Thursday, October 31, 2013
See film THE MESSENGER/Dick Cheney, One-Man Zombie Apocalypse
Since this is a First Friday, on Nov. 1 there will be a potluck dinner at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218 after the vigil. Then there will be a film screening. The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee and others are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The DVDs will be shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse on the First Friday. After the peace vigil, there will be a potluck dinner. At 7: 15 PM, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. The series theme is WHAT TO DO WHEN GOVERNMENTS VIOLATE THE LAW. The third film in the series, THE MESSENGER [USA, 2009], is the directorial debut of Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay with Alessandro Camon. The cast includes Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Jena Malone and Samantha Morton. Foster has returned home from Iraq with both physical and psychic wounds, and is assigned as a Casualty Notification officer. He is partnered with a recovering alcoholic played by Harrelson, and they must go into volatile situations to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or email@example.com. Published on Thursday, October 31, 2013 by The Guardian Dick Cheney, One-Man Zombie Apocalypse The former VP has returned from the shadows – weirdly, to court the Tea Party for daughter Liz's Senate run. Happy Halloween! by Ana Marie Cox Rationally, I realize that the reappearance of Dick Cheney in the media landscape is tied to his promoting his new book, Heart: An American Medical Odyssey. And, with equal clear-mindedness, I know that his publisher no doubt timed the book's debut to capitalize on the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act – Cheney has gravely insisted in interviews that the ACA would limit the technological innovations that allow his own survival. A more primal part of me simply sees "Cheney", "heart" and "Halloween" and I clutch my own chest in fear. The Republican party has even more to fear than I do. Cheney – never very shy with advice – has used his book tour to continue his relentless campaign on behalf of torture and totalitarian tactics. And he's using it, paradoxically, to insist that he and his daughter Liz (now running for Senate in Wyoming) are allies of the Tea Party and that he supports their cause. "These are Americans", he says, not so much as a rebuttal against an accusation but as an accusation itself. The Tea Party "rebellion", says Cheney is "a normal, healthy reaction, and the fact that the GOP is having to adjust to it is positive." Less generally, he has offered that Liz is just the kind of adjustment Republicans need. "My own daughter is running for the US Senate in Wyoming," he not-at-all-self-servingly-brought up in one interview, "partly motivated by the concern that Washington's not working, that the system is breaking down and that it's time for new leadership." Tea Party representatives have warmly greeted Cheney's advice and responded to his praise with an enthusiasm that betrays the insecurity anyone might feel if, you know, most of America thought they were obstructionist brats: "Guess which establishment Republican just stepped up to defend the Tea Party?" teased a headline at Glenn Beck's the Blaze. This excitement suggests they do not realize the risks of dealing with a cold-blooded opportunist like the former vice-president. He is a survivor, it's true – but to turn to Cheney for advice about longevity is like interviewing the lone recovered castaway for tips on sea travel: you can ask him for his recipes but don't look too closely at the bones on the bottom of the boat. Put it another way: Cheney is approximately 1,000 years old and made up of spare parts; he thinks the GOP needs new blood. Be careful, guys, Cheney usually means that literally. My understanding is that Dick Cheney is not very religious, and certainly not superstitious. Anyone who has cheated death as many times as he has (five heart attacks, everyone knows that – but also five deferments from service in Vietnam) perhaps cannot afford to think about what kind of karmic imbalance grows out of his continued existence. In Heart, he reveals that in the suspended animation of heart transplant surgery – the closest to death one can come – his reverie consisted not of any moral reckoning or even meditation on the life he'd lived, but a dream about living "in Italy, north of Rome, about 40 or 50 miles north of Rome, a nice little village, drinking good Italian wine and eating good Italian food. That's what I had in my head." That should be the first clue to desperate Tea Partiers that their leadership antenna still points due wacky. Dick Cheney's idea of heaven is Casperia. Who's "European" now, huh? Watching Cheney in these periodic re-emergences into the public spotlight can be disconcerting in general: as with a horror movie villain, you can never count on a credit sequence to put an end to your fright. But the mutual embrace between Cheney and the Tea Party is especially morbid. In terms of policy and biography, Cheney represents much of what the Tea Party purports to correct. He remains a bloody, vindictive foreign policy hawk (recently advocating for military action in Iran) even as Tea Partiers trend toward skeptical isolationism. Whereas the Tea Party has found precarious common ground with liberals in criticizing security overreach, Cheney shamelessly argues the correctness of National Security Agency surveillance on, well, everyone: Without speaking about any particular target or group of targets, that intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, to our conduct in foreign policy, to defense matters, economic matters, and I'm a strong supporter of it. Cheney's deep and abiding roots in the GOP establishment should be even more cause for caution. Cheney has been a creature of Washington since 1969, a 44-year streak whose very length belies any inclination toward insurrection, much less any sort of change. What's more, Cheney was a directly elected representative for just ten of those years – the five terms he served as a Wyoming congressman. That seat is so safely Republican that he never won with less than 58% of the vote. And he represented just under 500,000 voters. That's not a mandate, that's the entire viewership of Morning Joe. More disturbing, one might think, for the Tea Partiers who claim such fierce belief in democracy: for 80% of his career, Cheney has answered not to voters but to those already in power. And though conservatives are fond of late at championing "running a business", as superior to the public sector for learning about consequences, even Cheney's time at Halliburton can hardly be used as evidence of having to be accountable by any traditional meaning of the term. As Josh Marshall wrote in a grimly prescient 2003 profile of Cheney: success in military contracting doesn't come "by understanding and meeting the demands of millions of finicky customers, but by cementing relationships with and winning the support of a handful of powerful decision-makers". Cheney's career has flourished precisely because he has always been insulated from the consequences of his decisions. He has never had to pay a price for being wrong. That he was the ghoulish architect of the Iraq tragedy is only the most obvious error in karmic accounting. He also advocated for the Treasury secretaries whose lack of finance industry experience helped bring about the 2008 economic meltdown – though, to be fair, Cheney was clueless himself. In 2009, he told the AP, "I wouldn't have predicted that," adding, "On the other hand, I wouldn't have predicted 9/11." If only we could have total surveillance of the financial sector! Cheney also crafted (in secret) the energy policy that has kept us hurtling toward a climate disaster – well, in addition to the ones it has already caused. He pursued the detainee policy that has kept al-Qaida recruitment alive and he pushed for the same privatization of social security, the failure of which is commonly held to be George Bush's most obvious domestic misstep. Cheney is probably the most popular remaining member of the Bush administration – which Tea Party members properly lampoon as "big government conservatism". Indeed, "big government" is perhaps the one concept that ties Cheney's worldview together. It is otherwise a mishmash of free-market wizardry and global cop role-playing. But if you think of "big government" not as a matter of regulatory or welfare-driven policies but just untrammeled power, well … Cheney's ideology is not "left or right" so much as "might makes right." Or, given the importance Cheney seems to place on expediency, "might makes right now." But I don't think Cheney's fans are even thinking about policy. It's about style and attitude, and Cheney's forbidding belligerence adds a needed bass note to the hysterical shouting of the Tea Party's current leading voices. Cheney's genius is that he delivers world-ending policy scenarios like a gruesome bedtime story. As reporter Nicolas Lehman puts it in a recent Cheney documentary, the vice-president's very delivery is weirdly seductive: He wasn't going to be flaky or half-baked; he wasn't going to let his emotions distort his views, and he certainly wasn't going to be soft or naive. That stentorian gravitas has served Cheney well, but I don't believe it's an accurate reflection of his personality. However gravely his voice, he is also thin-skinned and notorious for holding grudges, and I suspect that even his glad-handing of the Tea Party is merely in service of a larger goal: getting Liz elected. Making sure there's a Cheney at the center of Washington politics for another 50 years. I'm as eager a student of horror novels as politics, but I don't usually get a chance to bring the wisdom of one field into the other. By way of wishing you a happy Halloween, let me also issue a reminder: the risk of bringing someone back from the dead is that they turn on you. When people play God, they only create monsters … boo! © 2013 Guardian News and Media Ana Marie Cox is political columnist for the Guardian US. The founding editor of the blog Wonkette, she has written about Washington and national politics for a variety of outlets, including Playboy, GQ, Time, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Ana is also a regular guest commentator on MSNBC and NPR, and is the author of the satirical novel Dog Days. She lives in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/31-10 Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 9:31 PM No comments:
Orwell for Congress! (Never Mind, He’s Already There…)
