Tuesday, May 31, 2011

June Is Torture Awareness Month: Meeting to Prevent US Use of Torture


Regarding another critical issue,  the Center for Constitutional Rights invites you to "Accountability Today–Preventing Torture Tomorrow," a panel held in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, June 1,  to mark the beginning of Torture Awareness Month. This panel will feature the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, legal experts including CCR senior staff attorney Katherine Gallagher, and video testimonials from survivors of the U.S. torture program.
What: “Accountability Today – Preventing Torture Tomorrow,” a discussion about ongoing efforts to hold torturers accountable, and what we can do together to end torture
When: Wednesday June 1, 6:00 p.m. to 9pm
6:00 p.m. – Opening Reception with refreshments and hors d’oeuvres
6:30 p.m. – Keynote, Panel Discussion, Video Testimony, Q&A
8:00 p.m. – Closing Reception, with live musical performance
Who: Juan E. Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and a torture survivor; Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights; Amrit Singh, Senior Legal Officer for the National Security and Counterterrorism program, Open Society Justice Initiative
Where: Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 E Capitol St, Washington D.C. 20003. (Located between 2nd and 3rd Streets, behind the U.S. Supreme Court; closest metro stop: Capitol South and Union Station)
Please RSVP here and spread the word on facebook. For more information, visit CCR's website.
Thank you for your continued support,
Annette Warren Dickerson
Director of the Education and Outreach Department
Center for Constitutional Rights

Preventing War: Bombing Libya Violates Constitution and War Powers Act of 1973

Kucinich: Urgent - You're Needed. Vote on Libya Tomorrow.
Dear Dick Bennett,
Last week, I laid out our strategy for ending the War in Libya and we're making progress. The House leadership has agreed to a floor vote on a resolution that exercises the War Powers Act of 1973. This vote could end the illegal War in Libya.
The vote is scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday June1st.
It is urgent that you call your Congressperson and ask him or her to vote YES on House Concurrent Resolution 51. You can look up your member of congress at the following link:
This vote shouldn't be necessary, of course. The United States Constitution requires congressional authorization to go to war. The administration has disregarded the Constitution. Instead, they have spun the conflict as a minor intervention or as part of NATO, but the fact remains that we're bombing another country and we pay, by far, the largest percentage of NATO's military bills. This is a war that we're leading - and it's a war that violates our Constitution and the War Powers Act. It's time we end this war.
Congress must find its voice and the American people must call upon Congress to take the Administration off the war path. This is an opportunity to do exactly that, and I need your help. Can you call your Congressperson right now and tell him or her to vote for House Concurrent Resolution 51 and end the war in Libya. Click here:
With respect,

Dennis Kucinich

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mourning Day 2011 (Memorial Day) Newsletter: National Days Project

Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of PEACE.  (#1 May 20, 2009; #2 May 31, 2010).  SEEKING ALTERNATIVES TO MILITARISM, WARS, EMPIRE, FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE.  

Formerly Decoration Day, the last Monday in May remembers members of the armed forces killed in war. 
(Veterans Day: Nov. 11, a legal holiday in the US in commemoration of the end of WWI and in honor of veterans of the armed forces, formerly, Armistice Day.)

Contents of #1
Shalom Center
Noam Chomsky on Torture
Dave Davison
William Blum’s Anti-Empire Reports
Howard Zinn
Letter from Cloy
Michael Munk, posted by Juan Cole
Tom Markham

Contents #2
Veterans for Peace, Arlington West
American Friends Service Committee
US Media and US Wars
War Resisters League Military Expenditures Pie Chart
Historians Against the Wars:  Afghanistan
Veterans for Peace 2009
OMNI Memorial Day Newsletter 2009

Contents of #3
Normalizing Militarism: Dick
Rabbi Waskow: Day of Mourning
Honor the Troops, Stop Killing Them in Unnecessary Wars: Hudson
Last Afghan War Memorial Day: Greenwald
IVAW Supports the Wounded
Memorial Day Glorification of War: Robinson
Blum:  War-mongering, More Wars, More Memorials: Iran


