May 31, 2010

Israelis storm aid ship in international waters: Estimates vary: up to 20 killed

Istanbul: 10.000 protest Israeli's military assault on six aid ships

(Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)
Distress Video:
"If you're watching this that probably means that the flotilla has either been attacked or stopped at sea" Pre-recorded distress video from a freedom flotilla activist. I'ts a call for civil society to mobilize support.
-thanks to Victor Agosto

May 26, 2010

Jeremy Hinzman hearing in Toronto

I drove up to Jeremy’s hearing in Toronto with Bruce Beyer yesterday. We left early, he drove, I relaxed and we chatted. Bruce is passionate about the War resisters. He has a history with them. He left the US as a resister during the Vietnam War and has spent a lot of time in Canada. He follows their cases like they were his own children.

We met up with some resisters from the Vietnam war at the rally in front of the courthouse. Many of them had stayed in Canada, became citizens and now some work with the War Resister Support Campaign in Toronto. The "campaigners" as they call themselves work tirelessly to help our veterans who have chosen to follow their conscience rather than participate in the terror, occupation and killing our military has forced on the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The campaigners have been meeting every week for years trying to figure out how they can prevent the deportation of these men and women.

The video clip was filmed by Alex Lisman.

VFP will be showing his movie, "War resisters Speak Out" in Buffalo on June 4th at Hallwalls.

Several of the campaigners will be coming to be part of the panel on War Resisters.

Jeremy came to Canada in 2004 with his family. He was the first GI War Resister from the Iraq war. Soon there would be many more.

Jeremy has been appealing decisions for years. When I see him with his family I am always amazed at how wonderful they are in spite of all they have had to go through. It has to be difficult planning a life as a family knowing that at any time they can forced out of the country and into an armed force in the States waiting to split up his family and throw him in prison. I remember the Vietnamese families being physically torn apart by our soldiers and beaten for trying to hold onto their children. This is the same military waiting to get a hold of Jeremy. Once you’ve seen these things over and over again, you know what we are capable of doing. He's been there; he knows what they are capable of doing.

To see them together tears me up. His wife's parents were refugees from the Vietnam War who managed to flee the country. I look into her eyes and see the beautiful women and children that lay in the rice paddy after we killed them. The irony is incredible. Jeremy was enough of a man to refuse to do the same thing to the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a infinite circle of irony and regret that speeds through my head. I, like so many soldiers are free because we didn’t have the insight or humanity to refuse. Jeremy knew what it was about and chose resistance.

Most of these resisters have have been to the wars at least once. They won’t do it again.

In the courtroom, Jeremy's son sat between me and his dad, fidgeting just enough to remind me that he is a normal eight year old boy. Having to listen to a judge express a lack of comprehension over and over had to be as boring to him as it was annoying to me and many of the people observing the hearing. The judge's performance was only outdone by the incompetant attorney for the Crown, Gold. I couldn’t help but wonder if the attorney’s performance even mattered or if the decision had been made before the hearing ever began.

The two women judges not only seemed to understand the case, but had some pointed questions for the crown that had to remain unanswered when they bounced off the incompetent, never shining Gold.

This was juxtaposed by the defense attorney, Alyssa Manning. She was all my organizational fantasies garbed in the same black robes as Gold. I am constantly looking for the paper I just printed or the name of some signicant individual. She alone shined. The onslaught of referrals to the stacks of tabbed preparation materials with copies that had been distributed to each of the judges was just the beginning. Her understanding of the material combined with her presentation, both the content and her incisive delivery blew my mind again and again. She was never at a loss about her case.

You should read Laura's blog, We Move To Canada, for the specifics.

I was honored to sit in the courtroom beside Jeremy and his son and all his supporters who filled the room to capacity. We have grown to love Jeremy and his family.

May 24, 2010


MONDAY, MAY 24, 2010

Video by O'odham Solidarity Committee
Demand dignity, human rights, and end to border militarization.

Friday, May 21, 2010 Leilani Clark (520)982-5687
“The militarized border imposed by the U.S. has lead only to cultural and environmental destruction of the indigenous peoples whose land is on or near the border. This militarization brings death and terror for indigenous peoples from other parts of the continent migrating to this land.”

