Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies"

"Sr. Anne Montgomery, Plowshares leader against nuclear weapons, dies"

by Dennis Sadowski, CNS - Aug 29, 2012 NCR

WASHINGTON -- Nuclear weapons posed such a grave danger to all life on
earth in the eyes of Sacred Heart Sr. Anne Montgomery that she devoted
more than 30 years of years of her life to protest their stockpiling
by the world's governments.

From participating in the first of the so-called Plowshares actions
Sept. 9, 1980, until her sixth and last protest Nov. 1, 2009 -- for
which she served two months in federal prison --Montgomery epitomized
the "heart and soul" of a movement that has spanned the globe, several
friends and fellow activists for peace said.

Montgomery died of cancer Aug. 27 at Oakwood, the Society of the
Sacred Heart's elder care center in Atherton, Calif. She was 85.

"Thomas Merton said it best that the highest obligation of Christian

discipleship is the abolition of nuclear war taking the precedence

over everything else. And she understood that," said John Schuchardt,

who joined Montgomery as one of the Plowshares 8 in 1980 at the former

General Electric nuclear weapons plant in King of Prussia, Pa., where

they hammered on nuclear missile casings.

"I'll never forget Anne reading from the Book of Wisdom and the

gentleness and the spirit of wisdom she read," Schuchardt said.

Oblate Fr. Carl Kabat, another Plowshares 8 participant, told Catholic

News Service that Montgomery held firm to her beliefs about the danger

of nuclear war and was prepared to face the consequences of her

actions, even if it meant she was to be imprisoned.

"She was very strong," he said. "She was a very good person, very

wonderful, (who was) motivated by faith."

In addition to Montgomery, Kabat and Schuchardt, the Plowshares 8

included Molly Rush; Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan; his brother, Philip,

a former Josephite priest; Elmer Maas; and Dean Hammer. The protest

was the first of more than 75 in which participants around the world

shared a desire to bring to life the biblical call to "beat swords

into plowshares."

Montgomery's last Plowshares action -- the Disarm Now Plowshares --

took place on All Saints' Day in 2009 at the U.S. Navy's Strategic

Weapons Facility, Pacific in Bangor, Wash., where more than 2,300

nuclear warheads are believed to be stored.

After being indicted at age 83 in September 2010 for the All Saints'

Day protest, Montgomery told CNS she felt called to continue

protesting nuclear weapons and would do so in one way or another until

her last days.

"I have been involved since 1980 in Plowshares movements, which are

really saying we as human beings, as Christians, as citizens of a

country which is supposed to be governed by its citizens, we are

responsible to eliminate these weapons," she said.

Jesuit Fr. Bill Bichsel joined the protest with Montgomery and said

she was filled with courage in trying to make the world a better place

for everyone, especially people living on the margins.

"The constancy of what she was about was impressive," he told CNS. "It

was not just about abolishing weapons. It was about trying to bring

about a world that is compassionate."

Art Laffin, who was arrested with Montgomery in Plowshares actions

twice, told NCR she offered "a great deal of courage and hope" to the

U.S. church.

"She knew about the cross and what the cross meant. She lived in the

hope of the resurrection. Hers was a living faith in the gospel of

Jesus," he said.

Laffin said the sister will be remembered for her peace witness, for

serving the poor and for going fearlessly into war zones to be with

people under occupation.

"She was a doer of the Word," he said.

Montgomery was born Nov. 30, 1926, in San Diego to Rear Adm. Alfred E.

and Alice Smith Montgomery. Her brother, Brook, preceded her in death.

The family moved several times during Montgomery's childhood before

settling in Pennsylvania. She joined the Society of the Sacred Heart

in Albany, N.Y., in 1948, professing final vows in 1956.

She taught at several Sacred Heart-run schools, including those in New

York City and Albany, where she experienced the challenges faced by

poor and minority people. In 1975, Montgomery completed training to

work with children with learning disabilities and returned to New York

to work with school dropouts in East Harlem.

The work led her to the Catholic Worker in New York and to the Little

Sisters of the Assumption. By 1980, she moved into full-time ministry

as a peace advocate, becoming known among faith-based activists on

both the East and West coasts.

Montgomery later became involved with the Christian Peacemaker Teams,

a nonviolent, ecumenical anti-war organization, serving as a witness

for peace in Iraq, the Balkans and the West Bank.

One week before her death, Montgomery received the 2012 Courage of

Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey in Sherborn, Mass., for her

lifetime commitment to peacemaking.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

[Patrick O'Neill contributed to this story.]

-- Dear Friends,

Even as we feel the loss of a dear friend and colleague in the struggle for a nonviolent world, we also celebrate our memories of Anne Montgomery's life and how she touched each of us.

People will have the opportunity to mourn and celebrate together at Oakwood in Atherton, California, where Anne spent her recent days in community with her Sisters of the Order of the Sacred Heart, local Catholic Workers, and many others.

Here are the details of Anne's funeral:

Funeral Service at 10:00 am Saturday, September 15th in the Oakwood Chapel, 140 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton CA 94027

Bill Bichsel, SJ and Steve Kelly, SJ will concelebrate.

Followed by burial in the Oakwood cemetery (same property as the chapel), Sharing of memories, and Lunch

For people planning to fly in, Oakwood is approximately midway between the San Francisco International and San Jose International Airports.

Oakwood is located one mile from the Menlo Park Caltrain Depot (click here for directions). It is also just a few blocks Southwest of El Camino Real, which is well served by SamTrans bus service.

If you are not able to attend, and would like to share a personal reflection about Anne, send it to me at, and I will share it with her community at Oakwood.

If you plan to attend and need special assistance, you may contact Sr.

Clare at

We will continue to post pertinent reflections at Disarm Now Plowshares. We will also post the information in this email and any updates, up to the day of the funeral, at the Disarm Now Plowshares "Events" page.


Leonard Eiger

USA - #1 arms dealer

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations,


Richard F. Grimmett

Specialist in International Security

Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation
Congressional Research Service

August 24, 2012 [Go to this link to see the full report.]


This report is prepared annually to provide Congress
with official, unclassified, quantitative data on
conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the
United States and foreign countries for the preceding
eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight
functions. All agreement and delivery data in this
report for the United States are government-to-
government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions.

Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms

transfers by all suppliers, but the principal focus is

the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers

to nations in the developing world.

Developing nations continue to be the primary focus of

foreign arms sales activity by weapons suppliers. During

the years 2004-2011, the value of arms transfer

agreements with developing nations comprised 68.6% of

all such agreements worldwide. More recently, arms

transfer agreements with developing nations constituted

79.2% of all such agreements globally from 2008-2011,

and 83.9% of these agreements in 2011.

The value of all arms transfer agreements with

developing nations in 2011 was over $71.5 billion. This

was a substantial increase from $32.7 billion in 2010.

In 2011, the value of all arms deliveries to developing

nations was $28 billion, the highest total in these

deliveries values since 2004.

Recently, from 2008 to 2011, the United States and

Russia have dominated the arms market in the developing

world, with both nations either ranking first or second

for each of these four years in the value of arms

transfer agreements. From 2008 to 2011, the United

States made nearly $113 billion in such agreements,

54.5% of all these agreements (expressed in current

dollars). Russia made $31.1 billion, 15% of these

agreements. During this same period, collectively, the

United States and Russia made 69.5% of all arms transfer

agreements with developing nations, ($207.3 billion in

current dollars) during this four-year period.

