Saturday, September 22, 2012

Angry Libyans Target Militias, Forcing Flight

Angry Libyans Target Militias, Forcing Flight

Saturday, 22 September 2012 10:03 By Suliman Ali Zway and Kareem Fahim, The New York Times News Service Report

The U.S. diplomatic compound after it was attacked and ambushed on September 12, in Benghazi, Libya, September 14, 2012. (Photo: Mohammad Hannon / Associated Press, for The New York Times)Benghazi, Libya - Galvanized by anger over the killing of the popular American ambassador here last week, thousands of Libyans marched through this city on Friday, demanding the disarming of the militias that helped topple the dictatorship but have troubled the country with their refusal to disband.

In a show of mass frustration at the armed groups, protesters seized control of several militia headquarters on Friday night and handed them over to Libya’s national army in what appeared to be a coordinated sweep. They also stormed the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, a hard-line Islamist militia that has been linked to the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.

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As members of Ansar al-Sharia fled their headquarters, protesters set at least one vehicle on fire, and Reuters reported that one person was killed. There were unconfirmed reports that several had been wounded by the departing gunmen.

At the seized headquarters of another militia, protesters burned and pillaged a large number of weapons, and hundreds of looters could be seen walking away with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The killing of the ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, a well-liked figure in Benghazi because he had worked closely with the rebels who toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last year, appeared to be the catalyst for the protests on Friday, though hardly its only cause.

The militias, which started forming soon after the February 2011 uprising against Colonel Qaddafi began in this eastern Libyan city, emerged as a parallel and often menacing presence after his downfall in October 2011, seizing territory for themselves and asserting their authority over the fledgling government.

In western Libya, turf wars between militias resulted in regular street fights with heavy weapons. Months ago, members of Ansar al-Sharia brandishing weapons paraded through Benghazi and called for an Islamic state.

It was unclear whether the backlash against Ansar al-Sharia and the other militias on Friday represented an opportunity for the government to consolidate its power in the post-Qaddafi era or would lead to new violent confrontations.

But no weapons were left behind in most of the seizures, protesters and officials said, suggesting the militias had been anticipating such an event because of a buildup of resentment against them.

In a further sign that tensions had been stoked, some militia members accused Qaddafi loyalists of instigating the backlash. Mohamed Bazina, a spokesman for the Rafallah al-Sehati brigade, one of the militias whose headquarters were seized, said it had video evidence to prove it.

“This is a military coup against the true revolutionaries in the city of Benghazi,” he said. “Benghazi will not calm down.”

The attack on the American Mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens, on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, was an affront to many in Benghazi, which Mr. Stevens had made his base during the uprising. He became a familiar, cheerful presence at public events.

“We want justice for Chris,” read one sign among the estimated 30,000 Libyans, including families, who marched into Benghazi’s main square on Friday to protest in front of the chief encampment of Ansar al-Sharia.

Some held signs reading “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya lost a friend.” Many protesters carried Libyan flags, and government police officers could be seen mingling with the marchers.

Members of Ansar al-Sharia held a counterdemonstration, and arguments erupted between the opposing sides, but no violence occurred, at least not initially. Protesters chanted: “You terrorists, you cowards. Go back to Afghanistan.”

Mr. Stevens and the others were killed in mayhem that was ostensibly provoked by anger over an anti-Muslim video that was made in the United States and has been roiling the Islamic world for nearly two weeks. But officials have said there are indications that part of the attack may have been coordinated and planned.

The organization and firepower used in the assault has also raised alarm in Washington about the possibility of links to Al Qaeda. But to Libyans, the assault underscored instability in a country where militias keep weapons at the ready.

The Obama administration has been careful about publicly assigning blame in the death of Mr. Stevens and the others until law enforcement officials, including the F.B.I., know more. But the administration has begun to call the killings a “terrorist attack.”

The change in language came as Congressional Republicans criticized the administration over what they called its failure to anticipate the problems in Libya. Some Republican lawmakers have moved to cut off aid to Libya as a result.

But one powerful Republican, Senator John McCain, counseled against such a move, citing the pro-American sentiments of some of the demonstrators who confronted Ansar al-Sharia on Friday.

“These brave people in Libya are friends of America,” he said. “They want our help and need our help. And we must continue to provide it to them, which is exactly what Chris Stevens would have wanted.”

The fatal attack on the United States diplomatic compound here was actually a two-pronged assault, according to survivors. After attackers overwhelmed security at the American Mission, the survivors congregated at a nearby villa, surrounded by friendly Libyan forces, and believed themselves to be safe and waiting evacuation to the airport. The ambassador’s whereabouts was not known.

About 2 a.m., the ambush began, with gunfire and mortar rounds striking where the survivors had taken shelter. Two of the guards, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, were killed. Questions about the ambush remain, but those who were present said it was conducted with a great deal of accuracy.

While the others were at the villa, Mr. Stevens; a computer technician, Sean Smith; and a security officer moved to a designated “safe haven” for the night, but attackers doused the building with fuel and ignited it. It was not known whether they were aware it was inhabited. The guard, who has not been identified, escaped the building, but Mr. Smith and Mr. Stevens were asphyxiated.

Suliman Ali Zway reported from Benghazi, and Kareem Fahim from Beirut, Lebanon. Rick Gladstone contributed reporting from New York.

This story, "Angry Libyans Target Militias, Forcing Flight," originally appears at the New York Times News Service.

© 2012 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

Immigration Charges for Accused Commando in Dos Erres Massacre

Immigration Charges for Accused Commando in Dos Erres Massacre

By Sebastian Rotella

A former Guatemalan Army lieutenant was extradited Friday from Canada to stand trial in Southern California on federal charges related to the massacre of 250 people in a Guatemalan village in 1982, a case that has resulted in landmark human rights prosecutions in Guatemala and the United States.

U.S. federal officers took custody of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes in Calgary Friday morning and were en route to Los Angeles, U.S. officials said. Sosa, 54, is the highest-ranking officer to have been arrested on charges alleging direct involvement in the massacre by a 20-man unit of elite commandos in the northern Guatemalan farming hamlet of Dos Erres.

In May, ProPublica reported the story of Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda, who learned only last year that he was a Dos Erres survivor. He had been abducted by a commander of the unit and raised by his family.

Sosa, a karate instructor who holds both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, fled his home in the Los Angeles area in mid-2010 as agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) closed in on him. He went to Mexico and then to Lethbridge in western Canada, where he has family, and was arrested in January of last year, according to U.S. and Canadian court documents. Last month, a Canadian appeals court ended his legal fight to avoid extradition to the United States.

Because U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction for the massacre, federal prosecutors indicted Sosa on charges of lying on immigration forms. He allegedly concealed his military service and involvement in Dos Erres on the forms when he obtained citizenship in 2008 and residency 10 years earlier, according to an indictment filed in 2010. The trial could start in about two months in federal court in Riverside, Calif.

In Dos Erres, Sosa allegedly oversaw the slaughter of men, women and children who were dumped in a well during a day-long frenzy of torture, rape and pillage, according to U.S. and Guatemalan court documents. He allegedly fired his rifle and threw a grenade into a pile of living and dead victims in the well, according to the testimony in Guatemalan courts of two former soldiers who are now protected witnesses.

Sosa was a sub-lieutenant at the time, junior in rank only to three lieutenants in the squad of highly-trained commando instructors. Sosa denied guilt during a recent telephone interview with ProPublica from jail in Calgary. He said he was in another village doing a military public works project on the day of the massacre in December 1982. He described the charges against him as the product of a conspiracy.

The Dos Erres case was one of the worst of hundreds of massacres during Guatemala's 30-year civil war, which ended in 1996 and resulted in more than 200,000 deaths. In "Finding Oscar: Massacre, Memory and Justice in Guatemala," ProPublica told the story through the odyssey of Oscar Ramírez Castañeda, now a 33-year-old father of four living in Boston. After a dogged investigation by Guatemalan prosecutors, Oscar learned last year that his life until that point had been based on a lie.

DNA tests proved that when Oscar was age 3 and living in the village, a commando lieutenant spared his life and abducted him after the unit killed the boy's mother and eight brothers and sisters. The lieutenant died in an accident months later, but his family raised Oscar as if he were one of their own. Oscar, an illegal immigrant who came to the United States in 1998, is now a father of four and works two full-time jobs.

After he learned that he was living proof the massacre, Oscar applied for political asylum. A decision is pending. He met in recent months with a prosecution team from the U.S. Department of Justice and is prepared to tell his story as a witness against Sosa, according to his lawyer, R. Scott Greathead.

