Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Sister Acts"

"Sister Acts" by Nicholas Kristof, NY Times, Aug 16, 2014®ion=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=1

IN an age of villainy, war and inequality, it makes sense that we need
superheroes. And after trying Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, we may
have found the best superheroes yet: Nuns.

“I may not believe in God, but I do believe in nuns,” writes Jo
Piazza, in her forthcoming book, “If Nuns Ruled the World.” Piazza is
an agnostic living in New York City who began interviewing nuns and
found herself utterly charmed and inspired.

“They eschew the spotlight by their very nature, and yet they’re out
there in the world every day, living the Gospel and caring for the
poor,” Piazza writes. “They don’t hide behind fancy and expensive
vestments, a pulpit, or a sermon. I have never met a nun who rides a
Mercedes-Benz or a Cadillac. They walk a lot; they ride bikes.”

One of the most erroneous caricatures of nuns is that they are prim,
Victorian figures cloistered in convents. On the contrary, I’ve become
a huge fan of nuns because I see them so often risking their lives
around the world, confronting warlords, pimps and thugs, while
speaking the local languages fluently. In a selfish world, they
epitomize selflessness and compassion.

There are also plenty of formidable nuns whom even warlords don’t want
to mess with, who combine reverence with ferocity, who defy the Roman
Catholic Church by handing out condoms to prostitutes to protect them
from H.I.V. (They surely don’t mention that to the bishops.)

One of the nuns whom Piazza profiles is Sister Megan Rice. She earned
a graduate degree at Boston College and then moved to Nigeria in 1962
to run a school for girls she had helped establish in a remote area
with no electricity or running water. After eventually returning to
the United States, she began campaigning against nuclear weapons.

In 2012, at the age of 82, she masterminded a break-in of a nuclear
complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to call attention to the nuclear threat.
As she was handcuffed by armed security guards, she sang “This Little
Light of Mine.” She is now serving a prison sentence of almost three

I don’t approve of breaking into national security compounds, and I
think nuclear doctrine is more complex than Sister Megan probably
does. Nonetheless, I admire someone with such guts and commitment to

Another remarkable nun is Sister Jeannine Gramick, who, while working
toward a doctorate in mathematics, met a gay Catholic man who asked
for religious help. She organized a home service for him that grew
into a regular liturgy for gay Catholics in private homes.

In 1977, she helped found New Ways Ministry to support gay and lesbian
Catholics. The Vatican tried to suppress her, and her order, the
Loretto Sisters, was instructed at least nine times to dismiss her. It
passively resisted.

“The Vatican tried to silence me,” Sister Jeannine told Piazza, “and
it just didn’t work.”

At a time when much of Christianity denounced gays and lesbians,
Sister Jeannine was a beacon of compassion and struggled to educate
the church she loved.

“People always emphasize sex, sex, sex,” Sister Jeannine told Piazza.
“And it isn’t about sex. It is about love. It is who you fall in love
with that makes you lesbian and gay. Love is the important thing here,
not sex.”

All this has led the Vatican to investigate and clamp down on American
nuns in a harsh crackdown that has been referred to as the Great
Nunquisition. In 2012, the Vatican reprimanded a group of American
nuns for promoting “radical feminist themes.”

Piazza quotes a nun who said a friend put it to her this way: “Let me
get this straight. Some priests committed sex abuse. Bishops covered
it up. And so they’re investigating nuns?”

Pope Francis, so far, has continued the crackdown, but he seems more
enlightened than his predecessors and maybe he’ll understand that
battling nuns is hopeless. Nuns are iron women — and sometimes that’s
more than a metaphor.

Sister Madonna Buder, nicknamed “the iron nun,” took up running at age
47 and has completed 366 triathlons. She set her personal best at age
62, and, at age 82, she became the oldest person, male or female, to
complete an Ironman triathlon.

In the course of her races, she has broken her arms eight times, her
hip twice, her ribs countless times. She runs five miles to and from
church, in long pants suitable for Mass, and foregoes a coach. “My
coach,” she explains, “is the Man Upstairs.”

Forgive us for having sinned and thought of nuns as backward, when, in
fact, they were among the first feminists. And, in a world of
narcissism and cynicism, they constitute an inspiring contingent of
moral leaders who actually walk the walk.

So a suggestion: How about if the Vatican spends less time
investigating nuns and the public spends less time mocking nuns — and
we all spend more time emulating nuns?

© 2014 The New York Times Company

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Baltimore Activist Alert - August 20 -21, 2014

19] Re:Imagining Our Stories with Center for Story-Based Strategy – Aug. 20
20] Visit Rep. Sarbanes’ office – Aug. 20
21] Get Money Out - Maryland meeting – Aug. 20
22] "Climate Change Action" Webinar – Aug. 20
23] Stop the torture of pigs at JHU – Aug. 21

19] – On Wed., Aug. 20 noon to 2 PM, Join Bread for the City and others at Bread for the City SE Center, 1640 Good Hope Rd., for the first workshop in a three part series called: Re:Imagining Our Stories with Center for Story-Based Strategy. Certificates will be given for attendance at all three trainings. Bus tokens are available. Contact Joni at 202-553-7248 or

20] – As part of the national "Educate Congress" Campaign Letter Drops, on Wed., Aug. 20 at 4:30 PM, the Pledge of Resistance will go to Rep. John Sarbanes’ office, 600 Baltimore Ave., Suite 303, Baltimore, MD 21204. At no time have corporations--economic entities of our creation--exercised "rights" reserved for natural persons--until very recently. Without constitutional basis, and by the slimmest margins, the US Supreme Court has unilaterally imposed a radical doctrine of corporate personhood. While inside, we will deliver a letter calling on him to support the people, not corporations and to call for an end to the use of killer drone strikes, which we believe to be illegal and unconstitutional. Let Max know if you can sign on to the letter and go to Sarbanes’ office--410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at Are you a constituent?

21] – Enjoy wine, refreshments, discussion and a presentation by GMOM (Get Money Out - Maryland), specifically for Baltimore City. Learn about an exciting new way to get money out of politics. We all know about the problem of corruption in our political system. But getting Congress to fix it seems impossible. It turns out the solution need not involve Congress. We can do this in the individual states. Vermont & California have done it, and a dozen states are poised to join them, including Maryland.

All-volunteer GMOM (Get Money Out - Maryland) has grown and is now forming *local* groups across the state. We're the Maryland affiliate of This is an invitation to a meeting for Baltimore City residents on Wed., Aug. 20 at 7 PM at Govans Presbyterian Church, 5828 York Rd., Baltimore 21212. Enter from York Road and bear to your right on the driveway to go behind the Church. Park in the lot behind the church (in front of the cemetery) or continue further south to the adjacent lot. Follow the sign to Sanctuary/Church Offices, walk up the ramp and make a U-turn. The door says Church Office and Peace Study Center.

Call 410-849-0670 or contact Joe Adams at joeadamsmd [at] If you can't make it, let them know you're interested at 410-849-0670 or If you can, let them know your phone number, and where you live. Go to

22] – Physicians for Social Responsibility is hosting a "Climate Change Action" Webinar on Wed., Aug. 20 at 8 PM ET for a presentation on writing an effective letter to the editor on climate change and the importance of supporting the EPA carbon rule. Register at

PSR's "Climate Action Team" webinar series is designed to equip members like you to speak and act effectively to fight climate change. Wednesday's webinar will go over how to raise your voice by writing strong letters to the editor.

23] – Join the Physicians Committee supporters on Thurs., Aug. 21 at 11 AM outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital Main Entrance, 600 N. Wolfe St. (near McElderry St.), Baltimore 21287, to help stop Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's use of live animals in medical student training. Physicians Committee staff and supporters have repeatedly asked Johns Hopkins to end this animal use. However, the school's decision-makers don't seem to be getting the message that they are one of the last medical schools in the United States using animals for this purpose. Ninety-eight percent of medical schools use superior training methods that don't harm or kill animals, including human-based simulators. Email Greg Mazur at

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine directs students "to practice suture and knot-tying skills and to perform simple surgical procedures" on live pigs as part of the third- and fourth-year surgery rotation, which takes place several times each year. The pigs are killed at the end of each session. Non-animal training methods are widely used by medical schools across the country, making this use of animals not only cruel but unnecessary.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

New Orleans Immigrant Rights Leaders Targeted

Published on Portside (

New Orleans Immigrant Rights Leaders Targeted

Bill Quigley

Thursday, August 14, 2014
Facing South

Like many cities in the South, New Orleans has a proud history of civil rights leadership -- along with an equally grim history of civil rights violations. That history is repeating itself today. The African American community is again facing economic injustice and abuse from law enforcement. But, this time, the immigrant workers who rebuilt New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina are also the targets of brutal civil rights violations. And those same workers are showing extraordinary bravery in fighting to end them.

