February 24, 2011

SOA Watch is mobilizing for a gathering in Washington, DC from April 4-11, 2011 to take our demands to the White House, the halls of Congress, and other places where military and foreign policy decisions are made. We’ll be joining with many of our partners in the Anti-Militarization conference and concentrating our creative direct action and lobbying efforts where the policy makers are to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC and to resist the increasing U.S. militarization of the Americas!

Click here for the Schedule of Events
(español aquí)

The convergence will include a fast, street theater, direct action, the Anti-Militarization conference with workshops, speakers, musicians and cultural events.

February 23, 2011

Join in the April 8 Action at the Pentagon!

Announcing an April 8th Civil Resistance Action at the Pentagon

We will come together in solidarity to act in resistance against the activities of the U.S. military and form autonomous affinity groups that will be acting in nonviolent civil resistance at the Pentagon on April 8. We will encourage groups to descend on the Pentagon around noon on April 8, but each group will decide when and where to meet to begin their action.

To all who are sick of heart and conscience over these actions by our government, we call on you to join us at the Pentagon on April 8 for actions of nonviolent civil resistance as we take the risks of peacemaking.

Now is a time for dissent not despair; for deepened commitment to peace, not complacency with war; for strengthened resistance, not weakened resolve. In the spirit and discipline of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and others, and for the sake of humanity, for the sake of peace and justice, and for the sake of Mother Earth we must act now.

Why participate?

• The U.S. military is the entity most responsible for destabilizing our environment. There are innumerable reasons for this, including these examples: the exorbitant use of fossil fuels, depleted uranium weapons, worldwide transport of weapons and personnel, unlimited air travel, engagement in war and the possession, upkeep and transport of nuclear weapons.
• U.S. Wars rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing immeasurable human suffering.
• U.S. drone bombs continue to kill innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other places around the world.
• Our military spending is out of control while we have no money to meet basic human needs here in the U.S.
• Torture and illegal indefinite detentions continue in Guantanamo, Bagram, and other places around the world.
• The U.S. provides billions of dollars to countries which repress its citizens and neighbors, works closely with death squads in Colombia and Indonesia, trains Latin American soldiers, who have been involved in rampant human rights abuses, at the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, and has established AFRICOM, which will ensure more U.S. intervention on the continent of Africa.

For more info:

Contact Joy First at joyfirst5@gmail.com

WRL members should also contact Kimber Heinz at kimber@warresisters.org

Sanctuary Denied / America’s war deserters face deportation from Canada—and then prison.

After 16 years in the U.S. military, nuclear engineer Chuck Wiley sought refuge
in Canada to avoid another tour of duty in Iraq. (Photo by: Matthew Hill)

by Roman Georgen


Once celebrated as a sanctuary for American soldiers unwilling to fight in Vietnam, present-day Canada, led by a conservative minority government, has turned its back on Iraq War deserters. The ones who have crossed the border since the 2003 invasion live in fear of deportation and imprisonment.

On a July night in 2006, somewhere off the coast of Iraq, Chief Petty Officer Chuck Wiley received an urgent order that would change his life. Standing watch in the propulsion plant of U.S.-aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, Wiley, a nuclear engineer for the Navy, was told to bring the ship up to full speed for an emergency landing. Curious about the event, he later went to see the landed fighter plane and found unusual damage. “Nothing you would expect from regular air combat. It looked like the plane had been shot with small arms, not missiles or larger caliber weapons,” recalls Wiley. The Kentucky native did what he had learned to do in an early career stint in army intelligence—get to the truth. He started to ask questions. Soon he found out about Mission Presence, a controversial strategy to flush civilians out of their homes in order to make it easier for ground troops to identify insurgents.

“The fighter jets crisscross over a city in very low altitude—just to scare the hell out of everybody. These people have been living under the wings of U.S. aircraft for years. They know exactly what a fighter bomber looks like and expect bombs to drop,” says Wiley. Using civilian fear as a weapon may be considered effective in the planning rooms of the military command, but it is illegal under international law, Wiley adds. “It seemed to me that the structure of this mission was 180 degrees out from what the Geneva Convention requires in terms of the treatment of civilians.”