"Oscar is ready to provide them with whatever assistance they need," said Greathead. "The Sosa prosecution is very significant. It represents an important law enforcement effort on the part of the U.S. government to punish human rights abusers who make false representations to the U.S. government to get asylum and citizenship."

A key eyewitness will likely be Santos Lopez Alonzo, a former member of the commando unit. Alonzo abducted and raised a 5-year-old boy from Dos Erres who, like Oscar, had survived the attack. Alonzo migrated illegally to Texas, where he was arrested in 2010 for illegal re-entry after deportation and offered to testify against other Dos Erres suspects, according to court documents. He was sentenced to time served and is in federal custody as a material witness, according to court documents.

The prosecution's approach to the Sosa case resembles the investigation of Gilberto Jordan, a former commando who was tracked down in Florida by ICE agents in 2010. Jordan confessed his role in the massacre and pleaded guilty to similar immigration charges. Jordan received the maximum 10-year sentence and is serving time in federal prison.

U.S. authorities deported to Guatemala another former commando who was arrested in California. He became one of five suspects in the case who were convicted by Guatemalan courts. Seven suspects, including the two senior officers in the unit, remain at large.

The suspects were first charged in Guatemala in 2000, but the case remained in limbo because of legal appeals and political resistance by the powerful armed forces. The hunt for the killers in Guatemala and the United States began in earnest in 2010 as the result of a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the appointment of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who has aggressively pursued war crimes and corruption.

Dos Erres is the first massacre of the civil war to result in convictions in Guatemala. It has become a test of the capacity of that nation's embattled justice system to confront impunity and lawlessness. Prosecutors have also charged Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala's former dictator, in the Dos Erres case.

This article was published at NationofChange at: All rights are reserved.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can you join us at 4:30 PM on September 19 at Rep. Sarbanes’ office? We will talk about the Robin Hood tax. Can you sign on to the letter below?


Can you join us at 4:30 PM on September 19 at Rep. Sarbanes’ office? We will talk about the Robin Hood tax. Can you sign on to the letter below? Kagiso, Max

Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

The Robin Hood Campaign – A Movement, and Now Legislation Too

by Rose Ann DeMoro

For many months, nurses, healthcare, environmental, labor, consumer, faith-based and other community activists have rallied on Wall Street, at banks and legislative offices, and outside the White House and Treasury Department, saying it is time to tax Wall Street to help revive our economy and nation. Robin Tax campaigners rally in New York City on September 17, 2012. (Photo: NNU)

Now it’s no longer just a movement. It’s also legislation, H.R. 6411, the Robin Hood tax, introduced in Congress by Rep. Keith Ellison, one of the most progressive voices in Washington.

H.R. 6411, formally known as the Inclusive Prosperity Act, would require the unaccountable Wall Street financiers and gamblers to begin to pay some restitution for all the damage they’ve caused to Main Street communities across the U.S.

Not coincidentally, the bill was introduced on the eve of the one year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, that historic convergence that provided a critical reminder of the pervasive disparity in incomes and wealth in the U.S., and the salient point that the bankers got bailouts and bonuses while so many others were left behind.

H.R. 6411 begins to provide some redress.

With a small tax, just 50 cents on every $100 of stock trades, and a lesser amount on other trades of bonds, derivatives, and other financial instruments. Even at those rates, H.R. 6411 could generate as much as $350 billion every year.

As economist Robert Pollin, co-director, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst, explains, “In its essentials, the idea of a financial market transaction tax is simple. It would mean that financial market traders would pay a small fee to the government every time they purchased any financial market instrument, including all stock, bond, options, futures, and swap trades. This would be the equivalent of sales taxes that Americans have long paid every time they buy an automobile, shirt, baseball glove, airline ticket, or pack of chewing gum, eat at a restaurant, or have their hair cut.”

Imagine, the average sales tax rate in the U.S. that consumers pay on almost all goods and services is 9.6 percent – yet J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and the other financial giants on Wall Street pay no sales tax on the thousands, even tens of thousands of trades, they carry out every second.

No wonder this movement has so much resonance, with more than 115 national endorsers of the Robin Hood Tax Campaign to date, joining because they think Wall Street should pay its fair share, and because they know of the critical need for the revenue that would be raised.

The funds raised by H.R. 6411 would be available for such basics as rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure with good paying jobs, expanding and improving Medicare and Medicaid, investment in education and job training, and housing assistance for low income households. In other words, the basic needs so essential to the survival of a civil society and nation.

“The American public provided hundreds of billions to bailout Wall Street during the global fiscal crisis yet bore the brunt of the crisis with lost jobs and reduced household wealth,” said Rep. Ellison upon introduction of the bill. “This is a phenomenally wealthy nation, yet our tax and regulatory system allowed the financial titans to amass great riches while impoverishing the systems that enable inclusive prosperity. A financial transaction tax protects our financial markets from speculation and provides the revenue needed to invest in the education, health and communities of the American people.”

“Last summer, scientists proved that we can actually end the AIDS pandemic if we just scale up our investment in treatment and prevention programs,” said Jennifer Flynn, managing director of Health GAP (Global Access Project). “But when we go to Congress, all we hear about are budget cuts. We need to increase revenue and the Robin Hood Tax is the best of all proposals to do just that.”

Funds would also be available for global sustainable programs to tackle poverty, climate change, AIDS, and other international assistance.

Those goals are emulated across the planet by an international Robin Hood tax campaign that has already seen similar taxes adopted by more than 30 other nations, most recently France, with growing support across Europe.

There’s more. H.R. 6411 would add stability to the economy curbing turbulent short-term speculation – in some cases tens of millions of dollars in computerized trades occurring in minutes that has prompted huge upheavals in the market. Though the tax is tiny, it would make such rampant gambling less attractive to the investment banks, high frequency trading firms and hedge funds.

Introduction of H.R. 6411 does not mark an end to the great grassroots campaign for a Robin Hood tax that continues to grow, but an additional focus. In the coming days, weeks, and months, activists are planning more actions to build the campaign, and also asking supporters to urge other members of Congress to sign on to the bill.

Rose Ann DeMoro is executive director of the 160,000-member National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of nurses, and a national vice president of the AFL-CIO. Follow Rose Ann DeMoro on Twitter:

Source URL:

Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore/Fund Our Communities, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218

Rep. John Sarbanes

600 Baltimore Ave.

Suite 303

Baltimore, MD 21204

Re: Important Legislation

September 19, 2012

Dear Congressperson Sarbanes:

Progressive Democrats of America and its partners, including the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, launched the Brown Bag Vigil campaign in January 2010. We've met at district offices of senators and representatives as part of this ongoing national effort. Today, we ask you to support the following legislation:

Financial speculation excesses crashed our economy. We urge you to cosponsor Rep. Keith Ellison's "Inclusive Prosperity Act" to enact small tax on speculation aka a Robin Hood Tax which would increase revenues, limit speculation, help preserve the social safety net, make our tax structure much fairer, empower the middle class and kick start our economy.

Our economy is not creating jobs in the quantity or quality needed. We desperately need leadership from the Federal Government to create jobs, and to train Americans. We urge you to support HR 870 / 4277 - Rep. Conyers “21st Century Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act” and H.R. 2914 - Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act.”

We urge you to join the Out of Afghanistan Caucus and to cosponsor and support HR 780, Rep. Barbara Lee’s bill to fund the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. And we can't afford a war with Iran. So please support HR 4173, Rep. Lee’s "Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act."

Finally, we are seeking an end to the use of killer drone strikes, which we believe to be illegal and unconstitutional. Would you be willing to speak out in Congress against the use of drones which are killing civilians in at least five countries—Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen?

We look forward to your response. And when you are ready, we would like to meet with you, preferably in Baltimore. But if necessary, we will travel to your D.C. office. Thank you for your time and attention.


Max Obuszewski, on behalf of Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore/Fund Our Communities

325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 410-366-1637

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Preventable Massacre

September 16, 2012

A Preventable Massacre


ON the night of Sept. 16, 1982, the Israeli military allowed a right-wing Lebanese militia to enter two Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. In the ensuing three-day rampage, the militia, linked to the Maronite Christian Phalange Party, raped, killed and dismembered at least 800 civilians, while Israeli flares illuminated the camps’ narrow and darkened alleyways. Nearly all of the dead were women, children and elderly men.

Thirty years later, the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila camps is remembered as a notorious chapter in modern Middle Eastern history, clouding the tortured relationships among Israel, the United States, Lebanon and the Palestinians. In 1983, an Israeli investigative commission concluded that Israeli leaders were “indirectly responsible” for the killings and that Ariel Sharon, then the defense minister and later prime minister, bore “personal responsibility” for failing to prevent them.

