Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Jobless City of Kabul and the Works of War
Published on
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Jobless City of Kabul and the Works of War
By Kathy Kelly

Rustom Ali, an Afghan cobbler, at his roadside shop in Kabul. (Photo: Abdulhai Safarali)

KABUL, Afghanistan—Last week, here in Kabul, the Afghan Peace Volunteers welcomed activist Carmen Trotta, from New York, who has lived in close community with impoverished people in his city for the past 25 years, serving meals, sharing housing, and offering hospitality to the best of his ability. Put simply and in its own words, his community, founded by Dorothy Day, exists to practice “the works of mercy” and to “end the works of war.” We wanted to hear Carmen’s first impressions of traveling the streets of Kabul on his way from the airport to the working class neighborhood where he’ll be staying as the APVs’ welcome guest.

He said it was the first time he’d seen the streets of any city so crowded with people who have no work.

Carmen had noticed men sitting in wheelbarrows, on curb sides, and along sidewalks, unemployed, some of them waiting for a day labor opportunity that might or might not come. Dr. Hakim, the APV’s mentor, quoted Carmen the relevant statistics: the CIA World Fact Book uses research from 2008 to put Afghanistan’s unemployment rate at 35% - just under the figure of 36% of Afghans living beneath the poverty level. That’s the CIA’s unemployment figure - Catherine James, writing in The Asian Review this past March, noted that “the Afghan Chamber of Commerce puts it at 40%, the World Bank measures it at 56% and Afghanistan’s labor leaders put it at a shocking 86%.”

Overall statistics for Afghanistan are grim. A recent article in the UK’s Independent reported that one million children under five are acutely malnourished, 54 per cent of girls do not go to school and war has displaced 630,000 Afghans within their own country. Relentlessly, the fighting continues. Now, on average, 40 children are maimed or killed in fighting every week.

Rustom Ali, a cobbler – a shoemaker, born here in Kabul – visited with me the day after Carmen’s arrival, and explained more about employment in his city, and the prospects for Afghans surviving this latest decade out of a near-half-century of near-constant foreign invasion. He had to find time out of a 12 hour workday to meet with me.

Rustom mends shoes, or waits for shoes to mend, 7 days a week, from 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., at the roadside. His “shop” consists of a box containing equipment and a primitive, portable overhead shelter. He sits on a ledge, under the blazing sun, (or in freezing cold during Afghanistan’s harsh winter).

Each day he earns about 250 Afghanis, equivalent to roughly four and a half dollars in U.S. money. Dependent on him for food and shelter are his wife Fatima, his daughter Narghis (age 7), and five-year-old Mehdi, his son; Rustom’s father also lives with them and has no work. Each day, the price of bread to feed the family is 100 Afghanis ($1.76). Beyond supplying bread, rice, beans and oil, he must also pay for rent and gas. He will never be able to save money at this rate, despite his fierce yearning for a better future for his two children.

Twenty years ago, Rustom had hoped for a far different life for himself. He had travelled to Iran and, although Iranians generally discriminated against Afghans, he was able to go to school, where he was an excellent student, always working part time as a cobbler. He enjoyed sports, and also liked learning English in his spare time. He showed me two notebooks he had begun then, filled with details about his family history and reflections about his life.

One day, when he was 18 years old and still living in Iran, a car carrying flowers to a wedding hit him as he crossed an intersection, catapulting him into the air. He landed on his head. After 48 days in hospital and then three more months spent recovering at home, he was finally able to walk and speak again. His speech and memory are still affected by the accident.

Rustom hired a lawyer, hoping a judge would compel the driver who caused the accident to pay some reparations. But the driver was a native to Iran and Rustom was an Afghan.

“I endured great pain and permanent brain damage because of the accident,” he said, “But being treated as though I wasn’t a human being,” – the reaction of the Iranian court – “it was more painful. Every day I could see this kind of discrimination against Afghans in Iran.” And so he took his chances and returned to Kabul.

When I asked Rustom about his greatest hopes for his own children, he said that he and his wife teach them, every day, never to discriminate against others the way he was discriminated against in Iran. He had been sorely hurt when the courts there refused to see him, a foreigner, as a human being.

Abdulhai, an Afghan Peace Volunteer, translated between me and Rustom, having developed a friendship with Rustom since they first sat and talked several months ago. Abdulhai had confessed to Rustom that he was struggling with loneliness and sadness. Rustom offered comfort and encouragement. He has great hopes for Abdulhai, who has, in his view, a future much brighter than so many here, given his enrolment in school and his interest in learning new skills. Rustom said that after four years sitting daily in the same place waiting to repair shoes, Abdulhai was the first person to engage him in a genuine conversation.

Dehumanization is central to war. Rustom Ali’s and Abdulhai’s friendship defies dehumanizing forces in their impoverished society, so battered by war makers ‘predatory ventures.

This morning, Carmen and Faiz, another APV member, took a long, early morning walk through a main street in the neighbourhood where we live. By now, Carmen is recognizing faces and names. He knows the bakers who’ve stopped their work to share a cup of tea with him. Sayyaf, who lost both legs during civil war in Kabul and survives by selling glasses and mousetraps from a somewhat ramshackle cart, waved to Carmen with a broad smile and offered him a cup of tea.

As the U.S. cobbles together justifications for its ongoing, foolhardy war in Afghanistan, glimmers of hope persist in small communities like Carmen’s in New York and the APVs in Kabul. They agitate against war. They believe that doing the works of mercy helps us set aside the works of war. And, they’re renewed, consistently, by solidarity with others longing to form humane relations and, as Carmen’s community puts it, “build a new world within the shell of the old.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Jeremy Scahill: White House Censoring What US Public Can Know About Torture Program

(image: ACLU)

Jeremy Scahill: White House Censoring What US Public Can Know About Torture Program

By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams
31 July 14

Journalist says Obama's "done a lot of running of defense for the CIA."

Following news that the very same Central Intelligence Agency officials involved with the CIA torture program are being allowed access to the still classified U.S. Senate torture report, journalist Jeremy Scahill said Tuesday that "the White House, at the highest levels, is basically going through and editing what the American people can and can't read" about the damning findings that show systematic cruelty imposed on detainees.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the 6,000-page report, the summary of which is expected to be declassified in the coming days, "exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our nation." The report is said to show that the CIA impeded oversight of the torture program and misled Congress about its use.

Speaking on MSNBC's NOW With Alex Wagner, Scahill said, "Let's remember this is a report from one body of government, from the United States Senate, that is going to be examining this whole program."

"And what's essentially happening is that the White House, at the highest levels, is basically going through and editing what the American people can and can't read in this report about one of the definitive, moral questions and legal questions of our time, the extent to which we were involved in systematic torture, with lying to lawmakers, with misleading not only Congress but the American people on a wide range of issues that resulted in our country going to war and being involved in systematic acts of torture," he said.

Asked by host Wagner why the White House would give this special treatment to "CIA officials who may have been—who are—implicated in [torture]?" Scahill said, "It became very clear early on in the Obama presidency that he made a political decision—and it probably was a survival decision in terms of his respect at the CIA—that he was not going to prosecute individuals that were involved with the torture program.

And what's happened since then is he's done a lot of running of defense for the CIA."

"It would be very interesting to see Senator Obama debate President Obama on these core issues," Scahill continued, "because when you look at the national security policy of the Obama administration, the counter-terrorism policy of the Obama administration, what you're looking at is a very hawkish defender of some of the most egregious practices of the CIA. Not that he's cheerleading torture—Obama's never going to come out and say that. It's that he's protecting the very people who built this infrastructure, so he's co-signed the Bush administration's program by refusing to have any effective accountability be possible from one other branch of government. The Senate is not allowed to investigate this thoroughly."

New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti, who also appeared in the segment, told Wagner that the access would allow the officials like former CIA head George Tenet to prepare a "rebuttal" to the report.

Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said this week that they were considering the use of a special rule to bring the torture report findings to the public eye.