But Wiley wasn’t supposed to know about Mission Presence. His superiors left him in the dark. “I asked questions and they responded, ‘That’s not your job—you don’t have to worry about it.’ At that point I had been in the Army and Navy for 16 years. I thought they owed me a better answer than that.”

When Wiley continued his research, he found he wasn’t alone with his doubts about the legality and conduct of the Iraq War. “People on the ship contacted me, saying they had questions too; they even wanted to know about missions that I never thought to question.”

At the end of his deployment to Iraq, having infuriated superiors (who even accused him of mutiny), Wiley realized that he couldn’t continue to serve on the USS Enterprise. To salvage his career, Wiley asked for a deployment on another ship, away from Iraq. “I wasn’t looking at leaving the military at all. I was less than four years away from being able to retire.” A short while later, Wiley’s application seemed to be successful when he was ordered to the USS George Washington on her way to a new homeport in Japan. But when reporting for duty at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, Wiley found out that the ship would only reach Japan after another tour to Iraq. “I said I had no intention of going back there. They replied that my options were to either board the ship or to go to jail.” Wiley had had enough. After counseling from the legal aid group GI Rights Hotline, he left Norfolk, and, after a brief stopover in his hometown of Frankfort, Ky., crossed the border into Ontario in February 2007. “The next day I filed my refugee claim,” Wiley says.

Since then, the nuclear engineer has become a maintenance worker at a private school in Toronto. Instead of state-of-the-art engines of an Air Force carrier, the 38-year-old keeps one of the city’s oldest hot water boilers running. On a clear day, Wiley can see Lake Ontario from the school building. He knows that on the other banks of the lake, in the States, a prison sentence of presumably three years awaits him. Some of it would be for his refusal to return to Iraq, but the rest would be for talking to the media about his decision.

Deportation purgatory

Wiley is one of an estimated 150 to 200 deserters from the U.S. military who have made their way to Canada since the Iraq War began in 2003. Called “war resisters” by their supporters, about 50 of them have officially applied to stay in the country. The others are in hiding.

With good reason. Ever since a Conservative minority government came into power in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that he and his party don’t want the former soldiers to stay. The first refugee-status application by an American Iraq War deserter, Jeremy Hinzman, was turned down in 2005 under a Liberal government. But things have gotten even worse under Conservative rule. Every application by a deserter, be it for refugee status under international law or—after that fails—for a permission to stay for compassionate reasons, has either been denied or is pending with little hope of success.

According to a 2008 poll by the international public affairs practice Angus Reid Public Opinion, 64 percent of Canadians favor letting the American military dropouts stay. In 2008 and 2009 the Canadian House of Commons adopted two non-binding motions stating that deserters should be allowed to stay in the country and that provisions should be made to legalize their status. Harper’s government ignored the motions, saying that they would only bow to a formal bill. That bill, C-440, was defeated in parliament in September by a margin of 136 to 143 votes—to the delight of the government, which was quick to declare the vote a confirmation of its hard-line approach towards the deserters.

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney regards the defeated bill as a signal to act. After taking over the ministry in October 2008, Kenney was initially curbed by opinion polls and the motions in parliament and deported only four deserters. They were arrested after being returned to the United States and sentenced to the brig by U.S. Army court-martials.

Wiley and others now expect more deportations in quicker succession—an outlook that is shared by support groups on the other side of the border.

American organizations, like Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW), have all but given up on Canada as a viable option for the deserters to find refuge. “There is no safe haven in Canada. People went up there, hoping that the government would respect international law. But they didn’t. They shut that option down”, says IVAW Organizing Team Leader Aaron Hughes, who served in Iraq in 2003. He says that in 2005 the IVAW opened a chapter in Toronto, expecting that a bigger war resister community would grow in the city. But the chapter soon disappeared. “People simply didn’t stay because there was no sanctuary,” says Hughes.

IVAW’s approach has never been to actively convince people to escape to Canada but rather to show them other ways to resist. For those who are deported from Canada and arrested in the United States, the IVAW tries its best to help them with their court cases.

Changing sympathies

When Bill King remembers the events in 1968 that led him to flee from the American Army during the Vietnam War, his eyes sparkle with excitement. The story about his escape to Toronto sounds like an adventure. Thanks to the sympathetic stance of the Liberal Canadian government of that era, crossing the border into the big white north was easy.