While Israel’s role in the massacre has been closely examined, America’s actions have never been fully understood. This summer, at the Israel State Archives, I found recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre. The verbatim transcripts reveal that the Israelis misled American diplomats about events in Beirut and bullied them into accepting the spurious claim that thousands of “terrorists” were in the camps. Most troubling, when the United States was in a position to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel that could have ended the atrocities, it failed to do so. As a result, Phalange militiamen were able to murder Palestinian civilians, whom America had pledged to protect just weeks earlier.

Israel’s involvement in the Lebanese civil war began in June 1982, when it invaded its northern neighbor. Its goal was to root out the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had set up a state within a state, and to transform Lebanon into a Christian-ruled ally. The Israel Defense Forces soon besieged P.L.O.-controlled areas in the western part of Beirut. Intense Israeli bombardments led to heavy civilian casualties and tested even President Ronald Reagan, who initially backed Israel. In mid-August, as America was negotiating the P.L.O.’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Reagan told Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the bombings “had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered,” Reagan wrote in his diaries.

The United States agreed to deploy Marines to Lebanon as part of a multinational force to supervise the P.L.O.’s departure, and by Sept. 1, thousands of its fighters — including Yasir Arafat — had left Beirut for various Arab countries. After America negotiated a cease-fire that included written guarantees to protect the Palestinian civilians remaining in the camps from vengeful Lebanese Christians, the Marines departed Beirut, on Sept. 10.

Israel hoped that Lebanon’s newly elected president, Bashir Gemayel, a Maronite, would support an Israeli-Christian alliance. But on Sept. 14, Gemayel was assassinated. Israel reacted by violating the cease-fire agreement. It quickly occupied West Beirut — ostensibly to prevent militia attacks against the Palestinian civilians. “The main order of the day is to keep the peace,” Begin told the American envoy to the Middle East, Morris Draper, on Sept. 15. “Otherwise, there could be pogroms.”

By Sept. 16, the I.D.F. was fully in control of West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila. In Washington that same day, Under Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger told the Israeli ambassador, Moshe Arens, that “Israel’s credibility has been severely damaged” and that “we appear to some to be the victim of deliberate deception by Israel.” He demanded that Israel withdraw from West Beirut immediately.

In Tel Aviv, Mr. Draper and the American ambassador, Samuel W. Lewis, met with top Israeli officials. Contrary to Prime Minister Begin’s earlier assurances, Defense Minister Sharon said the occupation of West Beirut was justified because there were “2,000 to 3,000 terrorists who remained there.” Mr. Draper disputed this claim; having coordinated the August evacuation, he knew the number was minuscule. Mr. Draper said he was horrified to hear that Mr. Sharon was considering allowing the Phalange militia into West Beirut. Even the I.D.F. chief of staff, Rafael Eitan, acknowledged to the Americans that he feared “a relentless slaughter.”

On the evening of Sept. 16, the Israeli cabinet met and was informed that Phalange fighters were entering the Palestinian camps. Deputy Prime Minister David Levy worried aloud: “I know what the meaning of revenge is for them, what kind of slaughter. Then no one will believe we went in to create order there, and we will bear the blame.” That evening, word of civilian deaths began to filter out to Israeli military officials, politicians and journalists.

At 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 17, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir hosted a meeting with Mr. Draper, Mr. Sharon and several Israeli intelligence chiefs. Mr. Shamir, having reportedly heard of a “slaughter” in the camps that morning, did not mention it.

The transcript of the Sept. 17 meeting reveals that the Americans were browbeaten by Mr. Sharon’s false insistence that “terrorists” needed “mopping up.” It also shows how Israel’s refusal to relinquish areas under its control, and its delays in coordinating with the Lebanese National Army, which the Americans wanted to step in, prolonged the slaughter.

Mr. Draper opened the meeting by demanding that the I.D.F. pull back right away. Mr. Sharon exploded, “I just don’t understand, what are you looking for? Do you want the terrorists to stay? Are you afraid that somebody will think that you were in collusion with us? Deny it. We denied it.” Mr. Draper, unmoved, kept pushing for definitive signs of a withdrawal. Mr. Sharon, who knew Phalange forces had already entered the camps, cynically told him, “Nothing will happen. Maybe some more terrorists will be killed. That will be to the benefit of all of us.” Mr. Shamir and Mr. Sharon finally agreed to gradually withdraw once the Lebanese Army started entering the city — but they insisted on waiting 48 hours (until the end of Rosh Hashana, which started that evening).

Continuing his plea for some sign of an Israeli withdrawal, Mr. Draper warned that critics would say, “Sure, the I.D.F. is going to stay in West Beirut and they will let the Lebanese go and kill the Palestinians in the camps.”

Mr. Sharon replied: “So, we’ll kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them. You are not going to save these groups of the international terrorism.”

Mr. Draper responded: “We are not interested in saving any of these people.” Mr. Sharon declared: “If you don’t want the Lebanese to kill them, we will kill them.”

Mr. Draper then caught himself, and backtracked. He reminded the Israelis that the United States had painstakingly facilitated the P.L.O. exit from Beirut “so it wouldn’t be necessary for you to come in.” He added, “You should have stayed out.”

Mr. Sharon exploded again: “When it comes to our security, we have never asked. We will never ask. When it comes to existence and security, it is our own responsibility and we will never give it to anybody to decide for us.” The meeting ended with an agreement to coordinate withdrawal plans after Rosh Hashana.

By allowing the argument to proceed on Mr. Sharon’s terms, Mr. Draper effectively gave Israel cover to let the Phalange fighters remain in the camps. Fuller details of the massacre began to emerge on Sept. 18, when a young American diplomat, Ryan C. Crocker, visited the gruesome scene and reported back to Washington.

Years later, Mr. Draper called the massacre “obscene.” And in an oral history recorded a few years before his death in 2005, he remembered telling Mr. Sharon: “You should be ashamed. The situation is absolutely appalling. They’re killing children! You have the field completely under your control and are therefore responsible for that area.”

On Sept. 18, Reagan pronounced his “outrage and revulsion over the murders.” He said the United States had opposed Israel’s invasion of Beirut, both because “we believed it wrong in principle and for fear that it would provoke further fighting.” Secretary of State George P. Shultz later admitted that “we are partially responsible” because “we took the Israelis and the Lebanese at their word.” He summoned Ambassador Arens. “When you take military control over a city, you’re responsible for what happens,” he told him. “Now we have a massacre.”

But the belated expression of shock and dismay belies the Americans’ failed diplomatic effort during the massacre. The transcript of Mr. Draper’s meeting with the Israelis demonstrates how the United States was unwittingly complicit in the tragedy of Sabra and Shatila.

Ambassador Lewis, now retired, told me that the massacre would have been hard to prevent “unless Reagan had picked up the phone and called Begin and read him the riot act even more clearly than he already did in August — that might have stopped it temporarily.” But “Sharon would have found some other way” for the militiamen to take action, Mr. Lewis added.

Nicholas A. Veliotes, then the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, agreed. “Vintage Sharon,” he said, after I read the transcript to him. “It is his way or the highway.”

The Sabra and Shatila massacre severely undercut America’s influence in the Middle East, and its moral authority plummeted. In the aftermath of the massacre, the United States felt compelled by “guilt” to redeploy the Marines, who ended up without a clear mission, in the midst of a brutal civil war.

On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed and 241 Marines were killed. The attack led to open warfare with Syrian-backed forces and, soon after, the rapid withdrawal of the Marines to their ships. As Mr. Lewis told me, America left Lebanon “with our tail between our legs.”

The archival record reveals the magnitude of a deception that undermined American efforts to avoid bloodshed. Working with only partial knowledge of the reality on the ground, the United States feebly yielded to false arguments and stalling tactics that allowed a massacre in progress to proceed.

The lesson of the Sabra and Shatila tragedy is clear. Sometimes close allies act contrary to American interests and values. Failing to exert American power to uphold those interests and values can have disastrous consequences: for our allies, for our moral standing and most important, for the innocent people who pay the highest price of all.

Seth Anziska is a doctoral candidate in international history at Columbia University.

© 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

It's Not About a Film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded

Published on Alternet (

Consortium News [1] / By Ray McGovern [2]

It's Not About a Film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded

September 17, 2012

“Why Is the Arab world so easily offended?” asks the headline atop an article by Fouad Ajami, which the Washington Post published online last Friday to give perspective to the recent anti-American violence in Muslim capitals.

While the Post described Ajami simply as a “senior fellow” at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, Wikipedia gives a more instructive perspective on his checkered career and dubious credibility.