Orwell for Congress! (Never Mind, He’s Already There…) By Thomas Magstadt Critics in this country have long railed against profligate military spending. They point out correctly that US taxpayers are saddled with a greater defense burden than is true in any other advanced society in the world. Taxpayers are curiously oblivious to this argument, so it's hardly surprising that calls for deep defense cuts fall on deaf ears in Congress. However, Republicans who fought to defund "Obamacare" and who oppose raising the debt ceiling, the very ones who clamor the loudest against the evils of big government and budget deficits but have no problem with outlandish expenditures on war and weapons, are shameless about demanding deep cuts in social spending. Thus, for example, in the spring of 2011: …the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives [was] intent on taking out fuel subsidies for the poor, federal funding for Planned Parenthood, money for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, and the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant that “supports state-based prenatal care programs and services for children with special needs,” among many other programs, but not (as New York Times columnist Gail Collins pointed out recently) the millions of dollars the U.S. Army sinks into its “relationship” with NASCAR. To repeat: these are the same politicians who never question the size or contents of a bloated defense budget and are not in the least troubled by the Pentagon's well-documented failure to account for untold billions of dollars that simply disappear without a trace every year. The US Defense Department hemorrhages taxpayer dollars and yet Congress continues to pretend that military and war-related waste and mismanagement aren't a problem. (Never mind, for example, that most of the $73 billion in AID money poured into Afghanistan apparently vanished into thin air.) Officially, the US spent about $645 billion last year. But anybody who knows anything about the federal budget knows that it's sliced and diced for political reasons in ways that would make any self-respecting public accountant cringe. According to one detailed analysis, actual US defense spending in 2011 was a staggering $1.2 to $1.3 trillion, a sum greater than the GDP of Australia or the Netherlands. A country with a GDP of that magnitude would have the 15th largest economy in the world. But let's pretend the official $645 billion figure is accurate. Even if we spent HALF as much as we really do we would still spend TWICE as much as China, India, and the rest of Asia; about 10 times more than Russia; as much as the next 15 biggest military powers combined (see below). Money for Guns: The US vs. the World… (billions $) 2012 Defense Expenditure (budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars) Country or Region 2012 Spending United States (including war and nuclear) 645.7 Asia 314.9 Europe 280.1 Middle East and North Africa 166.4 Russia and Eurasia 69.3 Latin America and The Caribbean 68.8 Sub-Saharan Africa 19.2 Canada 18.4 Global Total 1,582.8 Countries of Interest (budget authority in billions of current U.S. dollars) Country 2012 Spending Percent of GDP United States* 645.7 4.12 Canada 18.4 1.04 China 102.4 1.24 Russia 59.9 3.06 United Kingdom 64.1 2.63 France 48.1 1.86 Germany 40.4 1.20 Japan 59.4 0.99 India 38.5 1.98 Italy 23.6 1.19 Brazil 35.3 1.45 Australia 25.1 1.63 Saudi Arabia 52.5 7.99 South Korea 29.0 2.52 Israel 19.4 7.85 Taiwan 10.3 2.21 Iran 23.9 4.95 North Korea ** ** Pakistan 5.9 2.55 Venezuela 6.1 1.80 Iraq 14.7 11.28 Afghanistan 2.1 10.54 Oman 6.7 8.42 Jordan 1.8 5.6 *Includes war and nuclear Source: http://armscontrolcenter.org/issues/securityspending/articles/2012_topline_global_defense_spending/ Meanwhile, although we spend far more on war and weapons than any other country in the world, we spend less than a bunch of other countries on health, education, and pensions. The tables below tell a story, particularly when juxtaposed with defense outlays. 2013 Social Expenditures Country Rank Share of GDP (%) Australia 10 19.5 Brazil* 5 26.2 Canada 11 18.2 France 1 33.0 Israel 12 15.8 Italy 3 28.4 Japan 8 22.3 S. Korea 14 9.3 Mexico 15 7.4 Netherlands 6 24.3 Spain 4 27.4 Turkey 13 12.8 Sweden 2 28.6 UK 7 23.8 US 9 20.0 *In 2008-2009. (Source ECLAC) Social expenditure for selected policies in selected countries - share of GDP (%) Country Health Education Pensions Total Australia 5.7 4.5 7.1 17.1 Belgium 7.3 5.9 11.5 26.4 Canada 6.9 4.6 5.0 16.5 Denmark 5.9 8.3 11.6 27.1 Finland 6.2 6.3 13.2 26.1 France 7.8 5.7 14.5 29.2 Germany 7.7 4.5 13.5 26.7 Ireland 6.5 4.8 5.4 16.7 Italy 6.8 4.4 15.8 25.0 Norway 5.8 7.0 9.5 21.6 Spain 5.8 4.2 10.9 21.2 Sweden 6.8 6.9 15.8 29.4 United Kingdom 7.0 5.2 8.7 21.3 United States 6.7 5.0 7.4 15.9 Source: PNUD (for PPC), OECD and ECLAC for Brazil. So here's the 1.3 trillion dollar question: Why is it that whenever Congress gets out the meat cleaver, it's social – not military – expenditures that are on the chopping block? Don't expect the Democrats to demur either. Not cutting the defense budget is the ONLY BIG THING the two major parties agree on. Essentially, defense appropriations amount to a bipartisan exercise in throwing money at nearly every military base, fighter-bomber, battle ship, and boondoggle the military-industrial complex has been able to dream up since Congress passed the National Security Act in 1947. Talk about creating a monster! Sixty-six years later we have military facilities and defense contractors in every state and congressional district, 11 carrier battle groups (no other country currently has more than one operational carrier), and military bases in dozens of foreign lands. In 1984, George Orwell conjures up a dystopia called Oceania where "war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength". Try to imagine Washington without Orwellian language and labels. The Pentagon becomes the Department of Offense, NSA is the National Surveillance Agency, and Congress morphs into a single body called the House of Hypocrites. This article was published at NationofChange at: http://www.nationofchange.org/orwell-congress-never-mind-he-s-already-there-1383226039. 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] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 4:00 PM No comments:
MO Wars: The Global Battlefield
http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/448-farm-and-food-policy/20163-gmo-wars-the-global-battlefield Bello writes: "The GMO wars escalated earlier this month when the 2013 World Food Prize was awarded to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, responsible for development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." Anti-GMO protesters in New York. (photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr) GMO Wars: The Global Battlefield By Walden Bello, Foreign Policy In Focus 31 October 13 The case against GMOs has strengthened steadily over the last few years, even as the industry has expanded all over the world. he GMO wars escalated earlier this month when the 2013 World Food Prize was awarded to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, responsible for development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The choice of Fraley was widely protested, with 81 members of the prestigious World Future Council calling it "an affront to the growing international consensus on safe, ecological farming practices that have been scientifically proven to promote nutrition and sustainability." Monsanto's Man The choice of Monsanto's man triggered accusations of prize buying. From 1999 to 2011, Monsanto donated $380,000 to the World Food Prize Foundation, in addition to a $5-million contribution in 2008 to help renovate the Hall of Laureates, a public museum honoring Norman Borlaug, the scientist who launched the Green Revolution. For some, the award to Monsanto is actually a sign of desperation on the part of the GMO establishment, a move designed to contain the deepening controversy over the so-called biotechnological revolution in food and agriculture. The arguments of the critics are making headway. Owing to concern about the dangers and risks posed by genetically engineered organisms, many governments have instituted total or partial bans on their cultivation, importation, and field-testing. A few years ago, there were 16 countries that had total or partial bans on GMOs. Now there are at least 26, including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico, and Russia. Significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about 60 other countries. Restraints on trade in GMOs based on phyto-sanitary grounds, which are allowed under the World Trade Organization, have increased. Already, American rice farmers face strict limitations on their exports to the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, and are banned altogether from Russia and Bulgaria because unapproved genetically engineered rice "escaped" during open-field trials on GMO rice. Certain Thai exports-particularly canned fruit salads containing papaya to Germany, and sardines in soy oil to Greece and the Netherlands-were recently banned due to threat of contamination by GMOs. The Case against GMOs Gains Strength The case against GMOs has strengthened steadily over the last few years. Critics say that genetic engineering disrupts the precise sequence of a food's genetic code and disturbs the functions of neighboring genes, which can give rise to potentially toxic or allergenic molecules or even alter the nutritional value of food produced. The Bt toxin used in GMO corn, for example, was recently detected in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, with possibly harmful consequences. A second objection concerns genetic contamination. A GMO crop, once released in the open, reproduces via pollination and interacts genetically with natural varieties of the same crop, producing what is called genetic contamination. According to a study published in Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, Bt corn has contaminated indigenous varieties of corn tested in Oaxaca, Mexico. Third, a GMO, brought into natural surroundings, may have a toxic or lethal impact on other living things. Thus, it was found that Bt corn destroyed the larvae of the monarch butterfly, raising well grounded fears that many other natural plant and animal life may be impacted in the same way. Fourth, the benefits of GMOs have been oversold by the companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, that peddle them. Most genetically engineered crops are either engineered to produce their own pesticide in the form of Bacillus thurengiensis (Bt) or are designed to be resistant to herbicides, so that herbicides can be sprayed in massive quantities to kill pests without harming the crops. It has been shown, however, that insects are fast developing resistance to Bt as well as to herbicides, resulting in even more massive infestation by the new superbugs. No substantial evidence exists that GM crops yield more than conventional crops. What genetically engineered crops definitely do lead to is greater use of pesticide, which is harmful both to humans and the environment. A fifth argument is that patented GMO seeds concentrate power in the hands of a few biotech corporations and marginalize small farmers. As the statement of the 81 members of the World Future Council put it, "While profitable to the few companies producing them, GMO seeds reinforce a model of farming that undermines sustainability of cash-poor farmers, who make up most of the world's hungry. GMO seeds continue farmers' dependency on purchased seed and chemical inputs. The most dramatic impact of such dependency is in India, where 270,000 farmers, many trapped in debt for buying seeds and chemicals, committed suicide between 1995 and 2012." Some studies have sought to counter these accusations against GMOs, but they have been discredited by revelations that they were funded by biotechnology firms or conducted by researchers close to them. The Philippines as GMO Battlefield The key battleground in the battle over GMOs has shifted, over the years, from the developed to the developing world. The GMO advocates have deployed their big guns to convince African, Asian, and Latin American governments to shift to GMOs. Among them