King recounts how he sneaked out of Fort Dix, in New Jersey, when he was about to be shipped to Vietnam, how he and his wife Christine hid in the woods until the son of a colonel of the camp smuggled them out in his car, and how they ended up hitching a ride to the border with an ex-con and his 14-year-old girlfriend, who were then arrested.

In those days, an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 American war resisters flocked to Canada, welcomed into what Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau called “a refuge against militarism.” Many stayed on and became prominent members of Canadian society, like King, who is a jazz musician and artistic director of Toronto’s Beaches Jazz Festival. “Even though in Iraq and Vietnam you were fighting a different kind of boogeyman, there are many similarities—people just died unnecessarily in wars that were not needed and should have never happened,” says King, 64, who is a vocal supporter of the Iraq war deserters.

Parallels between Vietnam War resister King and Iraq War resister Wiley abound. Both were born in Kentucky to conservative families with an extreme commitment to the military and a long-standing history of service. “I had an uncle who participated in the Korean War and my father was in World War Two. You still had that traditional responsibility,” says King. “Everybody is expected to serve in the military—you don’t question it.” Wiley traces his family’s military roots back to the War of Independence. “I have eight siblings. Seven served in the military.” Both men were exposed to progressive ideas that were alien to their families, and the decisions of both men to escape to Canada created huge rifts between themselves and their parents.

But while King successfully created a new life for himself in Canada, Wiley’s future in the country is less certain. Immigration Minister Kenney sees cracking down on deserters as a way for Canada to demonstrate that it is a reliable U.S. partner. Celebrated by the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s as “Harper’s Secret Weapon” and a rising star of the Conservative Party, the 42-year-old Kenney has shown little leniency to the American ex-soldiers.

A first taste of things to come for the deserters was Kenney’s introduction of “Operational Bulletin 202” in summer 2010. The bulletin contains instructions for Canadian border officials to red-flag refugee claims by American deserters for special attention. Immigration officials are advised to consider the ex-soldiers as “criminally inadmissible” into Canada. “Our position is clear that Canadian law proposes stiff penal sanctions on those who desert from their voluntary commitment to the Canadian Forces,” said Kenney during an October 2010 press conference in Toronto, during which he announced the extension of a program that allows more Iraqis to enter Canada as refugees. “It would be fundamentally unfair to create a double standard whereby deserters from Canadian voluntary service are imprisoned, whereas Americans would be treated as heroes.”

Amnesty International suggests that the bulletin violates international law. In a letter to Kenney, Alex Neve, Amnesty’s secretary general, wrote that it is a violation of refugee law “to automatically deem deserters inadmissible, even if it is an offense, since the United Nations High Commission for Refugees recognizes desertion for reasons of conscience as legitimate grounds for refugee protection.”

Seeking asylum

The American deserters don’t plan to let themselves be sent to prison without a fight. On a cold winter night in December 2010, about a hundred people have gathered in an East End pub in Toronto for a war resister fundraiser. Phil McDowell, 33, has invited the public in order to warn about the possible deportations and to raise money for his legal costs. Like Wiley, the Rhode Island native could be deported any day, but also like Wiley, McDowell doesn’t fit the war supporter’s cliché of a selfish young man who joined the Army for quick money or a free education and changed his mind when facing a war deployment. McDowell fulfilled his four-year contract, went to Iraq, endured the harsh reality of war and was voted “Soldier of the Month” and “Soldier of the Quarter” for his battalion. But then questions started to form in McDowell’s mind. “I was disturbed by the violations of international law, the treatment and torture of the local population and other unlawful things,” the former sergeant says.

In 2005, McDowell returned from Iraq, thinking his life in the Army was over. “We were planning our future with one another in Austin,” says his wife, Jamine Aponte. The dreaded stop-loss program that allowed the U.S. Army to rescind a discharge and send former soldiers back to war shattered their dreams, with McDowell facing another 15-month tour in Iraq. That’s when the couple decided to escape to Canada, giving up everything they had worked for so far.