An outspoken supporter of the war on Iraq, Ajami was still calling it a “noble effort” well after it went south. He is a friend and colleague of one of the war’s intellectual authors, neocon Paul Wolfowitz, and also advised Condoleezza Rice. It was apparently Wolfowitz or Rice who fed Ajami’s analyses to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who cited Ajami’s views repeatedly in speeches.

The most telling example of this came in Cheney’s VFW address on August 26, 2002, in which the Vice President laid down the terms of reference for the planned attack on Iraq. Attempting to assuage concerns about the upcoming invasion, Cheney cited Ajami’s analysis: “As for the reaction of the Arab ‘street,’ the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are ‘sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.’”

In his writings, Ajami did warn, in a condescending way, that one could expect some “road rage … of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds.” He then added:

“There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects.”

No One Better?

Ignoring the albatross of tarnished credentials hanging around Ajami’s neck, the Post apparently saw him as just the right academician to put perspective on the violence of last week in Middle East capitals. As for his record of credibility: Well, who takes the trouble to go to Wikipedia for information on pundits?

Nor were the Post’s editors going to take any chances that its newspaper readers might miss the benefit of Ajami’s wisdom. So the Post gave pride of place to the same article in Sunday’s Outlook section, as well. What the Post and other mainstream media want us to believe comes through clearly in the title given to the article’s jump portion, which dominates page 5: “Why a YouTube trailer ignited Muslim rage.”

Setting off the article were large, scary photos: on page one, a photo of men brandishing steel pipes to hack into the windows of the U.S. embassy in Yemen; the page-5 photo showed a masked protester, as he “ran from a burning vehicle near the U.S. embassy in Cairo.”

So – to recapitulate – the Post’s favored editorial narrative of the Mideast turmoil is that hypersensitive, anti-American Muslims are doing irrational stuff like killing U.S. diplomats and torching our installations. This violence was the result of Arabs all too ready to take offense at a video trailer disrespectful of the Prophet.

Nonetheless, it seems to be true that the trailer did have some immediate impact and will have more. According to an eyewitness, the 30 local guards who were supposed to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi simply ran away as the violent crowd approached on Tuesday night.

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the video trailer which made the guards abandon their post.

“There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Pretext and Catalyst

Predictably, Islamophobes and Muslim haters with influence over Western media coverage are citing the violence as the kind of “irrational” over-reaction that “exposes” Islam’s intolerance and incompatibility with democratic values and demonstrates that Islam is on a collision course with the West.

It is no surprise that Ajami gives no attention to the many additional factual reasons explaining popular outrage against the U.S. and its representatives – reasons that go far deeper than a video trailer, offensive though it was. Ajami steers clear of the dismal effects of various U.S. policies over the years on people across the Muslim world – in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Afghanistan. (The list stretches as far as distant Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state.)

Last week’s violence not only reflects the deep anger at and distrust of the U.S. across the Islamic world, but also provides insight into the challenges posed by the power now enjoyed by the forces of extremism long held in check by the dictators toppled by last year’s wave of revolutions.

Cui Bono?

Who are the main beneficiaries of misleading narratives like that of Ajami. He himself concedes, “It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled.”

So, does that mean the notorious video trailer is best regarded as a catalyst for the angry protests rather than the underlying cause? In other words, if the video served as the spark, who or what laid the kindling? Who profits from the narrative that neocons are trying so hard to embed in American minds?

Broad hints can be seen in the Washington Post’s coverage over recent days – including a long piece by its Editorial Board, “Washington’s role amid the Mideast struggle for power,” published the same day Ajami’s article appeared online.

What the two have in common is that the word “Israel” appears in neither piece. One wonders how and why the Post‘s editors could craft a long editorial on the “Mideast struggle for power” — and give editorial prominence to Ajami’s article — without mentioning Israel.

Presumably because the Post’s readers aren’t supposed to associate the fury on the Arab “street” with anger felt by the vast majority Arabs over what they see as U.S. favoritism toward Israel and neglect for the plight of the Palestinians. The Israeli elephant, with the antipathy and resentment its policies engender, simply cannot be allowed into the discussion.

In the circumstances of last week, Israel may be less a centerpiece than the ugly Islamophobia that has found a home in America. But these factors tend to build on and reinforce each other. And the indignities suffered at the hand of Israel certainly has resonance is the larger context of Muslims who feel their religion and culture are under attack in a variety of ways.

“Why Do They Hate Us?”

On Saturday, during a live interview on Al-jazeera, I tried to inject some balance into the discussion. I noted that one key reason for the antipathy toward the U.S. among Muslims is the close identification of the U.S. with Israel and the widespread realization that support from Washington enables Israel’s policies of oppression and warmongering against the Palestinians and its regional neighbors.

As to “why they hate us,” I had time to recall three very telling things I had mentioned in an earlier article [3] on this sensitive topic.

1 — From the 9/11 Commission Report of July 2004, page 147, regarding the motivation of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

2 — The mainstream-media-neglected report from the Pentagon-appointed Defense Science Board, a report that took direct issue with the notion that they hate us for our freedom. Amazingly, in their Sept. 23, 2004, report to Rumsfeld, the DSB directly contradicted what Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush had been saying about “why they hate us.” Here’s part of what the DSB said:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

The New York Times ignored the Defense Science Board’s startling explanation (as it has other references to the elephant plopped on the sofa). On Nov. 24, 2004, the erstwhile “newspaper of record” did publish a story on the board’s report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.

Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’” (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to, i.e., U.S. “one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights” and support for tyrannical regimes.

The Times then included the sentence immediately after the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.

Equally important — and equally missing — there is never any sensible examination of the motives that might be driving what Cheney called this “same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers [who] are still there.” We are left with Ajami’s image of hypersensitive or irrational Muslims unwilling to confront their own cultural failings.

3 – On May 21, 2009, just four months after he left office, Dick Cheney gave a speech at the neocon America Enterprise Institute and blurted out some uncharacteristic honesty. He explained why terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world — for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences.”

However, no longer enjoying the services of a functionary to vet his rhetoric, Cheney slipped up (and so did the reporters covering the event). Expanding on the complaints of the terrorists, Cheney said:

“They have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel (emphasis added) — these are the true sources of resentment.”

“Our support for Israel” – a true source of resentment. Cheney got that part right.

One Brief Shining Moment

My mind wandered back to June 2004, when former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer published his insightful book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. The book won him interviews with the likes of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and – to his credit – Scheuer rose to the occasion with candor rarely heard in mainstream media before or since.

On June 23, 2004, he told Mitchell:

“It’s very hard in this country to debate policy regarding Israel … bin Laden’s ‘genius’ lies in his ability to exploit those U.S. policies most offensive to Muslims – our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian peninsula, in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims.”

Scheuer went on to say that bin Laden regarded the war on Iraq as proof of America’s hostility toward Muslims, and of the reality that America “is willing to do almost anything to defend Israel. The war is certainly viewed as an action meant to assist the Israeli state. It is … a godsend for those Muslims who believe as bin Laden does.”

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he added that failure to change American policies to better match realities in the Middle East could mean decades of war. Only if the American people learn the truth could more effective strategies be fashioned and implemented, he added.

By and large, the truth-telling did not happen, so there has been but negligible pressure from the American people. The situation today differs little from then.

Indeed, in the same time frame of Scheuer’s book, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld grappled publicly with a troubling “unknown” that followed along the same lines, i.e., “whether the extremists … are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. It is quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this.”

Since then, eight years have come and gone – with still no coherent approach and with continued media camouflaging of the bedrock reasons as to “why they hate us.”

Among the chief beneficiaries of this woodenheaded approach? One can look at the military-industrial-congressional-media-security complex, especially the war profiteers and their favored politicians who stoke fear of the “evildoers.” All the better to scare you with.

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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

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sr. Anne Montgomery's funeral

Monday, September 17, 2012 9:13 PM

Dear Friends,

I just returned from Atherton and Redwood City, CA where I attended the Mass of Christian Burial for our beloved sister Anne Montgomery on September 15. The Mass, which Anne helped plan, and at which her co-conspirators, Fr. Bill Bichsel and Fr. Steve Kelly presided, was a beautiful and inspiring celebration of her life. It was such a privilege to be with Anne's west coast community in this final home-going liturgy and to thank Anne for her extraordinary life of faithfulness to the Gospel.