     Memorial Day.   In memory of our military killed in war.   A solemn occasion.  It must pain loving relatives to see it so commodified. A typical ad appeared in The Arkansas Gazette on May 27, 2011, selling GMC Sierra trucks.  “Memorial Day” is announced at the top, but the ad otherwise entirely about the trucks, and a small push for Little Rock’s RiverFest, “Where the Fun Runs Deep.”   Google “Memorial Day” and you will find mainly commercialism, including an ad for “Las Vegas Memorial Day Weekend Party Packages….a great 3-day weekend to Sin City,” where the “parties are endless,” the ad grotesquely juxtaposed in Google with a Memorial Day “for remembrance of those who've served and those who've paid the ultimate price...keeping us free.”   The commercialism of our soldiers’ deaths is reprehensible.   But the statement just quoted raises an even deeper objection.  
     It is not an objection easy to express in our often jingoistic nation.   The editor of National Review Online, in a review of anti-war films explaining why they failed at the box office, wrote that “Americans are both anti-war and anti-anti-war.”   What he was referring to was the majority of the public’s two-fold opposition to the Afghan war-- “because it was going so badly,” and they disliked criticism of the troops.  The majority public was not outraged at the wars, as were the filmmakers, because  the Afghan and Iraq wars were foolish, immoral, illegal, killed civilians indiscriminately,  brutalized our own troops, and had nothing whatever to do with keeping the US free, but they opposed the wars only because they were weary (because, let’s add, of the individual taxes and national debt),
      But if the Afghan war, the Iraq war, and all the other wars initiated by the US since WWII possess these liabilities, how can we legitimately remember those who served and died without making some distinctions and offering some contexts?    Many US soldiers fought and died because they were from military families and tradition.   But in addition, many other troops, without the draft a mercenary military establishment, were deceived and bought by their own government.   The budget for military recruiting runs into the billions of dollars annually.   And prospective recruits are promised bonuses, professional skills for civilian life, college education, and present and future medical care, only some of which come true.   That is, we do and should grieve for our troops killed in foreign wars, not because all were heroes (some became rapists and murderers, and all were engaged to some degree in killing civilians), and not because they protected the USA, protected the American Way of Life; rather we mourn for them because.they too were victims.  The suffering unleashed against the Iraqi and Afghan people is unspeakable.   But thousands of US troops also have been killed or now suffer from life-lasting physical and mental damage.
       For these reasons, the present remembrance of Memorial Day is unacceptable because it contributes to permanent war by making war normal and therefore acceptable.         Normalizing militarism in our culture—for example, through war toys, weapons systems, VA hospitals, permanent war, military cemeteries, and memorializing the killed troops—prepares the population to support wars, and thwarts efforts to end them.   Any effort to end US interventions and invasions must confront all of the US Culture of War that support present and future wars—from ethnocentrism, exceptionalism, chauvinism, and xenophobia to poverty and the Pentagon budget.    Several national days are part of this cultural reinforcement (including Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and Columbus Day), and Memorial Day—as though all the wars have been needed and legal--is a powerful example.
      This Memorial Day has again exhibited a fierce, warrior USA.   AMC Weekend did its patriotic best as an arm of the military-corporate complex by giving us “War Heroes Weekend.”  One program, “A Path to Honor,” depicted some soldiers in their first deployment, leaving families, making sacrifices, for honor, freedom, nation, god. And the soldiers were Black and Hispanic.  The documentary was paid for by American Airlines, “supporting the troops and their families,” no mention of the millions of dollars paid to AA for war transport.  Soon followed by an ad for the Acura TL with a beautiful female doing a striptease from plain clothes to elegant evening dress, with the message: “Aggression in its most elegant form.”
      Even PBS, intended originally to be a medium for mindfulness between national aggression and corporate aggression, bristled with US wars and war patriotism.  Sunday night PBS presented three-and-a-half hours of the “National Memorial Day Concert,” packed with patriotic songs, speeches, and fireworks, and sponsored by the military-corporate complex--Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and the Department of the Army.   Monday we could see “War Letters” and “Hallowed Grounds” (US overseas cemeteries).  And Tuesday night presented three-and-a-half hours of “American Road to Victory” (D-Day, Hell’s Highway, Battle of the Bulge, the US military’s worst defeat in its history depicted as a heroic stand against overwhelming odds).
     Memorial Day USA today promotes ethnocentric nationalism, consumerism/US capitalism, and militarism.  Let us re-imagine it for all the victims of the US National Security State, for all who have suffered US state terrorism, and let us re-name it for compassion—Mourning Day.  Dick

RABBI ARTHUR WASKOW, SHALOM CENTER, A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

“Memorial Day: Mourning for -- Gil Scott-Heron, Arthur Goldreich, & All who suffer in war, terrorism, & torture”  5-29-11
Earlier this month, I sent out the full text of "Ashes, Stones, and Flowers: A Litany of Mourning for All Who Have Suffered in War, Terrorism, & Torture"  in the hope that many of our readers would prepare ahead of time to use it on Memorial Day.
I write now in the firm belief that the deepest observance of Memorial Day must be not memory only but also action to end war, terrorism, and torture.
To embody that commitment, please join in our petition to end the Afghanistan War by clicking here.  office@shalomctr.org  [copying lost the link, sorry]
With prayers and action for shalom, salaam, peace --  Arthur
 [We also join with Arlene Goldbard in remembrance of Gil Scott-Heron. Arlene is chair of the board of The Shalom Center and a community-arts activist and speaker. Subscribe to her blog and/ or post comments here.  She writes:}

Gil Scott-Heron died on Friday, and that is a sad, sad sentence to write. If you are familiar with his music, then you know what I'm talking about; and if you're not, you can begin to remedy that by following the links in this essay. Listen to the beautiful "Rivers of My Fathers" from 1974's Winter in America to start your journey by clicking here. . . . http://www.theshalomcenter.org/node/619

This Memorial Day, honor the killed by ending the war  5-29-11

Drew Hudson, USAction/TrueMajority.org to jbennet
We're 11 votes away from ending the war
Dear Dick ,
We came within a few votes of ending the war last week.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, and Americans everywhere will gather at parades and barbecues and family functions to remember our veterans and those we lost to war. And on the minds of many will be the longest war in American history, a conflict that has claimed over 1,500 American lives -- the war in Afghanistan.

But this Memorial Day, we've got a real reason to hope for a more peaceful future.

A few days ago, we came within 11 votes of ending the war in Afghanistan. That's more support than ever before for ending the war in Afghanistan, and includes endorsements from some of the most powerful people in Congress - including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

With new supporters and more powerful allies than ever before, we need to press our advantage and keep the pressure on Congress and the White House to set a timetable to end the war and bring home our troops.

In honor of Memorial Day, can you donate $10 right now to our campaign to end the war in Afghanistan? 

Here's what's next: Rep. McGovern, whose amendment nearly passed this week, has already turned his plan to end the war into a stand-alone bill with several Republican cosponsors. This gives us a great chance to pick up the 11 votes we need, and pass a law that ends the war in Afghanistan. At the same time, we'll be working with key Senators to include a timeline for withdrawal in their version of the bill the House passed today -- setting up a showdown in Congress later this summer.

But waging a major campaign in both Houses of Congress is a big job. We need support to print materials, send delegations to meet with key members of Congress in D.C. and in their home districts, organize press events to highlight public support for an end to the war and build more effective online actions that put you in contact with legislators fast, before the next vote to end the war.

Help us see this through and make 2011 the year that we began to end the war in Afghanistan.
Drew Hudson
USAction / TrueMajority
1825 K St. NW, Suite 210, Washington, DC 20006
PH: 202.263.4520 FAX: 202.263.4530