are Bill and Melinda Gates, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, and Oxford economist Paul Collier, who argues that Africa needs a new "Green Revolution" based on genetically engineered seeds because it missed out on the first one, which was promoted by chemical-intensive agriculture. The Philippines is one such battleground. Even as many other countries have tightened their controls over GMOs, the Philippine government has become more and more liberal in its granting of licenses for GMO production. According to Greenpeace Southeast Asia, it has allowed the importation of 60 genetically modified plants and plant products for direct use as food and feed or for processing, an additional eight GM plant varieties for propagation, and 21 modified plant varieties for field testing in Philippine soil. Despite concerns about its impact on the environment, Bt corn now has 750,000 hectares of Philippine land devoted to it. According to Greenpeace Southeast Asia spokesman Daniel Ocampo, no GMO application has ever been rejected, which is rather shocking given the controversy over their use. A key reason for the liberal treatment of GMOs is the revolving door among government, academia, and corporations. For instance, three of the most recent directors of the prestigious Institute of Plant Breeding of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos have either joined biotech multinationals or gone to work on projects funded by them. They also serve as members of or advisers to government bodies that oversee biosafety. Judicial Restraints on GMOs Anti-GMO activists and farmers have nevertheless made headway. Even as some make direct action forays like uprooting Bt eggplant field experimental sites, others have worked on the legal front. This paid off recently when the Philippine Court of Appeals-acting on a petition brought before it by Greenpeace, the NGO Masipag, and several individuals-stopped the field testing of Bt eggplant on the grounds that there was no scientific consensus or legal framework for the introduction of Bt products. Importantly, the court also ruled that all stakeholders-not just industry or government scientists-should get to provide input on the introduction of GMOs like Bt eggplant. In a sign of desperation, the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, one of the respondents in the case, argued that a ban on field testing of Bt eggplant would "violate academic freedom." The court ruling stated, however, that, "Like any other right, the right to academic freedom ends when the overriding public welfare calls for some restraint. The right to academic freedom does not, in any way, give the respondent UPLB unbridled freedom to conduct experimentation, studies and research that may put to risk the health of the people and the environment which are equally protected under our fundamental law." It is unlikely, however, that this victory will discourage the GMO lobby from making the Philippines into a springboard for the introduction of Bt crops to the rest of Southeast Asia. Aside from Bt eggplant, the GMO advocates are pushing genetically altered "Golden Rice," potatoes, soybeans, canola, cotton, sugarbeet, and alfalfa. There's big money in these crops, and the only thing that stands between the transnational corporations and big money are those pesky farmers, environmentalists, and consumers. Unfortunately for the biotech corporations, more people are listening to the words of scientists like Dr. Oscar Zamora, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, who says: "For every application of genetic engineering in agriculture in developing countries, there are a number of less hazardous and more sustainable approaches and practices with hundreds, if not thousands, of years of safety record behind them. None of the GE applications in agriculture today are valuable enough to farmers in developing countries to make it reasonable to expose the environment, farmers and the consumers to even the slightest risk." © 2013 Reader Supported News Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 3:08 PM No comments:
Senator Burr Disappoints NC Religious Leaders on Release of Torture Report
http://truth-out.org/news/item/19639-senator-burr-disappoints-nc-religious-leaders-on-release-of-torture-report Senator Burr Disappoints NC Religious Leaders on Release of Torture Report Saturday, 26 October 2013 10:05 By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers | Report Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) en route to the Senate floor after Republican caucus on the eighth day of a government shutdown in Washington, Oct. 8, 2013. (Photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)Washington, DC — A group of more than 190 North Carolina religious leaders and other Christians, Jews, Quakers and a Muslim chaplain wrote in August to Sen. Richard Burr, urging him to support the release of the findings of an investigation into the post-9/11 treatment of terrorism suspects. This week, the North Carolina Republican finally replied, saying he opposed making the 6,000-page report public. “I was deeply concerned about the factual inaccuracies contained within the report, including inaccurate information relating to the details of the interrogation program and other information provided by detainees,” Burr wrote. “I believe the American public should be provided with reports that are based on accurate facts.” The letter exchange is the latest in a national debate about how much Americans should know about the detention and interrogation program begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, including water-boarding, or near-drowning, and other methods used to try to force detainees to talk. Reports of those methods during the years after 9/11 sparked a national debate on torture. Burr is one of 15 members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The committee voted 9-6 last December to approve the findings of its investigation. The report was based on a review of 6 million pages of CIA documents and other records. Burr wrote in his letter that he was among the six who voted against it. The Rev. J. George Reed, a Baptist minister and executive director of the North Carolina Council of Churches, who signed the letter and sent it, said Burr’s response was a disappointment. “If there are inaccuracies, fix them or take them out or whatever,” Reed said. “But nobody is saying the entire report is inaccurate. So shine some light on it.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Intelligence committee, has called the report “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate, and by far the most important oversight activity ever conducted by this committee.” Republican members wrote a dissenting statement. The CIA sent the committee a written response to the findings. Both of those documents also are classified. The letter to Burr argued that Americans “need to learn” from the report because “understanding our past will help us recommit ourselves to respecting human life in the future.” It was written under the letterhead of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Among its signers were 18 bishops and other denominational executives, including Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Bishop William DeVeaux of the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Others signers were listed as “clergy and other people of faith.” Among them were Rabbi Barbara Thiede of Temple Or Olam in Concord and Imam Abdullah Antepli, a Muslim chaplain and adjunct professor of Islamic studies at Duke University. “One of God’s children ought not be in the business of torturing others of God’s children,” Reed said. “That’s the faith foundation for me.” Burr’s response was dated Tuesday and obtained on Thursday by the News & Observer. The Senate was in recess this week. Burr declined through his office to discuss the matter further. According to comments by other senators on the committee, the report shows how the CIA operated its interrogation and detention program through the use of what it called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Some of the detainees were flown to secret sites for interrogation. North Carolina had a role in these secret transfers. Reports have found that Aero Contractors, based at Johnston County Airport in Smithfield, operated planes used by the CIA for this purpose. Intelligence Committee member Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has argued that the report on the committee’s investigation report should be released. “I believe that this program was severely flawed, “ Udall said in February at the confirmation hearing of John Brennan as CIA director. “It was mismanaged. The enhanced interrogation techniques were brutal, and perhaps most importantly, it did not work. Nonetheless, it was portrayed to the White House, the Department of Justice, the Congress and the media as a program that resulted in unique information that saved lives.” Udall argued that declassification of the full report, with parts blacked out as necessary, would strengthen the CIA and America’s standing in the world. Brennan said during the hearing that declassification would be “a very weighty decision,” and that he would “give it due consideration.” He was confirmed in March. Caitlin Hayden, the White House National Security Council spokeswoman, said the Senate Intelligence Committee was still discussing the classified report with the CIA. She said that President Barack Obama “has made clear that the program that is the subject of the committee’s work is inconsistent with our values as a nation.” Obama changed the rules of the detention and interrogation program shortly after he took office with an executive order dated Jan. 22, 2009, that limited interrogation techniques to those authorized in an Army Field manual. He also ordered the CIA to close its detention facilities. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence committee, agreed with Burr that the report had errors. But he told The New York Times last summer that he would agree to the release of a 300-page executive summary as long as the CIA’s comments and the Republican dissent also were made public. Feinstein also was quoted in the same story as saying that she wants the summary declassified. Christina Cowger of North Carolina Stop Torture Now, a coalition that has focused on Aero’s role, said the release of the summary would be a good step, but added: “It’s the full documentation we really want to see in order to know what happened to specific detainees and when and how.” The coalition sponsored an earlier campaign to press Burr to support the release of the report. It says that people who were wrongfully detained and later released without criminal charges should be given an apology and restitution. “I think that unless there’s justice done, the disincentive to someday repeat these violations is very low,” Cowger said. © 2013 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 2:24 PM No comments:
Bill Gates and Sergey Brin Take on the Impending Climate Change Apocalypse
Bruce Friedrich Thursday, October 31, 2013 HuffPo: Bill Gates and Sergey Brin Take on the Impending Climate Change Apocalypse http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-friedrich/what-bill-gates-sergey-br_b_40 94943.html A study
published earlier this month in the journal Nature indicates that by 2047, the average temperatures experienced by most people worldwide will be hotter than the hottest day in their history to 2005.
