46 organizations urge members of Congress to oppose $650 million Saudi arms sale
DAWN helps lead a coalition of 46 other organizations urging members of Congress to oppose the Biden administration's $650 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. DAWN calls on members of Congress to join Congresswoman Omar and Senator Paul's Joint Resolution of Disapproval and stop aiding Saudi Arabia's destructive habits.
The full text of the join letter can be read below.
Dear Members of Congress,
We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations, write in opposition to the Biden Administration's plans to sell $650 million in air-to-air munitions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Despite claiming defensive use, the proposed arms sale risks fueling continued civilian harm by strengthening the Saudi-led coalition's capacity to enforce its devastating air and sea blockade of Yemen. It also risks further perpetuating U.S. complicity in Saudi forces' violations in Yemen, contrary to this administration's obligations under international law and U.S. law. We call on Congress to support Representative Ilhan Omar's and Senator Rand Paul's joint resolutions of disapproval to block these harmful arms sales and end all U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led coalition's armed conflict and unlawful blockade in Yemen.
Approving this sale sends a message of impunity that the United States supports Saudi Arabia's escalating policy of collective punishment, at a time when it is critical the administration heed the calls of over 100 members of Congress to use U.S. leverage, including the halting of arms transfers and military assistance, to end the blockade and other violations against civilians in Yemen. Roughly 20.7million people—nearly 80% of the population—are in need of humanitarian aid,with a staggering 16.2 million Yemenis acutely food insecure and 7 million on the brink of famine. A recent Washington Post report on a Yemeni family that had to choose between which of their children would be saved from starvation illustrates the issue of the Saudi-led coalition's control of Yemen's airspace and "severe restrictions on the port of Hodeidah."
For nearly seven years, U.S.-supported Saudi forces have unlawfully targeted civilian objects and infrastructure via indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that have killed and injured thousands of civilians in Yemen. These aerial bombardments include myriad alleged war crimes and have exacerbated the catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The unlawful blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen has led to catastrophic impacts on fuel, food, and medical access for millions, illegally obstructing critically needed aid and assistance. Saudi fighters have previously attacked Sana'a airport's runway, destroying cargo planes transporting vital humanitarian assistance.
Since 2016, Saudi Arabia has turned the airport into what aid groups havedescribed as a "ghost terminal" by ending all flights to and from Sana'a. According to the Yemen Data Project, Saudi bombings of Sana'a airport still occur regularly, with the most recent attacks launched in March of this year. Since the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes began in March 2015, human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have extensively documented the use of U.S.-manufactured weapons in airstrikes hitting hospitals, schools, and civilian homes—killing healthcare providers, teachers, children, and entire families.
Despite the claim of "defensive use," the proposed sale of these AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and hundreds of missile launchers are not exclusively defensive, and can reasonably be used to support offensive operations. These missiles lend another tool for Saudi-led forces to maintain and enforce their brutal blockade, particularly by raising their ability to threaten aircraft that would seek to land. More broadly, continuing to arm Saudi forces allows their grave rights violations and fueling of one of the world's worst humanitarian crises to evade accountability, and amounts to support and political cover for the illegal blockade. As noted in a recent article published by Brookings, "blockades cannot be defensive: they are offensive operations," and U.S. involvement should have ended following Biden's declaration to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition.
Misleading claims about the defensive nature of these weapons fail to recognize that this sale would constitute continued U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's role in the armed conflict in Yemen. Congress must make clear that the U.S. instead should end all support and arms transfers to parties to this conflict, namely the Saudi-led coalition—which it must pressure to end its brutal campaign in Yemen. On May 19, 2021, 16 Senators requested that the Biden Administration "demand that Saudi Arabia allow the unfettered delivery of food, fuel, and other humanitarian aid through the Hodeidah port, under United Nations auspices to deliver humanitarian assistance to the Yemeni people," while noting that the "[f]ailure to provide such access should have a direct impact on our relationship with Saudi Arabia, to include pending weapons sales."
Houthi forces in Yemen engaged in the armed conflict with the Saudi-led coalition have also carried out grave violations of human rights, as well as possible warcrimes in attacks against civilians. Actions by Houthi de facto authorities have also exacerbated the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country by additionally interfering with and impeding the delivery of humanitarian assistance for civilians in need. U.S. government criticism and response to Houthi violations in Yemen have, however, been pronounced and consistent—criticisms that are necessary; but the same cannot be said for this administration's response to the abuses by Saudi forces, which has been toned down by comparison. Further, Houthi violations do not serve as a justification for continuing U.S. involvement in the atrocities fueled by this conflict, and do not change the United States' obligations under international law.
In light of the Saudi government's pattern of unlawful attacks on civilians and human rights violations, the proposed sales also violate long-standing provisions in the Leahy Laws and Foreign Assistance Act that prohibit the United States from providing arms and security assistance to gross human rights violators and those restricting access to humanitarian assistance, such as the Saudi regime. Further, the Arms Export Control Act bars the United States from providing arms transfers toforeign governments found to carry out harassment and intimidation of U.S. residents, which Saudi authorities have repeatedly been documented to perpetrate, most prominently in the brutal murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
These wrongful sales risk fueling further civilian harm and human rights violations in Yemen and beyond—as well as U.S. complicity in these abuses and possible war crimes. Our organizations call on Congress to support and vote in favor of Representative Omar's joint resolution of disapproval in the House and Senator Paul's resolution in the Senate and oppose future arms sales and U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led coalition's gross violations of international law in Yemen.
The Biden administration in its very first weeks committed both to center human rights in foreign policy and to end U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen; allowing this sale to stand breaks that commitment, and would be a human rights failure.
Including Peace Action
STATEMENT BY THE REV. ROBERT MOORE, LEADER OF CEASEFIRE NJ, ON THE NOT GUILTY VIRDICT IN KENOSHA, WI
For immediate release: November 19, 2021
I just learned that Kyle Rittenhouse, the armed teenager who shot three people, two fatally, at a demonstration for racial justice in Kenosha last year was found not guilty on all counts.
This verdict of not guilty is a horrifying miscarriage of justice and an indictment of our broken criminal justice system. A white teenager got his hands on a semi-automatic rifle, showed up to a demonstration for Black Lives, fatally shot two people and wounded another, and he wasn't held accountable.
And it's exactly what the NRA wants—a society where anyone can have a gun anywhere with no training and no questions asked, and where people feel emboldened to shoot anyone over the slightest provocation without fear of consequences.
This tragedy underscored what we already knew: allowing the open carry of firearms everywhere—especially at demonstrations—is dangerous and life threatening. In fact, demonstrations with a presence of armed groups and individuals, like those found in Kenosha in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, are nearly six times as likely to turn violent or destructive compared to unarmed demonstrations.
That's why we must continue to fight the gun lobby's extreme agenda and work to advance common sense gun safety policies that keep our communities safe.
The Rev. Robert Moore is Executive Director of the Princeton based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA). Ceasefire NJ is a Project under CFPA's umbrella.
Rep. Ilhan Omar Introduces Joint Resolution to Block $650 million Saudi Arms Sale
WASHINGTON—Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) today introduced a joint resolution of disapproval to block the sale of $650 million worth of weapons from the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“It is simply unconscionable to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia while they continue to slaughter innocent people and starve millions in Yemen, kill and torture dissidents, and support modern-day slavery,” Rep. Omar said. “We should never be selling human rights abusers weapons, but we certainly should not be doing so in the midst of a humanitarian crisis they are responsible for. Congress has the authority to stop these sales, and we must exercise that power.”
The sale comes as Saudi Arabia continues its offensive in Yemen, sparking the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. As of this year, more than 4 million people had been uprooted from their homes and more than 21 million are in dire need of assistance, including 11 million children.
If passed by the Senate, the joint resolution would prohibit the sale of $650 million missiles and other weapons, announced by the State Department just last week. The sale would include 280 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, along with 596 missile launchers, support equipment, spare parts, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, and technical support. The State Department says these are for air defense capabilities and is designed to replenish Saudi Arabia’s existing inventory.
"The United States should not sell any weapons to Saudi Arabia or other abusive governments, period. Congress should block this and similar deals in the future,“ said Raed Jarrar, Advocacy Director for Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the organization founded by Jamal Khashoggi. "These air-to-air missiles could be used in offensive operations or they could be used to enforce the Saudi blockade, which humanitarian aid groups have identified as one of the reasons behind the prices of medicine being out of reach for millions of Yemenis. Rather than selling more weapons, the Biden Administration should compel Saudi Arabia to lift the blockade and end its war on Yemen.”
