Friday, June 30, 2017

Gorsuch Leans Far Right in Muslim Ban Case

Gorsuch Leans Far Right in Muslim Ban Case
Tuesday, June 27, 2017By Marjorie CohnTruthout | News Analysis

Judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 21, 2017 in Washington. The justice who favored torture and warrantless surveillance is also in favor of Trump's Muslim Ban. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during second day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 21, 2017, in Washington, DC. The justice who favored torture and warrantless surveillance is also in favor of Trump's Muslim Ban. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the first major test of the scope of executive power to protect national security since Neil Gorsuch joined the Court as associate justice.
Monday morning, the high court announced it will determine the legality of Donald Trump's executive order establishing a Muslim travel ban when it reconvenes the first Monday in October.
In the meantime, the high court allowed parts of the ban to go into effect. Trump can now exclude foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity, such as a school, in the United States.
The high court's majority ruling was signed "per curiam" (by the court), meaning that no justice took responsibility for writing it. Three justices -- Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch -- dissented from the majority ruling, saying they would have upheld the exclusion of everyone covered by Trump's ban without limitation. Gorsuch's dissent, while perhaps not unexpected coming from a person who obediently defended torture, warrantless surveillance and runaway executive power under the Bush administration, portends a far-right tilt for the court's newest justice.
Trump's initial travel ban, issued by executive order on January 27, was subsequently struck down by lower courts. On March 6, Trump issued a second, slightly narrower executive order (EO). It said that nationals of six predominantly-Muslim countries "present heightened risks to the security of the United States" and some of those who have entered the US through the immigration system "have proved to be threats to our national security."
The EO directed that the entry of nationals from the six countries be "suspended for 90 days from the effective date" of the order, to give the administration time to establish "adequate standards … to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists."
Two Appellate Courts Had Halted the Travel Ban
Two federal appellate courts stayed the implementation of the ban on travelers from the six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- but on different grounds.
In May, the Fourth Circuit ruled in a 10 to 3 decision that the ban on nationals from these countries violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause because it was motivated primarily by a desire to exclude Muslims from the United States, not by considerations of national security. The appellate court wrote that the EO "drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination," citing Trump's campaign statements calling for a "Muslim ban."
Trump "expressed anti-Muslim sentiment" during the presidential campaign, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory wrote for the majority. It is entirely plausible, Gregory added, that the EO's "stated national security interest was provided in bad faith, as a pretext for its religious purpose."
The Ninth Circuit, on the other hand, didn't reach the constitutional issue. A unanimous three-judge panel concluded earlier this month that the ban on nationals from the six countries, the suspension of all refugee admissions for 120 days, and the cap of 50,000 on refugees for 2017 exceeded the president's authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
As the panel stated, "the [EO] does not provide a rationale explaining why permitting entry of nationals from the six designated countries under current protocols would be detrimental to the interests of the United States," which is what the INA requires before the president can "suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens" to the US.
Moreover, the panel wrote, the EO "does not tie these nationals in any way to terrorist organizations within the six designated countries" or "identify these nationals as contributors to active conflict or as those responsible for insecure country conditions. It does not provide any link between an individual's nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism or their inherent dangerousness."
"National security is not a 'talismanic incantation' that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power," the panel added.
The EO also runs afoul of an INA provision that prohibits discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas "because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence," according to the panel.
The Supreme Court's Ruling
In its 13-page order on Monday, the Supreme Court stated, "An American individual or entity that has a bona fide relationship with a particular person seeking to enter the country as a refugee can legitimately claim concrete hardship if that person is excluded." As to those individuals, the Court left the appellate courts' injunctions against their exclusion in place.
Individuals with a "bona fide relationship" include those who have a "close familial relationship." Thus, "[a] foreign national who wishes to enter the United States to live with or visit a family member" cannot be excluded under the EO.
For entities, "the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the [EO]." Students from the designated countries who have been admitted to a US university have such a relationship. Workers who have accepted employment from a US company or a lecturer invited to address a US audience are also covered.
The Court directed the parties to address the issue of whether the challenges to the EO became moot on June 14, 2017, the end date of the EO's 90-day suspension period.
Thomas's dissent, joined by Alito and Gorsuch, concluded that the Trump administration "made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits" and that "failure to stay the injunctions will cause irreparable harm by interfering with 'its compelling need to provide for the Nation's security.'"
The dissenters feared "that the Court's remedy will prove unworkable" because government officials will have to decide whether those who seek to enter the US have sufficient connections to a person or entity in the US. "The compromise also will invite a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits, as parties and courts struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a 'bona fide relationship,' who precisely has a 'credible claim' to that relationship, and whether the claimed relationship was formed 'simply to avoid'" the EO, Thomas wrote (quoting from the per curiam order).
This is precisely why the Court should've put a hold on the entire travel ban pending its decision on the merits next term.
The Case Will Test the Limits of Executive Power
This case sets the stage for a major ruling on the scope and limits of presidential power in the context of national security.
During the Bush administration, the high court told the executive he could not deny Guantánamo detainees their right to habeas corpus. But the Court held during the Obama administration that people could be charged with providing material support for terrorism even if one purpose of the charity to which they donated supported humanitarian work.
Gorsuch's joinder with Thomas and Alito in allowing Trump to fully implement his Muslim ban portends the new justice's strong deference to the executive.
When he worked in Bush's Justice Department, Gorsuch dutifully argued against Guantánamo detainees who sought to bring habeas corpus petitions to challenge their detention, opposed the Detainee Treatment Act's prohibition of cruel treatment, argued that "enhanced interrogation" (a euphemism for torture) works and defended Bush's warrantless surveillance program. At his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch said he was just following orders.
This case will reveal in more depth Gorsuch's willingness to unconditionally defer to the executive.
In three months, the justices will grapple with whether Trump's EO violates the First Amendment and/or the INA. And since US district court judges in New York and Massachusetts concluded it was likely that Trump's first EO violated due process and equal protection, the Court may also decide whether the second EO contravenes the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses.
It is also possible the Court will conclude the issue is moot, because the suspension on entry of travelers from the six Muslim-majority countries expired on June 14, 2017, by its own terms. On June 14, however, Trump amended his March 6 order to say that the ban would take effect after the lower court orders halting its implementation were lifted. That would mean the issue is still alive. We will see whether the Supreme Court decides the issue on its legal merits and defines the scope of executive power in national security matters, or dismisses the case as moot.
Meanwhile, we would do well to note the significance of Gorsuch's affirmation of unbridled executive power.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and AbuseCowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website: Follow her on Twitter: @MarjorieCohn.
By Erika L. Sánchez, Truthout | News Analysis
By Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | Report
By Natascha Uhlmann, Truthout | Op-Ed