In November 2013, I was proud to stand alongside immigrant workers and community leaders engaging in peaceful civil disobedience in New Orleans to expose a brutal program of stop and frisk racial profiling-based immigration raids called CARI (Criminal Alien Removal Initiative), which targets Latinos.

Squads from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), together with local police, have been conducting race-based immigration raids anywhere Latinos gather: stores, apartment buildings, churches, laundromats. The raids have led to constant terror for the immigrant workers and families who rebuilt the city we live in and love.

The blatantly unconstitutional nature of the raids led to a Congressional inquiry and front-page coverage in the New York Times. Yet ICE continues to rely on them to meet its massive deportation quotas.

This week I visited a worker named Yestel Velazquez, who is in the South Louisiana Correctional Center awaiting deportation after a recent CARI raid. Yestel was going about his daily life, getting his car repaired at a Latino auto shop in a heavily Latino suburb of New Orleans, when ICE and local police surrounded the shop and grabbed every Latino in sight.

After their arrests, Yestel and a fellow worker named Wilmer Irias-Palma filed civil rights complaints against ICE about the raid. While in detention last week, Yestel and Wilmer participated in a public briefing with D.C. civil rights leaders by phone. ICE immediately retaliated by fast-tracking Yestel and Wilmer for deportation, racing to hide the evidence of its own civil rights abuses by shipping the complainants out of the country. Wilmer was deported on Friday, and Yestel has been told he is to be deported this Friday.

This is the shape of New Orleans' new civil rights crisis. It's one that faces millions of immigrant workers around the United States.

People with families and deep roots in our communities live in constant fear of unconstitutional, race-based, stop-and-frisk style raids. And when they speak up about the abuse, they face retaliation by the same rogue immigration agency that puts deportation quotas above all else, including basic constitutional protections. ICE can commit civil rights abuse with impunity, because when whistleblowers like Yestel and Wilmer are brave enough to speak up, ICE simply deports the evidence.

All this is taking place while the United States is under review this week by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for human and civil rights violations. The failure of the Obama administration to protect the rights of immigrant workers is one of the many ways the U.S. is falling behind on its obligations to CERD -- and to its own basic principles.

When I met with Yestel this week, he said: "They are punishing me because I spoke the truth, but I get my strength from my love for my kids and my family. ICE must stop racially profiling Latinos and targeting honest people who are trying to make a living. And Obama must face this civil rights crisis head on."

I couldn't agree more. Yestel and immigrant civil rights leaders like him deserve freedom, not deportation. ICE's race-based community immigration raids need to stop. And as President Obama prepares to take executive action on immigration, the stories of Yestel and Wilmer should demonstrate that what is at stake is a matter of civil rights. The immigrant workers and families who helped rebuild New Orleans show their bravery every day. The President needs to do the same by taking bold action to protect the immigrant civil rights leaders who are fighting for what we all hold dear.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be reached [1].

Source URL:


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Julian Assange speaks of 'leaving' Ecuador embassy
18 August 2014 Last updated at 10:09 ET

Julian Assange speaks of 'leaving' Ecuador embassy

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving London's Ecuadorean embassy "soon".

He said he understood from Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson he would be "leaving the embassy" after two years' refuge but gave no more details.

Mr Assange is wanted for questioning over alleged sex assaults in Sweden and faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

Mr Hrafnsson later said the plan "as always" was for Mr Assange to depart when the UK "calls off the siege".

"The world is not coming to an end," Mr Hrafnsson told reporters inside the embassy.
"The plan, as always, is to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements."

Mr Assange, 43, faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010. He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after the UK's Supreme Court dismissed his efforts to block his extradition.
Since then police have maintained a round-the-clock presence outside the building, in London's Knightsbridge, at a cost of £6.4m.

Clive Coleman, the BBC's legal correspondent, said that nothing had changed since 2012 and Mr Assange would be arrested and extradited if he left the embassy.

Speaking at the news conference, Mr Assange said: "I understand that Kristinn Hrafnsson has said that he can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon".

But he added it was not because he needed medical treatment, as had been reported in some of the UK press.

'Mixed messages'

Vanessa Buschschluter, at the Ecuadorean embassy

This was certainly a news conference of mixed messages. Expectations of a news-making announcement were high as a group of a dozen journalists filed into the Ecuadorean embassy.
They were further fuelled by the fact that we were asked to hand over our mobile phones before entering the embassy, something which had not been the case during a similar news conference held in June to mark the second anniversary of Julian Assange first seeking refuge.

Mr Assange used this occasion to dispel "misinformation" and to make the point that he has never been charged with any offence either here or in Sweden.

But challenged by journalists to confirm or deny rumours he would leave the embassy soon, he gave a cryptic answer, quoting Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson.

Asked by journalists to clarify his answer, he just said: "I think I've said enough".

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino on the other hand seemed to suggest Mr Assange would be in the embassy for a long time. He asked how long the Swedish judiciary could allow this situation to continue: "Five more years? Ten more years?" and lamented that there had been "no movement" since Mr Assange entered the embassy in June 2012.

'Bound to fail'

Mr Assange says he fears he could eventually be handed over to the US because Wikileaks published classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars.

But UK courts have repeatedly ruled that he should be sent to Sweden to face questioning.
The UK first ordered his extradition in February 2011. Mr Assange launched a number of appeals, which culminated in the Supreme Court saying the extradition was lawful in 2012.
After that decision, Mr Assange, who had been on conditional bail, sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy.

He was then granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and the country's foreign minister Ricardo Patino said he would continue to be offered "protection".

Sitting next to Mr Patino at a news conference on Monday, Mr Assange said his health had suffered during his time inside the embassy.

Reports in UK newspapers at the weekend said Mr Assange had developed a heart defect and a chronic lung condition during his confinement.

The Australian said the reasons for him leaving were not those "reported by the Murdoch press" - but did not elaborate further.

Our correspondent added that any argument Mr Assange could not be extradited because of his health was "almost certainly bound to fail" because Sweden has a good healthcare system.
'Better climate'

Mr Patino said the Ecuadorean government would attempt to meet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to discuss the case.

He said changes to the UK's extradition laws had created a better climate for reaching a deal over Mr Assange.

"It is time to free Julian Assange. It is time for his human rights to be finally respected," Mr Patino added.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman called on the Ecuadorean government to help "bring this difficult and costly situation to an end".

"We remain as committed as ever to reaching a diplomatic solution to this situation.
"We are clear that our laws must be followed and Mr Assange should be extradited to Sweden," the spokesman added.

BBC © 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Bittersweet Victory for Survivors of Bosnian Genocide

Published on Portside (

A Bittersweet Victory for Survivors of Bosnian Genocide

Latifah Azlan

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Foreign Policy in Focus

Nineteen years ago, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim, or Bosniak, men and boys were massacred in the small mountain town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The genocide, perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic, is the worst to occur in Europe since World War II. Even more devastatingly, these men and boys were essentially handed over to their deaths by the very people entrusted to protect them.

During the Bosnian war, Srebrenica was declared a safe area under the protection of the United Nations (UN). A Dutch peacekeeping force, the Dutchbat, was assigned to the area to safeguard the thousands of Bosniaks seeking shelter in the enclave. Yet, General Mladic’s men outnumbered the peacekeepers and as Srebrenica fell, the Dutchbat turned over the Muslims who were under their protection. The Serb forces would later go on to kill the male inhabitants of the town.

The process of recovering the victims has been a slow and painstaking journey, not least because of the sheer number of people who were killed. The Bosnian Serb forces had also used bulldozers to dig up the bodies and relocate them to other gravesites in order to conceal their crimes. To this day, bodies are still being discovered—175 were buried in this year’s commemorations in nearby Potocari.

A few days after the ceremony, a Dutch court ruled that the Netherlands is liable for the murders of more than 300 victims of the Srebrenica massacre. In its ruling, the court said that the Dutchbat “should have known” that the men and boys would be killed when they were handed over to General Mladic’s forces.

For the victims’ families, the decision is a bittersweet victory. The Mothers of Srebrenica, an association representing the massacre’s survivors, first launched the case in 2007. They demanded compensation from both the UN and the Dutch government, saying that both entities had failed to prevent the genocide in Srebrenica.

On this front, the Mothers might have achieved what they set out to do. In being liable for the deaths of 300 Bosniaks, the Dutch government is also responsible for any compensation related to the massacre.

However, there is one thing the Mothers desire more than money—justice. The Dutch might be legally responsible for their mistakes but the court did not hold the UN accountable because the organization has absolute immunity from prosecution.

Furthermore, the July 16 ruling cleared the Dutchbat from the deaths of more than 7,000 men killed in and around Srebrenica, including those who fled the UN safe area into the surrounding forests before they were lured out by Bosnian Serb forces and into their graves.

