Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Immigration Raids Hit Tennessee

Immigration Raids Continue to Separate Families in South

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids took place at six Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plants across the country on April 16th, including a devastating raid in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Most detainees from the Chattanooga raid are being held in Chattanooga and Lumpkin, GA. Five female detainees are being held in Nashville at the Harding Detention Facility.

As many of you know, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) performed major raids across the country on April 16th, including one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The raid in Tennessee—at a "Pilgrim's Pride" Poultry Processing plant—resulted in the arrest of 156 immigrants.

The raids have devastated Chattanooga's immigrant community, and have sent shock waves across the region.

Men in Georgia—women in Nashville. While it should be noted that 32 women who were identified as mothers were released on Thursday, families have still been torn apart and are struggling to reconnect. Immigrant rights groups across the region are attempting to assimilate a complete list of the workers detained. However, many workers are still missing and their locations remain unknown.

"The raids in the poultry processing plants in the southeast are disheartening and immoral. Even worse is the breaking up of families. We will pray for these women and their families."

Rev. Jeannie Hunter, Associate Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church.

"All workers and their families deserve being treated with dignity. The workers who are detained are victims of the employers and the broken immigration system. It is the federal immigration system that needs to be held accountable. The workers need their rights protected. "

Megan Macaraeg with Jobs with Justice

Community Action:
The immigrant community and its many allies—in Chattanooga, Nashville, Atlanta, Dalton, and beyond—have responded quickly and effectively to the raids.

Hotline: La Paz de Dios, La Coalicion de Lideres and TIRRC have opened up phone lines for family and friends to call to try and locate loved ones. 423-320-3636, 865-406-3297, 706-217-8696

Radio: Organizers continue to speak on Hispanic radio stations, announcing names of located workers, documenting people still missing, and explaining to the community about what might happen next to their family and community members.

Family Services: Churches, neighbors, and organizers have set up places for families to come for food, counseling, and other necessities. Many families were dependent on the income of those detained, and churches and community centers have been set up to help care for those families who might not yet be prepared to support themselves.

Legal Advice: TIRRC and other organizations have been able to visit located detainees in the detention centers to make sure they receive legal advice and can communicate with their families.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Deep Green Teaser from Brother Martin


I was witness to and participant in another heated community
meeting in Scottsboro last month. Without Tony Giantarra and his
suited cohorts present, the ladies of the Planning Department had to
bear the community’s wrath all by themselves. They stood up nobly
under the barrage, but I suspect that afterwards there may have been
a few good stiff drinks poured in the privacy of home. The people
were not happy, and with good reason.

Monday, April 28, 2008

La Riva Speaks on Police Acquittal

Statement from PSL's La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign

When the police arrested a man in New York City for pickpocketing $22, Justice Arthur Cooperman sentenced him to 15 years to life in prison. When three New York City police murdered Sean Bell and wounded two others in an unprovoked 50-shot assault against the unarmed men, Justice Arthur Cooperman acquitted the police officers and let them walk free.

New York’s Black community and all who believe in justice are up in arms today. Anger, disbelief, outrage: these words do not come close to conveying the sentiments of millions of New Yorkers.

Once again the courts have sent out the message that police have a license to kill young Black people. The racist NYPD is the ultimate expression of an organized crime ring. They arrogate to themselves the role of judge, jury and executioner.

Judge Cooperman is simply their cheerleader and defender. This is not a problem of a single bad judge. Cooperman is a symptom. The disease is institutionalized racism and the epidemic of police brutality directed against Black and Latino communities and especially young people.

Killer cops walk free again today just as they did when they killed Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 shots. Again, the armed thugs of corporate capitalism, the defenders of the rich and mighty, walk away without even a slapped wrist, while the prisons and jails of this country overflow with more than 2.3 million working class young people.

The actual ethnicity or national or “racial” identity of the killer cops is immaterial. The NYPD is an army of racism. It occupies and murders inside the Black and Latino community. Its principal function is to defend the property of Wall Street corporations and the property of the billionaires and multi-millionaires who are the dominant power in NYC. Mayor Bloomberg went out of his way to call striking transit workers “thugs,” but no similar language is used by him to describe the cold-blooded killers in blue.

Today, in the face of this colossal injustice John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as yet have not a word to condemn this travesty. The Democratic party seeks the vote of the Black community to win office, but turns its back on the community in its confrontation with the forces of racist police violence. It could not be otherwise. The Republican and Democratic parties, and the respective candidates, vie with each other to be the voice of the status quo and the police power which functions as its armed guarantor. The armies of police and military power exist to protect the ultra rich and the status quo, from the people who are suffering from unemployment, foreclosures, hunger, galloping poverty, and union-busting. The candidates of both the Republican and Democratic parties are ardent defenders of this system.

The VotePSL La Riva/Puryear 2008 campaign will be in the streets today and every day to demand justice for Sean Bell. Killer cops and all those who commit acts of brutality against our communities will be the focus of the wrath and mobilization of the people.

Jail Killer Cops! Money for Jobs, Schools, Housing and Health care.

To contact the La Riva/Puryear campaign, call Ben Becker at 410-371-7203 or visit the website at

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Larry Hale Exonerated

On Wed., April 23 all charges were dropped against Denver activist Larry Hales. Hales had been assaulted by ten Denver cops this past Nov. 30. The cops had busted into Larry's home without permission at 10:30 p.m., handcuffed his partner to a chair, ripped out some of Hales’ hair, ripped his clothes, and charged him with interfering with the police.

Hales, a leading activist against police brutality and war, is also organizing for protests at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, and is well known to the Denver police. Hales had been providing housing for a parolee who had been a police brutality victim. A parole visit had been the pretext of the cops’ raid on Hales' home, but the parolee was not at home at the time and the cops did not have permission to enter or search the home when the parolee was not present.

A widespread support campaign grew up around the case, demanding that all charges be dropped against Hales. The National Justice for Larry Hales campaign launched an online petition which generated over 160,000 email messages to the members of the Denver legislature, the mayor, city attorney and the judge in the case, the Colorado congressional delegation, congressional leaders, President Bush, Attorney General Mukasey, and members of the media. Letters were faxed from public officials such as Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, from unions like USW 8751 Boston School Bus Union and many rank and file union leaders, religious leaders like Bishop Filipe Teixeira OFSJC, lawyers and other public figures.

Larry Hales’ message to supporters: ‘Mass campaign made the difference’

Larry Hales wrote the following statement on this victory: The city attorney's office decided to drop the charges against me because of the attack and the violation of mine and Melissa Kleinman’s fourth amendment rights. But, if there was no campaign and the case not made public, I believe they would have gone forward, wasting time, resources and possibly sending me to jail for an extended period of time, up to a year.