Press statement
TUCSON – More than a dozen people occupied Border Patrol headquarters at Davis-Monthan Airforce Base today in an act of peaceful resistance. The group includes members of Indigenous Nations of Arizona, migrants, people of color and white allies. Six people used chains and other devices to lock themselves in the building. These Arizona residents disrupted the Border Patrol operations to demand that Border Patrol (BP), Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), their parent entity, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Obama administration end militarization of the border, end the criminalization of immigrant communities, and end their campaign of terror which tears families apart through increasing numbers of raids and deportations.

The protesters also call on the State of Arizona to repeal the racist Senate Bill 1070 that criminalizes immigrant communities on the state level, makes it illegal to transport or harbor an undocumented person regardless of family relationship, requires police agencies to engage in racial profiling, and ultimately is an attempt to ethnically cleanse Arizona of those with brown skin. This act of civil disobedience was only the latest in an increasing wave of direct action targeting the federal government’s terrorist immigration policies.

Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities.

The development of the border wall has lead to desecration of our ancestors graves, it has divided our communities and prevents us from accessing sacred places.

Troops and paramilitary law enforcement, detention camps, check points, and citizenship verification are not a solution to migration. We have existed here long before these imposed borders, my elders inform us that we always honored freedom of movement. Why are our communities and the daily deaths at the border ignored? The impacts of border militarization are constantly made invisible in the media, the popular culture of this country and even the mainstream immigrants rights movement which has often pushed for “reform” that means further militarization of the border, which means increased suffering for our communities.

Indigenous communities such as the O’odham, the Pascua Yaqui, Lipan Apache, Kickapoo, and Cocopah along the US/Mexico border have been terrorized with laws and practices like SB1070 for decades. Indigenous people along the border have been forced by border patrol to carry and provide proof of tribal membership when moving across their traditional lands that have been bisected by this imposed border; a border that has been extremely damaging to the cultural and spiritual practices of these communities. Many people are not able to journey to sacred sites because the communities where people live are on the opposite side of the border from these sites. Since the creation of the current U.S./Mexico border, 45 O’odham villages on or near the border have been completely depopulated.

On this day people who are indigenous to Arizona join with migrants who are indigenous to other parts of the Western Hemisphere in demanding a return to traditional indigenous value of freedom of movement for all people. Prior to the colonization by European nations (spaniards, english, french) and the establishment of the european settler state known as the United States and the artificial borders it and other european inspired nation states have imposed; indigenous people migrated, traveled and traded with each other without regard to artificial black lines drawn on maps. U.S. immigration policies dehumanize and criminalize people simply because which side of these artificial lines they were born on. White settlers whose ancestors have only been here at most for a few hundred years have imposed these policies of terror and death on “immigrants” whose ancestors have lived in this hemisphere for tens of thousands of years, for time immemorial.

In addition, the migration that the U.S. government is attempting to stop is driven more than anything else by the economic policies of the U.S. Free trade agreements such as NAFTA have severely reduced the ability of Mexicans and others from the global south to sustain themselves by permitting corporations to extract huge amounts of wealth and resources from these countries into the U.S. This has led to millions of people risking the terror and death that so many face to cross into the U.S. looking for ways to better support their families. Thousand of women, men, children and elders have died crossing just in the last decade. If the U.S. really wants to reduce migration it should end its policies of exploitation and wealth extraction targeted at the global south and instead pursue policies of economic, environmental and social justice for all human beings on the planet, thus reducing the drive to immigrate.

The protesters are demanding:
-An end to border militarization
-The immediate repeal of SB1070 and 287g
-An end to all racial profiling and the criminalization of our communities
-No ethnic cleansing or cultural genocide
-No border patrol encroachment/sweeps on sovereign native land
-No Deportations
-No Raids
-No ID-verification
-No Checkpoints

-Yes to immediate and unconditional regularization (“legalization”) of all people
-Yes to human rights
-Yes to dignity
-Yes to respect
-Yes to respecting Indigenous Peoples inherent right of migration

-thanks to Brenda Norrell at Censored News

more at:

May 20, 2010

Support Jailed Objector, Nicole Mitchell -URGENT ACTION REQUESTED!

By Attorney James Branum. May 20, 2010
I am writing on behalf of a pro-bono client of mine, SPC Nicole Mitchell.

SPC Mitchell was sentenced to 30 days in jail today in a Summary Court-Martial proceeding at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the offense of AWOL. But this is not your typical AWOL case. It began some time ago. SPC Mitchell was an M.P. in the US Army. She served well until she went on a deployment to Iraq, where she began to have serious issues of conscience. After significant reflection and inner turmoil, she applied for C.O. (conscientious objector) status. The coming months were hard, in that she faced significant harassment for applying, but she prevailed. She was granted 1-A-0 conscientious objector status, which meant that she would continue to serve in the military but in a non-combatant status.

