"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Friday, August 30, 2013

"Killer Nation": The saga continues with Syria

Dear Friends,

For the first time in (my) memory it seems that every remotely "progressive" organization under the sun is sending  emails asking people to call or email The White House and/or Congress or sign a petition calling on our government to not engage in military action against Syria.

In our age of electronic social media one would think that such an approach would have a real impact, particularly if it can engage a huge groundswell of support for diplomacy rather than war-making.  I think, however, that we are deluded if we think that this approach can have any real impact on the decision to attack Syria, a decision that (in a very real sense) has already been made long before there was talk of "chemical weapons."

Bruce Gagnon describes "war" as "the soul of our nation" in his essay published yesterday in Common Dreams (The Soul of Our Nation War).  Bruce describes our situation with direct honesty; I would only add that we must ask ourselves what has become of our nation's soul that we seem to have sold off over the course of recent decades in a Faustian bargain.

President Dwight Eisenhower said (in 1953) that "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."  When the Tomahawk missiles are launched by ships, already lining up for an attack on Syria, that theft will continue to feed the coffers of the weapons makers.

Gagnon puts it bluntly: "We have become a killer nation," addicted to war and the profits it reaps for corporations and the jobs that put food on the tables of our workers.  Even before one war ends we are already planning the next one.  We truly are losing our very soul.

I fear that petitions, calls and emails will not be nearly enough to stop the first salvos of Tomahawk missiles aimed at Syria, and the ensuing carnage.  Stopping this madness will require much more than a few keystrokes in the midst of our busy schedules.  It will require us to get out in the streets of our own communities (small or large) in mass, nonviolent protest.  

So let us call on all these same organizations (that are advocating for nonviolent conflict resolution) to organize local actions around the country to engage citizens in peaceful protests (and a general strike if necessary) to stop the machinations of war.

It is, indeed, a question of saving the very soul of our nation!

In Peace,



URL for Bruce Gagnon's essay in Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/29-8

Thanks to Bruce Gagnon for sharing this political cartoon in his blog, Organizing Notes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bradley Manning Sentenced: A Guest Reflection on TRUTH

Editor's Note: This is a reflection on the sentencing of Bradley Manning from Mona Shaw.  It provides a deep insight into the nature of truth and the lies through which generations of people in this country have lived.  May TRUTH have the final word.  Mona's reflection appeared this morning on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mona.shaw/posts/10151815963105129


Reflections on Bradley Manning's Sentence 

I have witnessed throughout my life one consistent truth about truth itself. The truth always comes out. Always. It's like a seedling put in the soil, no matter how deep you bury it or if you bury it upside down, the seedling will wind around until it finally finds the light of day.

One day all of the lies that are now being told by the U.S. government and the corporations who own the United States of America will be exposed. They will be exposed the same way the Small Pox blankets we wrapped around Native people were exposed, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments on Black Soldiers, the slave holdings of twelve American presidents, the fact that our third president was a rapist, the outrageous and unnecessary interment of Japanese American citizens in World War II, the unnecessary dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that there really is an Area 51 and on and on and on. They will know that the American Industrial Prison Complex is not about justice but about profit, places where trumped up charges are waged on the poor who cannot afford a proper defense to build America's fasting growing industry. They will know this nation was built on genocide, slavery, the abuse of working people, and imprisonment, not freedom.

People will finally know and have to face that most American wars have been waged to serve the purses of the wealthy. This has been wholly the case for the past 50 years. They will have to face that their loved ones lives were human sacrifices so the obscenely wealthy could become even wealthier, while those who struggle and work for a living earned less and less until most Americans became wage slaves barely eking out survival.

One day our great-children will know all the facts about our history. They will know who tried to speak out, and they will know what was done to those brave souls who tried to stop this endless march of tyranny. They will know about the Bradley Mannings, the Edward Snowdens, the Thomas Drakes, the William Binneys, the Kathryn Bolkovacs, the Karen Silkwoods, the Carol Dymonds, the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Frank Serpicos, the Mark Whitacres, the Coleen Rowleys, the Sherron Watkinses, the Jesselyn Radacks, the Katharine Guns, the Julia Davises, the John Kiriakous, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of others who have put their bodies on the line to expose corruption at local, state, national, and international levels. They will know what we did to these to silence them. They will know we crucified them on a cross we call Capitalism. They will know they were lied to about Capitalism itself. They will know it was a monstrous economic system created by the wealth and propagandized by the wealth to keep slavery, in one form or another, legal. They will know, and they will judge us accordingly.

They will walk to the graves of loved ones sacrificed in war and those who died from the complications of not being rich of lack of healthcare, housing, and adequate nutrition. They will know their loved ones didn't simply die. They were murdered by a plutocracy who used them like they were Kleenex.

They will know. And, all the seas over all the earth will boil out of their banks in agony when they know.

God have mercy on us all.


Source URL for Mona Shaw's original Facebook posting: https://www.facebook.com/mona.shaw/posts/10151815963105129

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seattle: Supporters of Bradley Manning to Protest Prison Sentence

Contact:   Gerry Condon        206-499-1220
                 Anton Black          206-235-3682
                 Devin McDonnell    425-773-1089

Supporters of Bradley Manning to Protest Prison Sentence
5 pm, Westlake Park, Seattle on Wednesday, August 21

Supporters of Army whistle-blower Pfc. Bradley Manning will rally in downtown Seattle on Wednesday, the day of his sentencing by a military judge at Fort Meade, Maryland.  Judge Col. Denise Lind has announced that she will read his sentence on Wednesday, probably in the morning. The 5 pm rally at Westlake Park, 4th & Pine in downtown Seattle, is being organized by Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace.  It will be followed by a march to Capitol Hill.

While a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq in 2009-10, Pfc. Manning witnessed war crimes, rampant corruption, and covert abuse.  He exposed what he saw by releasing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to the transparency website WikiLeaks.

Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three years in a row. Last week more than 100,000 signatures in support of his 2013 nomination were delivered to the Nobel committee in Norway.

The US Army has held Bradley Manning in prison for over three years prior to his court martial, including over nine months in solitary confinement.  The abusive conditions of his confinement have been condemned by Amnesty International and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. 

This week Army prosecutors asked the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, to sentence Pfc. Manning to 60 years in prison.  Col. Lind has found Manning to be guilty of 20 of the 22 counts with which he was charged, including violations of the 1917 Espionage Act.

“Bradley Manning stands convicted of doing his duty under the plain wording of international law: to report war crimes that he had knowledge of,” said Anton Black, Bradley Manning Support Coordinator for Veterans For Peace #92 in Seattle.  “His chain of command refused to investigate the 'war porn' contained in records they possessed when he pointed this out.”

In early 2010, Manning gave Wikileaks a copy of an Army video that showed US soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians in Baghdad from an Apache helicopter.  The video, dubbed “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks, has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

 “The U.S. government has a proven track record of not reporting or prosecuting war crimes it orders and its forces carry out,” said Anton Black of Veterans For Peace.  “Cover-up and minimal prosecution after being reported by whistle blowers is the norm.  No one has been prosecuted for officially ordered torture.  The fact that the invasion of Iraq was based upon bald-faced lies and is therefor illegal has never been officially addressed.  No one has been prosecuted for the crimes Bradley revealed.  Instead, the whistle-blower is being prosecuted.”

"This has not been a trial - this has been a witch hunt,” said Devin McDonnell, a young Seattle activist.  “I am outraged that the Army wants to put someone in prison for 60 years for obeying their own code of conduct and reporting war crimes.  We must stand up for Bradley Manning, for freedom of the press, and for the value of what he did for the world by showing us the truth."

Gerry Condon, a member of the national Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace who attended Bradley Manning's court martial, will speak at the 5 pm rally at Westlake Park.  “The government wants to know everything about us – they have stolen our privacy,” said Condon.  “But they don't want us to know what they are doing in our name and with our tax dollars.  Bradley Manning should be freed immediately.”

The Bradley Manning Support Network is calling for President Obama to pardon Bradley Manning.

For more information, go to www.bradleymanning.org  and  www.vfp92.org

Monday, August 19, 2013

YES! Magazine wins UTNE Media Award for General Excellence!!!

Congratulations to the staff of YES! Magazine, winner of the 2013 UTNE Media Award for General Excellence!!!

If you are searching for hope in a world awash in seemingly insurmountable issues - like global warming, economic upheaval, poverty, food insecurity, war, nuclear weapons (to name a few) - then look no further.

YES! is like an oasis in a desert of despair.  It is a source of ideas AND action; the combination of which is absolutely essential in the struggle for a sustainable world in which we can all live together as we should.

I have a particular affinity for YES!.  I work with a small, local, grass-roots organization - Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action - that has (for 36 years) resisted the Trident nuclear weapons system. Although we are "local", we are dealing with an issue of global implications.  So it is with our neighbor YES!, a truly local (in the best sense of the word) group engaging issues of global impact. Beyond that, I struggle to maintain a positive, hopeful vision that I can translate into action.  YES! helps me stay on track.

Each issue is, to me, a reminder of possibilities in a world where we are constantly told (whether subliminally or overtly) that we are helpless to change anything. Its pages bring me reminders of the creative power of the individual, particularly when engaged in community.

You won't find advertising in YES!.  What you will find is intentional writing; insightful articles in line with YES! Magazine's mission of "supporting you in building a just and sustainable world." Each issue focuses on a unique, creative theme.  The Fall 2013 issue is about "The Human Cost of Stuff."

YES! is nonprofit, independent and subscriber-supported journalism at it's best (as UTNE Reader recognized).  It just doesn't get any better than that in our grossly commercialized society.  I invite you to join me in supporting YES! Magazine's positive vision of the future.

As Arundhati Roy once said, "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way! On a quiet day, if you listen carefully, you can hear her breathing." YES! helps us breathe life into that new world.

Check out recent articles and support YES! at http://www.yesmagazine.org/!  Get your own subscription and/or recommend that your local public library subscribe!!!