In 2011, the United States ranked first in arms transfer

agreements with developing nations with over $56.3

billion or 78.7% of these agreements, an extraordinary

increase in market share from 2010, when the United

States held a 43.6% market share. In second place was

Russia with $4.1 billion or 5.7% of such agreements.

In 2011, the United States ranked first in the value of

arms deliveries to developing nations at $10.5 billion,

or 37.6% of all such deliveries. Russia ranked second in

these deliveries at $7.5 billion or 26.8%.

In worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2011-to both

developed and developing nations-the United States

dominated, ranking first with $66.3 billion in such

agreements or 77.7% of all such agreements. This is the

highest single year agreements total in the history of

the U.S. arms export program. Russia ranked second in

worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2011with $4.8

billion in such global agreements or 5.6%. The value of

all arms transfer agreements worldwide in 2011 was $85.3

billion, a substantial increase over the 2010 total of

$44.5 billion, and the highest worldwide arms agreements

total since 2004.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia ranked first in the value of arms
transfer agreements among all developing nations weapons
purchasers, concluding $33.7 billion in such agreements.

The Saudis concluded $33.4 billion of these agreements
with the United States (99%). India ranked second with
$6.9 billion in such agreements. The United Arab
Emirates (U.A.E) ranked third with $4.5 billion.


Don't Want to Be a Vegetarian? You May Not Have a Choice

Published on Alternet (

The Guardian [1] / By John Vidal [2]

Don't Want to Be a Vegetarian? You May Not Have a Choice

August 28, 2012

Leading water [3] scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food [4] supplies, saying that the world's population [5] may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research [6] by some of the world's leading water scientists.

"There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations," the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

"There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade."

Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.

Oxfam has forecast that the price spike will have a devastating impact in developing countries that rely heavily on food imports, including parts of Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Food shortages in 2008 led to civil unrest in 28 countries.

Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.

"Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase," they said. "With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land."

The report is being released at the start of the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, UN bodies, non-governmental groups and researchers from 120 countries meet to address global water supply problems.

Competition for water between food production and other uses will intensify pressure on essential resources, the scientists said. "The UN predicts that we must increase food production by 70% by mid-century. This will place additional pressure on our already stressed water resources, at a time when we also need to allocate more water to satisfy global energy demand – which is expected to rise 60% over the coming 30 years – and to generate electricity for the 1.3 billion people currently without it," said the report.

Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity.

"We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future," said the report's editor, Anders J├Ągerskog.

A separate report from the International Water Management Institute [7](IWMI) said the best way for countries to protect millions of farmers from food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was to help them invest in small pumps and simple technology, rather than to develop expensive, large-scale irrigation projects.

"We've witnessed again and again what happens to the world's poor – the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and already suffer from water scarcity – when they are at the mercy of our fragile global food system," said Dr Colin Chartres, the director general.

"Farmers across the developing world are increasingly relying on and benefiting from small-scale, locally-relevant water solutions. [These] techniques could increase yields up to 300% and add tens of billions of US dollars to household revenues across sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia."

Source URL:









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, August 29, 2012

Court Rules Israel Is Not at Fault in Death of American Activist

August 28, 2012

Court Rules Israel Is Not at Fault in Death of American Activist


JERUSALEM — An Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was run over by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.

The lengthy verdict in the civil case, read in part to a courtroom in Haifa packed with supporters of Ms. Corrie’s family, called the death a “regrettable accident” — a characterization that Ms. Corrie’s allies strongly disputed.

“She chose to put herself in danger,” said the judge, Oded Gershon. “She could have easily distanced herself from the danger like any reasonable person would.”

Since her death, Ms. Corrie has become an international symbol of the Palestinian resistance. A play based on her writings has been performed in 10 countries, and a ship in an attempted aid flotilla to Gaza bore her name. Books, documentaries and songs have recounted how Ms. Corrie, a 23-year-old student, dressed in an orange vest and wielding a bullhorn stood between a bulldozer and the home of a Palestinian family in March 2003 during the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer who brought the wrongful-death suit on the Corrie family’s behalf, said he would appeal the ruling within 45 days to Israel’s Supreme Court. At a news conference after the verdict, he showed pictures of Ms. Corrie taken the day of her death, saying “anyone could have seen” her bright garb.

“It’s a black day for activists of human rights and people who believe in values of dignity,” Mr. Hussein said. “We believe this decision is a bad decision for all of us — civilians first of all, and peace activists.”

In his ruling, Judge Gershon said the military’s mission that day “was not, in any way, to destroy homes,” but to clear brush and explosives “to prevent acts of hatred and terror.” He said the bulldozer was moving slowly, about 1 kilometer per hour, and that the driver could not have seen Ms. Corrie, finding “no base to the plaintiff’s claim that the bulldozer hit her on purpose.”

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, called the verdict a “vindication” of the nation’s military and court systems.

“I empathize for the family, they’ve lost a loved one, who as the judge said was killed in a tragic accident,” Mr. Regev said. He dismissed as “simply without foundation” accusations that the Israeli courts are not independent, impartial and do not hold the highest professional standards.

Ms. Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., joined the International Solidarity Movement in January, 2003, and spent the last weeks of her life in Rafah, the Gaza town that borders Egypt. In a Feb. 27, 2003, e-mail home, she wrote that 600 homes had been destroyed there since the start of the intifada. On March 16 she and seven other American and British activists acted as human shields, dropping to their knees between the bulldozers and a home they believed were marked for destruction. The verdict came more than a year after the last of 15 sessions of oral testimony, which began in March 2010. Some of the witnesses, including the drivers and commanders of two bulldozers that were operating in the area that day, testified from behind a screen to protect their identities. Ms. Corrie’s parents or sister attended every session of the trial, spending about $200,000 on travel, translating about 2,000 pages of documents, and other expenses.

“A lawsuit is not a substitute for a legal investigation, which we never had,” Ms. Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie, said at Tuesday’s news conference. “The diplomatic process between the United States and Israel failed us.” The United States Embassy, which sent a representative to the oral-testimony sessions, declined to comment on the verdict. In June 2004, a representative of the secretary of state wrote to the Corrie family saying the United States agreed with them that the military’s investigation was not “thorough, credible and transparent.”

In Washington, the State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said, “We understand the family’s disappointment with the outcome of the trial,” and noted that American diplomats “have worked with the family all through this process” and that they would continue to do so. She declined to discuss the remarks that Ms. Corrie’s family attributed to the American ambassador that the Israeli investigation had not been transparent. But on Tuesday, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in a statement that the United States government “has been noticeably absent, and its silence is deafening,” calling Washington “complicit in compounding the crime.” She also said that the trial had revealed “overwhelming proof that Rachel was deliberately murdered” and said that “Palestinians as a whole will continue to love Rachel and cherish her memory.”

Sarah Corrie Simpson, who has met with more than 200 Congressional offices in Washington about the case, said she remained convinced that the driver of the bulldozer saw her younger sister. “I hope someday he will have the courage to sit down in front of me and tell me what he saw and what he feels,” Ms. Simpson said.

In an interview before the verdict, Ms. Corrie’s father, Craig Corrie, said, “You don’t really close a wound like this, but it certainly is a big milestone.” At meetings across Israel over the past week, Mr. Corrie carried with him a picture not of his daughter but of the Palestinian girl, then 6, whose family’s house was behind Ms. Corrie when she was killed.

“I think this one in some ways is more hopeful,” he said of the picture. “She deserves a future that we all want for our children.”

Jodi Rudoren reported from Jerusalem, and Danielle Ziri from Haifa, Israel. Reporting was contributed by Irit Pazner-Garshowtiz from Jerusalem and Steven Lee Myers from Washington.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 28, 2012

An earlier version of this article misstated the proportion of witnesses in the case who testified from behind screens to protect their identities. Some did, but most did not.