Living as a conscientious objector in the U.S. Army proved to be nearly impossible. SPC Mitchell was not assigned to a new M.O.S. (military occupational specialty), but instead remained as an M.P. She no longer carried a weapon but otherwise had to function as an M.P. So when personal problems arose in her life (something that happens to many soldiers), the emotional strain and stress became too much and she went AWOL.

Upon return to her unit, SPC Mitchell did her best to be a good soldier. In many cases, combat veterans who go AWOL and return voluntarily are not prosecuted, but this did not happen to SPC Mitchell. Her command rejected our request for her to be given a chapter 10 discharge in lieu of court-martial, and instead she was given a summary court-martial.

How you can help SPC Mitchell get an early release from the stockade:

Over the next few days I will be preparing a 1105 clemency application for SPC Mitchell. In this clemency application, I will be asking the convening authority (a high-level officer in her command chain) to suspend the remainder of Nicole’s sentence.

As part of this 1105 clemency application we are asking supporters and friends of Nicole Mitchell to write letters urging the convening authority to act on Nicole’s behalf.

Here is a sample of what a supporting letter could look like (but please reword it as you see fit so it will be in your own words):
To whom it may concern:

I am writing on behalf of SPC Nicole Mitchell, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail on May 19, 2010 for the offense of AWOL.

I understand that you have the power to suspend the remainder of her sentence. I would ask you to do this because.
1. Character - SPC Mitchell took the courageous step of applying for conscientious objector status while in Iraq. She suffered harassment and derision for doing this, but she held her ground. And after receiving C.O. status, she did her best to do her duties within the boundaries of her conscience and the regulations for as long as she was able to.

2. Fairness - Most soldiers who go AWOL do not receive jail time, but rather are either given non-judicial punishment (article 15) or are chaptered out of the Army.

3. Rehabilitation - SPC Mitchell is a gifted musician who will do her best to make the world a better place. The sooner she is released from the prison, the sooner she can be about her life’s work.

Also if you know Nicole personally and/or are a US military veteran, please be sure to mention that in your letter.

Due to time constraints, your letter will need to be either faxed or emailed to me.
Faxes can be sent to me at: 1-866-757-8785.
Emails can be sent to girightslawyer(at)gmail(dot)com (but please put NICOLE MITCHELL in the subject line, so your email won’t get lost in the shuffle).

All letters must be received no later than Sunday, May 23rd.

Other ways you can help:

We do not know yet what jail Nicole is being sent to, but as soon we do I’ll post her mailing address here.

We trust that Nicole will be treated well while in jail, but if she is not I may ask for you letters to be sent to the jail by the public. I’ll keep folks advised if this is necessary. More information on the situation will soon also be posted at
-thanks to Courage To Resist

May 15, 2010

Film & Panel in Buffalo June 4: "War Resisters Speak Out!"

As Laura puts it, "It's Crunch Time for Bill C-440".

It’s crunch time in our fight to win asylum for U.S. Iraq War resisters. Everything we’ve been working for for the past six years is now coming to a head.

On May 25, Bill C-440 – which calls on the government to stop deporting U.S. war resisters and to allow them to become permanent residents of Canada – will begin second reading in the House of Commons. We are working doggedly to ensure that C-440 is passed.

During that time, we expect decisions on several war resisters’ cases. The Harper Government continues to target war resisters, so we are preparing for the possibility of having to organize emergency mobilizations this summer in the event of any deportation orders.

The War Resister Support Campaign needs funds to continue fighting the Canadian federal government which has unlimited resources.
A victory for US War Resisters in Canada will be a major victory for peace and justice.
If the GI resisters can find refuge in Canada, the soldiers will have an outlet other than jail. The current situation for War Resisters in Canada is tenuous. We need to find a solution that doesn't come with imminent jail time. These men and women have made a huge decision to not participate in the occupations any longer.

Many of us oppose the ongoing wars; we know what is happening and have expressed our opposition. That's a good thing, but we need to do more. We need to help the soldiers who choose to refuse. We need to support their families. If we aren't assisting soldiers or their families directly for one reason or another, we can help the people who are.