© 2014 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] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sink-or-swim model for teachers needs reform

Sink-or-swim model for teachers needs reform
Bruce Friedrich

Thursday, July 31, 2014, 1:08 AM

My two years teaching at an inner-city high school through Teach for America (TFA) left me wondering:

Do we have a problem of ineffective teachers, as is commonly claimed, or is there something rotten at the heart of the system, which sets new teachers up for likely failure?

I entered my new job with no illusions about the difficulties that awaited me. I had run a shelter for homeless families for six years in the 1990s; while there, I had visited multiple inner-city schools - so I knew how tough they could be.

Nevertheless, I was excited about my new task: improving 75 high school juniors' reading skills by teaching social justice issues.

Most of my students were thoughtful and creative. They were outraged by the death penalty and cocaine sentencing disparities. They engaged in lively debates about abortion and animal rights. They had much to say about issues of race and poverty in America.

The day-to-day experience was invigorating, but our school's results were deeply discouraging: Our average graduating senior read at the seventh-grade level. Every year, we gave high school diplomas to students who read at the second- or third-grade level.

From my first day at TFA's training workshop in Philadelphia, I felt that I understood at least one major problem of inner-city education in the United States, and it's one I have not seen discussed by either the teachers' unions or the education reformers.

Picture the scene: It's your first day on the job. Your employer gives you a pamphlet explaining your goals - in my case, improve student reading levels by 11/2 grade levels in a year - and says, "Good luck."

You ask your supervisor how the person who held your job previously succeeded, but there is no record of it. You ask for a guide of best practices, but that doesn't exist either.

You find that there are limitless resources online, but no quality control over any of it. So you're left guessing what might work, despite having never worked in the profession, and despite the fact that there have been thousands who succeeded in accomplishing your precise goals, for decades.

That is inner-city education in America.

I asked my supervisor about the total lack of exemplary resources for new teachers, which I found befuddling.

"Teachers want to create lesson plans themselves," she replied. "They see teaching as an art and don't want to feel constrained."

Maybe that's true for some teachers, but I can't imagine that many new teachers would turn down lesson plans and activities that have been used to achieve excellent student outcomes. How can it be that the system lacks tested plans and activities for knowledge and skills that have been taught tens of thousands of times before?
My experience appears to have been typical. A 2013 survey of 20,000 teachers conducted for Scholastic and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, found that less than one-fifth of teachers believe that they are provided with the classroom resources they need for success.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, describes the situation as a "common rite of passage whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they [and their students] sink or swim."

This is not the best system for student achievement.

No successful corporation would simply give its new employees target outcomes and leave them to the scour the Internet for tools that might facilitate their success; that would be seen as madness, and the company would fail - quickly.

There is much talk about how every student deserves an excellent teacher. Of course they do. But can we really blame a teacher for her failure if she was not given even the most basic resources for success?

In my two years of inner-city teaching, I met many failing teachers who were bright, energetic, and committed. But they were overwhelmed with work, and they did not have the most basic thing imaginable: guidance on how to teach the material their students were expected to learn.

Designing, testing, and providing teachers with effective lessons and activities could be done right now. It's way past time for this most basic of reforms.
Bruce Friedrich taught for two years through Teach for America. He was named an "outstanding teacher" for his school during his second year.

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Costa Rican Lawyer Roberto Zamorra Crusades for the Right to Peace

Costa Rican Lawyer Roberto Zamorra Crusades for the Right to Peace

By Medea Benjamin

Sometimes it just takes one person with a creative mind to shake up the entire legal system. In the case of Costa Rica, that person is Luis Roberto Zamorra Bolaños, who was just a law student when he challenged the legality of his government’s support for George Bush’s invasion of Iraq. He took the case all the way up to the Costa Rican Supreme Court—and won.

Today a practicing lawyer, Zamorra at 33 still looks like a wiry college student. And he continues to think outside the box and find creative ways to use the courts to fuel his passion for peace and human rights.

During my recent visit to Costa Rica, I got a chance to interview this maverick attorney about his past victories, and his brilliant new idea to seek compensation for Iraqis.

Let’s start out recalling the key moment in Costa Rica’s pacifist history.

That was 1948, when Costa Rican President Jose Figueras declared that the nation’s military would be abolished, a move that was ratified the following year by the Constituent Assembly. Figueras even took a sledgehammer and smashed one of the walls of the military headquarters, announcing that it would be turned into a national museum and that the military budget would be redirected toward healthcare and education. Since then, Costa Rica has become renowned for its peaceful and unarmed neutrality in foreign affairs.

So fast forward and here you are in law school, in 2003, and your government joined George Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing”—a group of 49 countries that gave their stamp of approval for the invasion of Iraq. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart joked that Costa Rica contributed “bomb-sniffing toucans.” In reality, Costa Rica didn’t contribute anything; it simply added its name. But that was enough to get you so upset that you decided to take your government to court?

Yes. Bush told the world that this was going to be a war for peace, democracy and human rights. But he couldn’t get a UN mandate, so he had to create a coalition to make it look like the invasion had global support. That’s why he pushed so many countries to join. Costa Rica—precisely because it abolished its military and has a history of peace—was an important country to have on his side to show moral authority. Costa Rica is listened to when it speaks at the UN. So in this sense, Costa Rica was an important partner.

When President Pacheco announced that Costa Rica had joined this coalition, the vast majority of Costa Ricans were opposed. I was really upset about our involvement, but I was also upset that my friends didn’t think we could anything about it. When I proposed suing the president, they thought I was crazy.

But I went ahead anyway, and after I filed a lawsuit, the Costa Rica Bar Association filed a suit; the Ombudsman filed a suit—and they were all combined with mine.

When the ruling came out in our favor in September 2004, a year and a half after I filed, there was a sense of relief among the public. President Pacheco was depressed because he’s really a nice guy who loves our culture and he probably thought, “Why did I do this?” He even considered resigning over this, but he didn’t because so many people asked him not to.

On what basis did the court rule in your favor?

One of the most significant things about this ruling was that it recognized the binding character of the UN Charter. The court ruled that since Costa Rica is a member of the United Nations, we are under the obligation to follow its proceedings and since the UN never authorized the invasion, Costa Rica did not have the right to support it. I can’t think of another case in which the Supreme Court has annulled a government decision because it violates the UN charter.

The ruling was also extremely significant because the court said that the support for the invasion contradicted a fundamental principle of “the Costa Rican identity,” which is peace. This makes us the first country in the world to recognize the right to peace, something that was made even more explicit in another case that I won in 2008.

Can you tell us about that case?

In 2008 I challenged a decree by President Oscar Arias that authorized the extraction of thorium and uranium, nuclear fuel development and the manufacture of nuclear reactors “for all purposes.” In that case I again claimed a violation of the right to peace. The court annulled the president’s decree, explicitly recognizing the existence of a right to peace. This means the State must not only promote peace, but must refrain from authorizing war-related activities, like the production, export or import of items intended to be used in a war.

So this meant that companies like Raytheon, which had purchased land here and intended to set up shop, is now not operational.

What are some of the other lawsuits you’ve filed?

Oh, many of them. I filed a case against President Oscar Arias (the Nobel Peace prize winner) for authorizing the police to use military weapons against demonstrators. This case also went all the way to the Supreme Court and won.

I sued the government for signing the Central America Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA, which includes weapons forbidden in Costa Rica. I sued the government twice for allowing the U.S. military, under the pretext of the war on drugs, to play war games on our sovereign land as if they were a game of chess. Our government gives 6-month permits for up to 46 military vessels to dock in our ports, with over 12,000 troops and equipped with 180 Blackhawk helicopters, 10 Harrier II airfighters, machine guns and rockets. Everything on the approved list of ships, aircraft, helicopters and troops is designed and intended to be used in a war—a clear violation of our Right to Peace. But the court has not heard this case.

A big problem for me is that now the Supreme Court is not taking any more of my cases. I have filed 10 cases with the Supreme Court that got rejected; I have filed suits against Costa Rican police training at the infamous US military School of the Americas. This case has been pending for over 2 years. When the Court finds it difficult to reject one of my cases, they delay and delay. So I have to file suit against the court for delaying, and then they reject both cases.

I realize that I can’t use my name to file anymore, or even my writing style because they know my writing.

