Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama


The Militarized Surrealism of Barack Obama

by: Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch | Op-Ed

It's already gone, having barely outlasted its moment -- just long enough for the media to suggest that no one thought it added up to much.

Okay, it was a little more than the military wanted, something less than Joe Biden would have liked, not enough for the growing crew of anti-war congressional types, but way too much for John McCain, Lindsey Graham, & Co.

I'm talking about the 13 minutes of "remarks" on "the way forward in Afghanistan" that President Obama delivered in the East Room of the White House two Wednesday nights ago.  

Tell me you weren't holding your breath wondering whether the 33,000 surge troops he ordered into Afghanistan as 2009 ended would be removed in a 12-month, 14-month, or 18-month span.  Tell me you weren't gripped with anxiety about whether 3,000, 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 American soldiers would come out this year (leaving either 95,000, 93,000, 88,000, or 83,000 behind)?

You weren't?  Well, if so, you were in good company.

Billed as the beginning of the end of the Afghan War, it should have been big and it couldn't have been smaller.  The patented Obama words were meant to soar, starting with a George W. Bush-style invocation of 9/11 and ending with the usual copious blessings upon this country and our military.  But on the evidence, they couldn't have fallen flatter.  I doubt I was alone in thinking that it was like seeing Ronald Reagan on an unimaginably bad day in an ad captioned "It's never going to be morning again in America."

Idolator President

If you clicked Obama off that night or let the event slide instantly into your mental trash can, I don't blame you.  Still, the president's Afghan remarks shouldn't be sent down the memory hole quite so quickly.

For one thing, while the mainstream media's pundits and talking heads are always raring to discuss his policy remarks, the words that frame them are generally ignored -- and yet the discomfort of the moment can't be separated from them.  So start with this: whether by inclination, political calculation, or some mix of the two, our president has become a rhetorical idolator.

These days he can barely open his mouth without also bowing down before the US military in ways that once would have struck Americans as embarrassing, if not incomprehensible.  In addition, he regularly prostrates himself before this country's special mission to the world and never ceases to emphasize that the United States is indeed an exception among nations.  Finally, in a way once alien to American presidents, he invokes God's blessing upon the military and the country as regularly as you brush your teeth.

Think of these as the triumvirate without which no Obama foreign-policy moment would be complete: greatest military, greatest nation, our God.  And in this he follows directly, if awkwardly, in Bush's footsteps.

I wouldn't claim that Americans had never had such thoughts before, only that presidents didn't feel required to say them in a mantra-like way just about every time they appeared in public.  Sometimes, of course, when you feel a compulsion to say the same things ad nauseam, you display weakness, not strength; you reveal the most fantastic of fantasy worlds, not a deeper reality.

The president's recent Afghan remarks were, in this sense, par for the course.  As he plugged his plan to bring America's "long wars" to what he called "a responsible end," he insisted that "[l]ike generations before, we must embrace America's singular role in the course of human events."  He then painted this flattering word portrait of us:

"We're a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens.  We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others.  We stand not for empire, but for self-determination... and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach... we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish."

I know, I know.  You're wondering whether you just mainlined into a Sarah Palin speech and your eyes are glazing over.  But hang in there, because that's just a start.  For example, in an Obama speech of any sort, what America's soldiers never lack is the extra adjective.  They aren't just soldiers, but "our extraordinary men and women in uniform."  They aren't just Americans, but "patriotic Americans."  (Since when did an American president have to describe American soldiers as, of all things, "patriotic"?)  And in case you missed the point that, in their extraordinariness and their outsized patriotism they are better than other Americans, he made sure to acknowledge them as the ones we "draw inspiration from."

In a country that now "supports the troops" with bumper-sticker fervor but pays next to no attention to the wars they fight, perhaps Obama is simply striving to be the premier twenty-first-century American.  Still, you have to wonder what such presidential fawning, omnipresent enough to be boilerplate, really represents.  The strange thing is we hear this sort of thing all the time.  And yet no one ever comments on it.

Oh, and let's not forget that no significant White House moment ends these days without the president bestowing God's blessing on the globe's most extraordinary nation and its extraordinary fighters, or as he put it in his Afghan remarks: "May God bless our troops.  And may God bless the United States of America."