Are 1,500 reasons enough? From Robert Greenwald
Watch the Video   |   Sign the Petition http://bravenewfilms.org/
Dear James,
Thanks to your financial support, we're able to create powerful, timely actions to end the war like this.
It’s time to say, “enough is enough.”
This weekend, many Americans will mark Memorial Day at barbecues or other patriotic events, but thousands of families will spend the day dealing with the heartbreaking absence of a loved one. Others will spend the day like they spent every day for the last decade: hoping there’s not a phone call or a knock at the door to tell them their deployed family member won’t be coming home.
This should be the last Memorial Day we put military families through this agony for a war that’s not making us safer. Watch our new video and then sign our petition to tell your Member of Congress why the troops should come home from Afghanistan.
More than 1,500 troops have died in the Afghanistan War so far, and the best way to honor their memory is to get our men and women home. President Obama and Congress will soon decide how many troops to bring home and whether we'll keep wasting $2 billion a week on a senseless war. It’s critical we let them know we want a swift return of all of our troops from Afghanistan.
Please watch our new Memorial Day video and sign our petition to end this war.
Derrick Crowe, Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Foundation team.  To ensure delivery of our emails, please add info@bravenew01.org  to your address book. http://bravenewfilms.org/
Also find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes or RSS.
Brave New Foundation |
10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Another three-day holiday weekend arrives. Here in the Northeast spring has finally sprung! Throughout the United States workers and students alike enjoy the five federal Monday holidays as well-earned vacation days. Yet these five holidays all have unique meanings, and Memorial Day is especially poignant for many families.
This Monday we take time to remember the soldiers who have fought for us.  Families dress gravesites with flowers, share treasured photos, and participate in Memorial Day parades. Those of us who have not experienced personal loss reflect on the coffins coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. We remember how the media exposed the Walter Reed Hospital as less of a healing haven and more of a bureaucratic maze. We ache for soldiers who come home with brain damage from IEDs, loss of limbs, and horrifying war stories. We pay attention.
On this Memorial Day, I am watching my three-month-old grandson and hoping. Can I imagine him at war? Absolutely not!  Will he be a patriot? Absolutely. Defend his family? Yes. But I know that as I hold him, rock him, coo to him, cuddle and sing, the Congress of the United States is considering a bill that would allow the President to go to war without anyone else’s approval.
It’s dubbed the “endless war” bill. This country has been at war so long, a generation has grown up thinking that is just the way it is. I can’t stand that.  Not just because of my grandson, but because of the endless waste. Some wars are won. But the devastation is so extraordinary, it ends up defining history. The sacrifice on every side is unfathomable. This Memorial Day I am thanking all those who have served and suffered. I am also thinking of peace.  A federal budget that is not primarily spent on weapons and war. A future for all our sons and daughters with no thoughts of having to die on a battlefield somewhere far from home. I will spend this holiday Memorial Day on vacation with my family -- grateful, remembering, and wishing -- plus readying myself to get back to my day job working for peace every single day. Peace for my baby boy Bennett and for all of the babies everywhere.
By Susan Shaer
WAND Executive Director

Take Action
Send a Letter-to-the-Editor.
Make a donation to support our efforts at Fort Hood.
Sign the Operation Recovery Pledge of Support.
Send us your feedback.

Dear James ,
Operation Recovery Team steps up the pressure at Fort Hood
Today, our Operation Recovery team deployed at Fort Hood, Texas will attempt to meet with base commander General Donald Campbell to address concerns about the plight of the thousands of traumatized troops under his authority and care.  His office has not responded to our previous attempts to communicate with him, including the hundreds of emails supporters like you have sent to bring this issue to his attention.
You can do your part to support our efforts this Memorial Day by sending a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper about the plight of traumatized troops at Fort Hood and across the military.
Fort Hood is ground zero in our fight to end the deployment of traumatized troops across the military.  As the largest military installation in the United States, Fort Hood represents 10% of the Army's fighting force and rotates a large number of troops in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
A USA Today article last fall described the dire situation for troops dealing with trauma at Fort Hood, citing the following staggering statistics:
Fort Hood psychological counselors meet with 4,000 patients every month.  The base counseling services are overwhelmed and have to refer many soldiers for counseling off-base.
In 2009, over 7,000 Fort Hood soldiers were on anti-depressant or anti-psychotic medications.
As of last fall, there was only one social worker available at all of Fort Hood to handle cases of Military Sexual Trauma.
The article, written just 7 months ago, includes dire predictions from many Fort Hood staff that the problem would grow much worse with the continued conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is why we are at Fort Hood this summer.  We are outreaching to soldiers and their families to gather data on the dire situation for traumatized troops at Fort Hood, and to help empower the military community there to take action and do something about it.
We know that Fort Hood is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this issue that is ravaging the entire military.
Help us raise awareness about the issue of traumatized troops in your local community by sending a Letter to the Editor this Memorial Day.
We will keep you posted about our attempts to meet with General Campbell. Wish us luck!
The Operation Recovery Campaign Team
Killeen, Texas

Strength Through Peace: Out of Iraq and Afghanistan
From: Jim
Date: Mon, 31 May 2010 06:31:58 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Memorial Day 2010
“Memorial Day 2010, “War Is An Old Recycled Lie”
 Three dead Americans in Afghanistan~Why ?

War is a waste so why do we celebrate it with parades, flags and glorious war stories when, in reality, they are fought by our youth who are but pawns in the hands of old men~ seduced by power and greed~ who are more than willing to waste our most precious resource on illegal wars and occupations: Allen L Roland

On this Memorial Day 2010, America is still enmeshed in a costly and illegal war and occupation of Iraq, rapidly increasing its military presence in illegally occupied Afghanistan and preparing for the possibility of war with Iran. The American War Wagon has not slowed down in 2010 but is accelerating ~ with little if any deep reflection on the true human and moral cost of this insanity.

On this Memorial Day, much of the media will roll over backwards to glorify war and all the soldiers slaughtered in wars. Tributes to the dead are easy; the dead don't talk back and if they did they would most certainly say ~ why ?
Here's an excerpt from Gronquist's timeless article written on Memorial Day 2005 ~ " The media will continue, this weekend, to suppress the truth, which is that the war in Iraq is a massive foreign policy failure; Iraq is a failed state, an incredibly chaotic unstable mess where tens of thousands of Iraqis have died needlessly. Unworried Americans will say we can't judge Iraq yet, we have to "wait and see," because down the road, if oil rich Iraq becomes a (Western-style) democracy "it will all be worth it". These are such easy words to utter, from the armchair experts on democracy for Muslims, so smug with remote controls in-hand. Yes, tell the loved ones of one million dead Iraqis that someday the deaths of their family members will all be worth it, as your own children scurry about safe and warm...

On Memorial Day we will blithely ignore the massive protest and hatred that our polices, occupations, torture and wrongful imprisonment have inspired in the Muslim and Arab world. Come to think of it, many Europeans, Latin Americans and Africans aren't enthralled with our foreign policies either. But an empire can ignore the common sense of the global masses of people who oppose war, and we can easily choose not to try to understand root causes of anti-American sentiment. C'mon - America, it's Memorial Day, tune that negative reality out and turn on your television for yet another glorious war hero story."