At an international gathering in Brussels in April marking the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, you came up with another brilliant idea. Can you tell us about it?

I was in town for another meeting of international lawyers, but the Iraq Commission organizers found out and asked me to speak. There was a brainstorming meeting afterwards and people were bemoaning the fact that the US does not follow international law, that it isn’t party to the International Criminal Court, that it will not hear cases related to reparations for Iraqis.

I said, “If I may, the Coalition of the Willing that invaded Iraq was not just the United States. There were 48 countries. If the US is not going to compensate Iraqis, why don’t we sue the other members of the coalition?”

If you were able to win a case on behalf of an Iraqi victim in the Costa Rican courts, what level of compensation do you think you could win? And then wouldn’t there be another case and another case?

I could imagine winning perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps if we could win one case in Costa Rica, we could start the lawsuits in other countries. I certainly don’t want to bankrupt Costa Rica with case after case. But we have to look at how to seek justice for Iraqis, and how to prevent this sort of coalition from forming again. It’s worth a try.

Do you think there is something that we could be doing in court to challenge drone killings?

Certainly. I think the people pressing the kill button should be held personally responsible for criminal acts because the drone is an extension of their body, used to perform actions they cannot do personally.

There is also the fact that if an innocent person gets killed or hurt by a US drone in Afghanistan, the family is entitled to compensation from the US military. But that same family in Pakistan would not be compensated because the killing is done by the CIA. Can you see some legal challenge there?

Victims of the same unlawful act should get the same treatment; I would think there would be a way to hold the government liable, but I don’t know enough about US law.

Have you had personal repercussions for taking on such sensitive issues?

I have friends in the phone company who told me I was being tapped. But I don’t really care. What can they do if I talk on the phone about filing a suit?

Yes, you have to take risks, but you can’t be afraid of the consequences. The worst thing that can happen is that you get shot. (He laughs.)

Why don’t more lawyers around the world challenge their governments in the creative ways you do?

Lack of imagination perhaps? I don’t know.

I am surprised that so many good lawyers oftentimes just don’t see the obvious. I encourage students to be creative, to use international law domestically. It’s weird because nothing I’ve done has been extraordinary. These are not really great ideas. They are just a bit different, and instead of just talking about them, I move them forward.

I also encourage students to study a second profession so they start thinking differently. I studied computer engineering as my second major; it taught me to be ordered and structured in my thinking.

I would have guessed that if you had a second major, it would have been something like political science or sociology.

No. As a computer programmer you have to be totally focused--structured, ordered and deep. That is very helpful in the legal world. At law school students would hate to debate me. They’d try to move the discussion off track, to veer into a side issue, and I would always bring them right back to the core theme. That comes from my training as a computer engineer.

I suppose another consequence of your work for peace is that you don’t make much money.

Look at me [he laughs]. I’m 33 years old and I live with my parents. That’s how wealthy I am after 9 years of practice. I live simply. The only things I have are a car and three dogs.

I prefer to work by myself--no firm, no partners, no strings. I am a trial lawyer and make some money with individual clients, including labor unions. I make about $30,000 a year. I use it to live on, to try cases pro bono at the Inter-American Commission and to pay for international trips, like going to peace forums, world forums, disarmament conferences or the trip I made to Gaza. Sometimes I get assistance from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

I love my job because I do what I want to do; I take on the cases I am passionate about. I am fighting for my country and for my personal freedom. I don’t think of this work as a sacrifice but as a duty. If we want peace to be a fundamental right, then we have to institutionalize it—and protect it.

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

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Snowden Saga Begins

Published on Portside (

The Snowden Saga Begins

Glenn Greenwald

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On December 1, 2012, I received my first communication from Edward Snowden, although I had no idea at the time that it was from him.

The contact came in the form of an email from someone calling himself Cincinnatus, a reference to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who, in the fifth century BC, was appointed dictator of Rome to defend the city against attack. He is most remembered for what he did after vanquishing Rome’s enemies: he immediately and voluntarily gave up political power and returned to farming life. Hailed as a “model of civic virtue,” Cincinnatus has become a symbol of the use of political power in the public interest and the worth of limiting or even relinquishing individual power for the greater good.

The email began: “The security of people’s communications is very important to me,” and its stated purpose was to urge me to begin using PGP encryption so that “Cincinnatus” could communicate things in which, he said, he was certain I would be interested. Invented in 1991, PGP stands for “pretty good privacy.” It has been developed into a sophisticated tool to shield email and other forms of online communications from surveillance and hacking.

In this email, “Cincinnatus” said he had searched everywhere for my PGP “public key,” a unique code set that allows people to receive encrypted email, but could not find it. From this, he concluded that I was not using the program and told me, “That puts anyone who communicates with you at risk. I’m not arguing that every communication you are involved in be encrypted, but you should at least provide communicants with that option.”

“Cincinnatus” then referenced the sex scandal of General David Petraeus, whose career-ending extramarital affair with journalist Paula Broadwell was discovered when investigators found Google emails between the two. Had Petraeus encrypted his messages before handing them over to Gmail or storing them in his drafts folder, he wrote, investigators would not have been able to read them. “Encryption matters, and it is not just for spies and philanderers.”

“There are people out there you would like to hear from,” he added, “but they will never be able to contact you without knowing their messages cannot be read in transit.” Then he offered to help me install the program. He signed off: “Thank you. C.”

Using encryption software was something I had long intended to do. I had been writing for years about WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous, and had also communicated with people inside the U.S. national security establishment. Most of them are concerned about the security of their communications and preventing unwanted monitoring. But the program is complicated, especially for someone who had very little skill in programming and computers, like me. So it was one of those things I had never gotten around to doing.

C.’s email did not move me to action. Because I had become known for covering stories the rest of the media often ignores, I frequently hear from all sorts of people offering me a “huge story,” and it usually turns out to be nothing. And at any given moment I am usually working on more stories than I can handle. So I need something concrete to make me drop what I’m doing in order to pursue a new lead.

Three days later, I heard from C. again, asking me to confirm receipt of the first email. This time I replied quickly. “I got this and am going to work on it. I don’t have a PGP code, and don’t know how to do that, but I will try to find someone who can help me.”

C. replied later that day with a clear, step-by-step guide to PGP: Encryption for Dummies, in essence. At the end of the instructions, he said these were just “the barest basics.” If I couldn’t find anyone to walk me through the system, he added, “let me know. I can facilitate contact with people who understand crypto almost anywhere in the world.”

This email ended with more a pointed sign-off: “Cryptographically yours, Cincinnatus.”

Despite my intentions, I did nothing, consumed as I was at the time with other stories, and still unconvinced that C. had anything worthwhile to say.

In the face of my inaction, C. stepped up his efforts. He produced a 10-minute video entitled PGP for Journalists.

It was at that point that C., as he later told me, became frustrated. “Here am I,” he thought, “ready to risk my liberty, perhaps even my life, to hand this guy thousands of Top Secret documents from the nation’s most secretive agency -- a leak that will produce dozens if not hundreds of huge journalistic scoops. And he can’t even be bothered to install an encryption program.”

That’s how close I came to blowing off one of the largest and most consequential national security leaks in U.S. history.

“He’s Real”

The next I heard of any of this was 10 weeks later. On April 18th, I flew from my home in Rio de Janeiro to New York, and saw on landing at JFK Airport, that I had an email from Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker. “Any chance you’ll be in the U.S. this coming week?” she wrote. “I’d love to touch base about something, though best to do in person.”

I take seriously any message from Laura Poitras. I replied immediately: “Actually, just got to the U.S. this morning... Where are you?” We arranged a meeting for the next day in the lobby at my hotel and found seats in the restaurant. At Laura’s insistence, we moved tables twice before beginning our conversation to be sure that nobody could hear us. Laura then got down to business. She had an “extremely important and sensitive matter” to discuss, she said, and security was critical. First, though, Laura asked that I either remove the battery from my cell phone or leave it in my hotel room. “It sounds paranoid,” she said, but the government has the capability to activate cell phones and laptops remotely as eavesdropping devices. I’d heard this before from transparency activists and hackers but tended to write it off as excess caution. After discovering that the battery on my cell phone could not be removed, I took it back to my room, then returned to the restaurant.