The day after he revealed his drawdown plan to the nation, the president traveled to Ft. Drum in New York State to thank soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division for their multiple deployments to Afghanistan.  Before those extraordinary and patriotic Americans, he quite naturally doubled down.

Summoning another tic of this presidential moment (and of the Bush one before it), he told them that they were part of "the finest fighting force in the world."  Even that evidently seemed inadequate, so he upped the hyperbole. "I have no greater job," he told them, "nothing gives me more honor than serving as your commander in chief.  To all of you who are potentially going to be redeployed, just know that your commander in chief has your back... God bless you, God bless the United States of America, climb to glory."

As ever, all of this was overlooked.  Nowhere did a single commentator wonder, for instance, whether an American president was really supposed to feel that being commander in chief offered greater "honor" than being president of a nation of citizens.  In another age, such a statement would have registered as, at best, bizarre.  These days, no one even blinks.   

And yet who living in this riven, confused, semi-paralyzed country of ours truly believes that, in 2011, Americans can achieve whatever we set out to accomplish?  Who thinks that, not having won a war in memory, the US military is incontestably the finest fighting force now or ever (and on a "climb to glory" at that), or that this country is at present specially blessed by God, or that ours is a mission of selfless kindheartedness on planet Earth? 

Obama's remarks have no wings these days because they are ever more divorced from reality.  Perhaps because this president in fawning mode is such an uncomfortable sight, and because Americans generally feel so ill-at-ease about their relationship to our wars, however, such remarks are neither attacked nor defended, discussed nor debated, but as if by some unspoken agreement simply ignored. 

Here, in any case, is what they aren't: effective rallying cries for a nation in need of unity.  Here's what they may be: strange, defensive artifacts of an imperial power in visible decline, part of what might be imagined as the Great American Unraveling.  But hold that thought a moment.  After all, the topic of the president's remarks was Afghanistan.

The Unreal War

If Obama framed his Afghan remarks in a rhetoric of militarized super-national surrealism, then what he had to say about the future of the war itself was deceptive in the extreme -- not lies perhaps, but full falsehoods half told.  Consider just the two most important of them: that his "surge" consisted only of 33,000 American troops and that "by next summer," Americans are going to be so on the road to leaving Afghanistan that it isn't funny.

Unfortunately, it just ain't so.  First of all, the real Obama surge was minimally almost 55,000 and possibly 66,000 troops, depending on how you count them.  When he came into office in January 2009, there were about 32,000 American troops in Afghanistan.  Another 11,000 had been designated to go in the last days of the Bush administration, but only departed in the first Obama months.  In March 2009, the president announced his own "new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan" and dispatched 21,700 more troops.  Then, in December 2009 in a televised speech to the nation from West Point, he announced that another 30,000 would be going.  (With "support troops," it turned out to be 33,000.)

In other words, in September 2012, 14 months from now, only about half the actual troop surge of the Obama years will have been withdrawn.  In addition, though seldom discussed, the Obama "surge" was hardly restricted to troops.  There was a much ballyhooed "civilian surge" of State Department and aid types that more than tripled the "civilian" effort in Afghanistan.  Their drawdown was recently addressed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but only in the vaguest of terms.

Then there was a major surge of CIA personnel (along with US special operations forces), and there's no indication whatsoever that anyone in Washington intends reductions there, or in the drone surge that went with it.  As a troop drawdown begins, CIA agents, those special ops forces, and the drones are clearly slated to remain at or beyond a surge peak.

Finally, there was a surge in private contractors -- hired foreign guns and hired Afghans -- tens of thousands of them.  It goes unmentioned, as does the surge in base building, which has yet to end, and the surge in massive citadel-style embassy building in the region, which is assumedly ongoing.

All of this makes mincemeat of the idea that we are in the process of ending the Afghan war. I know the president said, "Our mission will change from combat to support.  By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security."  And that was a foggy enough formulation that you might be forgiven for imagining more or less everything will be over "by 2014" -- which, by the way, means not January 1st, but December 31st of that year.