Rep. Omar has been a leading advocate for Congressional oversight over arms sales and accountability for human rights in Saudi Arabia and around the world. Earlier this year, she called on the United States to act to end the blockade on Yemen. She met with White House officials in a classified briefing and joined hunger strikers outside the White House in protest. In July, she reintroduced the Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act to establish red lines Once a country is determined to have crossed those lines, it automatically triggers a prohibition on security aid of any kind.
You can read the full resolution here.
More Than 350 Groups Condemn Corporate Net-Zero Pledges as a Dangerous, Unjust Distraction
WASHINGTON — 354 groups released a statement today calling “net-zero” emission pledges by corporations and governments a dangerous distraction from real climate action. This comes as the House Oversight and Reform Committee holds a hearing to ”examine the role of the fossil fuel industry in spreading climate disinformation and heating the planet.”
CEOs and presidents from Exxon Mobil, BP America, Chevron, Shell Oil, the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be testifying. Shell and BP have announced “ambitions” to be net-zero by 2050 and Chevron has announced a similar “aspiration.”
The hearing comes just days before COP 26, the United Nations’ climate negotiations taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, which many have dubbed the “net-zero” COP.
In their letter to government policymakers — including those from the Biden Administration, Congress, and state and local governments — the groups describe these net-zero pledges as ineffective, unjust greenwashing drastically out of touch with the worsening climate crisis.
“Net zero targets are just the latest deception by polluting corporations, the U.S., and other governments to extricate themselves from undertaking the radical greenhouse gas emission reductions that science and justice require,” said Karen Orenstein, Director of the Climate & Energy Justice Program at Friends of the Earth U.S. ”But neither the atmosphere nor the people facing fires, floods, and other climate impacts are fooled. We call on the Biden Administration and Congress to commit to absolute reductions – full stop – and to say no to the corrupted concept of net-zero.”
“Pledges to meet net-zero emissions targets are really just carbon offsets and carbon capture technologies in disguise,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Polluters and governments continue to spin new terms to confuse and distract from the fact that they intend to continue polluting Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth. We do not have time for the net-zero false solution targets.”
“Net zero pledges by corporate agribusiness are another false solution to the climate crisis and an empty attempt to hijack meaningful debate and accountability on reducing pollution at the point of emission,” said Jordan Treakle, National Program Coordinator for the National Family Farm Coalition. “Polluting corporations have extracted wealth from rural and marginalized communities for decades; it’s well-past time for our public institutions and political leaders to respond to the needs of the People and drastically cut emissions from these corporate entities by 2030 through absolute reductions, while facilitating a Just Transition that prioritizes the resilience of frontline communities, workers, and independent food producers.”
“Net-zero is the language of the fossil fuel industry and provides for the continuing extraction and burning of fossil fuels,” said Joe Uehlein, President of Labor Network for Sustainability. “Net-zero supplements equally dangerous carbon capture technologies that have the same goal. Over 300 scientists just wrote to President Biden urging that we get off fossil fuels right now. Net-zero is not the way to accomplish that task.”
“Mississippi, the state with the highest percentage African-American population and one of the poorest states in the nation, is home to a $7.5 billion failed carbon capture sequestration plant,” said Kathy Egland, Co-Founder of Education, Economics, Environmental, Climate and Health Organization (EEECHO). “This risky experimental debacle is located in a poor, mostly Black town and would have posed an unbearable financial burden to ratepayers. Now Mississippi’s poor, Black communities are facing deadly exposures from the proliferation of toxic wood pellet manufacturing plants for ‘bioenergy.’ The idea of ‘net-zero’ emissions encourages the growth of these false solutions. We must end these human rights injustices and invest in a viable, just energy transition that will safeguard people and the planet.”
Wisconsin's anti-protest bill
Wisconsin GOP’s latest anti-protest bill Senate Bill 296.
Obviously having only Americans for Prosperity and the City of Milwaukee registered against is a problem. Anyone have contacts at the ACLU to ask them to weigh in? Other cities? Other orgs?
Here is the bill analysis from the International Center for Nonprofit Law for sharing:
The bill would newly define "riot" under Wisconsin law such that peaceful protesters could face steep penalties.
Currently, Wisconsin law broadly defines an "unlawful assembly" as a group of three or more people who cause a "disturbance of public order" and make it "reasonable to believe" the group will damage property or people; the definition specifically includes a group of three or more who assemble to block a street or building entrance.
Under the bill, an "unlawful assembly" in which at least one person commits an "act of violence" that creates a "clear and present danger" of property damage or injury; or threatens to commit such an act and has the ability to do so; or commits an "act of violence" that "substantially obstructs" some governmental function, is a "riot."
As such, a large street protest where a single participant threatens to push somebody could be deemed a "riot," with no actual violence or property damage being committed by anyone.
Under the bill, anyone who attends a "riot" or refuses an order to disperse a "riot" commits a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a mandatory 30 days and up to 9 months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
If the "riot" results in "substantial" property damage or injury, anyone who attends commits a Class I felony, publishable by up to 3 and a half years in prison.
The bill also creates a new Class A misdemeanor for any person who "incites or urges" three or more people to engage in a "riot;" the bill does not define "incite" or "urge."
Finally, if a person "obstructs" "any public or private thoroughfare," or any entrance to a public building while participating in a "riot," it is an additional Class A misdemeanor.
Americans for Prosperity and the City of Milwaukee have registered against it.
On September 13 and 14th at 9:30 am, Honduran human rights defenders Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez will stand trial on charges stemming from the 2017 electoral crisis. If found guilty, they will be sent back to prison from between 15 to 30 years.
Edwin and Raúl are being accused of property damage, arson, and use of homemade explosives. They are two of over 180 Hondurans that face charges for protesting the outcome of the elections 4 years ago and defending their vote against electoral fraud.
As a result of these trumped up charges, Edwin and Raúl spent 19 months in a maximum-security prison from January 2018 to August 2019. They faced death threats, were put in isolation for several weeks, and were mixed with the general prison population in a prison that was allegedly constructed to house the most dangerous criminals in Honduras. Following their release, both have continued to sign before a judge every week and their trial has been postponed several times.
An additional concerned is related to the fact that the National Jurisdiction Sentencing court that is hearing the case does not have jurisdiction. The National Jurisdiction courts were created to hear cases involving organized criminal groups and can only hear cases involving a specific list of crimes (murder, money laundering, terrorism, etc). None of the charges that Edwin and Raúl face are on that list. The court itself has also ruled that they do not have jurisdiction but were ordered to hear the case by a higher court.
Despite the Honduran government several statements reaffirming their commitment to human rights and democracy, we are concerned about the lack of judicial independence and corruption in Honduras that would prevent Edwin and Raul from having a fair trial.
Join us in demanding Honduran authorities to:
1. Drop the charges and prosecution of Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez and all Hondurans that were charged in the context of the protests following the 2017 electoral crisis
2. Ensure that the trial starting on September 13 is fair, transparent, and made available to the public either through allowing international observers and the general public into the courtroom or by live streaming the proceedings on the Judiciary’s Facebook and/or Twitter
Your solidarity is more important than ever! Join us and stay alert to respond to any violations of due process as well as following any progress in the case.
The Honduras Solidarity Network
The House will soon vote on the RENACER act, which would impose broad sanctions on Nicaragua that will harm ordinary people. The bill would sanction every member of the FSLN and their families, which is about half the population. The U.S. is using the same script on Nicaragua that it used on Venezuela, where 100,000 people were killed by sanctions. Join us in opposing the RENACER act and U.S. attempts at regime change in Nicaragua.
Co-Sponsored by: the Black Alliance for Peace, Friends of Latin America, CODPINK & Casa Baltimore-Limay
Add your name to this petition if you agree that police officers don’t need military equipment.
In the months following George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, Americans watched in alarm as local and state law enforcement deployed military vehicles to patrol U.S. streets and militarized police officers resulting in the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters.
Police departments receive surplus military equipment through an obscure Pentagon program -- called the "1033 Program," which has enabled the transfer of more than $7.4 billion in surplus military equipment to more than 8,000 law enforcement agencies around the country.
Add your name to the petition now if you agree that police militarization must be stopped.
Police departments across the country utilize surplus weapons, vehicles, and other equipment from the U.S. military to clamp down on community protests.
And research has shown that outfitting police in military-style armor and weaponry can alter their mentality towards civilians, causing them to see community members as enemy combatants and act accordingly.
Sign the petition urging Congress and President Biden to join the effort against the militarization of local police departments.