The verdict is a striking reminder of how senseless the deaths of their fathers, husbands, and sons were. Many of those who survived the genocide had sought refuge with the Dutchbat. They were told that these men with the blue helmets were the people who would protect them from harm. Instead, they watched in horror as General Mladic’s men whisked away their relatives to be murdered while the Dutchbat did nothing.

Nearly 20 years later, the Bosniaks’ struggle for justice is far from over. Despite the well-documented facts, many Bosnian Serbs continue to deny what happened in Srebrenica. Many claim that the number of victims has been inflated, and local Serb governments and authorities have refused to acknowledge the genocidal nature of the tragedy.

The scars and distrust stemming from the Srebrenica massacre are deep and fresh. But for the mothers of Srebrenica, this small victory is the first step in ensuring that their loved ones are not forgotten.

Latifah Azlan is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Big Contradiction: American Bombs Dropping On Extremist Group Funded By U.S. Allies

Published on Alternet (
AlterNet [1] / By Alex Kane [2]

The Big Contradiction: American Bombs Dropping On Extremist Group Funded By U.S. Allies

August 14, 2014 |

President Barack Obama recently announced that he authorized the United States military to begin bombing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq, where the radical Islamist group has taken over large swathes of territory. But what Obama didn’t mention in his speeches on why he began military operations again in Iraq is that citizens of U.S. allies, mostly in Gulf Arab states, have helped the rise of ISIS. This is deeply embarrassing to the U.S.

America’s closest allies, like Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, have played a role in financing the activities of ISIS, which has declared an Islamic “caliphate” stretching across the borders of Syria and Iraq and which has killed those they deem enemies of Islam, like Shiites and Yazidis. Turkey, in particular, gave ISIS an easy way into Syria through the border between the two countries. ISIS transited weapons and fighters from Turkey into Syria to fight in the ongoing civil war there—a civil war that has allowed ISIS to gain valuable battlefield experience.

That U.S. allies play a dual role in the “war on terror” is an old story. In public, they pay lip service to battling extremism, but have not taken bold steps to halt the flow of private financing to extremist groups in Syria and across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally, is adept at playing this game. The Saudis want to use radical Sunnis in their war against Iran and Shiites, but also do not want these extremists to attack their own country, as Patrick Cockburn recently pointed out in the London Review of Books. [3]

Fifteen of the hijackers who flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 Commission Report said that Saudi Arabia was the main source of financing for Al Qaeda. But Al Qaeda has also attacked Saudi Arabia itself. More than a decade later, little has changed. In 2010, State Department cables published by WikiLeaks showed that the U.S. had concluded [4] “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority...Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Today, the vast majority of ISIS’ funding is self-generated. Most of ISIS’ money comes from activities [5] like siphoning oil from Iraq, extorting money, kidnapping ransoms and bank heists like one in Mosul, Iraq in June that gave the organization $420 million. But a portion of its money comes from private financiers in Gulf Arab states. At least one branch of the U.S. government—the Treasury Department—has said as much. In late June, the Associated Press reported [6] that “the U.S. Treasury Department believes money is being raised in Kuwait and Qatar” for ISIS.

Kuwait is a key hub for the financing of ISIS. Weak laws related to the financing of extremist groups abroad have allowed donors there to raise and send money to groups in Syria, where ISIS has become the most effective force fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, much to the chagrin of the West and the rebel groups allied with the U.S. A 2013 report published by the Brookings Institution [7] and authored by journalist Elizabeth Dickinson states that hundreds of millions of dollars from Kuwait have flowed to radical groups in Syria. The money has also transited through other U.S.-allied states, including Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

The Kuwaiti government is not actively encouraging the financing of ISIS or groups like it. The Brookings report says that the government has taken some steps to combat the flow. “But gaps still exist and there is little indication that established funding channels have been affected by government actions,” writes Dickinson, the author of the report. And Saleh Ashour, a Kuwaiti Parliament member, alleged to Dickinson that “the Kuwaiti government could not stop [these donations]...It’s a weak government that we have; they are chicken.”

Another source of private financing is Saudi Arabia. In late June, the Atlantic’s Steve Clemons [8] reported that a senior Qatari official told him that “ISIS has been a Saudi project.” Clemons alleges that a Saudi government official, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, may have supported ISIS as part of a covert strategy in Syria with the aim of trying to overthrow Assad, an enemy of the Saudis. Bandar has since been relieved of his duties in the Saudi government, which is now reportedly wary of ISIS’ rise.

“Like elements of the mujahideen, which benefited from U.S. financial and military support during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and then later turned on the West in the form of al-Qaeda,” wrote Clemons, “ISIS achieved scale and consequence through Saudi support, only to now pose a grave threat to the kingdom and the region.”
Cockburn’s reporting [3] has added more detail to Saudi involvement in ISIS. “The Saudi and Qatari aid was primarily financial, usually through private donations,” wrote Cockburn in August, “which Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, says were central to the Isis takeover of Sunni provinces in northern Iraq: ‘Such things do not happen spontaneously.’”

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[9] on The Big Contradiction: American Bombs Dropping On Extremist Group Funded By U.S. Allies

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Time to ban slaughter of sick, injured animals: Column

Time to ban slaughter of sick, injured animals: Column

A pig arrives at a slaughterhouse. She is so sick, her body so broken, that she cannot even stand on her own. What happens to her?

If she were a cow, to protect public health and the animal's own welfare, USDA policy would require her to be euthanized and removed from the food chain.

But pigs do not have the good fortune — if being so sick or injured you can't stand up is "good fortune" — to have been born cows; for no tenable reason, the rule for them is different. These animals, called "downers," may be suffering from "broken appendages, severed tendons or ligaments, nerve paralysis, fractured vertebral column," and more.

Nevertheless, the slaughterhouse is allowed to take her off the truck with a backhoe and to let her suffer indefinitely, with the hope that she will regain enough feeble control to stand; workers are even allowed to induce standing with electrical shocks.

If she eventually stands, this sick or injured animal can be killed for human food.

By official terminology, such helpless farm animals are called "downers." It's an unintentionally ironic term for a sad and all-too-common problem. According to the pork industry, more than half a million pigs annually arrive at slaughterhouses too sick or injured to walk.

First, USDA is required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act to ensure that adulterated meat does not enter the human food supply— a requirement that is violated when animals are held for hours or even days in filthy pens.Science confirms what intuition would strongly indicate, that these pens are bacterial incubators.

The Humane Slaughter Act is supposed to require that animals be treated with the least cruelty possible at slaughterhouses; but laws are only effective when enforced. USDA does a horrible job of enforcing this one. Nothing makes this point more effectively than the agency's decision to allow slaughterhouses to drag injured animals around their parking lots with construction equipment.

The agency's permissiveness violates its humane slaughter mandate in at least five independent ways, from encouraging cruelty to downed animals directly, to discouraging better treatment of animals at farms and feedlots.

Indeed, industry-funded studies link downer pigs to overcrowding in transport, excessive waiting times at slaughter establishments, transported at freezing temperatures and inhumane handling.

Additionally, documents my organization received through a Freedom of Information Act request show that when the USDA conducted its own analysis of cruelty to disabled animals, the agency found that sick and injured pigs suffer far more criminal abuse than do any other species.

When an injured pig arrives at the slaughterhouse with a broken leg or a severed spinal column, there is no justification for treating her differently from a cow who is suffering similarly. If the USDA wants to be taken seriously when it tells us that it cares about humane slaughter, the very least it can do is close this gasping loophole by banning the slaughter of all downed animals.

Bruce Friedrich is director of advocacy and policy for Farm Sanctuary.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Snowden Reveals NSA Program Described as 'Last Straw' Before Leak

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Snowden Reveals NSA Program Described as 'Last Straw' Before Leak

Snowden tells investigative journalist James Bamford that NSA was behind 2012 internet blackout in Syria
Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo: -lucky cat-/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0/flickr)

In an in-depth interview published by Wired Magazine on Wednesday, Edward Snowden discloses what government activities proved to be the "last straw," prompting the whistleblower to expose the depths of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance operation.

Speaking with investigative journalist James Bamford—who blew the whistle on a government eavesdropping program when stationed in Hawaii during the Vietnam War and later wrote a number of best-selling books about government secrecy and the NSA—Snowden reveals how a botched U.S. government hacking operation caused Syria's 2012 internet blackout.

Bamford writes:

One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO—a division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn't know that the US government was responsible.

Snowden also revealed that, after the operatives realized what they had done, one jokingly said: “If we get caught, we can always point the finger at Israel.”

During his clandestine meeting with Bamford, Snowden disclosed for the first time the existence of another "Strangelovian cyberwarfare program," codenamed MonsterMind, which he described as the ultimate threat to privacy.

