Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Join First Thursday antiwar protest/Blown Away

The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore will host an End the Wars vigil on Thurs., Mar. 1 from 5 to 6:30 PM in Mount Vernon at Centre & Charles Sts.  The Pledge gathers in Mount Vernon on the first Thursday of the month to protest U.S. wars.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.


Blown Away

By Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt

Is it all over but the (anti-American) shouting -- and the killing?  Are the exits finally coming into view?

Sometimes, in a moment, the fog lifts, the clouds shift, and you can finally see the landscape ahead with startling clarity.  In Afghanistan, Washington may be reaching that moment in a state of panic, horror, and confusion.  Even as an anxious U.S. commander withdrew American and NATO advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul last weekend -- approximately 300, military spokesman James Williams tells TomDispatch -- the ability of American soldiers to remain on giant fortified bases eating pizza and fried chicken into the distant future is not in doubt. 

No set of Taliban guerrillas, suicide bombers, or armed Afghan “allies” turning their guns on their American “brothers” can alter that -- not as long as Washington is ready to bring the necessary supplies into semi-blockaded Afghanistan at staggering cost.  But sometimes that’s the least of the matter, not the essence of it.  So if you’re in a mood to mark your calendars, late February 2012 may be the moment when the end game for America’s second Afghan War, launched in October 2001, was initially glimpsed. 

Amid the reportage about the recent explosion of Afghan anger over the torching of Korans in a burn pit at Bagram Air Base, there was a tiny news item that caught the spirit of the moment.  As anti-American protests (and the deaths of protestors) mounted across Afghanistan, the German military made a sudden decision to immediately abandon a 50-man outpost in the north of the country.

True, they had planned to leave it a few weeks later, but consider the move a tiny sign of the increasing itchiness of Washington’s NATO allies.  The French have shown a similar inclination to leave town since, earlier this year, four of their troops were blown away (and 16 wounded) by an Afghan army soldier, as three others had been shot down several weeks before by another Afghan in uniform.  Both the French and the Germans have also withdrawn their civilian advisors from Afghan government institutions in the wake of the latest unrest.

Now, it's clear enough: the Europeans are ready to go.  And that shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, we’re talking about NATO -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- whose soldiers found themselves in distant Afghanistan in the first place only because, since World War II, with the singular exception of French President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s, European leaders have had a terrible time saying “no” to Washington.  They still can’t quite do so, but in these last months it’s clear which way their feet are pointed.

Which makes sense.  You would have to be blind not to notice that the American effort in Afghanistan is heading into the tank.

The surprising thing is only that the Obama administration, which recently began to show a certain itchiness of its own -- speeding up withdrawal dates and lowering the number of forces left behind -- remains remarkably mired in its growing Afghan disaster.  Besieged by demonstrators there, and at home by Republican presidential hopefuls making hay out of a situation from hell, its room to maneuver in an unraveling, increasingly chaotic situation seems to grow more limited by the day.

Sensitivity Training

The Afghan War shouldn’t be the world’s most complicated subject to deal with.  After all, the message is clear enough.  Eleven years in, if your forces are still burning Korans in a deeply religious Muslim country, it’s way too late and you should go. 

Instead, the U.S. command in Kabul and the administration back home have proceeded to tie themselves in a series of bizarre knots, issuing apologies, orders, and threats to no particular purpose as events escalated.  Soon after the news of the Koran burning broke, for instance, General John R. Allen, the U.S. war commander in Afghanistan, issued orders that couldn’t have been grimmer (or more feeble) under the circumstances.  Only a decade late, he directed that all U.S. military personnel in the country undergo 10 days of sensitivity “training in the proper handling of religious materials.” 

Sensitivity, in case you hadn’t noticed at this late date, has not been an American strong suit there. In the headlines in the last year, for instance, were revelations about the 12-soldier “kill team” that “hunted” Afghan civilians “for sport,” murdered them, and posed for demeaning photos with their corpses.  There were the four wisecracking U.S. Marines who videotaped themselves urinating on the bodies of dead Afghans -- whether civilians or Taliban guerrillas is unknown -- with commentary (“Have a good day, buddy… Golden -- like a shower”).  There was also that sniper unit proudly sporting a Nazi SS banner in another photographed incident and the U.S. combat outpost named “Aryan.”  And not to leave out the allies, there were the British soldiers who were filmed “abusing” children. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how Afghans have often experienced the American and NATO occupation of these last years.  To take but one example that recently caused outrage, there were the eight shepherd boys, aged six to 18, slaughtered in a NATO air strike in Kapisa Province in northern Afghanistan (with the usual apology and forthcoming “investigation,” as well as claims, denied by Afghans who also investigated, that the boys were armed). 