© 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

Are you doing a drone action?


It was great to get so many responses to my query—Are you planning a drone action? See the list below, and make any additions and corrections. Joe Scarry can post your action.

The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is going to Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Campus during Parents Day on Thursday, August 30. We want to inform the parents and new students about the drone research undertaken by JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory. Let me know if you would be able to join us? Does anyone have a drone replica which could be brought to the campus on Thursday?

We will meet at 5 PM on August 30 at the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N.Charles St., 21218. Then we will march together and cross the street to go to Shriver Hall for about on hour. Let me know of your interest.



Joe Scarry, Chicago, is setting up by state simple sites (blogs) to highlight the resistance to drones. He also complements the blog postings with Twitter and Facebook activity. For example, he set up a Know Drones appearance in MD:

Paul Frazier is suggesting setting up a website calendar of anti-drone events.

We may well have some events in Portland. Trying to collaborate with Hood River folks. Ann

Thursday, August 2 -- If there's another opportunity for people to sign Obama letter, please add my name: Art Laffin

Aug. 2-- Yes, I'd join in a White House action. Our local group (North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice) is hoping to do some street vigils- maybe a petition and wrote a letter to Obama which we will try to get into our local paper [Alice Sutter]

Aug. 4 --Lars Prip and David Soumis, with a model reaper drone from Nick Mottern, have been doing weekly outreach work in Wisconsin.

They did the second Madison on the Square farmers market, went to EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh last Saturday, and are planning on being at the gate to the Wisconsin State Fair next Saturday.

So far, we have been pretty much on our own, other than friends that show up to talk, but it would be very good to have more anti-drone people there with us. We have spoken to a lot of people, have had a ton of people take pictures, and have handed out a lot of literature. The word is getting out. David Soumis, NoDronesWisconsin, Veterans for Peace

Aug. 12 -- CODEPINK Monthly Golden Gate Bridge focused on educating the public about the disastrous drone warfare that our government is propagating in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere, that is destabilizing the world and making more enemies. Toby Blome at or 510-215-5974.

Aug. 23 - Seventy-five protesters, many dressed in pink, gathered outside the local production plant, Largo, FL, of Raytheon on Thursday, denouncing the defense contractor for its role in drone warfare. The demonstration, organized by the groups CodePink and St. Pete for Peace, marked the unofficial start of protests surrounding the Republican National Convention, set to kick off Monday in Tampa.

Aug. 30--Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore plans to protest drone research at Johns Hopkins U during Parents Day on late August and plans to go there to vigil against drone warfare on Thur. Aug 30. Several in the group are barred from campus after spring occupation of JHU President’s office, and threatened with arrest if they go on campus.

NCNR Fall Action –Max sent email inviting others to join NCNR fall action against drones or to organize action in their area and share plans. NCNR is considering going back to Johns Hopkins. We are also considering going to White House with letter that was recently sent to Obama since we have not gotten a response.

Brian Terrell is urging people to come to Missouri on September 10 to Put the Drones on Trial! Some of the experts who will attend are Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly, Ann Wright and Bill Quigley will argue Constitutional and International Law to support activists in the first Anti-Drone Trial Heard in Federal Court.

Former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark will be called as an expert witness in defense of two anti-drone activists on trial in United States District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri, on September 10. Bill Quigley, associate director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, & Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, will be called to witness to the effects of drone warfare on its civilian victims she has met while visiting Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The defendants, Ron Faust of Kansas City and Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, participated in the April 15 “Trifecta Resista” protest at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base, from where killer drones engage in combat in Afghanistan by remote control. They were arrested for trespass as they attempted to deliver an “indictment” to Brigadier General Scott A. Vander Hamm, the base’s commander. The indictment charges the chain of command, from President Obama to General Vander Hamm to the drone crews at Whiteman “with the following crimes; extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation of national sovereignty, and the killing of innocent civilians” and demands that these crimes immediately cease. Arrested with Faust and Terrell was Mark Kenney of Omaha, who is now serving a four month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges at a June 6 arraignment.

The defendants intend to prove in court that their protest was protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and also was a response to more egregious crimes committed on the base. “Drones inherently violate the laws of the United States and international law,” says Clark. “They are associated with the concept of assassination and murder.” In terms of the crimes the accused are charged with, Clark says the defendants are being denied their constitutional rights of free speech and the freedom to assemble. And their “crimes,” he says, pale in comparison to what the defendants are trying to stop.

The protest at Whiteman is one of many in response to the US government’s increasing use of drones in recent years, but the trial in Jefferson City is the first time that charges have been filed not in local courts but in US District Court. The prosecution will be handled directly by a commissioned officer in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, acting as a Special Assistant United States Attorney.

On the evening before the trial, Sunday, September 9, at 6:30, the defendants, attorneys and witnesses will hold a public meeting at Community Christian Church, 4601 Main Street, in Kansas City, MO. On Monday at noon there will be a press conference and rally at the US District Court House, 80 Lafayette Street in Jefferson City, followed by the trial at 1:30 (photo ID required, no cell phones allowed in US Courthouse). Go to Brian Terrell can be contacted at or 773-853-1886.

VFP is in the process of doing something this looks like early September possibly revolving around the trial of Brian Terrell on September 10th ... but we also need to get going on general weaponized drone protests. The thrust now is to get all VFP chapters involved in protests, vigils, and public education. We want to work closely with all other activist groups against the drones. [David Soumis]

Unmanned Aircraft Systems East Conference

11 September, 2012 - 13 September, 2012

Washington, DC, United States

David Swanson/ How about if on Sept 11 there was a big drone-profiteer event at a hotel at one end of the Key Bridge in Washington, and some pretend drones happened to block the bridge and fly into the hotel nonviolently shutting the event down?

Arms Bazaar coming to D.C. Sept. 17,18 & 19.

Paki Weiland is going to Pakistan. Activists in Western Mass are planning an action at L-3 KOL. L3 is part of the Assoc. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International ( L3 has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the post-9/11 militarism boom and is a spin-off of Lockheed Martin.

L-3 has headquarters in NYC. Maybe our NYC WRL group can help get something going. Anyone else on this list in NYC? Will follow emails and see about doing something on the same date as others.

Ruth Benn, Coordinator

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee


Three members of the United National Antiwar Coalition Administrative Committee will be travelling to Pakistan in late September with a delegation of U.S. anti-war and anti-drone activists. The trip is being organized by CodePink. The UNAC AC members are Leah Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace, Judy Bello, Upstate New York anti-drone activist and Joe Lombardo. They will meet with victims of drone raids and Pakistani activists and be part of a rally against drones being organized by Pakistanis in Islamabad. Go to

Joy First reported that there will be a fall action at Camp Williams where they are doing drone training. She also suggested that it would be good to do some research and see what kind of research occurring at UW- Madison related to drones.

Bob Smith reported that Brandywine will host an Oct. 7-9 speaking tour in Philadelphia with Bruce Gagnon during the “Keep Space for Peace” week and anniversary of Afghanistan war. At the end of the week they are looking at going to Lockheed Martin for a cd action and also to return to University of Pennsylvania where they had daylong drone presence last April. Go back to try to engage the engineering dept.- which is steeped in drone research – trying to mix the two or see how to combine etc. making connections between Lockheed Martin and UPenn.