I am in awe of the loving kindness I received from Anne's community at the Oakwood Community and retirement and care center where Anne spent her last two months. I am especially grateful to Sr. Clare Pratt and Sr. Fran Tobin for so graciously welcoming me and for all they did to prepare and help coordinate the Final Welcome Prayer Service of receiving Anne's cremains on September 14, the funeral mass, burial, the sharing of memories time, and reception. I was so deeply honored to be invited to carry Anne's cremains during the procession after the mass to the nearby cemetary. During the procession and burial I powerfully experienced Anne's presence among us and that she is now embracing all of us in a new way and accompanying all the communities she was part of in our efforts to create the Beloved Community and establish God's reign of justice and peace.

I want to express deep gratitude to Larry Purcell of the Redwood City Catholic Worker and Steve Kelly for all they did to provide me with transportation and hospitailty. Also special thanks to Eric, Alice, Javier and Lilliana of the Kelly Avenue Catholic Worker in Half Moon Bay for welcoming me into their home the night I arrived.

Below is a reflection I wrote about Anne which was published in the NCR On-Line edition on September 15 to coincide with her funeral.

I know Anne believed that in life and death we belong to Jesus. Let us continue to pray for her interecession as we strive to live in that same faith and hope that Anne so beautifully exemplified.

With love and gratitude,


Published on National Catholic Reporter (

Home > In Memoriam: Anne Montgomery, A Doer of the Word!


In Memoriam: Anne Montgomery, A Doer of the Word!

Sep. 15, 2012

By Art Laffin

Sr. Anne Montgomery

On August 27, 2012, God called Sr. Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, 85, home to her eternal reward after a long struggle with cancer. All who knew her lost a very special friend. The church has lost one of Jesus' most steadfast disciples and prophets. And the world has lost an extraordinary peacemaker.

Anne's life story is truly a remarkable journey of faith. The daughter of an admiral, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at 22. She graduated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Manhattanville College, and later earned a second master’s degree from Columbia University in New York. She began to teach at the Street Academy of Albany, where she experienced the challenges faced by the poor and people of color. In 1975, after training to educate children with learning disabilities, she returned to New York City to work with school dropouts in East Harlem. It was during this time that she also became involved with the Catholic Worker.

I first met Anne in New York City at a prayer vigil during the first United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1978. I was undertaking a fast in repentance for my complicity in the arms race, and a small group of us would periodically gather for a prayer vigil at the Isaiah Wall, across the street from the UN. Anne was working in East Harlem teaching adults at the time, and was becoming more involved with peacemaking efforts, including the newly formed Kairos peace community, of which she remained a vital core member. I was living in Connecticut and, along with with several others, helping to start a small Christian peace community in New Haven.

Over the years, when I visited New York City, I would often stay with Anne and the Alethia House of Prayer community in Washington Square. Anne was truly a contemplative at heart. Joining with her, Sister Eileen Storey and other community members for early morning prayer was a very important part of my own spiritual formation.

In 1980 Anne participated in the first plowshares action known as the Plowshares Eight. This unprecedented peace witness calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons marked the beginning of a new series of actions in which nonviolent resisters sought to enact the biblical prophecy of beating swords into plowshares. They would enter weapons facilities and military bases, and - using hammers, blood and other symbols - carry out a direct act of disarmament. There have been over 95 such actions to date. Anne would go on to do seven other plowshares actions, including two that I was also part of, and the last of which - the Disarm Now Plowshares - took place in 2009 when she was 83. She served over three years in prison for these acts of witness.

As more people were trying to understand plowshares actions and the role of nonviolent resistance to bring about true disarmament, I approached Anne about collaborating on a book about the Plowshares actions and nonviolent resistance. Anne agreed and together we co-edited Sword Into Plowshares, (Harper and Row, 1987). In 1996 we published an updated and expanded version of this book with the same title. Working with her on this project not only helped me appreciate her gifts as writer and editor, but also as one who had a profound understanding of the scriptural justification for faith-based nonviolent action. Keenly aware that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood but the principalities and powers of this world," (Ep.6:12)Anne provided compelling insights into how nonviolent resistance actions are really experiments in truth that should be seen as acts of "divine obedience," rather than civil disobedience. She wrote:

"Civil disobedience is traditionally the breaking of a civil law to obey a higher law, sometimes with the hope of changing the unjust civil law...But we should speak of such actions as divine obedience, rather than civil disobedience. The term "disobedience" is not appropriate because any law that does not protect and enhance life is no real law. In particular, both divine and international law tell us that weapons of mass destruction are a crime against humanity and it is the duty of the ordinary citizen to actively oppose them." (Swords Into Plowshares, 1996, p.1)

Anne's commitment to standing with and for the victims led her to many war-torn areas. In January 1991 Anne was part of the Gulf Peace Team Camp on the Iraq/Saudi border calling upon the US not to bomb Iraq. Anne would return to that country many more times. During her third visit to Iraq in the Autumn of 1992 Anne wrote “Psalter-Second Watch” (from Swords Into Plowshares, p. 212) an excerpt from which follows:

The heavens declared the river of God;

the sun stepped forth from its tent of clouds

where light and darkness wed at night, gave birth once more

to hope.

Awake o my soul, watch and pray,


Ours is the desert

but theirs is the city of death.

Watch with the watchman;

dream of the garden:

and awake the dawn of his rising.

Then shall we not fear the terror of the night,

nor the missile that flies by day,

God's pinions our cover,

our only shelter

trust in the Almighty.

She was among those activists who held a month-long liquids-only fast in 2000 aimed at ending U.S. support for U.N. sanctions against Iraq. According to UNICEF and other human rights groups, the sanctions were responsible for the deaths of a million Iraqi's, including 500,000 children.

Anne later became a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), serving in Iraq, the Balkans, the West Bank, and Hebron, where I visited her three different times. I was able to see firsthand the powerful nonviolent influence Anne and other CPT members had in Hebron. I witnessed how much she was loved by the Palestinians. I accompanied Anne in support of the Jaber family, with whom Anne had a very close relationship, and whose land was constantly under siege by the Israeli military and settlers. I also went with Anne and other CPT members to accompany other Palestinians who were trying to plant on their own land, despite death threats from settlers.

Explaining her witness in the West Bank, Anne said in an interview, "We say we're on the side of the people who have the biggest guns pointed at them. In this case, we think the (Israeli) occupation is wrong. It's wrong to take people's land, to destroy their homes, which is what the Israeli military does. As long as this unjust occupation continues, there can't be peace." (From an article posted on the Society of the Sacred Heart web site).

Anne was also deeply concerned about confronting the sin and crime of torture. In December 2005 she travelled to Cuba to join with 24 other activists from Witness Against Torture in a 70 mile walk and four day fast and vigil near the Guantanamo Naval Base to call for the closing of Guantanamo, an end to torture and indefinite detention, and justice for all the prisoners. At the age of 79, I can still see Anne often leading our walk/pilgrimage from Santiago to Guantanamo.

Following the 2010 Disarm Now plowshares trial conviction, for which she served two months in federal prison and was placed on house arrest, Anne lived with her community in Redwood City, CA. From there, in a March 1, 2012 letter to friends describing her cancer she wrote:

"I have been on chemotherapy for cancer, and it seemed to be helping, but, last weekend I had breathing problems and tests showed a lung full of fluid and that continuing any chemo, etc. would not help. I have been blessed by so much support, personal, and medical, that I know I must share that in some way with all those across our world who lack so much and are near desperation, especially for their children. I also know that the Spirit prays at the heart of the universe and that creation is an ongoing journey of death and resurrection, however mysterious that process is. Because it is energized by Love, we can enter into it rather than count on our own weak efforts and vulnerabilities and worry about failures. When I made my final vows, our group was named, "Joy in the Faith," I am coming to believe that must somehow be possible since it is promised in the Beatitudes and that those who have nothing show us the way.I am constantly filled with gratitude to you all who have done the nitty-gritty work of peace and nonviolent action and invited me to join you. I hope to be able to do so in a new way. As Phil Berrigan said in his last letter, that work must come from our own vulnerability.

Much love,


Despite her physical limitations, Anne remained very active during the last six months of her life. Whenever I spoke with her by phone she conveyed news of peace activities on the west coast, and was very interested to know of acts of witness taking place elsewhere. She was elated to hear about the Transform Now Plowshares action on July 28 of this year at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and offered her heartfelt support. A week before she died she was given the 2012 Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Massachusetts.

I thank God for Anne's inspiring life and for all she did to make the Word flesh! She was indeed a "doer of the Word!" Anne knew something about the cross as she stood with the crucified in war zones and spent long periods of time as prisoner. And she knew, too, something about the resurrection, as her faith was rooted in the hope that Jesus has forever overcome the forces of sin and death by His cross and rising from the dead. She exuded a joy that emanated from her love for life and God's creation. Her life is a testament to the Gospel truth that love casts out fear and that with God all things are possible! Her unwavering commitment to nonviolence, accompanying and interceding for the victims, engaging in nonviolent resistance to systemic violence, and working with people from all over the world to create the beloved community will serve as a constant reminder of what it means to be a Gospel peacemaker. As one of many who loved and admired her, I will always treasure what I learned from Anne's exemplary life.