Now Laura began to talk. She had received a series of anonymous emails from someone who seemed both honest and serious. He claimed to have access to some extremely secret and incriminating documents about the U.S. government spying on its own citizens and on the rest of the world. He was determined to leak these documents to her and had specifically requested that she work with me on releasing and reporting on them.

Laura then pulled several pages out of her purse from two of the emails sent by the anonymous leaker, and I read them at the table from start to finish. In the second of the emails, the leaker got to the crux of what he viewed as his mission:

The shock of this initial period [after the first revelations] will provide the support needed to build a more equal internet, but this will not work to the advantage of the average person unless science outpaces law. By understanding the mechanisms through which our privacy is violated, we can win here. We can guarantee for all people equal protection against unreasonable search through universal laws, but only if the technical community is willing to face the threat and commit to implementing over-engineered solutions. In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary: one enforced by the laws of nature, rather than the policies of man.

“He’s real,” I said when I finished reading. “I can’t explain exactly why, but I just feel intuitively that this is serious, that he’s exactly who he says he is.”

“So do I,” Laura replied. “I have very little doubt.”

I instinctively recognized the author’s political passion. I felt a kinship with our correspondent, with his worldview, and with the sense of urgency that was clearly consuming him.

In one of the last passages, Laura’s correspondent wrote that he was completing the final steps necessary to provide us with the documents. He needed another four to six weeks, and we should wait to hear from him.

Three days later, Laura and I met again, and with another email from the anonymous leaker, in which he explained why he was willing to risk his liberty, to subject himself to the high likelihood of a very lengthy prison term, in order to disclose these documents. Now I was even more convinced: our source was for real, but as I told my partner, David Miranda, on the flight home to Brazil, I was determined to put the whole thing out of my mind. “It may not happen. He could change his mind. He could get caught.” David is a person of powerful intuition, and he was weirdly certain. “It’s real. He’s real. It’s going to happen,” he declared. “And it’s going to be huge.”

“I Have Only One Fear”

A message from Laura told me we needed to speak urgently, but only through OTR (off-the-record) chat, an encrypted instrument for talking online securely.

Her news was startling: we might have to travel to Hong Kong immediately to meet our source. I had assumed that our anonymous source was in Maryland or northern Virginia. What was someone with access to top-secret U.S. government documents doing in Hong Kong? What did Hong Kong have to do with any of this?

Answers would only come from the source himself. He was upset by the pace of things thus far, and it was critical that I speak to him directly, to assure him and placate his growing concerns. Within an hour, I received an email from Verax@******. Verax means “truth teller” in Latin. The subject line read, “Need to talk.”

“I’ve been working on a major project with a mutual friend of ours,” the email began. “You recently had to decline short-term travel to meet with me. You need to be involved in this story,” he wrote. “Is there any way we can talk on short notice? I understand you don’t have much in the way of secure infrastructure, but I’ll work around what you have.” He suggested that we speak via OTR and provided his user name.

My computer sounded a bell-like chime, signaling that the source had signed on. Slightly nervous, I clicked on his name and typed “hello.” He answered, and I found myself speaking directly to someone who I assumed had, at that point, revealed a number of secret documents about U.S. surveillance programs and who wanted to reveal more.

“I’m willing to do what I have to do to report this,” I said. The source -- whose name, place of employment, age, and all other attributes were still unknown to me -- asked if I would come to Hong Kong to meet him. I did not ask why he was there; I wanted to avoid appearing to be fishing for information and I assumed his situation was delicate. Whatever else was true, I knew that this person had resolved to carry out what the U.S. government would consider a very serious crime.

“Of course I’ll come to Hong Kong,” I said.

We spoke online that day for two hours, talking at length about his goal. I knew from the emails Laura had shown me that he felt compelled to tell the world about the massive spying apparatus the U.S. government was secretly building. But what did he hope to achieve?

“I want to spark a worldwide debate about privacy, Internet freedom, and the dangers of state surveillance,” he said. “I’m not afraid of what will happen to me. I’ve accepted that my life will likely be over from my doing this. I’m at peace with that. I know it’s the right thing to do.” He then said something startling: “I want to identify myself as the person behind these disclosures. I believe I have an obligation to explain why I’m doing this and what I hope to achieve.” He told me he had written a document that he wanted to post on the Internet when he outed himself as the source, a pro-privacy, anti-surveillance manifesto for people around the world to sign, showing that there was global support for protecting privacy.

“I only have one fear in doing all of this,” he said, which is “that people will see these documents and shrug, that they’ll say, ‘We assumed this was happening and don’t care.’ The only thing I’m worried about is that I’ll do all this to my life for nothing.”

“I seriously doubt that will happen,” I assured him, but I wasn’t convinced I really believed that. I knew from my years of writing about NSA abuses that it can be hard to generate serious concern about secret state surveillance.

This felt different, but before I took off for Hong Kong, I wanted to see some documents so that I understood the types of disclosures the source was prepared to make.

I then spent a couple of days online as the source walked me through, step by step, how to install and use the programs I would need to see the documents.

I kept apologizing for my lack of proficiency, for having to take hours of his time to teach me the most basic aspects of secure communication. “No worries,” he said, “most of this makes little sense. And I have a lot of free time right now.”

Once the programs were all in place, I received a file containing roughly twenty-five documents: “Just a very small taste: the tip of the tip of the iceberg,” he tantalizingly explained.

I unzipped the file, saw the list of documents, and randomly clicked on one of them. At the top of the page in red letters, a code appeared: “TOP SECRET//COMINT/NO FORN/.”

This meant the document had been legally designated top secret, pertained to communications intelligence (COMINT), and was not for distribution to foreign nationals, including international organizations or coalition partners (NO FORN). There it was with incontrovertible clarity: a highly confidential communication from the NSA, one of the most secretive agencies in the world’s most powerful government. Nothing of this significance had ever been leaked from the NSA, not in all the six-decade history of the agency. I now had a couple dozen such items in my possession. And the person I had spent hours chatting with over the last two days had many, many more to give me.

As Laura and I arrived at JFK Airport to board a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, Laura pulled a thumb drive out of her backpack. “Guess what this is?” she asked with a look of intense seriousness.


“The documents,” she said. “All of them.”


For the next 16 hours, despite my exhaustion, I did nothing but read, feverishly taking notes on document after document. One of the first I read was an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, which had been created by Congress in 1978, after the Church Committee discovered decades of abusive government eavesdropping. The idea behind its formation was that the government could continue to engage in electronic surveillance, but to prevent similar abuse, it had to obtain permission from the FISA court before doing so. I had never seen a FISA court order before. Almost nobody had. The court is one of the most secretive institutions in the government. All of its rulings are automatically designated top secret, and only a small handful of people are authorized to access its decisions.

The ruling I read on the plane to Hong Kong was amazing for several reasons. It ordered Verizon Business to turn over to the NSA “all call detail records” for “communications (i) between the United States and abroad; and (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” That meant the NSA was secretly and indiscriminately collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of Americans, at least. Virtually nobody had any idea that the Obama administration was doing any such thing. Now, with this ruling, I not only knew about it but had the secret court order as proof.

Only now did I feel that I was beginning to process the true magnitude of the leak. I had been writing for years about the threat posed by unconstrained domestic surveillance; my first book, published in 2006, warned of the lawlessness and radicalism of the NSA. But I had struggled against the great wall of secrecy shielding government spying: How do you document the actions of an agency so completely shrouded in multiple layers of official secrecy? At this moment, the wall had been breached. I had in my possession documents that the government had desperately tried to hide. I had evidence that would indisputably prove all that the government had done to destroy the privacy of Americans and people around the world.

In 16 hours of barely interrupted reading, I managed to get through only a small fraction of the archive. But as the plane landed in Hong Kong, I knew two things for certain. First, the source was highly sophisticated and politically astute, evident in his recognition of the significance of most of the documents. He was also highly rational. The way he chose, analyzed, and described the thousands of documents I now had in my possession proved that. Second, it would be very difficult to deny his status as a classic whistleblower. If disclosing proof that top-level national security officials lied outright to Congress about domestic spying programs doesn’t make one indisputably a whistleblower, then what does?