I do not believe in luck or chance, but Melissa and myself did escape great bodily injury or death, and so our case was never as bad as many others. What happened to us is more indicative of what many people who try and house parolees and the parolees themselves face. Their homes are ransacked and the parolees are goaded into a response and if they respond are violated and sent back to prison.

However, in our case there were a great many cops and parole officers and to some it may seem surreal, but what happened on Nov. 30th, is just more of the same, of the state using its forces to harass and intimidate. They were held off and defeated by a mass campaign of support and this is what made the difference.

Melissa and I would like to thank the International Action Center, Troops Out Now, the Recreate ‘68 Alliance, USW 8751, Bishop Teixeira, City Council Person Chuck Turner, the Partisan Defense Committee, the Pan-African Newswire and all organizations and individuals that came to our assistance.

In struggle and solidarity,

Larry Hales

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Stratcom Conference Takes Issue Global

By Tim Rinne & Bruce Gagnon

Admittedly, “StratCom: The Most Dangerous Place on the Face of the Earth” sounded a bit over the top for the title of a conference. But by the time the participants caught their flight home from Omaha, Nebraska last month, there wasn’t anybody disputing whether U.S. Strategic Command deserved the label.

Two hundred people from 12 countries and 28 states gathered April 11-13 at the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space 16th Annual Space Organizing Conference to learn about this remote command in America’s heartland. And the local sponsor, Nebraskans for Peace, who for years had been fretting about what was going on in its own backyard, couldn’t have been more excited. There’d never before been an international conference specifically addressing the transformation that’s taken place at StratCom. But then, until just recently, StratCom had never before represented the threat to the world that it does now.

From the moment George W. Bush was rushed to StratCom’s underground headquarters at Offutt A.F.B. on 9/11, the U.S.’s nuclear command began to undergo what StratCom Commander General Kevin Chilton described as “not a sea-state change, but a tsunami of change” in its role and mission. In the years since 9/11, the command has seen its traditional and sole responsibility of maintaining America’s nuclear deterrent proliferate to include missions for space, cyberspace, intelligence/reconnaissance/surveillance, missile defense, full spectrum global strike, information operations and combating weapons of mass destruction.

In the blink of a strategic eye, the command has gone from being something that was ‘never supposed to be used’ (i.e. the doomsday machine) to ‘being used for everything.’ It’s gone from being putatively ‘defensive’ to overtly ‘offensive’ to become, in the words of Nebraska activists, “Dr. Strangelove on steroids.”

With now eight missions under its belt, StratCom’s fingerprints are seemingly everywhere. Though it’s almost never mentioned by name, you can hardly open a newspaper anymore without reading about one of its various machinations. Here’s a rundown:

Now charged with actively waging the White House’s “War on Terror,” StratCom is authorized to attack any place on the planet in one hour—using either conventional or nuclear weapons—on the mere perception of a threat to America’s ‘national interests.’

Through its National Security Agency “component command,” StratCom is regularly conducting the now-infamous ‘warrantless wiretaps’ on unsuspecting American citizens.

The proposed “missile defense” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic that are reviving Cold War tensions with Russia are StratCom installations under StratCom’s command.

Having conducted what it touts as “the first space war” with its “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign on Iraq, the command is now actively executing the Bush/Cheney Administration’s expressed goal of the weaponization and “domination” of space.
StratCom’s recent shoot-down of a falling satellite using its Missile Defense system, just after the U.S. had repudiated a Russian proposal banning space weapons, demonstrated the anti-satellite capability of this allegedly ‘defensive’ program and is certain to jump-start an arms race in space.

In actively promoting the development of new generations of nuclear weapons (the so-called ‘bunker-buster’ tactical nukes and the Reliable Replacement Warhead), StratCom is seeking to ensure America will wield offensive nuclear capability for the remainder of the 21st century.

Under the White House’s “Unified Command Plan,” StratCom commands access to the hundreds of military bases around the globe and all four military service branches, while working hand-in-glove with the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Operating like some executive branch vigilante and scofflaw, StratCom is now poised to routinely violate international law with preemptive attacks and to usurp Congress’ constitutional authority to declare war under the “War Powers Act.”

StratCom, in the words of Commander Chilton, is today “the most responsive combatant command in the U.S. arsenal”—and the next war the White House gets us into (be it against Iran or geo-political rival like China) will be planned, launched and coordinated from StratCom. In fact, Chilton recently told Congress, he believes the name actually ought to be changed to “Global Command,” to better reflect the “global” nature of its new role and mission.

This is the “New StratCom” that Nebraskans for Peace has watched materialize before its eyes. This is the enhanced threat, which the world community has no notion of whatsoever, because the changes at StratCom have occurred with the speed and power of a “tsunami.” This is the global menace the Global Network sought to expose to the international public at its conference in Omaha this past month.

And while the media coverage of the conference was minimal, the word is neverthess starting to get out nationally and internationally. Most of the people in attendance were activists, organizers and academics from all across the country and around the world. Picking up on the comment that StratCom is now a global problem, Jackie Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation stressed that addressing it will in turn require a global response. Americans, she said, can no more be expected to halt this threat than we can expect Nebraskans to do it: “It’s going to take the efforts of the world community.”

That sort of international commitment was already strongly in evidence. While the speaker from Poland was prohibited from entering the U.S. by Homeland Security, Jan Tamas of the “No To Bases Initiative” in the Czech Republic tied the proposed Star Wars radar in his country directly to StratCom. From the title of his talk alone, “StratCom is the Main Threat to Peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Ko Young-Dae, the representative from Solidarity for Peace and Reunification in Korea (SPARK), made it clear that he understood the connection to the Omaha command center. British activist Lindis Percy of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases, who regularly contends with StratCom’s presence in her homeland, sized it up perfectly with the expression, “horrid StratCom.” Similar sentiments were expressed by the German, Swedish, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Mauritian, Italian, Romanian and Canadian participants. In country after country, an understanding the StratCom menace is starting to take hold.

The final keynote of the conference was delivered by Bishop Emeritus Thomas Gumbleton, who back in the mid-‘80s had committed civil disobedience at Offutt A.F.B. when it was still the “Strategic Air Command.” Back then, all we had to fear—and it was plenty—was nuclear holocaust. Today, the Bishop said, because of our greed for wealth and power, we now have to fear StratCom’s nuclear prowess and much more.