On May 30, 2010, the direct cost of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan hit $1 trillion. In a few weeks, the House of Representatives will be asked to vote for $33 billion of additional "emergency" supplemental spending to continue the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
We must now face the hard cold reality that War is an insurmountable human waste and an old recycled lie ~not a cause for glorification and celebration ~ and then demand action from our political leaders to end this wasteby no longer funding our foreign wars and occupations.

Mohandas Gandhi said it best ~ What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction of war is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty and democracy?  Jim Robinson


The Anti-Empire Report June 5th, 2009
by William Blum
http://www.killinghope.org/  [PREVENTING ANOTHER WAR]

The great, international, demonic, truly frightening Iranian threat

The United States is "facing a nuclear threat in Iran" — article in Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, May 26
"the growing missile threat from North Korea and Iran" — article in the Washington Post and other major newspapers, May 26
"Iran's threat transcends religion. Regardless of sectarian bent, Muslim communities need to oppose the attempts by Iran ... to extend Shia extremism and influence throughout the world." — op-ed article in Boston Globe, May 27
"A Festering Evil. Doing nothing is not an option in handling the threat from Iran" — headline in Investor's Business Daily, May 27, 2009
This is a very small sample from American newspapers covering but two days.
"Fifty-one percent of Israelis support an immediate Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites" — BBC, May 24
After taking office, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We will not allow Holocaust-deniers [Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] to carry out another holocaust." — Haaretz (Israel), May 14, 2009
Like clinical paranoia, "the threat from Iran" is impervious to correction by rational argument.
Two new novels have just appeared, from major American publishers, thrillers based on Iran having a nuclear weapon and the dangers one can imagine that that portends — "Banquo's Ghosts" by Rich Lowry & Keith Korman, and "The Increment" by David Ignatius. "Bomb, bomb, bomb. Let's bomb Iran," declares a CIA official in the latter book. The other book derides the very idea of "dialogue" with Iran while implicitly viewing torture as acceptable.1
On May 12, in New York City, a debate was held on the proposition that "Diplomacy With Iran Is Going Nowhere" (English translation: "Should we bomb Iran?"). Arguing in the affirmative, were Liz Cheney, former State Department official (and daughter of a certain unindicted war criminal) and Dan Senor, formerly the top spokesman for Washington's Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Their "opponents" were R. Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state, and Kenneth Pollack, former National Security Council official and CIA analyst and author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq", a book that, unsurprisingly, did not have too long a shelf life.2
This is what "debate" on US foreign policy looks like in America in the first decade of the 21st century AD — four quintessential establishment figures. If such a "debate" had been held in the Soviet Union during the Cold War ("Detente With The United States Is Going Nowhere"), the American mainstream media would unanimously have had a jolly time making fun of it. The sponsor of the New York debate was the conservative Rosenkranz Foundation, but if a liberal (as opposed to a progressive or radical leftist) organization had been the sponsor, while there probably would have been a bit more of an ideological gap between the chosen pairs of speakers, it's unlikely that any of the present-day myths concerning Iran would have been seriously challenged by either side. These myths include the following, all of which I've dealt with before in this report but inasmuch as they are repeated on a regular basis in the media and by administration representatives, I think that readers need to be reminded of the counter arguments.
  • Iran has no right to nuclear weapons: Yet, there is no international law that says that the US, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not. Iran has every reason to feel threatened. In any event, the US intelligence community's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of December 2007, "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities", makes a point of saying in bold type and italics: “This NIE does not assume that Iran intends to acquire nuclear weapons.” The report goes on to state: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program ."
  • Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier: I have yet to read of Ahmadinejad saying simply, clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally that he thinks that what we know as the Holocaust never happened. He has instead commented about the peculiarity and injustice of a Holocaust which took place in Europe resulting in a state for the Jews in the Middle East instead of in Europe. Why are the Palestinians paying a price for a German crime? he asks. And he has questioned the figure of six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany, as have many other people of all political stripes.
  • Ahmadinejad has called for violence against Israel: His 2005 remark re "wiping Israel off the map", besides being a very questionable translation, has been seriously misinterpreted, as evidenced by the fact that the following year he declared: “The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon, the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.”3 Obviously, he was not calling for any kind of violent attack upon Israel, for the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place peacefully.
  • Iran has no right to provide arms to Hamas and Hezbollah: However, the United States, we are assured, has every right to do the same for Israel and Egypt.
  • The fact that Obama says he's willing to "talk" to some of the "enemies" like Iran more than the Bush administration did sounds good: But one doesn't have to be too cynical to believe that it will not amount to more than a public relations gimmick. It's only change of policy that counts. Why doesn't Obama just state that he would not attack Iran unless Iran first attacked the US or Israel or anyone else? Besides, the Bush administration met with Iran on several occasions.
The following should also be kept in mind: The Washington Post, March 5, 2009, reported: "A senior Israeli official in Washington" has asserted that "Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation." This was the very last sentence in the article and, according to an extensive Nexis search, did not appear in any other English-language media in the world.
In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion "Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel." She "also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears." This appeared in Haaretz.com, October 25, 2007 (print edition October 26), but not in any US media or in any other English-language world media except the BBC citing the Iranian Mehr English-language news agency, October 27.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Wars and Warming

This is the first comprehensive recognition by a scientist that I know of the immense danger posed by warming and the wars to ensue.   The peace movement now organize to prevent the US from choosing to continue its preference for a National Security State instead of an International Cooperative State.  Dick