240+ Organizations Sign Letter Opposing Subsidies for Nuclear Power in Infrastructure Bills
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AUGUST 24 , 2021
240+ Organizations Sign Letter Opposing Subsidies for Nuclear Power in Infrastructure Bills
WASHINGTON, D.C. // August 24, 2021//
Over 240 organizations, including Friends of the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food & Water Watch, The League of Women Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and hundreds more sent a letter to Congressional leaders telling them to reject all proposals in infrastructure bills that subsidize nuclear energy and to instead invest in a just and equitable transition to safe, clean renewable energy.
The letter opposes proposals in both the energy legislation for the larger reconciliation package (S.2291/H.R.4024) and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which together would grant up to $50 billion to prop up aging, increasingly uneconomical nuclear reactors for the next decade.
The letter highlights climate, economic, and environmental justice concerns with proposed nuclear subsidies, in addition to evidence that nuclear power is too dirty, dangerous, expensive, and slow to be a viable solution to the climate crisis.
All of the proposed subsidies (up to $50 billion) are predicted to go to reactors owned by only eight corporations and located in only 19 counties across eight states. Over 50 organizations in each of these states – Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas – signed the letter.
Tim Judson, NIRS executive director said that “Despite the size of this extraordinarily inequitable investment of taxpayer dollars, to subsidize old nuclear power reactors, not one single new job would be created. Worse, allocating $50 billion to old reactors instead of renewable energy, efficiency, and other clean electricity infrastructure would prevent the creation of more than 60,000 new jobs.”
Hannah Smay with NIRS added, “Regarding environmental impacts, subsidizing nuclear reactors will result in the creation of more radioactive waste without mitigating any of the significant environmental justice, climate justice, economic justice, and nuclear weapons proliferation impacts.”
The hundreds of organizations call for federal investments in a transition to efficient, renewable, clean energy technologies that can scale up as rapidly and affordably as possible to reduce emissions as aggressively as possible. Not only does nuclear energy fail to meet any of those criteria, investing billions of dollars in subsidies for old reactors directly funnels public investment away from environmentally just, equitable, and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.
The letter states “We cannot perpetuate false solutions that prolong our reliance on dirty energy industries and have any hope of ending the climate and environmental justice crises those industries create. Providing billions of dollars in subsidies to nuclear power will only put short-sighted economic interests ahead of human lives, racial justice, the health of our environment, safe drinking water, and a thriving, equitable economy.”
Read the letter and list of organizations here.
The 240+ organizations demand that these bailouts be omitted from the budget and funds be directed to investing in carbon-free, nuclear-free clean energy. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service is an organization devoted to the just energy transition from nuclear to clean, renewable energy sources and advocates for a nuclear-free, carbon-free future. They are located near Washington DC in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Contact Hannah Smay via email at [email protected] or by phone at (208) 340-0531
Media Gives Cover to US Troops’ Slaughter of Afghans Fleeing Taliban
The Wall Street Journal and others can’t bring themselves to directly say US troops killed civilians.
As the United States departs from the country it occupied for 20 years it leaves on a note just as savage as some of the worst moments of the war.
The United States and its fallen puppet government in Kabul have committed crimes on par with anything the Taliban has ever done. The US has bombed hospitals, dropped the biggest bomb ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, supported death squads, and there were some months where the US and the Afghan military it trained and equipped killed more civilians than the Taliban. That’s according to the United Nations. And since the Taliban itself were an offshoot of the CIA-sponsored Mujahedeen, it’s not difficult to also lay partial blame for the group’s atrocities on the US.
As I reported here a few months ago, since then-Vice President Joe Biden’s promise in 2011 that the United States would be leaving Afghanistan in 2014, the US dropped more than 25,000 bombs on the country.
Last year, what was supposed to be a US drone attack on a Taliban splinter group killed 60 civilians.
The absurdly corrupt fallen puppet government of Afghanistan is no better, in 2019 killing 40 civilians at a wedding.
These kinds of mass casualty attacks — terrorist attacks — barely got a mention in the mainstream media, which has mostly ignored Afghanistan entirely for about a decade.
Now, with the government effectively destroyed in what may be the quickest collapse of a state ever, the United States has left the country with a reminder for Afghans of who they really are, and US imperial stenographers are doing their best to cover up their crimes.
Rep. Barbara Lee speech to Congress on September 14, 2001
20 years later: 240,000 Dead with a Price Tag of $2.261 Trillion
Mr. Speaker, Members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart, one that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Only the most foolish and the most callous would not understand the grief that has really gripped our people and millions across the world. This unspeakable act on the United States has really -- really forced me, however, to rely on my moral compass, my conscience, and my God for direction.
September 11th changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet, I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. This is a very complex and complicated matter.
Now this resolution will pass, although we all know that the President can wage a war even without it. However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint. Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, let's step back for a moment. Let's just pause, just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today, so that this does not spiral out of control.
Now I have agonized over this vote. But I came to grips with it today, and I came to grips with opposing this resolution during the very painful, yet very beautiful memorial service. As a member of the clergy so eloquently said, "As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore."
THE HUMAN COST in Afghanistan and Pakistan from October 2001 through April 2021:
Opposition Fighters 84,191
Afghan Military and Policy 75,314-78,314
U.S. Contractors 3936
U.S. and Allied Military 3884
Humanitarian Aid Workers 549
Journalist and Media Workers 136
FINANCIAL COST (U.S. ONLY)
Since invading Afghanistan in 2001, the United States has spent $2.26 trillion on the war, which includes operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Note that this total does not include funds that the United States government is obligated to spend on lifetime care for American veterans of this war, nor does it include future interest payments on money borrowed to fund the war.
SOURCE: Cost of War Project, Watson Institute, Brown University
Washington’s War in Afghanistan Is Over. What Happens Now?
President Biden was right to withdraw US troops. But we should have no illusion that this will end the war for Afghans.
We don’t know yet what the consequences of the events in Afghanistan will be. We do know that there are more than 250,000 Afghans internally displaced since the end of May, thousands more in recent days living in makeshift tents and in parks and on the streets in Kabul. We do know Afghanistan’s borders are almost all closed, and that people are terrified. People are afraid of the rising violence, afraid of the Taliban coming to power, afraid of the US bombing underway across the country all week.
Questions are everywhere. How did the Taliban, with 75,000 or so scattered forces, defeat the 300,000-strong US-trained, US-armed, and US-supported Afghan government troops? Why didn’t that US-trained military fight? Why did the United States withdraw most of its troops—and shouldn’t Biden send troops back to protect Afghan women from Taliban control?
First, most Afghan soldiers were not defeated militarily by the Taliban at all. Some individual soldiers simply put down their weapons and ran. More frequently, local commanders negotiated with the Taliban to surrender with troops and weapons en masse—directly rejecting the corrupt government in Kabul.Top ArticlesREAD MOREThe Story of anAfghan Girl
Despite 20 years of occupation, the United States couldn’t “win” militarily either—because there is no military solution to terrorism. After the United States and its allies overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, they created a whole new government. Staffed largely by pro-Western Afghan exiles, it was modeled after Western parliamentary systems—with power concentrated in the president and parliament of a central government in Kabul. It was completely at odds with Afghanistan’s long-standing cultural and political traditions —where power emanates from the family and tribal level, not from the national capital of a modern nation-state. For most Afghans (75 percent of whom live in scattered villages and rural areas, not in cities), what happens in Kabul rarely reaches beyond Kabul.
MORE FROM PHYLLIS BENNIS
So the military that the Pentagon created was supposed to be fighting for—and accountable to—a government that most of its soldiers never supported in the first place. President Biden was right when he said, “One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country.” Of course, he didn’t acknowledge that it wasn’t their country the troops were being asked to protect but a corrupt and wildly unpopular government imposed by an occupying army.
Negotiations are still underway to determine if there will be some kind of power-sharing arrangement, but the Taliban is now clearly the dominant force in Afghanistan. It remains unclear if the US bombing raids of recent days, involving Viet Nam-era B-52s as well as drones and almost certainly resulting in civilian casualties, are continuing as the Taliban takes control
Almost 80 percent of the displaced people flooding Kabul and other cities are women and children. The Taliban’s legacy of misogyny and violence against women continues to fuel fear of the group’s return to power, particularly from urban women in Kabul and Kandahar, where US-imposed laws protecting education, employment, public engagement, and more had significant impact on women’s lives. In the villages and rural areas, where 75 percent of Afghans live, those laws and policies changed far less in the lives of most women.
Throughout the 20 years of US occupation, the Taliban fought to expand its control of large swaths of rural territory. Negotiations were possible in many of those areas between Taliban commanders and local representatives—generally community elders or religious leaders—including arrangements for girls’ education, health care, etc. While they did not lead to anything close to equality or full rights for women, those local interactions may hint at some future possibilities.