That greed for ever-more wealth and power had been the message of the conference’s first speaker, national Indian activist and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska member, Frank LaMere. The city of Omaha, LaMere noted, was named after the Indian Tribe of the same name that had inhabited this area for centuries and still has a reservation about an hour north of the city. The Omaha, he said, had a covenant with Mother Earth, that in return for the corn and buffalo she so generously provided them to live, they would in turn honor her by living in a good way. Never, LaMere said, when the Omaha deeded their lands to the U.S. government—without once going to war—had they ever imagined that an instrument of destruction like StratCom, capable of destroying the Earth multiple times over, would rest on their ancestral homeland, on that sacred ground.

The Omaha, he said, cannot stop what is happening today by themselves. Nor for that matter can the people of Nebraska, nor even the people of the United States. To stop what is happening at StratCom—indeed to save ourselves from our own greed and self-destruction—Americans will need, LaMere said, the help of all their relations around the world. So he was cheered, he said, to see all these relations from around the world here in Omaha, willing to help. That was good, he said. But we need to act fast. Time is getting short.

A five-minute introductory video about StratCom created by Global Network chairperson Dave Webb, who is also the Vice-Chair of Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), can be viewed by clicking on:

- Written by Tim Rinne (Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace) and Bruce Gagnon (Coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Friday, April 25, 2008

TBR Adopts Non-Discrimination Policy

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition is pleased to announce that the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) adopted a non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. The TBR system covers 6 Universities, 13 Community Colleges, and 28 Tennessee Technology Centers across the state. This policy, adopted on February 13, 2008, immediately affects thousands of students, staff, and faculty.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition encourages each of the TBR member institutions to follow up with their own specific guidelines to enforce this new policy.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition also encourages the University of Tennessee system to follow the TBR lead and adopt a fully inclusive, non-discrimination policy as well. Until this move by TBR, not one single institution of higher learning in Tennessee, public or private, had a non-discrimination or anti-harassment policy covering all gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender students, staff, or faculty.

We applaud TBR for adopting this policy banning discrimination and harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on all 47 of the campuses under its jurisdiction.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Turnip Truck to Host New Farmers Market

East Nashville's certified organic market The Turnip Truck, 970 Woodland St. (at the corner of Woodland and 10th), will be hosting the latest addition to East Nashville's growing list of retail choices. The new East Nashville Market will kick off on Wed., May 21 from 4 to 7 PM in the surrounding parking and green area around the store. The opening day will include local music, giveaways, contests and store discounts.

Turnip Truck owner John Dyke says, “ "We're really excited to be part of building another extension to our local East Nashville community. Once a week the market will give our customers an opportunity to purchase directly from local organic farmers and get them one step closer in the relationship to the farmer and local foods."

The market will be an all organic, producers only market and include vegetables, flowers, milk, meats, herbs, plants, cheeses, mushrooms and eggs. In addition to Dyke, organizers of the new market include Hank Delvin Jr of Delvin Farms and Peggy Marchetti from Madison Creek Farms. Local farm advocate Jennifer Barrie has been hired as the market manager.

The East Nashville Market's website,, is online and will include market updates, a calendar of events, list of products and farmer profiles and links to participating farmer's websites.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Students Occupy Chancellor's Office

About 10 students from UNC Chapel Hill's SAW - (Student Action with Workers) - which includes several members of Raleigh FIST - as well as members of UNC SDS, SPEAC (Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action), and USAS - have been occupying the Chancellor's office for 24 hours now - demanding that the University sign on to the DSP - Designated Supplier Program - that would ensure that apparral made with the UNC logo is made by workers free from anti-union intimidation and full rights to organize - - demanding "Stop Union Busting" and "UNC Sweatfree" - the students have committed to staying as long as it takes - and are prepared to continue the occupation through the weekend.

Thursday, April 17- Riding a wave of student sit-ins that has been sweeping the nation, students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have just occupied Chancellor Moeser's office. 15 students have stated that they refuse to leave the building until Chancellor Moeser agrees to a sweatfree policy called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). This is the fourth sit-in in support of this policy in the last week, with students already having been arrested at Pennsylvania State University, University of Montana, and another UNC system school, Appalachian State University. Students, workers, and community members will be mobilizing to march on the South Building at 4:30 in anticipation of the building's closure, and possible student arrests, at 5:00 pm.

For the past three years, students at the Chapel Hill campus have demanded that Chancellor Moeser adopt the DSP, a policy that has been proposed at more than 150 schools by different chapters of United Students Against Sweatshops. The DSP would ensure that university logoed apparel is produced in factories where workers earn enough to support a family and have the right to form a union. Despite the overwhelming support of students, community members, and the more than 20 organizations that make up the Carolina Sweatfree Coalition, Chancellor Moeser has still refused to follow the lead of the 42 other universities, including Duke, who have already signed on to the DSP. "As UNC students we would like to wear our Carolina gear with pride," said Salma Mirza, a senior history major at UNC Chapel Hill. "Instead, due to Chancellor Moeser's inaction, our clothes continue to be made in factories where workers don't earn enough to support themselves, let alone their families."

As student protest has spread throughout the UNC system, an international campaign has begun to demand that the entire UNC system commit themselves to the principles of the DSP. Last week, UNC President Erskine Bowles received phone calls, emails, and faxes from thousands of advocates around the world demanding that the UNC system follow the lead of the University of California by having all of its member schools adopt the DSP. "As a Carolina Covenant Scholar, I feel that compromising the living and working conditions of others in order to fund my college education is unacceptable, especially from an institution that touts itself as 'the university of the people," said Ea Panjwani, a sophomore covenant scholar majoring in international studies.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Clarke Mosquito Control Settles With Local Victim

Clarke Mosquito Control Settles With Local Victim

Nashville, TN - Clarke Mosquito Control Product, Inc., the manufacturer of the pesticide the Metro Public Health Department uses for mosquito control, recently settled a lawsuit with a Donelson man, Emmett Clifford. The lawsuit (Circuit Court Docket No. 04C2963) claimed that the manufacturer sold the sprayers to Metro and failed to properly train the drivers.

Clifford alleges that a Metro Public Health Department spray truck driver injured him on October 15, 2003 when the driver sprayed the pesticide Anvil 2+2 in his neighborhood. Clifford claims he was driving his pick up truck with the driver’s side window lowered near his home when he noticed a truck with flashing lights stopped along the side of the road. Thinking the truck was a wrecker or some other kind of emergency vehicle, he slowed down as he drove by. However, the vehicle was a Metro spray truck with insecticide flowing out of the nozzle in back.