Memorial Day, 2030
By Joseph Romm, Hell and High Water.  
27 May 2011 08:40 AM PDT. Climate Progress
The three worst direct impacts to humans from our unsustainable use of energy will, I think, be Dust-Bowlification and sea level rise and ocean poisoning:  Hell and High Water.  But another impact - far more difficult to project quantitatively because there is no paleoclimate analog - may well affect far more people both directly and indirectly: war, conflict, competition for arable and/or habitable land.
We will have to work as hard as possible to make sure we don't leave a world of wars to our children. That means avoiding decades if not centuries of strife and conflict from catastrophic climate change. That also means finally ending our addiction to oil, a source - if not the source - of two of our biggest recent wars. As the NYT reported in 2009:
The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.
Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.That's a key reason 33 generals and admirals supported the comprehensive climate and clean energy jobs bill last year, asserting "Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place" and "threatening America's security."  The Pentagon itself has made the climate/security link explicit in its Quadrennial Defense Review.Sadly, the chance that humanity will avert catastrophic climate impacts has dropped  sharply this year (see "The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2").  And that means it is increasingly likely we face a world beyond 450 ppm atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, which in turn means we likely cross carbon cycle tipping points that threaten to quickly take us to 800 to 1000 ppm.
It is a world not merely of endless regional resource wars around the globe. It is a world with dozens of Darfurs and Pakistani mega-floods, of countless environmental refugees - hundreds of millions by the second half of this century - all clamoring to occupy the parts of the developed world that aren't flooded or desertified.
In such a world, everyone will ultimately become a veteran, and Veteran's Day and Memorial Day may fade into obscurity, as people forget about a time when wars were the exception, a time when soldiers were but a small minority of the population.  And if we don't act swiftly and strongly to stop it, the worst impacts could last a long, long time (see NOAA stunner: Climate change "largely irreversible for 1000 years," with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe and Nature Geoscience: ocean dead zones "devoid of fish and seafood" are poised to expand and "remain for thousands of years").
So when does this start to happen?
Thomas Fingar, "the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst," sees it happening by the mid-2020s:
By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.
For poorer countries, climate change "could be the straw that breaks the camel's back," Fingar said, while the United States will face "Dust Bowl" conditions in the parched Southwest....
He said U.S. intelligence agencies accepted the consensual scientific view of global warming, including the conclusion that it is too late to avert significant disruption over the next two decades. The conclusions are in line with an intelligence assessment produced this summer that characterized global warming as a serious security threat for the coming decades.
Floods and droughts will trigger mass migrations and political upheaval in many parts of the developing world.
For the latest literature review and projections, see "Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path," the source of this figure, where "A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought":
The National Center for Atmospheric Research, "Climate change: Drought may threaten much of globe within decades," explains the implications of such low readings of the Palmer Drought Severity Index [PDSI]:
By the 2030s, the results indicated that some regions in the United States and overseas could experience particularly severe conditions, with average decadal readings potentially dropping to -4 to -6 in much of the central and western United States as well as several regions overseas, and -8 or lower in parts of the Mediterranean. By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.
The PDSI in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).
And, of course, we've seen that even in areas expected to become wetter, can experience an extreme heat wave so unprecedented that it forces the entire country to suspend grain exports:
Russian Meteorological Center: "There was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat."
Russian President Medvedev: "What is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past." NYT: "Russia Bans Grain Exports After Drought Shrivels Crop"
Significantly, the UK government's chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out a scenario similar to Fingar's in a 2009 speech to the government's Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster. He warned that by 2030, "A 'perfect storm' of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions," as the UK's Guardian put it.
You can see a five-minute BBC interview with Beddington here. The speech is now online. Here are some excerpts:
We saw the food spike last year; prices going up by something in the order of 300%, rice went up by 400%, we saw food riots, we saw major issues for the poorest in the world, in the sense that the organisations like the World Food Programme did not have sufficient money to buy food on the open market and actually use it to feed the poorest of the poor.
So this is a major problem. You can see the catastrophic decline in those reserves, over the last five years or so, indicates that we actually have a problem; we're not growing enough food, we're not able to put stuff into the reserves....
So, what are the drivers? I am going to go through them now very briefly.
First of all, population growth. World population grows by six million every month - greater than the size of the UK population every year. Between now and... I am going to focus on the year 2030 and the reason I am going to focus on 2030 is that I feel that some of the climate change discussions focusing on 2100 don't actually grip.... I am going to look at 2030 because that's when a whole series of events come together.
By 2030, looking at population terms, you are looking at the global population increasing from a little over six billion at the moment to about eight billion....
... you are going to see major changes but particularly in the demand for livestock - meat and dairy....
... By 2030, the demand for food is going to be increased by about 50%. Can we do it? One of the questions. There is a major food security issue by 2030. We've got to somehow produce 50% more by that time.The second issue I want to focus on is the availability of fresh water.... The fresh water available per head of the world population is around 25% of what it was in 1960. To give you some idea of this; there are enormous potential shortages in certain parts of the world... China has something like 23% of the world's population and 11% of the world's water.
... the massive use of water is in agriculture and particularly in developing world agriculture. Something of the order of 70% of that. One in three people are already facing water shortages and the total world demand for water is predicted to increase by 30% by 2030.
So, we've got food - expectation of demand increase of 50% by 2030, we've got water - expectation of demand increase of 30% by 2030. And in terms of what it looks like, we have real issues of global water security.
.... where there is genuine water stress [in 2025 is] China and also parts of India, but look at parts of southern Europe where by 2025 we are looking at serious issues of water stress....
So, water is really enormously important. I am going to get onto the climate change interactions with it a little bit later but water is the one area that I feel is seriously threatening. It is so important because a shortage of water obviously interacts with a shortage of food, there are real potentials for driving significant international problems - what do you do if you have no water and you have no food? You migrate. So one can have a reasonable expectation that international migration will occur as these shortages come in.
Now, the third one I want to focus on is energy and, driven by the population increase that I talked about, the urbanisation I talked about and indeed the movement out of poverty.... For the first time, the demand of the rest of the world exceeded the demand of energy of the OECD..... Energy demand is actually increasing and going to hit something of the order of a 50% increase, again by 2030.
Now, if that were not enough... those are three things that are coming together. What will the world be like when that happens? But we also have, of course, the issue of climate change. Now, this is a very familiar slide to you all but we are shooting for a target of two degrees centigrade, a perfectly sensible target. There is enormous uncertainty in the climate change models about that particular target. It is perfectly reasonable to say 'shouldn't we be shooting for one degrees centigrade or, oddly enough, it is perfectly reasonable to say 'shouldn't we be shooting for three degrees centigrade', the only information we have is really enormously uncertain in terms of the climate change model.
Shooting for two seems a perfectly sensible and legitimate objective but there are enormous problems. You are talking about serious problems in tropical glaciers - the Chinese government has recognised this and has actually announced about 10 days ago that it is going to build 59 new reservoirs to take the glacial melt in the Xinjiang province. 59 reservoirs. It is actually contemplating putting many of them underground. This is a recognition that water, which has hitherto been stored in glaciers, is going to be very scarce. We have to think about water in a major way....
The other area that really worries me in terms of climate change and the potential for positive feedbacks and also for interactions with food is ocean acidification....As I say, it's as acid today as it has been for 25 million years. When this occurred some 25 million years ago, this level of acidification in the ocean, you had major problems with it, problems of extinctions of large numbers of species in the ocean community. The areas which are going to be hit most severely by this are the coral reefs of the world and that is already starting to show. Coral reefs provide significant protein supplies to about a billion people. So it is not just that you can't go snorkelling and see lots of pretty fish, it is that there are a billion people dependent on coral reefs for a very substantial portion of their high protein diet.
... we have got to deal with increased demand for energy, increased demand for food, increased demand for water, and we've got to do that while mitigating and adapting to climate change. And we have but 21 years to do it....
I will leave you with some key questions. Can nine billion people be fed? Can we cope with the demands in the future on water? Can we provide enough energy? Can we do it, all that, while mitigating and adapting to climate change? And can we do all that in 21 years time? That's when these things are going to start hitting in a really big way. We need to act now. We need investment in science and technology, and all the other ways of treating very seriously these major problems. 2030 is not very far away.
Some of this can be avoid or minimized if we act now. Some of it can't. But if we don't act strongly now, then by Memorial Day 2030, many of the global conflicts will either be resource wars or wars driven by environmental degradation and dislocation (see "Warming Will Worsen Water Wars). Indeed that may already have started to happen (see "Report: Climate Change and Environmental Degradation Trigger Darfur Crisis).
For one discussion of the kind of wars we might be seeing, albeit for the year 2046, here is a three-part radio series on Climate Wars.For all of the above reasons, veterans and security experts and politicians of all parties have begun working together to avoid the worst.   A key leader on climate and energy security has been the conservative Virgina Republican, John Warner, who pushed hard to pass the clean energy bill - because he is a former Navy secretary and former Senate Armed Services Committee chair and because he is a former Forest Service firefighter now "just absolutely heartbroken" because "the old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle" thanks in large part to global warming.
Warner's is "trying to build grass-roots support for congressional action to limit global warming," as Politics Daily reported. "He is traveling the country to discuss military research that shows climate change is a threat to U.S. national security." Here is part of PD's interview:
PD: Does the responsibility fall to us to respond to the consequences of climate change?
JW: Not exclusively, but we're often in the forefront of response to these things. We're the nation with the most sealift. The most airlift. We have more medical teams which are mobile, more storehouses of food and supplies to meet emergencies. And throughout our history, from the beginning of the republic, America's always had to respond to certain humanitarian disasters.
PD: What are some examples of destabilization due to climate?


