Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert - June 21 - 23, 2017

16] Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition activities – June 21 - 23
17] Stop the Republican attack on healthcare – June 21
18] Stand up for Medicaid and SNAP – June 21
19] Film “Now Is The Time” – June 21
20] Film "THE PRISON FACTORY – June 21
21] THE CHANGING SITUATION ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA – June 22
22] Pray for Peace – June 22
23] BEYOND RESPECTABILITY: THE INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT OF RACE WOMEN – June 22
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16] – You are invited to join the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) for the 19th Annual June Survivors Week from Wed., June 21 through Fri., June 23 in Washington, D.C. See the full schedule of the week’s events at https://www.tassc.org/19th-annual-june-survivors-week.    It begins with a Human Rights Conference on June 21 at the American University Law School, 4300 Nebraska Ave. NW (near the Tenleytown Metro). This year the conference theme will be Embracing Torture Survivors, Refugees and Immigrants under the Trump Administration. Hear from congressional staff, human rights activists, immigration attorneys and a Muslim torture survivor who will discuss the “Muslim ban.”

Training for Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill is in the afternoon following the conference. On June 22, survivors and TASSC supporters will visit congressional offices to discuss human rights in Africa, the need for the U.S. to speak out strongly against torture, political repression and other human rights abuses, and for America to remain a country that welcomes immigrants, especially those fleeing persecution.

On June 23rd TASSC will hold a Vigil & Rally in Lafayette Park, opposite the White House. Join us as we stand in solidarity with all immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of torture around the world. Hear survivor testimonies and live music, followed by a march to protest Trump Administration policies and demand an end to torture. RSVP to info@tassc.org with your name and affiliation.

17] – Join Progressive Maryland on Wed., June 2 from 11 AM to 1 PM on the US Capitol East Lawn on the Senate side across from the Supreme Court to show how OUTRAGEOUS the American Health Care Act, or the AHCA bill, currently in the Senate is for people of Maryland and all over the country. Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders are at risk of losing coverage.  This bill would take healthcare insurance from 23 million people nationwide, allow insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions and older people more for healthcare and end the Medicaid as we know it for seniors, kids, people with disabilities--all to give billions in tax breaks to the rich and corporations.  Rally at Capitol Hill before going on Legislative Visits!   Meet at 10:30 AM at the Capitol South Metro Station, 355 First St. SE, WDC 20003.  Before attending the lobby visits, reconvene at the intersection of New Jersey & Independence Aves SE at 1 PM.  RSVP at http://www.progressivemaryland.org/rally_at_capitol_leg_visits?utm_campaign=6_21_hc_actions&utm_medium=email&utm_source=progressivemaryland.  Contact: Beth Landry - (443) 366 – 9402.

Are you a resident of Congressional District 1? Rally at the Salisbury District Office of Rep. Andy Harris, 100 E Main St., Suite 702, Salisbury 21801.  Contact Michael Feldman - (443) 366 – 6719. RSVP at http://www.progressivemaryland.org/rally_at_harris_office?utm_campaign=6_21_hc_actions&utm_medium=email&utm_source=progressivemaryland.

18] – A storm is brewing on Capitol Hill. Stand up for Medicaid and SNAP! It’s clear that many of our leaders are unaware of how many families turn to these programs to keep their families afloat. Join in a Capitol Hill event on Wed., June 21 at 11 AM to help deliver booklets of stories on Medicaid and SNAP to members of Congress as a way of speaking up for moms, children, and families around the country! RSVP at http://action.momsrising.org/survey/June21_RSVP/?t=5&akid=9280.2411466.qdFU0-There will be a speak-out first, then visits to the Senate offices to deliver Medicaid and SNAP storybooks. Meet in the grassy area in front of the Supreme Court, 1st and Constitution Ave. The closest Metro stops are Union Station and Capitol South.

19] – On Wed., June 21 from 7:30 to 9 PM, the Montgomery County HCHR/Healthcare NOW presents “Now Is The Time,” plus live jazz music at Rhizome DC, 6950 Maple St. NW [use Takoma Metro], WDC 20012.  Email brittany@hchrmd.org. This documentary delves into what single payer healthcare is, how it saves money, and what behind-the-scenes heroes are doing to clear the fog of misperception that keeps us from moving forward (running time: 35 min). The movie will be followed by a musical performance by the trio of Carl Cornwell (reeds), Luke Stewart (bass), and Tony Green (drums).