When McDowell filed an application for asylum in October 2006 before a Canadian refugee board panel, a major part of his legal strategy was his refusal to fight in an illegal war, as the American invasion in Iraq was not sanctioned by the United Nations, and the reason given for the invasion, the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction, wasn’t genuine. His argument is in line with valid asylum claims under international law. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that soldiers may apply for asylum in another country if they face persecution in their own country for refusal to participate in an illegal war. Thus, an examination of whether or not a certain war is legal should be a substantial part of every asylum hearing for a deserter.

McDowell’s hearing lasted less than half an hour, because the panel refused to examine the legality of the Iraq war. Acutely aware of the political implications, Canadian authorities fear being put in the position of declaring America’s military actions either legal or illegal.

Another controversial point during the refugee status hearings was an argument raised by Crown attorneys and later reiterated by Canada’s Federal Court judge Anne McTavish when she presided over Jeremy Hinzman’s appeal against his failed refugee claim. “An individual must be involved at the policy-making level to be culpable for a crime against peace … the ordinary foot soldier is not expected to make his or her own personal assessment as to the legality of a conflict,” McTavish wrote in her 2006 decision. “Similarly, such an individual cannot be held criminally responsible for fighting in support of an illegal war, assuming that his or her personal war-time conduct is otherwise proper.” Wiley bristles at the argument: “Even Canadian veterans told me that we have to win this argument because they reject the view that mere soldiers don’t have the moral compass to decide whether or not the orders that have been given are legal or illegal. This is a logic that turns the Nuremberg principles upside down.”

At the 1945 and 1946 trials in Nuremberg for atrocities committed during World War Two, the United Nations recognized that even foot soldiers cannot justify being part of war crimes on the excuse of following orders. If the prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials had followed the current logic of Canadian refugee board members and a federal judge, countless war criminals would have had a valid defense by saying that they just followed their orders and couldn’t assess their legality.

Different theatre, different result

Unlike his Canada-based counterparts, former U.S. Specialist Andre Shepherd feels safe. On November 27, 2008, the Ohio-native walked into a refugee processing center in the German city of Giessen and filed an asylum claim. From that moment on, he could no longer be arrested or returned to the American forces stationed in Germany. “By filing his application Mr. Shepherd has evoked the protection of the Geneva Convention. A deportation to the United States has therefore been legally ruled out,” says his lawyer, Reinhard Marx. In addition, a European Union directive, binding in Germany since 2006, states that a soldier refusing to participate in a war that is illegal under international law must be recognized as a refugee. Because of that, German authorities will have to make a judgment about the legality of the American war in Iraq in order to be able to decide on Shepherd’s claim.

Things for American Iraq War deserters in Germany are different than they are in Canada. Not surprisingly, Germany is acutely aware of its past. German authorities appear to value the Nuremberg principles more highly than their Canadian counterparts, considering the refusal of even an “ordinary foot soldier” to participate in illegal actions not only his right but even his duty. Consequently, Shepherd’s chances of being granted asylum in his still-pending case are good, according to legal experts.

For the American deserters in Canada, things look much bleaker. Robin Long, who enlisted in the Army in 2003 and trained for two years at Fort Knox to become a tank commander, arrived in Canada in 2005. Even though he was engaged to be married and had a Canadian child, in July 2008 Long became the first American deserter in history to be deported from Canada. He received a jail sentence of 15 months. Since his release, Long has struggled to find work due to his status as an ex-convict. Clifford Cornell, who was deported in April 2009, received a 12-month sentence.

Typically, deserters who talk to the media receive harsher sentences, something the lawyers of their support campaign describe as “differential punishment.” Wiley explains: “In 2008, I phoned the Navy Legal Services office at Norfolk Naval Station in order to establish what kind of punishment to expect. He told me that because I talked to journalists I could expect around three years.” Wiley doesn’t regret having gone public. “If I was just looking to cut a deal for a jail term to sit quietly in a cell, I would have done that in the beginning. If you want people to know what is going on, if you actually want to change something, then you can’t do that from a prison cell.”

If the situation in Canada for America’s deserters from the Iraq war is bleak, it is outright hopeless for those who refused to serve in Afghanistan. Even though reports of abuse and torture in Afghanistan have been documented in press reports and by WikiLeaks’ document releases, the first American war after 9/11 benefits from a better public image for two reasons. First, a direct link between the World Trade Center attack and organizations like al-Qaeda operating out of Afghanistan could be proven. Second, the invasion of the country was sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council.