If what we know of US plans in Afghanistan plays out, however, December 31, 2014, will be the date for the departure of the last of the full Obama surge of 64,000 troops.  In other words, almost five years after Obama entered office, more than 13 years after the Bush administration launched its invasion, we could find ourselves back to or just below something close to Bush-era troop levels. Tens of thousands of US forces would still be in Afghanistan, some of them "combat troops" officially relabeled (as in Iraq) for less warlike activity.  All would be part of an American "support" mission that would include huge numbers of "trainers" for the Afghan security forces and also US special forces operatives and CIA types engaged in "counterterror" activities in the country and region.

The US general in charge of training the Afghan military recently suggested that his mission wouldn't be done until 2017 (and no one who knows anything about the country believes that an effective Afghan Army will be in place then either).  In addition, although the president didn't directly mention this in his speech, the Obama administration has been involved in quiet talks with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to nail down a "strategic partnership" agreement that would allow American troops, spies, and air power to hunker down as "tenants" on some of the giant bases we've built.  There they would evidently remain for years, if not decades (as some reports have it).

In other words, on December 31, 2014, if all goes as planned, the US will be girding for years more of wildly expensive war, even if in a slimmed down form.  This is the reality, as American planners imagine it, behind the president's speech.

Overstretched Empire

Of course, it's not for nothing that we regularly speak of the best laid plans going awry, something that applies doubly, as in Afghanistan, to the worst laid plans.  It's increasingly apparent that our disastrous wars are, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry recently admitted, "unsustainable."  After all, just the cost of providing air conditioning to US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $20 billion a year -- is more than NASA's total budget.

Yes, despite Washington's long lost dreams of a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East, some of its wars there are still being planned as if for a near-eternity, while others are being intensified.  Those wars are still fueled by overblown fears of terrorism; encouraged by a National Security Complex funded to the tune of more than $1.2 trillion annually by an atmosphere of permanent armed crisis; and run by a military that, after a decade of not-so-creative destruction, can't stop doing what it knows how to do best (which isn't winning a war).

Though Obama claims that the United States is no empire, all of this gives modern meaning to the term "overstretched empire."  And it's not really much of a mystery what happens to overextemded imperial powers that find themselves fighting "little" wars they can't win, while their treasuries head south.

The growing unease in Washington about America's wars reflects a dawning sense of genuine crisis, a sneaking suspicion even among hawkish Republicans that they preside ineffectually over a great power in precipitous decline.

Think, then, of the president's foreign-policy-cum-war speeches as ever more unconvincing attempts to cover the suppurating wound that is Washington's global war policy.  If you want to take the temperature of the present crisis, you can do it through Obama's words.  The less they ring true, the more discordant they seem in the face of reality, the more he fawns and repeats his various mantras, the more uncomfortable he makes you feel, the more you have the urge to look away, the deeper the crisis.

What will he say when the Great American Unraveling truly begins?

Copyright 2011 Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's  His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books). You can catch him discussing war American-style and that book in a Timothy MacBain TomCast video by clicking here.



Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [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


Nukes at Risk as Floods and Fires From Extreme Weather Make Us Vulnerable


Nukes at Risk as Floods and Fires From Extreme Weather Make Us Vulnerable

By Tina Gerhardt, AlterNet
Posted on June 30, 2011, Printed on June 30, 2011

Numerous nuclear power plants face precarious scenarios as a result of climate change-induced extreme weather. Flooding of the Missouri river is being monitored around the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska. And wildfires have reached the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which houses nuclear-contaminated waste, in New Mexico.

March's disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan has raised broader concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants in the U.S. Most nuclear power plants are located near water, which they draw on for cooling. But with the extreme weather this spring, the Mississippi, Missouri and Platte rivers in the Midwest have flooded, in some cases to their highest levels in over 100 years.

On June 26, flooding in the Missouri river reached critical levels near the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Generation Station. The power plant, located about 19 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska, has been shut down since April 7 for refueling. Technicians decided to hold off on restarting the power plant due to predicted floods, which have been an ongoing concern since then. Eight-foot-high and 16-feet-wide rubber berms have been installed to protect the facilities against waters. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko inspected the plant on Monday.

Eighty-five miles to the south, the Cooper Nuclear Station, located in Brownville, Nebraska, is also under close watch as a result of the Missouri river floods. There, too, berms have been set up to protect the power plant from flooding. NRC Chairman Jaczko inspected the plant on Sunday, where he said at a press conference, "One of the things we learned at the Fukushima event is the importance of dealing with natural hazards."