More generally, there are the hated night raids launched by special operations forces that break into Afghan homes, cross cultural boundaries of every sort, and sometimes leave death in their wake.  Like errant American and NATO air operations, which have been commonplace in these war years, they are reportedly deeply despised by most Afghans. 

All of these, in turn, have been protested again and again by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  He has regularly demanded that the U.S. military cease them (or bring them under Afghan control).  Being the president of Afghanistan, however, he has limited leverage and so American officials have paid little attention to his complaints or his sense of what Afghans were willing to take.

The results are now available for all to see in an explosion of anger spreading across the country.  How far this can escalate and how long it can last no one knows.  But recent experience indicates that, once a population heads for the streets, anything can happen.  All of this could, of course, peter out, but with more than 30 protesters already dead, it could also take on a look reminiscent of the escalating civil war in Syria -- including, as has already happened on a small scale in the past, whole units of Afghan security forces defecting to the Taliban.

Unfolding events have visibly overwhelmed and even intimidated the Americans in charge.  However, as religious as the country may be and holy as the Koran may be considered, what's happened cannot be fully explained by the book burning.  It is, in truth, an explosion a decade in coming. 

Precursors and Omens

After the grim years of Taliban rule, when the Americans arrived in Kabul in November 2001, liberation was in the air.  More than 10 years later, the mood is clearly utterly transformed and, for the first time, there are reports of “Taliban songs” being sung at demonstrations in the streets of the capital.  Afghanistan is, as the New York Times  reported last weekend (using language seldom seen in American newspapers) “a religious country fed up with foreigners”; or as Laura King of the Los Angeles Times put it, there is now “a visceral distaste for Western behavior and values” among significant numbers of Afghans.

Years of pent up frustration, despair, loathing, and desperation are erupting in the present protests.  That this was long on its way can’t be doubted.

Among the more shocking events in the wake of the Koran burnings was the discovery in a room in the heavily guarded Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul of the bodies of an American lieutenant colonel and major, each evidently executed with a shot in the back of the head while at work.  The killer, who worked in the ministry, was evidently angered by the Koran burnings and possibly by the way the two Americans mocked Afghan protesters and the Koran itself.  He escaped.  The Taliban (as in all such incidents) quickly took responsibility, though it may not have been involved at all.

What clearly rattled the American command, however, and led them to withdraw hundreds of advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul was that the two dead officers were “inside a secure room" that bars most Afghans.  It was in the ministry's command and control complex.  (By the way, if you want to grasp some of the problems of the last decade just consider that the Afghan Interior Ministry includes an area open to foreigners, but not to most Afghans who work there.)

As the New York Times put it, the withdrawal of the advisors was “a clear sign of concern that the fury had reached deeply into even the Afghan security forces and ministries working most closely with the coalition.” Those two dead Americans were among four killed in these last days of chaos by Afghan “allies.”  Meanwhile, the Taliban urged Afghan police and army troops, some of whom evidently need no urging, to attack U.S. military bases and American or NATO forces. 

Two other U.S. troops died outside a small American base in Nangarhar Province near the Pakistani border in the midst of an Afghan demonstration in which two protestors were also killed.  An Afghan soldier gunned the Americans down and then evidently escaped into the crowd of demonstrators. Such deaths, in a recent Washington Post piece, were termed “fratricide,” though that perhaps misconstrues the feelings of many Afghans, who over these last years have come to see the Americans as occupiers and possibly despoilers, but not as brothers.

Historically unprecedented in the modern era is the way, in the years leading up to this moment, Afghans in police and army uniforms have repeatedly turned their weapons on American or NATO troops training, working with, or patrolling with them.  Barely more than a week ago, for instance, an Afghan policeman killed the first Albanian soldier to die in the war.  Earlier in the year, there were those seven dead French troops.  At least 36 U.S. and NATO troops have died in this fashion in the past year.  Since 2007, there have been at least 47 such attacks.  These have been regularly dismissed as “isolated incidents” of minimal significance by U.S. and NATO officials and, unbelievably enough, are still being publicly treated that way.

Yet not in Iraq, nor during the Vietnam War, nor the Korean conflict, nor even during the Philippine Insurrection at the turn of the twentieth century were there similar examples of what once would have been called “native troops” turning on those training, paying for, and employing them.  You would perhaps have to go back to the Sepoy Rebellion, a revolt by Indian troops against their British officers in 1857, for anything comparable. 

In April 2011, in the most devastating of these incidents, an Afghan air force colonel murdered nine U.S. trainers in a heavily guarded area of Kabul International Airport.  He was reportedly angry at Americans generally and evidently not connected to the Taliban.  And consider this an omen of things to come: his funeral in Kabul was openly attended by 1,500 mourners.

Put in the most practical terms, the Bush and now Obama administrations have been paying for and training an Afghan security force numbering in the hundreds of thousands -- to the tune of billions dollars annually ($11 billion last year alone).  They are the ones to whom the American war is to be “handed over” as U.S. forces are drawn down.  Now, thanks either to Taliban infiltration, rising anger, or some combination of the two, it’s clear that any American soldier who approaches a member of the Afghan security forces to “hand over” anything takes his life in his hands.  No war can be fought under such circumstances for very long.

Apologies, Pleas, and Threats

So don’t say there was no warning, or that Obama’s top officials shouldn’t have been prepared for the present unraveling.  But when it came, the administration and the military were caught desperately off guard and painfully flatfooted. 

In fact, through repeated missteps and an inability to effectively deal with the fallout from the Koran-burning incident, Washington now finds itself trapped in a labyrinth of investigations, apologies, pleas, and threats.  Events have all but overwhelmed the administration’s ability to conduct an effective foreign policy.  Think of it instead as a form of diplomatic pinball in which U.S. officials and commanders bounce from crisis to crisis with a limited arsenal of options and a toxic brew of foreign and domestic political pressures at play. 

How did the pace get quite so dizzying?  Let’s start with those dead Afghan shepherd boys.  On February 15th, the U.S.-led International Security Force (ISAF) “extended its deep regret to the families and loved ones of several Afghan youths who died during an air engagement in Kapisa province Feb 8.”  According to an official press release, ISAF insisted, as in so many previous incidents, that it was “taking appropriate action to ascertain the facts, and prevent similar occurrences in the future.” 

The results of the investigation were still pending five days later when Americans in uniform were spotted by Afghan workers tossing those Korans into that burn pit at Bagram Air Base.  The Afghans rescued several and smuggled them -- burnt pages and all -- off base, sparking national outrage.  Almost immediately, the next act of contrition came forth.  “On behalf of the entire International Security Assistance Force, I extend my sincerest apologies to the people of Afghanistan,” General Allen announced the following day.  At the same time, in a classic case of too-little, too-late, he issued that directive for training in “the proper handling of religious materials.”

That day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was on the same page, telling reporters that the burning of the Muslim holy books was “deeply unfortunate,” but not indicative of the Americans’ feelings toward the religious beliefs of the Afghan people.  “Our military leaders have apologized... for these unintentional actions, and ISAF is undertaking an investigation to understand what happened and to ensure that steps are taken so that incidents like this do not happen again.” 

On February 22nd, an investigation of the Koran burnings by a joint ISAF-Afghan government team commenced.  "The purpose of the investigation is to discover the truth surrounding the events which resulted in this incident," Allen said. "We are determined to ascertain the facts, and take all actions necessary to ensure this never happens again." 

The next day, as Afghan streets exploded in anger, Allen called on “everyone throughout the country -- ISAF members and Afghans -- to exercise patience and restraint as we continue to gather the facts surrounding Monday night’s incident.”

That very same day, Allen’s commander-in-chief sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai that included an apology, expressing “deep regret for the reported incident.”  “The error was inadvertent,’’ President Obama wrote. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.’’

Obama’s letter drew instant fire from Republican presidential candidates, most forcefully former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who called it an “outrage” and demanded instead that President Karzai issue an apology for the two Americans shot down by an Afghan soldier.  (Otherwise, he added, “we should say goodbye and good luck.”) 

Translated into Washingtonese, the situation now looked like this: a Democratic president on the campaign trail in an election year who apologizes to a foreign country has a distinct problem. Two foreign countries?  Forget it.

As a result, efforts to mend crucial, if rocky, relations with Pakistan were thrown into chaos.  Because of cross-border U.S. air strikes in November which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, ties between the two countries were already deeply frayed and Pakistan was still blocking critical resupply routes for the war in Afghanistan.  With American war efforts suffering for it and resupply costs sky-high, the U.S. government had put together a well-choreographed plan to smooth the waters.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was to issue a formal apology to Pakistan’s army chief.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would then follow up with a similar apology to her Pakistani counterpart. 

Fearing further Republican backlash, however, the Obama administration quickly altered its timetable, putting off the apology for at least several more weeks, effectively telling the Pakistanis that any regrets over the killing of their troops would have to wait for a time more convenient to the U.S. election cycle.   

Trading apologies to Afghans for those to Pakistanis, however, turned out to mean little on the streets of Afghanistan, where even in non-Taliban areas of the country, chants of “Death to America!” were becoming commonplace.  “Just by saying ‘I am sorry,’ nothing can be solved,” protester Wali Mohammed told the New York Times. “We want an open trial for those infidels who have burned our Holy Koran.” 

And his response was subdued compared to that of Mohammed Anwar, an officer with the U.S.-allied Afghan police.  “I will take revenge from the infidels for what they did to our Holy Koran, and I will kill them whenever I get the chance,” he said. “I don’t care about the job I have.” 

A day later, when Anwar’s words were put into action by someone who undoubtedly had similar feelings, General Allen announced yet another investigation, this time with tough talk, not apologies, following.  "I condemn today's attack at the Afghan Ministry of Interior that killed two of our coalition officers, and my thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the brave individuals lost today," he said in a statement provided to TomDispatch by ISAF. "We are investigating the crime and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for this attack. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered."

Allen also took the unprecedented step of severing key points of contact with America’s Afghan allies.  "For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul."  

Unable to reboot relations with allies in Islamabad due to the unrest in Afghanistan (which was, in fact, already migrating across the border), the U.S. now found itself partially severing ties with its “partners” in Kabul as well.  Meanwhile, back home, Gingrich and others raised the possibility of severing ties with President Karzai himself.  In other words, the heat was rising in both the White House and the Afghan presidential palace, while any hope of controlling events elsewhere in either country was threatening to disappear.

As yet, the U.S. military has not taken the next logical step: barring whole categories of Afghans from American bases.  “There are currently no discussions ongoing about limiting access to ISAF bases to our Afghan partners,” an ISAF spokesperson assured TomDispatch, but if the situation worsens, expect such discussions to commence.

The Beginning of the End?

As the Koran burning scandal unfolded, TomDispatch spoke to Raymond F. Chandler III, the Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army, the most senior enlisted member of that service.  “Are there times that things happen that don’t go exactly the way we want or that people act in an unprofessional manner?  Absolutely.  It’s unfortunate,” he said.  “We have a process in place to ensure that when those things don’t happen we conduct an investigation and hold people accountable.”

In Afghan eyes over the last decade, however, it’s accountability that has been sorely lacking, which is why many now in the streets are demanding not just apologies, but a local trial and the death penalty for the Koran burners.  Although ISAF’s investigation is ongoing, its statements already indicate that it has concluded the book burnings were accidental and unintentional.  This ensures one thing: those at fault, whom no American administration could ever afford to turn over to Afghans for trial anyway, will receive, at best, a slap on the wrist -- and many Afghans will be further outraged.

In other words, twist and turn as they might, issue what statements they will, the Americans are now remarkably powerless in the Afghan context to stop the unraveling.  Quite the opposite: their actions are guaranteed to ensure further anger among their Afghan “allies.” 

Chandler, who was in Afghanistan last year and is slated to return in the coming months, said that he believed the United States was winning there, albeit with caveats.  “Again, there are areas in Afghanistan where we have been less successful than others, but each one of those provinces, each one of those districts has their own set of conditions tied with the Afghan people, the Afghan government’s criteria for transition to the Afghan army and the Afghan national police, the Afghan defense forces, and we’re committed to that.”  He added that the Americans serving there were “doing absolutely the best possible under the conditions and the environment.”  

It turns out, however, that in Afghanistan today the “best” has not been sufficient.  With even some members of the Afghan parliament now calling for jihad against Washington and its coalition allies, radical change is in the air. The American position is visibly crumbling.  “Winning” is a distant, long-faded fantasy, defeat a rising reality. 

Despite its massive firepower and staggering base structure in Afghanistan, actual power is visibly slipping away from the United States.  American officials are already talking about not panicking (which indicates that panic is indeed in the air).  And in an election year, with the Obama administration’s options desperately limited and what goals it had fast disappearing, it can only brace itself and hope to limp through until November 2012.

The end game in Afghanistan has, it seems, come into view, and after all these fruitless, bloody years, it couldn’t be sadder.  Saddest of all, so much of the blood spilled has been for purposes, if they ever made any sense, that have long since disappeared into the fog of history.

For more from Tom Engelhardt, click here.

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


Baltasar Garzon Cleared over his Franco-era Crimes Inquiry

Baltasar Garzon Cleared over his Franco-era Crimes Inquiry


Disbarred Spanish judge escapes second conviction, but court

declares he was wrong to investigate deaths under dictatorship


by Giles Tremlett in Madrid

The Guardian

February 27, 2012



Baltasar Garzon has been cleared over his investigation into

Franco-era crimes.


The celebrated Spanish human rights investigator Baltasar

Garzon escaped a second conviction for abuse of his powers

on Monday when the supreme court declared him not guilty in

a case involving his investigation of crimes committed under

the Franco dictatorship.


The decision came too late to save Garzon's career as an

investigating magistrate as the the supreme court had

already disbarred him in a separate case for wiretapping

conversations between defence lawyers and their clients in a

corruption investigation involving the prime minister,

Mariano Rajoy's People's party.


Victims of systematic repression by Franco's iron-fisted

regime emerged as the biggest losers in Monday's case,

however, with the court upholding Spain's controversial

amnesty laws and declaring that Garzon had still been wrong

to open an investigation into the deaths of 114,000 people.


International human rights groups reacted angrily, saying

that the decision ensured impunity for Franco's henchmen and

left his victims unable to demand justice.


The verdict means Garzon has been found guilty in only one

of three cases brought against him, but campaigners still

point to the extraordinary nature of these cases, with no

investigating magistrate ever having been pursued by his

fellow judges on three separate charges before.


"The supreme court has spared itself further embarrassment

by dropping these ill-advised charges," Reed Brody of Human

Rights Watch said.


"Investigating torture and 'disappearances' cannot be

considered a crime. Spain should now repeal the 1977 amnesty

law, as requested by the United Nations, and assist the

families of Franco's victims in their long quest for truth

and justice."


Brody said, however, that the damage had already been done

with Garzon's previous conviction. "Garzon will not return

as a judge, but he is not the real loser," he added. "The

real losers are the reputation of the Spanish judiciary and

those ? in Spain, in detention at Guantanamo, or in

countries around the world where there is no justice ? who

knew they could count on at least one independent judge to

apply human rights laws without fear of the political



Six of the seven supreme court judges on the panel that

heard Garzon's case declared him not guilty, with one in

favour of a guilty verdict.


The judges argued that Garzon had been within his rights to

test out new interpretations of what they called "expansive"

international human rights laws, saying that these were

gaining extra strength around the world.


But they also attacked his interpretation, saying he had

been wrong to open the investigation. Spain's 1977 amnesty

law remained valid, they added, even though courts in other

countries have declared such amnesties against international

human rights law.


The judges launched an impassioned defence of the amnesty

law, which was described as one of the key elements of

Spain's peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy

after General Franco's death in 1975.


They also rejected Garzon's argument that, where people had

simply been "disappeared", a crime of continuous kidnapping

was still being carried out which would not be covered by

either the amnesty law or a statute of limitations.


They argued that it was not the court's job to pursue the

"historic truth" about the past, while recognising that many

events during and, especially, after the Spanish civil war

would nowadays be classified as crimes against humanity.


Amnesty International repeated its demand for Spain to set

aside both the amnesty law and its statute of limitations on

such crimes, saying the ruling prevented victims from

seeking justice.


"It is a scandal that Spain has not yet tackled its dark

past," said Amnesty's Marek Marczynski. "What we want to see

next is a full investigation into the catalogue of abuses

that took place during the civil war and Franco's regime.

There must be no impunity in Spain for these most horrible crimes."


The case had been brought as a private prosecution by a far-

right lobby group that accused Garzon of willfully flouting

Spain's amnesty law when he opened an investigation into the

death or disappearance of 114,000 Franco victims.


That investigation, which was later passed on to provincial

courts, named three dozen senior Francoist officials, all of

whom were dead.


The UN human rights office said earlier this month that

Spain must investigate crimes against humanity committed

during the Franco era and must repeal its amnesty for

perpetrators as there was no statute of limitations for such



Garzon has said he will challenge the verdict against him in

the wiretapping case in Spain's constitutional court.


Garzon was suspended in 2010 after first being indicted in

the Franco case. He then took a six-month job in The Hague

at the international criminal court as an adviser to its

chief prosecutor.


He later accepted a position as a human rights adviser to

the government of Colombia, which is fighting leftist rebels

and powerful drug lords.




Baltimore Activist Alert - Part 3

49] Palestinian Unity -- Feb. 29

50] Philadelphia peace vigil – Feb. 29

51] Meet author Tim Ryan – Feb. 29

52] Iran: Options -- Feb. 29

53] Occupy Faith -- Feb. 29

54] Death penalty -- Feb. 29

55] Iran: What's going on -- Feb. 29

56] Green Currency Meeting -- Feb. 29

57] Chestnut Hill Peace Vigil -- Feb. 29

58] Castle Bravo – Mar. 1

59] Windows & Mirrors – Mar. 1 - 22

60] North Korea -- Mar. 1

61] Invisible Arab – Mar. 1

62] Kidnapped in Columbia – Mar. 1

63] First Thursday vigil against war – Mar. 1

64] Bill Barry's teaching a course on the 30s – Mar. 1

65] Peace Action Montgomery meeting – Mar. 1

66] Live Nun Talking – Mar. 1

67] Green Party Assembly – Mar. 1

68] Eviction Resistance -- Mar. 1

69] Volunteers needed for MUPJ Conference – Apr. 20-21

70] Sign up with Washington Peace Center

71] Join Fund Our Communities 

72] Submit articles to Indypendent Reader 

73] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records

74] Do you need a television and/or a computer?

75] Join Global Zero campaign

76] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale

77] Click on The Hunger Site 

78] Fire & Faith  

79] Seeking students for a peacemaking summit

80] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil


49] "Reflections on Palestinian Unity, the Statehood Bid and Prospects for Peace" will be discussed on Wed., Feb. 29 from 3 to 4:30 PM at 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, WDC.   The Middle East Institute's George and Rhonda Salem Family Foundation Series is proud to host Ambassador Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, for a discussion about the goals of the new Palestinian power sharing arrangement, the status of the PLO's UN statehood bid, and prospects for peace in 2012.   In the wake of the February 6 announcement that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will head an interim unity government there is renewed hope for political cooperation between rival parties Fatah and Hamas. The formation of the unity government however threatens U.S. aid to Palestine, as the United States has said that it refuses to send money to Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.  The PLO's continued pursuit of statehood recognition in the UN Security Council has also isolated it from the United States even as it earned popular and international support.  RSVP


50] – Each Wednesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the House of Grace Catholic Worker holds a weekly vigil for peace in Iraq outside the Phila. Federal Building, 6th & Market Sts. The next vigil is Feb. 29. Call 215-426-0364.


51] – On Wed., Feb. 29 from 5 to 7 PM, join the AFL-CIO, International Labor Rights Forum, National Writers Union and Solidarity Center for the launch of an important new novel: "The Sisters: A Fable of Globalization," by Timothy Ryan at the AFL-CIO, President's Room, 815 16th St. NW, WDC 20006.  It is a brisk tale of culture clash and revolution set in late 1990s Indonesia, where the lives and destinies of factory workers, labor organizers and businessmen intersect as the Suharto regime collapses. Based on a true story of twin sisters working in Indonesia's garment industry, the novel weaves a tale about workers struggling for dignity and economic justice in a globalizing world. The author will sign books, available for purchase at the event, following the reading. Light snacks will be served.  RSVP to


52] – On Wed., Feb. 29 at 5:30 PM, Barbara Slavin, Atlantic Council, will address "Iran: What Options are Left for the U.S.?" The talk is sponsored by the Women's Foreign Policy Group, is at FHI 360, Eight Floor, 1875 Connecticut Ave., NW, WDC. Register

53] – There is an Occupy Faith DC Meeting on Wed., Feb. 29 from 6 to 9 PM at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Ave. NW.  Occupy Faith DC is an Interfaith coalition that supports the Occupy Movement in Washington, DC.  Occupy Faith DC will be discussing: Occupy Faith DC's efforts to support the Occupy movement as it enters a new phase of activism. Email

54] – On Wed., Feb. 29 at 7 PM, Mrs. Vicki Schieber will be speaking about the death penalty at St. Patrick's Catholic Church Parish Hall, 4101 Norbeck Road, Rockville, MD 20853.  Her daughter, Shannon, was raped and murdered on May 7, 1998 while finishing her first year of graduate school on a full scholarship at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Since this tragic incident, Vicki and her husband, Sylvester, have dedicated their career and lives to a moratorium on the death penalty. 

55] – Catch the discussion Iran and the U.S.: What's Really Going On? on Wed., Feb. 29 from 7 to 9 PM at the Rockville Library, 21 Maryland Ave.,  Rockville.  Over the past decade, there have been periods when war with Iran appeared likely and was barely averted. Today we are in another extraordinarily dangerous time.  Accusations and threats could easily lead to a devastating new war.  What is really going on and what can we do about it? The speakers are Ray McGovern and Dr. Younes Benab, and the moderators are Bahram Zandi of the Iranian Alliance for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice and Jean Athey of Peace Action Montgomery.

 McGovern is a former CIA analyst with responsibilities that included chairing a number of National Intelligence Estimates under three presidents and preparing the President's Daily Brief (PDB) under presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.  He helped to create Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Dr. Benab: is a retired professor of political science, former dean of Strayer Univ., co-founder and editor of Review of Iranian Political and Economic History and the author of books and articles about Iranian political history.  This event co-sponsored by Peace Action Montgomery  and the Iranian Alliance for Peace, Freedom and Social Justice.


56] – The Baltimore Green Currency Association meets every Wednesday at 7 PM at Breathe Books, 810 W 36th St. # A, Baltimore, MD 21211-2554.  Call 410-235-7323.


57] – Each Wednesday, the Northwest Greens hold a peace vigil from 7 to 8 PM outside the Borders Book Store, Germantown Ave. at Bethlehem Pike in Chestnut Hill, PA. The next vigil is Feb. 29. Call 215-843-4256 or email 


58] – Thursday, March 1 is the 48th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear test "Castle Bravo," which was the largest U.S. nuclear explosion. It took place at the Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.  


59] –  The TRAVELING EXHIBIT Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan, is now opening on Thurs., Mar. 1 with a reception at 7 PM at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 945 G St. NW, WDC.  The American Friends Service Committee invites you to see the traveling art exhibit.  The mural panels created by international artists and US students help us imagine the experience of Afghan civilians - from death and destruction to hopes for peace. Drawings by Afghan students in Kabul – collected in June 2010 – provide an up close look at life in a war zone. The exhibit is not a single image, but a tapestry, a statement on the human cost of war. The "windows" they have created help us feel the impact of war on the Afghan people, become "mirrors" reflecting our own identity as citizens of a nation at war — and call us to act.  It is open to the public on Thursdays, Mar. 1, 8, 15 & 22, from 5 to 8 PM and on Sun., Mar. 4 from 3 to 7 PM. Visit


The exhibit features a collection of 4' x 6' murals created by U.S. and international artists to memorialize the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, as well as artwork by Afghan schoolchildren about living with war. See it at the Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE, WDC from Thurs., Mar. 1 through Thurs., Mar. 22 from 9 AM to 5 PM.   Go to


60] – On Thurs., Mar. 1 from 12:15 to 1:30 PM, Jonathon Pollack, Brookings Institution, will tackle "North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: The Never-Ending Saga" at the Univ. of Maryland, 1203 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD. Go to

61] – The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions will be addressed on Thurs., Mar. 1 from 12:30 to 2 PM at The Palestine Center2425 Virginia Ave. NW,  WDC  20037.  Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst with Al Jazeera and the editor and host of its flagship show "Empire," a program that examines global powers and their agendas, will tackle the topic. RSVP at Call 202-338-1290.

62] – The Program in Latin American Studies invites you to participate in its Spring Colloquia Series: Susana Wappenstein, Zitzmann Visiting Scholar, will discuss "National Imaginaries: Sounds of Conflict and Narratives of the Kidnapped in Colombia" on Thurs., Mar. 1 from 4 to 6 PM in Dunning 211.  Wappenstein is at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales/FLACSO-Ecuador. Her work focuses mainly on notions and struggles around citizenship and national narratives, particularly in limit contexts from which new political and cultural practices emerge. Email


63] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore will host an End the Wars vigil on Thurs., Mar. 1 from 5 to 6:30 PM in Mount Vernon at Centre & Charles Sts.  The Pledge gathers in Mount Vernon on the first Thursday of the month to protest U.S. wars.  Call Max at 410-366-1637.


64] – Bill Barry is teaching a 3-credit course on the 1930s, covering Black Thursday to Pearl Harbor at CCBC-Essex. It continues on Thurs., Feb. 23 5:45 to 8:40 PM.  He sees a lot of comparisons between That Depression and This Depression, and how people and the government responded. See great videos and listen to guest speakers on this period of our history. This is a 3-credit college course but you can audit or just--in the spirit of the 30s--sit in. Anyone over 60 gets free tuition. Email


65] – On Thurs., Mar. 1 from 7 to 9 PM, there will be a Peace Action Montgomery meeting at the home of a member. Email for the address.  Go to


66] – On Thurs., Mar. 1 at 7 PM, Live Nun Talking – Sr. Helen Prejean – will be at Trinity United Methodist Church, 90 Church St., Prince Frederick, MD.  Sr. Helen, author of "Dead Man Walking," will take you on her journey in a free program.  It is co-sponsored by MD CASE, the Calvert Interfaith Council, and NCADP.


67] – The STATEHOOD GREEN PARTY GENERAL ASSEMBLY is on Thurs., Mar. 1 at 7 PM at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, Building 52, 4200 Connecticut Ave. NW, WDC.  The site is near the Van Ness Metro Stop on the Red Line.  Go to


68] – From the Great Depression to Occupy: Eviction Resistance Then and Now is to be discussed on Thurs., Mar. 1 from 7 to 9 PM at 3166 Mt. Pleasant St. NW,WDC. In the Great Depression of the 1930s, millions of workers lost their jobs and were evicted from their homes. In 1930 it was estimated that in NYC alone 200,000 people were evicted. Communists and other radical activists organized families and the unemployed to resist evictions and won reforms that led to rent control and public housing programs.


Today, history is repeating itself. Since the housing bubble burst in 2008, millions of people have lost their homes as a result of layoffs, greedy banks and a capitalist system that puts profit ahead of human need. Meanwhile, anti-poverty and housing assistance programs are being cut back by politicians who answer to the 1% and the big corporations. Join the International Socialist Organization for this discussion. Go to


69] – Volunteers are needed to help with the 27th Annual Maryland Peace and Justice Conference to be held on Friday and Saturday, April 20 & 21 at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Incarnation, 4 E. University Parkway, Baltimore, 21218. The theme is: "Peacemaking in the 21st century; 25 years of working for peace and justice in Maryland."  Contact Paulette Hammond, secretary, MUPJ, at 410-747-3811 or or


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

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


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


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


74] – Can you use a television set and/or a computer, monitor etc.? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at 


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


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


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


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


79] – Greetings from the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking. G. Simon Harak S.J., director, is seeking your assistance. The Center for Peacemaking, the Marquette faculty and administrators are committed to supporting students' knowledge and research, especially in the area of peacemaking.  At the Center, "peacemaking" in the broadest sense, means studying the structure and dynamics of conflicts and their consequences (physical, psychological, religious/spiritual, gender, familial, sociological, political, cultural, environmental, etc.), learning and testing the strategies of conflict resolution and their effectiveness in certain types of conflict and finally, working to form sustainable and stable communities where justice is fostered and truth can be pursued, so that peace can flourish.

In light of this goal, Simon requests your help. On March 30, 2012 the Center for Peacemaking will be hosting the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies' [WIPCS] day-long undergraduate conference on the theme, "Negotiating in a Polarized Society" here at Marquette University's Alumni Memorial Union (AMU). Can you help increase student participation in this conference by a) encouraging students to submit a paper they may have written, b) recommending students submit a project proposal, and c) inviting students to attend? Email


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


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


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