Many parliaments that rejected a participation in the Iraq War as illegal, like the Canadian and German assemblies, sent troops to Afghanistan. As a result, the number of Afghanistan deserters in Canada who are known to local support groups and not in hiding is almost negligible. “The focus of our campaign is to call for the government of Canada to make a provision to allow U.S. Iraq War resisters to stay in Canada”, says Michelle Robidoux, spokeswoman of the Toronto-based War Resisters Support Campaign. “While that is our focus as a campaign, some of the soldiers who have refused to deploy to Iraq have also done a tour of duty in Afghanistan.”

Jeremy Hinzman, who deserted to Canada in 2004 after refusing deployment to Iraq, served before in Afghanistan. He only decided to leave the Army when confronted with his marching orders for Iraq. Interviews with deserters indicate that many American soldiers consider Iraq as the more morally and legally questionable war. Army deserter Daniel Felushko, in a 2004-interview with the Los Angeles Weekly, put it this way: “If it had been Afghanistan, I would have gone, because there was a direct relationship with 9/11. But beyond Saddam and Bush’s grudge there’s no reason for us to go to Iraq.”

The only remaining legal strategy for Afghanistan deserters is to say that personal experiences during their tour shocked them so significantly that they changed their entire view of military service and became “conscientious objectors.” But this approach has proven futile with the American military, especially for long-serving soldiers.

Given the unsympathetic stance of the Harper Administration, disillusioned members of the Canadian opposition, like New Democrat Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, have suggested that the only chance left for the deserters may be general elections and a new government. For Wiley, McDowell and the other Iraq War deserters in Canada, that may be their best hope.

-this article is from In These Times

you can DONATE or SUBSCRIBE to In These Times by clicking on the links.

February 20, 2011

Stop the transporting of nuclear waste through the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway Region

Let us know who is organizing to prevent the toxic nuclear waste shipment from happening.

I took a picture of this banner on a nuclear non-proliferation walk last March.

I liked this graphic and would like to credit the group or artist, but I only know it was with some material on the 700 mile non nuclear proliferation treaty walk.

February 19, 2011

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 - by Isao Hashimoto

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project's "Trinity" test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan's nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea's two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing"the fear and folly of nuclear weapons." It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

-thanks to Concerned Human

VFP reminds everyone to call 202-647-4000 and demand that Secretary Clinton apologize to VFP & Ray McGovern


VFP asked Ray for a quick statement after his release. He wrote:

“I find myself wondering if this show of brutality may be a signpost on a path to even wider and more brutal repression. I have been comparing what happened during Clinton’s speech Tuesday with my four-minute mini-debate with Donald Rumsfeld on May 4, 2006 in Atlanta . Halfway through, Rumsfeld gives the nod to a black-hatted security fellow to elbow me away from the microphone.

I shout, ‘So this is America.’ Rumsfeld takes one look at the TV cameras streaming live, makes a snap decision, and tells the security fellow to let me stay. During that same speech in Atlanta, one fearless witness stands dead-center in the audience with his back to Rumsfeld for the entire speech and is not bothered, much less beaten and jailed.The contrast between the experience of May 2006 and February 2011 can be viewed through the prism of the proverbial ‘boiling frog.’ There does seem to be a subtle but successful campaign to get people gradually accustomed to increasingly repressive measures; and many, perhaps most, Americans seem oblivious.

After 9/11 Norman Mailer saw a ‘pre-fascist climate’ reigning in America. If we don’t stand up for our rights, it may not be long before we shall have to drop the ‘pre.’”

Veterans For Peace is proud of our member Ray McGovern, whose simple, dignified action speaks volumes about the power of non-violence. We abhor the actions of the security personnel who reacted violently and in flagrant violation of Mr. McGovern’s First Amendment rights. We also deplore the indifference of Secretary Clinton who didn’t bat an eye and we demand that she apologize for her silence and hypocrisy. Most importantly, we call on the American public to wake up to the dark reality of what this country has become…a place where civil liberties and freedom of expression are becoming increasingly endangered, and the government’s response to every situation is intimidation and force.

see Democracy Now coverage here

Call 202-647-4000 and write Sec. Clinton to protest.