"Go back in your life to think about the hottest, most traumatic event you have experienced," lead researcher Dr. Camilo Mora told the New York Times
. "What we're saying is that very soon, that event is going to become the norm."
Carnegie Institution for Science researcher Ken Caldeira explained, "If current trends in carbon dioxide emissions continue, we will be pushing most of the ecosystems of the world into climatic conditions that they have not experienced for many millions of years."
One area where we're seeing room for hope is with work from the Gates Foundation, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, who are bringing their skills and vision to the huge global warming problems with animal agriculture.
Just a few weeks ago, the latest report from the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), "Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock," confirmed that more global warming is caused by the meat industry than by all cars, planes, trains, and other forms of transport combined.
Meat clocked in at 14.5 percent of global warming gases globally, to transport's 13 percent.
Some, including World Bank and International Finance Corporation environmental scientists Robert Goodland and Jeffrey Anhang, backed by the WorldWatch Institute
and Earth Island Institute
, argue that the FAO's number is far too low. But even as a conservative number, it's shocking.
Meat's climate change impact makes intuitive sense: First, it's simply inefficient to grow crops and feed them to animals so that we can eat the animals. Most of those calories are burned off by the animals metabolically, so that we have to grow far more crops if we're feeding them to animals than if we're eating them directly.
Second, there are far more stages of production for meat than for plants,
including: transporting the grain and soy to feed mills, operating the feed mills, trucking the feed to animal farms, operating the animal farms, trucking the animals to slaughter, operating the slaughterhouses, trucking the meat to processing plants, operating the processing plants, and so on.
Some of those stages are required for plant-based foods, of course (veggie burgers don't grow on trees), but meat requires multiple extra stages of production, with all the energy needs and pollution entailed in the additional transport and factories, even beyond the basic inefficiency of funneling crops through animals.
The FAO report tries to be positive, suggesting that through "collective, concerted and global action," we can reduce the amount of climate change caused by the global meat industry by 30 percent. The authors explain that such an effort will require cooperation from "all sector stakeholders (private and public sector, civil society, research and academia, and international organizations)."
Um, just how likely do you think that is?
Fortunately, though unlikely, it's also not necessary.
The November/December Mother Jones cover asks hopefully, "Will Silicon Valley Put Factory Farms Out of Business?" Inside, we read the story of venture capital backed endeavors to replace eggs with pea protein and to place a faux chicken in every pot , courtesy of Bill Gates, Biz Stone, and other forward-thinking titans of the tech industry.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Biz Stone, Evan Williams , and Bill Gates
are investing in and promoting plant-based eggs and chicken, and that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is investing in and promoting cultured meat . MoJo explains that the "chicken" in which Gates has invested, for example, is 18 times more efficient at providing nutrition than eating actual birds. Brin's product, although further from the marketplace, is even more efficient.
In other words, switching from chicken to Beyond Meat 's "chicken" will reduce caloric inefficiency by 94 percent; that's quite a bit better than the 30 percent we can achieve for the meat industry through the Herculean efforts suggested by the FAO report, and all it requires is a change in eating habits.
That explains why Gates, Stone, Williams, Brin, and a growing cadre of venture capitalists, especially those with an environmental and philanthropic bent, are getting behind these faux meats and eggs. If they can convince Americans to eat plant-based chicken instead of its feathery (and fleshy, and bloody) counterpart, the results could be transformative -- for both our diets and our planet.
Obviously, global climate change is a challenge to humanity greater than any in human history, and dealing with it is going to require the ingenuity of our world's greatest minds. It's not a problem that lends itself to small-scale thinking or small scale solutions.
But those of us who believe that the personal is political needn't wait for the Gates Foundation to solve the problem; we can begin to live in accordance with our environmental values today by leaving the most environmentally wasteful foods off our plates and replacing them with more efficient foods.
Thanks to forward-thinkers like Bill Gates and Biz Stone, that's just gotten a little bit easier and tastier.
The Author Discusses Tissue-Engineered Meat With Ezra Klein on All In with Chris Hayes http://video.msnbc.msn.com/all-in-/52681203/#52681203.
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Baltimore Activist Alert - Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2013
37] Opportunities and Threats in the Peruvian Amazon – Oct. 31 38] Arabian Sights Film Festival – Oct. 31 – Nov. 3 39] Protest Keith Alexander in Baltimore – Oct. 31 40] Trick or Sneeze: Canvass for Paid Sick Days – Oct. 31 41] Support Gitmo prisoners – Nov. 1 42] Justice in Palestine/Israel – Nov. 1 43] "Portraits of Denial & Desire" – Nov. 1 44] SOA Watch demonstration – Nov. 1 45] Silent peace vigil – Nov. 1 46] Potluck dinner and film THE MESSENGER – Nov. 1 47] Reclaiming Africa's Destiny – Nov. 1 48] Film CHASING ICE – Nov. 1 49] Film SCARRED LANDS & WOUNDED LIVES: THE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT OF WAR – Nov. 1 50] Ballroom dancing – Nov. 1 51] Apply for RAF grant – Nov. 1 52] Fairfax Bike Summit – Nov. 2 -- 37] – Amazon Watch Invites You for a "Green-Bag Lunch" Presentation on Thurs., Oct. 31 at 12:30 PM at Amazon Watch / CIEL conference room, 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW #1100 (south of DuPont, above the Panera / Cosi). The topic of discussion is "Indigenous REDD: Opportunities and Threats in the Peruvian Amazon" with Daysi Zapata, Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon – AIDESEP. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. 38] – The 18th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival continues through Sun., Nov. 3, in Washington, D.C. It presents a diverse selection of the most captivating and vibrant films from today’s Arab world. The festival showcases films that demonstrate the range and commitment of directors who invariably manage to tell moving stories while exploring issues facing their region. All have English subtitles. Visit http://www.filmfestdc.org. 39] – The Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs is hosting the director of the National Security Agency Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander on Thurs., Oct. 31 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, 300 Light St., Baltimore 21201, from 5:30 to 7 PM. According to a promotional note, "The dilemma of balancing vigorous efforts to meet security needs while constraining possible abuse of government power is especially challenging in our contemporary technological environment. We are indeed extraordinarily fortunate and privileged to have General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA and Commander of the United States Cyber Command discuss cyber challenges and attendant issues with us." "Possible abuse?" The NSA is shredding the U.S. Constitution. Join the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is protesting Alexander and his agency on Thurs., Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 PM outside the Hyatt Hotel. RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon dot net. 40] – Trick or Sneeze: Canvass for Paid Sick Days on Thurs., Oct. 31 at 6 PM at 618 T St. NW. Care about paid sick days? Miss trick or treating? Want to look like a zombie? Then join them on Halloween for some "trick or sneeze" canvassing in Shaw and surrounding neighborhoods! Help spread the word about the campaign and have some fun - only on Halloween it is possible to get good cheer and candy at every door! At 6 PM, meet at the Shaw restaurant, Flava at Wazobia, to transform into zombie waiters (costumes and makeup provided) and prepare for the canvass. At 7 PM trick-or-treat canvassing around Bloomingdale, Shaw, and LeDroit Park. At 9 PM, meet at Boundary Stone DC (Rhode Island and 1st NW) to celebrate and encourage them to provide paid sick days! Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/632213480162105/. 41] – On Fri., Nov. 1 at noon, participate in the White House Vigil To Save Guantanamo Hunger Strikers--NO MORE TORTURE! NO MORE WAR! The vigil is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Witness Against Torture. See www.witnesstorture.org and www.closegitmo.net. Friday will be Day 4312 since first detainees were brought to Guantanamo and Day 264 of the Hunger-Strike. Fourteen detainees are still on Hunger-Strike. On Oct. 8 President Obama appointed Paul Lewis as special envoy at the Defense Department for the closure of the Guantánamo prison. 42] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia (across from Israeli Consulate. It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email email@example.com. Go to http://phillyjewishpeace.org/. 43] – "Portraits of Denial & Desire" with artist John Halaka is happening Fri., Nov. 1 from 12:30 to 2 PM at the Jerusalem Fund, 2425 Virginia Ave., NW. He will discuss his multi-disciplinary project that preserves and presents the stories of indigenous Palestinians who were displaced from their homeland in an ongoing cultural genocide that began 65 years ago. Each of the four components of the project highlight complex and compelling individuals whose personal stories address massive and ongoing human rights violations, cycles of violent political manipulations, patterns of self-defeating strategies, as well as inspiring narratives of resilience and resistance. Those experiences, along with many others, represent the dynamic tensions between the oppressive political denial and the liberating personal desires that have defined the lives of Palestinian refugees since their expulsion. The recorded narratives, photographs, drawings and film highlight seldom-heard stories from three generations of Palestinian refugees and uncover parts of their experiences in the aftermath of displacement. RSVP is required--http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/EventDetails/i/42568/pid/187. 