In a National Catholic Reporter interview last May, Anne spoke of her deep conviction that I and all believers need to take to heart: "I also have hope in knowing that God's power and God's nonviolence are stronger than violence and war. Love is stronger than evil, hate, fear or war. The opposite of love is fear, and the government tries to keep us in permanent fear. When we come together in love and struggle for peace, we are no longer afraid and we can change things. As we trust each other and God, our fear lessens. So we can't be afraid to do the right thing. Love is always stronger, and that gives me hope." [See May 1, 2012 NCR Interview with John Dear, S.J.]

Thank you Anne for those of us who had the privilege to be your companion in "the nitty gritty work of peace and nonviolent action." Thank you for your gentleness, wisdom, sense of humor, encouragement, humility, faithfulness and courage. Thank you for the gift of your friendship and for being such a beacon of light, love and hope for our world!!! Your spirit of love will forever live on in the hearts of all those you touched. We now pray for your intercession as we strive to do as you did: to abolish all weapons, end war and to make God's reign of justice and peace a reality.

[Art Laffin is a member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, DC.]

Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Us or the Nukes

It's Us or the Nukes

By David Swanson

President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor was about to wake him up in the middle of the night to inform the President that 220 Soviet nuclear missiles were headed our way, when he learned that someone had stuck a game tape into the computer by mistake.

Three years later a Soviet Lieutenant Colonel acted out the same scene, with the computer glitch on his side this time. Then in 1984 another U.S. computer glitch led to the quick decision to park an armored car on top of a missile silo to prevent the start of the apocalypse. And again in 1995, the Soviet Union almost responded to a U.S. nuclear attack that proved to be a real missile, but one with a weather satellite rather than a nuke. One Pentagon report documents 563 nuclear mistakes, malfunctions, and false alarms over the years -- so far.

Then there are the accidents, of all variety. Nuclear submarines of the sort now looking for trouble in the Persian Gulf have been known to collide with other ships. At least eight nuclear submarines (one French, two American, and five Russian) are known to be rotting at the bottom of the sea, leaking uranium and plutonium. In 2003 the U.S.S. Hartford, a nuclear powered submarine, hit a rock on a tiny island north of Sardinia. The area is now highly radioactive.

In 1961 a U.S. B-52 with two nukes on board blew up over Faro, North Carolina. One of the bombs, with a parachute to slow it down, was found. Five of the six fuses designed to prevent full nuclear detonation had failed. The other nuclear bomb buried itself 20 feet deep in the ground, lighting up the sky like daylight. The military deemed that one hard to dig out, and left it there. And there it sits. This little mishap involved bombs that were each 250 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. The commander of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, Lt. Jack B. ReVelle, remarked, "How close was it to exploding? My opinion is damn close. You might now have a very large Bay of North Carolina if that thing had gone off."

In 1956, a B-47 carried two nuclear capsules from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, headed to a refueling over the Mediterranean, but never arrived and was never found. In 1958, a B-47 crashed into an F-86 during a combat simulation off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah. A nuclear weapon was jettisoned over water and never found.

On January 17, 1966, a U.S. B-52 carrying four live hydrogen bombs smashed into a tanker during midair refueling over Spain. Two of the bombs were blown apart like dirty bombs scattering radioactive particles all over Palomares, Spain. The United States dug up 1,400 tons of radioactive Spanish dirt and took it to Aiken, South Carolina., where the Savannah River Site has been producing nuclear weapons material, trying to dispose of the waste, and radiating people for over half a century, and where radiation was even recently detected coming all the way from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

This was just after the U.S.S. Ticonderoga sailed from Vietnam to Japan with a nuclear-armed airplane on board and accidentally dropped the plane, complete with nuclear bomb and pilot, to the bottom of the ocean, where they remain.

Then, in 1968, another U.S. B-52 with four nukes on it crashed in Greenland. Three of the bombs exploded, while the fourth has yet to be found. It's among 11 nuclear bombs the United States admits to having lost over the years. That's not counting the ones it's temporarily lost and recovered. In August 2007, a U.S. crew accidentally (or as part of a secret plan; and I'm not sure which is worse) flew six live nuclear bombs from North Dakota to Louisiana and left them sitting there unguarded until the ground crew noticed.

Oh, and if you doubt that these people will arm unmanned drones with nukes just because the drones tend to crash and malfunction, you haven't yet begun to grasp the sort of madness we're dealing with.

The really good news is that more and more nations have nuclear weapons, and even more have nuclear power, which puts them close to having nuclear weapons. The thing to remember about every one of these nations, is that they screw up too, through bad luck, stupidity, rage, or madness. Baharul Haq was an Air Vice Marshall in Pakistan involved in security for Kahuta, Pakistan's main nuclear weapons facility. Later, his son, Faisal Shahzad, claiming the motivation of outrage at U.S. drone killings, tried to blow up a bomb in Times Square, New York. What if Faisal and his father had been on closer terms? Should the fate of New Yorkers really have to depend on such luck?

Nuclear weapons testing on the Marshall Islands produced babies born looking like jelly fish. Nuclear weapons use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed like nothing had ever killed before. On October 22, 1964, and again two years later, the U.S. government exploded nuclear bombs underground in Mississippi, and then put up a sign asking people not to dig in the area. Uranium mining of the sort the profiteers now want to reopen in Virginia has spread cancer through every community it's touched. And the use of depleted uranium weapons has likely contributed to thousands of deaths and birth-defects in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and among members of the U.S. military and their families, not to mention the weapons' producers in places like Jonesborough, Tennessee. The United States has also sold DU weapons to 29 other countries.

What Are You Going to Do About It?

There are three barriers to ridding the world of nuclear weapons. First, our governments don't represent us and will have to be compelled to act when and if we get our act together.

Second, people imagine we're safer spreading nukes around the globe by the thousands than we would be eliminating them while a few rogue non-state terrorists hang onto some. This is crazy, of course. An arsenal of nukes doesn't discourage a terrorist. Nor can it discourage a state any more than can the non-nuclear weapons capable of complete devastation.

Third, people fantasize that there are advantages to nuclear energy that outweigh the problem of its technological vicinity to nuclear weaponry. There are not. Nuclear energy barely reproduces the amount of energy it takes to build and operate the plants; the waste materials cannot be put anywhere safe for 250,000 years; and the inevitable accidents pose such a risk that no private "free-market" insurance company will take it on -- only taxpayers' misrepresentatives in government are willing to pick up the tab. Nuclear energy is how India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea got nuclear weapons. It's also Israel's and the United States' excuse for threatening Iran. Uranium radioactive waste is among the horrible things being dumped by the West off the lawless coast of Somalia. The results of such dumping include attacks on Western ships by angry "pirates." The pirates are generally explained to be hating us for our freedom.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich is hosting a Congressional briefing, Thursday, September 20, 2012, on the medical effects of radiation exposure, and the health threats presented by our nation's nuclear power plants, nuclear fleet, and the on-going tragedy in Fukushima, Japan. There will be expert testimony from Physicians for Social Responsibility and others. Ask your senators and representative to attend.

The ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. Prior to this disaster, the regulators in Japan said they had all possible safety measures in place. Our Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said the same thing about our 104 aging nuclear power plants, 23 of which have the same flawed design as in Fukushima.

Nuclear disasters are not unique to Japan. Chernobyl killed and sickened many, as did Three Mile Island on a smaller scale. A nuclear plant in Virginia was damaged by an earthquake last year.

If you're in the Washington, D.C., area, the Coalition Against Nukes invites you to a series of events September 20-22, including a Capitol Hill rally, the Congressional briefing, a fundraiser at Busboys and Poets, a ceremony at the Museum of the American Indian, a rally at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a film screening, and a strategy session.

The nukes have got to go, or we do. This planet's not big enough for both.

David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at and and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Honduran police arrest suspect in killing of journalist

Honduran police arrest suspect in killing of journalist

Published September 13, 2012


A suspect has been arrested in connection with the killing of journalist and gay rights activist Erick Martinez, whose body was found in May in eastern Honduras, a National Police spokesman said.

Eduardo Lopez, suspected of being one of the individuals involved in Martinez's murder, was arrested on Wednesday in Tegucigalpa's El Pedregal district, the National Police spokesman told Efe.

An arrest warrant was issued on Sept. 3 for Lopez in connection with the killing of Martinez, who worked with the Asociacion Kukulcan, a gay and lesbian organization, and founded the Diversity Resistance Movement, or MDR.