Clifford claims the insecticide entered his vehicle causing his eyes and exposed skin to burn and causing him to gasp for breathe and cough. He drove to his home, parked in front of his house and jumped out of his truck coughing, gasping for air and rubbing his eyes. The spray truck made an unexpected 180-degree turn and headed down the street in front of Clifford’s house. Before Clifford could run into his front door to safety, the driver drove by and did not shut the spray off even though Clifford was clearly visible. The Health Department’s policy required drivers to shut off the spray if pedestrians could be seen however the department had received many complaints prior to this incident from citizens who reported that the drivers were not following the rules. The lawsuit claims Clifford has suffered a myriad of pulmonary and other related health problems as a result of the incident. There have been two lawsuits filed against the city for negligence. Clifford’s case against Metro will go to trial in September.*

Last August, the Metro Council passed an ordinance to require drivers to shut off the spray in an effort to protect pedestrians because Health officials would not enforce the policy. The Health Department fought the ordinance but it passed without a dissenting vote. Recently, the department claimed it was exempt from the law and adopted a policy that allows drivers to leave the spray running. Citizens, some health care professionals and environmental groups tried to fight the passage of the policy without success. Director of the Health Department Dr. William Paul responded to their concerns stating, “There is no requirement on the product label to shut off spraying when pedestrians are noticed.”

Citizen Rachel Sumner, who helped organize citizens to encourage their council members to support the ordinance last summer, says, “There is no reason that the drivers cannot shut off the spray as the ordinance requires and allow citizens to move out of harms way before they continue to spray. It is an irresponsible policy that can potentially harm citizens and bring more lawsuits against Metro.”

The environmental group BURNT, will be accepting tax-deductible donations for a legal fund to fight this illegal and potentially dangerous policy at their booth at the Earth Day event at Centennial Park this Saturday from 11-6PM. In the meantime, they suggest that citizens file a police report if drivers leave the spray running in their presence and contact BURNT immediately at 327-8515. If citizens experience symptoms from the spray, they suggest that citizens seek medical attention immediately and request a blood and urine test for the pesticide.

Monday, April 7, 2008

State Retaliates Against Advocacy Group

State Retaliates Against Advocacy Group by Eliminating Contract

After taking a stand against funding cuts in programs supporting Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens, People First of Tennessee received a letter from the TN Division of Mental Retardation that its self-advocacy contract will not be renewed. The funding cuts have been a major source of contention during this spring’s budget hearings with provider agencies being forced to absorb a 6.1% reduction in payments as well as other overall efforts to reduce community services. At a loss to stem the harmful effects of these unilateral actions, People First took action by filing a motion for contempt in their lawsuit against the Arlington Developmental Center, alleging that the current course of action taken by the DMRS puts Arlington lawsuit class members’ health and safety in jeopardy. In response, this week the organization received notice that its contract to provide training in advocacy to DMRS recipients would not be renewed.

“We feel that this is retaliation for our actions regarding the budget cuts,” says Leanne Boyce, Executive Director. “DMRS tried to cancel our contract when we first filed our case against the Arlington Developmental Center in 1991. We feel there is a definite pattern of unlawful retaliation on DMR’s part.”

People First has had its self-advocacy contract with the state since 1987. Funding from this grant has been used to assist individuals with developmental disabilities learn how to speak up and become contributing citizens in their local communities. “Having this contract eliminated now,” explained Ms. Boyce, “when the need to educate service recipients about their rights with regard to the funding cuts, only increases the likelihood that service reductions will proceed without due recourse being taken by those affected.”

Leanne Boyce
People First of TN, Inc.
(615) 898-0075

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Proposed Mosquito Plan Will Spray Pedestrians


The Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) has proposed a new mosquito control plan that is expected to reduce the frequency of insecticide spraying in neighborhoods however the policy also will allow drivers to leave the spray running in the presence of pedestrians, and will take away the option for homeowners to exempt their properties from direct spraying. Prior MPHD policies allowed citizens to opt out even when there were diseased mosquitoes or human cases of West Nile virus in the past. They also required drivers to shut off the spray when pedestrians were present but drivers frequently did not comply. Citizens reported violations and adverse effects however Health officials took no action against the drivers. By 2005, two civil lawsuits had been filed against Metro for injuries sustained by a Donelson man (2003) and a lawn care crew in East Nashville (2004).

Following four years of organized citizen protest about the MPHD’s spraying standards and practices, Metro Council enacted an ordinance last August (BL2007-1389) sponsored by Councilwomen Brenda Gilmore and Pam Murray. The ordinance states, “…spray truck drivers or other staff shall turn off the spray and verbally warn pedestrians or residents visible on streets or yards, and not resume spraying within approximately three hundred feet of such pedestrians or residents.” The law also allows buffers for those who opt their properties out and contains a clause allowing the director to forego all mandates when there is “a public health threat.”

The new MPHD Mosquito Control Program Plan, developed in response to the Metro Council ordinance, was presented and open for public comment until March 18. 146 citizens responded to express their concerns for public and individual safety, including a number of health care professionals and local scientists. Former Metro Councilwoman Brenda Gilmore also wrote to express her concern that policy did not comply with the spirit of the law. In a written response to public comments the MPHD states, “There is no requirement on the product label to shut off the spraying when pedestrians are noticed.” The department claims that it will spray only when there is a documented threat to public health therefore they feel they are exempt from the ordinance.

Karl Meyer, who has observed spray truck drivers spray pedestrians in 2003 and 2006 in his Fisk Park neighborhood, said, “It should be simple common sense not to expose pedestrians to pesticides. The law allows them to resume spraying after pedestrians are out of harm’s way but it is cheaper and easier for the Health Department to spray these people and their properties, and to deny them an opt-out.”

Rachel Sumner, a citizen who suffers from allergic reactions to pesticides herself, stated, “Homeowner opt-out and pedestrian protections should be retained whenever spraying occurs, in order to protect individuals who have allergies, respiratory problems and other health conditions that can cause dangerous reactions to pesticide exposure.” (According to Health Department records obtained through open records laws in March 2008, 900 properties are currently opted out.)

The new plan will be presented for final approval at the monthly Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 4:00PM at the Lentz Public Health Center, 311 23rd Avenue North. Concerned citizens will attend the meeting and ask the board to amend the policy or defer the vote and require the MPHD to revise the policy.