Like other programs before it, MonsterMind automated the process of searching for the beginnings of a foreign cyberattack. Unique to the program, however, was that once a suspected attack was detected, MonsterMind would fire back with no human involvement. Snowden explained to Bamford that this is problematic because attacks are often routed through a third-party country. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”

Further, for the system to work, the NSA must access virtually all "traffic flows," or communications, coming in from overseas to people in the United States.

“And if we're analyzing all traffic flows, that means we have to be intercepting all traffic flows," said Snowden. "That means violating the Fourth Amendment, seizing private communications without a warrant, without probable cause or even a suspicion of wrongdoing. For everyone, all the time.”

Snowden spoke at length with Bamford about his motivations for blowing the whistle on the NSA, but said it was learning about these two particular government operations—along with the existence of the NSA's massive data repository center located in Utah—that finally pushed him over the edge.

"Given the NSA's new data storage mausoleum in Bluffdale, its potential to start an accidental war, and the charge to conduct surveillance on all incoming communications, Snowden believed he had no choice but to take his thumb drives and tell the world what he knew," Bamford writes, adding that more NSA revelations will be forthcoming.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Can you sign this letter?/Can you help deliver it on August 20 at 4:30 PM?

Rep. John Sarbanes
600 Baltimore Ave.
Suite 303
Baltimore, MD 21204

August 20, 2014

Dear Representative Sarbanes:

We the People of the United States have amended our Constitution twenty-seven times since it was originally ratified. It's time to do so again. Members of the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore are voters and supporters of Progressive Democrats of America. We call upon you to cosponsor and support the following legislation, if you haven't already:

Please cosponsor and support H.J.Res. 44—proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States regarding the right to vote. The right to vote is the fundamental basis of our democratic republic. No citizen of legal voting age should have this basic right infringed. To cosponsor H.J.Res. 44, please direct your staff to contact Rep. Mark. Pocan's office: 202-225-2906.

Please cosponsor and support H.J.Res. 119—proposing an amendment to the US Constitution relating to campaign contributions and expenditures. This is the companion legislation to S.J.Res. 19, reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee and sent on to the full Senate for a floor vote. Dubious Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates to let special interest money dominate and corrupt our elections. This amendment would restore long-standing traditions and restore Congress’ and the States’ role in election finance. To cosponsor H.J.Res. 119, please direct your staff to contact Rep. Ted Deutch's office: 202-225-3001.

Please cosponsor and support H.J.Res. 113—a joint resolution to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). For too long, women and girls (and sometimes men and boys) have lacked constitutional protections. The ERA would help remedy inequality and invidious discrimination on account of sex. To cosponsor H.J.Res. 113, please direct your staff to contact Rep. Jackie Speier's office: (202) 225-3531.

Please cosponsor and support H.R. 292, the New Columbia Admission Act—legislation that would set forth procedures for admission into the United States of the state of New Columbia, including elections to Congress of two Senators and one Representative. Currently, the 643,000 people of the District of Columbia lack full basic civil rights and representation in the Congress. H.R. 292 would address this lingering injustice. To cosponsor H.R. 292 please direct your staff to contact Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton's office: (202) 225-8050.

Finally, we are seeking an end to the use of killer drone strikes, which we believe to be illegal and unconstitutional. We ask you to speak out against this assassination program, which ignores any veneer of due process. Consider as well a request for the full, unclassified release of information surrounding the administration’s drone policy.

We look forward to your response. And when you are ready, we would like to meet with you, preferably in Baltimore. But if necessary, we will travel to your D.C. office. We thank you for your consideration regarding these critically important issues, and look forward to ongoing discussion and engagement with you in the coming months.


Max Obuszewski, on behalf of Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore/Fund Our Communities
Apt. 206, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Baltimore 21212

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert August 16 – 18, 2014

Baltimore Activist Alert August 16 – 18, 2014

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center. Go to If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at]

Tune into the Maryland Progressive Blog at

1] Books, buttons & stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity – through Aug. 31
6] Gaza discussion – Aug. 16
7] Farewell to Mary Benns Gresh – Aug. 16
8] Learn about Ubuntu – Aug. 17
9] Peace and Pancakes – Aug. 17
10] Support Gaza vigil– Aug. 17
11] Workshop on alternative instrument building – Aug. 17
12] Pentagon Vigil – Aug. 18
13] Marc Steiner on WEAA – Aug. 18 – Aug. 22
14] Pledge of Resistance/Fund Our Communities meeting – Aug. 18
15] Book talk “Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” – Aug. 18
16] Philadelphia Peace Vigil – Aug. 19
17] No Drone Research at JHU – Aug. 19
18] See the film “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One”– Aug. 19
1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Donate your books to Max. Call him at 410-366-1637.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq. To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net. Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale. For more details and to download the order form, go to The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month. Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered. Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or

5] – See the exhibit Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity, which delves into the various ways technology affects lives through the perspective of inventors, futurists and 40 plus visionary artists. The intent is to bring new thoughts on artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and big data, and you can see it through August 31 at the American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Hwy. Call 410-244-1900. Go to A ticket costs $20.

6] – On Sat., Aug. 16 from 3 to 5:30 PM at the Cleveland Park Public Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave. NW, WDC, the Nation Magazine Discussion Group will meet to discuss the situation in Gaza. The fact that there are different narratives in a conflict is not surprising. What is surprising is how deeply the different narratives have divided the U.S. Jewish community in trying to help resolve this tragic crisis by getting the US to put pressure on Israel to change its relationship of domination over its Palestinian neighbors. Contact Bob Griss, coordinator, at 703-944-2433.

7] – You are invited to attend a wine and cheese-plus Farewell Reception for Mary Benns Gresh on Sat., Aug. 16 from 5 to 8 PM at the home of Sharon and Cindy, 115 Springside Drive, Timonium, MD 21093. Community activist, key organizer of the anti-apartheid movement during the 1980’s, treasured paraprofessional in the Baltimore City Public Schools, voter registrar par excellence, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, comrade, Mary will be leaving Baltimore to live with her granddaughter in North Carolina at the beginning of September. Help give Mary a warm send-off. RSVP at 443-604-2298.

A $15 donation for the People’s World Online, Mary’s favorite online paper, will be requested at the door. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. Checks can be made out to The People’s World or to Longview Publishers. If you cannot make the Farewell Party but would like to contribute, send your contribution to People’s World, c/o Cindy Farquhar, 115 Springside Drive, Timonium, MD 21093.

8] - Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On Sun., Aug. 17, hear about Ubuntu, “Socially Responsible Software.” It is an open source operating system developed on a collaborative/Wiki basis which makes an ideal replacement for Windows XP. Hear how it works and what programs are available. Ubuntu and open source software are developed by professionals and amateurs to promote computer usage and literacy. It is mainly used as the operating system for low cost and older computers distributed in third world countries to help educate children and improve the lives of the poor. Open source software is application software with the same mission. The idea is to distribute capable software for free or very low cost to everyone. Open source software is often referred to as “free” software not because of its price but because the source code is available to everyone. The “free” refers to freedom because the source code isn’t owned as intellectual property. Call 410-581-2322 or email

9] - Join the Kadampa Meditation Center for Peace and Pancakes on Sundays at 10:30 AM at KMC Maryland, 2937 North Charles St. All are invited to participate in guided meditation and chant praying for world peace. There will be a talk based on Buddhist thought followed by brunch. Call 410- 243-3837. Brunch is $5.

10] – Can you attend a silent vigil for Gaza on Sun., Aug. 17 at Park Heights Ave. and Slade Ave. , Baltimore? Show your opposition to Israel’s violence in Gaza, and call to end the occupation. Stand at the intersection on the grass from 11 AM to 1 PM. RSVP to Bring signs. Here are suggestions: stop occupation, justice for Palestine, stop massacre or stop US arms & aid to Israel. You can park in the lot at Baltimore Hebrew Synagogue.

11] – The Flor Veinte Collective presents Amplified on Sun., Aug. 17 at 3 PM in the Free School Classroom at Red Emma's Bookstore Cafe, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201. This is a workshop on alternative instrument building, improvisation and performance for womyn, trans* and gender non-conforming musicians. Amplified is led by Regina Larre Campuzano and Valerie Perczek, and through this workshop, Flor Veinte seeks to enhance the role of traditionally underrepresented voices in music, by offering a two hour program which covers basic electronics, improvisation, movement, and creative writing. RSVP to Call 443-602-7585. Go to

12] -- There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop. The next vigil is Mon., Aug. 18, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Email or call 202-882-9649. The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro. By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr., and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM. No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr.

13] – The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday through Friday from 10 to noon on WEAA 88.9 FM, The Voice of the Community, or online at The call-in number is 410-319-8888, and comments can also be sent by email to All shows are also available as podcasts at

14] – The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore usually meets on Mondays at 7:30 PM, and the meetings take place at Max’s residence. The next meeting will be on Mon., Aug. 18. The proposed agenda will include the appeal of the conviction of the CIA Five, anti-drone activities, including the arraignment of the NSA Three and getting a drone resolution passed in Baltimore’s city council, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, bigotry on the border, Gaza, and the farewell to Mary Benns Gresh. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at for directions.