Shortly before landing, I read one final file. Although it was entitled “README_FIRST,” I saw it for the first time only at the very end of the flight. This message was an explanation from the source for why he had chosen to do what he did and what he expected to happen as a result -- and it included one fact that the others did not: the source’s name.

"I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end. I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed for even an instant. If you seek to help, join the open source community and fight to keep the spirit of the press alive and the internet free. I have been to the darkest corners of government, and what they fear is light.

Edward Joseph Snowden, SSN: *****
CIA Alias “***** ”
Agency Identification Number: *****
Former Senior Advisor | United States National Security Agency, under corporate cover
Former Field Officer | United States Central Intelligence Agency, under diplomatic cover
Former Lecturer | United States Defense Intelligence Agency, under corporate cover"

Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a Guardian columnist until October 2013, has earned numerous awards for his commentary and investigative journalism, including most recently the 2013 George Polk Award for national security reporting. In early 2014, he cofounded a new global media outlet, The Intercept. This essay is adapted from his new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State (Metropolitan Books), published today.

Excerpted and adapted from No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Security State by Glenn Greenwald, published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Copyright 2014 Glenn Greenwald

Source URL:

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 31 to August 10, 2014

36] End his inhumane immigration enforcement policies – July 31
37] Vigil for peace at White House – Aug. 1
38] Vigil for Justice in Palestine – Aug. 1
39] Congressional briefing on massacre in Gaza – Aug. 1
40] Silent peace vigil – Aug. 1
41] See THE IRON GIANT – Aug. 1
42] The context of the current assault on Gaza – Aug. 1
43] Support public defenders – Aug. 1 & 2
44] See the film “Let Us Pass” – Aug. 1
45] Ballroom Dancing – Aug. 1
46] See the exhibit Incarcerated Masses: Artists Respond to America’s Prison Problem – Aug. 1
47] Fundraising conference – Aug. 2 – 3
48] Push Obama on deportation – Aug. 2
49] Olney Peace vigil – Aug. 2
50] West Chester, PA demo – Aug. 2
51] Silent peace vigil – Aug. 2
52] The Liberation Ride – Aug. 2
53] Anti-Drone Death Walk --- Aug. 2
54] Protest the massacre in Gaza – Aug. 2
55] Carpool to Gaza demo – Aug. 2
56] Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration – August 6 & 9
57] Save the date! - Aug. 10
58] Ronda Cooperstein on social media
59] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
60] Join Fund Our Communities
61] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
62] Do you need any book shelves?
63] Join Global Zero campaign
64] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale
65] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil

36] – On Thurs., July 31 at noon, join an act of civil disobedience in front of the White House with 100 faith leaders and 30 immigrant rights activists from across the country will risk arrest to demand that President Barack Obama end his inhumane immigration enforcement policies. Bishops, nuns, rabbis, pastors, workers and impacted immigrants will hold a prayer service and press conference in Lafayette Park to urge the President to stop deportations immediately, dramatically expand relief for America’s immigrant families and workers, and protect unaccompanied children who have sought refuge in the U.S. Some 130 faith and immigrant advocates will then engage in civil disobedience along the White House fence to bring moral clarity on the injustice of 1,100 deportations per day. Sponsors include the United Methodist Church, Church World Service, CASA de Maryland, Bend the Arc, the Unitarian Universalists Association, the United Church of Christ, Sisters of Mercy, Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the PICO National Network. Contact Sidney Traynham at or 703-909-6934.

37] – On Fri., Aug. 1 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contact Art @ or at 202-360-6416.

38] – 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 Go to

39] – The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is organizing a congressional briefing on Fri., Aug. 1 from 2 to 3:30 PM in 2103 Rayburn House Office Building. The briefing will focus on Israel's attacks against Palestinian civilians and misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons. Go to

40] – There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, outside the Cathedral of the Incarnation, University Parkway and St. Paul St. The Aug. 1 vigil, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, reminds us that War Is Not the Answer and that there is the need to stop torture.

41] – The First-Friday Free Large Screen Film Series continues at the Peace Center of Delaware County, 1001 Old Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064. On Fri., Aug. 1 at 7 PM see THE IRON GIANT, an animated treat for the whole family with a message about love and trust in the face of fear. Doors open at 6:30 PM for light refreshments. After the film, engage in a discussion. Go to or call 610-544-1818. The event is co-sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community.

This 1999 film is directed by Brad Bird, with the voice talents of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., and Vin Diesel as the Iron Giant. It is the 1950s, and there is a Cold War, a time of suspicion and impending doom. A lonely boy named Hogarth who daydreams of alien invasions and doing battle with Communists until he discovers a lovable iron giant who has fallen from space. The giant eats metals and promises not to become a weapon. Hogarth, with the help of a beatnik named Dean, must stop an FBI agent and the U.S. Army from finding and destroying the gentle giant. The film is based on the book The Iron Man by the late British poet Ted Hughes and is adapted for the stage by rock musician Pete Townsend (The Who) who served as the film's executive producer.

42] – At Busboys and Poets, 5th and K Sts. NW on Fri., Aug. 1 from 7 to 9 PM, enjoy a panel discussion with Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Retired Col. Ann Wright and others. They will talk about the context of the current assault on Gaza, the consequences, the U.S. role and responsibility, and beyond. Tariq Abu Khdeir is the 15-year-old Palestinian-American arrested and beaten by Israeli police in Jerusalem last month. Tariq’s cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and tortured to death by right-wing Israeli extremists the day before Tariq was detained. Tariq and his family will be visiting with members of Congress earlier in the day and will join this special Middle East Cafe.

43] -- Enjoy a Baltimore Orioles game on Public Defender NIGHTS AT CAMDEN YARDS! Contact Lou Curran for tickets at or 410-499-8899. On Fri., Aug. 1, the O’s play the Seattle Mariners at 7 PM. Tickets are $13 in section 344 on a night when the 60th anniversary of the Orioles takes place. On Sat., Aug. 2, the O’s play the Seattle Mariners at 7 PM. Tickets are $14 in section 334. The games benefit the Legal Aid Bureau, the Public Justice Center, the MCDAA, NACDL’s Foundation for Criminal Justice, & the Association for the Public Defender – MD. All seats are Upper Reserved behind home plate, & under cover in case of showers.

44] – There is a screening of “Dejenos Pasar” [“Let Us Pass”] on Fri., Aug. 1 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Café’s Free School Classroom, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201. Every year approximately 400,000 undocumented Central American migrants travel through México to arrive to the United States, many riding the infamous cargo train known as ¨La Bestia¨ or ¨The Beast. This is a short film that documents the realities of the journey through México for many Central Americans. It focuses on the closure of a migrant shelter critically located along the train route in the State of México. A discussion on migration from Central America will follow. Call 443-602-7585. Go to

45] – 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 Aug. 1. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

46] – Come to Artists Studios, 411 New York Ave. NE, Room 2B, WDC on Fri., Aug. 1 from 8 to 11 PM, see Incarcerated Masses: Artists Respond to America’s Prison Problem. This exhibition will feature a range of radical printmakers and street artists calling both for reforms that immediately improve prisoner’s quality of life, and for the altogether abolition of the prison industrial complex. Exploring central themes of dismantling the drug war, ending solitary confinement, prisoner abuse, and ceasing the mass detention and deportation of migrants, the show will feature printworks and mural installations by some of today’s pre-eminent activist artists. Striving to impact institutional and cultural change around these critical issues, how can art be used as a tool to express solidarity with prisoners while shaping a future vision of decarceration? Proceeds from print sales and donations will benefit Friends and Family of Incarcerated People, an organization that fosters community support to meet the needs of the at-risk children and families of those imprisoned with the purpose of avoiding inter-generational incarceration. The suggested donation is from $5 to $10. Visit

47] – Consider going to Money For Our Movements: A Social Justice Fundraising Conference, which is taking place on Sat., Aug. 2 and Sun., Aug. 3 at Johns Hopkins University, organized by the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT). Are you looking to increase funding from your community to grow the work of your organization? Would you like to see your organization’s funding stream more diversified and sustainable? Are you working in isolation and looking for community with other social justice fundraisers? This conference will offer fundraising skills training geared toward social justice activists, featuring hands-on exercises and practical information. There will be over 70 workshops and facilitated discussions, with the most popular sessions being offered twice! Register at

48] – After months of shutting down ICE offices, signing petitions, filing briefs, educating elected officials, and breaking ICE’s hold on local jurisdictions, the pressure on the president has broken through. He has announced that immigration policy will no longer be submitted to a legislative strategy and he will do what’s in his power to “fix” the system. Now is not a time for cosmetic changes or tweaks to a system that is not just broken but unjust. What may once have been considered “going big” is now just common sense for the President to reverse his record deportations and right his policies to expand relief to the fullest extent possible under the law. Gather at 12th & Jefferson Dr. SW, WDC 20560 on Sat., Aug. 2 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

49] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. [Route 97] in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Aug. 2. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167.

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

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

52] – On Sat., Aug. 2 at noon, the Liberation Ride will connect the #Not1More March Against Deportations and the National March for Gaza Against the Occupation. The group will be leaving from the White House. Why are people biking? This bike ride won't stop the influx of refugees, documented or not, coming to this country, nor will it stop the bombs raining down on Gaza. In these times it's important, as thousands continue the long work of combating ICE, blocking deportations, lobbying Congress, working on Boycotts of Israel, and ending US militarism and economic death abroad, to make our presence felt on the streets. Contact Nico at

53] – On Sat., Aug. 2 from noon to 1 PM, join the Philadelphia Center City Monthly Drone Death Walk and Vigil. Gather at 12th & Market Sts and bring signs and banners. White Masks will be provided. RSVP Marge Cleef at 267-763-1644.

54] – On Sat., Aug. 2 at 1 PM, join thousands of people in a National March on the White House to condemn the Israeli massacre in Gaza. We are in the streets every day in cities around the country. What is needed now is a massive National March on Washington. Israel receives $4 billion in "aid" from the United States each year. This money is being used to commit war crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Activists and allies are demanding that all U.S aid to Israel be ended now! Demand an end to the massacre in Gaza, an end to the blockade and an end to all U.S. aid to Israel! The colonial occupation must cease! Go to

55] – Join the Committee for Palestinian Rights and Howard County Peace Action in carpooling to Saturday’s demonstration. Meet at the Broken Land Park and Ride in Columbia at 11:30 AM, and then carpool to the Silver Spring Metro.

56] – For the 30th year, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee will gather to remember the atomic bombings of Japan on August 6 & 9, 1945, which killed more than 200,000 people. Other organizations involved in this year’s commemorations are the Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Crabshell Alliance and the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore.

It is our duty to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again and that nuclear abolition becomes reality. Taking this to heart, members of the Transform Now Plowshares, Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, are in federal prisons serving long sentences for their May 2013 disarmament action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Knoxville, TN.

On Wed., Aug. 6, gather at 33rd and N. Charles Streets from 5:30 to 6:30 PM to protest Johns Hopkins University’s weapons research, including a swarming drones contract, and call for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the closing of nuclear power plants. Then go to the Bufano Sculpture Garden on Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, where the Hibakusha, survivors of an atomic bomb explosion, will speak. The guests are Mr. Toshiyuki Mimaki, Hiroshima Hibakusha born March 15, 1942 and vice president of Hiroshima Prefectural Hidankyo, and Ms. Fumie Kakita, Nagasaki second-generation Hibakusha born October 12, 1953, who is the assistant secretary general of Nagasaki Council of A-bomb Sufferers. Then enjoy dinner at Niwana Restaurant, 3 East 33rd Street.

On Sat., Aug. 9, starting at 5 PM, there will be a potluck dinner at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St. At 6:30 PM, the Baltimore Labor Chorus will perform. Then Meher Hans, a high student will explain her concern for the atomic bombings of Japan, and Tim Whitehouse, executive direct of the Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, will discuss the activities of the local PSR chapter. Finally, participants will share through verse, poetry or song why s/he is moved to dissent against nuclear weapons and power and killer drone strikes.

On Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, we welcome performances by musicians and poets. Let us know if you will perform. Call Max at 410-366-1637 or email him at mobuszewski at

57] – SAVE THE DATE!!!!! Get over to "Family Fun" night to raise funds for Dr. Mutulu Skakur and the development of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to free our Political Prisoners/Prisoners of War. It will take place at Skateland North Point, 1113 Old North Point Rd., Baltimore 21222, on Sun., Aug. 10 from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. Admission is $10 which includes skate rental. Contact Abdul-Jabbar at 610.621.0699 (Maryland State Jericho). Go to

58] -- Ronda Cooperstein has taken to social media, and is recording her opinion pieces on You Tube. Check out her latest essay - THE WASHINGTON POST WITH TOAST:

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

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

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

62] -- Can you use any book shelves? Can you use any file cabinets? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Subsidy Madness: US Taxpayers Still Spending $21 Billion to Fund Big Oil and Gas

Subsidy Madness: US Taxpayers Still Spending $21 Billion to Fund Big Oil and Gas

By Shakuntala Makhijani

Oil Change International has released a comprehensive report on fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies in the U.S., Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies Under Obama, which demonstrates that at a time when we need urgent action on climate change more than ever, the U.S. government is channeling huge and growing amounts of money to increasing discovery and production of oil, gas, and coal. These federal and state subsidies totaled $21.6 billion in 2013.

Subsidies that promote fossil fuel exploration are particularly harmful and hypocritical. The world’s preeminent scientific institutions working on climate and energy have determined that the majority of the world’s existing fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

In 2012, the International Energy Agency warned that “no more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a similar conclusion in its 2013 climate assessment.

“The All of the Above energy strategy is not only climate denial – it’s climate denial that is funded with more than $20 billion in taxpayer support each year,” said Steve Kretzmann, the executive director of Oil Change International.

“Until our representatives in Washington and around the country find the courage necessary to put people’s interests ahead of rich polluters, this theft of our tax dollars is likely to continue. The next step for saving the climate should be clear: Stop Funding Fossils.”
Fossil fuel exploration subsidies are in direct conflict with these calls to restrict fossil fuel production and use. Rather than finding ways to curtail fossil fuel production in line with the demands of climate science, the U.S. federal government, under President Obama’s “All of the Above” energy strategy, is currently channeling more than $5 billion each year in exploration subsidies to actually expand proven reserves, leading to the discovery of fossil fuels that we know we should never burn.

Shakuntala Makhijani, the report’s author, added, “the science is clear that at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts – it is time for the U.S. government to show leadership and immediately end the massive subsidies that encourage their production.”

Originally published by Oil Change International.

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

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Report Finds Abuse in US Terror Prosecutions

Report Finds Abuse in US Terror Prosecutions

By Linda Schade

The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have committed a wide range of human rights violations in post 9-11 terrorism prosecutions, according to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch and Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute.
International and U.S. law require impartial investigations and judges, fairness and due process and humane treatment of those convicted. However, in an examination of 27 federal cases, the report entitled Illusions of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in US Terrorism Prosecutions found – among other disturbing findings – a pattern of discriminatory and overly aggressive investigations and prosecutions including the use of informants, targeting ‘suspects’ based on religious and political beliefs, and entrapping and sometimes coercing otherwise law-abiding people who would not have engaged in criminal activity without informant manipulation.

Traditional practice requires that a suspect be offered an opportunity to commit a crime such as when an undercover agent propositions a client, when posing as a sex worker. However HRW found that in many FBI sting operations, agents ‘carefully laid out an ideological basis for a proposed terrorist attack, and then provided investigative targets with a range of options and the weapons necessary to carry out the attack’ thus fabricating completely the target’s interest in terrorist conduct.

Quoting former FBI agent Mike German from the report, “When the FBI undercover agent or informant is the only purported link to a real terrorist group, supplies the motive, designs the plot and provides all the weapons, one has to question whether they are combating terrorism or creating it.” Add in the tendency to target mentally or financially vulnerable individuals and equip agents with large sums of money to wave around and you’ve got yourself a fresh statistic to bolster your budget and justify your agency’s existence.

It is permissible under U.S. law to raise ‘entrapment’ as a defense IF it can be shown that the government induced the defendant to commit the act and if he can show he was not ‘pre-disposed.’ It is easy to see how racism, heightened post-9-11 fears and anti-Islamic sentiment would make such a character defense difficult if not impossible.

Illusions of Justice found a range of other human rights violations including the use of confessions obtained under torture, abusive use of years of solitary confinement BEFORE trial and after conviction, and ‘use of overly broad material support charges, punishing behavior that did not demonstrate intent to support terrorism’.

HRW reports that the largest share of convictions in terrorism-related cases since September 11 have been based on material support charges. (See DDF’s resource page on material support.) One disturbing and high profile example of using material support charges to prosecute based on political belief is the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian, a professor of engineering at the University of Southern Florida. The prosecution’s case hinged on phone conversations Dr.Al-Arian had with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prior to its designation as an Federally-designated Terrorism Organization; ‘prosecutors then relied heavily on evidence of Al-Arian’s political views to convince the jury to convict him without establishing a link to any specific act of violence (p. 6 Executive Summary)’.

There is no doubt about the chilling effect that these abuses have on the Muslim-American community and their Constitutional right to dissent. Have a problem with your houses of worship being infiltrated by hostile racist law enforcement? You must be a terrorist. Have an opinion about the Israel/Palestine nightmare? You are – somehow – a serious threat to U.S. national security.

But don’t worry! In case you have no political opinions, you still have a chance to be among the FBI chosen ones. HRW found that in some cases agents find their marks by hanging around outside mosques and throwing out inflammatory statements at passers-by until someone engages. ’Random’ is the word that comes to mind and one example cited is the so-called Newburgh Four which is an entrapment case so tragic that DDF published a comic book about it as an educational resource aspiring to save others from the same fate.
HRW has made a persuasive case that terror prosecutions based on religious and political profiling are rife and that the consequences for the accused, for human rights – and for dissent – in the United States are highly troubling. Throughout the report’s detailed recommendations to the President, Congress, FBI, DOJ on down, HRW urges that investigations must not be made ‘on the basis of religious behavior, political opinion, or other activity protected by the right to freedom of expression under international law’. And then there’s that pesky First Amendment.

DDF joins HRW’s urgent call for reform. In this writer’s view, in light of the evidence, perhaps all post-9-11 terror cases should be reviewed – and sentencing reconsidered – given the kinds of unlawful manipulation, bias, over-prosecution and sentencing that now define U.S. security practice.

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

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza

Glenn Greenwald. (photo: Salon)
Terrorism in the Israeli Attack on Gaza
By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
29 July 14

As I’ve written many times before, “terrorism” is, and from the start was designed to be, almost entirely devoid of discernible meaning. It’s a fear-mongering slogan, lacking any consistent application, intended to end rational debate and justify virtually any conduct by those who apply the term. But to the extent it means anything beyond that, it typically refers to the killing of civilians as a means of furthering political or military goals.

Below are two charts reflecting the deaths of civilians, soldiers and “militants” in both Gaza and Israel since the July 8 Israeli attack began. The statistics used are unduly generous toward Israel, since “militants” in Gaza are often nothing more than residents who take up arms to defend their homes against an invading and occupying army. Even with that generous interpretation, these numbers, standing alone, tell a powerful story:

If you landed on earth from another planet this week, knowing nothing other than the most common use of the word “terrorism,” which side do you think would most frequently be referred to as “terrorists”?

Often, the most vivid illustration of the criminality of this attack comes not from data but from isolated stories. Yesterday, for instance, “in Khan Younis, five members of the Najjar family, which lost 21 people in a previous strike, were killed.” Meanwhile, “in the Al Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, an airstrike from an F-16 killed the mayor, Anis Abu Shamala, and four others in his home, some of whom had taken refuge there from intense artillery shelling nearby.”

At the same time, the Israeli government’s messaging machine quickly switched from hyping rocket attacks, which were causing relatively little damage, to featuring what it began calling “terror tunnels”. The U.S. media dutifully followed suit, with CNN anchor (and former AIPAC employee) Wolf Blitzer touring a “terror tunnel” led around by the IDF and his flashlight, while the New York Times’ Jodi Rudoren did the same in an article headlined “Tunnels Lead Right to the Heart of Israeli Fear,” quoting “Israeli military officials”, “an Israeli military spokesman”, and “Israeli experts”. But a separate article in the NYT highlighted how these “terror tunnels” are actually used:

The strikes during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr came after the latest humanitarian halt to hostilities was punctured by attacks on both sides, culminating in the most deadly incursion yet by Palestinian militants through an underground tunnelfrom Gaza into Israel.

Colonel Lerner said Tuesday that between four and eight gunmen had burst from the tunnel near a military watchtower near the border and killed five soldiers in an adjacent building with antitank missiles.

In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”

© 2014 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] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 29 - Aug. 3

22] Call for end to water cut-offs in Detroit – July 29
23] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – July 29
24] No Drone Research at JHU – July 29
25] Rally to oppose Baltimore’s curfew laws – July 29
26] See the film “Amílcar Cabral” – July 29
27] EPA Clean Power Plan Hearing – July 30
28] Foreign state actors in the latest Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations – July 30
29] Protest the massacre of the Palestinians in Gaza – July 30
30] See the film “The Ghosts of Jeju” – July 30
31] Silent candlelight vigil to mourn children killed in Gaza – July 30
32] An Evening with Norman Finkelstein – July 30
33] UUs take action against deportation – July 31 – Aug. 2
34] D.C. In It Together Fest – July 31 – Aug. 3
35] Webinar Introduction to Transformational Resilience – July 31
22] – Join the national call-in day on Tues., July 29 and demand that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder end the water war, restore water to all residents, and implement the Detroit Water Affordabiity Plan. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) promised to halt shut-offs, but it has rumored they are still happening. This is a local manufactured emergency, but a national issue. If this ALEC-led effort succeeds in Detroit, these tactics will be coming to your community next. That's why Progressive Democrats of America is convening a series of emergency actions. Call all of these numbers from 11 AM to 3 PM every Tuesday: (517) 373-3400 (Main Office), (517) 335-7858 (Constituent Services), and (202) 624-5840 (Washington, DC office). You can also send a FAX: (517) 335-6863.

During past call-ins, staffers claimed the Governor has no role in causing this crisis. This is blatantly untrue. Tell whoever offers this excuse that you know Detroit's emergency manager--appointed by Governor Snyder--is behind this horrendous policy called by The Guardian a "right-wing state and corporate push to cut off water," and "economic shock therapy at its most ruthless and racist." Under this policy, DWSD has been shutting off water to homes with balances as low as $40. By summer DWSD plans to have turned off water for 150,000 Detroit residents. This while Red Wing Stadium, Ford Field, golf courses, high rises and industrial buildings have outstanding balances greater than $30 million and still have water.

23] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is July 29. Call 215-426-0364.

24] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on July 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

25] – Voice your opinion on the youth curfew laws and hear Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts speak at a community meeting on Tues., July 29 at 6 PM at University of Baltimore Law Center Moot Court, 1401 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21202. Use the Mt. Royal Street entrance.

The new Baltimore curfews, which have been hotly contested, will go into effect on August 8, 2014. Under the new legislation, all children under 14 must be indoors by 9 PM throughout the year, and youth between 14 and 16 must be in by 10 PM on school nights and 11 PM on weekends. Youth will be taken to the Baltimore Youth Connection Center if they are in violation of the curfew, an effort, the Mayor says, to “identify and help Baltimore’s most vulnerable children” and to get them “out of harm’s way and into a safe environment.” The Mayor emphasizes that this is a not a criminal enforcement.

The America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), however, calls the legislation “unworkable,” and creates opportunities for “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.” The law would prevent an older child from running out to the store for a parent and a young child at home, and could disproportionately target poor, minority areas, which already have a heavy police presence. After one violation, a child’s parents may be issued a civil citation or be required to attend family counseling. If there are repeat violations, the parents or guardians could receive a civil citation or misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. A grassroots effort will be launched to educate the public on what the curfew amendments mean for them. This legislation will impact day-to-day life for your community, so give feedback by attending or sending comments to

26] – At Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW on Tues., July 29 from 7 to 9 PM, join BloomBars and TransAfrica for a film and discussion featuring one of the great African Leaders of the 20th century! The film, “Amílcar Cabral,” recalls the life of the leader of the Liberation Movement of Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau and the founder of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Using rare footage, the film shows the various aspects of the life of Cabral as a father, politician, humanist, and poet. While the film is in Portuguese, there are English subtitles. The screening will be followed by a Q&A discussion hosted by Mwiza Munthali, the Public Outreach Director of TransAfrica. Go to The suggested donation is $10, and the proceeds support both TransAfrica and BloomBars. Enjoy free organic popcorn.

27] – On Wed., July 30 from 9 AM to 8 PM, attend the EPA Clean Power Plan Hearing at William Jefferson Clinton East Building, Room 1153, 1201 Constitution Ave. NW, WDC. Physicians for Social Responsibility's Dr. Catherine Thomasson and Barb Gottlieb will testify at this hearing, one of four hearings in the US on the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan rule, which aims to reduce carbon emissions. Members of the public can register to testify at any of the four hearings. Go to for information about each hearing. Email

28] – Following the 1967 War and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a conscious effort began to create a just and lasting peace settlement between Israel and Palestine. Since the initial negotiations, the peace process has always involved outside actors, from the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations to individual states and actors. In a lecture on Wed., July 30 from 1 to 2 PM at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, panelists Michele Dunne and Jenab Tutunji will focus on the role of foreign state actors in the most recent peace negotiations and both positive and negative effects of outside actors on the process. Email

29] – Be at the Baltimore Penn Station, 1500 N Charles St. on Wed., July 30 from 5:30 to 7 PM to protest the massacre of the Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza has claimed over 1000 lives, while in the West Bank Israeli forces have fired on mass marches, killing and injuring Palestinians protesting the attacks. Come out again in solidarity with the Palestinian people, this time for a march from Penn Station to the corner of North Avenue and Charles St. The march will end before Norman Finkelstein's talk at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse. Visit

30] – On Wed., July 30 from 6 to 8:30 PM, the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach presents… “The Ghosts of Jeju,” an 80-minute documentary about the struggle of the people of Jeju Island, South Korea, at the Theological College Conference Room, 415 Michigan Ave. NE, WDC 20017. Use the Brookland Metro, located across from the Basilica. Enter via the front door. The film tells the story of the struggle of the people of Gangjeong Village who are nonviolently protesting the construction of a naval base to accommodate the U.S. geopolitical “Asian Pivot.” Columbans are active in this struggle and will be available to answer questions and join in a discussion of the issue. RSVP to or 202-635-5812.

31] – The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, in conjunction with the Arab American Institute, American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, Bethlehem Association, Coalition of Palestinian American Organizations, and Network of Arab-American Professionals-DC, will hold a silent candlelight vigil in front of the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW on Wed., July 30 at 7 PM to mourn the innocent souls taken by Israel's indiscriminate violence. As of this morning, over 1000 Palestinians have been killed, with thousands more wounded or unjustly arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces. In a report, the United Nations estimates that 80% of those killed were civilians, women and children. In this time of anger, frustration, and mourning, we ask that our community comes together to honor and mourn those who lost their lives due to the U.S. government's continued support of Israel's illegal occupation, blockade, and massacre. Email

32] – On Wed., July 30 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's, there will be An Evening with Norman Finkelstein—the longtime and consistently principled critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestine—for an evening of discussion on the politics of the Middle East. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He is the author of a number of books, “Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End” (OR Books, 2012); “What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage” (OR Books, 2012), “This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion” (OR Books, 2010, expanded paperback edition, 2011), Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone Renews Israel’s License to Kill” (OR Books, 2011), “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” (University of California Press, 2005, expanded paperback edition, 2008), and “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering” (Verso, 2000, expanded paperback edition, 2003).

33] – On June 29th, delegates at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly 2014 in Providence, RI passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) calling on UUs to join national faith leaders and immigrant rights advocates from across the nation from Thurs., July 31 through Sat., Aug. 2 to call on the White House to stop the deportations of immigrants and end the unjust laws tearing apart families, communities and congregations. Meet at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. NE.

The AIW called for UUs to consider participating in planned civil disobedience on July 31 and to support the National Day Laborer Organizing Network's #Not1More Deportation Campaign. Not One More will have a Day of Action in D.C. on Aug. 2. On Fri., Aug. 1, there will be a day of training. See

34] – Gather at the St. Stephens Church, 1525 Newton St. NW from Thurs., July 31 through Sun., Aug. 3 D.C. In It Together Fest, an independent festival of arts music and activism happening at spaces throughout the District. For a schedule of events and participating groups, see

35] – Join a webinar Introduction to Transformational Resilience on Thurs., July 31 from 7:30 to 9 PM. Living in a warming world is hard and trying to address the climate crisis in our congregations can sometimes be a dispiriting business. Interfaith Power & Light-DMV is proud to offer a special webinar on transformational resilience so that together, we can continue to respond and act from a compassionate, hopeful, and spiritually-rooted place. This webinar will be guided by Bob Doppelt, well-known thinker and writer on sustainability and Executive Director of the Resource Innovation Group. Register at

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] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' Is Not Enough

Gaza City. (photo: AP)

Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' Is Not Enough
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
27 July 14

When ordinary countries fight wars they have war aims. In World War II, the US wanted to defeat Germany militarily, but then to help it return to democracy and to economic health. By 1947 the US would actually be spending a lot of money on Germany’s well-being via the Marshall Plan.

Israel has no strategic war aims in Gaza because it has no large scale, long term strategy concerning the Strip.

Its war is all about tactics and minutiae. How many tunnels and rockets can it destroy? How much damage can it inflict on the Hamas leadership? But tunnels and rockets can be rebuilt and the dead leaders’ cousins will take over after them.

It is frankly stupid to think the Israelis can, in Mitt Romney’s words, kick the can down the road forever on making peace with the Palestinians. It hasn’t tried because Israel wants Palestinian land and resources and won’t give them up.

The United Nations has raised the specter that because of the Israeli blockade and the consequent inability of Palestinians in Gaza to build their infrastructure, it may well not be habitable by 2020. Its only native source of water, an aquifer, is 90% polluted. If Gaza fails, where will its by-then 2 million people go? Will Israel just let them thirst to death? Renal failure typically sets in in about 3 days if people don’t have water. That is genocide. Israel gives no evidence of doing any planning to avert that outcome in a territory for which it is responsible in international law.

The one strategy Israel has is to use collective punishment and a blockade on children and other non-combatants in an attempt to weaken Hamas. But even if they could succeed (so far they haven’t), the Israelis don’t seem to realize that the hellhole that is Gaza will always throw up radical groups intent on breaking the 1.7 million Palestinians there out of their large open-air jail, in which Israel is keeping them.

That is, Israel’s only real strategy is causing war, not ending war.

Gaza is not a country, that Israel can be at war with it. It is a tiny strip of land surrounded by Israel from land, sea and air, which is kept from exporting its made goods for the most part, faces severe restrictions on imports, and therefore has had imposed on it a 40% or so unemployment rate. Some 56% of Palestinians in Gaza are food insecure. Gaza is recognized by the international community as an occupied territory, with Israel being the occupying power. If being occupied by Israel were so great, by the way, why is Gaza so badly off?

Hamas keeps rejecting any ceasefire that does not include a provision for the lifting of the siege of the civilian population.

I heard the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, speaking after the meeting of diplomats in Paris, and he spoke about a settlement that allowed for the social and economic development of the Palestinians.

What a joke! France is has done nothing practical to end the blockade or allow Palestinians to develop.

So a cease-fire that does not include an end to the blockade on Gaza by Israel is not a cease-fire, it is a pause in the war.

© 2014 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] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs