Friday, May 29, 2009

Local Group Calls for Immigration Reform

The Coalition for Education on Immigration has decided to become a partner in a national effort called Reform Immigration for America. The mission of this national coalition is very similar to ours ... to educate the public on immigration issues and support comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system.

As you likely know already, President Obama is moving forward with addressing how to repair our immigration system through reform. To this end he is scheduled to begin conversations with Congress in the week ahead. Members organizations of this newly formed national coalition are simultaneously holding news conferences around the country on Monday to emphasize the need for reform and support the President's efforts.

The conference will be centered around CEI's statement of principals for reform that we collaboratively developed and adopted a couple of years ago and have honed since. We are hoping to have a large enough presence of members to demonstrate our commitment as well as have CEI members available to talk to guests and press who join us. Given the importance of this, whether or not you have been at a recent meeting of CEI, I am hoping you will give strong consideration to joining us on Monday. Hope to see you then.

for more information contact Avi @ CEI PRESS CONFERENCE ON IMMIGRATION REFORM

Monday, June 1
Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
11:30 - 12:30
Mezzanine Level

CEI Members ...

Health Care Rally May 30th

Advocates for Government-Paid Health Care
Will Stage Nashville Rally Saturday, May 30

Advocates for government-paid (single-payer) health care will rally Saturday (May 30) in front of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield offices at the corner of West End and 32 Avenues. The event will start at noon and end at 1.

Dr. Carol Paris, one of the physicians recently arrested in Washington for protesting the U. S. Senate’s refusal to consider the single-payer option, will address the rally.

With its slogan of “Our Lives Are Worth More Than Their Profits,” the rally will argue that insurance companies and other for-profit enterprises both infect the quality and inflate the cost of American health care.

“If government-paid health care works for our active military and our veterans,” says rally organizer Warren Duzak, “it can work for the rest of us.” Duzak is also a member of Middle Tennessee Veterans for Peace. "A society that spends almost $50 billion a year on pet care,” he adds, “cannot claim that health care for humans is not affordable.”

Also appearing at the rally will be Dr. Arthur J. Sutherland III of Memphis, the Tennessee Coordinator of PNHP.

Rally organizers chose the Blue Cross-Blue Shield offices because that insurance company has embarked on a nationwide campaign to discredit the single-payer system. Both the Washington Post and Media Matters have reported details of that campaign.

For more information, contact Edward Morris at 385-1626.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Attorney Honored for Pro Bono Service

Nashville, TN -- The Board of Directors of the Tennessee Justice Center has honored law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP as Pro Bono Firm of the Year and attorney Michael Abelow, Sherrard & Roe, PLC as Pro Bono Attorney of the Year.
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was honored by the Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) for the firm’s efforts in representing needy families in their TennCare appeals. In 2008, fifteen (15) attorneys at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings were involved in contributing a total of approximately 500 hours of pro bono legal services to clients of the Tennessee Justice Center. As a result of the law firm’s pro bono representation of individuals during their TennCare appeals hearings, many sick and disabled people were able to receive needed health care.

Michael Abelow, Sherrard & Roe, was honored for his work on the Crabtree v. Goetz case, a lawsuit challenging a state decision to severely limit home health care for adult TennCare patients. In fall 2008, the state set in motion reductions in private duty nursing and home health care for approximately 900 extremely fragile adults across the state. Abelow worked with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Philadelphia attorney Stephen F. Gold, and counsel from the National Health Law Program, to file the Crabtree v. Goetz suit that asserts new state coverage limits violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. A preliminary injunction was obtained on December 20, 2008. As a result, dozens of medically fragile Tennesseans have kept their nursing care. The TennCare rules that authorize reductions in home health and private duty nursing are currently under review by the General Assembly.
“We are very grateful to Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and to attorney Michael Abelow for their efforts on behalf of TennCare families in need of vital health care services,” said Michele Johnson, managing attorney of the Tennessee Justice Center. “Their generosity in sharing their time and legal expertise has a tremendous impact on the lives of many people.”
The Tennessee Justice Center presented the Pro Bono awards during a reception on the evening of May 7. The award winners, who wore rose boutonnieres, were presented with a mounted print of “He Ain’t Heavy,” an original piece of art by Erin Brady Worsham, a mother, artist, activist, and TJC client with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Ms. Worsham’s work has been exhibited internationally.
- more -

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Named Pro Bono Firm of the Year;
Michael Abelow, Sherrard & Roe, Named Pro Bono Attorney of the Year
Page 2

David Taylor, partner at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and pro bono partner for the firm, said, “We believe that all attorneys have an ethical obligation to provide representation to people who need it, but cannot afford legal services.” He noted that, in 2008, attorneys at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings provided a total of 4,252 hours of pro bono representation to clients referred by the Tennessee Justice Center, the Nashville Bar Association,
and other organizations. More than 70 attorneys at the firm are involved in the firm’s pro bono program.
“I am pleased that the Court has halted the arbitrary cuts in home health care while the alternatives to institutionalization are implemented,” said Abelow. Abelow is a Member of Sherrard & Roe. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2000 from Washington & Lee University School of Law, and litigates complex commercial disputes.
During the May 7 reception, which was hosted at Stites & Harbison law firm, the Tennessee Justice Center also honored six Tennessee mothers and grandmothers as Mothers of the Year and one mother from Macon County as Community Mother of the Year.
About Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Tracing its roots to 1871, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP has more than 360 attorneys in seven offices, and is one of the largest in the South. The firm maintains offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery, Alabama; Jackson,
Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington, D.C.
The firm’s lawyers serve clients locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, and provide services across a wide range of industries, including accounting, automotive, banking and finance, biotechnology, construction, education, emerging business, energy, entertainment, equipment leasing, forest products, health care, hospitality, insurance, manufacturing, materials and aggregate production, media and communications, mining, municipal and public finance, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, public utilities, real estate, retail, steel, technology, telecommunications, textiles,
transportation, and venture capital.

About Michael Abelow and Sherrard & Roe
Michael Abelow is a member of the litigation practice group at Sherrard and Roe. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2000 from Washington & Lee University School of Law, where he was first in his class and was a member of the Law Review. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable E.A. Van Graafeiland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to coming to Nashville, he litigated cases for the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Sherrard & Roe, PLC was formed in 1981 by Thomas J. Sherrard and John H. Roe. The firm represents clients in business activities throughout the United States and also represents European clients regarding financial and investment matters in the United States. The firm is experienced in transactional work and dispute resolution in many areas of law including corporate representation, banking, mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, commercial litigation, employment, real estate, estate planning, health care and tax law. Clients include banks and financial institutions, national and multi-national enterprises as well as small entrepreneurial businesses and individuals.

About Tennessee Justice Center
The Tennessee Justice Center (TJC) is a non-profit public interest law firm. Its purpose is to respond to threats to the health and well-being of Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens by being their advocate and working through the law. TJC was established in 1996 and is located at 301 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37201.

Letter to Obama

Letter to President Obama - Afghanistan

Dear President Obama,

We write to you again, this time to say we are saddened to see that you now clearly believe in the tired, inhumane and unworkable assumption that violence will somehow work; that might makes right. But that is not the only thing we need to tell you.
We are not just saddened. We are angry. We are outraged by these actions, this practice of "death from above" you are ordering, causing the killing and wounding of hundreds of innocent people, as exemplified by the recent horrific attacks in Afghanistan.

When will it be enough, Mr. President? What is the number of dead and injured at which you will say "this can't go on;" the number at which you will decide it's time to turn away from violence and find another way? This really is the question upon which everything else will turn - how many bodies are too many? You know it is impossible to kill our way to a resolution, if for no other reason than every death and injury creates even more people willing to fight and die to remove us from their land.

We've been through this before, Mr. President, and I don't mean that in a rhetorical way. We have indeed been through this all before - unlike most of the people in our country or in your administration. We have seen and heard and smelled and felt what "death from above" actually means, not in a briefing report but right there in our hands and before our eyes. We've seen the look in the eyes of the people we occupied. We felt their anger and their humiliation. We remember these things well, Mr. President, because they will not go away no matter how many years pass.
Veterans For Peace will continue to speak out against such crimes. We will do so along with the growing numbers of people who are telling you that by going down this road you are making a tragic mistake. We no longer face the old question of "guns or butter?" Now the question is: will we completely destroy our economy with all that means, or will we step back from the brink and do what our humanity demands of us before the slide into moral and economic ruin is irreversible?

At some point, Mr. President, you will decide to turn away from violence, to end these occupations. As we wrote before, we stand ready to assist you in any effort to find another way. Until then you will find us in the streets.

Most Sincerely,
Mike Ferner
National President
Veterans For Peace

Monday, May 25, 2009

Update on IFCO Court Case

After a long period of determined struggle against the campaign launched against us by the NYC Special Commissioner of Investigation (SCI), and after waiting two months for the judge's decision regarding the SCI's motion to hold both IFCO and Rev Lucius Walker in contempt, we are pleased to have some good news to share with you:

On May 7, 2009, Judge Gische issued her decision regarding the SCI's contempt motions. The good news is that the judge found neither IFCO nor Rev Walker to be in contempt of court. The decision said:

"The court finds the drastic relief of contempt is not warranted against either respondent. Reverend Walker has validly asserted a Fifth Amendment privilege.... Therefore, Reverend Walker has not violated the court's prior order which preserve his 5th Amendment privilege."

With respect to Rev. Walker, she found that he could not be compelled to testify or to present documents, either in his personal capacity or as the person in charge of IFCO's records, because to do so would violate his constitutional rights.

In the case of IFCO, the decision stated:

"While IFCO has not fully complied with the order, the court at this point will not characterize IFCO's actions as having been calculated to, or actually defeated, impaired, impeded, or prejudiced petitioner's rights or remedies. Farkas v. Farkas, supra. IFCO is given a further opportunity to comply with the court's order.... IFCO is ordered to appoint another individual, either some other IFCO employee or an entirely new agent with no previous connection to IFCO, who would not similarly be incriminated by the act of production; such person is to search for and produce any and all documents responsive to the...subpoena served on IFCO... IFCO is directed to produce the documents and give testimony...
at SCI's offices on June 11, 2009, unless the parties mutually agree in writing to another date."

So while the case is not over, closed, ended, we do have a partial victory. Our attorneys are in the process of examining this ruling, and we are looking at legal strategies for the next phase of this long struggle.

In the two years that this matter has been hanging over our heads, your support has been such a great help to us. Your letters, emails, and phone messages of support have been tremendously important to us. The presence of so many of you with us in the courtroom was always an energizing moment, which helped to convey the clear message that our cause is important and that "the whole world is watching..."
We thank you for your continued support, and we will keep you updated -- as "la luta continua...."

418 West 145th Street, 3-FL.
New York NY 10031
tel: 212.926.5757 - fax 212.926.5842 - e-mail

Sunday, May 24, 2009

9 Held in West Virginia Anti-coal Actions

Today, 17 Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero activists were
arrested in actions against mountaintop removal and coal sludge
impoundments. Eight of the 17 have been released on their “own
recognizance” with no funds required to let go. The remaining
nine have been charged with trespass and been given a cash bail of
$2000 (which means a bailbondsman can’t be used to get them out
and the full amount must be paid i.e. they want $18,000 in cash).

See details on the action here--

Friday, May 22, 2009

PSL Announces Bloomberg Challenge

Student and mother will challenge billionaire Bloomberg for mayor
Socialist will announce her campaign at May 23 conference in Harlem

Frances Villar, a 26-year-old mother of two and City University of New York student, will challenge New York City’s richest man in the 2009 New York City mayoral race. Villar will run on the Socialism and Liberation ticket.

"In the middle of the worst economic crisis our country has seen in decades, New York City deserves a candidate that speaks in the name of poor and working people, not for the billionaires,” Villar announced.

“My campaign will put the issues of unemployment, evictions, education and police brutality as the first order of business for the city to tackle—not the interests of the banks and billionaires,” she continued. “We live in the richest city in the country, but you would never know it by walking through the communities where most of us live.”

Villar is a student leader who has worked tirelessly against the city's and state’s efforts to make CUNY students pay for the budget crisis. She is the president of her building’s tenants association. She has organized against the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and against the occupation of Palestine.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation was formed in 2004. The PSL fielded presidential candidates Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear in the 2008 elections, and were on the ballot in 12 states, including New York.

Villar will formally announce her campaign at a Saturday, May 23 PSL Public Conference under the banner, “Billionaires, your time is up—and we don’t just mean Bloomberg.”

Greens Endorse Single Payer Action

The Green Party of the United States has endorsed the national Day of Action for Single-Payer national health care (Medicare For All) on Saturday, May 30.
The Day of Action is being organized by Healthcare-Now and other groups dedicated to winning a health care system that covers all Americans, providing treatment regardless of employment, income, age, or prior medical condition, with full choice of physician, hospital, or other health care provider.

A more immediate goal is to have Single-Payer advocates — who speak for the will of a majority of Americans — represented in all congressional and White House meetings, roundtables, and hearings on health care. Single-Payer has been barred from the public debate, because of the influence of insurance, HMO, and pharmaceutical lobbies, through campaign contributions, ‘astroturf’ (false grassroots) operations, and dishonest advertising.

Similar events will take place throughout May. On Wednesday, May 13, a ‘Single-Payer Solidarity Rally’ will take place in Washington, DC, as part of National Nurses Week. Participants will gather at the Washington Court Hotel at 11:45 am and then march to a rally at Upper Senate Park, which will take place from noon until 2 pm. The California Nurses Association expects 500 nurses to lobby and rally for Single-Payer legislation, along with others in the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care.

Two Single-Payer bills have been introduced in Congress, HR 676 and S 703, under the leadership of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.).
Health Care Industry “PR Scam”

Greens blasted the President Obama’s May 11 announcement that insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, the American Hospital Association, the AMA, and other groups intend to reduce the growth of health care costs by 1.5 percent over ten years, calling it a ploy to block meaningful health care reform — especially the possibility of Single-Payer (See “The Health Care Industry’s PR Scam: Will Obama Fall for It?” by James Ridgeway, Mother Jones, May 12).

“We are embarrassed for President Obama for trying to foist this on the public. The health care industry’s pledge of a 1.5 percent reduction of health care spending growth — likely to rise about 6.2 percent a year in the next ten years — amounts to virtually nothing for Americans who need health care. This is a deal to make sure that any health care reform that gets enacted continues to make corporate profits a higher priority than the health of the American people,” said Peter LaVenia, co-chair of the Green Party of New York State.

The Single-Payer plan would do far more than slow the rate of increase, said Greens. It would reduce health care spending in the US by as much as one third, cutting costs dramatically for working Americans. Single-Payer would also replace employer-based health care benefits, removing a severe financial burden on businesses suffering from the recent economic meltdown.

Green Party leaders stressed that the ‘options’ plans favored by many Democrats are designed to sustain for-profit insurance companies through massive taxpayer-funded subsidies or mandates, and said that Single-Payer removes the private insurance-HMO industry from the system altogether, making health care a right for all Americans.
Physicians for a National Health Program notes that “[o]ver 31% of every health care dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc.” The overhead for Medicare, based on administrative costs but without the demand for profit, is about 3%. According to a Lewin Group study, Single-Payer would save California alone about $38 billion over ten years. (Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed two statewide Single-Payer bills that had passed in the state legislature.)

Greens support the Baucus 13

Green leaders called for all charges against the ‘Baucus 13′ to be dropped. The Baucus 13 were arrested for challenging the exclusion of Single-Payer advocates during the May 5 and May 12 Senate Finance Committee roundtables on health care reform. Committee chair Max Baucus has asserted that “Single-Payer is off the table.” Kevin Zeese, former Maryland Green candidate for the US Senate and currently executive director of the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, has published an account of his arrest.