On April 1, the NRC established a task force charged with gauging the existing safety of nuclear power plants in the U.S. In particular, the panel is to examine whether or not nuclear power plants are prepared to respond to natural disasters. To date, the task force has held two briefings. It is scheduled to report its findings on July 19.

Yet some have their doubts about the reliability of the NRC's findings. ProPublica has reviewed inspection reports and found "problems with emergency equipment and disaster procedures that are far more pervasive than publicly described by the NRC." Flooding is not the only extreme weather currently plaguing nuclear power plants. In the southwest, over 700 square miles of Arizona, the largest in the state's history, and over 4,600 square miles of Texas have been consumed by wildfires. In June, the Pacheco Fire burned about 15 square miles just a few miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. (For more about the increasingly common wildfires in the west, see Chip Ward.)

Since Sunday, the Las Conchas fires in New Mexico have consumed nearly 95 square miles of the Santa Fe National Forest, which surrounds the Los Alamos Nuclear Facility. The fires have now reached within a few miles of the lab, which is located around 35 miles northwest of Santa Fe and 97 miles north of Albuquerque. The fires have raged for three days and firefighters have sent for reinforcements to battle a fire that, according to Los Alamos fire chief Doug Tucker, has the capacity to grow two to three times in size, as a result of erratic winds that are gusting up to 60 miles per hour.

The Los Alamos lab was set up during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, in order to design and test the first nuclear bomb. The bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki were designed here. Now, approximately 20,000 55-gallon barrels containing plutonium waste are stored at Los Alamos. Los Alamos' 11,000 residents have been evacuated. And the Los Alamos lab was closed on Monday and Tuesday. It has issued statements saying that "all hazardous and radioactive materials remain accounted for and are appropriately protected" and that there has not been release of radioactive materials. Nonetheless, some remain skeptical.

The fact that the nuclear facility rests atop a fault-line fuels concerns. On March 30, Los Alamos National Laboratory director Michael Anastasio testified to Congress, stating that he was concerned about this fact: "We will of course have to continue to work in our old facility, which right now is almost 60 years old. And it happens to be, literally, on top of an earthquake fault -- not the best place for a nuclear facility. And a reminder to look at what is happening in Japan." ( Anastasio retired on June 1, 2011.)

Other nuclear power plants, too, are located in tornado-, hurricane- or earthquake-prone zones. The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York, located 38 miles north of New York City; Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, 100 miles north of Santa Barbara; and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, 56 miles north of San Diego all rest on fault-lines.

Environmentalists have underscored that older nuclear power plants were not built with today's climate change-induced extreme weather in mind. The results could be disastrous. Given increased global warming, extreme weather is likely to continue.

Add global warming-related natural disasters to the already long list of concerns about nuclear power, which -- as Christian Parenti has reported for the Nation -- includes "a campaign to relicense and extend by 50 percent the operation of the existing fleet" of 104 nuclear reactors; and the fact that "a quarter of our reactors are leaking or have leaked radioactive carcinogenic, tritium-polluted water."

Senators Barbara Boxer (CA-D), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI-D) and Bernard Sanders (VT-I) have called for an investigation into the nuclear safety of U.S. nuclear power plants as a result of a four-part series authored by Jeff Donn that the AP kicked off on Monday. The report affirms Parenti's findings and shows that "government and industry have been working in tandem to keep aging reactors within the rules" and that "radioactive tritium leaks are found at 48 US nuclear sites."

In light of these findings about the safety of U.S. nuclear safety, Fukushima and the climate change-induced natural disasters, will the United States join Germany, Italy and Switzerland in shutting down nuclear energy? Of course, in Germany and Switzerland, it was serious street heat and people pressure, or voting with one's feet, and in Italy voting at the ballot box that led or forced politicians to shut down nuclear energy.

Tina Gerhardt's reporting on climate change and energy policy has appeared in AlterNet, Earth Island Journal, the Nation, and other publications.

© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [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


Yet Again in Sudan


The New York Times

June 29, 2011

Yet Again in Sudan


The world capital for crimes against humanity this month probably isn’t in Libya or Syria. Instead, it’s arguably the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where we’re getting accounts of what appears to be a particularly vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, murder and rape.

