Thursday, November 29, 2007

Will Homegrown Terrorrism Prevention Act intimidate activists?

The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 29 November 2007

A month ago, the House of Representatives passed legislation that targets Americans with radical ideologies for research. The bill has received little media attention and has almost unanimous support in the House. However, civil liberties groups see the bill as a threat to the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression, privacy and protest.

HR 1955, "The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007", apparently intended to assess "homegrown" terrorism threats and causes is on a fast-track through Congress. Proponents claim the bill would centralize information about the formation of domestic terrorists and would not impinge on constitutional rights.

On October 23, the bill passed the House of Representatives by a 404-6 margin with 23 members not voting. If passed in the Senate and signed into law by George W. Bush, the act would establish a ten-member National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, to study and propose legislation to address the threat of possible "radicalization" of people legally residing in the US.

Despite being written by a Democrat, the current version of the act would probably set up a Commission dominated by Republicans. By allowing Bush and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to each appoint one member of the Commission, and splitting the appointment of the other eight positions equally between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the Commission would consist of six Republican appointees and four Democrat ones.

The Commission would be tasked with collecting information on domestically spawned terrorism from a variety of sources, including foreign governments and previous domestic studies. The Commission would then report to Congress and recommend policy changes to address the threat. There is no opposition to this consolidation or research. However, the Commission would be given broad authority to hold hearings and collect evidence, powers that raise red flags for civil liberties groups.

Civil liberties activists have criticized the bill, some comparing the Commission it would establish to the McCarthy Commission that investigated Americans for possible associations with Communist groups, casting suspicion on law-abiding citizens and ruining their reputations. The Commission would be empowered to "hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties."

Odette Wilkens, the executive director of the Equal Justice Alliance, a constitutional watchdog group, compared the legislation to the McCarthy Commission and to the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which infiltrated, undermined and spied on civil rights and antiwar groups during the 1950s and 60s.

"The commission would have very broad powers. It could investigate anyone. It would create a public perception that whoever is being investigated by the Commission must be involved in subversive or illegal activities. It would give the appearance that whoever they are investigating is potentially a traitor or disloyal or a terrorist, even if all they were doing was advocating lawful views," Wilkens said.

In a speech on the floor of the House before the vote, Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-California), the chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and author of the bill said, "Free speech, espousing even very radical beliefs, is protected by our Constitution - but violent behavior is not. Our plan must be to intervene before a person crosses that line separating radical views from violent behavior, to understand the forces at work on the individual and the community, to create an environment that discourages disillusionment and alienation, that instills in young people a sense of belonging and faith in the future."

In the same speech, Harman explained why "homegrown" terrorists are a threat to the US. She offered the explanation that adolescents who might be susceptible to recruitment by gangs might also be potential terrorists.

"Combine that personal adolescent upheaval with the explosion of information technologies and communications tools - tools which American kids are using to broadcast messages from al-Qaeda - and there is a road map to terror, a 'retail outlet' for anger and warped aspirations. Link that intent with a trained terrorist operative who has actual capability, and a 'Made in the USA' suicide bomber is born," Harman said.

The bill specifically identifies the Internet as a tool of radicalization. "The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens."

In a press release, Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington American Civil Liberties Union legislative office, took issue with this characterization. "If Congress finds the Internet is dangerous, then the ACLU will have to worry about censorship and limitations on First Amendment activities. Why go down that road?" Fredrickson asked in a press release.

The ALCU has "serious concerns" about the bill. Fredrickson said, "Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme."

According to Wilkens, the bill, in its current form, lacks specific definitions. which would give the Commission expansive and possibly dangerous powers. The Committee would be set up to address the process of "violent radicalization," which the bill defines as "the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." According to Wilkens, the bill does not adequately define "an extremist belief system," opening the door for abuse.

"An 'extremist belief system' can be whatever anyone on the commission says it is. Back in the 60s, civil rights leaders and Vietnam War protesters were considered radicals. They weren't committing violence but they were considered radicals because of their belief system," Wilkens said.

The bill would also create a "Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States," on an unspecified University campus. Unlike other Centers of Excellence university-based government research centers created by the Department of Homeland Security, the Center established by this bill could have a chilling effect on political activity on campus because of its specific mission to "assist Federal, State, local and tribal homeland security officials through training, education, and research in preventing violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism," according to Wilkens.

"If you are on campus and the thought police are on campus are you going to want to join a political group?" Wilkens asked.

Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was one of three Democrats who voted against the bill, but he has given no public explanation for his opposition and his office did not respond to a call for comment as of this writing.

Neither the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) nor Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, voted on the bill.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut). With overwhelming support from the House, it is likely to pass quickly through the Senate.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Forum on American freedom at 7 p.m. Tuesday (TONIGHT) at OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology

Contact Gladys Tiffany 973-9049, Melanie Dietzel 442-8600, Dick Bennett 442-4600
Five citizens in the humanities will discuss the new book by Naomi Wolf, The End of America: A Citizen’s Call to Action. Wolf describes ten steps dictators have taken to shut down a democratic, open society—from Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin to Pinochet. Each of those ten steps is now under way in the United States today. The book is an impassioned call to return to the aspirations and beliefs of the Founding Fathers for a nation of, by, and for the people.


Corner of Maple and Storer, north of UA’s Old Main, adjacent east to Tri-Delta Sorority. Parking on Maple, Storer, campus parking lot a block north, and behind OMNI.
PANELISTS: Adelaide Adamson, Claire Detels, Tom Kennedy, Leonard Schulte, Doug Thompson. Dick Bennett, Moderator.


Wolf’s international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, questioned the unrealistic standards of beauty of the cosmetics industry. She has also written Fire with Fire: The New Female Power and Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood. She co-founded The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization that teaches young women how to become leaders and agents of change. A graduate of Yale and a former Rhodes Scholar, Wolf has written essays for The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Glamour, The New York Times, and other magazines and newspapers.

Addie Adamson, Ed.D. professor of English for 40+ years, taught the last seven as a teacher of English as A Second Language at the U of A, Fayetteville. I was a product of the 1960s, politically. I was teaching at San Antonio College from 1966 to 1975 (when I moved to the Mulberry River Valley, as a "drop-out" from the Nixon culture). I taught many wounded Vietnam Veterans and swore that I could never support any war again. Today, I feel that the U.S. government is making even more disastrous mistakes than did Nixon and cohorts. I fear greatly for our country. That is why I am glad to be on a panel to discuss this issue.

Claire Detels is UA Professor in Music History and Humanities active in arts education reform and feminist theory; keyboard performer and director of the Butcher-Detels Four-Hand Duo; author of Music in the Western Tradition and Soft Boundaries: Re-Visioning the Arts and Aesthetics in American Education.

Thomas C. Kennedy is UA Prof. Emer. of History Emeritus) & former Chair. He was President & Program Chair (three times) of Western Conference on British Studies, President of the Friends Historical Society (Great Britain, 1995), and Distinguished Alumnus, University of Dayton (1989). His publications include: British Quakerism, 1860-1920 and A History of the No-Conscription Fellowship, 1914-1919.

Leonard Schulte was raised Catholic in a small town in southwestern Missouri, attended seminary for six years, and became highly skeptical of his religious belief. He then studied philosophy at three different universities, most recently at the University of Arkansas from 1989 to 1993, where he completed all degree requirements for a Doctorate except for the dissertation. He has since taught philosophy courses, including Intro. to Phil, and Intro. to Ethics and Logic, at North West Arkansas Community College.

Doug Thompson is a news reporter and columnist for The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas and for the Arkansas News Bureau. The bureau provides state government news for newspapers in Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Conway, Pine Bluff and other regions of the state. He is a resident of Fayetteville, where he contributes a column to the Fayetteville Free Weekly. He's a long-standing critic of the current administration's policies on domestic spying and use of torture, among its other intelligence-gathering failures.

Dick Bennett is UA Prof. Emeritus in English, founder of OMNI, and compiler of Peace Movement Directory.


(Appended at the end of Wolf’s book.)

At critical moments in our history, Americans have been called upon to protect our Constitutional guarantees of liberty and justice. We face such a moment today. The American Freedom Campaign is a non-partisan citizens' alliance formed to reverse the abuse of executive power and restore our system of checks and balances with these ten goals:

Fully restore the right to challenge the legality of one's detention, or habeas corpus, and the right of detained suspects to be charged and brought to trial.

Prohibit torture and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Prohibit the use of secret evidence.

Prohibit the detention of anyone, including U.S. citizens, as an "enemy combatant" outside the battlefield, and on the President's say-so alone.

Prohibit the government from secretly breaking and entering our homes, tapping our phones or email, or seizing our computers without a court order, on the President's say-so alone.