“The recent protests at the Senate Finance Committee roundtables have put Single-Payer in front of the public. This is the moment to demand Single-Payer as aggressively as possible. We’re dismayed that the Progressive, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific American Caucuses in Congress have shied away from endorsing the Conyers-Sanders Single-Payer bills and instead declared their support for a public health insurance option that would be ‘part of comprehensive health care reform legislation‘. We’re equally disappointed that MoveOn is promoting the Obama plan and criticizing insurance lobbies — while ignoring the participation of insurance companies in the crafting of the plan,” said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

“The health care reform debate demonstrates why America desperately needs an independent noncorporate party. Democratic and Republican politicians are swimming in campaign donations from the insurance industry, receiving over $46 million in insurance money in 2008. Greens don’t accept corporate contributions. A few Greens in Congress would provide some new competition, leading many more Democrats — and perhaps some Republicans — to sign on to Single-Payer legislation,” said Justine McCabe, clinical psychologist who co-authored statewide Single-Payer legislation in Connecticut in 1999-2000 with the support of the Green Party of Connecticut.

Tags: Green Party, health care, Single Payer Healthcare

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Metro Changes Mosquito Policy


Nashville, TN – The Director of the Metro Public Health Department, Dr. William Paul, is talking about a fundamental shift in the way mosquitoes are handled in Davidson County. The sprayers won't be used unless there is a high risk of an imminent West Nile epidemic. The department will look at using more environmentally friendly ways to manage mosquitoes. Rachel Sumner of No Spray Nashville is pleased with this shift. “Our mayor wants our city to be known for being green so we need to examine how other cities have successfully managed mosquitoes with less toxic controls,” she said.

Sumner’s research into the Health Department’s mosquito trapping data from 2008 helped bring about this change in policy. She discovered that the spraying the department did in Antioch on five evenings last summer did not reduce mosquito populations or prevent more disease in mosquitoes. In one case, the Health Department’s records showed the mosquito population increased by 420% the day after spraying.

The records also revealed that department was sprayed for extremely low numbers of mosquitoes in a trap (an action that increases the possibility of creating resistant mosquitoes). The department also failed to use less toxic controls in the 3-week period before they began spraying. “If a neighborhood has a mosquito problem, you want to find where the mosquitoes are breeding. If you don’t you are fighting a losing battle,” says Sumner.

Sumner shared the results of her research with the City Council’s Health and Hospital Committee and with District 29’s Councilwoman, Vivian Wilhoite, who represents the Antioch neighborhood that was sprayed last summer. Wilhoite volunteered to meet with the Director of the Health Department, Dr. William Paul, to request that the department enhance their program and be more proactive. During the meetings, Paul acknowledged some of the weaknesses in the program and promised that improvements would be made or considered.

Dr. Paul states that as the department learned more, they became more comfortable with not spraying and that with the new threshold there would have to be extraordinary circumstance for spraying to occur. This is something that has not happened in the past.

“Councilwoman Wilhoite and I hope to meet with Dr. Paul in the next couple of weeks to discuss his new plan for mosquito management for our city. I hope it is strategic and takes full advantage of more effective and environmentally friendly approaches,” says Sumner.

The most effective method of mosquito control is to look for and reduce standing water. If you are having mosquito problems in your neighborhood and cannot find where mosquitoes are breeding, call the Health Department’s Pest Management office for assistance at 340-5668. They will send a staff member out to help.

BURNT's PO Box 128555, Nashville tn 37212
Citizens working together to bring science, ethics and responsible mosquito control to the Metro Public Health Department's Mosquito Control Program in Nashville.

No Spray Nashville an outreach of BURNT.
BURNT 501C organization and a member of Community Shares

AAEM Calls for Moratorium on GMO's

The American Academy Of Environmental Medicine Calls For
Immediate Moratorium On Genetically Modified Foods

Wichita, KS - The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) today released its position paper on Genetically Modified foods stating that "GM foods pose a serious health risk" and calling for a moratorium on GM foods. Citing several animal studies, the AAEM concludes "there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects" and that "GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health."

The AAEM calls for:

A moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term safety testing and labeling of GM food.

Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community and the public to avoid GM foods.

Physicians to consider the role of GM foods in their patients' disease processes.

More independent long term scientific studies to begin gathering data to investigate the role of GM foods on human health.

"Multiple animal studies have shown that GM foods cause damage to various organ systems in the body. With this mounting evidence, it is imperative to have a moratorium on GM foods for the safety of our patients' and the public's health," said Dr. Amy Dean, PR chair and Board Member of AAEM.

"Physicians are probably seeing the effects in their patients, but need to know how to ask the right questions," said Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, President of AAEM. "The most common foods in North America which are consumed that are GMO are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed oil."

The AAEM's position paper on Genetically Modified foods can be found at

AAEM is an international association of physicians and other professionals dedicated to addressing the clinical aspects of environmental health. More information is available at

About AAEM The American Academy of Environmental Medicine was founded in 1965, and is an international association of physicians and other professionals interested in the clinical aspects of humans and their environment. The Academy is interested in expanding the knowledge of interactions between human individuals and their environment, as these may be demonstrated to be reflected in their total health. The AAEM provides research and education in the recognition, treatment and prevention of illnesses induced by exposures to biological and chemical agents encountered in air, food and water.

Metro Acquires New Land for Parks

Metro Parks acquires 380-acre farm for Madison’s Peeler Park

Madison is well on its way to having a beautiful new addition to Peeler Park. Located at the end of Neely’s Bend Rd, Peeler Park is already Madison’s best kept secret. The park already has 269 gorgeous acres, complete with walking trails and greenways. The president of the Madison-Rivergate Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Jim Forkum, worked with Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Parks to acquire a 380-acre tract of land adjacent to Peeler Park which is currently known as the Taylor Farm. The farm was purchased by Metro Parks as a land acquisition with part of the Capital Spending Plan. Once the plan passes the farm will then belong to the city of Nashville.

Councilman Forkum, who is on Metro’s Greenway Commission, has been very passionate about developing this land for public enjoyment for quite some time. The Taylor Farm makes the perfect addition to Peeler Park, with its beautiful flat bottoms as well as rolling hills. The farm also contains the home in which the Taylor family lived that will someday be transformed into a nature center or welcome center. It is Councilman Forkum’s dream to see the citizens of Madison enjoying the nature center as well as walking trails and possibly a mountain bike trail. In order for this dream to be realized, the park must be included on the Greenway Master Plan and funding must also be secured. Once these two items are met, Madison will have a wonderful, safe space to play, relax, and enjoy nature. Thank you, Councilman Forkum, Mayor Dean, and Metro Parks for giving our community this beautiful gift!

Ashley Bright
Administrative Assistant
Madison-Rivergate Area Chamber of Commerce
(615)865-5400; (615)865-0448 (fax)

Tennessee Immigrant's Efforts Honored

TIRRC Earns National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday announced the four winners of its inaugural E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, with an innovative Tennessee-based public education and communications campaign receiving a $50,000 prize.

The E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policywith generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to inspire others to take on this important work and encourage the adoption of effective integration practices.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalitionand the three other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress featuring remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other national policymakers. The winners were selected from more than 500 applications received from around the nation.

Against a backdrop of changing demographics common to Tennessee and other “new destination” states (with a more than 300 percent growth in its immigrant population over 15 years), the organization launched its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (WTI) in 2006, to foster constructive public dialogue on immigration within the state. WTI was designed to increase public understanding of the realities of immigration, situating the recent demographic changes in a broader historical context and trying to constructively engage the public in areas where they have concerns.

“The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative stands out as a positive, creative way to have a constructive, mutually enriching dialogue between the native-born members of the state and its newest members – with the goal of creating stronger, more vibrant communities for everyone,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “And it is serving as a model for community leaders in other new destination states.”

Said TIRRC’s Executive Director Stephen Fotopulos: “The impact of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative is clear: Members of communities receiving immigrants are more likely to respond to the challenges of immigration with empathy rather than distrust or fear, decision-makers are given the political room to pursue proactive policies, and immigrants feel welcomed and encouraged to participate and contribute.”

The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative creates opportunities for Tennessee residents, native-born and immigrant alike, to discuss the effects of immigration, its historical and national contexts, and how to develop strategies for strong, inclusive communities. The Initiative features:

* Welcoming committees in Nashville and Shelbyville (a small community that has experienced a large influx of Latino immigrants and Somali refugees) to facilitate conversations about immigration;
* More than 70 “ambassadors” around the state who are recruited and trained to organize welcoming committees and facilitate discussions;
* Public education campaigns that include billboard ads;
* Community forums and presentations at churches, universities, civic clubs and other sites.

The Tennessee initiative has inspired similar efforts in 13 other states.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the three other winners, each given a $50,000 award, are reflective of the diversity of government and non-government organizations involved in immigrant integration efforts at the state and local levels.

“There is a pressing need to bolster immigrant integration efforts at the national, state and local levels,” said Margie McHugh, co-director of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “Too often our national immigration debate proceeds without addressing immigrant integration issues. Yet, the thousands of groups and individuals engaged in immigrant integration initiatives across the country are ultimately playing the most important role in ensuring that our immigration policies are a success.”

The other E Pluribus Unum national award winners are: AVANCE- El Paso (El Paso, TX); Littleton Immigrant Integration Initiative (Littleton, CO); and Internationals Network for Public Schools (New York, NY).

Additional information about the winners can be found at For more information or to set up interviews, please contact Michelle Mittelstadt at 202-266-1910 or at


The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.

NPT Focuses on Hispanic Population

Nashville Public Television Visits Our Hispanic Next Door Neighbors

Third Installment in NPT’s Original Documentary Series Explores
Nashville’s Growing Latin American populations

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – May 20, 2009 – For as long as it has
existed, people have been drawn to America as a place of rebirth,
where they can exchange hard work for a new life, prosperity and
hope. Traditionally, immigrants have relocated to large cities, with
an abundance of jobs and a long history of immigration. But in the
last few decades, a shifting economy has meant smaller, mid-sized
cities like Nashville have seen unprecedented growth in their foreign-
born populations.

In Nashville, the Latin American, or Hispanic, community has grown
800% in the last 15 years. NPT offers viewers a chance to see the
city through this community’s eyes with NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS:
HABLAMOS ESPAÑOL, premiering on Friday, May 29, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. on
NPT-Channel 8. The documentary is the third installment in NPT’s
four-part NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series.

“The big difference with this documentary and previous ones in our
series,” said producer Will Pedigo, “is that the experience of
Latin American immigrants in Nashville is extremely diverse, coming
from many countries, for different reasons and through different
paths. What they found in Nashville in the late nineties was a
welcoming city, with ample jobs associated with the commercial and
residential boom and in Nashville’s growing service economy.”

“Before I came here, I didn't think of myself as anything but just
myself, but then you get here, and all of a sudden you're thrown
together with a bunch of people that you share some things with,”
says Fabian Bedne in the documentary. “So, I never thought of myself
as a Hispanic before I came to the U.S. I thought of myself as Latin
American (or) South American.”

“When you are such a complex culture and continent like we are in
Latin America,” adds Bedne, “it's hard for people to understand.
What ends up happening is they need to put you in a box and that box
has the label Hispanic or Latino.”

In addition to exploring the diversity of Nashville Latin American
populations, NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: HABLAMOS ESPAÑOL briefly summarizes
the history of Hispanic immigration, first to the United States, and
then to Nashville, especially in the mid-1990s, when the city’s
central location provided a gateway to the commercial growth in the

As Hispanic immigrants arrived and started working, they needed
housing and places to spend their money. Much money was sent to
families struggling back home. By the early 2000s, the southeast area
of Nashville began to mirror the changing populations of the city
with new businesses owned, operated and catering to the needs of the
new populations. Churches such as Iglesia De Dios Hispana were
established and Spanish-language radio stations popped up on the dial.

For the most part, new Latin Americans felt welcomed to the city.
That changed after September 11, 2001, when a focus on national
security led Americans to take a closer look at immigration, visa and
border-crossing policies.

In a vacuum of federal legislation, state and local law created a
patchwork of legislation to deal locally with a federal issue. Many
in the city’s Hispanic community found themselves in the middle of a
heated political debate; the objects of scorn and negative
caricature. The situation became more tenuous in 2007 with
Nashville's participation in the 287(g) federal program, which
extended immigration enforcement capabilities to the Davidson County
Sheriff’s Department. The implementation of 287 (g) in Nashville has
divided both natives and the immigrant community.

“I started noticing the change after September 11, 2001,” says
David Morales. “People became very wary, people got scared. You
noticed …it was palpable. From the moment the attacks occurred, the
mood in the country changed and it just started getting worse and
worse progressively.”

“I would say four or five years ago, the pressure of having to
have…legal status was not as big as it is now,” says Marlen
Perez. “So you have these families that have children that were born
here (together) with children that do not have legal status, and you
have parents from other generations that were able to fix their
status. Our system has created different social classes even in the
same family, because some people in the family can drive (and others
can not). That creates conflicts. I am legal and you are not. I can
do things that you cannot do, even if we are from the same
background. We are from the same ethnicity. We speak the same
language. We have the same job (but) we are different.”

The unresolved conflicts of immigration are felt in Nashville as they
are in other cities and states across the country. While immigration
issues have divided some in the Hispanic community, most agree that
while cities and states wrestle with questions related to immigration
and legal status, a solution ultimately must be made on the federal

“Year after year…we looked the other way and then all of a sudden
people went…’what happened, where did all these people come
from’,” adds Bedne. “So we ended up having huge problems, and
every time we have tried to solve them at the federal level, people
on both sides of the aisle don’t like it enough.”

“I think it’s a very scary time” says Raul Lopez. “In a
sense, “I think we need to bridge (the Hispanic immigrants and
native Nashville communities) because both communities think alike.
Hispanic culture and Southern culture are very similar; that’s a
funny thing about it. It’s hard-working, loving people who would go
out of their way to help each other.”

The NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series includes in-depth web content at, public forums and
panel discussions after each of the four programs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Greens Announce Annual Meeting

Greens Come Together for the 2009 Annual National Meeting in Durham, North

The Green Party of the United States is pleased to announce that the 2009 Annual National Meeting will be held Thursday, July 23-Sunday July 26, 2009 on the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. Plan to attend this year's largest national gathering of Greens to make new friends, network, and help grow the Green Party nationally and in your community. Join with other greens across the country as we prepare for the 2010 election cycle with workshops on candidate recruitment, ballot access, fundraising, media outreach, and other skills you can take back to your local party.

Registration is open now! Discounted earlybird registration is available
for only a few more days...register now to save money and start making your travel
plans early. Registration and other information is available at the 2009 Annual
National Meeting wepage. Go to:

Cindy Sheehan Featured Speaker June 14th

Cindy Sheehan, Nobel Peace nominee, Singer/Songwriter David Rovics, and the Reverend Henry Blaze will join musicians, poets, speakers, and dancers at a rally to be held on Sunday, June 14, 2009 at the band shell in Centennial Park in Nashville from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Mrs. Sheehan will be speaking about the robbery of billions of dollars to bail out financial speculators who have wrecked the economy through their greed and neglect. A small number of very wealthy people and international corporations are reaping billions of public money being bailed out and in their pursuit of war and occupation in the Middle East. Tennesseans are losing thousands of jobs because of this irresponsible and covetous behavior. Thousands of people are saying “No more bail outs to the people and corporations that are causing so much pain and death.”