15] – Landrum Bolling will speak about his new book “Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” and do a book signing on Mon., Aug. 18 at 7:30 PM at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA), 4444 Arlington Blvd., corner of George Mason Drive and Route 50, Arlington, VA. The Northern Virginia Chapter of UU's for Justice in the Middle East are sponsoring this talk. According to Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., former president, Foundation for Middle East Peace, Bolling's book "breaks new and controversial ground on advocating a permanent solution to the conflict. It commands attention."

Bolling is a political scientist who has taught at Brown University and Beloit and Earlham Colleges; president of Earlham for 15 years, he also has been a war correspondent, headed the Lilly Endowment and the Council on Foundations, served as Rector of Tantur, the Vatican's ecumenical center near Jerusalem, and for the past 18 years has been Director-at-Large for Mercy Corps' international work. The recipient of over 30 honorary doctorates, Landrum Bolling's deep Quaker faith has led to a lifelong quest to help bring about peace in the Holy Land. In pursuit of this goal Bolling worked with many of the political leaders in the Middle East and served as an unofficial interlocutor between President Carter and Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

16] – Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine. The next vigil is Aug. 19. Call 215-426-0364.

17] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. Join this ongoing vigil on August 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-366-1637.

18] – On Tues., Aug. 19 from 7 to 9 PM at Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW, join BloomBars and DC Moving Pictures for a groundbreaking experimental film “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” (1968, 75 min.). This is a 1968 experimental docu-drama film written, directed, and conceived by African-American film director and documentarian William Greaves. Go to In his one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid director William Greaves presides over a beleaguered film crew in New York’s Central Park, leaving them to try to figure out what kind of movie they’re making. A couple enacts a break-up scenario over and over, a documentary crew films a crew filming the crew, locals wander casually into the frame: the project defies easy description. Yet this wildly innovative sixties counterculture landmark remains one of the most tightly focused and insightful movies ever made about making movies.

Although “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One” was never released theatrically, the film is now considered a cult classic. After the screening, there will be an audience discussion lead by Chris Rue, of DC Moving Pictures – a movie screening project dedicated to showcasing great movies and great filmmakers at local spaces in and around the District. The suggested donation is $10. Proceeds support BloomBars. Enjoy free organic popcorn. BloomScreen Indie Film Night is a weekly series of independent and foreign films, accompanied by discussions with filmmakers, experts and other guests. Go to

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Can you attend a Gaza support vigil on Sun., Aug. 17?/Gaza and the propaganda machines

Can you join a silent vigil for Gaza on Sun., Aug. 17 at Park Heights Ave. and Slade Ave. in Baltimore? Show your opposition to Israel’s violence in Gaza, and call to end the occupation. Stand at the intersection on the grass from 11 AM to 1 PM. RSVP to Bring signs. Here are suggestions: stop occupation, justice for Palestine, stop massacre or stop US arms & aid to Israel. You can park in the lot at Baltimore Hebrew Synagogue.

Gaza and the propaganda machines

• The Guardian, Friday 15 August 2014 14.14 EDT

‘A telling contribution to the overall picture’: Adir Ali sits in her devastated flat in Beit Hanun, Gaza. Photograph: Sean Smith

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide, we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanisation of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached fever-pitch. Politicians and pundits in the Times of Israel and the Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and rightwing Israelis are adopting neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages (advertisement, 11 August; Report, 11 August) to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean “Never again for anyone”.

Hajo Meyer survivor of Auschwitz; The Netherlands, Henri Wajnblum survivor and son of an Auschwitz victim from Lodz, Poland; Belgium, Norbert Hirschhornrefugee of Nazi genocide and grandson of three people who died in the Shoah; London, Suzanne Weiss survived in hiding in France, whose mother died in Auschwitz; Canada, Felicia and Moshe Langer survivors from Germany, Moshe survived five concentration camps, family members were exterminated; Germany, Michael Ricechild survivor, son and grandson of survivor; United States and 30 Jewish survivors of the Nazi genocide and 260 children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other relatives of survivors
See full list at

• When I encountered Hamas delegates in Gaza in 2010, they bore no resemblance to the fundamentalists characterised by Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel. They stated they had “nothing against the Jews” (contrary to their 1988 charter, which needs serious re-consideration). They differentiated between Jews, Zionists and Israeli occupiers. This was demonstrated by the protection of the Jewish contingent in the Gaza freedom march, when we walked with many disabled residents towards the Erez Crossing in the north of the enclave. There we were warned we might be fired upon by the Israeli border guards should we proceed further.
I am sure that there are fanatical elements in Hamas but according to the United States Institute of Peace, Hamas’s political bureau has been indicating its willingness to explore peace negotiations with Israel for years (while keeping its propaganda condemning Israel’s existence) – that is, when Israel is not actively attempting to assassinate its leaders and incarcerating its members in the West Bank as they try to form a unity government with Fatah.
Peter Offord

• In 1962, interviewing me for a traineeship on the Guardian in Manchester, the then editor, Alastair Hetherington, asked me whether I thought he had been right to publish a full-page ad from the Soviet embassy. It was a lengthy excerpt from a speech by Nikita Khrushchev, and Hetherington had received a lot of hostile mail. I told him that Guardian readers were quite capable of seeing through propaganda, and he was right to trust them. He offered me the job.
Richard Bourne
Senior research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

• I seem to remember the Manchester Guardian in the 1930s reporting quite extensively the speeches of Hitler and other Nazi leaders without anyone supposing it was peddling its own viewpoint. It thought, no doubt, it was its public service duty to make sure we knew what we were up against. The This World advert seems to serve the same purpose – happily, at the expense of the advertiser.
Ray Wainwright
Amersham, Buckinghamshire

• After the This World ad, the 13 August edition, with its centre spread of Sean Smith’s photograph of Adir Ali’s devastated flat in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, was hardly, in terms of balance, a case of quid pro quo, but a telling contribution to the overall picture.
Michael Gallacher
Whitchurch, Shropshire

• As Liberal Democrats, we are totally committed to the state of Israel being able to live within secure borders, and wish to see the removal of the existential threat to Israel’s security by an internationally recognised terrorist group, and the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

As recorded by the UN and captured by various international media sources, Hamas’s policy of using human shields to protect its arms caches in hospitals, schools and densely populated neighbourhoods must be understood as the principal factor behind the number of Gazan civilian deaths, and condemned as such.

Hamas’s commitment to the destruction of Israel and its refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist is a huge obstacle to peace.

We hereby ask that the UK government and the international community call on Hamas to maintain the cessation of rocket fire beyond this current ceasefire. Israel has shown it is committed to a ceasefire subject to an end to the rocket fire; it is now incumbent on Hamas to do the same. This will allow the international community, led by Egypt, to broker an end to hostilities, involving the demilitarisation of Gaza plus recognition and adherence to the Quartet principles, which in turn will lead to the eventual opening of borders and a more enduring peace.
Sir Alan Beith MP Chairman of the justice select committee and former deputy leader of Liberal Democrats, Lord Navnit Dholakia Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Lord Monroe Palmer Liberal Democrat, joint backbench international affairs committee, Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP for London 1999-2014, Cllr Barry Aspinall Leader, Brentwood borough council

• Like Steven Rose (Letters, 14 August) I have memories of campaigning in Ridley Road market in Hackney. It was 1965 and Oswald Mosley’s supporters were making what turned out to be last-gasp efforts to win support in that increasingly multiracial area. I spoke as a member of the Central Hackney Labour party Young Socialist branch, supported by an enthusiastic group, most of whom were Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. We were very happy to have the support of the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen. Two years later, we (me a non-Jew and my friends, largely young Jews) were virulently denounced as antisemitic and as self-hating Jews by most of the members of the Labour party for opposing Israel’s actions in the six-day war. Then as now, Zionism and the state of Israel were and are the most basic obstacles to any humane solution to the conflicts in Palestine and the Middle East.
Fred Lindop
Swanage, Dorset

2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

James Risen, Surveillance and Obama’s Threat to Journalism

Friday, August 15, 2014

Democracy Now!

James Risen, Surveillance and Obama’s Threat to Journalism

by Amy Goodman, Denis Moynihan

(File photo)

The Obama administration’s espionage case against alleged CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is expected to come to trial soon, six years after he was indicted. In addition to Sterling, also on trial will be a central pillar of our democratic society: press freedom.