In its effort to preclude witnesses, the Sudanese government has barred humanitarian access to the area and threatened to shoot down United Nations helicopters. Sudanese troops even detained four United Nations peacekeepers and subjected them to “a mock firing squad,” the U.N. said.

An internal U.N. report says that Sudanese authorities are putting on uniforms of the Sudanese Red Crescent — a local version of the Red Cross — to order displaced people to move away from the United Nations compound. They were then herded into a stadium in the town of Kadugli, where their fate is uncertain.

Western aid workers have been forced to flee, and there are credible reports of government troops and government-backed Arab militias systematically hunting down members of the black-skinned Nuba ethnic group and killing them.

“Door-to-door executions of completely innocent and defenseless civilians, often by throat-cutting, by special internal security forces,” a Westerner with long experience in Sudan recounted in a terse e-mail that I posted on my blog. The writer, who was on the scene but has now left, does not want to be named for fear of losing access.

The Rt. Rev. Andudu Elnail, an Episcopal bishop for the Nuba Mountains area, told me that the Sudanese government has targeted many Nuban Christians. Armed forces burned down his cathedral, said Bishop Andudu, who is temporarily in the United States but remains in touch daily with people in the area.

“They’re killing educated people, especially black people, and they don’t like the church,” he said. Women are also being routinely raped, Bishop Andudu said, estimating that the death toll is “more than a few thousand” across the Sudanese state of South Kordofan.

This isn’t religious warfare, for many Nubans are Muslim and have also been targeted (including a mosque bombed the other day). The Sudanese military has been dropping bombs on markets and village wells.

The airstrip that I used when I visited the Nuba Mountains has now been bombed to keep humanitarians from flying in relief supplies; the markets I visited are now deserted, according to accounts smuggled out to monitoring groups. At least 73,000 people have fled their homes, the United Nations says.

A network of brave people on the ground, virtually all locals, have been secretly taking photos and transmitting them to human rights organizations in the West like the Enough Project. My hard drive overflows with photos of children bleeding from shrapnel.

Samuel Totten, a genocide scholar at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, visited the Nuba Mountains a year ago to gather historical accounts of the mass killings of Nuba by the Sudanese government in the 1990s. Now, he says, it is all beginning to happen again.

“As I watch the international community dither as the people of the Nuba Mountains are being killed, impunity reigns,” said Professor Totten.

The Sudanese government signed a framework agreement on Tuesday that could be a step to end the violence in South Kordofan, but there has been no deal on cessation of hostilities. Sudan has a long record of agreements reached and then breached (by the South as well as the North).

Sudan is preparing for a split on July 9, when South Sudan emerges as an independent nation after decades of on-and-off war between North and South. The Nuba Mountains will remain in the North when the South secedes, but many Nuba sided with the South during the war and still serve in a rebel military force dug into the mountains.

Most of the violence in the Nuba Mountains has been by northern Arabs against the Nuba, but there are also reports of rebel soldiers attacking Arab civilians. There is a risk that violence will spread to the neighboring state of Blue Nile and ultimately trigger a full-blown North-South war, although both sides want to avoid that.

It’s critical that the United Nations retain its presence. Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, already indicted for genocide in Darfur, is now visiting China, and Chinese leaders need to insist that he stop the killing of civilians and allow the U.N. to function.

The appeals from Nubans today feel like an anguished echo of those from Darfur eight years ago. Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that has long worked in the Nuba Mountains, said it received a message from a Nuban pastor: “With grief today, I want to inform you that the new church is burned down. We have lost everything. The house where my staff lives was looted, and the offices were burned. Many people fled from town, but some stayed. There is no food or water now.”

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

© 2011 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [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


Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 2


30] Emergency Flotilla Action – Date to be announced

31] Elizabeth Warren at Pratt – June 30

32] Film LION OF THE DESERT – June 30

33] THREADS – June 30

34] ACY benefit – June 30

35] Film CRISIS IN THE CONGO – June 30

36] SONiA at Baldwin's Station -- June 30

37] Reflective Growth Initiative – June 30

38] White House vigil – July 1

39] WIB Inner Harbor vigil – July 1

40] WIB Roland Park vigil – July 1

41] Justice for Palestine/Israel vigil – July 1

42] Eco/Justice Café – July 1

43] Silent vigil – July 1

44] Film BUDRUS – July 1

45] Walter Reed vigil – July 1

46] Hear Yogi Ray – July 1 & 2

47] Ballroom dancing – July 1

48] Farmers Market – July 2

49] Olney vigil to end the war – July 2

50] Peace vigil in Chester, PA – July 2

51] Peace vigil at Capitol – July 2

52] Alternatives to Violence -- July 2 – July 16

53] Philadelphia Declare Peace Fair – July 2

54] Secular Coalition for America – July 3

55] Get on Bridge for peace – July 3

56] Plants & People – July 3

57] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – July 3

58] Pentagon Vigil – July 4

59] Protest at NSA/potluck picnic – July 4

60] Donate to Race against Cancer – July 4

61] Can you host a teen from Cyprus in July?

62] Sign up with Washington Peace Center

63] Fund Our Communities campaign

64] Submit articles to Indypendent Reader 

65] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records

66] Support Haiti

67] Buy a red maple tree

68] Join Global Zero campaign

69] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale

70] Publish your peace article

71] Click on The Hunger Site 

72] Fire & Faith  

73] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil


30] – There is an Emergency Flotilla Action at 5 PM at the Israeli Embassy, 3514 International Drive, NW, WDC 20008 the day after any attack, called by the East Coast Emergency Response Network.  On the day of an attack, gather at the White House at 5 PM. Other groups should make Emergency Response Plans and post them on Facebook and at


31] – Congressperson Elijah Cummings presents a Town Hall Meeting Fighting for America's Working and Middle Class Families with Elizabeth Warren on Thurs., June 30 at 6:30 PM at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Branch. Wheeler Auditorium.  In 2008, Elizabeth Warren left her job teaching bankruptcy at Harvard Law School to oversee the TARP, the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. She has written 9 books and many scholarly articles dealing with economic stress. Call 410-396-5430.


32] – On Thurs., June 30, from 7 to 10 PM at the Solidarity Center, 2011 N. Charles St., see the film LION OF THE DESERT, the story of Omar Mukhtar, an Arab Muslim rebel who fought against the Italian conquest of Libya in WWI. It exposes the savage means by which the conquering army attempted to subdue the indigenous population. Following the film there will be an update on the struggle to stop the U.S./NATO war against Libya.  There is a request for a $5 donation, but no one would be turned away. Call 443-909-8964 or email  


33] – In a weekly spotlight series, Emerging Voices Project, Kimberley Lynne directs a staged reading of the screenplay THREADS by Kari Waters.  There is no charge. It takes place on Thurs., June 30 at 7 PM at the Univ. Baltimore, Performing Arts Theatre, 1420 N. Charles St. Call 410-837-4053.  Go to


34] – Comedians Coming Together to Help Children in Baltimore is a collaborative improv comedy benefit featuring Nema Williams, Ed Blaze, and Vince Barnett. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Advocates for Children and Youth. The benefit is happening on Thurs., June 30 from 7 PM to midnight at Sully's Comedy Cellar, 9306 Harford Road.  The ticket price is $15.  Call 410-665-8600 or go to &


35] –  The film "Crisis in the Congo: Uncovering the Truth" can be seen on Thurs., June 30 from 7 to 9 PM at the Reeves Center 2nd Floor Conference Room, 2000 14th St. NW, WDC.  The movie exposes the role that the United States and its allies, Rwanda and Uganda have played in triggering the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st century.  The film locates the Congo crisis in a historical, social, and political context. It unveils analysis and prescriptions by leading experts, practitioners, activists and intellectuals that are not normally available to the general public. The film is a call to conscience and action.  Call 202-584-6512 or go to


36] – I have been informed that "SONiA is quite an activist and performer."  She will be performing on Thurs., June 30 at 8 PM at Baldwin's Station 7618 Main Street, Sykesville, MD 21784.  For tickets [$20] and reservations, call 410-795-1041.SONiA is always striving to 'disappear fear' and spread her message of peace. The Music at Baldwin's Station is brought to you by Uptown Concerts Inc., a non-profit, 501c3, organization affiliated with the North American Folk Alliance and dedicated to the preservation and promotion of folk and traditional music. Go to


37] – On Thurs., June 30 from 8 to 11 PM at Sankofa Video, Books and Café, 2714 Georgia Ave. NW, WDC, catch the second installment of Authentic Reflection's bi-monthly Reflective Growth Initiative. Come and enjoy intimate reflection with people of various backgrounds from CEOs to students to blue collar workers. Plus the food is great!  Go to!/event.php?eid=216977708333618.