Lopez, a member of the Mara 18 street gang, also faces armed robbery charges.

Martinez's body was discovered on May 7 in Aldea Guasculile, located near Olancho province.

The journalist and gay rights activist ran for a seat in Congress from Francisco Morazan province on the ticket of the People's Refounding Force, or FRP, a movement of the Liberty and Refounding Party, or Libre, which emerged from the National People's Resistance Front, or FNRP, organized after the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

A total of 33 members of the media have been murdered in Honduras since 2003, but the killers have gone unpunished, the National Human Rights Commission says.

A man was sentenced on Tuesday to 28 years in prison for the April 2010 murder of reporter Jorge Orellana in the northern city of San Pedro Sula.

The sentence is the first handed down by a Honduran court in a case involving the killing of a journalist.

At least 20 members of the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual, or LGTB, community were murdered in the Central American country between 2010 and 2011, but no one has been punished for the killings, the Human Rights Commissioner's Office said. EFE


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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

Scandal Poses a Riddle: Will India Ever Be Able to Tackle Corruption?

September 15, 2012

Scandal Poses a Riddle: Will India Ever Be Able to Tackle Corruption?


NEW DELHI — His business rivals never fully understood how Manoj Jayaswal got so rich so fast, except that he often seemed joined at the hip with powerful politicians. He hosted them at lavish parties, entertained them at his daughter’s opulent Thai wedding and stood among them at India’s presidential palace, where a year ago he was praised as a leader in the India growth story.

But now Mr. Jayaswal is embroiled in a $34 billion coal mining scandal that has exposed the ugly underside of Indian politics and economic life: a brazen style of crony capitalism that has enabled politicians and their friends to reap huge profits by gaining control of vast swaths of the country’s natural resources, often for nothing.

“Today in India, politicians are so powerful,” said Santosh Hegde, a former Supreme Court justice who recently led a sweeping investigation of a different mining scandal in southern India. “All together, they are looting the country.”

Coalgate, as the scandal is now known here, is centered on the opaque government allotment process that enabled well-connected businessmen and politicians to obtain rights to undeveloped coal fields. Investigators are now looking at whether Mr. Jayaswal and Vijay Darda, a member of Parliament, conspired to fraudulently obtain five lucrative coal allocations. Naveen Jindal, another lawmaker and one of India’s richest industrialists, is also reportedly under investigation.

Even as the scandal has renewed public anger about rising official graft and the state of the economy, Coalgate has provided fresh ammunition for those who say India’s politicians have become so venal and feckless that they are no longer able or willing to address the country’s entrenched problems. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, which was already on the defensive because it had been implicated in Mr. Hegde’s investigation, has been so eager to score political points with the latest scandal that it shut down Parliament for weeks with floor protests. It refused to allow any debate — even of Coalgate — or any voting unless the prime minister resigned over the scandal. Almost an entire session was lost.

This sort of political dysfunction is hardly new in India and, in recent years, the economy was booming even as the politicians dithered. But now that the economy is slowing sharply, particularly in the ailing energy sector, analysts say India can no longer afford a government that so flagrantly fails to deliver what it promises.

On Friday, the government approved long-pending proposals allowing foreign retailers, airlines, broadcasters and other companies to enter the Indian market in an effort to shore up the faltering economy.

A decade ago, India’s leaders announced an idealistic slogan — Power for All in 2012 — and pledged to bring electricity to every corner of the country, partly by expanding coal-fired power plants. India still has more than 300 million people living without electricity, and this summer, it suffered the biggest power blackout in history. The scandal in the coal industry, meanwhile, has made it even harder for the country to generate enough electricity to meet its needs.

“Not being able to produce enough power has absolutely been the single biggest bottleneck for economic growth,” said Praveen Chakravarty, chief executive of Mumbai-based Anand Rathi Financial Services.

Unlike other sectors of the economy, natural resources like coal remain tightly controlled by politicians and bureaucrats.

A recent study of contributions to India’s political parties offered a telling insight into the nexus between politics and money. Companies in technology and other service businesses — industries that require few government licenses or permissions — contributed almost nothing. The biggest donors were involved in mining, power and other sectors dependent on the government to obtain rights to natural resources.

India is trying to expand cleaner energy sources but still depends on coal for roughly 57 percent of its electricity. During the 1970s, India nationalized coal and created the state-owned giant, Coal India, now the world’s largest coal company. India liberalized its once-socialist economy in the early 1990s, and the government privatized a handful of coal fields for “captive mining” so that some companies could secure a guaranteed supply of coal, usually for steel or aluminum plants.

But by 2004, Coal India was not producing coal fast enough to provide power needed to keep up with the country’s rapid growth or to achieve the national goal of universal electrification. The newly elected coalition national government, led by the Indian National Congress Party, vowed to open up the power sector, which prompted a rush of applicants for captive coal fields.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however, did not introduce competitive bidding, leading to a murky allocation process. A government screening committee chose the recipients; several former and current bureaucrats and industry officials say its decisions were highly subjective, often favoring applicants with close ties to state and national political bosses. India’s comptroller and auditor general, after examining the committee’s minutes and other documents, issued a scathing report last month.

One former senior official, Surya P. Sethi, who unsuccessfully lobbied Mr. Singh for a more transparent selection process, said a representative of the global mining giant BHP Billiton complained to him that the system was stacked in favor of certain Indian businesses.

“They took the recommendations that suited them,” Mr. Sethi, who now teaches at the National University of Singapore, said about the government. “And they overlooked the recommendations that did not suit them.”

Investigators now say that some of the favored applicants, having acquired the coal fields free, quickly sold them for tens of millions of dollars to steel or power companies. Others simply kept them as an asset and have not yet developed them, even as the country faces blackouts and coal shortages.

“Politicians realized that this kind of coal was black gold,” said E.A.S. Sarma, a former power secretary.

On Thursday, in an effort to regain some of its lost credibility, a government panel reviewing coal concessions announced that it was reclaiming four coal fields from companies that had not made sufficient progress in mining.

Mr. Jayaswal, the businessman, is based in the city of Nagpur, where he has developed a close relationship with the local lawmaker, Mr. Darda. In a statement released by his company, Mr. Jayaswal denied any wrongdoing and predicted his company would be exonerated. “The investigation is on, and the company is fully cooperating,” the statement said. “The truth will ultimately prevail.”

One Nagpur businessman, a longtime acquaintance of Mr. Jayaswal’s, said many people were puzzled at how quickly he had amassed his fortune, despite having set up only one small power plant, even as his other projects remained in planning stages or were just breaking ground.

Mr. Jayaswal is building a large house in Nagpur and hosted his two children’s weddings in Phuket, an island in the south of Thailand. For his daughter’s wedding, Mr. Jayaswal flew in 350 friends, business associates and politicians for an event that was featured on the popular Indian television program “My Big Fat Indian Wedding.”

“He flaunts his wealth, and he lives a rich life,” said the businessman, who asked not to be identified to protect his relationship with Mr. Jayaswal. “He is, in the last five or six years, suddenly into very big money.”

During that period, Mr. Jayaswal was regularly in the company of Mr. Darda, who became a business partner, and other politicians. He has been linked to the powerful opposition leader, L. K. Advani, and one photograph shows him presenting flowers to Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress Party. Last year, Mr. Jayaswal appeared at India’s presidential palace for the release of a new coffee-table book, “The Global Indian,” which praised his company.

Another businessman, who also has been allotted coal fields, said relationships with politicians served as a “master key” enabling industrialists to gain access to natural resources. He argued that Mr. Jayaswal had merely played by the government’s rules and that banks would lend only to companies with guaranteed access to raw materials.

“If you were in his position, you would do the same thing,” the businessman said, asking not to be identified because his company also received coal fields and did not want to draw attention to himself. “In this country, it’s difficult to survive. Whoever has a master key wants to eat up all of India. Whoever doesn’t have a key is struggling to survive.”

Sruthi Gottipati and Hari Kumar contributed reporting.

© 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

Saturday, September 15, 2012

March 4 Justice completes 4,400 km trek from Vancouver to Ottawa for Indigenous justice

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March 4 Justice completes 4,400 km trek from Vancouver to Ottawa for Indigenous justice


Ben Powless [1]

September 6, 2012

For most of us, a kilometre is a decent distance to walk to just buy groceries. For Leo Baskatawang, four thousand and four hundred kilometres was worth it to go to seek justice for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.

Leo, a 32-year-old Masters student, decided earlier this year that something needed to be done. He had watched the coverage of the Crown-First Nations summit in January, and realized that the government was giving short-shrift to Aboriginal issues. "That was the last straw," he said of the summit.