44] – On Fri., Nov. 1 from 4:30 to 7:30 PM, SOA Watch will have a public demonstration at the Capitol South Metro Station. Join it to commemorate the victims of the U.S. policies that have caused untold death and suffering for the peoples of Latin America. There will be street theater, including the construction of a mobile altar for a procession, face-painting, and music to honor the ancestors, friends, and families and to denounce the School of Assassins, the illogical War on Drugs without end, neoliberal economic policies, the militarization of the border, and other issues that have harmed Latin America in the past, continue to harm Latin America in the present, and that will continue to harm Latin America in the future - unless we do something about it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 45] – There is a silent peace vigil on Fri., Nov. 1 from 5 to 6 PM outside the Cathedral of the Incarnation, University Parkway and St. Paul St. The vigil is sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, and was recently moved because of the construction on Charles St. War Is Not the Answer. Stop bullying. 46] – Since this is a First Friday, on Nov. 1 there will be a potluck dinner at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218 after the vigil. Then there will be a film screening. The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee and others are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The DVDs will be shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse on the First Friday. After the peace vigil, there will be a potluck dinner. At 7: 15 PM, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. The series theme is WHAT TO DO WHEN GOVERNMENTS VIOLATE THE LAW. The third film in the series, THE MESSENGER [USA, 2009], is the directorial debut of Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay with Alessandro Camon. The cast includes Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Jena Malone and Samantha Morton. Foster has returned home from Iraq with both physical and psychic wounds, and is assigned as a Casualty Notification officer. He is partnered with a recovering alcoholic played by Harrelson, and they must go into volatile situations to give notice to the families of fallen soldiers. Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or email@example.com. 47] – The Fifth Annual Dyer Lecture: Reclaiming Africa's Destiny is taking place on Fri., Nov. 1 at 5:30 PM at Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th St. NW, WDC 20001. Africa Faith & Justice Network presents the fifth annual lecture with Remigius Kintu, author, speaker, and trade and development consultant. Who owns Africa? Who formulates the policies that affect African life, and what can we do to refine and reclaim Africa's destiny? This event is free (donations are welcome), but space is limited. Refreshments will be served. AFJN educates and advocates for a transformation of U.S. policies toward Africa. Grounded by a commitment to social justice, AFJN brings the most important issues affecting the people of Africa to our lawmakers in Washington, DC. Register at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1552/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=80703. 48] – See a screening of CHASING ICE on Fri., Nov. 1 at 7 PM at the Peace Center of Delaware County. The First-Friday Large Screen Film Series takes place at 1001 Old Springfield Road, Springfield, PA 19064. Acclaimed National Geographic photographer, James Balog, captures the haunting reality of polar meltdown and global warming in a documentary feature film that is exciting, awe inspiring, and a wake-up call for immediate action to save the planet from ourselves. You will not believe what you see, but we all must! See the movie trailer--http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4. Doors open at 6:30 PM for light refreshments. Participate in the after-film discussion. Visit www.delcopeacecenter.org or call 610-544-1818. The film is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community. 49] – On Fri., Nov. 1 at 7:30 PM, Meaningful Movies Olney presents SCARRED LANDS & WOUNDED LIVES: THE ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT OF WAR at the Buffington Building Community Room, 3300 Olney Sandy Spring Rd., Olney, MD 20832. The scale of environmental damage over the last half century is unprecedented. Falling water tables, shrinking forest cover, declining species diversity - all presage ecosystems in distress. These trends are now widely acknowledged as emanating from forces of humanity's own making: massive population increases, unsustainable demands on natural resources, species loss, and ruinous environmental practices. Ironically however, war, that most destructive of human behaviors, is commonly bypassed. In all its stages, from the production of weapons through combat to cleanup and restoration, war entails actions that pollute land, air, and water, destroy biodiversity, and drain natural resources. Yet the environmental damage occasioned by war and preparation for war is routinely underestimated, underreported, even ignored. The environment remains war's "silent casualty." Contact Jean Athey at 301-570-0923 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 50] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Nov. 1. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725. 51] – The deadline for Research Associates Foundation Grant submissions is Fri., Nov. 1. Both individuals and organizations can get up to $2500 to fund transformative social change projects. Go to www.rafbaltimore.org to see the guidelines and download applications. 52] – The 2013 Fairfax Bike Summit is getting together on Sat., Nov. 2 from 10 AM to 3:30 PM at George Mason University. The 2013 Fairfax Bike Summit will bring together interested citizens, community leaders, bicycle organizations, bike shops, and transportation professionals to discuss making Tysons and other transit-oriented, mixed-use developments more bicycle-friendly. The registration fee is $25 and includes lunch and other refreshments. A limited number of slots are available for the pre-summit workshop, Infrastructure Advocacy 101, that will be held from 9-9:45 AM. If you are interested in volunteering or exhibiting at the summit, email email@example.com. Buy tickets at http://www.eventbrite.com/event/8022492491?ref=ebtnebtckt. To be continued. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/. "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 10:06 AM No comments:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The Short Life and Drone-Delivered Death of Tariq Aziz
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19703-the-short-life-and-drone-delivered-death-of-tariq-aziz The Short Life and Drone-Delivered Death of Tariq Aziz Wednesday, 30 October 2013 13:13 By Neil Williams, Truthout | Op-Ed A Pakistani Army soldier patrols in South Waziristan on November 17, 2009. Some wonder whether drone strikes in Pakistan will inspire more terrorist attacks on American soil. (Tyler Hicks / The New York Times) Secure within the Margalla Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, I sat talking to 16-year-old Tariq Aziz, a schoolboy from the tribal regions in North Waziristan. "How many drones do you see a week?" I asked, expecting him to say three or four. "I see around ten or more, not a week, each and every day. It's terrifying. My family can't sleep. I am very tired all the time, and I've stopped going to school. We live our life in fear." Four days later, Tariq was dead, decapitated and burned beyond recognition by a US-operated Reaper drone. He had been driving with his younger cousin, Waheed Ahmed, who also died in the attack. The two boys had been heading to their aunt's home. Tariq's family would later tell me they will never forget that early evening sunset, with the smell of burning flesh and petrol gliding through the village. I met Tariq Aziz in October 2011, at a "grand jirga" in Islamabad, which had been organized by Reprieve, a British human rights charity. The jirga brought together elected tribal elders from all over FATA (the Federally Administered Tribal Areas), along with politicians, lawyers and the media to discuss the implications of the CIA's controversial drones program. Drones were not new to FATA. Strikes had been targeting suspected militants in their region since 2004. And by 2011, civilian deaths were approaching 3,000 - of which almost 200 were children. Only 185 named militants had been killed in that time - a 16-to-1 ratio. Innocent civilians were drowning in grief, confusion and hatred. American drone strikes weren't just killing militants: They were creating them too. Tribal elders and a small group of schoolboys like Tariq had risked their lives to come to the jirga. It was a great honor for the boys to be selected to accompany their leaders. But they had all suffered great losses, too. Each man and boy carried in his pocket a photograph of a brother, sister or friend that had been killed by a drone strike. Tariq Aziz approached me shyly. He had never met a Westerner. Before we even spoke, he handed me the student ID card of his teenage cousin, Asmar Ullah. No sooner had I looked at the card, Tariq turned his head away and tears rolled down his face. Tariq spoke with me for hours. He told me about his life: He was the youngest of seven brothers and his father's favorite. He lived with his mother while his father worked as a taxi driver abroad, sending money home each month for the brothers' school fees. Tariq told me that after his cousin's death, he became scared to walk to school or play football with his friends. He could not understand why his family and friends were being targeted. They were not militants, and they would not - or should not - have been on the CIA's "kill list," now known as the "disposition matrix" - a list created by the Obama administration aimed at targeting militants who are considered a threat to the United States. Tariq kept asking me, "What have we done wrong? Why do people think we're bad?" The last time I saw Tariq, he was washing his hands before afternoon prayers. This year I traveled back to Pakistan, where I interviewed Tariq's family members and friends for a forthcoming documentary by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films titled Unmanned: America's Drone Wars. They were extremely cooperative with photographs and interviews, anxious to paint a picture of Tariq's short life. His elder brother Abdul told me, "Tariq was very kind to everyone, young and old. He used to help everyone. ... That's why he was so loved. He was so kind. Everyone misses him so much." People ask me how I can be so sure that Tariq was innocent. I reply, "Show me one piece of evidence that he wasn't." After all, that's how the law is supposed to operate, isn't it? Innocent until proven guilty. The fact that the US government has not commented on - or even acknowledged - any of the 200 children killed by drone strikes in Pakistan alone speaks volumes to the families of those grieving in the "war of terror" conducted by the United States. Copyright, Truthout. Neil Williams is a London-based photographer and journalist. In Pakistan in 2011, he befriended a teenage boy named Tariq Aziz at a conference about weaponized unmanned vehicles. Four days later, the boy was decapitated by a drone, an event that drove Williams to become a tireless crusader against drone warfare. Related Stories Drone Strikes Are Causing Child Casualties By Robert Greenwald, War Costs | Video Refocusing Anti-Drone Activism By Camillo Mac Bica, Truthout | Opinion Drone Island in the East River By David Swanson, David Swanson's Blog | Op-Ed Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 10:38 PM No comments:
'I Hope You Publish This': NSA Broke Into Google, Yahoo Data Centers
The Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs is hosting the director of the National Security Agency Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander on Thurs., Oct. 31 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore, 300 Light St., Baltimore 21201, from 5:30 to 7 PM. According to a promotional note, "The dilemma of balancing vigorous efforts to meet security needs while constraining possible abuse of government power is especially challenging in our contemporary technological environment. We are indeed extraordinarily fortunate and privileged to have General Keith Alexander, Director of the NSA and Commander of the United States Cyber Command discuss cyber challenges and attendant issues with us." "Possible abuse?" The NSA is shredding the U.S. Constitution. Join the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is protesting Alexander and his agency on Thurs., Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 PM outside the Hyatt Hotel. RSVP to Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon dot net. Published on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Common Dreams 'I Hope You Publish This': NSA Broke Into Google, Yahoo Data Centers 'The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot,' reports the Washington Post - Jon Queally, staff writer Without their knowledge or permission, the National Security Agency has broken into the global data centers of Yahoo! and Google, the Washington Post is reporting on Wednesday. In a report that terms the specific NSA surveillance program as "unusually aggressive," the newspaper claims that leaked documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden show how the operation, codenamed MUSCULAR, allowed the agency to access the "cloud networks" of the two internet giants and "collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans." Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the leaked drawing from the NSA: “I hope you publish this,” one of them said. "The NSA does not keep everything it collects," the Post reports, "but it keeps a lot." Though the stream of information generated by the Snowden leaks seems endless, these latest revelations come amid growing concern both in the U.S. and abroad about the unrivaled power of the NSA when it comes to accessing information that was otherwise thought protected. In this case, it is the internet giants themselves who seem most caught off guard over the revelations. Since the Snowden leaks first began, these companies (along with others) have been criticized for allowing the NSA specific kinds of access to their customer data. As the Post reports, however, disclosure of the MUSCULAR program becomes "especially striking," because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process. The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies. When asked by the Post if they were aware of the program, both Yahoo! and Google adamantly said they did not know and expressed deep concern—anger, in fact—that the NSA had possibly infiltrated their private, highly secure, "cloud" networks. As the Post explains: In order for the data centers to operate effectively, they synchronize high volumes of information about account holders. Yahoo’s internal network, for example, sometimes transmits entire e-mail archives — years of messages and attachments — from one data center to another. Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to one internal NSA document. In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities. Google and Yahoo also pay for premium data links, designed to be faster, more reliable and more secure. In recent years, each of them is said to have bought or leased thousands of miles of fiber optic cables for their own exclusive use. They had reason to think, insiders said, that their private, internal networks were safe from prying eyes. In an NSA presentation slide on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” however, a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where their data resides. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!” The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security. Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said. Whether those in the outraged public will find sympathy with the likes of Google and Yahoo!, the exposure of MUSCULAR shows the degree to which online data—even that which was thought to be more secure—is susceptible to the reach of the NSA. One of the other key takeaways from the Post reporting is how this particular program seemed to target communication hubs and data centers located outside of the U.S., showing that legal requirements, though clearly not effective overall, certainly have an impact on the manner in which the NSA operates. Again, from the report: Intercepting communications overseas has clear advantages for the NSA, with looser restrictions and less oversight. NSA documents about the effort refer directly to “full take,” “bulk access” and “high volume” operations on Yahoo and Google networks. Such large-scale collection of Internet content would be illegal in the United States, but the operations take place overseas, where the NSA is allowed to presume that anyone using a foreign data link is a foreigner. Outside U.S. territory, statutory restrictions on surveillance seldom apply and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has no jurisdiction. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein has acknowledged that Congress conducts little oversight of intelligence-gathering under the presidential authority of Executive Order 12333 , which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies. John Schindler, a former NSA chief analyst and frequent defender who teaches at the Naval War College, said it was obvious why the agency would prefer to avoid restrictions where it can. “Look, NSA has platoons of lawyers and their entire job is figuring out how to stay within the law and maximize collection by exploiting every loophole,” he said. “It’s fair to say the rules are less restrictive under Executive Order 12333 than they are under FISA.” ___________________________________________ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/30-4 Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 9:53 PM No comments:
How One Guy Stood Up to the Koch Brothers and Won!
Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org) AlterNet  / By Steven Rosenfeld  How One Guy Stood Up to the Koch Brothers and Won! October 25, 2013 | It’s rare that campaign finance reformers win in our era of billionaires bankrolling elections and political campaigns. But that’s exactly what happened this week as the California Fair Political Practices Commission announced $16 million in penalties, including a $1 million fine for secretive groups funded by the right-wing Koch brothers. During the 2012 presidential election, California political circles were shocked to learn that two Arizona-based non-profits were poised  to spend $15 million to try to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown’s ultimately successful tax hike, Proposition 30, and to support an ultimately unsuccessful measure, Proposition 32, which would have crippled labor union organizing. At the time, the big mystery was who bankrolling the secretive Arizona groups and the California political committees receiving  the windfall? This week, a lot of praise went to the FPPC’s Chairwoman, Ann Ravel, who announced a legal settlement naming some  of the donors and the fines. She soon heads to Washington as one of two new Federal Election Commission members. But the penalties—the largest in California history—only came because public-interest advocates led by Derek Cressman  at Common Cause’s Sacramento office filed the complaint with the FPPC to require the groups to disclose their donors. Cressman is one of three Democrats running for California secretary of state. On Friday, he recounted how he and others followed hints and ended up with a multi-million dollar fine against some the country’s richest Republicans. The quest began by seizing a flagrant violation of state campaign law—unknown operators who refused to identify their donors. "I was the vice-president for states for Common Cause and based in California. We were in the final weeks before the 2012 elections and we started seeing press accounts of this $11 million that flew in out of nowhere—into two California ballot measures. The source that was reported was that it came from this Arizona organization. So we started poking around a bit and found that this organization had zero track record of having any interest or activity in California politics. And more significantly, the size and scale of its operations had been much smaller in the past. It was inconceivable that this group could have been sitting on $11 million that it decided to spend in the last weeks of an election in Arizona." The secretive Arizona groups, Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights, were tight-lipped. But their filings did offer some clues, Cressman said, which led to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire Republican donors. "We dug a little bit more and noticed that some of the attorneys that had been involved had done legal work for the Kochs. There was this individual, Sean Noble, involved, who had a track record of being involved in the Kochs. We didn’t know back then, for certain, that it was the Kochs, but it had all the hallmarks of a Koch operation—a highly sophisticated Virginia law firm whose expertise was creating shell organizations and hiding the money. Their basic trademark, or operating mode, was going to great lengths to conceal who they are—not just Charles and David Koch—but who these 300 or so billionaires who they invite to their conferences twice a year are. I think they know that if people were aware of their identities, they’d be much more skeptical of their messaging." In many states, filing a complaint with regulators to enforce campaign finance rules is often a futile task. Oversight panels almost never act before Election Day, and reform groups often grouse that whatever rebuke follows is too little, too late. But Cressman and Common Cause went ahead anyway at California’s FPPC. "We filed a complaint and to my pleasant surprise, the Commission acted on it almost immediately. They said at the time that it wasn’t initially an enforcement action; it was an audit so they could discern where this money had come from. And they said in court, and in the press, it wasn’t like they were on a witch hunt or going after them. They were simply responding to a complaint. It was clear that had we not filed the complaint, nothing would have happened." That complaint gave others in state government an opening to step up, Cressman said. Attorney General, Kamala Harris “provided additional legal resources and clout to the Political Practices Commission,” he said. “And literally the day before Election Day the front group from Arizona was forced to disclose where it had gotten its funds from. It was on the front page of the newspapers on Election Day—that they had received money from two other shell organizations that they had failed to disclose.” Then, this week, almost a year after the FPPC complaint was filed, California’s regulators announced the multi-million settlement. Two Koch-backed