Senate Bill 251 (California) links draft registration to California drivers' licenses

A new bill, Senate Bill 251, has been introduced in the California state legislature that would make registration for any future draft automatic when males between the ages of 18 and 26 apply for a driver's license or license renewal (full text below).
As of February 18, the bill had only been referred to the senate rules committee for possible assignment to policy committees. You can follow the bill and subscribe for email alerts whenever any action occurs at:
This is the fifth time that supporters of the Selective Service System, the agency responsible for operating any future draft, have attempted to get such a bill through the California legislature. Organized opposition succeeded in preventing the previous bills (in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007) from receiving final floor votes. California is among about a dozen states that have not passed bills linking draft registration to drivers' licenses. Because of its large population and very low registration compliance rate, California probably has the largest number of nonregistrants in the nation, so this bill is must be high on the list of priorities for the Selective Service System.
For future alerts and information on how you can help defeat this bill, contact: Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD), comdsd@aol.com, 760-753-7518, www.comdsd.org.

-thanks to Rick Jankow

February 18, 2011

Mohawk Communities Oppose Nuclear Waste Shipment Through the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway System

The Mohawk Councils of Kahnawà:ke, Tyendinaga and Akwesasne have issued a joint statement rejecting the planned shipment of nuclear waste through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.

Haudenosaunee Confederacy flag - Photo by Sandra CuffeHaudenosaunee Confederacy flag - Photo by Sandra Cuffe

On Feb. 4, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), gave Bruce Power one full year to get 16 containers filled with radioactive waste to Sweden, where the waste can be recycled.

However, before the containers can get there, Bruce Power would take them on a risky tour "from Lake Huron, down the St. Clair River through to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and then on through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean," notes APTN.

Though Sweden itself turns out to be far from neutral when it comes to Canada's nuclear industry, the Mohawks' concerns hit much closer to home.

Detroit News graphic of routeBruce Power's proposed shipping route, via beyondnuclear.org

"The St. Lawrence River provides drinking water to some 40 million people," says Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief Michael Ahrihron Delisle, Jr., in the joint statement issued Feb. 9 "But for us, it's much more than that. If there is an accident, there is no place for us to go. This is our home. We cannot and will not tolerate the passage of nuclear waste through our Territory. There is no excuse for this to take place."

The Mohawk people have been living in the area of the St. Lawrence for at least 9,000 years - and they're still there today.

"We wish to make it clear that we are absolutely, 100% against this plan," states Tyendinaga Grand Chief Don Maracle. "We have an obligation to protect Mother Earth and her inhabitants. We would be derelict in our duties if we turned a blind eye to this dangerous plan."

"It is disturbing that the CNSC has placed the interest of Bruce Power before the concerns shared by our Mohawk brothers and sisters," says Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell. "We were never consulted even though the shipment is planned to pass through our territorial waters. As a result, we condemn the Commission for disregarding our concerns and our desire to protect our great waterway for future generations."

Their joint statement concludes, "We strongly urge the Commission to consider alternative plans to dispose or store the nuclear waste. Our three communities have pledged to work together to ensure the safety of Canadian, American and Indigenous people in this matter."

In addition to the three Mohawk communities, the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 39 communities across Ontario, has issued its own statementagainst the planned shipment; because, they say, it violates Canada's "rule of law".

"The Supreme Court has stipulated the requirement for consultation and accommodation with First Nations," states Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee. "First Nations have to be accommodated on activities that could have an impact on our traditional territories. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says handling of hazardous materials in our territories requires our free, prior, and informed consent."

"The Great Lakes were never negotiated by treaty and we have inherent and treaty rights to all our waterways. Neither the Nuclear Safety Commission nor Bruce Power can guarantee that a disaster will not happen with this shipment. The spillage of any hazardous waste would infringe on our constitutionally-protected rights to fish, hunt, and gather lake-based traditional foods and medicines."

Thankfully, the Anishinabek and the Mohawks won't have to face this alone. Their concerns are shared by numerous environmental groups, U.S. Republican Rep. Candice Miller and The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities initiative, which represents 73 cities on both sides of the US/Canada border.