Know Drones will participate in a public education event about drones in Charlottesville, VA in connection with the Southern Life conference to be held there October 5-7. Know Drones will display a 1/5 actual size replica of a Reaper drone (8' length, 11' wingspan), elevated on a lifter, and include video displays showing various aspects of drone operations as well as simulation of drone targeting. David Swanson

United national Antiwar Coalition is calling for Protest of the wars at home and abroad, the threats to Iran and Syria, and U.S. drone warfare on the weekend of October 5-7.

Lisa Savage, Code Pink Maine, is calling for drone actions on October 8 at Obama headquarters. The one she is organizing will be an anti-drone die in for Portland, Maine. Pink sisters in Massachusetts and California will do solidarity actions.

Oct. 25--Group of 14 going to trial in federal court in Baltimore facing three charges after an arrest at the National Security Agency. One of the issues to be raised at trial would be the NSA’s involvement in drone targetting.

Oct. 30--Toby Blome has a growing group doing monthly actions at Beale AFB that have evolved into overnight encampments on last Mon. and Tues. of each month. There is a plan to do direct action during encampment/vigil: October 29th-30th.

Upstatedroneaction, which includes several peace orgs from upstate NY (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Binghamton, sometimes NYC, is planning a drones tribunal (teach-in type deal) for either Oct. or Nov., depending on availability of space (pref.@ SU), and speakers. We are also readying ourselves for latest round of court hearings resulting from third action @Hancock. The struggle goes on. Peace, George Homanich

Aug. 1--Friends,

The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance is trying to determine what groups are planning to do drone actions in the fall. For example, NCNR is considering going back to protest drone research at Johns Hopkins University.

Also many of you signed on to the letter about drone attacks sent to President Obama. See the letter below. President Obama has never responded to the letter. Would you have any interest in going to the White House in the fall with the letter to seek a response?

Let me know your thoughts on organizing against killer drones. Can we organize some significant actions in September/October? Consider being on tonight’s NCNR conference call on August 1 at 9 PM EST. I look forward to your feedback. Best wishes.



July 11, 2012

President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to your continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to condemn your use of unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to kill citizens in at least five countries. Besides opposing your war policies, we have great concern for civilians caught in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The use of drones is wrong on many levels: the illegality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the targeting of civilian populations, and the disregard of sovereignty. We are especially troubled by your refusal to release the flawed document which purportedly gives you legal cover to determine who is on the kill list.

Your use of killer drones is and will continue to create more enmity toward the United States. Because of the lack of transparency, it remains unclear how many civilians are known to have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes. The Bush administration did not seem to have any concern for the communities under attack. Sadly you have increased the use of drone strikes, and as a result there is rampant anti-U.S. sentiment throughout these areas in conflict.

Furthermore, we are also concerned that U.S. drones are used to eliminate political opponents of corrupt leaders. This happened in 2010 in Yemen, when a state governor who opposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh was labeled as a leader of Al Qaeda and killed.

We believe that you should issue a directive terminating the killer drone program. This would have a profound effect around the world, and could initiate a process of healing. As citizens, we do not see the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen as enemies. These are our brothers and sisters. Instead of wasting billions of dollars on immoral drone strikes, take the money from the program and give it to non-governmental organizations working on providing jobs and incomes to people so that they do not join terrorist groups. There would be much support for such a program in these war-torn countries.

We believe U.S. wars and drone attacks have been demonstrable failures. Now is the time to take the risks of peace. Imagine leading a country which has denounced the madness of war, and instead wants to assist and make friendship with the people of the Middle East and Central Asia.

We look forward to your response. Should you agree to endorse a foreign policy with the goal of peace and justice, we will stand with you. Rejecting our proposal will mean more death and destruction. We will then continue to protest, risk arrest and denounce a foreign policy of endless wars.

We would be prepared to meet with members of your administration to discuss our proposal to immediately end killer drone strikes and to start a process of healing with the victims of U.S. wars. Please give serious consideration to our proposal of reconciliation and diplomacy rather than pernicious killer drone strikes.

In peace,

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance


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, August 28, 2012

Does Romney Think the Pentagon Needs More Marching Bands, NASCAR Sponsorships?

Published on Alternet (

AlterNet [1] / By Robert Greenwald [2], John Amick [3]

Does Romney Think the Pentagon Needs More Marching Bands, NASCAR Sponsorships?

August 26, 2012

Recent commentators have rightly called out Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's obvious hypocrisy [4] on cuts to Pentagon spending. This strikes us as a good time to step back and take a broader look at Pentagon spending, and deconstruct the spin coming from the Washington elites.

Historically, the United States has made cuts to the Pentagon budget once its major wars come to an end [5]. It happened after the Korean War, Vietnam and the Cold War. And after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is the time to seriously consider significant cuts to a bloated, wasteful Pentagon spending machine. Yet those within the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex have been working hard to convince the American public that their perceived right to profit off of Pentagon spending is sacrosanct.

To fight the war profiteers, Brave New Foundation's War Costs [6] campaign is producing several investigative films that will expose the financial and human costs of an ongoing war mentality in the U.S. Currently, we are pleased to release a series of short videos that examine key players in the lobbying effort to keep Pentagon spending high. Our first two videos include Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The rhetoric about cuts to the Pentagon's budget -- which is five times [7]larger than the next biggest defense spender, China, and about $100 billion more than then next 10 nations combined -- has been excessive and hardly anything but fear mongering. Panetta, defense industry darling Rep. Buck McKeon [8] (R-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and others call it "doomsday," "catastrophic," a hollowing of the force, akin to a "brigade without bullets." Mitt Romney said these level of cuts "is like putting a gun to our head."

What about fiscal responsibility, Mr. Romney? What about all the waste, like marching bands or NASCAR sponsorships or the $50 billion in cancelled weapons programs -- caused by industry business practices -- that contractors get to keep [9]? The Romney-Ryan proposed budget [10] adds more money to an already-massive Pentagon reserve. Worries of more recessionary pressure on the American economy are mounting -- Pew now reports [11] one in five Americans go without enough food in a time of record food stamp enrollment. Yet, the Romney ticket pledged [12] this week to "retroactively" reverse any sequestration cuts to the Pentagon -- and push for the House budget that slashed funding for social programs, like food stamps -- all in an effort to protect profits for their war-profiteering friends.

And is sequestration a doomsday mechanism, as Panetta has claimed? Hardly [13].

In reality, sequestration cuts -- $55 billion reduction in defense spending in FY 2013 -- would return defense spending to 2006 levels, by all measures a healthy time for the Pentagon budget. This reduction in spending would mean the U.S. would still outspend the next ten [14] top defense-spending nations combined by $45 billion.

Now is the time to urge your member of Congress, your friends, family and neighbors to call for substantial cuts to the Pentagon budget. The profiteering and waste must stop. Cuts have widespread support [15], regardless of party politics. It's our money, and we have the power to demand accountability in how it's used. These videos are the first in a series to explore these hysterical statements made by officials that want to keep the status quo. It's time to expose the unnecessary items the Pentagon acquires that hardly make us safer or go to service members. It's wasteful, it's harmful, and we must speak up.

Let us know [6] what you want to see War Costs [16] examine in our effort to stop out-of-control war spending. Go to or visit us on Facebook [6] for more.

Source URL:


















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

Can We Abolish Nuclear Weapons Before We Abolish War?/Middle-Class Confusion About Class War

Can We Abolish Nuclear Weapons Before We Abolish War?

By Tad Daley

In the end, what are nuclear weapons, but war writ large?

In 2011, people across the planet reached out to Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. Millions watched as one nation after another rose in mass revolutions across the Arab world. The Occupy movement blossomed, as citizens in cities around the globe expressed rage over the excesses of capitalism and corporate power. And Timemagazine named "The Protester" its annual Person of the Year.

