On the eve of the 5-year Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, thousands of people from around the globe will gather in New York City April 24-26 to demand a nuclear-free, peaceful, just and sustainable world. Activists, scholars, and students with anti-nuclear, peace, and environmental justice movements will call on the NPT Review Conference meeting at the United Nations to mandate the commencement of “good faith negotiations” for the complete elimination of the world’s nuclear arsenals, as required by the Treaty. Peace and Planet events will kick off with an international conference April 24-25 at the historic Cooper Union, featuring speakers from more than a dozen countries. On April 26, a mass rally will take place in Union Square, followed by a march to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza where millions of petition signatures will be presented to UN and NPT officials. The rally will launch a “Global Wave,” with participants symbolically waving goodbye to nuclear weapons.
A group of military veterans is taking aim at U.S. drone strikes overseas with graphic TV ads directly asking Air Force pilots to stop flying the unmanned aircraft, calling the operations immoral and illegal. The ads are the first commercials opposing U.S. drone operations ever shown on American TV, according to sponsors, which include the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento County and the Sacramento chapter of Veterans for Peace. The campaign is spearheaded by an activist website, KnowDrones.com. The commercials are airing this month on Comcast in Northern California communities near Beale Air Force Base, which is home to Golden Hawk reconnaissance drones.
It is no secret that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is suffering from unprecedented levels of tension, mainly instigated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Whether it was his controversial speech in Washington, D.C., which railed against any peaceful resolution with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, or his declaration – and subsequent flip-flop – that there would be no Palestinian state on his watch, Netanyahu has dominated the media here and abroad. Amid all this noise, important revelations about Israel’s nuclear weapons program have gone unnoticed. A few weeks ago, a 1987 Defense Department report that confirms Israel has nuclear weapons was declassified by the U.S. government. More significantly, the report also confirms what many have suspected all along: The U.S. government helped Israel develop their nuclear bomb.
A former Blackwater security guard was sentenced to life in prison and three others got 30-year terms on Monday in the massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, closing a case that had outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-U.S. sentiment around the world. The Sept. 16 incident stood out for its brazenness and formed a tense backdrop to talks between the United States and Iraq over the continued presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. It also sparked debate over private security contractors working for the U.S. government in war zones. The four guards opened fire with machine guns and grenade launchers on the Iraqis, including women and children, at Nisur Square. A heavily armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy the men were in had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats.
We need more principled people in government. We need people who will not advocate, as Mr. Koh has, the position that “[J]ustice for enemies ‘can be delivered through trials. Drones can also deliver.’” We need people in government who won’t make paternalistic and Orientalist generalizations about Middle Easterners by calling the U.S. diplomatic withdrawal from the Middle East in 2001 “akin to removing adult supervision from a playground populated by warring switchblade gangs.” Koh, On American Exceptionalism, 55 Stan. L. Rev. 1479, 1490-91 (2003). We need people in government who are principled enough to resign when the government it serves pursues an immoral and illegal path that jeopardizes innocent lives, rather than defend this pursuit. We need human rights lawyers in government who will refuse to sit behind a desk and make decisions based on questionable U.S. intelligence about who lives and who dies, and then compare such decisions to the law school admission process. It has not escaped our attention that Mr. Koh is regarded as one of the most respected and powerful international lawyers of our time. This does not deter us from our commitment to holding accountable members of our community who, like Mr. Koh, seem to have traded fealty to international law for a “ringside seat” at the table, at the cost of thousands of lives. The costs of remaining silent are simply too high.
For all of you who are sick of heart over the destruction of the earth through pollution and militarization, we call on you to get involved in an action that speaks to your heart and mind, from the EPA to the Pentagon on April 22, Earth Day. [Details below.] In Climate Change Challenges by Kathy Kelly: “. . . it seems the greatest danger – the greatest violence – that any of us face is contained in our attacks on our environment. Today’s children and generations to follow them face nightmares of scarcity, disease, mass displacement, social chaos, and war, due to our patterns of consumption and pollution.” She adds this: “What’s more, the U.S. military, with its more than 7,000 bases, installations, and other facilities, worldwide, is one of the most egregious polluters on the planet and is the world’s largest single consumer of fossil fuels. If you are concerned by the challenges facing Mother Earth and want to end the killer drone program, get involved with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance on April 22, Earth Day.
A new report (PDF), whose release last month coincided with the 12th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, attempts to draw attention to civilian and combatant casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet the study, authored by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other humanitarian groups, barely elicited a whisper in the media. Washington’s preoccupation with the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other regional conflicts has largely obscured the humanitarian, economic and political toll of its “war on terrorism.” But ISIL’s resurgence is not unrelated to Washington’s military campaign. “ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion,” President Barack Obama told Vice News last month.
Avaaz is an online lobby organization founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. Start-up funding was provided by George Soros’ foundation. While Avaaz has promoted some worthy causes, they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. Accordingly, they had a major disinformation campaign against Venezuela last year. Avaaz very actively promoted a No Fly Zone in Libya. They are now very actively promoting the same for Syria. In-depth research and exposure of Avaaz can be found here. The titles give some indication: “Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line”, “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire”, “Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps for Militarism”.
As April 15, tax day, approaches, thousands of individuals — like David and Jan Hartsough, Elizabeth Boardman, and Ari Rosenberg quoted above — sit down and write letters to the IRS, Congresspeople, the President, newspapers, blogs, and friends and family explaining why they protest war with their taxes. On April 15 in communities across the United States, those same people will be joining others in vigils, pickets, rallies, and forums to call attention to what they see as the harmful effects of military spending. People in the U.S. who are working to change federal budget priorities away from military spending and to human and environmental needs join others around the world on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.
Seven Southwestern states will soon be infiltrated by 1,200 military special ops personnel as part of a controversial domestic military training in which some of the elite soldiers will operate undetected among civilians. Operation Jade Helm begins in July and will last for eight weeks. Soldiers will operate in and around towns in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado where some of them wil drop from planes while carrying weapons loaded with blanks in what military officials have dubbed Realistic Military Training. But with residents of the entire states of Texas and Utah dubbed ‘hostile’ for the purposes of the exercises, Jade Helm has some concerned the drills are too realistic.
The New York Civil Liberties Union released today records it received from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on its use of ”stingrays,” devices that can track and record New Yorkers’ locations via their cell phones. The records showed that of the 47 times the Sheriff’s Office used stingrays in the past four years, it apparently only once obtained a court order, contradicting the sheriff’s own remarks. Stingrays can collect information on all cell phones in a given area as well as precisely track particular phones, locating people within their own home, at a doctor’s office, at a political protest or in a church.
April 5th marks the five year anniversary of WikiLeaks publication of the Collateral Murder Video. The footage of a secret US military video depicted an Apache helicopter killing Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. It provided an uncensored view of modern war for the world to see. The light that shone in the darkness was the conscience of a young woman. Chelsea Manning (formally Bradley Manning) is now serving 35 years behind bars for her great public service. After witnessing Manning confess to her role as WikiLeaks whistleblower at the court-martial proceeding in Fort Meade, Maryland, attorney and President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner said that locking her up “for even a day is to lock up the conscience of our nation”.
Last week charges of Desertion and Misbehavior Before the Enemy were recommended against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Tragically, Sergeant Bergdahl was once again crucified, without evidence or trial, throughout mainstream, alternative and social media. That same day Sergeant Bergdahl was offered as a sacrifice to primarily Republican politicians, bloggers, pundits, chicken hawks and jingoists, while Democrats mostly kept silent as Sergeant Bergdahl was paraded electronically and digitally in the latest Triumph of the Global War on Terror, President Ashraf Ghani was applauded, in person, by the American Congress. Such coincidences, whether they are arranged or accidental, often appear in literary or cinematic tales, but they do, occasionally, manifest themselves in real life, often appearing to juxtapose the virtues and vices of a society for the sake and advancement of political narratives.
On April 1, 2015 in the DeWitt Town Court, after hearing about 90 minutes of motions, Judge Robert Jokl dismissed all charges against four defendants charged following protests at Hancock Air National Guard Base “in the interest of justice.” Attorneys Jonathan Wallace, Kathy Manley and Kim Zimmer presented motions on behalf of John Honeck of Hamlin, NY, Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse, NY, Andrew Schoerke of Shaftsbury, Vermont and Mary Snyder of Vestal, NY, who were charged with trespass, two counts of disorderly conduct, and obstruction of government administration, a misdemeanor. The four defendants were among 31 arrested in a nonviolent die-in at the front gate of Hancock Base on April 28, 2013 following a weekend drone conference in Syracuse. Seventy nine year old Jack Gilroy, who was charged in the same protest, served three months in jail following a jury trial last summer. Other protesters will be tried on charges stemming from this same event in June. This dismissal follows our march 19 “big books” action at Hancock’s main gate in which seven protesters were arrested with similar charges. They will be arraigned in late April.
MAUSTON, WI – Bonnie Block, a Madison, WI grandmother and long-time peace activist, was found guilty of trespassing in a jury trial in the Juneau County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. The penalty for the charge was a $232 fine or 5 days in the Juneau County Jail. In a moving sentencing statement, Block stated, “I can’t in good conscience pay the fine. It would be giving consent to the outcome of a legal process I believe was unfair and which sets dangerous precedents for those of us engaged in nonviolent civil resistance and seeking justice for victims of US drone warfare.” (See below for complete statement.) After sentencing Block to 5 days in jail, Judge Paul Curran told Block that he would allow her to have lunch with her husband and son before reporting to the Juneau County “Justice” Center to begin her sentence.