Marchers set off from Victoria Island to Parliamant Hill after a brief ceremony.

Instead, the young man decided that everyday Canadians needed to be aware of Native issues, and he would walk as far as necessary to be part of raising that awareness. An idea was born. The March 4 Justice began April 23rd, in Vancouver, and concluded 135 days later, 4,400 km walked, in Ottawa on September 4th.

The marchers arrive at Parliament Hill, with copies of the Indian Act chained to them.

The whole time, Leo and others carried copies of the Indian Act behind them on chains, a protest against the archaic legislation's continuing impacts on Aboriginal Peoples today. Organizers were calling for the repeal of the act, as well as proper Aboriginal government representation, similar to what was outlined in the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples' report.

"We're hoping for public officials to support the need for a televised public debate on the issues," said Leo. "I'm hoping that once the public is aware of our issues, we can swing the momentum in this country."

A ceremonial casting-off of the chains of the Indian Act on Parliament Hill.

Along the way, Leo was joined by a number of supporters. Seven young people in total joined the march, with one young woman having to return home earlier because of school.

"It's been a real journey," noted Stephanie MacLaurin, from Fort Williams First Nation, near Thunder Bay, who was one of the fellow marchers. "I'm sad to see it end, but its something that needs to be done yearly. I hope to do it again, even though my life has been on hold the last month."

Much of the organizing and support came from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and people who had found out about the march online often came out to support the walkers in person. "Facebook really connected people - we got most of our support there," Leo acknowledged.

Many of the supporters of the March 4 Justice across the country found out about the event through social media.

In Ottawa, for the conclusion of the walk, about 60 supporters came out to Parliament Hill after a ceremony at nearby Victoria Island, a longtime gathering place for the Algonquin people. A number of speakers from political parties and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) came out to express their support as well.

Representatives of Liberal Party leader Bob Rae and New Democratic Party Aboriginal Affairs Critic Jean Crowder made statements to the crowd. A representative of AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo also came out to speak in support of the march. Conservative MP Rob Clarke, himself Aboriginal, spoke of his support for the marchers, and his support for the overhaul of the Indian Act.

The unity flag and the community flag from Osnaburgh (Mishkeegogamang First Nation).

Clarke currently has a private member's bill before Parliament that could see the Indian Act replaced. The bill has been heavily criticized by Aboriginal leaders, partly because he didn't consult First Nations, who are concerned that it could empower the government to replace the Indian Act unilaterally, and result in funding cuts or other changes.

Laura Gagnon recently moved to Ottawa from Thunder Bay and had heard of the March 4 Justice online, and came out to support the group. "Today is really important because Native people have become non-individualized, put into categories. We have to raise awareness and stop prejudices. As Natives, we're powerful when we come together, and we're just going to get stronger."

Laura Gagnon looks at a tattered copy of the Indian Act dragged across the country.

Summarizing the day, but also the feeling from marching the past few months, Leo told the assembled crowd, "I've learned that change isn't easy. We have to be willing to go for it, to do something for it. We recognized the need for change, and we want others to get up and act."

For more photos, please click here [7].

Ashley Bottle (left) and Leo Baskatawang, two of the initial marchers.

Source URL (retrieved on Sep 14 2012 - 11:23pm):



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

Standing Up at an Early Age

September 14, 2012

Standing Up at an Early Age


In recent weeks, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been praised in many quarters for supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage. His stance is not new, but it reached a wider audience after a Maryland legislator urged the Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to silence him.

Supporters of gay marriage rallied around Ayanbadejo; the Ravens and others in pro football backed him; and Ellen DeGeneres exchanged glowing messages with him on Twitter.

For Ayanbadejo, 36, it was a comforting shift from 2009, when he became one of the first athletes from a major American professional sports team to speak out in support of same-sex marriage. That year, he found gay slurs directed at him on Internet message boards. In the Ravens’ locker room, players made crude remarks and asked him when he would reveal his homosexuality, he said.

“If I was walking by, and they wanted to be immature and make comments, I’d keep walking,” said Ayanbadejo, who has a 1-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter with his longtime girlfriend. “If they wanted to be real men and have conversations, I would have, but no one did.”

If those players had heard Ayanbadejo’s story, they would have learned how his views were shaped. His father is Nigerian, and his mother is Irish-American, and he was given the first name Oladele, which translates to “wealth follows me home.” But for much of his childhood, that did not ring true.

Ayanbadejo’s parents separated when he was 3, and his mother, Rita, took him and his older brother Obafemi from Nigeria to a two-bedroom apartment in a drug-infested housing project in Chicago.

Ayanbadejo looked forward to the first day of each month, when Rita would come home with milk, cheese and cereal she had purchased with food stamps. They ate Thanksgiving dinners at the Boys & Girls Club, and their Christmas gifts came from local charities.

“The good part about living there was you were around every kind of person you could imagine,” Ayanbadejo said. “Differences didn’t matter, because we all had struggles.”

When Ayanbadejo was 10, his family moved to Santa Cruz, Calif., where they lived in the campus apartment of a family friend who attended the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Ayanbadejo began going by his middle name, Brendon, to fit in. He starred for Santa Cruz High School’s football team, but he was also active in theater, rode a skateboard and befriended many openly gay students. He had been accepted as a biracial boy from a Chicago housing project, so he accepted everyone else’s differences, too, he said.

“He just had a new lease on life there,” said Ayanbadejo’s sister, Rosalinda Sanford.

Ayanbadejo became a standout linebacker at U.C.L.A. and was involved in social causes. When some Los Angeles-area schools cut their arts budgets, Ayanbadejo and some friends began teaching theater at elementary schools three days a week.

In 1998, after California Proposition 209, which barred the state from discriminating on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity, went into effect, Ayanbadejo worked to publicize the diminished number of minority students at U.C.L.A.

“They were basically saying, ‘If you’re an athlete at U.C.L.A., it’s O.K. to be black,’ ” Ayanbadejo said. “It’s a state school, and I felt like it had an obligation to represent its demographics.”

In 2007, Ayanbadejo and the former Bruins point guard Baron Davis formed an organization focused on diversity in higher education.

“At U.C.L.A., everyone knew Brendon was different,” said his longtime friend Michael Skolnik, the political director for the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. “Everyone knew the football field was not his ultimate destination.”

Even though Ayanbadejo was a first-team all-Pacific-10 Conference selection as a senior, he was not selected in the 1999 draft. He bounced from N.F.L. training camps to the Canadian Football League to N.F.L. Europe before signing with the Miami Dolphins in 2003. He eventually became one of the N.F.L.’s top special teams players with the Chicago Bears and the Ravens, and he was selected to three Pro Bowls.

During the 2008 presidential race, Ayanbadejo said, he grew frustrated that Barack Obama did not openly support same-sex marriage. So in April 2009 he wrote a blog post published by The Huffington Post with the headline “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?”

“When it comes to identifying professional athletes who can help, it’s not easy,” said Brian Ellner, a supporter of same-sex marriage who has worked with Ayanbadejo on a referendum in Maryland to uphold the state’s same-sex marriage law. “And Brendon originally did it without being contacted by anyone.”

Gay rights groups reached out to Ayanbadejo. He filmed public-service announcements, took part in photo shoots and donated Ravens tickets to fund-raisers.

“It’s an extraordinarily tough issue for an African-American pro athlete to take on publicly, and he’s done it with such grace,” Skolnik said.

Ayanbadejo does not trumpet his views in the locker room. He speaks out only when he hears a teammate utter a gay slur. But he is not afraid to share his thoughts.

“In an environment like an N.F.L. locker room, I think it’s extremely commendable to have the courage to stand up for something like this,” said Domonique Foxworth, who is president of the N.F.L. Players Association and who was Ayanbadejo’s teammate on the Ravens. “A lot of guys know these views are out there, and they may not be as strong as Brendon and may not be able to accept the ridicule they may receive.”

Since Ayanbadejo first spoke out in 2009, it has become more common for professional athletes to support gay rights. The N.B.A. All-Star Steve Nash, the former Pro Bowler Michael Strahan and the hockey player Sean Avery are among those who have publicly supported same-sex marriage.

When the critical letter from the Maryland delegate, Emmett C. Burns Jr., became public in late August, Ayanbadejo said, he felt widespread support in the world of football for the first time. Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe wrote a scathing response to Burns, the Ravens publicly sided with Ayanbadejo, and there were no jokes in the Baltimore locker room, he said.

“A bunch of my teammates were men about it, and they had real, honest conversations with me,” Ayanbadejo said. “That had never happened before.”

© 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