Joe Delaronde, Press Attaché
Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke
450-632-7500, joe.delaronde@mck.ca

Brendan White, Communications Officer
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
613-575-2348, brendan.white@akwesasne.ca

R. Donald Maracle, Grand Chief
Mohawk Council of Tyendinaga
613-396-3424, rdonm@mbq-tmt.org

Marci Becking
Communications Officer
Union of Ontario Indians
Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290)
Cell: (705) 494-0735
E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca

John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada


- According to Wikipedia, "Bruce Power Limited Partnership is a Canadian business partnership composed of several corporations. It exists as a partnership between Cameco Corporation (31.6%), TransCanada Corporation (31.6%), BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust (31.6%), the Power Workers Union (4%) and The Society of Energy Professionals (1.2%).

- In the four-part series "The Origin of Nuclear Power", author Frederick Loberg explains that the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden has been getting its uranium from the Rabbit Lake mine since the 1970s. Located on Dene Territory in northern Saskatchewan, the mine is wholly owned by Cameco. The Dene were staunchly opposed the project; but their rights and concerns--like those of the Mohawks--were ignored.

-thanks to Intercontinental Cry

February 17, 2011

Ray McGovern & Ronald Rumsfeld

At Clinton Speech: Veteran Bloodied, Bruised and Arrested for Standing Silently

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her speech at George Washington University yesterday condemning governments that arrest protestors and do not allow free expression, 71-year-old Ray McGovern was grabbed from the audience in plain view of her by police and an unidentified official in plain clothes, brutalized and left bleeding in jail. She never paused speaking. When Secretary Clinton began her speech, Mr. McGovern remained standing silently in the audience and turned his back. Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army officer who also worked as a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, was wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt.

Blind-sided by security officers who pounced upon him, Mr. McGovern remarked, as he was hauled out the door, "So this is America?" Mr. McGovern is covered with bruises, lacerations and contusions inflicted in the assault.

Mr. McGovern is being represented by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). "It is the ultimate definition of lip service that Secretary of State Clinton would be trumpeting the U.S. government's supposed concerns for free speech rights and this man would be simultaneously brutalized and arrested for engaging in a peaceful act of dissent at her speech," stated attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the PCJF.

Mr. McGovern now works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Ray McGovern with bruises
Ray McGovern with bruises

Tell her to stand up for Free Speech

February 9, 2011

Frack Alphabet

February 8, 2011

Buffalo Bans Fracking in Groundbreaking Vote

First Ban on Fracking in New York; Legislation also targets wastewater (Buffalo, NY)
Citizens and clean water advocates heralded the Buffalo Common Council’s move to become the first city in New York State—and the second major city nationwide—to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The Common Council passed “Buffalo's Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance” today by a 9-0 vote, following months of citizen lobbying by Frack Action Buffalo, a local grassroots group.
At a a press conference following the vote, victims of fracking in New York joined Buffalo Common Coucilmembers and former New York State Senator Antoine Thompson in praising the ban. Thompson was the sponsor of the statewide moratorium on fracking passed in August.
Buffalo, which sits atop areas of the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations, follows in the footsteps of Pittsburgh, PA, which passed a similar ban in November 2010. The Buffalo law prohibits drillers from fracking for gas in Buffalo, and bars the disposal of drilling wastewater or other production wastes within city limits.

The inclusion of drilling wastes sets the Buffalo legislation apart from Pittsburgh's, and zeroes in on what has proved a contentious issue for the gas industry in Pennsylvania: what to do with the millions of gallons of wastewater generated by the process, which can contain carcinogens, volatile organic compounds, and even radioactive material. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection came under fire last month when the Associated Press reported that the DEP authorized the discharge of at least 3.6 million barrels of fracking wastewater into rivers and streams across the state with minimal to no treatment. According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation documents, wastewater from vertical fracking wells in New York has already been accepted by Buffalo water treatment facilities.
The Buffalo ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, with additional aid from the Community Environmental Defense Council. Frack Action Buffalo gathered 1,650 signatures in support of the ordinance over several months.