Prohibit the President from "disappearing" anyone and holding them in secret detention.

Prohibit the executive from claiming "state secrets" to deny justice to victims of government misdeeds, and from claiming "executive privilege" to obstruct Congressional oversight and an open government.

Prohibit the abuse of signing statements, where the President seeks to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills.

Use the federal courts, or courts-martial, to charge and prosecute terrorism suspects, and close Guantanamo down.

Reaffirm that the Espionage Act does not prohibit journalists from reporting on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution.

Dick Bennett

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dick Bennett's presentation at Shiloh Museum on podcast

Please click on the link below and go down to episode 14 on the page.

Dick Bennett podcast Shiloh Museum

or paste this link into browser address bar:

Be patient while it loads.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Presidential candidates on global warming

Candidates speak

This Saturday, November 17, presidential candidates will gather in Los Angeles for the first ever Presidential Forum on Global Warming and America's Energy Future. The event will be a critical opportunity to hear from the candidates on their positions and to spotlight the climate crisis as one of the most important leadership challenges facing the next president.
> Thanks to you and thousands of other activists, energy and global warming are taking center stage in the 2008 campaign. This forum is an opportunity for you to hear from the candidates directly about where they stand on these issues you care so much about.
> More than a thousand people will fill the theater to watch the event, and due to overwhelming interest, we are giving everyone the chance to tune in!
> You can watch the live webcast at
> The event, which is sponsored by Grist and Living on Earth, will start this Saturday at 5:10 EST (2:10 PST) with remarks from Laurie David and a welcome address from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Each of the candidates will then get 30 minutes on stage to talk about their vision for solving our energy problems and answer questions on their policies.
> Here's the schedule on Saturday, November 17:
Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator John Edwards
> League of Conservation Voters' Education Fund has been a key partner in helping pull this important event together and we wanted to make sure that all of you had the opportunity to tune in!
> Be sure to visit this Saturday to watch the presidential forum on energy and global warming, and please forward this to your friends and family so they can see where the candidates stand on the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world today.
> Sincerely,
> Gene Karpinski
> President
> League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A melting Alaska draws visitors

By Yereth Rosen
The Christian Science Monitor
November 14, 2007
"Tourists still flock to Alaska to see Mount McKinley and ice caves, but a small and steady stream of visitors now head to the last frontier to see thawing tundra, crumbling glaciers, and ailing forests. Take Shishmaref, an Inupiat Eskimo village on the state's remote northwest coast. Known for exquisite ivory carvings and high-quality seal oil, it lures travelers these days because of its precarious perch on melting land.
When a team of scientists and religious leaders arrived in August, a highlight of the tour was viewing a house that had tumbled over the edge of the beach bluff; A storm had cut 20 feet from the shoreline previously held fast by frozen permafrost and sea-ice buildup.
"To many of us, Alaska is the distant early-warming system for the future of climate change," says Eric Chivian of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, which organized the trip. Because Alaska is heating up more than five times faster than the world as a whole, scientists, congressmen, foreign dignitaries, and the curious are coming to see the effects of global warming firsthand...,
"There is that sense that Alaska's going to change because [change] is inevitable, so let's see it before it changes," says Kirk Hoessle, owner of Alaska Wildland Adventures. Clients become more aware of the warming impacts in Alaska when they see the vast stretches of beetle-killed trees on the Kenai Peninsula or learn about the recent spate of lightning-strike fires that are uncharacteristic for the region, he says."

Veterans Day: A Day for Peace or for War?

By Ann Wright
t r u t h o u t | Perspective


Tuesday 13 November 2007

Could you ever imagine that Veterans Day was originally enacted as a day for world peace? Not by the way veterans who stand for peace are treated in Veterans Day ceremonies! Yet, according to the Veterans Affairs web site, Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally a US legal holiday to honor the end of World War I and to honor the need for world peace.