20] – See the film "THE PRISON FACTORY" on Wed., June 21 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201. How did a group of inmates organize the single-largest prison strike in US history? Join producers of the Emmy-winning documentary series Fault Lines, for a screening of their new film, an investigation of prison conditions inside the Alabama Department of Corrections. Drawing on exclusive interviews and cellphone footage filmed by inmates, "The Prison Factory" goes inside solitary confinement, where leaders of the Free Alabama Movement have been held for years in retaliation for their organizing efforts. Those efforts peaked last September when inmates across the country went on strike to protest what they call “cruel and unusual” forms of punishment – including labor for little or no pay. Using smuggled cell phones to organize, prisoners in 50 prisons in two dozen states went on strike. Call 443-602-7585.  RSVP at http://www.redemmas.org.

21] – On Thurs., June 22 from 8 AM to 6 PM, THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL ON KOREAN STUDIES jointly with KOREA ECONOMIC INSTITUTE OF AMERICA AND COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA present THE CHANGING SITUATION ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA: CHALLENGES FOR NEW PRESIDENTS IN 2017 at the Korea Economic Institute of America, 1800 K St. NW, Suite 1010, WDC 20006.  RSVP at http://www.keia.org/event/changing-situation-korean-peninsula-challenges-new-presidents-2017-0.

22] – The Interfaith Peace Partners will be meeting to Pray for Peace at St. Ignatius’ Church, 740 North Calvert St., Baltimore at 7:30 PM on Thurs., June 22. Contact The Rev. Charles Cloughen, Jr., Interfaith Peace Service Coordinator, at ccloughen@episcopalmaryland.org or 410-321-4545.

23] – On Thurs., June 22 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, BEYOND RESPECTABILITY: THE INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT OF RACE WOMEN will be discussed on Thurs., June 22 at 7:30 PM @ Red Emma's. In the late nineteenth century, a group of publicly active African American women emerged from the social and educational elite to assume racial leadership roles. Their work challenged thinking on racial issues as well as questions about gender, sexuality, and class. “In Beyond Respectability,” author and co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective Brittney C. Cooper charts the development of African American women as public intellectuals and the evolution of their thought from the end of the 1800s through the Black Power era of the 1970s. Eschewing the Great Race Man paradigm so prominent in contemporary discourse, Cooper looks at the far-reaching intellectual achievements of female thinkers and activists like Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, Fannie Barrier Williams, Pauli Murray, and Toni Cade Bambara. Cooper delves into the processes that transformed these women and others into racial leadership figures, including long-overdue discussions of their theoretical output and personal experiences. As Cooper shows, their body of work critically reshaped our understandings of race and gender discourse. Cooper's work, meanwhile, confronts entrenched ideas of how--and who--produced racial knowledge. Call 443-602-7585.  RSVP at http://www.redemmas.org.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.


"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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Israel Makes an Audacious Request to US to Dismantle Life Support System for 5 Million Palestinians

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)

Israel Makes an Audacious Request to US to Dismantle Life Support System for 5 Million Palestinians

By Jonathan Cook [1] / AlterNet [2]

June 16, 2017, 9:20 AM GMT
Nazareth.

   Israeli and US officials are in the process of jointly pre-empting Donald Trump’s supposed “ultimate deal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They hope to demote the Palestinian issue to a footnote in international diplomacy.

   The conspiracy – a real one – was much in evidence last week during a visit to the region by Nikki Haley, Washington’s envoy to the United Nations. Her escort was Danny Danon, her Israeli counterpart and a fervent opponent of Palestinian statehood.

   Danon makes Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu look moderate. He has backed Israel annexing the West Bank and ruling over Palestinians apatheid-style. Haley appears unperturbed. During a meeting with Netanyahu, she told him that the UN was “a bully to Israel”. She has warned the powerful Security Council to focus on Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah, instead of Israel.

    To protect its tiny ally, Washington is threatening to cut billions in US funding to the world body, plunging it into crisis and jeopardising peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

  On the way to Israel, Haley stopped at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva, demanding it end its “pathological” opposition to Israel’s decades of occupation and human rights violations – or the US would pull out of the agency.

    Washington has long pampered Israel, giving it millions of dollars each year to buy weapons to oppress Palestinians, and using its veto to block UN resolutions enforcing international law. Expert UN reports such as a recent one on Israel’s apartheid rule over Palestinians have been buried.

    But worse is to come. Now the framework of international laws and institutions established after the Second World War is at risk of being dismembered.

     That danger was highlighted on Sunday, when it emerged that Netanyahu had urged Haley to dismantle another UN agency much loathed by Israel. UNRWA cares for more than five million Palestinian refugees across the region.

    Since the 1948 war, Israel has refused to allow these refugees to return to their lands, now in Israel, forcing them to live in miserable and overcrowded camps awaiting a peace deal that never arrives. These dispossessed Palestinians still depend on UNRWA for education, health care and social services.

   UNRWA, Netanyahu says, “perpetuates” rather than solves their problems. He prefers that they become the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which looks after all other refugee populations.

  His demand is a monumental U-turn, 70 years in the making. In fact, it was Israel that in 1948 insisted on a separate UN refugee agency for the Palestinians.