Adulticiding … “The revised policy of MPHD shall be to spray for adult mosquitoes ONLY when a documented threat to public health exists. Adulticide application will be considered at the level of CDC [federal Centers for Disease Control] risk category 3. In prior years, the threshold for spraying was in CDC risk category 2. Based on prior documented risk, the department expects thresholds for spraying to be rarely, if ever, met, and for spraying to be a rare event.” …
(Our note: The statement above referring to thresholds in the past is misleading. In 2003 and 2004, the threshold was CDC risk category 3 – citizens were still allowed to opt out at these levels. MPHD records reveal that staff rarely followed their protocol and never sprayed some areas with disease during both years. Despite these failures, no one else got WNV. After finding only 5 positive mosquito pools in 2004, the MPHD lowered the threshold to level 2 in 2005 – requiring 100 mosquitoes without disease to spray. In 2006, they reduced the threshold to 35 female Culex mosquitoes - MPHD records reveal staff sprayed a number of times with less than 35 mosquitoes.)

“3. Citizens choice and maintenance of opt-out option when spraying
Because MPHD will spray for adult mosquitoes only when there is a documented threat to public health, MPHD is exempt from the application of Metropolitan Code of Laws 10.32.180.” …

“14. Spraying protocol when pedestrians are noticed
Every effort will be made to notify the public about a scheduled spraying event. These efforts have been expanded to include signs and notification through cell phones. Since spraying will only be conducted when there is evidence of sustained West Nile virus activity, the completeness and efficiency of the spraying event are important. There is no requirement on the product label to shut off spraying when pedestrians are noticed.” (Emphasis is ours)
ORDINANCE BL. 2007-1389 link

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Atheists to Counter ‘National Day of Prayer'

What do you do on May 1, 2008, the “National Day of Prayer,” if you are an Atheist, do not believe in prayer and are opposed to the observance of a prayer day being imposed on all American citizens? Some Atheists have come up with an answer: Do something positive, something active, something that may save lives and point out to the nation that there are alternatives to silently beseeching a deity to perform miracles.

The Center for Atheism, a New-York-City-based nationwide informational and activism group headed by Kenneth Bronstein, came up with the idea of nationwide blood donations by groups of Atheists on that day to demonstrate the power of rational thinking.

“We want to make a public statement about how nonreligious people can observe that day, which we have re-named The Day of Reason, and at the same time, let America know that there are millions of us who think that prayer does not work--but that medical science does,” says Bronstein. “We are offering a positive alternative to prayer, something that will reflect the life-affirming ideas of nonbelievers.”

Thus, on May 1st, groups of Atheists in scores of American cities will go to their local Blood Banks to donate blood and sign up for organ-donor programs—a tradition that Atheists in Manhattan have observed for four years.

Last year, New York City Atheists celebrated our Day of Reason by donating blood at the New York Blood Bank in upper Manhattan. A group of Atheists arrived together to donate their life-giving blood and then celebrated together in a small anteroom with coffee, juice and light refreshment supplied by the Blood Bank.

“We called our blood donation program B.L.O.O.D., an acronym for Benefiting Lives of Others Donations, and we intend to do it every year on what we have renamed The Day of Reason,” added Bronstein.

If you want to start a B.L.O.O.D program in your locale, it’s simple. Here’s what you do:

1) Find your local blood bank by accessing
(Bottom left corner, type in your zip code to find your local blood bank.)

2) Phone the blood bank to make arrangements for a group donation.

(You will find them amazingly supportive and accommodating.)

3) Notify your local newspaper, TV and other media that your group is
doing this and why. It’s important to alert them ahead of the event.

It's simple, it's positive, it's effective. Come on, Agnostics, Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Secularists, Non-believers, Separation of Church and State advocates, join us in our positive protest against the Day of Prayer! Show the world that while religious people are on their knees, Atheists are on their feet and giving a part of themselves for the good of humanity!

For further information, contact Ken Bronstein at or 212-535-7425

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lessons from Genocide in Burundi

Join the United Nations Association for a lecture on what role should international organizations and society play in restoring peace and hope in this African country, featuring Steve Ndabambalire on Tuesday, April 8, 2008. The reception is at 5:30 with the lecture at 7pm at the Belmont United Methodist Church on 21st Avenue South at Acklen in Hillsboro Village.

Steve Ndabambalire is a Burundian national. He grew up in the culturally diverse Burundian Capital of Bujumbura and attended the international school. During his childhood years in the 1980's, Bujumbura was a magnet attracting people from all over the world: diplomats, businessmen, students, development volunteers, tourists, and migrants seeking opportunities. Due to his father’s assignments as Ambassador in Tripoli, Libya, Steve lived and traveled throughout North Africa as a boy. His father helped instill the Republic of Burundi following the 1966 Revolution. Steve is a supervisor in the Cash Management Division at a Fortune 500 Company in Nashville, TN. Prior to moving with his wife, Lyse, to Nashville in 2004, he held a four-year assignment with the same company in Paris, France.

In 2005, Steve and Lyse founded their retail business, BK Traders, and the brand, Mwizero. (Mwizero means "hope" in the Burundi native language of Kirundi.) Mwizero features gourmet coffee made of premium organic Burundian beans roasted locally, and a broad selection of arts and crafts handmade by Burundi artisans.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

9/11 Truth Movement vs. 9/11 Truth

by David Rovics

I found myself once again singing at an antiwar rally two weeks ago, and once again being confronted by a red-faced white man with an ominous hand-written sign reading, "9/11 was a lie." Most of the crowd was filing off for the post-rally march, aside from a few of my loyal fans who were sticking around for the rest of my set. Among them was the red-faced man, apparently not a fan, who walked towards the small stage with the wild-eyed certainty of a zealot.

"Wake up, David Rovics! David Rovics, wake up to the truth of 9/11!" He was screaming at the top of his lungs, standing about two feet from me. (I continued with the song.) In case I didn't get the message the first time, the red-faced man repeated his mantra. "Wake up! Wake up to the truth of 9/11!"

People like him, whoever he was, have become a fixture of antiwar and other protests since sometime soon after September 11th, 2001. They regularly call in to radio talk shows, they maintain many websites, produce innumerable documentaries, publish plenty of books, hold regular conferences, and show up with alarming predictability to heckle and denounce prominent progressive authors and activists at their speaking engagements.

Art Bell and company

For over a decade I've made a living as a touring musician. As a hardcore news junkie, when satellite radio came into existence I was one of its very first customers, and since I got one I've been able to saturate myself with BBC World Service and the English-language broadcasts of public radio from around the world to my heart's content. But for the many years before satellite radio, during my many late-night drives across the plains, deserts and corn fields of the US, choices were much slimmer.

In the early morning or late afternoon there was usually an NPR (Nationalist Petroleum Radio) station to be found, or, very occasionally, a Pacifica affiliate where I might listen to my favorite radio news programs, Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News. (At the very beginning, these programs could be heard on satellite radio via the Hispanic Radio Network, but that channel soon vanished from the satellite airwaves -- over one hundred choices offered, but no news channel to the left of Al Franken...)

But late at night, there were four choices. On the FM airwaves, commercial pop anti-music of various prefabricated genres brought to you by ClearChannel. On AM, you could choose from rightwing Christian evangelists, Rush Limbaugh and Art Bell. The evangelists don't really do anything for me, but when I was getting sleepy, I'd listen to Rush, because he's always good for waking me up -- the powerful desire to strangle someone tends to keep you alert. But most of the time, if I wasn't tired, I'd tune in to Art Bell.

For those unfamiliar with Art Bell's show, it was a corporate-sponsored, nightly, several-hour-long show that has since been passed on to other hosts last I heard, and can generally be found on at least two different AM signals anywhere in the country every weeknight, starting sometime after midnight, as I recall. He apparently broadcast from somewhere in Nevada near the infamous Area 51, where he and many of his guests seemed to believe the US military was experimenting with space aliens who had landed there some time ago.

His guests tended to be authors who had written books or made documentaries about aliens from outer space, telepathy, what all the ghosts are up to these days, Hitler being alive and living in the Antarctic, crop circles, and so on. Being a science fiction fan and one who has had personal experiences that have led me to at least consider the possibility that there is validity in some of these claims, about what Art called the paranormal, I listened with interest to Art and his guests, although usually it was fairly evident they were full of shit.

Listening to Art's guests and to the men (and very occasionally women) who called in, I remembered the excitement I felt as a child, before I developed a more three-dimensional understanding of the world around me, before I developed a fairly solid capability for critical thinking, before I began to understand how to read between the lines of the biases of the various authorities, experts and pundits out there in the textbooks, newspapers and airwaves. I remembered the excitement of having secrets with certain friends that only we "knew." My own pet theories as a child included the notion that cows were not as stupid as they looked, standing around chewing cud, that they were actually engaged in astral travel, using their apparent stupidity as a grand cover of some kind. I fairly well convinced myself in the existence of dragons and elves and other mythical creatures, long after I had realized there was no Santa Claus.

But the fantasy life of children can become very odd when practiced by grown men. Many, if not most, of Art's guests and callers seemed to believe that the things they "knew," such as their prevalent idea that the US military was hiding space aliens in Area 51, were phenomenae that only people like them and Art were being honest about. The rest of the media, society, and the powers-that-be were either ignorant about these realities, or, at least as often, were engaging in a huge, X-Files kind of coverup.

Especially in the context of a fundamentally alienated society, especially for a certain class of white men who seem to be somewhat on the margins of the US system of power and privilege, but are white and male enough to believe that they deserve better, the sort of feeling of brotherhood that comes with "knowing" something that the rest of society doesn't know is a powerful one. It's an obvious source of excitement, and gives people a sense of belonging. Without having had access to more rational ways of understanding their place in the world and the complexities of society, current events, history and power structures, they have found some kind of lens through which they can try to understand the world.

It's a faith-based sort of thing. These people are not looking for different points of view, they are looking for further confirmation of what they already believe -- and of course they share this with many, many others who we could call "people of faith," whether they are Christians who believe Jesus was the son of God, Muslims who believe there is one God, Allah is his name and Mohammed was his prophet, neoliberals who believe the unregulated market will make everybody rich, or Maoists who believe the Chinese cultural revolution was the greatest achievement of humankind. No evidence to the contrary will deter these people in their unswerving certainties.

What I always found most interesting as well as most disconcerting about listening to Art Bell, though, was how he would occasionally -- but regularly -- have on guests who were talking about very real and verifiable conspiracies. Things like the CIA's active role in the world drug trade, the State Department's role in overthrowing governments around the world, or the US, Saudi and Pakistani collaboration in creating, arming and funding the Taleban and Al-Qaeda.

Topics which the corporate media would almost never touch could find an occasional voice in Art Bell -- although Art was just as corporate-funded as ABC or CNN. It seemed that if most of the programming was clearly fantasy-based conspiracy theories, the corporate masters felt that it was politically acceptable to allow Art to have the occasional reality check. It would generally go unnoticed by most people, or be discounted as just another wacky conspiracy theory, so it was OK.

Fantasy undermining reality

And if giving a wide audience to the real conspiracies become harmless when they're presented within a sea of fictional conspiracies, the flip side of that is that the very legitimate investigative journalists such as Seymour Hersch and Robert Fisk who are uncovering and reporting on things like the US role in funding groups like Al-Qaeda can more easily get lost among the static, lost among the hundreds of documentaries purporting to prove that the World Trade Center was brought down by controlled explosives, that the planes that crashed into them were on autopilot and there really were no terrorists on board, that the cell phone conversations passengers had with their loved ones before they died were faked, that there was no plane that hit the Pentagon, and so on.

If you bother slogging through the volumes of books and stacks of documentaries that "9/11 Truth" people will foist on you if you let them, you will find that most of them are propaganda pieces and most of the "experts" are not experts in relevant fields. When you do look beyond this mass of misinformation for real experts, you will easily find pilots who can discount the claims of the Truthers that maneuvering the planes into the towers was a particularly challenging thing for people with only a little flight training to pull off. You will easily find mechanical engineers familiar with the structural flaws in the design of the WTC that allowed it to collapse in the first place, and physicists who can explain why such large buildings would appear to be imploding as if in a controlled demolition, or why people on the scene would have thought they were hearing explosions, etc. My purpose here is not to disprove all the hypothoses presented by the Truthers and their propaganda pieces -- if you want to look into "debunking the debunkers" yourself, there is plenty of information out there, and Popular Mechanics' issue on the subject is a good place to start.

The fact is, the scientific community, while certainly not immune to political pressure, is generally able to function with a grounding in actual science, and is not capable of participating, as a community, in some kind of mass conspiracy of silence or coverup. There is no way to bribe that many scientists. Too many of them believe in the importance of science for science's sake, in honesty. This can be amply demonstrated by the fact that with all the political pressure and money of the US government and ExxonMobil combined, there is still essentially unanimity among climate scientists worldwide that climate change is real, is caused by humans, and is dangerous for our species and others. Even after all the billions upon billions of dollars spent by the tobacco industry to obfuscate reality and bribe policymakers and the scientific community, the scientific community was able to study the issue and determine incontrovertibly the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.

Sowing seeds of doubt

The "9/11 Truth Movement" undoubtedly is made up largely of earnest, decent people, the sorts of decent folks who make up most of Art Bell's guests and listeners. Since thousands of their fellow countrymen and women died on 9/11 and since this event -- whether it was a terrorist attack carried out by US-trained Mujahideen that could have been prevented, or an entirely "inside job" carried out by Dick Cheney with the aide of computers and plastic explosives, as many Truthers claim -- many people in many communities have become justifiably agitated and outraged by world-scale injustices, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and so on.

The old Art Bell listeners who used to be entertained by the fact that most people don't believe there are space aliens in Area 51 are now really extra worked up because the vast conspiracy they have come to believe in are resulting in the deaths of huge numbers of people around the world. And if the rest of us would just understand what they understand, everything would be different. If the media would report on reality as they see it, people would wake up and do something about this situation.

The particularly warped thing about this, though, is that the very media outlets, authors and activists who are doing their best to expose the very real conspiracies that are going on -- people like Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!, David Barsamian's Alternative Radio, Z Magazine, the Progressive Magazine, Norman Solomon and the Institute for Public Accuracy, Noam Chomsky, etc., seem to have become the primary targets of harassment by the Truthers.

Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, Norman Solomon and others are now regularly heckled at speaking events, and denounced on websites as "gatekeepers." They are seen, it seems, as being even worse than the corporate media, because while reasonable people know not to trust Fox or CNN, they have faith in the integrity of people like Amy Goodman.

You don't have to know Norman Solomon, Amy Goodman or her producers personally to see what nonsense this "gatekeeper" stuff is. You needn't ever have met Amy to know that she has risked her life, and very nearly lost her life, in her decades-long efforts to report the truth. You needn't know her producers personally to recognize that these are all earnest young progressives working long hours to create a daily news program they deeply believe in. The notion that all of her producers are somehow maintaining a code of silence in exchange for the privilege of having their names mentioned at the end of the broadcast, or in exchange for their nominally middle-class salaries, is preposterous.

However, judging from numerous emails I get and conversations I have with fans and acquaintances from around the US and elsewhere, the efforts of the Truthers to sow seeds of doubt among readers and listeners of progressive media is having some palpable impact. Increasingly, I hear from people who have vaguely heard something about this "gatekeeper" phenomenon, something about Ford Foundation money undermining the entire progressive media.

As is so often the case, there are little grains of truth in here that can fester in the minds of people who are not looking at the information critically. For the cops among the Truthers (of course it's a matter of the public record that the FBI and other such agencies regularly write "newspaper articles" -- propaganda or disinformation of whatever sort they deem useful which they disseminate through newspapers, websites, etc.), undermining the legitimacy of the progressive media is exactly their goal, because they don't want the population to know the truth or to trust those who are reporting it. For the more earnest elements among the Truthers, undermining the progressive media is also their goal, because they don't see it as being distinct from the corporate media anyway -- so whether earnest or insidious, the effect is the same.

The grain of truth, of course, is that government, corporate and foundation money have undoubtedly succeeded in making PBS and NPR a shell of it's former self. Foundation money has also had a debilitating impact on the nonprofit world, since support for essential but illegal activities such as civil disobedience on the part of nonprofits will tend to cause them to lose foundation support. Also, nonprofits are prevented by law from participating openly in the electoral process, or they lose their nonprofit status. If progressive media is being influenced by the relatively small amount of foundation money it receives, I don't see it.

It seems evident to me that shows like Democracy Now! are quite willing -- and indeed, are doing their best -- to make waves as much as possible. If they don't report a story it's because they don't think it's a story, or it's not an important enough one to bother with. In the case of "theories" like the notion that controlled demolition brought down the World Trade Center or there were no members of Al-Qaeda on board the airplanes, this narrative has received little coverage in the progressive media because, upon investigation, most decide it's patently ridiculous.

The real gatekeepers

Sometime in 2002 I wrote a song called "Reichstag Fire," in which I asked many of the questions the Truthers were asking. The point of the song was primarily to say that 9/11 has been used as an excuse for the US to carry out a genocidal crusade on much of the Muslim world, and to further the US government's bipartisan agenda of world domination and control of valuable resources in other countries, such as oil. (This is something Truthers and most other people in the world can generally agree on.) In the song I also posed questions which I now feel have been adequately explained.

Were there really Arab terrorists on board the planes? Yes. Did the CIA know an attack was imminent? Yes. I don't regret writing the song, or becoming a very minor celebrity within the 9/11 Truth Movement, because I think these questions needed to be asked, and answered. But while some questions can only remain unanswered until certain people within the US government become whistleblowers, other questions have been answered, and my answers (and those of most people who have looked into these things) and those of what now constitutes the Truth Movement differ wildly. Particularly because I have been seen by some as part of this movement (although I seem to be increasingly getting lumped into the "gatekeeper" camp), I felt compelled to write this essay.

The truth is, in fact, out there. Much of it is certainly still there to be discovered, but many fundamental, essential truths are already known. The truth -- that, for example, the CIA funded and armed Al-Qaeda and the Taleban, that a tiny minority of very wealthy people control much of the US government and the "mainstream" (corporate/"public") media, that the US military systematically goes around the world overthrowing democracies, propping up dictatorships, and killing millions of people with bombs -- is what the progressive media is reporting on hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. These are the truths that people in the US most need to "wake up" to. These are the truths that are systematically unreported or severely under-reported by the corporate press, which, even in the age of the internet, is still where the vast majority of people in the US get their news, and thus, their understanding of the world.

These corporate media entities and the genocidal, ecocidal plutocracy they serve are the "gatekeepers" that need to be exposed. The truths they are trying to hide from us are the truths that need to be understood, and acted upon. The progressive media that is trying to do just that needs to be supported, not undermined with essentially baseless accusations (legitimate criticisms and suggestions notwithstanding).

The people who are trying, with some degree of success, to undermine these basic endeavors of the progressive movement and the progressive media need to be exposed for what they are -- whether they fall into the category of well-meaning but misguided fanatics or undercover government agents quite purposefully and systematically working to spread disinformation and sow confusion and distrust. And, beyond any reasonable doubt, the "Truth Movement" contains both of these elements. To both of these groups I beseech you -- wake up! Wake up to the real, easily-verifiable conspiracies -- which are extremely big ones! -- and quit trying to distract us with all the nonsense about gatekeepers and controlled demolitions!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ten Reasons to Protest Stratcom

16th Annual Space Organizing Conference & Protest

On 9/11, President George W. Bush was rushed to U.S. Strategic Command’s underground headquarters outside Omaha, Nebraska for safekeeping. From that day forward, the legendary command that for over half a century had maintained America’s nuclear deterrent would never again be the same.

1. Within months of the terrorist attack of 9/11, StratCom began undergoing a drastic makeover at the hands of the Bush/Cheney Administration. From its previously ‘unthinkable’ mission of nuclear holocaust, StratCom was tasked with offensively waging the White House’s “War on Terror”. The command now fields eight missions—nuclear weapons; cyberwarfare; missile defense; global command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance [ISR]; global strike; space; and combating weapons of mass destruction.

StratCom Commander Kevin Chilton: “In 2002 this command did not experience a sea-state change but a tsunami of change in the way it was organized and the missions that they were given to perform.” Former StratCom Commander James Cartwright: “When we got to 2002 we brought space. In 2003 we had a fire sale and picked up missile defense, ISR and global strike. In 2005 we picked up combating weapons of mass destruction. I’m hoping in 2008 we’ll get the world hunger piece.” [Laughter]. (

2. Although Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska remains the command headquarters, StratCom now boasts a network of hundreds of military bases distributed around the globe. The command’s broadened missions in computer warfare, signals intelligence and Homeland Security give it direct authority over the four services—Army , Navy, Marines and Air Force—and indirect authority over multiple agencies like the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, CIA and FBI.

StratCom Commander Chilton: “Here in Omaha we are an operational headquarters working to enable the successful prosecution of our component commanders that are scattered throughout the country. We are called on to be the most, in my view, the most responsive combatant command in the U.S. arsenal.” ( “The FBI and CIA are in our operations center 24/7.” Deputy Commander Jennifer Napper, StratCom’s Global Network Operations. (

3. The next war the White House gets us into, be it against a so-called ‘rogue state’ like Iran or geo-political rival like China, will be planned, launched and executed from StratCom—utilizing either conventional or nuclear weapons.

Commander Chilton: “Responsible today for… time-sensitive planning to conduct global strike operations anywhere on the planet, we will remain as ready as ever in our nuclear deterrent role and global strike mission areas.” ( Former CIA analyst Philip Giraldi: “Under instructions from Vice President Cheney’s office, STRATCOM is drawing up a contingency plan [for] a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.” American Conservative, 8/01/05.

4. Under the Doctrine of Preemption and CONPLAN 8022-02 (Contingency Plan), StratCom is now authorized to attack anywhere on the face of the earth within one hour on the mere perception of a threat to America’s national security—without first seeking congressional approval as required by the U.S. Constitution and the “War Powers Resolution.”

“StratCom established an interim global strike division to turn the new preemption policy into an operational reality. In December 2002, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., then StratCom's head, told an Omaha business group that his command had been charged with developing the capability to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target.” William Arkin, Washington Post, (5/14/05) (

5. StratCom, as an extension of the executive branch, has become an accessory in flouting both national and international law. It’s usurping Congress’s authority to declare war, conducting constitutionally suspect “warrantless wiretaps” on our citizens, developing new generations of

nuclear weapons, pursuing ‘first-strike’ Star Wars missile defense systems and launching ‘vigilante-style’ preemptive attacks—like the one on Iraq.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan: “I hope we do not see another Iraq-type operation for a long time—without U.N. approval. ...I have indicated it was not in conformity with the U.N. charter from our point of view—from the charter point of view, it was illegal.” (9/15/04). Seventy percent of the weapons targeted on Iraq during the preemptive “Shock and Awe” air assault were precision-guided from space by StratCom assets.

6. StratCom’s fingerprints are everywhere nowadays, and we don’t even realize it… The threatened attack on Iran—that’s StratCom’s global strike... The proposed ‘Star Wars’ bases in Poland and the Czech Republic—that’s StratCom’s integrated missile defense… The NSA’s “warrantless wiretaps” on American citizens—that’s StratCom’s ISR mission… The current showdown with China over its space program—that’s StratCom’s space command… Developing new generations of nuclear weapons like the bunker buster ‘mini-nuke’ and Reliable Replacement Warhead—that’s StratCom’s strategic deterrence.

“In December 2001, the administration issued a provocative Nuclear Posture Review calling for the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons [which runs] completely counter to U.S. obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.” Union of Concerned Scientists, “Global Security.”

U.N. World Court: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotia-tions leading to nuclear disarmament in all aspects under strict and effective international control.” (7/8/96)

7. Under the goals outlined in the Bush/Cheney Administration’s

revised “National Space Policy,” StratCom is actively seeking the total domination of space for the U.S. and a few approved allies… because whoever controls space controls the Earth.

“President Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone ‘hostile to U.S. interests,’” Washington Post (10/17/06). “The United States was alone in voting against the [United Nations] resolution on prevention of an arms race in outer space… The PAROS resolution was adopted by a vote of 166 in favor, one against.” Nuclear Threat Initiative, March 2007 (

8. StratCom is fast becoming the “Big Brother” that George Orwell warned

of in his novel 1984. It’s spying on our citizens and infringing on our civil liberties. It’s generating round-the-clock spin about threats to our national security and the need for increased military strength. And it’s consuming an ever-greater share of the budget for national defense as it pursues a strategy of permanent war. For the 21st Century, it’s like Darth Vader in the service of the Empire.

“StratCom is a laboratory for the future of warfare.” Space Foundation President Robert Walker in his opening remarks at the “Strategic Space and Defense” conference in Omaha, Nebraska (10/11/06). Billed as “the definitive global security conference, where the senior leadership of U.S. Strategic Command, component and supported commands, and the executive leadership of the national security industrial base gather,” the event is annually co-sponsored by Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

9. The key elements of StratCom’s mission—such as global missile

defense—will greatly exceed, in size and cost, many of the major military-industrial projects of the past. With the current Pentagon budget already totaling well over a half-trillion dollars annually, paying for the cost of such StratCom projects will necessarily translate into cuts in social spending and entitlements programs, like Medicare and Social Security.

“If the majority of top policymakers have longstanding ties to the companies that will benefit from the Bush Administration’s ‘war without end’ approach to foreign policy, the development of a missile defense ‘shield’ and a new generation of nuclear weapons, who will represent the public interest?” William Hartung, World Policy Institute. “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Dwight Eisenhower (1961).

10. In the wake of 9/11, StratCom has become the most dangerous place
on the face of the Earth. But this transformation has happened so fast,
hardly anybody knows it, and nobody’s talking about it. And it’s high time
we do.

“Nebraskans for Peace StratCom Watch Committee” (