Federal prosecutors allege that Sterling leaked classified information to New York Times reporter and author James Risen. Risen has written many exposés on national security issues. In one, published in his 2006 book “State of War,” he details a failed CIAoperation to deliver faulty nuclear bomb blueprints to the government of Iran, to disrupt that country’s alleged weapons program. Federal prosecutors think Sterling leaked the details of that operation to Risen. They want Risen to divulge his source in court, which he has so far refused to do, asserting the First Amendment’s protections of the free press. James Risen has vowed to go to jail rather than “give up everything I believe in.”

The role confidential sources play in investigative journalism was perhaps best demonstrated by journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They had a confidential source dubbed “Deep Throat,” who gave them leads, confirmed details, and instructed them to “follow the money.” With the help of that source, they uncovered wrong-doing at the highest levels of government that ultimately led to the President Richard Nixon’s resignation from office in 1974, to avoid impeachment.

At about the same time, revelations about FBI, CIA and the NSA misconduct and outright criminality led to Congressional investigations that prompted creation of new laws, like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was supposed to rein in abuses, requiring a court-issued warrant for surveillance.

Then, 9/11 happened, and, as common wisdom now holds, “everything changed.” The administration of George W. Bush initiated a wide spectrum of activities, including torture, kidnapping, warrantless wiretapping, and, of course, the invasion and occupation of Iraq based on falsified intelligence and a sprawling propaganda initiative, conducted with a largely compliant mass media.

These abuses came to light thanks to the work of investigative journalists like Risen, and to whistleblowers who take great risks, personally and professionally, to bring abuses of power to public attention. Risen has taken his case to court, where a Federal district judge threw out the subpoena against him. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which, importantly, has jurisdiction over Virginia and Maryland, where the CIA and NSA are headquartered, respectively, reinstated the subpoena. The U.S. Supreme Court, at the Obama administration’s urging, failed to hear the case. Risen has thus exhausted his legal appeals, and will either have to testify in Sterling’s trial, or face contempt of court charges, which can include massive fines and jail time.

“As long as I’m attorney general,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised, “no reporter who is doing his job is going to go to jail.”

If Sterling’s federal prosecutors compel Risen to testify, it’s not clear what Holder’s promise will be worth.

One of the reasons that the district court judge threw out the subpoena against Risen is that, the judge reasoned, the prosecutors already have a strong case against Sterling, and they don’t need Risen’s confirmation that Sterling was the source. The case against Sterling includes Risen’s credit card and bank statements, telephone records, and other information allegedly linking the two. Therein lies another profound threat to journalism: the unprecedented level of surveillance happening. Ironically, it was James Risen and his colleague Eric Lichtblau who first exposed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, in an article written in 2004 but withheld until after the 2004 presidential election by then-executive editor Bill Keller.
Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union jointly released a report in July, “With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy.” In detailing the negative impacts on journalism by mass surveillance, they quote Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, who said, “I feel ... like somebody in the Mafia. You’ve got to go around with a bag full of quarters and, if you can find a pay phone, use it, or, like drug dealers use, [a] throwaway burner phones. These are all the steps that we have to take to get rid of an electronic trail. To have to take those kind of steps makes journalists feel like we’re criminals and like we’re doing something wrong.”

Of course, investigative journalists are not guilty of doing something wrong. The online activist group Roots Action has petition with more than 125,000, calling on President Barack Obama and Attorney General Holder to halt legal action against James Risen. Scores of press freedom organizations have publicly supported Risen, as have 20 Pulitzer Prize winners. A crack down on the press ultimately violates the public’s right to know.
There is a reason why journalism is protected by the U.S. Constitution: A free press is an essential check and balance, necessary to hold those in power accountable. Journalism is essential to the functioning of a democratic society.

© 2014 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Denis Moynihan is the co-founder of Democracy Now! Since 2002, he has participated in the organization’s worldwide distribution, infrastructure development, and the coordination of complex live broadcasts from many continents. He lives in Denver where he is developing a new noncommercial community radio station.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Fr. William J. Brennan, S.J., presente

From: Bob Graf Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Many Catholic Workers and people at SOAWatch may be interested to know that
Father Bill Brennan S.J. died on August 11, 2014. Bill lived at Casa
Maria, Catholic Worker House, in Milwaukee for a number of years and was a regular at Fort Benning until last year when his body was paralyzed.
However, his mind was clear, and Jerry Zawada and I visited him recently.

WP2012-31 Death of Fr. William J. Brennan, S.J.

August 12, 2014


Dear Brothers:

Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of our brother Fr. William J.
Brennan, S.J., who was called to eternal life on August 11, 2014.
Bill died at St. Camillus, in Wauwatosa, WI. He was ninety-four years old, a Jesuit for seventy-five years, and a priest for sixty-three years.

Born in Wauwatosa, WI on May 14, 1920, Bill attended grade school in Wauwatosa and Whitefish Bay and graduated from Marquette University High School in 1938. He entered the Society at St. Stanislaus Seminary, Florissant, Missouri on September 1, 1938. After the usual Jesuit course of studies at St. Stanislaus, Saint Louis University, and St. Mary's College, Bill was ordained on June 14, 1951, made tertianship in Decatur, IL, and pronounced his final vows on August 15, 1954.

Bill lived not only a long Jesuit life, but a very full Jesuit life.
Regency in Belize was the beginning of years of service in Central America, in both Belize and in Yoro, Honduras, and of a life-long ministry in various Latino parishes in New Mexico, Texas, California, and Wisconsin. From 1966 to 1979 Bill taught at Saint Louis University High School and at Marquette University High School.
Involvement in the struggle for justice and peace was also life-long for Bill. From 1981 to 1985 he lived and worked at the Casa Maria House in Milwaukee, and almost to the day he died he continued to demonstrate for justice issues, for the poor and oppressed to whom he gave his heart.

Bill was a great-hearted man who remained amazingly active even after he turned ninety and his body began to fail him. He did not mind controversy and loved to campaign. He lived his life with passion.
He was a people's priest.

Arrangements are as follows:

VISITATION Monday, August 18, 2014, 6:00 PM, San Camillo Chapel,
10200 W. Bluemound Rd., Wauwatosa, WI

FUNERAL MASS Monday, August 18, 2014, 7:00 PM, San Camillo Chapel,
10200 W. Bluemound Rd., Wauwatosa, WI

Burial will not take place at this time. Fr. Brennan donated his body to medical research.

Messages of condolence may be sent to one of the following:

St. Camillus Jesuit Community Kathleen Brennan (sister)
10100 W. Bluemound Rd. 6600
River Pkwy, #421
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
Wauwatosa, WI 53213

James B. Brennan (brother)
Eileen McCullough (sister)
2756 N. 87th St.
1680 Sunnyslope Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53222
Hollister, CA 95023

Terence Brennan (brother)
Virginia Brennan (sister-in-law)
1731 Wildberry Dr., Unit C St.
John's on the Lake
Glenview, IL 60025
1840 N. Prospect Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53202

As we remember with gratitude all that God has done through Bill's life of service to God and God's people, we are reminded of our privilege and obligation to offer Masses and prayers for his eternal repose.

Sincerely in Christ,

Mark A. Carr, S.J.

Emails from the Wisconsin Province Office are published as needed.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mark Carr, S.J.
at 414-937-6949 or Nancy Hrdlicka at 414-727-5223 or

Friday, August 15, 2014

Consider signing this petition /US Loses Track of Weapons Shipped to Afghanistan

Consider signing this petition

The ESRA--Environmental & Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Petition by Rabbi Michael Lerner

To be delivered to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama

We the undersigned call upon our elected officials to endorse the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would:

1. Require public funding of all state and national elections and ban all other monies (not only from corporations, but from political parties, non-profits, and and individual)--in short a real Money out of Politics amendment.

2. Require corporations with incomes above $50 million/yr to get a new corporate charter once every five years which would only be granted to those that could prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a panel of ordinary citizens (after hearing testimony from people all around the world whose lives have been impacted by that corporation's products, services, advertising, treatment of workers and workers in firms to which the corporation sub-contracts, and environmentalists).

3. Requiring environmental education (including teaching empathy, generosity, and environmental sustainability) for every grade level from k-through graduate and professional schools).

4. Preventing corporations from moving their assets out of the places where they have been employing more than 500 people until they have compensated the communities they are leaving for the environmental, economic and/or social damage they are causing by moving those assets.

5. Overturning all parts of the US Constitution that are deemed by the Supreme Court to be in conflict with this amendment, but only to the extent that they are in conflict (so those parts are hereby modified to not be in conflict with this amendment, but in other respects are still in force).

US Loses Track of Weapons Shipped to Afghanistan
Sunday, 03 August 2014 10:42By James Arkin, Center for Public Integrity | Report

The Pentagon has shipped hundreds of thousands of small arms to Afghanistan over the past decade for that country's Army, while creating an elaborate system to track their whereabouts, in hopes of keeping them out of the wrong hands.
Unfortunately, the system failed, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and for reasons that could easily have been foreseen.