The Taliban of 2021 faces challenges different from their earlier counterparts’. During their five years in power—and their 20 years struggling to return to power—their country and its position in the world changed in significant ways. Although the impact of US-imposed ideas rarely reached beyond the major cities, things like access to cell phones and the Internet has increased Afghans’ awareness of the world outside their isolated villages. While some of today’s Taliban hold to the same or an even more extreme version of religious law, especially regarding the role of women, some of their leadership are certainly more aware of the need for engagement with the rest of the world—particularly for economic assistance—and of what the world may require of them.
There is no reason to believe the Taliban’s historic misogyny has been discarded. But with Iran, Russia, and China all engaging diplomatically and publicly with the Taliban, the group comes to power far less isolated than in 1996—and the price of maintaining that regional and global engagement may possibly include loosening some of the worst forms of repression favored by the most extreme Taliban elements.
As before, Afghan women will face not only Taliban repression but also the lack of support for women’s rights from whatever remnants may remain of the Afghan government and the numerous warlords and militias allied to the government—most of whom have little more interest in or support for women’s rights than the Taliban itself.
President Biden was right to withdraw US troops, ending a 20-year US war that never should have been waged at all. But we should have no illusion that this will end the war for Afghans. As women’s rights activist and former Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya reminds us, women and civil society in Afghanistan have three enemies—the Taliban, the warlords disguised as a government, and the US military occupation. If you can get rid of one of them, she said, we’d only have two.
It won’t be easy for Afghans going forward, but the withdrawal of US troops is a necessary, if still insufficient, precondition for ending that war.
For those of us working to press the US government for some level of accountability, perhaps these demands would be a good place to start:
• Make the end of the recent bombing/drone raids and CIA death squad activities permanent.
• Support UN and other international efforts to create a humanitarian corridor and guarantees of safe passage for Afghan and international humanitarian workers.
• Fund a massive international Covid assistance program for Afghanistan.
• Expand qualification categories for Afghan refugees and asylum seekers to come to the United States, reduce paperwork required to qualify, and add 20,000 new slots to match Canada’s commitment to accept 20,000 additional vulnerable Afghans for resettlement.
• Given the legacy of US actions in Afghanistan, begin the process of officially acknowledging US responsibility for the war’s impact on Afghan people.
President Biden’s latest Pentagon budget proposed MILLIONS for new Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCMs) — nuclear weapons already rejected by *four* previous administrations. Even Navy officials themselves don’t want them.
Congress is deciding the budget now. That means it’s time to remind Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Leahy what a disaster these nukes would be — because if we get him fully on board, we can stop SLCMs for good!
Sign now to join 10,287 Win Without War activists who are urging Senator Leahy to cut this dangerous and unnecessary new nuclear weapon from the Pentagon budget.
We are at a pivotal point to stop a new and completely unnecessary, Trump-initiated, submarine-based nuke — and we need your support to pile on the pressure!
President Biden’s latest Pentagon budget proposed MILLIONS for new Sea-Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCMs): nukes already rejected by *four* previous administrations and that Navy officials themselves don’t want in their arsenal.
Congress is deciding the budget now, and so far — in no small part because of the enormous grassroots pressure from activists like yourself — we’ve kept these dangerous nukes on the chopping block!
But we need to go further. The committee chair is the ONE who determines which bills go to a vote, and whether they are prioritized. That means, it’s time to remind Appropriations Committee Chair Leahy what a disaster this nuke would be — because if we get him fully on board, we can stop SLCMs, for good.
Will you send a quick message to Chair Leahy asking him to cut this dangerous and unnecessary new nuclear weapon from the Pentagon budget?
Abandoning development of new nuclear weapons should be an easy choice, but over the last four years, Trump and Congress actually accelerated a new nuclear arms race.
Not only do experts say these SLCMs are a colossal waste of money, but Navy officials have also privately told lawmakers that adding nuclear weapons to attack subs, as well as surface ships, would cause budgetary, security, and operational problems. And of course, the reality with this and any nuclear weapon is that building more of them increases the chances of an all-out nuclear war.
The United States is currently estimated to spend $2 TRILLION on the nuclear arsenal in the coming decades. The Navy is preparing to start work next year, but without funds these nuclear-armed missiles are dead in the water.
If Congress decides to ditch funding for SLCMs and other unnecessary nukes, it’ll make all of us safer. That’s why we’ve got to cut this project from the Pentagon budget NOW.
Better yet: when we do, we’ll remind President Biden that the United States does NOT need new nuclear weapons, sending him a clear signal to keep unnecessary nukes like these out of future budget proposals. But to do that we need powerful folks like Senator Leahy — the most senior senator and chair of the appropriations committee — by our side. And we need your help to keep up the pressure!
Whether to fund these dangerous new nukes is being decided as we speak — will you send a quick message to Chair Leahy urging him to cut this new nuclear weapon from the Pentagon budget?
After the Cold War, George H.W. Bush removed these nuclear missiles and put them in storage to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament. Obama finally retired these weapons 10 years ago — but in a broad splurge on nuclear weapons: Trump reintroduced them. Biden’s following him down the same path, to a potentially disastrous end.
Palestine in Pictures: June 2021
Palestine in Pictures: June 2021
Palestinian children gather at their home in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, destroyed in recent Israeli airstrikes, 1 June.APA images
SEEKING JUSTICE FOR THE UNKNOWING, UNWILLING, AND UNCOMPENSATED, INNOCENT VICTIMS OF THE JULY 16, 1945, TRINITY TEST IN SOUTH CENTRAL NEW MEXICO
Trinity Downwinders: 75 Years And Waiting
DID YOU KNOW
There were families living as close as 12 miles to the Trinity test site in 1945 and there were Thousands of families living in a 50 mile radius.
The bomb was a plutonium based bomb and it was packed with 13 pounds of weapons grade plutonium but only 3 pounds of the plutonium fissioned. The remaining 10 pounds of plutonium was joined with the soil, sand, animal and plant life and incinerated. The resultant fireball exceeded the atmosphere and penetrated the stratosphere traveling more than 7 miles high.
The bomb produced more heat and more light than the sun. Many people who we’ve spoken to that were alive at the time thought they were experiencing the end of the world.
Plutonium has a half life of more than 24,000 years. Once the radioactive ash fell from the sky as fallout it settled on everything on the soil, in the water and on the skin of every living thing both human and animal.
In 1945 most if not all the small villages inside a 50 mile radius of the Trinity Site had no running water. The water sources at the time were cisterns, holding ponds or ditches. As a result of the fallout the water sources were contaminated.
In 1945 there were no grocery stores in the small villages surrounding the Trinity site. All the meat, dairy and produce people consumed was either raised, harvested or grown by them. It too was contaminated.
As a result of the overexposure to radiation, there was an increase in infant mortality in the months following the Trinity test in New Mexico. The National average death rate was 38.3 deaths per thousand live births, and the average in New Mexico was 100.8 deaths per thousand, which was the highest in the nation. A paper that addresses this issue, was published by Tucker/Alvarez in 2019, titled Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”, which you can access here.
Since 1990 the US Government has been compensating “Downwinders” who lived adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. The fund set up to extend compensation and medical care is called the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The Downwinders in New Mexico have never been included or compensated although they were the first people to be exposed to radiation any place in the world. New Mexicans were also downwind of the Nevada test site through the summer of 1962, well documented.
The fund has paid out more than 2.3 billion dollars in claims and provides much needed health care coverage to some claimants. The health care coverage portion, if extended to the people of New Mexico, would save lives and reduce the financial burden to patients and families as they travel from their rural communities to receive treatment.
The TBDC is fighting for the same compensation that other Downwinders receive, and for the health care coverage to be extended to all Downwinders. We often say we don’t want one dime more or one dime less than what other Downwinders are receiving and have received for over 30 years.
On June 27, 2018, a representative of the TBDC testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about the need to amend the RECA in order to compensate the New Mexico Downwinders. The testimony is available here. The hearing begins at 20 minutes. Tina Cordova, co-founder of TBDC, begins her testimony at 1:02:20.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC PLACES DOWNWINDERS AT GREATER THAN NORMAL RISK
Members of the TBDC Steering Committee have completed a letter to the US Congressional Leadership requesting that they add the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendments in House Bill, HR 3783 to any of the upcoming COVID-19 relief bills under consideration. Over 120 organizations from all across the country, Canada, Guam and the Pacific Islands have signed onto the letter in support. Please see the full letter here.
Letter from peace allies to the Progressive Caucus & the House Defense Spending Reduction Caucus/Committee and Subcommittee Chairs:
As peace and social justice organizations calling for human-centered security and opposed to the proposed record high military budget, please send a version of the letter below to House and Senate lawmakers who oversee budgeting for the Pentagon and Department of Energy:
As members of the United States Congress sent to Washington to provide oversight and serve our constituents, we stand united in our opposition to the proposed increased $753 billion military budget and urge you to reduce the military budget by at least 10%-30% , exempting military pay and benefits, before the budget leaves your committee.
It is time to shift to a human-centered definition of security that prioritizes the urgent needs of those highlighted in the Poor People’s Campaign for a moral budget. The campaign points out that 87-million Americans lack adequate health care coverage, eleven million people are houseless, 35 million are food insecure and one in three Black and Latinx households are steeped in debt. .
We call for re-evaluating US priorities to reduce Pentagon and Department of Energy spending to instead invest in health care, education, housing, climate sustainability, racial justice and more. We call this the Peace Dividend: increased investment in public goods as the result of winding down US wars.
With President Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and his review of the necessity of 800 overseas bases in 80 countries, we expect and hope to spend less, not more on the military. We reject a proposed US pivot to Asia that increases troop deployments to the South China Sea, opens new military bases, and greenlights nuclear warships and mock nuclear strikes--all of which threaten to provoke another war, this one with a nuclear armed nation.
We stand united in opposition to spending billions of dollars in 2022, $1.7 trillion over the next decades, to develop new nuclear weapons that will escalate the arms race, increase the odds of a catastrophic accident and risk global annihilation.
Respectfully, we ask committee chairs preparing the military budget to remove expenditures for new nuclear weapons from the base bill or any document that merges with an overall budget bill, scrap the euphemistically titled “nuclear modernization” plan that fails to reflect modern thinking on the imperative of peace in the midst of a global climate crisis, budget to begin closing some overseas bases and re-evaluate billions of dollars for a US Space Force that will also escalate the arms race.
Progressive Democrats of America
World BEYOND War
Rainforest Action Network
Physicians for Social Responsibility
United for Peace and Justice
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace
Veterans For Peace
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom US
Women Against Military Madness
United We Dream Network
Peace, Justice, Sustainability NOW
Nuclear Free World Committee
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Justice Team
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement
War Resisters League
Women Cross DMZ
An Economy of Our Own
U.S. Peace Council
WORLD PEACE NETWORK
Massachusetts Peace Action
Wisconsin Peace Action
INVESTING IN CURES BEFORE MISSILES ACT
For years, many weapons experts and activists have been warning that ICBMs are the single most dangerous part of the nuclear threat that hangs over all of us. Now, some members of Congress are stepping up to do something about it -- and you can do something to help in the next couple of minutes.
Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Ro Khanna have introduced a bill that would curtail the current plans to sink vast amounts of money into a new version of ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles), and instead would devote resources to developing a universal coronavirus vaccine that would save countless lives.
Now, the bill needs co-sponsors -- and you can quickly send emails to your senators and representative to urge them to sign onto this vital bill.
The new ICBM program is part of an unhinged plan to "modernize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a projected cost of $1.7 trillion. This plan would not only squander money that's desperately needed to meet human needs -- it would also make everyone less safe, because ICBMs are on "hair-trigger" alert due to their vulnerability on the ground.
Long story short, ICBMs increase the risks of nuclear annihilation.
RootsAction strongly supports the Markey-Khanna "ICBM Act" as a step toward sanity. We urge you to take action as a constituent to use our action page and quickly send emails to your members of Congress on this crucial matter.
The lives we save could include our own and those of our loved ones.
For more information, please see the Background links below.
>> News Release: Sen. Markey, Rep. Khanna Introduce the â€œICBM Actâ€
>> Text of "ICBM Act"
>> Report from the Center for International Policy: " Inside the ICBM Lobby: Special Interests or the National Interest?"
Arms & Security Program CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY
TRANSFERRING ARMS TO THE UAE IS
April 2021 | Washington, D.C. NOT IN U.S. SECURITY INTERESTS
William D. Hartung | Arms & Security Program
MQ-9 armed drones, and $10 billion in bombs and missiles to the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) contradicts its pledge to make human rights and long-term U.S. interests the central
factors in deciding which nations to supply with U.S. arms. The UAE is an unreliable partner
that has fueled conflict, transferred U.S.-supplied weapons to extremist groups, and inflicted
severe human rights abuses on its own population. Its conduct has done more harm than
good with respect to U.S. security interests. Whatever pledges the UAE may make regarding
its use of the U.S. weapons involved in the current package, the UAE’s record does not
inspire confidence that it will abide by them.
Conduct that should disqualify the UAE from receiving U.S. arms includes:
• Despite claims to the contrary, the UAE continues to play a role in the brutal war in
Yemen, which has resulted in nearly a quarter of a million deaths and pushed millions
to the brink of famine, even as it has created more space for extremist groups like Al
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to operate and recruit new members and driven
the Houthi rebels closer to Iran.
U.S. and Emirati soldiers participate in joint exercise Native Fury 20 in the United Arab Emirates on March 15, 2020. Sgt. Kyle McNan U.S. Marine Corps/DVIDS
Arms & Security Program CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL POLICY
• The UAE is a primary supplier of weaponry to the forces of Gen. Khalifa Haftar in Libya
and has engaged in drone strikes that have killed civilians, all in violation of a United
Nations arms embargo. There is also evidence to suggest it has financed the Wagner
Group, a collection of Russian-backed mercenaries fighting in Yemen.
• The UAE has transferred U.S. supplied weapons, including armored vehicles, to extremist militias in Yemen, some of which have ties to AQAP. The UAE has security ties to Russia and China and has purchased Russian missile defense systems, raising the danger of
sensitive U.S. technology being supplied to these two nations.
• The weapons in the $23 billion package are more likely to be used in wars like those in
Libya and Yemen than to deter or fight Tehran.
• UAE purchases of arms from Russia could subject it to sanctions under the Countering
America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which, if enforced, could preclude it from receiving advanced U.S. weaponry, as happened with Turkey with respect
to its purchases of Russian S-400s and its exclusion from the F-35 program.
• The sale of F-35s to the UAE could open the door to sales of these aircraft to other Gulf
States, spurring an arms race in the region.
• The sales will likely include the transfer of U.S. technology and jobs to the UAE via offset
agreements with U.S. companies. For example, the UAE is seeking the opportunity to
build parts for the F-35 that will be used not just on the jets they are purchasing but on
all U.S. F-35s produced worldwide, reducing jobs in the United States as a result.
Destruction caused to a Yememi school in Sa’ada by 2015 Saudi-led coalition airstrike. Philippe Kropf/United Nations OCHA Flickr
Tuesday, April 6, 7 PM, Capitol Calling Party: Immigration Justice
On Tuesday, April 6, 2021,. CODEPINK Congress will ask the question: What would immigration justice look like? We will be joined by two guests:
Arturo Viscarra, an immigration attorney living in Mexico and working with The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), will discuss the influx of migrants at the border and CHIRLA’s campaign for a moratorium on immigrant arrests and deportations, as well as a path to citizenship.
President Biden, who halted the construction of the border wall, has come under criticism following the release of photos showing migrant children in Texas packed together in makeshift rooms with mattresses on the floor. In response, the administration announced the opening of “16,000 emergency beds for migrant children” in new housing facilities.
Despite Republican charges that Biden advocates "open borders," the Biden administration has left Trump's policy of expelling asylum seekers in place.
So what's the answer? Let's talk about it, then take action!
After our discussion, join us for our Capitol Calling Party to ask members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 694, the Roadmap to Freedom (Jayapal, D-WA), & H.R. 536, the New Way Forward Act to provide a path to citizenship, promote family reunification & end mandatory detention for some immigrants.
End US Neocolonialism in Haiti
March 29 is the anniversary of the 1987 Haitian Constitution written after the 1986 overthrow of the brutal Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship. The 1987 Constitution was designed to create “a socially just, economically free, and politically independent Haitian nation.” Those ideals are again in crisis.
The US-backed de facto president of Haiti Jovenel Moïse is refusing to leave office even though his term ended on February 7. Moïse and his Western allies – the US, Canada, Brazil, France, Spain and the European Union – are trying to push through a new constitution that takes power away from the people
The Haitian people have been bravely holding mass demonstrations, especially on Sundays, for months calling for Moïse to step down so they can appoint an interim leader and hold an election. The state response to their demonstrations has been violent repression.
The Biden administration and the Democrats who have been so vocal over Trump’s threats to stay in office are enabling the same behavior by a president in Haiti. The Biden administration and Democrats have loudly stated that Black lives matter while being silent about the violence perpetrated against Haitians.
We demand that the Biden administration:
1. End its support for Jovenel Moïse.
2. Withdraw from participation in Haiti’s constitutional process.
3. Stop interfering in the internal affairs of Haiti.
4. Stop deporting Haitians who are fleeing their country.
More destroyers to defend America?
Bath Iron Works here in Maine presently is working on six new destroyers at the shipyard. They have put a call out for even more workers. In their call they say, "Shipfitters and Pipefitters! Pipefitters are responsible for installing the 30 miles of pipe it takes to build an Arleigh Burke [Aegis] destroyer. If you have plumbing knowledge, experience reading a tape measure and basic math skills, join our team as a Pipefitter and help us build the ships that defend America!"
That's quite interesting - the defend America bit. Once these warships are sent to sea they are no where near American shores. Right now two of them are harassing Russia in the Black Sea and they've lately been repeatedly bumping up against the Chinese coastline 'defending the right of passage in international waters'. Yeah right...
Can't we just admit the truth here? It is about profit$ for General Dynamics (which owns BIW) and also about a forward deployed aggressive US naval strategy. These destroyers carry first-strike attack nuclear-capable Tomahawk cruise missiles onboard. They also have SM-3 interceptor missiles that are the shield to pick-off Chinese or Russian nuclear retaliatory responses after a Pentagon first-strike attack. (Something that is annually war-gamed at the Space Command in Colorado.)
These warships are about offense not defense!
Just last week the Maine and Mississippi congressional delegations sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks on Navy shipbuilding. (The two naval shipyards that build large surface warships are in Maine and Mississippi.)
In the letter the two congressional delegations said, "We write to express our strong support for a robust Navy shipbuilding budget, including funding for the continued procurement of Large Surface Combatants, and urge you to endorse unambiguously the long-standing and congressionally mandated requirement for a larger Navy fleet... China, which each of you identified during your recent Senate nomination hearings as the foremost national security challenge facing our nation, currently has the largest Navy in the world, including approximately 350 ships... In the era of great-power competition, a stronger U.S. Navy capable of projecting power around the world [my emphasis] is necessary to ensure America’s national and economic security during peacetime as well as to defeat our adversaries should deterrence fail."
(At least they admit that the purpose of these warships is projecting power around the world and not the tired old excuse of 'defending America' as the young potential workers are misleadingly told by BIW.)
Among the signers of the letter was Maine's 'most liberal' representative in Washington, Rep. Chellie Pingree (Democrat from Maine's southern first district). Pingree claims to care about the poor and unemployed, climate crisis, and all the other hot-button issues that liberals usually demand more money to deal with. But she always votes for more Pentagon spending and of course more warships for BIW.
Rep. Pingree is the classic liberal who talks a good game about the need for social spending but then turns around and ensures that there won't be enough money to deal with human, environmental and infrastructure needs because the Pentagon is sitting on the buried national treasure chest. Typical pirate behavior.
Where do the Aegis go?
As the Pentagon accelerates deployment of US warships around the globe, they must have more ports to dock at for fuel and resupply. So in places like the Philippines (where the US was kicked out of in 1992, but now back), South Korea (where a new Navy base was forced on Jeju Island that has ripped apart a 500-year old fishing and farming community), Japan, Guam, Australia, and Okinawa local residents oppose these increased deployments. Why? Two basic reasons, first it makes them a prime target if a war starts and secondly, in every case, these toxic military bases destroy the local environment.
Do you think the 'good liberal' Rep. Pingree cares about the environmental damage that accompanies these destroyers as they port in these various nations? Obviously not. During the Obama administration his ambassador to Japan was Carolyn Kennedy (daughter of JFK). For years the people of Okinawa begged that 'good liberal' to meet and hear their pleas about expanding US bases on their island. Her answer? No meeting.
That's just in the Pacific. The warships that are sent to poke Russia with the nuclear-stick are similarly ported at US bases throughout the Mediterranean region and in the Nordic region where they are making aggressive maneuvers in the Barents Sea. As I noted above, right now these destroyers are in the Black Sea.
If we are honest about this situation, it is quite apparent just who the aggressor really is. If China or Russia had military bases in Mexico, Canada or Cuba then Washington would be going ballistic! But when Washington does it in reverse, it is always sold to the public as 'defending democracy' and other claptrap like that.
It's no wonder much of the world hates the USA today. Our blind arrogance rankles the people in these nations that see how the US is provoking WW III which will reduce their homelands to radioactive dust.
Isn't it time for the American people to wake up and stop swallowing the 'liberal' line about 'projecting power to defend the freedom of navigation'?
Our focus in 2020
- How is the UN dealing with corona virus pandemic?
- How is corona virus pandemic impacting UN disarmament processes?
- Will the UN Security Council support or block the Korea peace and denuclearisation process?
- How will the UN deal with the unravelling of the INF Treaty?
- Will the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enter-into force? If so, will it make any difference?
Keep informed and engaged with UNFOLD ZERO.
Protect People and the Planet:
Appeal for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World
Global Appeal to end the nuclear threat, abolish nuclear weapons and shift the weapons budgets and investments to support public health, COVID-19 recovery, the climate and sustainable development.
The nuclear weapons possessed by nine countries threaten us all. Any use of these weapons by accident, miscalculation or malicious intent, would have catastrophic human, economic and environmental consequences. The use of just a small fraction of the 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world’s stockpiles could end civilization as we know it.
In addition, the $100 billion spent annually on nuclear weapons is sorely needed for environmental, economic and human needs, including addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the climate and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
We, the undersigned, call on our cities, parliaments and governments to:
- Affirm that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and therefore the nuclear armed States should stand down their nuclear forces and affirm policies never to initiate a nuclear war (no-first-use policies);
- Commit to the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the United Nations;
- Cut nuclear weapons budgets (if they are a nuclear-weapon State), end investments in the nuclear weapons industry (all governments), and redirect these investments and budgets to support the United Nations, COVID-19 management and recovery, drastic reductions in carbon emissions to protect the climate, and financing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
January 22: Global Action Day for the Entry into Force
- In the city of Nagasaki, a special countdown clock tower has been established in front of the Nagasaki City Council; it will celebrate turning to zero at midnight local time.
- Diet Member’s Building, Tokyo / 10:00-16:00 (TBC): A delegation of Hibakusha will meet with Japanese government officials and Diet members to urge Japan to sign and ratify the TPNW (subject to cancellation or downscale due to the current state of emergency)
- Survivors and local citizens will gather in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima at 6pm local time to create a candle message (18:00)
- School children will gather in front of the Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Park (18:30)
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, to announce the 2021 time of the Doomsday Clock. The news conference will take place virtually via Zoom. Watch the announcement live on our website or on our Facebook page.
Speakers for the Doomsday Clock announcement on January 27, 2021 include:
- Governor Jerry Brown, executive chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; former Governor, State of California
- Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, member, The Elders; former Prime Minister, Norway; former Director-General, World Health Organization
- Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki, Governor, Hiroshima Prefecture
- Dr. Rachel Bronson, president and CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
- Dr. Steve Fetter, Science and Security Board member, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; associate provost, dean of the graduate school, and professor of public policy, University of Maryland
- Dr. Asha George, Science and Security Board member, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; executive director, Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense
- Dr. Susan Solomon, Science and Security Board member, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For Immediate Release
MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, [email protected], 415-235-6517
Marcy Winograd, Progressive Democrats of America, [email protected], 424-443-9338
Jeremy Varon, Witness Against Torture, [email protected] ,732-979-3119
Torture Victims & Their Advocates Oppose Morell & Haines for National Security Positions in the Biden Administration.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, torture survivors and their advocates released an Open Letter urging President-Elect Biden not to nominate torture defender Mike Morell for CIA Director and asking the Senate not to approve Biden’s nominee Avril Haines, a torture enabler, as Director of National Intelligence. The letter was also delivered this morning to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as President-Elect Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris.
Signatories include: Mansoor Adayfi, a writer from Yemen imprisoned for 14 years without charge at Guantanamo Bay, where he was force fed for two years; Moazzam Begg, a British-Pakistani ex-Guantanamo detainee and Outreach Director for CAGE, a service organization for torture survivors and communities impacted by the War on Terror; Sister Dianna Ortiz, a US missionary tortured by members of the CIA-funded Guatemalan army; Colonel Larry Wilkerson, Whistleblower and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; John Kiriakou, former CIA officer imprisoned after exposing CIA waterboarding; and musician Roger Waters (formerly with Pink Floyd), whose song “Each Small Candle” is a tribute to torture victims.