An outspoken supporter for health care justice, Reverend Henry Blaze, widely recognized as a leader committed to social justice, the social gospel, and to the philosophy of non-violence, will also speak. His 26 years in the ministry have been dedicated to the pursuit of a “Genuine Community” that recognizes the humanity and equality of all people. Reverend Blaze has consistently worked to ensure that access to health care is a reality for all Tennesseans, regardless of income or social strata. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Justice Center, a nonprofit, public interest law and advocacy firm that gives priority to policy issues and civil cases affecting the poor and marginalized communities.

David Rovics is a dangerous man who tells the truth. We all know the truth is rare these days in our media. He asks us to think about what we would do if we knew the truth about why things are happening around us that don’t make sense. What “If every time we went to war to fight our evil foes, they told you we were really fighting for the good of CEOs -- If you could feel the hunger of the many and see the riches of the few -- If they told it like it is -- what if you knew? David loves the ideals of our country. He thinks that we would realize the words of our national song that says we are the “home of the brave, and the land of the free” if we had unfiltered information to be the free people who would have the moral strength to make good decisions. So he sings, “If you knew that the whole planet depend on what you do now -- would you take command with the speed our times allow? If the pundits told the truth for just a week or two, and real
life was shown on TV -- What if you knew?”

Our times are so exciting! It really is up to us. We must not allow ourselves to be divided left or right. We are all concerned Americans who see that real change must be brought about. So, come and party with good folks from all walks of life to show the politicians, that there are so many of us, they must pay attention. And we will have a good time showing them.

Iraqi War Casualties: May 10th - 16th

Those who died in Iraq from May 10 to 16:

Maj Steven Hutchison 60 Scottsdale AZ
Pvt Michael Yates Jr 19 Federicksburg MD
Maj Matthew Houseal 54 Amarillo TX
Spc Jacob Barton 20 Lenox MO
Sgt Christian Bueno Galdos 25 Paterson NJ
Cdr Charles Springle 52 Wilmington NC
Cpl Ryan McGhee 21 Federicksburg VA
Spc David Schaefer 27 Belleville IL

2 were seriously wounded.
9 were returned to occupation.
61 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

In Afghanistan were killed:

Spc Lukosz Saczek 23 Lake in the Hills IL
Ltn Mark Evison 26 England
Cpl Jason Mackie 21 England
Sgt Esau Hernandez 25 LaPuente CA
Sgt Carlie Lee III 23 Birmingham AL

438 Afghanis and Pakistanis were killed.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Green Collar Jobs at EarthMatters

Green Collar Jobs Informational Session to be
Held at Nashville’s Carver Food Park

Nashville, TN. EarthMatters Tennessee and the Green Collar Jobs Task Force of Middle Tennessee invite all interested people to come out and learn about upcoming opportunities and strategies to get involved in the Middle Tennessee green jobs movement.

This gathering will take place at the Geo. W. Carver Food Park located at 1001 Gale Lane in South Nashville from 10 am - 1pm. The Park, managed by local non-profit EarthMatters Tennessee, has been the site of the annual Green Power Day each September for the last 7 years. In 2008 the Green Jobs Now National Day of Action along with Greenpeace’s Rolling Sunlight Tour took place at the Park.

In April 2008, Task Force members, and presenters Nell Levin (TN Alliance For Progress) and Sizwe Herring (EarthMatters Tennessee) joined 1,100 people from across the country for the Green For All conference in Memphis. National leaders such as Van Jones and Majora Carter spoke passionately about the green economy issues and opportunities. Van Jones has gone on to become a special Green Jobs director with the Obama administration.

Speakers from various related fields will present overviews of their businesses and organizations and participants will weigh in on the solutions to their individual and community barriers to employment. This will help form the wrap around services for the trainees such as child care, transportation, legal issues and more.

Scheduled speakers include Ms. Shavaun Evans (Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee), John Zirker (Nashville Homeless Power Project), Sarah Bellos (Nashville Urban Harvest), Clemmie Greenlee, (Galaxy Star), Ama McIntosh (The Climate Project), and others.

Tennessee Native Tribes Recognized

Representatives of the historical Yuchi Tribe and Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, which were forced out and 'removed' from Tennessee in the early 19th century, will make a statement on the status of House Bill 1692 and then talk with the media on the steps of the State Capitol in Nashville on Tuesday, 19 May 2009, at 10:30am, regarding the recent legislative movement to recognize Native American culture clubs in Tennessee as official state tribes. The public is invited to hear their reaction to the decision of the House Calendar and Rules Committee to pass or stop HB1692.

This will be the first major homecoming of Yuchi and Muscogee to the Nashville area in over 400 years, and sadly to critique the General Assembly's recent movement (House Calendar and Rules meets Tuesday, 19 May 2009, 8:00am) to legitimize tribal identity theft and fraud under the guise of serving constituents.

Present will be:
• Dr Richard Grounds (Ph.D.), Yuchi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Director for the Euchee (Yuchi) Language Project based in Sapulpa, Oklahoma; co-chair of the Program Council for Cultural Survival; co-author of Native Voices : American Indian Identity and Resistance.
• Joyce Bear, Director of the Cultural Preservation Office of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation based in Okmulgee, Oklahoma; and Tribal Historic Preservation Liaison for the tribe in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
• Melba Checote Eads (L.P.N.), of Woodbury, Tennessee, co-founder of the Muscogee "Creek" Nation Citizens of the Southeast and Tennessee, and Middle Tennessee representative on the Advisory Council on Tennessee Indian Affairs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Metro General Rally May 21st

Public hospitals around the nation are being closed or short-changed . Metro General Hospital at Meharry is no exception.City officials are looking to continue making cuts at a hospital that serves the poor, low-income workers and those with no health insurance. At the same time they prepare to spend $500 million for a new convention center.

Health care is a basic human right. The city must find the way to keep General Hospital open. What kind of society puts on the poor mouth when it comes to public hospitals and health care for all and spends $45 billion a year on health care for dogs and cats?

On Thursday, May, 21st at 5 pm., at the Council Budget Hearing for the Hospital Authority will meet to discuss hospital funding. You need to be there with hundreds of others to demand : NO CUTS. FULL FUNDING. Stay at home and watch your health care go down the drain.

The hearing will be held at the Metro Council Chambers located on the second floor of the Metro Courthouse
or more information contact Warren Duzak at 292-5608 or Rev. Henry Blaze III at the Progressive Baptist Church at 615.481.9246. If you can be there please sign-up at the following link

May 21 Coalition to Save General Hospital =

Latin America Unchained

The Nashville Peace Coalition announced its plans for a panel discussion on current issues affecting Latin America. The panel, titled, "Latin America Unchained" is an examination of the current left leaning shift of popular elections in Latin America. Whether Americans are pondering the meaning of Hugo Chavez shaking hands with Barack Obama or the recent electoral victory of the FMLN in El Salvador, we can be sure that Latin America is changing. In the interest of providing the public with an opportunity to hear from local experts on the current trends in Latin America, the Nashville Peace Coalition has assembled a diverse panel to talk about current events. The Nashville Peace Coalition is a project of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and is dedicated to promoting a peace and diplomacy as key aspects of US foreign policy.

The Bolivarian revolution, the economic collapse of Argentina, the election of Lula in Brazil and the persistent anti-imperialist rhetoric from the Hugo Chavez administration of Venezuela are hints that Latin America has tended to the left in recent years. What is going on in Latin America and what role does US foreign policy play in this historical trend? What effect has the North American Free Trade Agreement, the US Army's School of the Americas and Plan Columbia played in shaping and influencing Latin America's current governments? "Latin America Unchained" intends to address some of these questions and engage in a community discussion with the help of a panel of journalists, educators and community organizers to have a community discussion about the recent trends in Latin America.

Chairing the panel will be Lesley Gill, Vanderbilt faculty and author of the book, "School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence." Participants on the panel include Camilo Garcia who is an exiled Columbian journalist who works for the Spanish language newspaper "Latino" and Karl Meyer, a Nashville peace activist who has spent six months in federal prison for protesting the School of the Americas, a military training facility in Columbus, Georgia. Additionally the panel will include Joey King, a former army ranger and member of Veterans for Peace who recently returned from El Salvador as an election observer and Juan Canedo, a community organizer with the Progreso Community Center and a native of Bolivia.

The event, which is being held at the Progreso Community Center at 478 Allied Drive off of Nolensville Road in South Nashville, will begin at 2pm. Panelists will be given fifteen minutes each to address their area of specialty and then the lecture will be opened up to the general public for discussion and questions. The event will conclude at 4pm. Organizers of the panel hope to give the general public a better sense of what is happening in Latin America and what role US foreign and economic policy should play in current developments with our southern neighbors.

For more information please contact Chris Lugo of the Nashville Peace Coalition at or 593-0304

Event Info:

Latin America Unchained
A Panel Discussion on Latin America and US Foreign Policy
Saturday, May 23rd 2pm
Progreso Community Center
478 Allied Drive Suite 107
Nashville, TN 37211
Sponsored by the Nashville Peace Coalition

Sunday, May 17, 2009

East Nashville Spring Fest

Celebrating the start of the new growing season and the success of the market's first year, The East Nashville Farmers Market has expanded to a new location, more vendors and lots of activities for the whole family. Several new vendors, along with all of last year's local farmers, artisan food producers and craftspeople will come together for the opening on Wed., May 20, 3:30 - 6:30 PM.

This year's market has expanded to a larger location, 210 South 10th St. (corner of 10th and Fatherland), at the Free Will Baptist Church and only one block over from last year's space. In addition to the return of last year's group of local farmers and producers, this year's market will also host local producers of honey, maple syrup, eggs, baked goods, and milk.

There will also be a wide variety of activities for the kids, including the return of the Loving Touch Petting Zoo, face painting and children's games. More local craftspeople to be announced. Live music by the Howling Brothers and Carl Asch. Local prepared food vendors will also be at the market.

The market features all local farmers and vendors. Regular farm vendors include Delvin Farms, Madison Creek Farms, Paradise Produce, Peaceful Pastures, West Wind Farm, SonFarm, Clover Cove Farms. New farms include Beaver Creek Dam Farm, Foggy Hollow Farm, Totty's Bend Frm, Blue Honey Farm, Flying S Farms and Hatcher Family Dairy. There will be a diverse mixture of products, including a variety of spring greens and produce, strawberries, specialty herbs, cut flowers, grass fed and pastured raised poultry, beef, pork, lamb, eggs, and milk and cheese.

Additional non food vendors will include: natural nut butters from Spread the Love Butter; organic died apparel from ASK Apparel; pepper sauces from Moose Sauces; baked goods and cheesecakes from Lucy's Cheesecake; oven baked breads from Twin Oaks Bakery; homemade candles from Angelight Candles; organic tea blends from Natural Choice Botanicals; and natural vegan glycerin soaps from Carol's Soaps and Adornments.

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

Opening Spring Fest Celebration at East Nashville Farmers Market
Free Will Baptist Church, 210 S. 10th St., (corner of 10th and Fatherland), East Nashville
Wed., May 20, 3:30 - 6:30 PM

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tennessee Hate Crimes Bill Rolled

Tennessee Hate Crimes Bill Rolled to 2010

On Wednesday, State Representative by Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis) decided to roll HB0335 in the Tennessee House Judiciary Committee until January 2010. This bill would add "gender identity or expression" to Tennessee's hate crimes sentencing enhancement statute. The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition supports this decision. Opposition to the bill emerged claiming, falsely, that it would criminalize religious speech, even though there has never been a single case of a minister sentenced under current statute for promoting hatred, and that it would cover pedophiles, even though nobody has ever made a logical argument that "gender identity or expression" has anything to do with pedophilia.

We ask all of you to continue meeting with members of both the Tennessee House of Representatives and Tennessee State Senate to educate them about the necessity of expandng Tennessee code to protect victim's rights and protect public safety by extending sentences for those convicted of assault on a transgender, gender variant, or gender non-conformist person.

If you do not know the names of your state legislators, go to

We would also like to thank all of the groups that stepped up to help educate legislators about this bill: American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP of Nashville, National Organization for Women, Obama for Tennessee Volunteers, and Tennessee Equality Project. We anticipate working with these and other allies in the coming months to get this bill passed in 2010.

Voter ID:

We are pleased to announce that Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) decided not to pursue his motion to recall two Voter ID bills, HB 0639 by *Maggart and HB 1838 by *Todd, to the House State and Local Government committee, that had failed to pass out of the Elections Subcommittee. TTPC was opposed to both bills because they could disfranchise transgender voters in Tennessee. Rep. McCormick announced his intention to pursue his efforts in 2010. TTPC and other groups that are opposed to this legislation will continue to fight to prevent the disfranchisement of a single voters in Tennessee.


The Tennessee House of Representatives passed *HJR 0285 by *Dean, which opposes Tennessee's compliance with the Federal REAL ID Act of 2005, by a vote of 91 to 0. The bill is now before the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee. That same committee passed a similar bill, *SB 1934 by *Burchett by a vote of 9 to 0. That bill now moves to the floor of the full Senate. The House companion bill to SB1934, HB 1426 by *Niceley. has been deferred to 2010. TTPC Supports these bills and urges Congress to repeal the REAL ID Act of 2005.

Federal Legislation:

On the Federal level, the United States Senate is expected to vote soon on S.909, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The House of Representatives has already passed this legislation, which is supported by President Obama, by a vote of 249 to 175.

Please contact both of Tennessee's Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and tell them you want to them to support S.909.

We also urge everyone to continue talking to Representatives and Senators about the importance of the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We anticipate that ENDA will be introduced in the coming weeks. It is time to end job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

TTPC also supports the following Congressional bills:

S.424; H.R.1024: Uniting American Families Act
H.R.1283: Military Readiness Enhancement Act (repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell)
H.Res.433: Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots

Marisa Richmond

And look for these upcoming events:

June 19 to 21
Memphis Black Pride

Saturday, June 20
Mid South Pride, Memphis

Saturday, June 20
Nashville PRIDE Festival
Riverfront Park

Saturday, June 27
Knoxville Pride
Market Square
for information, contact

Saturday, July 18, 7 pm
TTPC Summer Statewide Membership Meeting

Saturday, October 17
Annual TTPC Fundraising Dinner
Details to be announced soon

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
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

RIP: The Republican Coalition

The Republican Coalition, May it Rest in Peace
By Contributing Writer Joey King

The modern Republican Party has always been an odd coalition, and people often scratch their heads when I say that. The modern party sprang from the ashes of the failed 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater. Libertarian/anti-Communist Republicans, big-business Republicans, and Neocons teamed-up to carry only Goldwater's home state of AZ that year. At most, these three wings of the party make up 50% today.

Right or wrong, the libertarian-Republicans view themselves as the modern-day inheritors of the Enlightenment. In other words, they are disciples of reason. They are the philosophical visionaries of the movement.

Then, the Voting Rights and the Civil Rights acts of the mid-1960's inspired Nixon's successful "Southern Strategy." In short, Nixon won on the race issue. No Democratic presidential candidate has EVER won a majority of the white vote since the passage of the Voting Rights/Civil Rights acts. That is an amazing statement. That holds true even today, and I offer as proof the fact that only 4 non-white faces appeared that the 2008 Republican Party convention in Minnesota.

After that, the 1977 Supreme Court decision forced blacks into Bob Jones University. Religious conservatives blamed President Carter and went Republican. It is IMPORTANT TO NOTE that the leaders of the evangelical movement DID NOT pick up the mantra of the abortion decision until the LATE 1970's. There is a book that came out a year ago that documents the actual conference call in which the evangelical leadership was looking for other issues to rally behind besides racial integration. Someone suggested abortion and that wedge issue was born.