  UNRWA was created to prevent the Palestinians falling under the charge of UNHCR’s forerunner, the International Refugee Organisation. Israel was afraid that the IRO, formed in the immediate wake of the Second World War, would give Palestinian refugees the same prominence as European Jews fleeing Nazi atrocities.

  Israel did not want the two cases compared, especially as they were so intimately connected. It was the rise of Nazism that bolstered the Zionist case for a Jewish state in Palestine and Jewish refugees who were settled on lands from which Palestinians had just been expelled by Israel.

  Also, Israel was concerned that the IRO’s commitment to the principle of repatriation might force it to accept back the Palestinian refugees.

 Israel’s hope then was precisely that UNRWA would not solve the Palestinian refugee problem; rather, it would resolve itself. The idea was encapsulated in a Zionist adage: “The old will die and the young forget.”

   But millions of Palestinian descendants still clamour for a right of return. If they cannot forget, Netanyahu prefers that the world forget them.

  As bloody wars grip the Middle East, the best way to achieve that aim is to submerge the Palestinians among the world’s 65 million other refugees. Why worry about the Palestinian case when there are millions of Syrians newly displaced by war?

   But UNRWA poses a challenge, because it is so deeply entrenched in the region and insists on a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

  UNRWA’s huge staff includes 32,000 Palestinian administrators, teachers and doctors, many living in camps in the West Bank – Palestinian territory Netanyahu and Danon hunger for. The UN’s presence there is an impediment to annexation.

    On Monday Netanyahu announced his determination to block Europe from funding Israeli human rights organisations, the main watchdogs in the West Bank and a key data source for UN agencies. He now refuses to meet any world leader who talks to these rights groups.

With Trump in the White House, a crisis-plagued Europe ever-more toothless and the Arab world in disarray, Netanyahu wants to seize this chance to clear the UN out of the way too.

Global institutions such as the UN and the international law it upholds were created after the Second World War to protect the weakest and prevent a recurrence of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Today, Netanyahu is prepared to risk it all, tearing down the post-war international order, if this act of colossal vandalism will finally rid him of the Palestinians.

 Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net [3]. 

        [5]


Links:

[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/jonathan-cook-1
[2] http://alternet.org
[3] http://www.jonathan-cook.net/
[4] mailto:corrections@alternet.org?subject=Typo on Israel Makes an Audacious Request to US to Dismantle Life Support System for 5 Million Palestinians&body=URL:http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/israel-makes-audacious-request-us-dismantle-life-support-system-5-million
[5] http://www.alternet.org/
[6] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"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, June 18, 2017

Killer Drones and the Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy | The Foreign Service Journal - June 2017

In the eyes of many around the world, diplomacy has taken a back seat to military operations in U.S. foreign policy. The drone program is a prime example.
BY ANN WRIGHT
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The MQ-9 Reaper, a combat drone, in flight.
Wikimedia Commons / Ricky Best
The militarization of U.S. foreign policy certainly didn’t start with President Donald J. Trump; in fact, it goes back several decades. However, if Trump’s first 100 days in office are any indication, he has no intention of slowing down the trend.
During a single week in April, the Trump administration fired 59 Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airfield, and dropped the largest bomb in the U.S. arsenal on suspected ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan. This 21,600-pound incendiary percussion device that had never been used in combat—the Massive Ordinance Air Blast or MOAB, colloquially known as the “Mother of All Bombs”—was used in the Achin district of Afghanistan, where Special Forces Staff Sergeant Mark De Alencar had been killed a week earlier. (The bomb was tested only twice, at Elgin Air Base, Florida, in 2003.)
To underscore the new administration’s preference for force over diplomacy, the decision to experiment with the explosive power of the mega-bomb was taken unilaterally by General John Nicholson, the commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. In praising that decision, Pres. Trump declared that he had given “total authorization” to the U.S. military to conduct whatever missions they wanted, anywhere in the world—which presumably means without consulting the interagency national security committee.
It is also telling that Pres. Trump chose generals for two key national security positions traditionally filled by civilians: the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Advisor. Yet three months into his administration, he has left unfilled hundreds of senior civilian governmental positions at State, Defense and elsewhere.
An Increasingly Shaky Ban
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Members of the New York Air National Guard’s 1174th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group place chalks on a MQ-9 Reaper after it returned from a winter training mission at Wheeler Sack Army Airfield, Fort Drum, N.Y., Feb. 14, 2012.