WHY 350? Our Newsletter about 350PPM (parts per million concentration of carbon dioxice in the Earth's atmosphere) seeks to educate the public about the impending crisis of global warming and climate change. It is our belief that the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and return the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million. It is only at these levels or below that the climate and environmental systems of the earth as we know them can be maintained. As a point of reference it was 1988 when the earth's atmosphere contained 350 PPM of CO2.

 A Newsletter of the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology's - Climate Change Task Force produced by the Peaceable Kingdom's Thinking Like A Mountain Institute which is dedicated to the education about the impacts of C02 in Earth's atmosphere and the urgent need to cap and reduce CO2 emissions NOW! at levels below 350 PPM.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Resistance to SOA Ft. Benning

SOAW Prisoners Free
Posted by: "jbkranger@aol.com" jbkranger@aol.com   jbkranger
Tue May 24, 2011 12:26 pm (PDT)

Welcome Back Home David, Father Louis and Pedro!
Two SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience released from federal prisons.Pedro Guzmán released from the Stewart Detention Center!
We are so excited to tell you that Father Louis, David Omondi and Pedro Guzmán have been released from prison!
Last Friday David was met by friends and family at Yazoo City, Mississippi, and Father Louie at the Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution, California. After serving six months in prison for crossing the line onto Fort Benning during the 2010 November Vigil, they are glad to see loved ones and open space. They’ve sacrificed a lot to help transform this culture of militarism into one of justice and peace.
Can you join them in taking a stand? If you haven’t already, contact your representative today and urge them to sign on to the congressional letter calling for the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC by executive order.
Following 19 months of incarceration at the Stewart Detention Center (one of the largest immigrant prisons in the U.S.), Pedro Guzmán has been released! Pedro's unjust incarceration was the focus of a protest and civil disobedience action in the lead-up to the 2010 November Vigil. Click here for more information on Pedro's release.
As Father Louis, David and Pedro head home, and while the SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience Nancy and Chris remain locked up, we have been stepping up efforts in the halls of the Capitol to build support fortwo important Congressional sign on letters. If you take action today, it will help strengthen our case and bring us even closer to shutting down the SOA and archiving justice in Honduras.
Charges against SOA Watch activists still pending in Columbus, Georgia and Washington, DC
All charges against Kaelyn Forde and Jon Conway, two of the journalists who were among those indiscriminately arrested by the Columbus
police during the 2010 November Vigil, were dropped on Thursday, May 19, 2010 (click here for footage of Kaelyn's arrest in 2010). Nineteen of those who were arrested in Georgia last November still have pending charges of "unlawful assembly," "demonstration without a permit" and "picketing" against them. The SOA Watch Legal Collective is working with them on their legal defense.
Fifteen SOA Watch activists are scheduled to go to court in Washington, DC on September 12. The 15 were part of the die-in on the White House sidewalk during the SOA Watch Days of Action in April 2011. They engaged in the nonviolent direct action to call for an end to U.S. militarization in the Americas and on President Obama to sign an executive order to shut down the School of the Americas. Click here for more information and to watch a video about the SOA Watch Days of Action.
Thank you for all that you do in this movement! Let’s keep everyone who is being targeted by the criminal (in)justice system and Nancy and Chris in our thoughts, write to them in prison and help magnify the courageous actions of all the prisoners of conscience by turning up the heat in Congress to close the SOA/ WHINSEC for good.
Yours in struggle, SOA Watch
P.S. Already taken action? You can help spread the word about this vital work by sharing this action with your friends and family here.
Help SOA Watch accompany Honduran community leaders whose lives are being threatened.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s already given to our new Honduras Accompaniment Program. Since the 2009 coup led by SOA graduates, over 80 political assassinations have taken place in Honduras. As a recent SOA Watch delegation substantiated, the numbers of murders, detentions and death threats to community leaders and human rights activists have spiraled in recent weeks. Our partners in Honduras have asked that we send Spanish-speaking international accompaniers to vulnerable communities. The mere presence of international observers can literally save lives of those struggling for justice in Honduras.
Thanks to your generosity, we have already raised $4283
There is still time to help us reach our goal of $5,000 to allow us to launch this program in June. If you haven't already done so, please give today!
The Resistance Continues...
Florida, October 2011: March on the U.S. Southern Command
November 2011: Converge at the Gates of Fort Benning, Georgia
SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, D.C. 20017, USA
Our telephone: (202) 234 3440

Libyan War Unconstitutional: Kucinich

Libya - How We End the War   http://kucinich.us/
Dear Dick Bennett,
Flashback to the campaign trail - December 20, 2007:
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
That wasn't me. It was candidate Barack Obama. But now in Libya, President Obama is continuing a war that lacks Congressional approval and constitutional authority. Our Constitution clearly states that the United States Congress has the power to declare war. The President does not. And the War Powers Act requires him to seek Congressional approval within 60 days of conflict. That was last Friday. We've heard nothing.
If the President won't follow the Constitution and if he won't follow the War Powers Act, Congress will have to defund his intervention or take formal action to demand the President remove the troops.
I've also issued a petition that I'm asking citizens to sign to help put pressure on both parties in Congress to take this action:
Click here to sign the petition, then ask your friends and family to join you. http://kucinich.us/    reply@kucinich.us |
While the White House spins its intervention as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Qaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. Although the United States (by far) pays the largest percentage of NATO's military bills (25%), the President wants to depict this as NATO's action.
You decide which country has the ability to stop this war.
The American people have had enough of war creating more enemies abroad while killing our domestic agenda here at home. Our nation simply cannot afford another war, economically, diplomatically or spiritually. Congress must find its voice and the American people must call upon Congress to take the Administration off the war path.
Please sign our petition and pressure Congress to join me in taking action.
Thanks for everything,

Dennis Kucinich

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Afghanistan: Conversion from Military Waste and Killing Abroad to Civilian Needs at Home

Film and Petition to End Afghan War from Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foundation

Call Congress 1-888-231-9276
Tell your Rep to stop funding the Afghanistan War and strike language supporting endless war in the military spending bill.
Email Congress
Facebook This!
Follow @WarDollarsHome
Buy a War $$ Home t-shirt
May 24, 2011
Dear Dick,
We're in the midst of an Afghanistan Week of Action and we need your help to give a pink slip to the military industrial complex. The House is starting to discuss the annual military spending bill, giving us the best chance yet to end the Afghanistan War.
1. Call Congress using FCNL's toll-free number, 1-888-231-9276
Demand an amendment be adopted striking Section 1034, "Affirmation of Armed Conflict with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Associated Forces," completely from the bill. Terrorism must be stopped by the rule of law, not a never-ending war.
Demand a serious debate about the Afghanistan War and tell your representative to vote to immediately end funding for the war and occupation.
2. Email Congress to demand an end to the Afghanistan War.
3. Tweet @Congress: Listen to @CODEPINKalert. Now is the time to #ExitAfghanistan! Stop wasting billions we need at home on war. #endwar
4. Post to Facebook: Join the Afghanistan Week of Action. Tell Congress to Exit Afghanistan and bring the money home.
5. Contact your mayor to cosponsor the War Dollars Home Resolution.
It's time to demand the federal budget reflect the people's priorities.
Onward for Justice,Call on Congress: Use Pentagon Budget to End Wars and Bring Troops Home
|Peter Lems and Mary Zerkel, American Friends Service Committee to jbennet
May 24, 2011    actioncenter@afsc.org

Dear james,
Suggested Call Script:
I would like you to support the Lee, McGovern-Jones, and Garamendi amendments  to the Defense Authorization Act.  Collectively they represent responsible steps that can put us on the path to end the war in Afghanistan.  I would also like you to support an amendment to strike the Mckeon-McCain reauthorization language from the bill. 

This week, the House is expected to debate and vote on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) - the bill authorizing spending for the Pentagon.
Lend your voice to this nationally coordinated campaign.
Call Congress today, using this toll free number 1-888-231-9276*.  The calls started yesterday, and we want to keep pressure on Congress until the vote which is expected on Thursday.
It is time we brought our troops home from Afghanistan and stopped wasting billions of dollars we need at home. The last thing Congress should be doing is authorizing endless war, but that's exactly what the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act does.
The Lee amendment which would prohibit military funds from being spent in Afghanistan except to provide for a safely and orderly withdrawal of troops; the McGovern-Jones amendment would require President Obama to establish a timeline for withdrawal; and the Garamendi amendment would reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan to no more than 25,000 by the end of 2012 and to no more than 10,000 by the end of 2013.
Take a moment to make this call now. 
Wage Peace,
Peter Lems and Mary Zerkel
American Friends Service Committee

PS: Next week the travelling mural exhibit Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan will open in Indianapolis.  Please send an invitation to friends and family in the area.
* This toll-free number was paid for by the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

 Forward this message to your friends.
Help support AFSC's worldwide work for peace, justice and human dignity. Make a donation today.
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Are 1,500 reasons enough?
Watch the Video   |   Sign the Petition info@bravenew01.org
Dear James,
Thanks to your financial support, we're able to create powerful, timely actions to end the war like this.
It’s time to say, “enough is enough.”
This weekend, many Americans will mark Memorial Day at barbecues or other patriotic events, but thousands of families will spend the day dealing with the heartbreaking absence of a loved one. Others will spend the day like they spent every day for the last decade: hoping there’s not a phone call or a knock at the door to tell them their deployed family member won’t be coming home.
This should be the last Memorial Day we put military families through this agony for a war that’s not making us safer. Watch our new video and then sign our petition to tell your Member of Congress why the troops should come home from Afghanistan.
More than 1,500 troops have died in the Afghanistan War so far, and the best way to honor their memory is to get our men and women home. President Obama and Congress will soon decide how many troops to bring home and whether we'll keep wasting $2 billion a week on a senseless war. It’s critical we let them know we want a swift return of all of our troops from Afghanistan.
Please watch our new Memorial Day video and sign our petition to end this war.
Derrick Crowe, Robert Greenwald

and the Brave New Foundation team
To ensure delivery of our emails, please add info@bravenew01.org to your address book.
Also find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes or RSS.
Brave New Foundation | 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Syria Watch


Compiled by Dick Bennett for Culture of Peace 5-22-11

READER SUPPORTED NEWS offers a daily report on the Middle East

 RSN Special Coverage: Rocking the Cradle http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/330-131/4961-rocking-the-cradle

As the wave of pro-democracy, self-determination protests spread across the cradle of civilization, Reader Supported News will bring you the latest updates with uncensored and uncompromising coverage.

READ MORE http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/330-131/4961-rocking-the-cradle

Here are examples from the 20th and 21st.

Syrian Protests Draw Deadly Fire

By Al Jazeera and Agencies
21 May 11
Syrian security forces have killed at least 34 people, including an 11-year-old boy, according to witnesses, in the latest crackdown on anti-government protests. Twelve people were killed in the central city of Homs, while 15 died in the town of Maaret al-Naaman, located near the western city of Idlib, activists said.
Two protesters were shot in the southern region of Deraa, one person was shot in the Damascus suburb of Daraya and one in the port city of Latakia. Two more died in the eastern town of Deir Ezzor and one person killed in the central town of Hama. The dead in Homs included two boys, named as Aiham al-Ahmad, 11, and 16-year-old Ahmad Bakr, witnesses said.
The attack took place after officers drove police cars into a crowd of about 2,000 demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them, a second witness said. After hitting several protesters, one of the cars crashed into a wall, prompting the officers to jump out and open fire. Four other protesters were also killed, while at least seven others were wounded. READ MORE http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/05/201152013723847215.html http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/330-131/4961-rocking-the-cradle

Dorothy Parvaz: Inside Syria's Secret Prisons

By Al Jazeera
20 May 11
I was standing in two fist-sized pools of smeared, sticky blood, trying to sort out why there were seven angry Syrians yelling at me. Only one of them - who I came to know as Mr Shut Up during my three days in a detention center, where so many Syrians 'disappeared' are being kept - spoke English.
Watching them searching my bags, and observing the set of handcuffs hanging from the bunk bed wedged behind the desk in the middle of the room, I guessed that I was being arrested - or, at the very least, processed for detention. "Why are you doing this?" I asked. "Shut up! SHUT UP!" said Mr Shut Up.
I'd arrived there moments before, dragged by a handful of hair from a car where I'd been wedged between two armed men. They'd tried to convince me that they were taking me to my hotel, but, of course, I knew that there was no way plain-clothed security personnel would be kind enough to escort me to my accommodation. READ MORE http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/05/2011518184325620380.html

Medea Benjamin | Obama, Follow Your Own Advice on Non-Violence

By Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis, Reader Supported News
20 May 11
Given that President Obama daily authorizes the firing of hellfire missiles and the dropping of cluster bombs in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it was awful odd seeing him wax eloquent this week about the "moral force of non-violence" in places like Egypt and Tunisia. But there he was, the commander-in-chief of the largest empire in history, praising the power of peaceful protest in countries with repressive leaders backed by his own administration.
Were we unfamiliar with his actual policies - more than doubling the troops in Afghanistan, dramatically escalating a deadly drone war in Pakistan and unilaterally bombing for peace in Libya - it might have been inspiring to hear a major head of state reject violence as a means to political ends. Instead, we almost choked on the hypocrisy.
Cast beforehand as a major address on the Middle East, what President Obama offered with his speech on Thursday was nothing more than a reprisal of his 2009 address in Cairo: a lot of rhetoric about US support for peace and freedom in the region contradicted by the actual - and bipartisan - US policy over the past half-century of supporting ruthless authoritarian regimes. Yet even for all his talk of human rights and how he "will not tolerate aggression across borders" - yes, a US president said this - Obama didn't even feign concern about Saudi Arabia's repressive regime invading neighboring Bahrain to put down a pro-democracy movement there. In fact, the words "Saudi Arabia" were never uttered. READ MORE http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/267-33/6003-obama-follow-your-own-advice-on-non-violence

From: Amnesty International USA [mailto:alerts@takeaction.amnestyusa.org]
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2011 3:47 PM  To: Sue Skidmore
Subject: Mobilize for Syria

Syrian authorities have sent a deadly message to human rights activists in their country – stop the protests or we will kill.
Defend the right to peaceful protest with your gift to Amnesty International.

The death toll in Syria since mid-March is 580 and rising. Hundreds more have been arrested, many held incommunicado and at serious risk of torture.

Despite promises of reform, the Syrian government continues to engage in acts of violence and other abuses against its people, including shooting live bullets directly into protests and funeral processions.

Defend the right to free speech in Syria and the world over with a gift to Amnesty International.

The Syrian people have shown incredible resolve and remarkable bravery. They continue to speak out despite grave risks to their lives and liberty.
During a March protest, prominent pro-reform demonstrator Suheir al-Atassi was violently dragged away by her hair and arrested. Upon her April 3 release, she continued to demand reform. She is now in hiding.

Haytham al-Maleh, a veteran human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience, received death threats on his Facebook page, yet he spoke out recently on Al Jazeera television. He has been forced underground.

Human rights activists Hind al-Labwani, age 23, and Omar al-Labwani, age 19, both went into hiding after security forces threatened to arrest them. Their father, Kamal al-Labwani, is a prisoner of conscience who is currently serving a 12-year prison term.

Join Amnesty in calling for an end to the siege against the Syrian people - sign our petition to stop the bloodshed, then make a donation to Amnesty.

Protestors must be allowed to voice their opinions in safety.


Noam Chomsky, Democracy Now!
"Speaking at the 25th anniversary celebration of the national media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky analyzes the US response to the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. 'Across the [Middle East], an overwhelming majority of the population regards the United States as the main threat to their interests,' Chomsky says. 'The reason is very simple ... Plainly, the US and its allies are not going to want governments which are responsive to the will of the people. If that happens, not only will the US not control the region, but it will be thrown out.'"