Reagan was able to solidify the Republican coalition of libertarians, big-business, Neocons and evangelicals but all four factions agreed on one issue and one issue only: low taxes.

This makes for a volatile mix because libertarians/philosophical architects being the standard-bearers for enlightenment (in a word, reason), were forced into an un-holy coalition with evangelical Christians (in a word, unreason) in order to win elections.

Evangelical Christians are not for limited government, they want government in all sorts of moral issues (gambling, abortion, drinking drugs). Neocons and big business Republicans are not for limited government either. The Neocons are interventionists and the big business Republicans are always in favor of military intervention when their interests are at stake.

If it seems like the Republicans are floundering around looking for a message, they are. That is because of the unholy alliance that held together from 1968-2008 which is a mixture of reason, unreason, and racism has unraveled. The white demographic is shrinking rapidly, and the issues they have chosen to push appeal to mostly white, southern males. I have been scratching my head to figure out how the Republicans put together a coalition that wins nationally and I can not come up with any ideas. It doesn’t look like they can either.

Nashville Green Heading to Gaza

Native Nashvillean is a part of a UN delegation to the Gaza Strip

Rose Davis of the Green Party of Middle Tennessee is participating in a trip organized by the US-based peace group CODEPINK into the Gaza Strip via Egypt from May 28-June 5. She will travel at the invitation of the United Nations Relief and Words Agency (UNRWA) as UN delegates. Their focus will be on the children of Gaza.

In March , a 60-person CODEPINK delegation traveled to Gaza to pay tribute on International Women's Day to sorely neglected mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives who are struggling to hold their families together. They asked CODEPINK to please return with the purpose of giving much needed attention to the children.

At least 431 Palestinian children (and no Israeli children) were killed during the Dec. 27-Jan 18 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip. 1,872 were wounded. Children make up more than half (56%) of Gaza's population, and this next generation- who will help decide the future of the region- is struggling with extraordinarily high rates of malnutrition, homelessness, depression, and PTSD. An estimated 1,346 Gazan children were left without one or more of their parents as a result of the Israeli assault. Many are in the hospital suffering devastating injury from the 22 days of bombings. The people of Gaza face shortages of water, electricity , food, medicine, heat, fuel, and shelter. Over 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes. According to the United Nations, "Children are hungry, cold.....they're terrified."

The plan is to enter Gaza for five days. The March delegation was allowed entry for 48 hours only. There is always the possibility that the Egyptian government won't let us cross the border- in fact, many individuals and delegations have been denied entry. In that case , they plan to set up an encampment near the border to call attention to the need to open the borders and end the siege of Gaza.

Rose's group will be meeting with UN program staff, humanitarian and development agencies, teachers, students, health workers and political analysts . They will visit areas devastated by Israeli attacks. They will be taking a truckload of at least a thousand backpacks filled with school and art supplies, and toys to the children, and provide emotional support. They will also attempt to bring in supplies to build three playgrounds.

The purpose of the trip is to provide support to the children and children's organizations in Gaza: exert pressure on U.S. , Egyptian and Israeli governments to lift the blockade and promote peace, reconstruction, and human rights in the region.

Contributions may be made through the web site

Rose said that she hopes to raise awareness of this expedition, as Americans have only recently been allowed any entrance into the region. She will be available for interviews before and after the trip , and progress reports during the expedition.

For more information contact:

Rose Crockett Davis

Aung San Suu Kyi Taken to Prison

Aung San Suu Kyi Taken to Prison by Burmese Regime
News Update and Actions
By Hozan Alan Senauke

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - leader of Burma's opposition party, the National League for Democracy - has been taken into custody at her lakeside home in Rangoon, and held to face a special court at the notorious Insein Prison (sic!), along with her doctor Dr. Tin Myo Win and her live-in caretakers, Khin Khin Win and her daughter Win Ma Ma. They are charged with violating security laws specially crafted to control the conditions of Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest. She has been under house arrest for thirteen of the last nineteen years.

Accusations against Aung San Suu Kyi and the others stem from the capture of a 53-year-old American John Yettaw, who apparently swam across Inya Lake to Suu Kyi's lakeside compound on the night of May 5. NLD sources sa
id Suu Kyi spoke with him, her caretakers gave him some food, and Suu Kyi asked him to leave the premises, but he appears to have spent the night on her property. Security officials believe that Yettaw had made a previous visit to Suu Kyi's compound in late 2008. Yettaw's motivations are unknown. A US consular representative talked with him Wednesday in the presence of Burmese intelligence officers. Yettaw will face trial separately on serious charges.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

StratCom and the Domination of CyberSpace

StratCom and the Domination of (Cyber) Space

By Tim Rinne
State Coordinator, Nebraskans for Peace

It seems an unlikely place from which to try to dominate the world…

A remote Air Force base in rural Nebraska, twelve miles south of Omaha. There’s even a cornfield across the road.

But it’s where George Bush was rushed for safekeeping on 9/11. And today, it’s where the White House continues to wage its international ‘War on Terror’ and to pursue its goal of dominating space.

And, as it now turns out… cyber space.

Ten years ago, U.S. Strategic Command was a weapon in search of a foe. The collapse of the Soviet Union had left the headquarters for the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal without any real purpose. Things had reached such a dismal state for the Pentagon’s ‘doomsday machine’ that the command’s name was even popping up on some base-closing lists.

But 9/11 changed that. Virtually from the moment President Bush was shuttled to StratCom’s underground command center, its role and mission began to morph.

By the time the first anniversary of the attack rolled around, “U.S. Space Command” had been moved under StratCom’s control. Over the next three years, the command picked up the missions for “Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance,” “Information Operations,” “Full-Spectrum Global Strike” and “Missile Defense” (a misnomer if there ever was one, given it’s offensive capability). In 2005, “Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction” was added to its mission quiver. And finally, in 2007, it was given the hazily defined task of “Cyberspace.”

In the space of five years, the command had gone from just one mission (its half-century-long responsibility of “Nuclear Deterrence”) to a total of eight. It had gone from being nominally defensive to offensive: from being a purported weapon of last resort that hopefully would ‘never be used’—to ‘being used for everything.’ If before, Strategic Command had represented an end-of-the-world nightmare straight out of “Dr. Strangelove,” this ‘New StratCom’ (with now conventional as well as nuclear war-fighting powers) was ‘Dr. Strangelove on steroids.’ Never in the history of the world had there been a military instrument of such power and global reach.

In testimony before Congress in February 2008, the current StratCom Commander (four-star Air Force General and former astronaut Kevin Chilton) went so far as to suggest that the name actually be changed from “Strategic Command” to “Global Command” to better reflect the scope and nature of the command’s new duties.

If what these eight missions have in common, though, is their ‘global’ scope and nature, what knits them together is ‘space.’

Fifteen years ago—during the Clinton Administration—the Pentagon began systematically ‘wiring’ the U.S.’s entire military infrastructure around the use of space technology. Today, space has become medium through which the U.S. now wages war, whether we’re talking satellite-guided drones piloted from a trailer 7,000 miles away or foot soldiers on the frontlines in Afghanistan.

And U.S. Strategic Command—as the mission agent for space—has become the linchpin for virtually every military action the U.S. now undertakes.

As the chair of the Colorado Springs-based “Space Foundation” bluntly expressed it at the “Strategic Space and Defense 2006” conference in Omaha, “StratCom is a laboratory for the future of warfare.”

Right this instant, StratCom is flying those Predator and Reaper drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s in charge of the missile ‘defense’ installations proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic. Through its “Component Command” of the National Security Agency (NSA), StratCom is eavesdropping on our phone calls, monitoring our emails and textings and tracking our financial activities. It’s shooting down errant satellites, lobbying for new generations of nuclear weapons and actively planning the next war—whether against so-called ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea or a geo-political rival like China. With a simple ‘go-ahead’ from the White House, StratCom is now authorized to attack any place on the face of the earth in one hour—using either conventional or nuclear weapons—on the mere suspicion of a threat to the U.S. national interests…

Sixty minutes from now, StratCom could have started the next war, and the first Congress would hear about it would be on CNN.