Wikimedia Commons / Ricky Best
While Pres. Trump has not yet enunciated a policy on the subject of political assassinations, there has so far been no indication that he plans to change the practice of relying on drone killings established by his recent predecessors.
Back in 1976, however, President Gerald Ford set a very different example when he issued his Executive Order 11095. This proclaimed that “No employee of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”
He instituted this prohibition after investigations by the Church Committee (the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, chaired by Sen. Frank Church, D-Idaho) and the Pike Committee (its House counterpart, chaired by Rep. Otis G. Pike, D-N.Y.) had revealed the extent of the Central Intelligence Agency’s assassination operations against foreign leaders in the 1960s and 1970s.
With a few exceptions, the next several presidents upheld the ban. But in 1986, President Ronald Reagan ordered an attack on Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s home in Tripoli, in retaliation for the bombing of a nightclub in Berlin that killed a U.S. serviceman and two German citizens and injured 229. In just 12 minutes, American planes dropped 60 tons of U.S. bombs on the house, though they failed to kill Gaddafi.
Twelve years later, in 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered the firing of 80 cruise missiles on al-Qaida facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan, in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The Clinton administration justified the action by asserting that the proscription against assassination did not cover individuals whom the U.S. government had determined were connected to terrorism.
Days after al-Qaida carried out its Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush signed an intelligence “finding” allowing the Central Intelligence Agency to engage in “lethal covert operations” to kill Osama bin Laden and destroy his terrorist network. White House and CIA lawyers argued that this order was constitutional on two grounds. First, they embraced the Clinton administration’s position that E.O. 11905 did not preclude the United States’ taking action against terrorists. More sweepingly, they declared that the ban on political assassination did not apply during wartime.
Send in the Drones
The Bush administration’s wholesale rejection of the ban on targeted killing or political assassinations reversed a quarter-century of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy. It also opened the door to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct targeted killings (a euphemism for assassinations).
The U.S. Air Force had been flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), since the 1960s, but only as unmanned surveillance platforms. Following 9/11, however, the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency weaponized “drones” (as they were quickly dubbed) to kill both leaders and foot soldiers of al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The United States set up bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan for that purpose, but after a series of drone attacks that killed civilians, including a large group gathered for a wedding, the Pakistani government ordered in 2011 that the U.S. drones and U.S. military personnel be removed from its Shamsi Air Base. However, targeted assassinations continued to be conducted in Pakistan by drones based outside the country.
In 2009, President Barack Obama picked up where his predecessor had left off. As public and congressional concern increased about the use of aircraft controlled by CIA and military operators located 10,000 miles away from the people they were ordered to kill, the White House was forced to officially acknowledge the targeted killing program and to describe how persons became targets of the program.
Instead of scaling the program back, however, the Obama administration doubled down. It essentially designated all military-age males in a foreign strike zone as combatants, and therefore potential targets of what it termed “signature strikes.” Even more disturbing, it declared that strikes aimed at specific, high-value terrorists, known as “personality strikes,” could include American citizens.
That theoretical possibility soon became a grim reality. In April 2010, Pres. Obama authorized the CIA to “target” Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and a former imam at a Virginia mosque, for assassination. Less than a decade before, the Office of the Secretary of the Army had invited the imam to participate in an interfaith service following 9/11. But al-Awlaki later became an outspoken critic of the “war on terror,” moved to his father’s homeland of Yemen, and helped al-Qaida recruit members.
The Bush administration’s wholesale rejection of the ban on targeted killing opened the door to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct targeted killings.
On Sept. 30, 2011, a drone strike killed al-Awlaki and another American, Samir Khan—who was traveling with him in Yemen. U.S. drones killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al- Awlaki, an American citizen, 10 days later in an attack on a group of young men around a campfire. The Obama administration never made clear whether the 16-year-old son was targeted individually because he was al-Awlaki’s son or if he was the victim of a “signature” strike, fitting the description of a young military age male. However, during a White House press conference, a reporter asked Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs how he could defend the killings, and especially the death of a U.S.-citizen minor who was “targeted without due process, without trial.”
Gibbs’ response did nothing to help the U.S. image in the Muslim world: “I would suggest that you should have had a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well-being of their children. I don’t think becoming an al-Qaida jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”