When it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, to honor the end of World War I, the US Congress stated: Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations. In 1938, the US Congress codified its earlier resolution by legislation naming November 11 as Armistice Day and dedicating the day "to the cause of world peace." In 1954, after World War II and the Korean Conflict, Congress - at the urging of the veterans service organizations - amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars and a national holiday still dedicated to "the cause of world peace."
Yet, now we have many Veterans Day organizers who want to silence "peace" on Veterans Day. This past weekend we "celebrated" Veterans Day, a day for all veterans and a day for "world peace", or so I thought, until I went to Long Beach, California. Like so many aspects of our military, events surrounding Veterans Day have been privatized. The City of Long Beach has given Veterans Day to a private group, a group that decides which veterans can participate in a Veterans Day parade.
The private organizers in Long Beach said veterans groups that are against the war and for peace were not allowed to march in the parade, as they did not have the proper "spirit."
Yet, the legislation enacting Veterans Day states that "the cause of world peace" is the goal of Veterans Day.
Private citizens who have never served in the military are authorized by the City of Long Beach to decide what Veterans Day stands for and which veterans are the "real" veterans - the veterans who meet their agenda.
In another strange anomaly about Veterans Day, in Santa Barbara, California, members of the Veterans for Peace chapter have had to carry their discharge papers in order to march in the city's Veterans Day parade. The same requirement was not made for Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion or any other veterans group participating in the parade. This year the Boston police arrested eighteen members of Veterans for Peace when they refused to move from the front of the podium at City Hall Plaza when parade officials wouldn't allow them to carry signs opposing the war in Iraq while marching in Boston's Veterans Day parade. Some of the protesters wore gags over their mouths, which they said symbolized the fact that they were permitted to march in the parade but not exercise their right to free speech. According to the Boston Globe, Nate Goldschlag, a veteran standing in front of the podium, said: "Our free speech and civil rights are being abridged here. We should be allowed to express our opposition to this war."

In Atlanta, the Veterans for Peace Chapter and the American Veterans for Equal Rights Georgia (AVER), a gay and lesbian veterans group, had their applications to participate in the Parade initially denied with this comment from the parade organizers: "Application denied. Failure to follow guidelines in previous year." Last year the VFP Atlanta chapter had a truck with a banner that said, "BRING THEM HOME ... NOW!" The truck also had a banner with a picture of First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq because he believed the invasion of Iraq was illegal. After first denying their applications, the association in charge of the Atlanta Veterans Day parade later said the groups could march but could not display any messages of peace, in the case of VFP, or show any "public displays of affection," in the case of AVER. "This is not a political parade. We don't allow anyone out there to promote ideas. There is no agenda allowed," Melvin Myers, president of the Parade Association, told Atlanta Progressive News.

In the Denver parade this year, the local Veterans for Peace chapter that had walked in the parade last year was told it was not invited back because its members were against the war. The day before the parade, a representative of the Denver United Veterans Council, the group organizing the city of Denver Veterans Day parade said there had been a misunderstanding and issued a late invitation to the VFP chapter. Frank Bessinger, a member of the Veterans for Peace group, said, "We didn't want to have to fight to get into the parade, we didn't want to have to protest. We're a veterans group and we just wanted to be in the Veterans Day Parade."

We veterans know that veterans have always had a variety of opinions on policies of every administration. During the Vietnam War, many, if not most, of those who served in Vietnam disagreed with the United States invasion and occupation of Vietnam. Today, many who have served in Iraq disagree with the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but despite their disagreement they served. Over 70 percent of the American people disagree with the war in Iraq, so why should veterans who also disagree with the war not be allowed to march in a Veterans Day parade?

City leaders should not give private organizations the right to deny veterans who believe in peace a place in a parade on a national veterans holiday created for peace!

Next year, we should put pressure on our city councils early to ensure the right of all veterans organizations to march in Veterans Day parades on a day dedicated to peace.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US military (13 years on active duty and 16 years in the US Army Reserves. She also was a US diplomat for 16 years and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She helped reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December, 2001. She resigned from the US diplomatic corps in March 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq. She is the co-author of "Dissent: Voices of Conscience" that will be available in January 2008.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Reuters reports that Chrisian Aid says rich nations must pay carbon debt

Rich must bear climate change costs - report
(Release at 0001 GMT, Monday Nov 12)
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) — The rich caused the problem and must therefore pay the price of fixing the global climate change crisis, a new report said on Monday.
Christian Aid, an agency of British and Irish churches, said industrialised nations were historically responsible and therefore morally liable to foot the multi-billion dollar cost of tackling the problem of man-made emissions of carbon gases.
"Nations that have grown rich in part by polluting without facing the costs of doing so must now repay their carbon debt to the developing world," said Andrew Pendleton, author of "Truly Inconvenient - tackling poverty and climate change at once".
It is an argument that will appeal to the developing nations which have used it regularly, but will probably meet diplomatic foot-dragging in the industrialised world whose economies are being threatened by surging oil prices.
Based on the Greenhouse Development Rights framework -- an equation allocating responsibility for emissions of greenhouse gases -- the United States should shoulder 34.3 percent of the annual bill, with the European Union on 26.6 percent.
India and China, both rapidly industrialising but still way behind their developed world counterparts, should bear 0.3 percent and 7.0 percent of the bill respectively.
Based on the calculation a year ago by British economist Nicholas Stern that acting now would cost one percent of gross world product a year, Washington's bill would be $212 billion a year while Brussels' would be $164 billion, the report said.
The report is aimed directly at a meeting next month of United Nations' environment ministers on the Indonesian island of Bali which environmentalists want to agree to open urgent talks on a new global climate protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol requires industrialised nations to cut carbon gases by five percent on average below 1990 levels in the period 2008-2012 when it expires, with as yet nothing in prospect to replace it.
But the United States rejected it in 2002 as being economic suicide and it is not binding on developing countries such as China which is building a coal-fired power station a week to feed its booming economy.
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Giles Elgood)
^REUTERS@ Reut06:29 11-11-07

UN environmental office

Jim Sniffen
Information Officer
UN Environment Programme
New York
tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fayetteville participates in nationwide sustainability rally

Matthew Petty leads
Center's rally Nov. 3, 2007, on Fayetteville, Arkansas, square.

Please click on link to read story in Northwest Arkansas Times.

Matthew Petty of Fayetteville dismantles booth after successful rally on Fayetteville square Nov. 3, 2007.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Step up against climate change today

Dear fellow Americans,

Tomorrow--this Saturday, November 3--we Americans have an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to the international fight against global warming, by pressing our own government to take action. On Saturday, a wave of rallies across the U.S. will pressure leaders to confront the climate crisis, and on Monday, thousands of U.S. young people will flood the halls of Congress for personal lobbying visits.

Most Avaaz members live outside the U.S., and tens of thousands of them have sent in messages urging Congress to act on climate change. But here in the U.S., we can get involved more directly. Avaaz's friend Al Gore has written a quick message explaining more--see below, or just click here to get involved:

As the only American on the Avaaz staff, I know how frustrating it is to watch our own government, acting in our name, block global progress on this issue. But change is possible--and tomorrow, we can help make it real.

- Ben Wikler,

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Al Gore

Dear friends,

The power of a single individual to create change has always inspired me. Earlier this year, my friend Bill McKibben decided he was going to establish a day of action to fight the climate crisis.

Out of his idea, "Step It Up 2007" was born, and on April 14th tens of thousands of Americans joined together at 1,400 rallies to raise their voices and demand that Congress cut carbon 80% by 2050.

"Step It Up 2: Who's A Leader" will take place this Saturday. You can find a rally in your area by visiting:

"Step It Up 2" is going to be an incredible event. Already, 59 Members of Congress and 7 Presidential candidates have signed up to attend rallies around the country. Participating is so easy: just click the link above and find a Step It Up event in your area. With hundreds scheduled in all 50 states, there is probably a rally near your home.

After you RSVP, use Step It Up's online tool to invite your member of Congress, both your Senators, and all of the presidential candidates. We need to convince as many of our elected leaders as possible to attend these events so they can witness first-hand the huge movement demanding action to solve the climate crisis.

Just the act of inviting your member of Congress will help demonstrate the incredible support for our cause.

Sign up to attend a Step It Up Rally by visiting:

People like Bill McKibben and events like Step It Up are helping us build the political will necessary to end the climate crisis. It is vital you participate in any way you can -- November 3rd is going to be an incredible day.

Thank you,

Al Gore

-------- End forwarded message --------
PS: At the same time as these events take place across the country, over 5,000 students from around the nation will be making history in Washington, D.C. at a conference called Power Shift. On Monday, where thousands of students will storm Capitol Hill, armed with photographs of Step It Up events as well as messages from Avaaz members around the world. When they meet with Congress, students won't just be speaking for themselves--they'll be representing the people around the country and the world who have joined the call for real action on climate change. If you're anywhere close to DC, it's not too late to get involved--just click here:

ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means "voice" in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, New York, Paris, Washington DC, Geneva, and Rio de Janeiro.

Write to You can also send postal mail to our New York office: 260 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor, New York, NY 10001 U.S.A.

If you have technical problems, please go to

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)