The world has never been smaller. Citizen movements increasingly demonstrate their limitless promise. So, think it sounds too dreamy to imagine that someday people power might transform our small world into one world -- a federal republic of the Earth?

Then read Lawrence Wittner's 2009 book, Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (excerpted at Foreign Policy in Focus). And think again.

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

Middle-Class Confusion About Class War

By George Lakey

With his July Rolling Stone article, Bill McKibben attracted enormous attention for his proposal to step up the fight against the fossil fuels industry in the struggle to forestall global warming. To identify a clear opponent and mobilize power against it is, of course, a strategy of polarization. McKibben has been getting some thoughtful push-back, and I’d like to respond to one of the objections I’ve heard: that polarizing in this way distorts the truth, since carbon pollution is driven by millions of consumer choices. We’re all responsible for the fix we’re in, some critics say, so it’s wrong to mobilize against the 1 percent.

I’d like to challenge this objection on three grounds: it misreads power, privileges one way of seeking truth and snuggles into a middle-class comfort zone.

When it comes to energy policy, power is not evenly distributed. An individual consumer’s choice to purchase a car instead of a bike is nothing like an individual CEO’s choice to blow up a mountaintop in order to mine coal. It could become trendy to eat local food — it already has, thank goodness — but an individual’s decision to buy at the farmers market and a bank’s decision to fund windmills instead of coal mining are not at all comparable in terms of their leverage or effect.

Responsibility should be assigned according to degree of power in decision making, and when it comes to energy, it’s clear who in the U.S. is most influential in the biggest decisions. Why not hold the 1 percent accountable for the enormous power that they now have — and which they fight to retain?

A more accurate picture

I agree that a polarizing campaign against “the baddies” doesn’t represent a complicated and nuanced account of all the truth about what drives climate change. But just about any given campaign’s start-up picture inevitably leaves out a lot.

An academic might prefer to start with the most complicated version of the truth possible. That’s an academic’s job, after all — the pursuit of nuance. It’s a mistake, however, for McKibben’s scholarly critics to take an intellectual procedure and apply it outside the theory seminar. Starting with the complicated version doesn’t line up with how people actually learn, either as individuals or as a body politic.

Harvard professor George C. Homans pointed out that people usually build their cognitive maps through successive approximations. We get a rough image of something (the earth is flat), and as we address it more carefully we get more clarity (it’s round); then still more observation yields nuance (it’s actually oval).

People generally get a fuller understanding of reality through successive approximations. So do societies and the social movements that lead them in the direction of more complicated truths. (For a fuller explanation of this pedagogical view, see my book, Facilitating Group Learning.)

Mohandas Gandhi rooted his work in the value of satya (truth), and at the same time led polarizing campaigns. Looking back, we can see that his work was in alignment with how most people actually learn. By the end of the Salt Satyagraha, both the Indians and the British knew far more about imperialism than either had known in the beginning.

Gandhi found social conflict a powerful means of learning, especially when views of truth are in dispute. In her book Conquest of Violence, Joan V. Bondurant argues this to be Gandhi’s great contribution to political philosophy: Fierce contention can be a valuable means of discovering truth.

Contention might sometimes even be superior to purely intellectual inquiry. When I started to study sociology, for instance, I judged the field to be largely innocent of what was going on in U.S. race relations; its picture of reality was seriously “off,” along with the pictures of race held by most of society.

Then the civil rights movement unfolded, the country polarized and intellectuals learned from what was happening. Not only did much of the United States wake up, but academics did as well.

What does this have to do with social class?

I’ve found it useful to think of each social class as having a culture: a set of norms and attitudes that back up the skills that class members need to perform their role in the larger economy.

Be warned: Just like when we identify a culture with a place or nation, when we say that a class has a culture we make generalizations that have many exceptions. It’s best to use generalizations cautiously. The point is simply to throw enough light on class to see some differences among classes, to make it easier to use the strengths that show up, and to become aware of weaknesses.

Middle-class people, for example, contribute to social change in many ways. They are usually socialized to believe that they as individuals can make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and even the larger world. They often bring a sense of political optimism that helps a campaign get started. They bring other gifts, but like any class they also bring blind spots.

The point of class awareness for social changers is to become alert to areas where their own thinking may be clouded by their class training.

In both the owning class and the working class, there is wide understanding that economic power is a decisive force in society. Billionaire Warren E. Buffett put it clearly in his interview with The New York Times: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

The perch of the middle class is different; in the middle, it can be harder to see what’s going on. The Times’ middle-class readers who read Buffett’s quote in 2006 did not erupt. They seem to have read Buffett with glazed eyes, unable to process the information.

There’s a reason. The middle class is socialized to remain confused about power. That’s how middle-class people can create narratives that ignore class struggle and assign the primary responsibility to — in the case of energy policy — consumers. The amount of privilege and the appearance of power given to middle class individuals make them especially prone to versions of “blame the victims.”

In my graduate school days, the leading sociological image of U.S. society was “consensus.” I believe it was their middle classness that prevented social scientists from seeing the fundamentals in U.S. race relations prior to the civil rights movement — again, a failure of power analysis.

These blind spots are not unusual in the middle class. Another of the narratives has been that the unemployed could be working if they would stay in high school or complete job training programs. But working class people recognize that’s a physical impossibility. The jobs don’t exist. The leadership of the U.S. economy exports millions of jobs. It’s the 1 percent that decides the number of jobs available, not high school drop-outs!

When middle-class people become aware enough to question their own favorite narratives, their educational attainment becomes a greater resource for social change. The gifts that go with the middle class role are enormously valuable to social change; the problem for any class comes when it forgets humility and believes that its class perspective is The One That Counts.

So, how can members of any class check themselves? They can start by asking themselves whether they are operating inside their comfort zones. If the answer is “yes,” their perspective might not be appropriate, since working for radical change (such as truly sustainable energy policy) cannot be done from inside our comfort zones.

The very awareness of discomfort when reading McKibben’s proposal could be, for many readers, a reason to support him. Outside our comfort zone is where learning happens. Outside our comfort zone is where we’ll save the planet and ourselves.

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

The Crisis in Mali

The Crisis in Mali

By Conn M. Hallinan

Foreign Policy in Focuis

August 26, 2012

A cholera hospital close to the Mali border in western Niger. Sean Smith

The reports filtering out of Northern Mali are appalling: a young couple stoned to death, iconic ancient shrines dismantled, and some 365,000 refugees fleeing beatings and whippings for the slightest violations of Sharia law. But the bad dream unfolding in this West African country is less the product of a radical version of Islam than a consequence of the West's scramble for resources on this vast continent, and the wages of sin from the recent Libyan war.

The current crisis gripping northern Mali-an area about the size of France- has its origins in the early years of the Bush Administration, when the U.S.

declared the Sahara desert a hotbed of "terrorism"

and poured arms and Special Forces into the area as part of the Trans-Sahal Counter Terrorism Initiative. But, according to anthropologist Jeremy Keenan, who has done extensive fieldwork in Mali and the surrounding area, the "terrorism" label had no basis in fact, but was simply designed to "justify the militarization of Africa."

The U.S. military claimed that when the Taliban fell in Afghanistan, terrorists moved west into the Horn of Africa, the Sudan and the Sahara. But Keenan says, "There was absolutely no evidence for that.really a figment of imagination." The real target of enlarging the U.S.'s military footprint was "oil resources" and "the gradually increasing threat of China on the continent."