The bookkeeping has been so slipshod that it's not possible to say how many weapons are missing. At one place the auditors looked, the Afghan National Army Central Supply Depot in Kabul, the auditors looked at records for 4,388 small arms. But only 3,837 of those arms — a subset of the total there — could be located, representing an error rate of 12 percent.

It turns out there are three databases meant to track the small arms, which include rifles, pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers and shotguns. One is a Defense Department listing of all those shipped from the United States. The second is a Defense Department listing of all those received in Afghanistan. They rely heavily on the serial numbers of the arms.

But these numbers must be entered manually, and the two databases — one showing shipments and one showing receipts — are inexplicably not linked together. The results are not pretty: Of the 474,823 serial numbers recorded in the second database, for example, 203,888 had missing information or were duplicates, according to the report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko.

More than 20,000 serial numbers in each of the DOD databases were repeated two or three times, the report said.

The third means of accounting is a database kept by the Afghan National Security Force, which relies on what Sopko's report called "a commercial, off-the-shelf inventory software system" that was "not designed to account for weapons." It does not record the serial numbers of the guns at all, and relies on hand-written records and occasional Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The report said that because of the unsatisfactory data, there is "real potential" for these weapons to fall into the hands of insurgents.

The inspector general report recommended that DOD reconcile its two databases and correct all data errors within six months. It also recommended that the Pentagon work with Afghan forces to complete a full inventory of small arms, and determine how to recover or destroy excess weapons.

In response to the first recommendation, Michael Dumont, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, said his department is now merging the two databases into a single system to track these weapons — 13 years after the U.S. intervention there began. He said it would be completed within six months, as most U.S. forces move towards the door. They also said that while they cannot compel the Afghan government to conduct a more comprehensive inventory, they will request one.

In response to the second recommendation, he said without explanation that a one-time inventory wouldn't solve the inventory problems. But small arms transfers might be dependent on full inventory checks in the future, he said.

The inspector general called these ideas "positive steps toward better weapons accountability."

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Israeli News Site Debunks Netanyahu's Tunnels-to-Kindergartens Myth

Published on Alternet (

Mondoweiss [1] / By James North and Phil Weiss [2]

Israeli News Site Debunks Netanyahu's Tunnels-to-Kindergartens Myth

August 14, 2014 |

One of the most important strikes in the propaganda war for Israel in the last month was dealt by the New York Times and CNN when they ran long pieces [3] giving credence to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that Hamas was building tunnels out of Gaza aimed at kindergartens in nearby kibbutzes.

Back on July 22, Netanyahu asserted– on the basis of this cartoon drawing he tweeted– that the tunnels wereaimed at Israeli kindergartens [4].

Netanyahu tweeted this cartoon evidence on July 22

In fact (and as we reported [3]), the only Israelis attacked from the tunnels were Israeli soldiers. But a week after Netanyahu’s statement, both the Times and CNN [3] took the prime minister’s claim at face value. The Times’s piece, “Tunnels Lead Right to Heart of Israeli Fear [5]” gave priority to rumors over actual information, and reported that “one tunnel was found over the weekend” in Kibbutz Be’eri. The piece quoted a resident of the kibbutz saying,

“The tunnels, it’s game-changing. We can’t do anything if the terrorists will come to our kindergarten. The tunnels, it’s very surprising, it can hit you don’t know where.”

Now it turns out no tunnel was found in Kibbutz Be’eri.

The Israeli site +972 has blown that propaganda completely out of the water. A well-researched article in Hebrew that it translated from an educational worker [6] near Gaza states that the tunnels do not appear to be targeted at civilians and they come out more than a mile from any kibbutz, let alone the kindergartens.
In short, the tunnels fear was hysteria, drummed up by the Israeli government to heighten war fever, and then purveyed by the New York Times and CNN.

The piece at +972 [6] — which is headlined in part, “In reality, every tunnel so far has been used against military targets alone” — was published in Hebrew on “Local Call [7],” and written by Emanual Yelin, who lives in Be’er Sheva and is said to work near the Gaza border. Yelin is a full-on Israeli patriot, but he has no truck with the lies and propaganda disseminated around the tunnels.
Here are excerpts of the Q-and-A he asks and answers.

Q. Was Benjamin Netanyahu right in his national address when he said [8]“we will not end the mission, we will not end the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels that exist solely to annihilate our civilians and to kill our children?”

A. No. It is certain that this is not their sole purpose, and probably not their primary purpose, either. We’ve already seen six instances in which Hamas was able to use the tunnels against Israel. Once when Gilad Shalit was captured, and the rest during the current operation. In all instances, Hamas’ target were IDF soldiers, not the communities….

Q. So what is the purpose of the tunnels?
Most likely to hurt IDF forces and capture soldiers. Little by little we are starting to hear military reporters saying this explicitly…

Q. So we can be certain that the tunnels will not be used for terrorism against civilians in the kibbutzim along the barrier wall?

A. No. We must not become complacent…

Q. But if they didn’t want to hurt communities, why did they dig tunnels under dining halls and kindergartens inside those communities?

A. Here’s the thing: they didn’t. It turns out that there were no tunnels into the communities. The tunnel into the Kisufim dining hall? That was an old sewer line [9] [Hebrew] mistakenly identified as a tunnel shaft…

Q. So where do the tunnels go?

A. Probably just a few hundred meters from the barrier wall and a few kilometers from the communities. It’s hard to find accurate data about where the exit shafts are. But in all five instances of infiltration, the militants emerged 200-400 meters away from the wall, as can be seen on the maps in the IDF Spokesperson videos

[10]. For example, the alleged penetration into Kisufim was 1.5 kilometers away from the community. And actually, the tunnel’s exit point is just as close to Kibbutz Sufa.

Kibbutz Be’eri is nearly three miles from the Gaza border [11], according to Google Maps. Now the +972 report documents that the tunnel openings were within half a kilometer of the Gaza border– at least 2 miles away from Kibbutz Be’eri.

When can we expect the New York Times and CNN to publish updated articles pointing out the errors in their original reporting?

Source URL:
[12] on Israeli News Site Debunks Netanyahu's Tunnels-to-Kindergartens Myth

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Strange Bedfellows: The United States, Israel and ISIS

Strange Bedfellows: The United States, Israel and ISIS
mai abdul rahman
August 12, 2014

As an American Palestinian woman, Arab, and Muslim, I am deeply concerned with the plight of the many displaced communities across the Middle East. It is heartbreaking to passively read of the forced expulsion and fragmentation of families, and entire communities in what appears to have become an open war on helpless women and innocent children. The consequences of each recent war and battle whether in Iraq, Syria, or Gaza are heart wrenching for any sane individual to contemplate.

Most troubling is the fact that in every instance, US policies and interventions have contributed to the tragic outcome we are witnessing. Our funding and support of the Mujahidin in Afghanistan gave rise to the Taliban, who then gave rise to the Al- Qaeda, and who then gave rise to Al- Nusra, and most currently, to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This unfathomable situation has occurred as a result of US initiatives, and perhaps, an unwitting series of policies that fed and fueled each of these ill-fated events.The trajectory of our foreign policy decisions is ample evidence of Einstein’s theory of insanity. Nevertheless, the US can still play a role in reversing this awful trend that is sweeping the Middle East.

The wholesale displacement, yet again, of Palestinians of Gaza, where many of them were first forced into homelessness 66 years ago- could have been averted. Overnight during the month of July thousands of Palestinian women became widows and sole providers, meanwhile they helplessly watched as countless of their innocent children were senselessly killed, injured, maimed, or orphaned. For more than seven years and counting these same Palestinian women and children have been captive to an of Israeli administered, and US sanctioned Siege, that robbed them of their basic sense of normalcy, human rights, and security.

Equally troubling is the plight of the Christians of Mosul, the Yazidis, and the many Arab minorities who are enduring unimaginable atrocities. Soon after witnessing the death and killing of their fathers, many Iraqi children are forced homeless away from their extended families, by ISIS, which the US played a hand in its theoretical and practical foundation. Most worrisome is the long-term outcome of this mass and irreversible displacement of entire populations (Palestine, Syria, and Iraq to name a few), that is threatening the region’ stability, spreading hatred and resentment across every ethnicity and faith, and will more than likely embroil the US for many years to come.

The US is responsible for advancing a number of policies that have contributed to each of the tragic events that are sweeping the Middle East. Perhaps these policies were knee jerk quick solutions to address one issue at a time and place, but since their initial formation they have become entrenched and institutionalized. The US removal of one authoritarian leader or another, has replaced them with bigger authoritarians, and more deadly militant leaders. Meanwhile, these short sighted initiatives have yet to be evaluated or altered.

For example our long term involvement in the Palestinian-Israeli discord has yet to bring an end to the decades long Israeli occupation of Palestine, or Israel’s seven year Gaza Siege and confinement of 1.8 million Palestinians. Maintaining the same old tired policies have in fact exasperated the situation in Palestine, where recurring violence has become predictable and accepted. Most critically our failed policies are threatening the cohesion among the various faiths and ethnic groups in the Middle East. If we continue on this path we will destroy the organic fabric of the many cultures of the Middle East, and we will tear the political order of the Arab world. Here are few illustrations to ponder:

 The proliferation of militant radicals in the Middle East is the product of poorly designed US foreign policy initiatives that were intended to either transfer power, or counter one power by supporting another. We have failed to factor the impact of our actions, or adequately support the spread of homegrown democratic principles of inclusion. Most dangerously the US underestimated the direct result of spill over (Iraq, Libya, Sudan).

 The void, created by our invasion of Iraq, and our subsequent policies was filled by those who claim to want to bring an end to the sectarian Maliki Iraqi government, that was picked, supported, and installed by the US.

 If there is a void, there is a vacuum; Iraqis and Syrians are unwittingly consuming radical ideologies including the most militant- and violent- in desperate hope to end their collective oppression.

 Our support of Israeli policies even when they contradict our own national objectives has emboldened Israel’s right wing leaders and weakened Israel’s peace camp. More importantly our newly adopted policy of accepting Israel’s exclusive religious national character are fueling extremism within Israel and militant ideologies across the Middle East.

Americans of all faith need to consider the implications of insisting that Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state. While initiatively many acknowledge that the spread of theocratic principles are an alarming development, nonetheless most have refrained from seriously reflecting on the implications Israel’s new definition on the Middle East. Few if any are willing to discuss the inherent flaws of advancing theocracies in the Middle East, and fewer are seriously examining how will Israel’s new and narrow theocratic definition impact, or validate the spread of sectarianism in the Middle East and the region. Unquestionably, theocracies are rife with special interests and entitlements, they advance the exclusivity of one faith over another, and disallow honest discourse; inhibit the growth of democratic principles, and undermine the concept and practice of equality under the law. Our endemic silence in the face of this fundamental change in Israel’s character will certainly have serious consequences.

Challenging common held beliefs regarding Israel may sound aggressive or caustic for some, however stating the truth is most critical at this juncture. To deny a “Jewish” state, means we deny a “Sunni” or “Shiite” only state. Such a statement of principle does not negate the fact, that Israel since 1948 has been a functioning state where Jews have lived and thrived. The adoption and acceptance of Israel as a “Jewish” state, rather than a “state for Jews”, will deny the rights of Israeli citizens who may not be Jewish and will advance far right militant extremists within Israel. It will also promote the growth of another theocratic ideology across the Middle East. This definitive change will also substantiate the objectives of the many militant factions who are actively adopting similar sectarian ideologies. Uncorrected these policies are promoting exclusivity, institutional decay, and sectarianism across the Middle East, and beyond.

Collectively- one and all are advocating Dark Age ideas that should have been rendered obsolete in the 21st Century. We must recognize and arrest this fundamental change that Netanyahu first advanced for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state before it is too late. No one should be willingly supportive and encouraging of the militant sectarian groups like ISIS who are calling for Muslim Sunni, Shiite, or any other entity endorsing the domination of one group over another. So what will it take to change this alarming trend? In the spirit of forward thinking these alternative policies have the potential of reversing the progress of this worrying trend:

 Advance Truly Secular States in the Middle East- To end and mitigate the spread of radical extremists of any faiths we must allow democratic Islamic leaning parties to participate along side a variety of nationalist, progressive, democratic, and left leaning factions. Their presence must be tolerated as part and parcel of the natural and dynamic political landscape of the people of the Middle East. Only a truly secular state that involves all its citizens, where its laws are equally respectful of every citizen regardless of faith and ethnicity, and where a variety of ideologies are represented will have the means to effectively curtail and end the spread of ISIS and their likes.

 Allow International Monitors in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza-To end what has become predictable and recurring violence among Palestinians and Israelis where negotiated truces are temporary agreement for the cessation of hostilities until a later date, the US must support the deployment of international monitors. Independent monitors can play a crucial role in giving both parties the necessary security to begin the transition to a final just peace. In addition, the deployment of international monitors such as the UN and EU forces across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, will afford Palestinians and Israelis the necessary protections that they have been lacking. The presence of international monitors will protect the Palestinian population from harm, and will assuage Israel’s fears and insecurities. Also the deployment of international monitors will help control and limit Palestinian violence against Israelis, and will also monitor and curb young Israeli soldiers from indiscriminately accosting young Palestinians, and minimize the taunting and abuse of peaceful demonstrators.

 Recognize the Palestinian Non- Violent Movement- The US must recognize the Palestinian non-violent Movement as a viable credible national movement. Our intentional disregard of the decades long and well established Palestinian non-violent movement is counter productive for both Palestinians and Israelis. Furthermore, continuing to ignore the Palestinian non-violent movement will discourage its growth and adoption by others in the region who are witnessing the continued futility of the Palestinian non- violent movement, while observing Israel’s long standing occupation, and military conquests. Without US and international acknowledgement of the viability of the Palestinian non- violent movement, by default we are encouraging Palestinians to use force to end Israel’s oppressive polices. In the words of Nelson Mandela “I followed the Gandhian strategy for as long as I could, but then there came a point in our struggle when the brute force of the oppressor could no longer be countered through passive resistance alone.”

 Support Truth and Reconciliation- Just as the end of Apartheid gave rise to the Truth Commissions in 1996 and provided an authentic opportunity for two peoples to heal. The US must find partners in the region willing to shoulder such an undertaking. The successful outcomes of such an endeavor will help build the necessary mechanism for people who have suffered, to address their grief, loss, concerns, and forgive one another. It is important to note that this form of reconciliation is within the organic culture of the people of the Middle East where many large and small disputes have been resolved, meaningfully addressed, and put to rest. Also implementing such a strategy within the Palestinian- Israeli context may heal the scars of the Israeli occupation- that both Palestinians and Israelis carry, and could help others in the region follow such a constructive path.

 End the Practice of Allowing US Citizens to Join Foreign Armies- Americans today are serving in several form and informal armies across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. More than a thousand young Americans are serving in the IDF, and countless others are part of multiple armies in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia to name a few. While the US Supreme Court clearly states that it is illegal for foreign countries to enlist Americans- yet Israel, the Syrian opposition, and others clearly promote the enlistment of young Americans in their respective armies on line, and through their many US affiliates. These young Americans who join the IDF, Iraqi, Libyan, and Syrian opposition are open to be charged with war crimes committed on unarmed women, innocent children and civilians. As a matter of fact, US citizens fighting for the IDF, or ISIS are by default given permission to kill and maim young children, and can be legally held accountable for their crimes. The US needs to put an end to this practice that has harmful ramifications for our young. Instituting such a measure will protect our young from having to commit acts dictated by foreign entities that most legal experts define as crimes against humanity. Many young Americans have already lost their life to advance foreign interests that are not inline with our own national interests or values.

Instituting one or several of these initiatives may not solve the ISIS crisis in particular, however these strategies will help undermine the theological and political foundation of extremism and radical militant groups who falsely claim to be protectors of persecuted people of one nation, group or another. They may also lay the foundation for changing the hostile climate that is gripping the Middle East, and end the culture of war and theocratic ideologies that now pervades across the region.

The Arab world was once a haven of tolerance, and if we are not careful we will soon jeopardize one of the longest standing secular societies in the Middle East. Palestinians can become a model for others in the region if the US is willing to allow them measurable success. In fact, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the officially recognized Palestinian representative, still holds true to these principals. The PLO still welcomes the involvement and participation of Jewish Palestinians, and represents the tapestry of the Palestinian people, their faiths and ideologies- right, left, and center.
es Muslims, Christians, Jews and their many sects were once neighbors, friends, and partners in trade and learning across the Arab world. ISIS and other narrow minded organizations, groups, and nations who slaughter unarmed men, women, children, and those who crucify Christians, or others for their faith, sect, or ethnicities do not speak or represent the faithful interpretation of any of the Abrahamic religions that many hold in the region. Most importantly we need to counter this worrying trend before it obliterates the cultural fabric of the Middle East, and spreads beyond. Historical, cultural sensitivity, and experience should better inform our decisions that are impacting the future of the multitudes of people across the Middle East.

We can no longer afford to employ the same ill-founded policies that have contributed to the growth of ISIS and other militant ideologues in the region. The recent developments should not be allowed to tear a region that for many centuries was a haven for all peoples of faith. Hindsight is 20/20, now that we know of the polluting and damaging influence our policies have had on the people of the Middle East, will we end formulating policies based on past short sighted initiatives? If not are we willing to shoulder the pain and sorrow our policies are exacting from the innocent children, and their helpless mothers who had no say in our political pathology?

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs