney general, told the board Tuesday that he believes both parties were ultimately satisfied with the settlement and an agreement of where protesters may gather at future events. Pursuing the case further would have cost taxpayers more than the settlement, he said.
“It is balancing security with the First Amendment," Thompson said. "I think everyone was satisfied with the final result.”

Des Moines Register ©2018 Des Moines Register, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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