The bill's sponsor, Buffalo Common Councilmember Joseph Golombek (D) told the Buffalo News, "When it comes to the safety of our residents and protecting our environment, we do have a responsibility."

“Buffalo is leading the way,” said Rita Yelda, a student at Buffalo State and Organizer with Frack Action Buffalo. “And we urge other cities and towns to pass similar bans. We want to tell Albany: we will stand up in defense of our communities if you will not."

“The gas industry has shown us again and again that fracking cannot be done safely, and that there is no good answer for what to do with the massive quantities of highly-toxic wastewater created in the process. In passing this ban, the City of Buffalo sent a message to cities and towns across New York that the threat posed by fracking is real, and that nothing short of a ban will protect us,” said Claire Sandberg, Campaign Director of Frack Action.

In December, former Governor David Paterson signed an Executive Order imposing a timeout on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing until June. Executive Order #41 bars new horizontal drilling in New York and called for a revised draft of the heavily-critized draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS). The Executive Order followed two landslide bipartisan votes by the Senate and Assembly in support a moratorium. Environmental groups praised Paterson for imposing the nation's first statewide moratorium on fracking, but criticized the Order for failing to include vertical gas wells, which are already in use in Western NY. A revised dSGEIS will be released on or around on or around June 1, 2011, and be followed by a new round of public comment.

Fracking is unregulated at the federal due to exemptions in federal environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act.

-thanks to FrackAction

February 5, 2011

'Outrageous': Guantánamo Prisoner Dies After Being Held for Nine Years Without Charge or Trial

by Andy Worthington

The Second World War lasted for six years, and at the end of it prisoners of war were released to resume their lives. At Guantánamo, on the other hand, the prison has just marked the ninth anniversary of its opening, and on Thursday the Pentagon announced that Awal Gul, a 48-year old Afghan prisoner, who had been held for nine years without charge or trial and was scheduled to be held forever, died in a shower after suffering a heart attack. Gul had never been held as a prisoner of war, and despite the US government’s assertions that he could be held forever, no one in a position of authority — neither President Bush nor President Obama — had never adequately demonstrated that he constituted a threat to the United States.


Despite what we ultimately know of his guilt or innocence, the sad and lonely death of Awal Gul, "in a place increasingly shorn of all hope, is a depressing indictment of the US government’s ongoing and apparently permanent inability to treat the men at Guantánamo with anything other than heartless disdain."

From what is known of Gul’s story, he had run a weapons depot in his home town in eastern Afghanistan, after the end of the Soviet occupation, and had then run it on behalf of the Taliban after their rise to power in 1996. However, in his tribunal at Guantánamo, as I explained in a profile of him two years ago:

Gul said that he had resigned from the Taliban … and, in a volte-face that was typical of Afghan politics, had begun working with the pro-US warlord Hazrat Ali, one of three Afghan commanders who had fought at Tora Bora on the Americans’ behalf [Tora Bora being the site of a showdown, in December 2001, between al-Qaeda and senior Taliban supporters on the one hand, and a proxy Afghan army directed by US Special Forces on the other]. He explained that, on Ali’s advice, he handed himself in to Northern Alliance commanders in Kabul in February 2002, in an attempt to quell rumors about his involvement with the Taliban, but was then handed over to the Americans.

Whether there was any truth to this story had still not been clearly established after nine years, when, as Navy Cmdr. Tamsen Reese, a Guantánamo spokesman, explained, Gul had been working out on Tuesday night in Camp 6, and then “went to go take a shower and apparently collapsed in the shower.” Cmdr. Reese added, “Detainees on the cellblock then assisted him in getting to the guard station,” and from there he was taken to a clinic, and then to the Navy base hospital, which is some distance from the prison blocks, where he died despite “extensive life saving measures.”

Unlike the six other deaths at Guantánamo — the three heavily disputed deaths in June 2006, which appear to have involved a secret torture team operating in a secret facility outside Guantánamo’s main perimeter fence rather than the authorities’ claim that the men committed suicide simultaneously, two other alleged suicides in May 2007 and June 2009, and the death by cancer of an unrecognized hero of the anti-Taliban resistance in December 2007 — the death of Awal Gul at least appears straightforward.


-thanks to Common Dreams