38] – A peace vigil takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at Lafayette Park facing the White House.  Join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and friends. Contact Art Laffin:   


39] – Every Friday from noon to 1 PM, Women in Black, Baltimore, host a vigil at Pratt and Light Sts. in the Inner Harbor. Peace signs will be available. See or write or call 410-467-9114.


40] – There is also a noon vigil, weather permitting, on July 1 at Roland Park Place at 830 W. 40th St.  Call 410-467-9114.

41] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel (now in its 8th year) takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia (across from Israeli Consulate.  It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email Go to

42] – Join the next UDC Eco/Justice Cafe on Fri., July 1 from 4 - 10 PM at the UDC Firebird Inn (Building 38, B level), 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW, WDC 20008. The Cafes support area environmental and social justice activists, their organizations, and the UDC students and staff who care. This is a regular event at UDC, held the first Friday of every month. Donations requested. Go to  Contact Joe Libertelli at 202-274-7338 or


43] – There is a silent vigil on Fri., July 1 from 5 to 6 PM outside of Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St., in opposition to war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Placards say: "War Is Not the Answer." The silent vigil is sponsored by AFSC, Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings. 


44] – On Fri., July 1 at 7 PM watch BUDRUS, which is being shown as part of the "JUST-REEL" First Friday Free Film Series at the Peace Center of Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, Delaware County, PA. The evening will include light refreshments and an after-film discussion. It is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community. Call 610-544-1818.  Go to

The acclaimed documentary shows us that nonviolent direct action does work, even against a vicious and superior force with weapons.  Amidst the suffering, the violence, and the walls of hate between Israelis and Palestinians, It takes a village to unite the most divided people on earth.  Email


45] – The Walter Reed Vigil continues on Fridays from 7 to 9 PM at the Hospital, 7150 Georgia Ave., NW (at Horseshoe, between Dahlia and Elder), WDC. The vigil calls for peace, care for the wounded, and full benefits for all veterans.  Contact DC CODEPINK at or 202-290-1301.


46] – On Fri., July 1 at 7 PM, there will be a lecture by "Yogi Raj," Dr. Vishvpal Jayant, and Ayurvedic physician/naturopath and master of Yoga, at 4209 East West Hwy., Chevy Chase, MD 20815.  And on both July 1 and July 2, he will be available to do consultations.  To sign up, email Sarah at or call 301 806 9436.  Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of holistic medicine. Go to


47] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be July 1. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.


48] – Go to the West Baltimore Farmer's Market for fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and other treats every Saturday from 8 to noon.  CPHA has worked with the West Baltimore Marc TOD and Transit Inc. (WBMTTI) to establish a Farmer's Market at the West Baltimore Marc Train stop at Smallwood Road at Franklin and Mulberry Sts.  Since opening in June, over 300 people buy fresh groceries there every Saturday morning. WBMTTI will continue to include the community in the transit-oriented developments on the west side and continue to improve the area around "the highway to nowhere" until it becomes the highway to somewhere. Go to


49] Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. in Olney, MD.  The next vigil is July 2. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167. 


50] –  Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email


51] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on July 2. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to or email


52] – Alternatives to Violence with Colman McCarthy is happening for The 21st Annual Summer Course on Alternatives to Violence with Colman McCarthy takes place on Saturdays, and goes from July 2 through July 16, 1 PM to 3 PM in the Ibrahim El-Hibri Building, 3rd Floor, 1420 16th St. NW, WDC 20036. Space is limited.  To register, email  Call 202-387-9500.