The U.S. currently receives about 18 percent of its energy supplies from Africa, a figure that is slated to rise to 25 percent by 2015. Africa also provides about one-third of China's energy needs, plus copper, platinum, timber and iron ore. According to the Financial Times, new gas fields were recently discovered on the Algeria-Mali border

There have been terrorist acts in Africa. In 1998, hotels were bombed in Kenya and, in 2002, a synagogue in Tunisia. The 2004 Madrid train bombers were associated with the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, an organization that set off bombs in Casablanca in 2003.

But these groups had no affiliation with international terror groups like al-Qaeda, and the only one that could be said to be Sahara-based was the Algerian Salafist Group for Fighting and Preaching. That group later renamed itself "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM).

In 2006, the International Crisis Group also concluded that the Sahara "was not a hotbed of terrorism" and that most North African governments saw the Trans Sahal Initiative as a way to tap into high end arms technology, like attack helicopters, night vision equipment, and sophisticated communications networks.

When the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) was formed in 2008, it took over the Initiative and began working directly with countries in the region, including Mali, Morocco, Tunisia, Chad, Niger, Mauretania, and Senegal. Indeed, the only country in the region that did not have a tie to AFRICOM was Libya.

The US also has basing agreements with Uganda, Ghana, Namibia, Ghana, Gabon, and Zambia. Some 1500 U.S. Marines are currently deployed at Lemonier, a French Foreign Legion base in Djibouti on the horn of Africa.

The "terrorism" label has always been a slippery one. For instance, the US supported the 2006 Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that overthrew the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) government.

Washington said the UIC was associated with al- Qaeda, but never produced any evidence of that.

The UIC was a moderate Islamic movement that drove out the U.S.-supported warlords and brought peace to Somalia for the first time since 1991. It included such radical Islamic groups as the Shabab, but those organizations did not dominate the government.

The Ethiopian invasion changed all that. For Somalians, Ethiopia is a traditional enemy, and the Shabab succeeded in uniting a large section of the population against the occupation. Thus, a small group that was marginal in the UIC became the backbone of the resistance. "The end result of the US-backed invasion was driving Somalia into the al-Qaeda fold," says Somalia's former foreign minister, Ismaciil Buubaa.

The crisis in Mali has a long history, rooted in the country's deep poverty, on one hand, anda on the other, a push by the Tuaregs-a nomadic Berber people that have long controlled trans-Sahara trade-for greater autonomy and a bigger piece of the development pie. The Tuaregs have staged unsuccessful revolts four times since Mali won its independence from France in 1960, but the fall of Mummer Gaddafi in Libya gave them a golden opportunity.

Gaddfi had long supported the Tuaregs in their war for independence, and many Tuaregs served as pro- government mercenaries in Libya. When Gaddafi fell, a cornucopia of arms opened for the Tuaregs, who quickly put their newly acquired firepower to use against the largely ineffective Malian army.

The so-called "terrorist" groups, like Ansar al-Din, al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad and AQIM, only moved in after the Tuareg Movement for the National Liberation of Azawed had expelled the Malian army from the north and declared a separate country. It is these groups that are stoning people to death, tearing down Sufi shrines, and enforcing rigid Sharia law. The Tuaregs have largely been pushed to the side, and many of them have returned to the desert, abandoning cities like Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal to the Islamic groups.

Besides the original protagonists in northern Mali, there is growing tension between the Islamists and the Songhai, Mali's largest ethnic group. There are rumors that Songhai villages are organizing militia, adding yet another dimension of potential trouble.

None of this had to happen.

When the UN Security Council passed Resolution

1973 on Mar. 17 last year, it was to "protect civilians" in Libya. At the time, the 53-member African Union (AU) was attempting to negotiate a political solution to the crisis, but two days after the UN resolution was approved, NATO launched Operation Odyssey that smashed up Gaddafi's air force and armor.

On Mar. 20, the AU met in Mauritania in an effort to stop the fighting. "Our desire," read a joint AU statement "is that Libya's unity and territorial integrity be respected as well as the rejection of any kind of foreign intervention." The AU was acutely aware that Africa's delicate post-colonial borders have enormous potential for creating instability, and that Libya might end up being a falling domino.

"Whatever the motivation of the principle NATO belligerents [in ousting Gadaffi], the law of unintended consequences is exacting a heavy toll on Mali today," former UN regional envoy Robert Fowler told the Guardian (UK) "and will continue to do so throughout the Sahel as the vast store of Libyan weapons spreads across this, one of the most unstable regions of the world."

A decade of growing US military involvement on the continent has not only failed to curb instability and the growth of so-called "terrorist" groups, the US's actions in Somalia and Libya have directly fed the formation of such organizations. And "training" has hardly stabilized things. Indeed, the Mali army captain, Amadou Sanogo, who overthrew the civilian government-the act that led to the Tuareg's successful offensive-was trained by the U.S.

military. Sanogo attended the Defense Language Institute in 2005 and 2007, a US Army intelligence program in 2008, and an officer-training course in 2010.

"Terrorism" in Africa is fueled by local conditions, not by an international jihadist agenda. Boko Harum in Nigeria reflects the tension between the poverty of the country's largely Islamic north and its more prosperous Christian south. Similar fault lines run through Niger, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.

Terrorism in Algeria and Morocco mirror economies that are unable to provide jobs for a huge swath of their populations, coupled with authoritarian political structures that stifle any attempt to do something about it. Somalia was first a pawn in the Cold War, and then the very definition of chaos.

When an Islamic government began taming that chaos, the U.S. overthrew it, unleashing the Shabab.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is being directed at fighting terrorism on the continent, and the US military is training the armed forces of dozens of African nations. A Malian army captain used that aid and training to pull off a coup that now threatens to turn into a regional war.

Will Morocco use U.S. aid to fight terrorism or tighten its grip over the mineral rich Western Sahara and re-ignite its war with the Polisario Front? Will Niger fight "terrorists" or crush Tuareg resistance to French uranium mining in the Sahara? Will Algeria go after the AQIM or its own outlawed Islamist organizations? Will aid to fight terrorism in Nigeria be diverted to smash resistance by local people to oil production in the Niger Delta?

Bayonets won't defeat the source of terrorism and instability in Africa. Indeed, military solutions tend to act as recruiting sergeants for groups like AQIM.

Africa doesn't need more weapons, but rather aid, development, and programs that lift a significant section of the continent's population out of poverty.


Monday, August 27, 2012

OBITUARY: Joshua Casteel – Presente!

(39 min) Joshua Casteel acceptance speech of Bishop Dingman Peace

Award - March 31, 2012

Joshua Casteel, is the 2012 Catholic Peace Ministry's Bishop Dingman
Peace Award Recipient. Listen to Joshua's inspiring journey to "love
of enemy."

A six min video excerpt from the movie, Soldiers of Conscience, in
which Josh featured prominently. The excerpt is from Josh’s story:!

OBITUARY: Joshua Casteel – Presente!

Posted on August 25, 2012 - Pax Christi USA

Jean Stokan reported that Joshua Casteel had passed away from the cancer he has been fighting for some time

now. Josh was a good friend to Pax Christi USA, serving as a speaker

at a number of our national and regional conferences and other events,

authoring our 2009 Lenten reflection booklet, and inspiring us through

his words and witness. Many of you know Josh’s story: he enlisted in

the U.S. Army Reserves at age 17 and received an appointment to the

U.S. Military Academy at West Point at 18; after training as an

interrogator and studying Arabic, he served at the Joint Interrogation

and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, from June 2004 to January

2005, as a member of the interrogation units sent to overhaul the

prison after the prisoner abuse scandal; during his time at Abu

Ghraib, hecame to realize he was a conscientious objector and was

honorably discharged from Active Duty as a conscientious objector.