groups will pay $1 million in fines. And two campaign committees in California will pay $15 million to the state, what they received  in donations from well-known Republicans like Charles Schwab, the Fisher family that own Gap clothes, Los Angeles businessman Eli Broad and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Needless to say, Thursday was a good day for Cressman. “Yesterday was certainly a gratifying day. It’s nice to see that when you take an action that it can succeed and that people can be brought to justice. And it’s particularly gratifying in that for my whole career, I’ve had to deal with cynics and skeptics who basically say, “Campaign finance laws never work.” “They can always find a way around them.” “They’re never enforced.” Well, here’s cases where they did work and they were enforced. So that’s gratifying." But in politics, nobody gets everything they want. The Koch’s non-profits may be paying big fines, but the settlement still keeps their donors’ names secret. That was discouraging, Cressman said, adding that were it not for the brazen tactic of appearing out of nowhere before Election Day with millions to spend—the secretive groups might have gotten away with it. "On the flip side, it appears to me, based on what the Commission released yesterday, that they almost got away with it. And had they been slightly less clever, or pushed the envelope a little bit less than they did, that they would have succeeded. So, while it’s gratifying, it’s clear that we need to continue to push to tighten up these [campaign] disclosure laws in California." There is little doubt that the Koch brothers are not going away and will be more careful—and secretive—next time. But for now, in an era where elections have become an extreme sport for the richest Americans, this is a public-interest victory worth savoring. And it happened because campaign finance advocates stood up and state regulators took notice. Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/public-interest-activists-wins-million-dollar-fine-against-koch-brothers Links:  http://alternet.org  http://www.alternet.org/authors/steven-rosenfeld  http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4773613&ct=13376237  http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-secret-money-20131025,0,5603975,print.story  https://www.facebook.com/cressman2014 Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 8:52 AM No comments:
Spying Known at Top Levels, Officials Say
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/world/officials-say-white-house-knew-of-spying.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131030&_r=0 October 29, 2013 Spying Known at Top Levels, Officials Say By MARK LANDLER and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT WASHINGTON — The nation’s top spymaster said on Tuesday that the White House had long been aware in general terms of the National Security Agency’s overseas eavesdropping, stoutly defending the agency’s intelligence-gathering methods and suggesting possible divisions within the Obama administration. The official, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the N.S.A. had kept senior officials in the National Security Council informed of surveillance it was conducting in foreign countries. He did not specifically say whether President Obama was told of these spying efforts, but he appeared to challenge assertions in recent days that the White House had been in the dark about some of the agency’s practices. Mr. Clapper and the agency’s director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, vigorously rejected suggestions that the agency was a rogue institution, trawling for information on ordinary citizens and leaders of America’s closest allies, without the knowledge of its Washington overseers. Their testimony came amid mounting questions about how the N.S.A. collects information overseas, with Republicans and Democrats calling for a congressional review, lawmakers introducing a bill that would curb its activities and Mr. Obama poised to impose his own constraints, particularly on monitoring the leaders of friendly nations. At the same time, current and former American intelligence officials say there is a growing sense of anger with the White House for what they see as attempts to pin the blame for the controversy squarely on them. General Alexander said news media reports that the N.S.A. had vacuumed up tens of millions of telephone calls in France, Italy and Spain were “completely false.” That data, he said, is at least partly collected by the intelligence services of those countries and provided to the N.S.A. Still, both he and Mr. Clapper said that spying on foreign leaders — even those of allies — was a basic tenet of intelligence tradecraft and had gone on for decades. European countries, Mr. Clapper said, routinely seek to listen in on the conversations of American leaders. “Some of this reminds me of the classic movie ‘Casablanca’ — ‘My God, there’s gambling going on here,’ ” Mr. Clapper said, twisting the line from the movie uttered by a corrupt French official who feigns outrage at the very activity in which he avidly partakes. Asked whether the White House knows about the N.S.A.’s intelligence-gathering, including on foreign leaders, Mr. Clapper said, “They can and do.” But, he added, “I have to say that that does not extend down to the level of detail. We’re talking about a huge enterprise here, with thousands and thousands of individual requirements.” The White House has faced criticism for the N.S.A.’s surveillance practices since the first revelations by a former agency contractor, Edward J. Snowden, in June. But in recent weeks it has struggled to quell a new diplomatic storm over reports that the agency monitored the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for more than a decade. White House officials said that the president did not know of that surveillance, but that he has told Ms. Merkel that the United States is not monitoring her phone now and would not in the future. On Wednesday, a delegation of senior German officials is scheduled to meet at the White House with Mr. Clapper, the president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice; his homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco; and other officials. Several current and former American officials said that presidents and their senior national security advisers have long known about which foreign leaders the United States spied on. “It would be unusual for the White House senior staff not to know the exact source and method of collection,” said Michael Allen, a National Security Council official in the George W. Bush administration and a former staff director for the House Intelligence Committee. “That information helps a policy maker assess the reliability of the intelligence.” Mr. Allen, the author of a book about intelligence reform called “Blinking Red,” said this information often comes to the president during preparation for phone calls or meetings with the foreign leaders. The White House declined to discuss intelligence policies, pending the completion of a review of intelligence-gathering practices that will be completed in December. But a senior administration official noted that the vast majority of intelligence that made it into Mr. Obama’s daily intelligence briefings focused on potential threats, from Al Qaeda plots to Iran’s nuclear program. “These are front-burner, first-tier issues,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter. “He’s not getting many briefings on intelligence about Germany.” Another senior administration official said that Mr. Obama did not generally rely on intelligence reports to prepare for meetings or phone calls with Ms. Merkel. “He knows her well, he speaks with her regularly and our governments work together every day on a wide range of issues,” said this official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic concerns. “Because we talk so frequently, we know where they stand and they know where we stand on most issues.” Mr. Clapper and General Alexander got a warm reception from the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, who defended the N.S.A.’s methods and said he had been adequately briefed about its activities. But elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the outrage among America’s allies was clearly fueling concern. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and one of the fiercest defenders of American surveillance operations, said Monday that she did “not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.” Ms. Feinstein said her committee would be conducting a “major review” of the intelligence programs. Another strong defender of the N.S.A., Speaker John A. Boehner, agreed that “there needs to be review, there ought to be review and it ought to be thorough,” he said. “We’ve got obligations to the American people to keep them safe. We’ve got obligations to our allies around the world.” “But having said that, we’ve got to find the right balance here,” he added. “We’re imbalanced as we stand here.” An aide to Mr. Boehner said, “The speaker still believes our surveillance programs save lives, but the president needs to do a better job of managing and explaining them.” On Tuesday, House Democrats and Republicans introduced a bill that would curb some of the N.S.A.’s practices, including the bulk collection of telephone data inside the United States. “The picture drawn is one of a surveillance system run amok,” said Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, a sponsor of the bill. “Our intelligence community has operated without proper congressional oversight or regard for Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.” Even on the House Intelligence Committee, members sparred over what they had been told by the intelligence agencies about eavesdropping on foreign leaders. Representative Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat and a senior member of the committee, said that he had first learned about the practice after the recent news media reports. “Would you consider that a wiretap of a leader of an allied country would be a significant intelligence activity requiring a report to the intelligence committees?” Mr. Schiff asked Mr. Clapper. Mr. Clapper said the agencies had “lived up to the letter and spirit of that requirement.” Mr. Schiff disagreed, saying that the agencies had much work to do “to make sure we’re getting the information we need.” He said that disclosures about such eavesdropping could create significant “blowback.” Mr. Rogers disputed Mr. Schiff’s claim, saying that Mr. Schiff needed to take the time to educate himself about what the committee had been briefed on. “To make the case that somehow we are in the dark is mystifying to me,” Mr. Rogers said. “It is disingenuous to imply that this committee did not have a full and complete understanding of activities of the intelligence community as was directed under the national intelligence priority framework to include sources and methods.” Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting. © 2012 The New York Times Company Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/ "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 8:37 AM No comments:
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
"Drone protesters acquitted in New York court" by John Dear S.J.