The organizers of the letter, Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America, Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, and Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture, have been lobbying against the inclusion of torture apologists in the Biden administration since the August Democratic National Convention, Their efforts include a letter to Biden from 450 DNC delegates, a CODEPINK petition signed by over 4,000, and calls to the offices of the Senators on the Intelligence Committee. “When we started this campaign,” says 2020 DNC Delegate Marcy Winograd, “Morell was considered the frontrunner, but opposition to his disgraceful defense of torture has cast a pall on his nomination. We want to make sure his nomination is off the table, and that Biden and the Senate also understand we reject Avril Haines for her complicity in suppressing evidence of CIA torture,”.
Morell, a CIA analyst under Bush and Deputy and Acting CIA Director under Obama, has defended the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program, objecting to use of the word “torture” to characterize waterboarding, sleep deprivation, starvation diets, sexual humiliation, hypothermia and painful bodily contortions. Morrell also falsely claimed that torture “worked” in foiling terrorists plots. In addition, Morell defended the CIA’s destruction of nearly 90 videotapes documenting brutal interrogations at CIA black site prisons.
As CIA Deputy Director from 2013-2014, Avril Haines overruled the CIA Inspector General in choosing not to punish agency personnel accused of hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers during their investigation into the CIA’s use of torture. She was also part of the team that suppressed evidence of CIA torture by redacting the Senate Intelligence Committee’s landmark torture report, reducing a 6,000 page document to 500 pages.
Both Morell and Haines supported Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to CIA Director — a nomination that then-Senator Kamala Harris, other prominent Democrats, and Senator John McCain opposed. Haspel supervised a black site prison in Thailand and authorized a memo authorizing the destruction of CIA videotapes documenting torture.
Jeremy Varon, Witness Against Torture:
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised to restore transparency, integrity, and respect for the rule of law to government. So how can their National Security team be led by people who endorsed, or tried to cover up, the clear crime of torture? It makes no sense.”
Djamel Ameziane, Former Guantanamo Prisoner (2002-2013):
“Elevating torture apologists to a leadership position within the Biden administration will damage the USA’s standing and give the world’s dictators succor and comfort.”
Jeffrey Kaye, Author, “Cover-Up at Guantanamo:
“Morell and Haines have put loyalty to CIA torturers above adherence to US treaties and domestic law, as well as basic morality. To allow them to serve in government would send a message to all that accountability for torture is passé, and that war crimes will always be dismissed with a wink from those in high office.”
John Kiriakou, Former CIA officer who blew the whistle on agency torture:
“Morell has disingenuously said that he was unaware of the CIA’s torture program at the same time that he was the Agency’s fourth-ranking officer. As deputy CIA Director and Acting CIA Director, he oversaw illegal activities around the world. I can’t believe that any sane person could or would consider Mike Morell as a serious candidate for CIA Director.”
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK:
“We can’t allow the new Biden administration to include people who have been involved–in any way–in heinous acts of torture. That’s why we are part of a groundswell of opposition to both Mike Morell and Avril Haines for key intelligence positions. No torture apologists should be allowed to serve in this administration. Period.”
Torture Survivor Mansoor Adayfi on Morell’s assertion that torture is effective: “In Guantanamo, when they put you under very bad circumstances—like 72 hours under very cold air conditioning, and you are tied to the ground and someone comes and pours cold water on you—you are going to tell them whatever they want you to say. I will sign anything, I will admit anything!,” says Dayfi.
Torture Survivor Moazzem Begg on his treatment at Bagram Air Base before arriving at Guantanamo: “They tied me up with my hands behind my back to my legs, kicked me in the head, kicked me in the back, threatened to take me to Egypt to be tortured, to be raped, to be electrocuted. They had a woman screaming in the next room whom I believed at that time was my wife. They bought pictures of my children and told me I would never see them again.”
Colonel Larry Wilkerson, torture whistleblower: “Kidnapping, torture and assassination have no place in a democracy and turn the CIA into a secret police …Abuses of the kind documented in the Senate’s report could happen again.”
James Dorsey, attorney for released Guantanamo detainee Ahcene Zemiri. “As a Marine Corps veteran, I have always understood that when our servicemen have been captured and tortured in the past, a real source of strength for them has been knowing that their country would never engage in such conduct. “
Also available for interviews:
James Dorsey, Attorney, represented released Guantanamo Detainee Ahcene Zemiri
Send a message to Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) today.
American Rivers, a national conservation group, has designated the Menominee River on the Michigan-Wisconsin border, one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the U.S. because of the threat of toxic sulfide mining next to the river.
Please go to American Rivers' website and send a message to Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to ban the dangerous tailings dam associated with toxic mining and deny a permit for the proposed Back Forty mine:
More information at https://www.americanrivers.org/
Alert sent to WNPJ by Al Gedicks of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council- [email protected]
Nukes + climate change is a dangerous combo
KOREA PEACE NOW! Peace Action of WI Zoom Meeting October 8, 2020, Thursday at 7 PM, central time
Update from the Korea Peace Network by National Peace Action’s Kevin Martin and UWM Professor Nan Kim of Women Cross DMZ
The Korea Peace Network, coordinated by Peace Action President Kevin Martin, is a network comprised of peace, social justice, human rights, faith, veterans and Korean-American groups and individuals advocating peace on the Korean peninsula.
War with North Korea should be avoided at all costs. Even a limited military strike would very likely lead to war with North Korea, which would imperil millions of lives. It’s time to try diplomacy without preconditions. Successful diplomacy is about open-minded dialogue, not making demands. Urge your members of Congress to join our call for direct diplomacy with North Korea, and an end to the Korean War.
Women Cross DMZ
On May 24, 2015 thirty women peacemakers from fifteen countries, including Nan Kim, crossed the De-Militarized Zone from North to South Korea on International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament. They held peace symposia with hundreds of Korean women in Pyongyang and Seoul and walked with 10,000 women on the streets of Pyongyang, Kaesong and Paju. They walked to call world attention to the un-ended Korean war, unite families, and ensure women’s leadership in the peace building process.
Stop Teaching War and Killing at Marquette University!
Stand with Us Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at 11:30 AM
Rally be at 14th and Wisconsin, in front of the Raynor Memorial Library.
Marquette Hosts Three Department of Defense military programs, the Department of Navy/Marines, Department of Army, and Department of the Air Force. These three Department of Marquette are fully funded by the Department of Defense and serve all colleges and universities in Southeastern Wisconsin that are forced by US government to offer ROTC training for students in order to qualify for all US funds and grants by the Solomon Amendment of 1996. The law requires colleges and universities to offer ROTC training but not to host it. MU is the host for all colleges and universities in SE Wisconsin MU also supports militarization via Defense grants and investments.
Golden Eagle Battalion Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Marquette, Martin Luther King, Jr
Sponsored by the Ad Hoc Stop Militarism at Marquette University Committee of the End the Wars Coalition of Milwaukee. Signs will be provided.
On Thursday, April 9, fast from sunrise to sunset in solidarity with the people of Yemen.
JWE launching webinar series on Syria March 25
Just World Admin March 18, 2020
We are delighted to announce that on March 25, we’ll be launching a web-based educational program, “Commonsense on Syria.” This series of 10 webinar sessions aims to expand the discourse on Syria here in the United States (and elsewhere) by presenting interactive, web-based panel discussions among people with real expertise on Syria. Our panelists will represent a range of views, including views that have been un- or under-represented in Western corporate media over the past decade.
“Commonsense On Syria” will run biweekly, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from March 25 through April 25. Each session will start at 1 pm New York Time and will last 45-60 minutes.
The full schedule of the 10 sessions is given below. Registration is required for each session: it is currently open for the first two sessions. Click on the links to register:
- Session 1, March 25: “Introduction to Syria, its people, and history pre-2011.” This session will feature Amb. Peter Ford and Prof. Joshua Landis. Shorts bios are below.
- Session 2, March 28: “The Syrian Uprising in the context of the Arab Spring.” This one will feature Prof. Richard Falk and Ms. Vanessa Beeley. Their bios are below.
Session 1, March 25:
The first session of the series, March 25, will be “Introduction to Syria, its people, and history pre-2011” and will feature two great experts:
** Amb. Peter Ford, who was the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Syria, 2003-2006. Ford went on from there to be the chief representative of the head of the UN agency UNRWA to the Arab world. In that capacity he traveled throughout the Arab world, including on a number of occasions to Syria, which is host to more than 500,000 UNRWA-registered Palestinian refugees.
** Prof. Joshua Landis, who is the Sandra Mackey Chair and Director, Center of Middle East Studies & Arabic at the University of Oklahoma. Landis has published widely on Syria and is the publisher of (and a frequent writer at) the “Syria Comment” blog.
JWE President Helena Cobban, who has also researched and written widely on Syria, will be moderating the discussion.
Session 2, March 28:
Session 2 will be “The Syrian Uprising in the context of the Arab Spring”, and will feature a probing discussion (moderated by Helena Cobban) between these two great panelists:
** Prof. Richard Falk, a world-renowned expert on international law who spent six years, 2008-14 as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. (We are also proud that Falk is a member of the Just World Ed board.)
** Ms. Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who has reported from Libya, Syria and elsewhere. Beeley was a finalist for the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism whose groundbreaking work from Syria has been endorsed by John Pilger and other leading investigative reporters.
Schedule for the whole series:
Details of the presenters for the other sessions in this webinar series will be posted as we are able to confirm them, but the basic schedule for the entire series is currently planned to be as follows. Check back here frequently to see details of the additional panelists as they are confirmed.
|Mar. 25||Introduction to Syria, its people, and history pre-2011|
|Mar. 28||The Syrian Uprising in the context of the Arab Spring|
|April 1||US policy toward Syria|
|April 4||Western media’s role, including on the chemical weapons issue|
|April 8||Israel’s role in Syria|
|April 11||Syria in the region|
|April 15||Syrian refugees & IDPs|
|April 18||Palestinian refugees in Syria|
|April 22||Sanctions & their effects on reconstruction|
|April 25||Negotiations over constitutional reform.|
David Swanson news.
World Beyond War news.
On Feb 18th at noon, Congresswoman Gwen Moore has agreed to take a picture with peace activists standing under a peace billboard (see below) at Wells and James Lowell (7th St).
Billboard at Wells and James Lovell: 3% of U.S. Military Spending Could End Starvation on Earth
For immediate release: February 5, 2020
Contact: David Swanson [email protected], Bill Christofferson [email protected], Jim Carpenter [email protected]
A billboard at the south-east corner of Wells and James Lovell (7th) Streets, across the street from the Milwaukee Public Museum through the month of February and again for the month of July when the Democratic National Convention is held nearby, reads:
"3% of U.S. Military Spending Could End Starvation on Earth"
Is it a joke?
Hardly. Milwaukeeans and others around the country with little money of their own to spare have been chipping in to put up billboards like this one in an effort to call attention to the biggest elephant in the American room -- even if, in political mascot terms, it's a hybrid elephant-donkey: the U.S. military budget.
Organizations that have contributed to this billboard include World BEYOND War, Milwaukee Veterans For Peace Chapter 102, and Progressive Democrats of America.
Paul Moriarity, president of Milwaukee Veterans For Peace remarked: "As veterans, we know that endless wars and the Pentagon's corporate handouts do nothing to make us safe. We waste hundreds of billions of dollars that would be better spent on pressing needs like education, health care, and averting catastrophic climate change. Educating and reminding people of the true costs of war is a primary mission of Veterans For Peace. We are happy to be a partner in this effort by World BEYOND War."
World BEYOND War has put up billboards in numerous cities. The organization's Executive Director David Swanson said the approach has helped create conversations that otherwise don't happen. "In the most recent presidential primary debate on CNN, as is typical," he said, "the moderators asked the candidates what various projects would cost and how they would be paid for, but lost all interest in cost when it came to questions of war. The single biggest item in the federal discretionary budget, taking up over half of it alone, is perhaps the least-discussed item: military spending."
Jim Carpenter, local contact for the Progressive Democrats of America, said he believes Senator Bernie Sanders is correct when he says we must "bring together the leaders of the major industrial nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on misguided wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crises and take on the fossil fuel industry. We are uniquely positioned to lead the planet in a wholesale shift away from militarism."
As of 2019, the annual Pentagon base budget, plus war budget, plus nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy, plus military spending by the Department of Homeland Security, plus interest on deficit military spending, and other military spending totaled $1.25 trillion (as calculated by William Hartung and Many Smithberger).
The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in 2019 passed a resolution that read in part:
"WHEREAS, according to the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, spending $1 billion on domestic priorities produces 'substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military'; and
"WHEREAS, Congress should reallocate federal military outlays toward human and environmental needs: aid toward the goal of providing free, superior education from pre-school through college, end world hunger, convert the United States to clean energy, provide clean drinking water everywhere needed, build high speed trains between all major U.S. cities, finance a full-employment jobs program, and double non-military foreign aid."
"End world hunger," said Swanson, "is rightly only one small item in the list of what would be possible by redirecting a portion of destructive and counter-productive military spending. It would, however, constitute a major shift in foreign policy. Imagine what the world would think of the United States, if it were known as the country that ended world starvation. The decrease in hostility could be dramatic."
World BEYOND War explains the 3 percent figure this way:
In 2008, the United Nations said that $30 billion per year could end hunger on earth, as reported in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and many other outlets. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) tells us that number is still up to date. Thirty billion is only 2.4 percent of 1.25 trillion. So, 3 percent is a conservative estimate of what would be needed. As noted on the billboard, this is explained in some detail at worldbeyondwar.org/explained
On Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 10:49 PM Erik Sperling of Just Foreign Policy <[email protected]> wrote:.
We are circulating a letter in Congress now. I've pasted those details below. We NEED people like Rashida Talib, Barbara Lee, Gwen Moore -- and any other champions that folks may be connected to -- on this letter. So anything you can do to do outreach to Congressional offices would be huge. To give you a sense of how horrific the climate is on the Hill right now around this, check out this pretty irritating article: https://thehill.com/policy/international/americas/471180-sanders-doubles-down-on-bolivia-coup-few-follow-suit
Getting a good turnout on this letter would really go a long way to change the narrative and support Bernie's terrific comments.We did two blasts to our list with petitions, one targeting the NYT for endorsing the coup, and one targeting members of Congress. Thanks
Related Legislative Issues
Emergency Rally! Against the Military Coup in Bolivia!
Special Stand for Peace
Saturday, Nov.16, Noon, at Martin Luther King, Jr. and Locusts St.
Party for Socialism & Liberation, Peace Action of WI, WI Bail Out the People Movement, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Veterans for Peace of Milwaukee-Chapter 102, and many other
National Call-in Day for Korea Peace
Tuesday, October 8, 2019.
The American Friends Service Committee, Korea Peace Network, Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network, Peace Treaty Now, United for Peace and Justice, and Win Without War are jointly announcing a National Call-in Day for Korea Peace, on Tuesday, October 8, while our Congress members are back in their local District Offices.
On this important day, please take just 3 minutes to call your District Office and urge your House Representative to co-sponsor H. Res. (House Resolution) 152: Calling for a formal end to the Korean War. The Korean War -- now 70 years-old -- is the longest continuing US conflict in the world. It’s time to end it, and we need your help!
SUGGESTED SCRIPT A (For those who have not co-sponsored H Res 152
Hi, my name is ____, calling from ____(city/town)____. I’m calling to urge Representative _____ to co-sponsor House Resolution 152: Calling for a formal end to the Korean War.
You can use any (or all) of the following options for supporting arguments:
- The Korea issue is bigger than Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un. We should not lose sight of what’s at stake: the lives of 80 million Koreans in North and South Korea and 28,500 US troops in South Korea. Also, there are tens of thousands of Korean Americans who have family members in South and North Korea who will be impacted. For lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, we must end the Korean War with a formal peace agreement now, so that genuine diplomacy can begin. Please urge Representative __________to co-sponsor and support H.Res.152. Thank you.
- The American public is tired of endless wars. It’s time to shift our national priorities from war to jobs and human needs at home. The Korean War -- now 70 years-old -- is the longest US conflict in the world. Let’s finally end the Korean War so that genuine diplomacy can begin. Please urge Representative __________to co-sponsor and support H.Res.152. Thank you.
SUGGESTED SCRIPT B (For those who have already co-sponsored)
Hi, my name is ____, calling from ____(city/town)____. I want to thank Representative _________ for co-sponsoring House Resolution 152: Calling for a formal end to the Korean War. I appreciate (her/his) support very much and hope (she/he) will find opportunities to urge other colleagues in the House to do the same, as well as voice support for Korea peace in public statements and presentations whenever possible. We need more champions for peace in Korea! Thank you.
DEMONSTRATION AGAINST WAR
SEPT. 16, 2019, 5-6 PM
Milwaukee Lakefront- Bradford Beach Overpass
Sponsored by Peace Action of Wisconsin
Co-sponsors: Veterans for Peace, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Building Unity, United Nations Association of Milwaukee, Racine Coalition for Peace and Justice, Racine Central America Solidarity Coalition, Friends Committee on National Legislation- Milwaukee, Palestine Action Network- Milwaukee, WI Cuba Coalition, and more tba
For information: peaceactionwi.org, 414-269-9525
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