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [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

se--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - June 30 - July 1, 2017

29] Stop TransCanada Pipeline – June 30
30] Peace vigil at White House – June 30
31] WIB peace vigil – June 30
32] Palestinian professor Mazin Qumsiyeh -- June 30 – July 1
33] Black Lives Matter vigil – June 30
34] Ballroom Dancing – July 1
35] Meet me in the Middle – July 1
36] Maryland Save start up meeting – July 1
37] West Chester peace vigil – July 1
38] Feed the Poor – July 1
39] Towson Petco Adoption Event – July 1
40] Drone Death March – July 1
41] Support the Wheeler family who lost their home in a fire
42] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
43] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
44] Do you need any book shelves?
45] Join the Global Zero campaign
29] – TransCanada, the same corporation behind the Keystone Pipeline, has proposed the Eastern Panhandle Expansion project, a pipeline which would run through Western Maryland. It would connect a TransCanada pipeline in Pennsylvania to a Mountaineer Gas line in West Virginia, and would travel through Maryland just west of Hancock. While this pipeline would only span about three miles, it would endanger millions by crossing under two key bodies of water: The Potomac River and the C&O Canal. Governor Hogan can stop the pipeline under the Potomac. STOP TransCanada from putting this dangerous pipeline under the Potomac. Help launch a rolling encampment - over the course of the summer, as groups will be camping at the site of the proposed pipeline to raise awareness and call on the Governor to stop the pipeline.  There is a Press Conference Kick Off: Camp-In to Stop the Potomac Pipeline on Fri., June 30 from 11 AM to noon at McCoy’s Ferry Campground, Clear Spring, MD 21722.  Go to After the press conference, the first campers will kick off the rolling encampment. 

Rianna Eckel of Food & Water Watch will be driving to the press conference, and has three available seats. Call 978-835-6230.

30] – On Fri., June 30 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! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

31] – On Fri., June 30 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts. Stay for as long as you can. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride [].  Peace signs will be available. 

32] – Hear from Palestinian professor Mazin Qumsiyeh on Fri., June 30 at 2 PM at the Museum of Natural History, and at 6:30 PM at the Palestine Center (Jerusalem Fund). This is a Palestine Nature and Peace Studies Tour.  The Holy Land is part of the Fertile Crescent where people first developed agriculture. At the intersection of continents, it has high biodiversity in both flora and fauna. Medical geneticist Mazin Qumsiyeh will discuss this unique natural history, the challenges and obstacles to sustainability in a changing world, and the importance of museums and botanical gardens to support ecosystem services in developing areas or conflict zones. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, WDC 20560.  Email to RSVP.  The Jerusalem Fund is at 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, WDC 20037.

  The professor will also speak on Sat., July 1 at 10 AM at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 301 A St. SE, on Capitol Hill, Baxter Hall, WDC 20003.  Also he will speak on Saturday from 4 to 7 PM at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, 601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda 20814.  Go to  Call 503.653.6625.

33] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on June 30. Black Lives Matter.  

34] – 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 June 30. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

35] – As those in power in Washington, DC cross new boundaries of greed -- cutting everything from our healthcare to housing assistance to give more tax breaks to the rich -- we need YOU to to fight back for our communities. Join Communities United on Sat., July 1 at 10 AM for Meet Me in the Middle -- a monthly citywide gathering of members and allies. The meeting is at St. Vincent de Paul Church, President and E. Fayette Sts. (across from the Shot Tower subway stop). A light breakfast will be served. Help plan a delegation to D.C. for the national Tenants March on July 12. And bring your concerns about Baltimore's new bus system or whatever else is on your mind! Go to

36] – On Sat., July 1 from 10 AM to noon, come to a Maryland Save start up meeting, hosted by Direct Action Everywhere-DMV at Great Sage, 5809 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville 21029. Vigils take place at a slaughterhouse in Central Maryland. Join to set up the Maryland SAVE group to witness close to homes. The face book page for Maryland Farmed Animal Save is

37] – 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

38] – On Sat., July1 from 11 AM to 2 PM, come to the Community Outreach with the LACC Foundation at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 120 N Front St., Baltimore 21202. The LACC Foundation will be at 120 N. Front St. the first Saturday of each month. Meal distribution will happen. 

39] -- On Sat., July 1 from 11 AM to 2 PM, come to the Towson Petco Adoption Event, hosted by Passport Animal Rescue, Inc., at Petco, 6325 York Rd., Baltimore 21212.

40] – On Sat., July 1 from 11:45 AM to 1 PM, join the Philadelphia monthly Center City Anti-War Drone Death Walk. Meet at 12th & Arch Streets.  Please wear black in recognition of all the victims of Drone attacks.  It takes place the first Saturday of the month. Call Marge Van Cleef at 203-804-3013.

41] – Activists Joyce and Tim Wheeler now live in Sequim, Washington, but their son, Morgan and his family have lived in the Wheeler’s Baltimore home, 816 Beaumont Avenue for some time.  Tragically, at 3 AM on February 4, the home was burned beyond recognition.  Morgan was able to get his family out, but the house and its contents are totally destroyed.  Morgan's daughter, Erin, has created a Go Fund Me page which you can access below.  Anything you are able to contribute to support Morgan and his family would be greatly appreciated. Go to 


 - Description:

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

43] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at

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

45] -- 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.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wag the Dog? Offering No Proof, Trump Threatens New Attacks Against Syria

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wag the Dog? Offering No Proof, Trump Threatens New Attacks Against Syria

It could be, suggested one Russian lawmaker, that "the US is trying to hoodwink the global public with another 'test tube containing some white powder' to justify its own acts of aggression."

   In the wake of new reporting suggesting that the Trump administration's decision to target the Syrian government with cruise missiles in early April was conducted without sufficient evidence and over the objections of some in the U.S. intelligence community, the White House on Monday night threatened President Bashar al-Assad's government with further military action.

   In a message that, according to the New York Times, "appeared designed to set the stage for another possible military strike," the White House statement made a claim (though it offered no evidence to support it) that the Syrian military appeared to be planning a chemical attack similar to one that took place in the village of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. If "another" such attack took place, said the tweeted statement, there would be a "heavy price" for Assad to pay.

   "Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: ‘'We have a problem and let's look into it.' He wanted to bomb the ++++ out of Syria."

   While the White House has yet to present verifiable evidence proving Syria intentionally targeted its own civilian population with chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun, the Assad government—though it acknowledges carrying out airstrikes in the town that day—continues to deny it was behind the horrific deaths. The Russian government, an ally of Assad and fighting on its behalf against rebel factions and the Islamic State, has said that a conventional weapon dropped by a Syrian warplane may have hit depots of chemical agents, chlorine, or fertilizers which resulted in the toxic gas that killed an estimated 60 people, including many children.

    According the numerous outlets, Monday night's statement from the White House caught much of the U.S. intelligence community off guard. As the Independent reports, sources from within the U.S. State Department, Pentagon and Central Command said that "they did not know what had prompted the unprecedented threat to the Assad regime."

  In his response, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday morning said that "such threats to Syria's legitimate leaders are unacceptable." Meanwhile, the Syrian government dismissed the allegations as false.

   During a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday morning, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Trump's warning—aimed not just at Syria, but also at Russia and Iran—should be taken as, "If this happens again, we are pointing you on notice."

   But in the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, pushed back by saying the White House claims of a pending chemical attack by Syria smelled more like an orchestrated ruse for a preemptive strike by the U.S. rather than a serious attempt to prevent such an attack.  

   It could be, said Kosachev, as he made reference to the phony intelligence that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, "that the US is trying to hoodwink the global public with another 'test tube containing some white powder' to justify its own acts of aggression." Though stated as plausible, not factual, Kosachev said, "America could... be preparing its own preemptive strike against Syrian troops and play on the issue that has already been promoted globally, and so, any preventive actions will be justified." 

    Whatever the intelligence or motivations informing the White House, Kosachev added, the threats by Trump should be considered "extremely reprehensible" and "particularly frightening" given the stakes involved. "[The U.S.] can be aware of the upcoming attack and is not trying to prevent it," he said, "but pin the blame for it on the Syrian leader in advance."

   The latest developments come amid new reporting showing that previous White House claims about what led to the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun, often treated by officials and the U.S. press as certainties, should be met with much more skepticism, especially given the administration's pattern of making false and misleading statements to the public.

    On Sunday, published in the German news outlet Welt, U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that Trump "ignored important intelligence reports" when he ordered the launch of 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian government airbase on April 6, two days after he saw pictures of people dying, including children, from chemical exposure on April 4.

   According to Hersh's reporting, Trump issued the order for the attack "despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon."

    Offering a precise timeline, and citing unnamed intelligence sources and real-time transcripts he received detailing the military "deconfliction line" between Russia and U.S. coalition forces ahead of the April 4th attack, Hersh lays out a compelling case that Trump was unconcerned about the reliability or certainty of the narrative of events the led to the massacre in Khan Sheikhoun. According to Hersh's reporting, the target was a building in the town believed to house a command-and-control center and the crux of the attack was an airstrike carried out by the Syrians, with intelligence—and a sophisticated guided missile—supplied by the Russian military. Importantly, according to Hersh's account, the Russians had notified the CIA through official channels before the airstrike as a way to prevent any clandestine U.S. intelligence assets from being in the building at the time.

As reports and images began to emerge from the town on the day of the attack, reports Hersh,

The internet swung into action within hours, and gruesome photographs of the victims flooded television networks and YouTube. U.S. intelligence was tasked with establishing what had happened. Among the pieces of information received was an intercept of Syrian communications collected before the attack by an allied nation. The intercept, which had a particularly strong effect on some of Trump’s aides, did not mention nerve gas or sarin, but it did quote a Syrian general discussing a "special" weapon and the need for a highly skilled pilot to man the attack plane. The reference, as those in the American intelligence community understood, and many of the inexperienced aides and family members close to Trump may not have, was to a Russian-supplied bomb with its built-in guidance system. "If you’ve already decided it was a gas attack, you will then inevitably read the talk about a special weapon as involving a sarin bomb," the adviser said. "Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: ‘'We have a problem and let's look into it.' He wanted to bomb the ++++ out of Syria."

   Most striking as it relates to the events in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 and the current White House posture, is what one of Hersh's sources—identified as "senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community"—told the veteran reporter.

   "The issue is, what if there's another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria?" said the adviser. "Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He's incapable of saying he made a mistake."

   "Trump's claim that he knows of a proposed chemical weapons attack to be carried out by the Assad government, and that he will use military action to prevent this, should also worry everyone who wants peace in the Middle East."

    In the U.K. on Monday, the Stop the War Coalition issued a warning against any further moves by the Trump administration to escalate the war in Syria.

   "There can be no justification for the use of chemical weapons, and we condemn any use of them," the group said in a statement. "Trump's claim that he knows of a proposed chemical weapons attack to be carried out by the Assad government, and that he will use military action to prevent this, should also worry everyone who wants peace in the Middle East. We do not know what evidence he has, and it is clear that at least some US military sources are skeptical of his claims. But we do know that Trump has built up U.S. support for Saudi Arabia in recent months, and at the same time increased his verbal attacks on Iran, one of Syria's main allies."

   While condemning the bombing of civilian populations by all sides—the U.S., Russia, Syria, the U.K., and others—Stop the War said ending the war would not be "achieved through further intervention," but only through " genuine attempts to win a peace which benefits the people of the region who are suffering so much."

   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: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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

Can you sign? Can you help deliver? Can you act on July 12


  Look over the NCNR petition, and let me know if you can sign on to it. Also consider joining us in delivering it to the congressional leaders on July 12.  Finally, let me know if you can be part of the Rivers of Blood II action on the U.S. Capitol steps after the petition delivery.  This action will call attention to the fact that blood flows through the U.S. Capitol like a river as Congress continues to vote for war funding. We will commemorate Dr. King’s riverside Church speech, and honor Henry David Thoreau, born July 12, 1817. Unless we speak out against the warmongering, it will only get worse. Can we please add your name to this petition?



Petition from the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, July 12, 2017

To Representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and Senators Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer

   As members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], we are petitioning you on behalf of the voiceless, the poor, the middle class, the immigrants and people whose pleas are ignored.  Sadly, President Trump has embarked on a policy in favor of militarism, income inequality and climate chaos.  As part of his invidiousness, he has targeted immigrants and people of the Muslim faith.  We and so many others reject Trumpism, and we urge you as a legislator to also reject the president’s pernicious policies.  You could do this by passing laws which severely cut the military budget, provide a living wage for all, protect Mother Earth, and recognize that most immigrants are people fleeing human rights abuses.

   Of most concern to NCNR is the U.S. empire.  There are an estimated 800 military bases around the world, and members of the U.S. military are currently involved in seven wars.  Special operations soldiers may be involved in other conflicts as well.  In February, President Trump requested an additional $54 billion for the military, while making drastic cuts to social programs.  We cannot accept this, as spending on militarism currently consumes some 50% of the discretionary federal budget.

    As members of peace and justice organizations opposed to our government’s failed domestic and foreign policies, we are speaking out to challenge you to produce a budget which benefits the ninety-nine percent, most importantly the poor, rather than a wealthy and privileged elite.  At home, our economic system has been a bust for most everyone but the one percent.  Overseas, U.S. warmongering has had a devastating effect, most especially in the Middle East and Africa. For example, the government is using militarized unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones) to kill people, mostly civilians, in at least seven countries. The use of armed drones is wrong on many levels: the illegality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the lack of Congressional approval and the disregard of sovereignty.  Instead of militarism, Congress should emphasize diplomacy and humanitarian aid. 

   Disregard of the scientific research for the causes of climate chaos is leading to the destruction of the planet.   It can be argued that the Pentagon is the entity most responsible for ecocide.

   Poverty is adversely affecting the quality of life for too many citizens.  The people are suffering from lack of food, health care, education, a living wage, adequate housing, and the list goes on.  It is unconscionable that we have children in the United States going to bed hungry.  Just a portion of the bloated Pentagon budget redirected towards human needs could alleviate this suffering and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

  Since the U.S. has refused to get rid of its nuclear arsenal, which is capable of annihilation of all life on the planet, our government is extremely hypocritical in urging North Korea to disarm.  And the president, it seems, may lead us into a Hot War with North Korea.  This would be a tragedy of unforeseen consequence.

  Dangerous tensions and brinkmanship on the Korean peninsula could lead to armed conflict. North Korea continues its missile tests, and in response the Trump Administration has deployed the USS Michigan, a Trident submarine which is probably carrying nuclear weapons.

   South Korea could be considered a US military outpost. For example, the US installed THAAD, “a missile defense system,” and some portion of the South Korea population has protested these war cries from the Trump Administration.  US intrusion into Korean affairs is but one example of the reach of the U.S. Empire. Beating this war drum is a sure-fire way of demanding more money for the US military budget.

  On the 100th anniversary of the Great War, remember what Randolph Bourne told us: “War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate co-operation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense.”  Note that the Pentagon budget has never been audited.

   The president’s first act of war was the invasion in Yemen by the navy Seals who left behind a $75 million dollar plane in this bungled operation.  The USS Zumwalt, which was commissioned in Baltimore in October 2016, cost more than $4 billion, way over budget.  Last year, the ship broke down in the Panama Canal.

  When President Trump made his call for increasing the military budget, he did it on the USS Gerald Ford.  This battleship is not seaworthy, and due to cost over-runs has a price tag of more than $17 billion,

  The 59 sea-launched cruise missiles that Trump unleashed on a Syrian airport cost about $30 million.  The airport was in use the following day. 

   And on the Thursday before Easter, the U.S. military used MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever, in Afghanistan. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the use of MOAB was “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”

   A new approach to leadership is required to address the problems and crises we all face.  We have the audacity to petition you to give serious consideration to the demands stated here.  This is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” This was a prophetic speech.  King recognized the U.S. government was fighting an imperial war in Vietnam. He pointed out that this was “the symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” The Washington powerbrokers did not listen to King.  He predicted our current disastrous situation:  “we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.” As Congressional leaders, you should heed the words of King and renounce militarism, racism, income inequality and climate chaos.  Failure to do so will cause so many of us to nonviolently resist an administration bent on continuing policies which will lead to more war, more inequality and ecocide.

In peace, 

Joy First, Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski and Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

California EPA Becomes First U.S. Agency to Declare That Roundup Causes Cancer

California EPA Becomes First U.S. Agency to Declare That Roundup Causes Cancer
For Immediate Release

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 11:00am

Organization Profile: Center for Biological Diversity

Contact: Nathan Donley, (971) 717-6406,  

  SACRAMENTO, CA - The state of California announced today that as of July 7 it will list glyphosate, the main ingredient in the pesticide Roundup and the most common pesticide in the world, as a known human carcinogen under the state’s Proposition 65.

    Today’s decision by the California Environmental Protection Agency was prompted by the World Health Organization’s finding that glyphosate is a “probable” human carcinogen. The WHO’s cancer research agency is widely considered to be the gold standard for research on cancer.

   “California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides,” said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity and a former cancer researcher. “The U.S. EPA now needs to step up and acknowledge that the world’s most transparent and science-based assessment has linked glyphosate to cancer.”

  The state was cleared to move forward with its decision earlier this year to list glyphosate after a court denied Monsanto’s efforts to postpone the listing pending the outcome of the pesticide company’s legal challenge of the decision.

  Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in the United States as well as the world, and is the most widely used pesticide in California, as measured by area of treated land.

  An analysis by the Center, available in English and Spanish, found that more than half of the glyphosate sprayed in California is applied in the state’s eight most-impoverished counties. The analysis also found that the populations in these counties are predominantly Hispanic or Latino, indicating that glyphosate use in California is distributed unequally along both socioeconomic and racial lines.

    Earlier this year a report released by a federal scientific advisory panel concluded that the pesticides office at the U.S. EPA failed to follow its own guidelines when it found last year that glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship pesticide Roundup — is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
Recent court documents revealed that the chair of the federal EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee on glyphosate was in contact with Monsanto, providing insider information on the potential carcinogen listing, allowing the company to launch a campaign against it.

    The committee chair promised to thwart the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ review of glyphosate’s safety, saying that if he was successful he deserved a medal. The department never did review glyphosate’s safety, and the U.S. EPA continues to dispute the WHO’s cancer research agency’s findings.

   “This is a remarkable day for California, which forged ahead and did the right thing on glyphosate even while special-interest politics hamstring our federal government from taking action to protect people from this dangerous pesticide,” Donley said.


  At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Organization Links

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [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