On Jan. 29, 2017, al-Awlaki’s 8-year-old daughter, Nawar al-Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. commando attack in Yemen ordered by Obama’s successor, Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the media continued to report incidents of civilians being killed in drone strikes across the region, which frequently target wedding parties and funerals. Many inhabitants of the region along the Afghan-Pakistan border could hear the buzz of drones circling their area around the clock, causing psychological trauma for all those who live in the area, especially children.
The Obama administration was strongly criticized for the tactic of “double-tap”—hitting a target home or vehicle with a Hellfire missile, and then firing a second missile into the group that came to the aid of those who had been wounded in the first attack. Many times, those who ran to help rescue persons trapped inside collapsed buildings or flaming cars were local citizens, not militants.
An Increasingly Counterproductive Tactic
The rationale traditionally offered for using drones is that they eliminate the need for “boots on the ground”—whether members of the armed forces or CIA paramilitary personnel—in dangerous environments, thereby preventing loss of U.S. lives. U.S. officials also claim that the intelligence UAVs gather through lengthy surveillance makes their strikes more precise, reducing the number of civilian casualties. (Left unsaid, but almost certainly another powerful motivator, is the fact that the use of drones means that no suspected militants would be taken alive, thus avoiding the political and other complications of detention.)
Even if these claims are true, however, they do not address the impact of the tactic on U.S. foreign policy. Of broadest concern is the fact that drones allow presidents to punt on questions of war and peace by choosing an option that appears to offer a middle course, but actually has a variety of long-term consequences for U.S. policy, as well as for the communities on the receiving end.
By taking the risk of loss of U.S. personnel out of the picture, Washington policymakers may be tempted to use force to resolve a security dilemma rather than negotiating with the parties involved. Moreover, by their very nature, UAVs may be more likely to provoke retaliation against America than conventional weapons systems. To many in the Middle East and South Asia, drones represent a weakness of the U.S. government and its military, not a strength. Shouldn’t brave warriors fight on the ground, they ask, instead of hiding behind a faceless drone in the sky, operated by a young person in a chair many thousands of miles away?
Drones allow presidents to punt on questions of war and peace by choosing an option that appears to offer a middle course, but actually has a variety of long-term consequences for U.S. policy.
Since 2007, at least 150 NATO personnel have been the victims of “insider attacks” by members of the Afghan military and national police forces being trained by the coalition. Many of the Afghans who commit such “green on blue” killings of American personnel, both uniformed and civilian, are from the tribal regions on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan where U.S. drone strikes have focused. They take revenge for the deaths of their families and friends by killing their U.S. military trainers.
Anger against drones has surfaced in the United States as well. On May 1, 2010, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square. In his guilty plea, Shahzad justified targeting civilians by telling the judge, “When the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children; they kill everybody. They’re killing all Muslims.”
As of 2012 the U.S. Air Force was recruiting more drone pilots than pilots for traditional aircraft—between 2012 and 2014, they planned to add 2,500 pilots and support people to the drone program. That is nearly twice the number of diplomats the State Department hires in a two-year period.
Congressional and media concern over the program led to the Obama administration’s acknowledgment of the regular Tuesday meetings led by the president to identify targets for the assassination list. In the international media, “Terror Tuesdays” became an expression of U.S. foreign policy.
Not Too Late
To many around the world, U.S. foreign policy has been dominated for the past 16 years by military actions in the Middle East and South Asia, and large land and sea military exercises in Northeast Asia. On the world stage, American efforts in the areas of economics, trade, cultural issues and human rights appear to have taken a back seat to the waging of continuous wars.
Continuing the use of drone warfare to carry out assassinations will only exacerbate foreign distrust of American intentions and trustworthiness. It thereby plays into the hands of the very opponents we are trying to defeat.
During his campaign, Donald Trump pledged he would always put “America First,” and said he wanted to get out of the business of regime change. It is not too late for him to keep that promise by learning from his predecessors’ mistakes and reversing the continued militarization of U.S. foreign policy.
  Ann Wright spent 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, retiring as a colonel. She served 16 years in the Foreign Service in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia, and led the small team that reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul in December 2001. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq, and is co-author of the book Dissent: Voices of Conscience (Koa, 2008). She speaks around the world about the militarization of U.S. foreign policy and is an active participant in the U.S. anti-war movement.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Department of State, the Department of Defense or the U.S. government.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"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


Emanuel on Hot Seat as BLM Lawsuit Seeks Federal Court Oversight of CPD

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

Emanuel on Hot Seat as BLM Lawsuit Seeks Federal Court Oversight of CPD


June 14, 2017

Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman and Mitch Dudek

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
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In the wake of Mayor Rahm Emanuel backing off his pledge that the federal courts monitor reforms to the embattled Chicago Police Department, members of the group Black Lives Matter Chicago and other organizations have filed a lawsuit seeking federal court oversight of the department.

“For years and continuing to this day, the City of Chicago has employed a pattern and practice of excessive force that adversely affects all people in Chicago, but that disproportionately and intentionally targets black and Latino individuals,” according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday morning. “It is clear that federal court intervention is essential to end the historical and on-going pattern and practice of excessive force by police officers in Chicago.”

By alleging a “pattern and practice” of such behavior, the lawsuit seeks to establish that the department’s discrimination is systemic and not just a matter of separate incidents limited to specific individuals.

“The city continues to pay out tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year as a result of its pattern and practice of police brutality,” the lawsuit states. “The city has proven that it would rather pay for its officers’ continued use of excessive force than remedy the underlying problems giving rise to the abuses in the first place.”

The lawsuit comes five months after the Justice Department issued a detailed report, based on a lengthy investigation that found widespread constitutional violations by Chicago Police.

“CPD officers abide by an ingrained code of silence and ‘warrior mentality’ wholly disconnected from the policies that exist on the books,” lawyers wrote in the lawsuit. “The ‘thin blue line’ reigns supreme. The city of Chicago has proven time and time again that it is incapable of ending its own regime of terror, brutality and discriminatory policing.”

University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said Emanuel has shown through his actions that he is incapable of presiding over sustained change in the Chicago Police Department without the “hammer” of federal court oversight.

Futterman and other lawyers who helped bring the lawsuit accused Emanuel of trying to strike a “back-room deal” with the U.S. attorney general and said Chicago’s communities are trying to do what the Justice Department “doesn’t have the will to do.”

They also said they were girding for a long legal fight, doubtful that Emanuel would agree to a federal monitor.

Futterman and other lawyers who helped bring the lawsuit came together with some of the plaintiffs for a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. They accused Emanuel of trying to strike a “back-room deal” with the U.S. attorney general and said Chicago’s communities are trying to do what the Justice Department “doesn’t have the will to do.”

That’s why the lawsuit was filed so early, instead of attempting to negotiate with the Emanuel administration.

“This is the same mayor who, when Laquan McDonald was killed and for more than a year after,  was committed to denial — the story of a justified police shooting — and fought for more than a year to hide the truth from the public,” Futterman said.

Futterman urged the mayor to enter into “a binding agreement with us” to negotiate federal court oversight. He called it the “same agreement” Emanuel made with former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Justice Department after the DOJ issued its scathing indictment of the police department days before Obama left office.

“To think that the people of Chicago who have been living this reality are going to trust a handshake deal between the mayor and Jefferson Sessions who say, ‘We got this’ is utterly crazy.”

Earlier this week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined the call for federal court oversight, culminating in the hiring of a federal monitor to ride herd over the Chicago Police Department and enforce reforms on a strict timetable, no matter the cost.

“I’ve seen over the years how important a consent decree can be to keep everyone and everything on track. Even very detailed plans for change bump up against resource constraints. And it’s necessary to have a federal judge to keep it moving,” Madigan told the Chicago Sun-Times.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Chicago’s corporation counsel said the lawsuit needs to be examined more closely but said, “We all agree that reform is necessary here, an independent set of eyes is necessary and transparency is key.”

Corporation Counsel Edward Siskel said he’d yet to review the entire lawsuit and was unable to comment on specifics.

“The substance of the reforms that we are all trying to achieve is not really in question,” Siskel said. “It is matters of process that we are discussing.”
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson added, “We are reforming and will continue to reform.”

Pressed on why the city was opposed to federal oversight, Siskel responded: “We are exploring different pathways to reform. There are different ways to achieve that independent set of eyes.”

Under a “memorandum of agreement” — which city attorneys are currently hammering out with folks from the Department of Justice — whoever is appointed to the monitor position would be charged with keeping the public informed on progress and have the ability to sue the city to enforce measures laid in the agreement.

Emanuel recently announced plans to avoid court oversight by having an independent monitor oversee department reforms. The lawsuit comes amid a chorus of people calling for a federal judge to oversee reforms sparked by a Justice Department review of the police department under Obama’s administration. They include members of the ACLU and Madigan.

Emanuel has refused to publicly respond to pressure from Madigan to honor his January promise to agree to court oversight over the embattled Chicago Police Department.

In the lawsuit, six individuals are named as plaintiffs; all allege they were subjected to excessive force by Chicago Police; four of them also allege false arrest. All are black.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the city of Chicago and 15 individual police officers.

Besides Black Lives Matter, the other groups identified as plaintiffs are the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Blocks Together, Justice for Families — Black Lives Matter Chicago, Network 49, Women’s All Points Bulletin and the 411 Movement for Pierre Loury.

Loury was 16 when he was shot and killed by Chicago Police last year. His mother has filed a lawsuit over his death, identifying the two officers she said were involved, but they are not among the defendants in the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs, Chante Linwood, a DJ, told reporters she got into an altercation with police while trying to scope out a Gold Cost night club where she hoped to find work. The 28-year-old said the security guard refused to let her in and summoned the police. The lawsuit indicates she was refused entrance for “improper footwear.”

“Two officers came over and, before I knew it, I was slammed into the side of the building,” Linwood said. “My hair was pulled and I was shoved to the ground. The officers put their knees on my back and yanked my shoulders from my back to handcuff me. I couldn’t lift my arms for days afterward.”

Linwood said she was pregnant with her youngest child at the time and suffered from fibromyalgia. She said she was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. While in lockup, officers refused to let her use the phone to call a babysitter and told her she had no business being at the club if she was a mother, according to the lawsuit.

Andrew Stroth, another lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said federal oversight of the Chicago police could actually save the city money. It is currently doling out millions to settle police misconduct cases.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"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



Draft Bernie? Democratic Party Takeover? Strategic Concerns Paramount at People's Summit

Friends,

   I am a registered member of the Green Party, and I voted for Jill Stein.  However, I live in Maryland, a safe state, so Hillary was victorious here.  Obviously, Hillary was a terrible choice, but far better than the Trumpster.  I do not see  the Green Party, at this time, as being able to have much of an effect on state or national politics.  So I believe a better option is to reform the Democratic Party.  For those who say that is impossible, think Jeremy Corbyn.

Kagiso,

Max

Draft Bernie? Democratic Party Takeover? Strategic Concerns Paramount at People's Summit


   Even if you attended the 4,000-strong Peoples Summit in Chicago on June 9-11 organized by folks from the Bernie Sanders campaign and National Nurses United (NNU), you might have missed the most significant moment of the gathering. It was a seemingly offhand comment made by NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro during the Saturday evening session when Bernie Sanders spoke to an adoring crowd, but a comment that adds kindling to a potential 2020 fire.

   The audience in the packed Chicago theater included volunteers for a new effort called Draft Bernie for a People’s Party. They waved Draft Bernie signs and throughout Sanders’ speech, urged him to launch a new party.

   The group is made up mainly of young staff and volunteers who worked on the Sanders campaign but were so disillusioned by the Democratic Party that they are determined to start a new one. They are sympathetic to and want to collaborate with the Green Party and other existing third parties, but they want a new, fresh progressive party like the European ones that captured the public imagination and made sweeping gains. While their focus right now is getting Sanders on board, they say they’ll build a People’s Party even if he refuses to join.

   At the end of Sanders’ rousing address at the Summit, he was joined on stage by his wife, Jane Sanders, whose Sanders Institute was launched this weekend, and by NNU’s RoseAnn DeMoro. DeMoro looked directly at the Draft Bernie people in the audience and grinned. “We’re going to take a few questions but I want to thank all the Draft Bernie people here,” she said. Then came the zinger. “I’m with you,” she added, as she turned around to look at Bernie and his wife. Then she pivoted back to the audience, “Nurses, are we with them?” As they roared their approval, DeMoro turned to Sanders again. “I always say: ‘heroes aren’t made, they’re cornered.”

    “It was amazing,” said Nick Brana, Draft Bernie founder, who was former national political outreach coordinator for Bernie 2016 and former electoral manager for Our Revolution. “We knew that RoseAnn was supportive but had no idea that she would announce that support publicly, on stage, with Bernie Sanders standing next to her and in front of thousands of cheering fans.”

   I don’t think most people in the audience realized the potential significance of the DeMoro’s endorsement. Her union has about 150,000 members and spent about $1 million on the Sanders campaign. It’s one of only six national unions that backed Bernie Sanders for president. Under DeMoro’s leadership, the nurses have become heavyweights in the progressive world, championing everything from universal single payer healthcare to a Wall Street tax to pay for free college education. Just imagine if DeMoro could get her whole union to back a new party, and leverage that to get other unions and progressive institutions on board.

   Throughout the summit, speaker after speaker railed against the Democratic Party. TV personality Van Jones trashed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for failing to connect to working-class and minority voters. "Let's be honest," Jones shouted. "They took a billion dollars, a billion dollars, a billion dollars, set it on fire, and called it a campaign!" Author Thomas Frank said Democrats signed off on Wall Street bailouts, mass incarceration, and the Iraq War, giving up everything the party supposedly stood for. Former State Senator Nina Turner, who had the crowd on their feet during her entire speech, said the Democrats would have to follow the people to the left, or they’d be left behind.

   But criticizing the Democrats and ditching them are two entirely different things. There are certainly sincere leaders still determined to change the party from within. The Summit heard from Congressman Mark Pocan, a progressive champion who was recently elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And most of the Summit was focused on getting more leftist Democrats elected, from former NAACP head Ben Jealous running for Maryland governor to the dozens of attendees running for city councils and state houses.

   Getting Bernie Sanders to break with the Democrats is a long, long, long shot. And even if he agreed, creating an effective third party in the US “winner-take-all” electoral system is a treacherous path littered with dead bodies, from Ross Perot’s Americans Elect to the Tony Mazzochi’s US Labor Party.
But for those who see the Democratic Party as unfixable and the existing third parties as ineffective, what have they got to lose?

*Note: The original headline of this article was updated to remove an inaccurate representation of DeMoro's position.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"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



Baltimore Activist Alert June 18 -20, 2017



Baltimore Activist Alert June 18 -20, 2017

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours.
The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
5] “Racism in Child Health: Perspectives of a Family Doc” – June 18
6] Paris Climate Agreement webinar – June 18
7] Pentagon Vigil – June 19 
8] Marc Steiner on WEAA – June 19 – June 23
9] City Council vote on Paris Agreement – June 19
10] Save Baltimore Clayworks – June 19
11] "Fostering Community Trust" – June 19
12] Philly peace vigil – June 20
13] Stop JHU’s drone research – June 20
14] Black Lives Matter DC Open House – June 20
15] Film FROM THE ASHES – June 20
---------
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

5] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon.  On Sun., June 18, the Sunday Platform is “Racism in Child Health: Perspectives of a Family Doc.”  Max Romano will discuss his experiences exploring the influence of racism in the health outcomes of children through his work as a family physician. He will discuss his own personal experiences, some relevant research findings, and future directions for addressing racism through primary care practice. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

6] – Now that President Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement state and local action for clean energy and climate protection is more important than ever. State and local climate action is more important now than ever. Find out the most effective ways you can help protect the climate and fight back against climate denial at an upcoming webinar on Sun., June 18 at 7 PM. Register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/47cf275afeff7b72d746f627e8486654.  For us in Maryland, this means ensuring that Governor Hogan strengthens the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) -- a keystone climate policy that limits climate pollution from fossil fuel power plants in almost 20% of states in the nation, including Maryland. Governors and environmental leaders are now deciding how to extend RGGI to 2030, and negotiating the specifics of how strong it will be. Their decision, which is due this summer, will determine whether Maryland and other Northeast states meet -- and possibly exceed -- the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, or if we miss this critical opportunity to change course on climate change. This webinar will be recorded, so register to receive the recording and slides even if you can't attend. RSVP at http://bit.ly/beyondparis. Contact Seth Bush at seth.bush@sierraclub.org. Register online at bit.ly/beyondparis and you'll receive a confirmation email with everything you need to join the webinar online (to see visuals) or by phone.

7] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is June 19, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr. 

8] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday fr6m 10 AM to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at www.weaa.org.   The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to steinershow@gmail.com. All shows are also available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org.

9] – Close to 200 mayors across the United States have united to say that they will defy Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Ten governors have joined them, along with hundreds more business leaders and universities. The more political leaders stand up to say that they are staying committed to climate action. This is the path forward in the age of Trump: coordinated, ambitious local action. People across the country are rallying at city halls, statehouses and town squares to ask their local officials to #ActOnClimate. There’s an action on Mon., June 19 at 4 PM. The Baltimore City Council will vote on Paris Agreement, so gather in the War Memorial Plaza, 100 Holliday St., Baltimore 21202. Sticking to Paris is a good idea -- and the only way to do it is to stop all new fossil fuel projects, rapidly move to 100% renewable energy and divest from coal, oil and gas companies. Call 410-394-7652. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/152830165260268/?active_tab=about.

10] –  Urge members of the Baltimore City Council to vote to approve Councilperson Isaac "Yitzy" Schleifer's resolution number 17-0030R on Mon.,  June 19 at 5 PM.  This resolution would state that the City Council must urge the Board of Public Works to withhold approval of the sale of the Baltimore Clayworks. The Board of Baltimore Clayworks should look for an alternative to selling the property. Go to clayworkscommunity.com or email clayworkscommunity@gmail.com.

11] – The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition is asking you to WEAR BLUE to the "Fostering Community Trust" vote on Mon., June 19 at 7 PM. The Rockville City Council, 111 Maryland Ave., will officially be taking up the proposed "Fostering Community Trust" ordinance for discussion.  Bring a STRONG showing of support for this common-sense proposal that would keep Rockville's police focused on the safety of their community--that means NOT doing the job of federal immigration authorities.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/130035637561678.

12] –  Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is June 20.  Call 215-426-0364.

13] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. join this ongoing vigil on June 20 from 5:30  to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-323-1607. 

14] – There is a Black Lives Matter DC Open House on Tues., June 20 from 6 to 9 PM at the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, 3845 S. Capitol St. SW, WDC 20032.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1025491957591613/?active_tab=about. Come out to learn about BLM's work and how you can get involved!  Black Lives Matter has made our BIG shift from being a small collective to expanding and working to help foster the growth of a BLM ecosystem of organizers, activists, artists, advocates, healers and community members. Each month, at the Open House there will be popular education about movement ecology, ways for you to plug into BLM's emerging ecosystem as well as other movement groups. There will also be spaces for eating and connecting with people trying to get projects off the ground.

15] – You are invited to a special screening  of FROM THE ASHES, directed by Michael Bonfiglio, on Tues., June 20 from 7 to 9 PM at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218. Hosted by the Green Organizing Action Team, the film is a compelling look at the lives and issues behind the “war on coal.” RSVP at 410-235-4438. 

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.


"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