"Drone protesters acquitted in New York court" by John Dear S.J. Oct. 29, 2013 NCR http://ncronline.org/blogs/road-peace/drone-protesters-acquitted-syracuse-court A few weeks ago, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban and survived and now speaks out globally for peace, met with President Barack Obama and told him to stop the deadly U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan. They are killing innocent civilians and turning many ordinary people against the U.S. and onto the side of Taliban, she said. This young peacemaker spoke truth to power on behalf of everyone, and her message was heard far and wide. This, for me, is a great sign of hope. Indeed, there are other signs of a growing groundswell against the ongoing U.S. drone wars. On Thursday, a Syracuse, N.Y., judge acquitted five Catholic activists of a disorderly conduct charge for blocking the entrance to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. Hancock is home to the 174th Attack Wing of the Air Force National Guard, a regional headquarters of the U.S. Reaper drones where technicians pilot drones over Afghanistan. The five activists -- Carmen Trotta, Ellen Grady, Fr. Bill Pickard, Linda LeTendre and Bill Frankel-Streit -- acted Feb. 13, Ash Wednesday, to draw attention to the evils of our drone killing machines that can often be found in our own backyards. "We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintenance and Training Center ... to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God's forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children," they said in their original statement. "The killer drone strikes and the US's killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. "These strikes are illegal and immoral," the statement said. "Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murders, violations of national sovereignty, and violations of due process are ALL illegal acts. "We come to Hancock Airfield this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God's forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these drones. We remind ourselves that our lives are brief and mysterious, and that 'from dust we were created and to dust we shall return!' ... Lent is a time to repent -- literally, to change our minds. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' command to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus' radical, non-violent message [of] love. Stop the Killing. Ground the Drones. STOP the Wars." "We told the judge that we were not alienated citizens, but rather, engaged citizens," my friend Carmen Trotta of the St. Joseph House Catholic Worker in New York City told me on the phone after the verdict. "Ultimately, it seems the judge was moved by our consciences." Carmen noted the recent public opposition to drones in reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism as well as statements by Jesuit Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, superior general of the Society of Jesus; Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism; and Malala, whom many thought deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. The recent Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reports both detailed how U.S. drone strikes kill innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen, contrary to President Obama's assertions. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, as many as 1,000 innocent civilians, including as many as 200 children, have been killed in as many as 376 U.S. drone strikes since 2004 in Pakistan alone, a nation with which the United States is not technically at war. "We will pray and continue to act in the hope that the children of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and all countries will someday soon be without the terror of drones or any wars," defendant Ellen Grady said after the acquittal. "My hope is that dissent is once again welcome in the United States and we will turn away from killing to caring as a country," said defendant Linda LeTendre. Carmen had expected eight days in the Syracuse jail. The judge, a Catholic, seemed to listen carefully from the start and took down notes on their arguments, he said. They spoke about the effects of the drone strikes, the history of civil disobedience in changing public policy, and the many friends who have developed real relationships with people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. "Drones violate and destroy international law and international order," Carmen said he told the court. "We've been continually lied to about the people we have killed, the civilians we have killed, and the militants we have killed. The U.S. believes it is waging a full-scale war against the Taliban in Yemen, and it's being done in secrecy, but it's totally illegal." At one point, the pro se defendants questioned the police officer who arrested them and asked him if he had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. Of course, he said. Was he aware of Article 6, which speaks of upholding all U.S. treaties, including international law? No, the officer said. "It's sad that we don't know Article 6 or uphold it," they told the judge later. "Maybe we should know it, maybe the police should know it, maybe we all need to step up to the plate and learn about it if we are going to live in a democratic society," Carmen said, repeating what they told the judge. "The alternative is a national security state." At another point, the prosecutor asked Carmen while he was on the stand about the blue scarf Carmen wore around his neck. Carmen told the court about the Afghan Peace Volunteers, whom I visited in December. They wear blue scarves to remind us that we all share the same blue sky and that we can all live together in peace. When I left Kabul, the youth put one such scarf on me. "Because of our friends who have visited the Afghan Peace Volunteers," Carmen said in court, "our knowledge of these wars is more intimate." "I want to send them to jail," the judge told the packed courtroom while rendering his verdict, "but I just don't see mens rea." He was referring to the Latin legal term for "guilty mind." In other words, the judge agreed that the five defendants intended to uphold, not break, the law and that they were not guilty of any crime, especially in the face of U.S. criminal activity through these illegal drone attacks. The nonviolent direct action of the five defendants and the judge's ruling of their innocence are a sign of hope for all who care for peace, but especially for young Malala, friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers and all children terrorized by war and our drone strikes. May this Ash Wednesday witness and their acquittal inspire all of us to speak out like Malala against these illegal and impractical wars and weapons, that we might finally learn to institutionalize nonviolent conflict resolution and welcome a new world of peace. --
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 11:20 PM No comments:
Baltimore Activist Alert - Oct. 30-31, 2013
31] Social Security Conference – Oct. 30 32] Fund Our Communities Q & A – Oct. 30 33] Raise Maryland's Minimum Wage – Oct. 30 34] WELCOMNG THE STRANGER AMONG US – Oct. 30 35] Film “abUSed: the Postville Raid” – Oct. 30 36] Book "Our Political Nature," – Oct. 31 ------ 31 ] – On Wed., Oct. 30 at 11:15 PM, several of the country's top experts will come together at the Social Security Conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss the importance of protecting and expanding Social Security for future generations. The conference will be in the Hart Senate Office Building. RSVP at http://act.boldprogressives.org/survey/rsvp_ss_conference/?akid=15893.29875.yIeRSU&rd=1&source=e1-rsvp&t=1. 32 ] – On Wed., Oct. 30 at 10:30 AM, the Fund Our Communities coalition will answer questions on a new campaign to pass legislation in the 2014 Maryland General Assembly to establish a Futures Commission, the purpose of which would be to explore ways to replace the state's economic dependence on federal military spending with investments in human services, infrastructure improvement, reindustrialization, clean energy, etc. Once established, the Commission will hold public hearings, produce reports, and advise the governor and state legislature. A similar bill was passed in Connecticut last year with a good amount of labor support. The coalition is organizing a Q and A session at the Howard County Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia 21044, and Progressive Maryland Board members are invited to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the proposed legislation and the political campaign necessary to get it passed. Email Jean Athey at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending. 33 ] – Get over to an Organizing Meeting to Raise Maryland's Minimum Wage on Wed., Oct. 30 at 7 PM at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, 4301 Garden City Dr., Suite 40, Hyattsville, MD. On the day before Halloween, join Prince George's County Young Democrats, as well as other members of the Raise Maryland Coalition to put together a grassroots campaign to push for an increase in Maryland's minimum wage! Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1380092932227592/. 34] – On Wed., Oct. 30 at 7:30 PM hear WELCOMNG THE STRANGER AMONG US: A Discussion on Immigration Reform – featuring Bishop Francisco Gonzalez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and Salvador G. Sarmiento, Advocacy/Legal Officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, will make a presentation and lead a discussion at the St. Francis of Assisi Church Parish Center (church basement), 6701 Muncaster Mill Rd Derwood, MD 20855. The discussion is sponsored by the St. Francis of Assisi Pax Christi group. 35 ] –Beyond the Classroom presents “abUSed: the Postville Raid” on Wed., Oct. 30 from 7 to 9 PM at 1102 South Campus Commons, Building 1, Calvert Hall, College Park. This documentary presents the devastating effects of U.S. Enforcement Immigration policies on communities, families and children. The film tells the gripping personal stories of the individuals, the families and the town that survived the most brutal, most expensive and largest immigration raid in the history of the United States and serves as a cautionary tale of government abuses. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/536634569746660/. 36] – On Thurs., Oct. 31 from noon to 1:30 PM, explore The Science of Political Orientation at the Berkley Center, 3307 M St. NW, Suite 200. Lunch will be provided. "Our Political Nature," a new book from Avi Tuschman, explores the science underlying political orientation. The book examines how political views arise from three clusters of measurable personality traits, which entail opposing attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and differing perceptions of human nature. This groundbreaking work is based on new interdisciplinary insights from the fields of primatology, genetics, neuroscience, and anthropology. RSVP at http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/events/rsvp?id=the-science-of-political-orientation&utm_source=BC+Master+List&utm_campaign=6ca4511ee5-Oct_31_2013+event+announcement&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_66160ba037-6ca4511ee5-263757. To be continued. Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/. "The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 11:17 PM No comments:
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Opting Out From the Corporate State of Surveillance
Posted by Max Obuszewski at 6:41 PM No comments:
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