For the soldiers who choose to resist the war by going to Canada, War Resisters Support Campaign is the Canadian group of dedicated supporters who work tirelessly to assist these men and women and their families in their effort to follow their conscience.

The Campaign comes to Buffalo

Buffalo Veterans For Peace has invited members of the Campaign to come to Buffalo to meet you, share the stories of our GI resisters in Canada and their struggle ahead.

The event will be featuring:

-noted blogger and American expatriate, Laura Kamminker
-Michele Robidoux of the Toronto based War Resisters Support Campaign
-Vietnam-era Draft Resister Charlie Diamond

-and Progressive Film maker, Alex Lisman, who will be showing his new film, "War Resisters Speak Out!"


Friday, June 4, 2010


7:00pm - 10:00pm


HallWalls Contermporary Arts Center


341 Delaware Avenue


Buffalo, NY

View Map

May 13, 2010

An Obama visit comes with a lot of baggage

Today Obama came to Buffalo. Today I was assaulted by a Buffalo cop. And today I managed to avoid being arrested by an out of control officer. They are related.

I got a late start going to photograph the Obama visit. I got caught up in the concrete pour at a corner park on the West Side. Nice people. Nice park. I thought I’d help. I didn’t do any of the hard work. The time went by fast.

Frank called and asked if I was at the Obama visit. He said he was unable to get to it since William Street was blocked off by the police. I hopped in my car so I could get over there to take some pictures for my blog and for the WNY Peace Center. Sure enough William Street was blocked to car traffic. I went down Metcalf so I wouldn’t have to walk so far since I was a little late. I parked a couple blocks from Derby and walked in.

There were police cars on all the corners blocking the road so cars couldn’t pass through. There were security vehicles off the roads along the way. I said hi to the cops on the corners and walked toward Derby. There was a large tent with demonstrators and signs on the property on the corner. I thought it might be the peace people, but it turned out to be tea partiers.

I’m walking down the street with only my camera when this Buffalo patrol car speeds up beside me, stops and slams the door into my hand. I said “ouch”, shook my hand and asked him why he did that. The nastiest cop I ever met in Buffalo came at me aggressively and shouted at me to turn around and get out of here. I said that I didn’t know I couldn’t walk down the street, there were no signs posted and none of the cops I passed said I couldn’t proceed. He got angrier and nastier and pulled out his handcuffs and threatened to arrest me if I said one more word. So I turned and left. I didn’t want this armed, out of control man smashing me or my camera.

After walking a short distance, I turned around and took a picture and then continued on. When I got to the corner some of the tea party people approached me and asked what happened. I told them about the cop smashing my hand and threatening me with arrest. Suddenly he pulls up and with the same anger he orders me to get out of here. He had nothing to say to all the others. The tea party people offered me refuge on their private property. But I explained that I needed to go.

My politics are radically different than theirs, but I appreciated their willingness to stand up and assist.

I have no idea why that cop went off on me. It reminded me of the people in Vietnam and the terror they lived with when our troops came to their village. The soldiers would burn down their homes, threaten them and their children, beat them and sometimes kill them. All the Vietnamese were doing was walking down a street in their home village.

I’ve watched videos and heard the stories from the soldiers who went to Iraq and Afghanistan. They talked about the terror these people live with. I’ve seen the videos of US-backed Israeli soldiers tormenting, harassing and shooting Palestinians for trying to survive on their own land.

I’m not trying to compare my incident with the horrors these people experience as a daily way of life. It’s just that the situation reminded me of all this as I walked away down the road surrounded by armed vehicles and the only man I really met was out for me.

In the other direction was Obama telling the people that he was concerned and trying to create jobs. At the same time we spend 9.2 Billion dollars a month on the war in Afghanistan alone. Imagine the community jobs and services this money could provide. Instead Obama takes his cues from the wealthy in our country. He orchestrates the ongoing occupations and the crimes that go along with them. He increases the use of drones that kill innocent people every week. We all know about the huge ‘collateral damage’ caused by the drones. We stand by and allow Obama to order our gunmen to assassinate people we suspect of committing crimes. We all know about it. Most of have seen the videos. Yet we keep giving the military additional funds to increase the killing.

My hand is ok. Slightly bruised. It’s my mind that feels the pain. How can my regrets be rectified if the same atrocities keep happening over and over and over.

I keep wondering what caused that cop to go off. Is it because he was feeling part of the Obama spirit? If he treats people like that all the time he needs to turn in his weapon. If it was just an extraordinary misperception of the situation, he needs to sit down and talk with me about it.

I’m used to talking to people who have put aside violence. Peaceworkers, soldiers filled with regret for what they have seen and done and especially the war resisters. These men and women have given up so much so they don’t have to participate in this violence. Obama locks them up. Perhaps they are too humane for our mission and there is a risk of this spreading among the troops.

I did learn not to intentionally enter a hostile situation alone. And when there are that many armed vehicles in a small geographic area you should consider it hostile

May 10, 2010

SF Bay Area events celebrate int'l objection day

Two SF Bay Area events commemorate
International Conscientious Objectors' Day
and Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters’ Day

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 7:30 PM, Judah L. Magnes Museum at 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley CA

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM, Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley CA

This Friday, the Berkeley Arts Festival and Courage to Resist presents Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters' Film Night featuring "Soldiers of Conscience", a film by Berkeley directors Gary Weimberg and Catherine Ryan. Discussion of current GI resistance following the screening. Event starts at 7:30 PM, Judah L. Magnes Museum at 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley CA. Free admission.

Then Saturday morning, celebrate the 4th Annual Berkeley C.O. and War Resisters' Day on International Conscientious Objectors' Day. After a few words, we'll raise a Peace Flag at 11:00 AM, Civic Center flagpole at 2180 Milvia Street. Afterwards, a second Peace Flag will be raised at Civic Center Park, 2151 MLK, Jr. Way, Berkeley. With war resisters from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Sponsored by City of Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. Endorsed by War Resisters League-West and Courage to Resist. Free event.

For more information, email, or phone Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559

Mothers Day Proclamation

by: Eileen Fleming, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Photo: cromacom / flickr)

The genesis of Mother's Day in the USA began when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community. And 15 years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist and author of the lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," organized a day encouraging mothers to rally for peace.

As mothers bear the loss of human life more acutely than anyone else, in 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote the first "Mother's Day Proclamation," from which I excerpt:

Arise then ... women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe our dishonor; nor violence indicate possession. At the summons of war let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace;
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar;
But of God.

In the 21st century, patriarchal "civilization" persists in the insanity of violence for violence, and Caesar today can be understood as the government industrial military security/surveillance complex, which could collapse when enough of "we, the people" rose up and confronted our "leaders" and demanded they change course from state-sponsored violence to dialoguing with our "enemy" and to seek justice as the way to peace.

We, the people, in America are responsible for most of the world's manufacturing, use of and exporting of weapons of all degrees of destruction, which terrorize every innocent caught in the crossfire.

In 1999, the UN dedicated the first decade of the 21st century to create a culture of nonviolence for all children of the world.

America abstained from voting on the 1999 initiative of the United Nations to dedicate a decade of creating a culture of peace and nonviolence for the children of the world. I also learned that America is on the record in the UN as stating: "We cannot support this initiative as it will make it harder for us to wage war."

The hearts and minds that require the most transformation are the ones that hold the most power; but power never gives any away without a fierce battle.

Forty years ago, John Lennon noted:

"Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs for maniacal ends ... I believe that as soon as people want peace in the world they can have it. The only trouble is they are not aware they can get it."

On July 4, 1776, our founding father's upheld:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights [and] that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men [and women], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; and, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it." -The Declaration of Independence.

In December 2005, I attended the Holy Land Trust's Celebrating Nonviolent Solidarity Conference in the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory.

During that 2005 conference in the little town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory, American Israeli and founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Jeff Halper, spoke about how we all need to look at life as a play and it is up to the individual to claim a part and when enough "actors" pursue justice and remain nonviolent, "Caesar" will be forced to acquiesce in order to maintain power.

Also during that conference, Anglican Rev. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian refugee and founder of SABEEL [] Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, spoke about how the use of state-sponsored violence corrupted the true message of Christ.

Ateek explained how Christ's teachings and life reflected the revolutionary concept of nonviolent action, and how thousands of years of not reflecting upon the fact that evil can be opposed without being mirrored, and the cycle of a "tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye," never has, never will, never can bring true peace or security.

Christ taught that one must forgive and love one's enemies, and one must pray for those who persecute and hate them. In a nutshell, that is what being a Christian is truly about.

Before the reign of Emperor Constantine, all the early church fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the Army, but instead, willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other human being. Saint Paul taught that the only way to resist evil is with good. Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp, and every other early church father taught that violence contradicts Christianity.

In 313, Constantine sought to unite his empire by legitimizing Christianity - although he waited until on his dearth bed to be baptized - many have said that was when the soul left the church. Within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the Army must be baptized as Christians and, thus, the decline of Christianity began.

Augustine was the first church father to speak about the concept of a "Just War." The Church relaxed the standards Jesus set as they negated the true teaching of Christ to justify war, and, thus, wrong became right, for a true Christian will always be nonviolent.

"The God of war, violence, oppression and terror must be rejected. Authentic Christianity is nonviolent and is all about peace, justice and liberation." -Rev. Naim Ateek.

Candidate George W. Bush once claimed his favorite philosopher was Jesus, but President Bush and his supporters defied the philosophy, ethics, morals and teaching of Jesus, who was explicit that one must forgive, pray and love one's enemies, not bomb, torture or occupy them.

The problem is not with Christianity, but that too few who claim to be Christian have actually done what Christ taught. Christians claim to comprehend that God is love and "Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing ... Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers." -Dorothy Day

Also at the Bethlehem conference, Dr. Mohamed Abu-Nimer from the Salam Institute of Peace and Justice stated, "All the Abrahamic traditions are based in nonviolence, it is our lenses that determine whether we see it. Like Christianity the concept of a Just War took root and developed after lots of discussions dealing with how to deal with believers and nonbelievers.

"The first twelve years Mohamed spent in Mecca he practiced nonviolent resistance. He was persecuted but always prayed: 'God forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.'

"Mohamed taught against the killing of innocents, the desecration of the environment and for the humane treatment and respect towards one's enemies. Suicide bombings are not justified and those who try to justify it negate the early principals and teachings regarding nonviolence, the pursuit of justice, doing good, universality and human dignity, equality, that all life is sacred, to be forgiving and be a peace maker."

As with Christianity, the ideals have yet to transform the hearts and minds of many followers. In explaining this gap Dr. Abu-Nimer continued, "We are quick to blame the external factors such as colonialism, war, humiliation, Zionism and economic dependency. But what we lack is looking internally for we Muslims love authority, bureaucracy, loyalty and our core government system is based on nepotism not ability. There is corruption, co-optation of religious leaders, the patriarchal structure and hierarchy, the authoritarian control system and the tribal mentality.

"We are not raised in our culture to question authority and if you engage in nonviolence you must resist authority. Our first step is to challenge our own presumptions ... We have 5,000 sayings attributed to Mohamed and 700 authentically traced. The politicalization of his teachings began the corruption of his teachings.

"Every Muslim child is exposed to positive values as well as interpretations that are narrow and exclusive. An example is: 'We are the best nation that God sent to people.' If we truly follow the ideals of Islam, we are, but reality is that the ideals have been corrupted by wrong actions.

"Many interpret the saying: 'Support your brother if he is just, right or wrong' to mean you must be loyal regardless of his actions and don't ask questions. The true way to support one's brother [or tribe] is to point out the error of his [their] ways; to explain to him why he is wrong, to correct but not fight."

Saint Paul expressed the same sentiment: "Do not judge the nonbeliever, but provoke one another to good works."

Dr. Abu-Nimer concluded, "Islam was revolutionary at its time but it went backwards. There is no lack of values; the lack is in interpretation ... Islam must reclaim what Mohamed put down. It is a myth to believe that the conflict between Israel Palestine can be fixed by secular methods."

Gandhi spoke about how personal nonviolence is not much use to society until one weds society to political action. It is not enough to speak TRUTH to power because power doesn't care; but history proves that the most hopeless situations all of a sudden just changed for the better because forces for justice had persisted with truth on their side.

Peace is a verb; it is who you are and what you do:

Arise then, from the voice of a devastated Earth,
With a voice in solidarity that demands Disarm! Disarm!
For the sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
And blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
Let all people of good will and of conscience bewail and commemorate the dead,
And may the great human family in nonviolent solidarity live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress,
NOT of Caesar;
But of God,
And Know This:

Over 1,366,350 Iraqi's will never see their mothers again due to the US invasion upon them. [1]

Military personnel who were sent to Iraq and whose mothers will never see them again has been officially acknowledged at over 4,715. Over 1,747, have also been slaughtered in Afghanistan as of this writing. [2]

American taxpayers have paid over $990, 800,000,000.00 to make war in Iraq and Afghanistan as of this writing. [3]

The Costs to American Taxpayers to sustain the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict tops $3 trillion as of this writing. [4]

Only in Solidarity do "we have it in our power to begin the world again." -Tom Paine


-thanks to truthout

May 7, 2010

Geoff Millard: My part in a veterans delegation to Vietnam.