53] – There is a Declare Peace Fair on Sat., July 2 from 1 to 3:30 PM at the Independence Visitors Center (lawn area), 6th & Market Sts, Phila., PA.  Enjoy music, dramatic readings, poetry, story-telling, speakers and literature from various groups.  To reserve a space at the fair, call the Brandywine Peace Community at 610-544-1818.  Go to


54] – On Sun., July 3 at 10:30 AM, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201, will discuss the Secular Coalition for America as part of the Summer Sunday Discussion with Emil Volcheck.  The SCA lobbies for the rights of nontheistic citizens.  Emil Volcheck will report on the SCA Biennial Summit that he attended this past May. He'll sketch the SCA's "Secular Decade" strategic plan and describe the SCA's first Lobbying Day. Discussion will center on whether nontheistic Americans face discrimination and how the SCA and the Ethical Movement should respond.  Call 410-581-2322 or visit


55] – Maryland Bridges for Peace welcomes you to stand for peace Sundays from noon (or thereabouts) to 1 PM on the Spa Creek Bridge in Annapolis.  Contact Lucy at 410-263-7271 or Signs are not allowed to be on a stick or pole.   If there is interest, people will be standing on the Stoney Creek Bridge on Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena [410-437-5379 or]. Go to


56] – On Sun., July 3 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM at the Howard P. Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore, 3100 Swan Drive, check out Plants and People, when the Master Gardener Plant Clinic takes place. Master gardeners offer a hands-on tour of the conservatory's plants.  Call 410-396-0008 or go to



57] – Every Sunday, 4 to 5 PM, there is a Quaker Peace Vigil at Independence Mall, N. side of Market between 5th and 6th Sts., Philadelphia. Call 215-421-5811.


58] – 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 Mon., July 4, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Call 202-882-9649.


59] – Join the Pledge of Resistance on its annual trek to the National Security Agency for a Burma Shave demonstration on behalf of whistleblower Thomas Drake who will be sentenced in July in federal court in Baltimore.  Consider making a sign.  We will leave Baltimore at 9:15 AM to be at Fort Meade at 10 AM on July 4.  RSVP at 410-366-1637, as rides are available.  At 6 PM, there will be a potluck picnic at Cindy & Sharon's home.  RSVP at 410-366-1637 to let us know what dish you are bringing. 


60] – Susan Ingram is in training for the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon set for Aug. 21 at Centennial Lake in Columbia.  She is doing the race to help me recuperate and get back in shape after suffering a broken right arm/shoulder in January.  She has registered to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is racing in honor of her mom and dad, Tom and Margaret Ingram.  Both of my parents fought cancer. Mom survived. Dad did not.  Susan is blogging at her newspaper:  And if you feel so inclined, she would be grateful for any amount of donation you could make on her donation page:


61] – Can you act as a Host Family for Cyprus teens in July?  The Cyprus Friendship Program, modeled off of the very successful Northern Ireland Friendship Project, has a goal of building peace on a troubled, divided island many fear is again headed for armed conflict.  Contact Tom McCarthy, Maryland/D.C. coordinator of CFP at 301-774-7069.  Go to


62] – The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:

63] – Fund Our Communities campaign – is a new grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget.  Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures.  Go to      


64] – The new Indypendent Reader is seeking articles for its web site at  Submit an article.  


65] – If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 


66] – There is a project to assist young refugees from Haiti, now residing in the Dominican Republic.  The founder of the project needs funding to providing education to the youth as a way out of desperate poverty.  Try to imagine the poverty in Haiti, and then realize that these young refugees are considered low caste in the Dominican Republic. We are talking about the poorest of the poor.  Consider making a small donation, and realize that most pledges to Haiti to assist hurricane victims have not been sent.  To maintain a web site presence at Global Giving, there must be traffic.  So help out with this extremely worthy cause. Go to


67] – I have a red maple tree for sale for $5 from the Trees for Baltimore program.  Buy a tree, plant it and contribute to saving the planet.  Call Max at 410-366-1637


68] – Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.  


69] – WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5.  To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637.

70] – Publish Your Peace Article. Daniel Frasier is soliciting peace articles for the biweekly series of commentaries Paths to Peace in the Frederick News Post Religion and Ethics section. For details, email


71] – The Hunger Site was initiated by Mercy Corps and Second Harvest, and is funded entirely by advertisers.  You can go there every day and click the big yellow "Give Food for Free" button near the top of the page; you do not have to look at the ads. Each click generates funding for about 1.1 cups of food.  So consider clicking.  


72] – Go online for FIRE AND FAITH: The Catonsville Nine File. On May 17, 1968, nine people entered the Selective Service Offices in Catonsville, Maryland, and burned draft records in protest against the war in Vietnam. View


73] – Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981.  Go to; call 202-682-4282.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan