Following my conscience to challenge US policies began with my resignation as a US diplomat in 2003 in opposition to the Bush war on Iraq. Before working as a diplomat I was a US Army Reserve Colonel. Over the past 12 years, my conscience has taken me on life’s journey to see the effect of US policies on Gaza, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Cuba, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Iran. My conscience is taking me now to North Korea. Today, as a citizen diplomat, I am part of a delegation of 30 international women peacemakers from around the world who will walk with Korean women, north and south, to call for an end to the Korean War and for a new beginning for a reunified Korea. We will hold international peace symposiums in Pyongyang and Seoul where we can listen to Korean women and share our experiences and ideas of mobilizing women to bring an end to violent conflict. On 24 May, our hope is to cross the two-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates millions of Korean families as a symbolic act of peace.
International, Northern and Southern Korean women activists who plan to cross the Korean Demilitarized Zone said Wednesday they are determined to move forward with their walk, despite the announcement that United Nations authorities can’t guarantee their safety if they walk from the North to the South at Panmunjom. Panmunjom is where the Korean War armistice agreement was signed, and it is critical to the delegates that the DMZ crossing take place at this symbolic site. Officials in Pyongyang have informed organizer Christine Ahn, a Korean-American peace activist, that without a formal letter from Seoul approving a crossing at Panmunjom they may have to cross at another location. Ahn said the group has been advised to consider crossing from nearby Kaesong on a highway that is used mainly for civilian and commercial purposes.
Jeffrey Sterling recently stood before a judge as his sentence was read. The former CIA officer, the judge declared, would spend 42 months — that’s three and half years — behind bars. The feds had convicted Sterling on nine felony charges, including seven counts of espionage. He didn’t sell secrets to the Russians. He didn’t trade intelligence for personal gain. He made no attempt to disrupt the American way of life. What did he do, then? He reported to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA had botched an operation to feed false information about nuclear technology to Iran — and may have actually helped Iran’s enrichment program instead. Largely based on this, the government accused Sterling of leaking details about the program to journalist James Risen, who wrote about it in his book State of War.
We Are Many, Amir Amirani’s epic film about the global anti Iraq war protests of 2003, received a four-minute standing ovation when it debuted at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival last June. The buzz about its national cinema release this Thursday (21 May) was amplified by Stephen Fry enthusing: “I’m not sure a trailer has ever made me want to see a film more,” to his 9.7 million Twitter army. Britpop godfather Damon Albarn has announced that he will be joining Amir and a select panel for a Q&A that will be streamed live on the opening night of the film at all participating cinemas. As such, the documentary is blessed with credible hype, and the foyer of north-east London’s Rio cinema was thick with anticipation on Sunday afternoon as Guardian Members came together for an exclusive preview of the one-to-watch doc from the new Michael Moore on the block.
On Friday the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee US involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act – limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth. But not even slower growth is enough when you have an empire to maintain worldwide, so the House majority slipped into the military spending bill an extra $89 billion for an emergency war fund. Such “emergency” spending is not addressed in the growth caps placed on the military under the 2011 budget control act. It is a loophole filled by Congress with Fed-printed money. Ironically, a good deal of this “emergency” money will go to President Obama’s war on ISIS even though neither the House nor the Senate has debated – let alone authorized – that war!
Thousands of people have protested in Okinawa against a controversial US marine airbase in the southern Japanese island, as a two-decade-long row over the relocation of the site deepens. The massive demonstrations on Sunday aimed to pressure Tokyo to halt building work for the military base that has continued despite vehement opposition from the local government in Okinawa. Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel stationed in Japan as part of a defence alliance, a proportion many of the island’s residents say is too high. Washington announced plans to move the Futenma airbase in 1996, hoping to ease tensions with the host community after the gang-rape of a schoolgirl by servicemen.
This is what it has all come down to…. the US and the corrupt, dictatorial Gulf monarchies meeting at Camp David Thursday and agreeing on a plan to flood the Middle East with ‘missile defense’ (MD) systems. These Gulf monarchies are the essential allies of the US in the world now (in addition to a few other fascist-leaning nations). Together they are destabilizing and creating chaos in Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and beyond. This meeting is evidence of the desperation and the moral decay of the USA. Obama announced that that he would streamline weapon sales and increase joint military exercises with Bahrain (home to US Navy Central Command and the Fifth Fleet), Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as part of an “iron-clad commitment” that the United States will help protect them against their neighbor and rival Iran. The Gulf states claim they fear Iran’s nuclear weapons even after recent successful negotiations to ensure they don’t build any.
Last summer, after months of encrypted emails, I spent three days in Moscow hanging out with Edward Snowden for a Wired cover story. Over pepperoni pizza, he told me that what finally drove him to leave his country and become a whistleblower was his conviction that the National Security Agency was conducting illegal surveillance on every American. Thursday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with him. In a long-awaited opinion, the three-judge panel ruled that the NSA program that secretly intercepts the telephone metadata of every American — who calls whom and when — was illegal.
Weisbrot added: “And then he did something that no U.S. president has done since 1999, when Hugo Chávez was president-elect of Venezuela: he met with Venezuela’s head of state. This was arguably as important for hemispheric relations as his meeting with Raúl Castro.” But with the appointment of Feierstein, Weisbrot told MintPress News that he believes U.S. policy toward Latin America may not have changed at all. “Feierstein’s been involved in campaigns against left governments since the U.S.-backed war against the Sandinistas in the 1980s,” Weisbrot told MintPress, adding that he can’t understand why nobody has reported on Feierstein’s appointment yet. Indeed, a quick review of Feierstein’s track record in Latin America reveals that the new senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council has played an integral role in facilitating destabilization of South American countries since the 1980s.
In an amazing turn of events, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this evening ordered the immediate release of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, the Transform Now Plowshares activists who were serving time in federal prison for their action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN to protest plans for a new multibillion dollar nuclear bomb plant there. The government had filed a notice that it would not oppose the release of Greg, Michael and Megan pending resentencing. The government’s notice was interesting—it included notice to the court that, when resentencing did happen, the government would not be seeking terms of imprisonment greater than the time already served.
Most distressing about investigative journalist Seymour Hersh’s story on the lies President Barack Obama’s administration reportedly told about the killing of Osama bin Laden is the general reaction of the United States establishment press. Hersh is an award-winning journalist best known for exposing the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War. It earned him a Pulitzer Prize. He also did stellar reporting on the abuse and torture of detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Yet, most establishment press seem to be shrugging at Hersh’s latest 10,000-word feature story published by the London Review of Books or they are snidely dismissing it altogether.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, law enforcement in the United States has undergone a dangerous transformation from protecting and serving the American public to enforcing Orwellian laws under the guise of national security. American law enforcement agencies have become heavily militarized, and they’ve been granted previously unseen levels of authority when it comes to the use of confidential informants in pursuit of criminals. The militarization can be seen on television screens and social media feeds around the nation. Instances of police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri; New York; Ohio; Baltimore and countless other cities have made police militarization and violence a national conversation.