From the 26th of March until the 9th of April I was lucky to be a part of a veterans delegation to Vietnam in order to do research in preparation for an upcoming push for legislation to alleviate the suffering of the people of Vietnam that has plagued them since we first started using agent orange in 1961.
Vietnam may seem an odd place for an Iraq vet whose parents had not even met when the last US forces retreated in defeat hanging from helicopters, but somehow I was the perfect piece to complete a very complicated puzzle. You see there are many connections to be made between the two wars but I was there because both were toxic battlefields that left veteran and civilian alike scared for many generations.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was not conservative veterans groups who were talking about the effects of agent orange (more specifically dioxin but for common understanding I will simply use AO as my reference), it was VVAW and CCI. As much as revisionists would love to write antiwar veterans from history or minimize them as a small force (as they are trying today with IVAW) the reality is that while the VFW would not allow Vietnam veterans to join their ranks antiwar vets were creating a new generation of leaders. These brave souls were the ones to first paint the words agent orange kills our soldiers on banners.
One of these young leaders would leave to form VVA but his roots are undeniably with VVAW. It is from the work of antiwar veterans that any compensation for AO has been granted. Thus it must again be antiwar vets that take up their banners and fight for compensation for the now three generations of survivors who have lived 35 years in a toxic battlefield that Americans have long since forgotten.

I was amazed to see veterans of both sides share war stories as easily as stories of their children, most of whom are many years my elder. These vets also share diseases that are just as much the legacy of Vietnam as is that black mirrored wall on the north west side of our national mall, just to the left of Lincoln's feet.

My thoughts often wandered forward in time to the day when I would go to Iraq. When I would meet with my former foe. When I would help press my government to take responsibility and provide relief for the toxic battlefield we have been creating since the first gulf war. That day will come and I hope soon. As our troops slowly withdraw from this illegal nightmare we were thrown into it is now up to my generation of veteran to speak loudly, or yell if we must that;

Depleted uranium is killing our soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan.

We must fight for compensation and treatment before thousands die from DU as they did from AO. We must link our struggle for justice with that of those left alive in the toxic battlefields that we are now slowly pulling out of.

If not for the power of the antiwar movement shock and awe would have been genocidal in scale. If not for us Obama would not sit in the oval office. If not for us our troops would see no light at the end of the tunnel. And if we stop now then justice for our veterans and for those who will continue their lives in Iraq & Afghanistan will never be reached.

I'm proud of my trip and I am proud of the work done by VVAW, VFP, and IVAW. I am proud that while some spend their time protesting antiwar veterans, we the antiwar veterans are hard at work for peace and justice for all.

-thanks to IVAW

“We should resist and let the recruiters know that they are unwanted”- student at a high school in San Leandro - We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour

The following is from the Tour's website:
May 6th, 2010
Today at a high school in San Leandro, CA: 100 students at the social justice academy (a program within the larger public school) heard Emma, Matthis and Robin Long present We Are Not Your Soldiers. 2-3 classes came, brought by their teachers. The school is extremely diverse: white, Latino, Black and Asian. Some of the students are already doing projects about military recruiting. One of the students researched, and found that this high school is the most heavily recruited from school in the Bay Area. Other students were already working on a “counter-propaganda” campaign within the school against military recruitment using posters.

Emma spoke, then Matthis and Robin spoke. Then they showed the Wikileaks video. One young woman started crying, saying her dad was in the military and she wanted to join but now she didn’t want to. Matthis had asked a question and this young woman raised her hand and said, “My dad was probably in a helicopter like that killing children. Maybe he had to do that to survive. Maybe if he was a stronger person and refused to do those things maybe he would have been killed.” Others pointed out that the soldiers in the video didn’t have to kill people to survive in that helicopter – it was obviously not in self-defense. A number of students actually said they changed their minds after hearing from Emma, Matthis and Robin about joining the military.