Josh wrote and spoke on his experiences during war, served on the

board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and published Letters From Abu Ghraib in 2008.

All of us at Pax Christi USA have a heavy heart tonight. We mourn
with those who were closest to Josh, and we celebrate all that Josh
was and is and will forever be. He was a man of depth, compassion,
clarity and humor, and it was a joy to all of us who got to meet and
know him. His spirit and his story inspired us and called us to
reflect more deeply on who God is and who we are. We are so grateful
to him for everything he gave us.

You can read one of Josh’s Lenten reflections, published in our
newsletter in 2009, by clicking here:

Josh also had a CaringBridge site to help share with family and
friends his story as he went through treatment for cancer. You can
read more by clicking here:

Paul Ryan's Former Pastor on Ryan Plan: 'He Shouldn't Wrap Himself in Catholic Teaching'

Published on Alternet (

PR Watch [1] / By Jonathan Rosenblum [2]

Paul Ryan's Former Pastor on Ryan Plan: 'He Shouldn't Wrap Himself in Catholic Teaching'

August 16, 2012

The entrance to St. Mary Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin has two identical archways with contrasting inscriptions. One entrance says, "For God." The other says, "For Country." That is where Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, first merged his studies of government and religion as a young student.

And the priest who presides over the archways and the towering steeple of the Nativity of Mary says that Ryan's interpretation of Catholic teaching in national budgetary matters and his prospective vice presidential role have him "worried." Father Stephen Umhoefer told the Center for Media and Democracy that he supports a role for religion in the public square, but that Ryan‘s austerity budget [3] and proposed steep cuts in social programs are inconsistent with the Catholic teachings that Ryan cites to justify the policies. "If he is following his conscience, he is doing the morally correct thing. But he shouldn't wrap himself in Catholic teaching because he is not using that [teaching] in what I would say is a balanced way," said Umhoefer.

Umhoefer, 72, has led the church since 2002 and was the Ryan family pastor until the family left for another Janesville parish a few years ago. Ryan’s current parish is led by a priest who teaches on the diocese faculty under the deeply conservative Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, who characterizes Ryan's judgment as "in accord with all the teachings of the Church."

Ryan's Defense of Austerity Budget Kicks Up Controversy

Ryan's leadership as chair of the House Budget Committee and author of the "Path to Prosperity" Republican budget blueprint and the FY 2013 House Budget Resolution has become a lightning rod for criticism by other Catholic bishops, ecumenical groups, and lay leaders.

In introducing Ryan to the nation as his running mate Saturday, Romney said that Ryan's beliefs "remain firmly rooted in Janesville, Wisconsin," and pointed to his life as a "faithful Catholic." If elected, Ryan would become the first Catholic Republican vice president in history. The Ryan budget, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 but died in the Senate, would slash taxes on the rich and on corporations, while implementing massive cuts in social safety net programs. It would repeal Obamacare, cut Medicaid, transform Medicare into a voucher system, cut student loans, and end the Earned Income Tax Credit program for the poor, while reversing Wall Street financial reforms.

Standing alone, the harsh austerity budget was controversial enough. But in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network [4] in April 2012, Ryan defended his budget as in conformity with Catholic social doctrine. "[T]he preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don't keep people poor, don't make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck in their station in life. Help people get out of poverty onto [a] life of independence," Ryan said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took sharp exception, calling on Congress [5] to resist "for moral and human reasons" cuts to food and nutrition programs to the poor. The Conference called instead for "shared sacrifice . . . including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly." Faculty at Georgetown University put it more bluntly in an open letter [6] to Ryan: "Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Father Umhoefer followed the controversy from Janesville. He said in an extended interview that he had a "very friendly pastor-parishioner relationship" with Ryan, but that the two "never sat down and talked politics." He noted that he has not read in full the dense, 60-plus page Republican budget, but that he has reviewed the budget through a range of Catholic and ecumenical materials and media reports, and he shared the concerns expressed by the bishops.

"The Primary Question Is, How Does This Affect the Poor?"

For Umhoefer, the test of the budget is a simple one: "The first question is: How does this affect the poor? And everything else follows from that. That doesn't mean it's a Republican or Democrat [question] -- you could argue that. But the primary question is how does this affect the poor?"

Umhoefer said that Ryan's lack of attention to the poor and the emphasis on individualism espoused by role models such as Ayn Rand concerned him. "Paul would say that the only way to save the country from a coming [fiscal] disaster is 'follow my plan.'" But according to Umhoefer, the problem is "you can't tell somebody that in ten years your economic situation is going to be just wonderful because meanwhile your kids may starve to death."

Umhoefer said that in Janesville, which lost some 5,000 jobs related to the auto industry after a GM plant closed in 2009, residents continue to seek emergency food and housing support and social service organizations have been running out of funds. A house across the street from the church sits with a red "condemned" sticker prominently on the door, and another house on the block has a sign that declares, "Price Reduced."

"The welfare check runs out and people are suffering now in ways that they haven't before," he said, noting that the church has hired two former auto workers with wages and benefits far below their former level.

Umhoefer said that wealthy church members have offered support for shared sacrifice Nativity of Mary Parish School, Janesville, WIand revenue raising proposals such as the Warren Buffet rule that asks millionaires to avoid loopholes and pay a tax rate of 30 percent. "I can't always invite my neighbor over to dinner, but I . . . need to pay a certain amount of taxes. And I need to vote to make sure taxes are used to help make sure that my neighbor isn’t starving," he said.

Umhoefer also laments what he calls an excess of individualism in America that is sometimes abetted by politicians. He prepared for CMD a section of the church catechism, which states that the church "has refused to accept, in the practice of 'capitalism,' individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor." Umhoefer said that he doesn't mean to accuse Ryan of choosing individualism as a creed over community, but that Ryan's promotion of Ayn Rand to his staff and others is "an alternative universe of which he is a member. . . . What I call an excessive attitude of individualism is doing a great deal of harm to us as a society because we are forgetting society values,” said Umhoefer.

Priest to Ryan: "You Can't Just Pack Your Own Heat"

Umhoefer said that Ryan has also selectively presented to his audiences a Catholic concept of empowerment known as "subsidiarity." Ryan explained subsidiarity to the Christian Broadcasting Network [4] as "not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities."

Umhoefer said that he agrees with the "Nuns on the Bus [7]," a group of liberal nuns who recently undertook a bus tour and visited Ryan's Janesville office to underscore the absurdity of Ryan's approach. "Just on food stamps alone, Congressman Ryan is wrong that the church can take care of this issue. The cuts that have been proposed and passed by the [U.S.] House are going to require every church, every synagogue, every mosque, every house of worship in the United States, each year for ten years, to each raise $50,000. It's impossible," said [7] Sister Simone Campbell during the Janesville stop. CMD covered the Nuns on the Bus Tour and sought the interview with Umhoefer after the nuns presented an alternative "moral budget" in Janesville.

Reading from the catechism, Umhoefer explained that government "should support [local communities] in case of need and help to coordinate its activities with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." He said that when subsidiarity lacks resources and coordination, government can fail when it is most needed. But sometimes we need to be rescued: "You can’t just pack your own heat and protect your own building," he cautioned.

"What I wish for Paul -- he is so smart and so articulate and has made this whole budget, which he can defend on his own view . . . of how the economy and politics work. I wish he wouldn’t bring in the Catholic church. He doesn't need to if his economic and political argument are strong, and I'm sure he believes that they are."

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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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Battle Over NDAA's Police-State Provisions Continues in Court

The Battle Over NDAA's Police-State Provisions Continues in Court

Sunday, 26 August 2012 10:14 By Jake Olzen, Waging Nonviolence

The Obama administration continues to defend its right to violate the rights of the people it is supposed to govern. On August 6, Department of Justice lawyers filed an appeal in federal court against a recent ruling that temporarily enjoined section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gives powers to the military to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens — on U.S. soil — without charge or trial. The case, and the organizing that surrounds it, will have profound implications for basic constitutional rights, though it has been largely ignored by the mainstream media.

The so-called anti-terrorism legislation was signed on New Year’s Eve by President Barack Obama and went into effect on March 1, 2012. The NDAA had been the target of little public scrutiny in 2011, but after its passage both Congress and the Obama administration became targets of outrage among liberals and conservatives alike for the act’s alleged unconstitutionality.

On January 3, 2012, Occupy Wall Street organized a press conference on the steps of the New York Public Library, where a broad coalition of civil rights and legal groups condemned the NDAA as dangerous and unconstitutional. Activists then visited New York senators’ offices and, in a “spontaneous show of people power,” organized a flash mob in Grand Central Station to raise public awareness of the NDAA’s passage. Three were arrested for disorderly conduct. In Washington, D.C., more than 50 citizens were arrested in acts of civil disobedience at the White House in January (here and here).

As anti-NDAA sentiment spread in the blogosphere, often thanks to Occupy social media networks, the influential journalist Chris Hedges announced on January 17 that he was suing Barack Obama for infringing on his constitutionally-protected rights.

In a widely discussed article, Hedges contended that the NDAA was “a catastrophic blow to civil liberties” and that the vague and opaque wording of the law left too much room for broad interpretation of who was to be considered:

Section 1021 of the bill defines a “covered person” — one subject to detention — as “a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”

The bill, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.”

Six others joined Hedges as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky. All of them expressed worry over the broad powers defined in the NDAA and how its provisions might apply to them, their work and their colleagues. Lawyers for the plaintiffs — Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran — agreed that their clients had the standing and the right to challenge the NDAA in court.

Plaintiff Tangerine Bolen, co-founder of the pro-transparency organization Revolution Truth, wrote in an a recent op-ed about the surreal nature of suing her own government:

We are fighting for due process and for the first amendment — for a country we still believe in and for a government still legally bound by its constitution. If that makes us their “enemies”, then so be it. As long as they cannot call us “belligerents,” lock us up and throw away the key — a power that, incredibly, this past week U.S. government lawyers still asserted is their right. Against such abuses, we will keep fighting.

I spoke with Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a key organizer of US Day of Rage, by phone about her involvement in the case. She spoke about the relief she has felt from the experience of being able to publicly expose the government’s intimidation of activists — including herself — and the deep regard she had for her co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “It really is an honor to be part of such distinguished company,” said O’Brien.

Accompanying the lawsuit was an aggressive campaign to spread awareness about the consequences of the NDAA. Preliminary arguments in the class-action lawsuit were made on March 29, 2012, and were joined by days of action across the country — mostly organized by various Occupy groups — to express public opposition to the law.

Lucas Vazquez is a volunteer organizer with Revolution Truth, one of the partners providing media support for the lawsuit. Vazquez, an early planner of Occupy Wall Street who became involved with the litigation because of his concerns about government repression of the Occupy movement and other activist groups, helped organize some of the days of action in New York City that opposed the NDAA. When we spoke by phone last week, Vazquez emphasized the need for more outreach to the press.

“We’ve had good media coverage,” said Vazquez. “No one [in the media] has really denounced the lawsuit, which is giving us some degree of merit. Still, we need to continue raising awareness and giving updates to people.”

In May, Judge Katherine Forrest — an Obama appointee to the Southern District of New York — issued a temporary injunction on section 1021 of the NDAA, which prevents the government from enforcing the indefinite detention clause of the NDAA. In a panel discussion organized by Revolution Truth, lawyers, plaintiffs and other concerned persons emphasized the importance of Judge Forrest’s ruling, which ruled the NDAA unconstitutional. Still, as the case moves into the court of appeals, the struggle is far from over.

The court documents reveal an ambiguous interpretation of what the government believes its powers to be over its citizens. Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer and scholar, reported on the government’s inability — some might say refusal — to further define the categories named in section 1021 before the court. The government’s reluctance to specify the broad and vague terms such as “substantially supported” and “associated forces” highlights the legal gray area that the executive branch tries to maintain surrounding the powers under its purview.

When the hearings resumed last week in federal court, plaintiffs were hoping for a permanent injunction, but the government gave notice of appeal before Forrest issued a final ruling. Regardless, the temporary restraining order remains even as there are suspicions that the government may be in contempt of Judge Forrest’s ruling because the government says it does not track those whom it detains or for what reasons. The case will be heard in appellate court before likely heading toward the Supreme Court.

The government’s actions reveal its commitment to giving the military broad policing and detention power over U.S. citizens. Hedges, in an email after the ruling, commented that the government’s actions send a clear signal: “The Obama administration is determined to continue its assault on basic civil liberties, including due process, despite interference from the courts.”

For Alexa O’Brien, the appeal didn’t come as a surprise, and it further reveals the need for change. “I hope the judicial branch checks this kind of abomination,” she said. “The executive branch doesn’t want to give an inch. The executive has access to 16 intelligence agencies, finances, the military. We need to educate Americans about the actuality of checks and balances in the post-9/11 world.”

The ongoing litigation challenging the NDAA highlights the potential efficacy of judicial action. While the Hedges v. Obama case seems to hold the most promise for challenging the constitutionality of the NDAA — and for drawing attention to the increasing frequency of detention issues and the apparent neglect of the writ of habeas corpus — this legal approach is just one tactic for those trying to oppose the NDAA’s most troubling provisions.

Organizations like the ACLU have had success in drumming up support for counter-legislation, for example. The ACLU toolkit has model legislation that would repeal, nullify, or prevent state and local enforcement of sections 1021 and 1022 of the law. Chris Anders, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, believes that grassroots opposition to the NDAA can lead to its eventual repeal in Congress. Anders explained in an email that Congress has noticed that “the state and local resolutions condemning the NDAA detention provisions, and prohibiting state and local officials from participating in the indefinite detention without charge or trial in the United States, have had an impact in Congress.”

The opposition is coming from across the traditional political spectrum. The Tenth Amendment Center — a libertarian organization committed to protecting states’ rights — is also promoting model legislation for state and local opposition to the NDAA. The progress of such legislation in dozens of towns, cities, and states — including resolutions in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Arizona and elsewhere — can be tracked on the center’s website.

Demand Progress — a key ally in the coalition fighting against the NDAA — has worked hard to put pressure on Congress to undo the indefinite detention provision. Hundreds of thousands of emails were sent to members of Congress opposing the NDAA, as well as many phone calls, when the Smith-Amash amendment — which would have prohibited the government from indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens — was up for a vote in the House of Representatives in May 2012. The bill was ultimately defeated 237–182. Now, Demand Progress is targeting the Senate to have the provision overturned in the 2013 version of the annual NDAA.

When asked what others could do, Alexa O’Brien replied, “Organize rallies, call representatives, because they can also nullify this. People, within their communities, have other recourse to fight against this legislation.” In the meantime, she, her fellow plaintiffs and their legal team will continue their struggle in the courts.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Jake Olzen is a member of the Kairos Chicago community and a graduate student at Loyola University in Chicago. He lives in the White Rose Catholic Worker.

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