Robin Long, another Iraq Veteran against the war who recently spent a year in prison for refusing to fight in Iraq joined in, saying a few things about his experience – going to Canada, getting deported, getting court martialed. It made a big impression the students and the teachers. When they were brainstorming about things that the students could do, some people raised questions about whether there would be repercussions- would they get in trouble? Other people pointed out that Robin Long had been in prison for a year and this put the potential repercussions the students might face into perspective. A lot of students wanted to get involved… this is controversial at the school since not all the teachers/administrators are against the war. In the course of the event, some of the students left the room and came back with a Marine recruiting poster from elsewhere in the school. They took it in front of the room and ripped it apart, demonstrating how they felt about the whole enterprise in a really dramatic way. The rest of the students were transfixed, but one of the teachers said you can’t just do that. So the other students responded in support of the action, arguing that the teachers should also support this kind of righteous action.

Matthis asked students if the Wikileaks footage looked like a combat zone – they answered “no” of course. He talked about being trained to shot people dressed as civilians, revealing this whole view towards the people of the Middle East. One of the students said “here, if you murder someone you get 25-life but these soldiers are getting away with it over there.” Matthis said these soldiers are committing war crimes and he doesn’t want to be thanked as a “hero” for committing war crimes. Then he introduced Robin Long as a real war hero, someone who has been through a lot, and deserves to be thanked more than anyone. He talked about being in the military as a form of torture. They break you down to build you back up. Then they try to buy you. But no amount of money can make this torture worth it. It feels like being a slave. What do they charge you with if you try to commit suicide? Destruction of property; as if they literally own you. When he burned the U.S. flag in Washington, DC this past March 20th, he said the flag is a symbol of slavery.

Many of the students had friends who were already in the military. One young woman said her friend was scared because a rape happened on her base. Another said his friend in the air force told him he was in the military because, “I need to kill people.” She responded, “You’ll be killing children,“ and he came back with, “they deserve to die because they attacked us on 9/11.”

When Emma asked the students what they thought caused the war, a number of students said imperialism. This is definitely because at least one of their teachers has made a positive impact on them. He uses “A People’s History of the United States” in his classes and also talks about the present day wars. Another example of the power and importance of courageous truth-telling teachers.

Tomorrow, LA and Santa Barbara!

-thanks to We Are Not Your Soldiers!

May 3, 2010

22 Arrested Declaring Grand Central Station a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone

Banners dropped in Grand Central Station May 3. Photo by Ellen Davidson

May 3, 2010 | Ellen Davidson , IndyBlog
Twenty-two activists were arrested May 3 at Grand Central Station for dropping banners off the balconies of the main hall and staging a die-in.

Organized by the War Resisters League, the action declared Grand Central a nuclear weapons-free zone and called for disarmament here in the United States first. Wearing t-shirts that said “No Nukes Begin with U.S.,” the protesters handed out thousands of leaflets to rush-hour commuters and circled the information booth with a picket with large signs shaped like skulls with the names of all the nuclear-armed nations. Participants came from around the country and the world; they were in New York for actions relating to the Nuclear Non-Profileration Review Conference. [SEE MORE HERE]
-thanks to Indymedia

No nukes in Grand Central by Nathan Schneider | May 3, 2010, 1:30 pm

by Nathan Schneider | May 3, 2010
As the United Nations’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Conference was beginning just a few blocks away, activists came to New York City’s Grand Central Station this rainy morning to take a stand for real and rapid nuclear disarmament. The direct action followed a weekend of talks, workshops, and actions led by the War Resisters League. A handful of protesters were arrested by police for taking part in a die-in on the floor of the station with signs in their hands. [SEE MORE HERE]
-thanks to Waging Nonviolence

May 1, 2010

Ethan McCord interview - Ethan's thoughts about the incident, the letter that followed and "what's wrong with war".

Listen to this Ethan McCord interview with the Current. Then read the Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People. Hopefully you will be moved to sign it.

Wikileaks - Ethan McCord

It was July 12th, 2007. American soldiers were on a mission in Iraq. Even in an arena of war... it is one that has now become infamous for its brutality. It was an attack by U.S. Apache helicopters, no one has an exact count but it appeared to have killed 12 iraqis including two employees of the Reuters news agency, and an unarmed man who drove up in a van and tried to rescue the wounded. The American fire also injured two children.

A classified US military video was made public this month by the whisteblowing website Wikileaks. The video was shocking to a public that rarely gets such first-hand glimpses of war. But no one was perhaps more shocked by it than Ethan McCord. That's because he was in that video. Ethan McCord was an army specialist, deployed to Iraq between April and November 2007. He is the co-author of An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People. He was in Wichita, Kansas.

You can watch the video we've been speaking about at

-thanks to We Move To Canada and the Current