Unlikely as it sounds, the military command center for America’s global empire is buried out on the Nebraska prairie six stories down. It’s from here that the U.S. flexes its global muscle and seeks to enforce its will. And it’s why we say that StratCom is the most dangerous place on the face of the earth.

But there’s an Achilles heel in this imperial design, for which StratCom acts as the hub.

Strategically, the U.S. has pursued a policy of space dominance because space is the ultimate ‘high ground.’ Whoever controls space can control the earth beneath.

As StratCom is quickly discovering, however—in today’s world—to ‘control space’ you also have to be able to control ‘cyberspace.’ If you can’t protect your space assets and communication network from cyber attack, you can’t control space.

And to hear Commander Chilton tell it, at present, the U.S. can’t.

The most powerful war machine ever assembled is vulnerable—not from incoming ICBMs, some looming chemical-biological attack or a terrorist insurgency—but from hackers. Nowadays, enemies and rivals don’t need to match the U.S.’s $740 billion annual military budget to be a viable threat. They just need a good computer.

And the specter of an attack that could hack into military battlefield systems or blind aerospace defense networks is now haunting StratCom and Pentagon officials’ sleep.

In an interview with reporters on May 8, 2009, Chilton disclosed that the Pentagon’s unclassified networks are probed thousands of times a day, as hackers try to steal information on military programs or planning. And the number of intrusions is on the rise. “I worry,” he said, “when I see important information is taken from our networks.”

The Pentagon itself disclosed in April that it had spent more than $100 million in just the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems.

But the military information ‘grid’ is just half of the problem.

The civilian information grid is equally at risk.

Former Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, warned last year that “the ability to threaten the U.S. money supply is the equivalent of today’s nuclear weapon.” A successful attack on a single large U.S. bank, he said, would have an “order-of-magnitude greater impact on the global economy” than the attacks of 9/11. Earlier this spring, the National Intelligence Director (NID) reported that it had evidence that the electrical grid itself had been compromised. “Do I worry about those grids, and about air traffic control systems, water supply systems and so on? You bet I do,” said Joel Brenner, who oversees counter-intelligence operation for the NID office.

In response, StratCom has come out swinging.

Commander Chilton asserted in his interview that the U.S. would consider using military force against an enemy who attacks and disrupts the nation’s critical networks. “A good defense also depends on a good offense” he told a reporter with the AP. “‘I don’t think you take anything off the table when you provide options’ to the defense secretary or president, in the wake of an attack, whether the weapon is a missile or a computer program.”

At this point though, StratCom’s “Cyber Command” is more virtual than real. Although the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, has been proposed as the new command’s new home (and its director, Air Force General and StratCom Component Commander Keith Alexander, as the new head of operations), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hasn’t yet given his approval and no timeline has been set.

That will change. Soon.

With the Pentagon having put all its network eggs in the basket of space, no expense will be spared to seek to gain dominance in cyberspace (just as none was spared to dominate space).

Count on StratCom, accordingly, becoming bigger, more powerful and even quicker on the trigger.

And expect the command center for the U.S. military empire to be in Nebraska for a long time to come.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Activists Demand Special Prosecutor

200 Organizations Ask Holder to Appoint a Special Prosecutor for Bush, Cheney, et alia

Two hundred organizations, including After Downing Street,, the Robert Jackson Steering Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, the Society of American Law Teachers, Human Rights USA, the American Freedom Campaign, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, have signed a joint statement urging Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor for former top officials of the Bush Administration.

The complete list of organizations can be found at

The complete statement reads as follows:

We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.

Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or “truth” commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.

Iraqi War Casualties: May 3rd - 9th

Those who died in Iraq from May 3 to 9:

Spc Jeremiah McCleery 24 Portola CA
Spc Jake Velloza 22 Inverness CA
Spc Shawn Sykes 28 Portsmouth VA
Pvt Justin Hartford 21 Elmira NY
Sgt Randy Agno 29 Pearl City HI
Spc Omar Albrak 21 Chicago IL

10 were seriously wounded.
5 were returned to occupation.
88 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

In Afghanistan were killed:

Cpl Sergei Motz 21 Germany
Sgt William Vile 27 Philadelphia PA
Cpl Sean Binnie 22 UK
Pvt Adrian Sheldon 25 UK
Sgt Ben Ross 34 UK
Cpl Kumar Pun 31 UK

416 Afghanis and Pakistanis were killed.


Swine Flu: Commentary by Richard Aberdeen

Here's a couple of videos on the right-wing "nutjob" blaming of Mexicans for the swine flu epidemic. This first video of mine has 800 hits in less than a week and has received more immediate response of any of my videos. The second video by the "Young Turks" takes a similar slant as mine, but it contains less disease mythology information and more quotes from various right-wing radio fanatics for emphasis. If anyone had any doubt previously that Fox News is mainly nothing but a front for the KKK and human slavery and oppression, pretty much all doubt has now been removed regarding the unbridled racist cancer lurking inside the Republican elephant.

Origins of disease is a very tricky thing to trace; blaming citizens of Mexico for the swine flu is equivalent to blaming Native Americans for diseases transmitted to them by Europeans. Since Mexico City and surrounding areas are heavily traveled tourist destinations, this current virus strain could well have been transmitted to a less immune population in Mexico from anywhere in the world, including the United States; any nation on the globe could be the origin of this particular virus strain and, the same type of virus could appear to "originate" in the United States, China or India, carried in from a more immune population, just as it probably was this time in Mexico. Where a virus "breaks out" is probably a good candidate for not being the place of origination, given today's global travel ability.

Can We Blame Mexicans for the Swine Flu?

Young Turks swine flu video response

Thank You, Sincerely
Richard Aberdeen
Freedom Tracks Records
615-889-1669 - 800-992-8084

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Long War

Understanding the Long War

Editor's Note: This is first of a two-part essay.

The concept of the "Long War" is attributed to former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid, speaking in 2004. Leading counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, an Iraq combat veteran and now the head of the Center for a New American Security, writes that "there is a growing realization that the most likely conflicts of the next fifty years will be irregular warfare in an 'Arc of Instability' that encompasses much of the greater Middle East and parts of Africa and Central and South Asia." The Pentagon's official Quadrennial Defense Review (2005) commits the United States to a greater emphasis on fighting terrorism and insurgencies in this "arc of instability." The Center for American Progress repeats the formulation in arguing for a troop escalation and ten-year commitment in Afghanistan, saying that the "infrastructure of jihad" must be destroyed in "the center of an 'arc of instability' through South and Central Asia and the greater Middle East."

The implications of this doctrine are staggering. The very notion of a fifty-year war assumes the consent of the American people, who have yet to hear of the plan, for the next six national elections. The weight of a fifty-year burden will surprise and dismay many in the antiwar movement. Most Americans living today will die before the fifty-year war ends, if it does. Youngsters born and raised today will reach middle age. Unborn generations will bear the tax burden or fight and die in this "irregular warfare."
There is a chance, of course, that the Long War can be prevented. It may be unsustainable, a product of imperial hubris. Public opinion may tire of the quagmires and costs--but only if there is a commitment to a fifty-year peace movement.

In this perspective, Iraq is only an immediate front, with Afghanistan and Pakistan the expanding fronts, in a single larger war from the Middle East to South Asia. Instead of thinking of Iraq like Vietnam, a war that was definitively ended, it is better to think of Iraq as a setback, or better a stalemate, on a larger battlefield where victory or defeat are painfully hard to define over a timespan of five decades.

I propose to begin by examining the military doctrines that give rise to notions of the Long War. The peace movement often adopts the biblical commitment to "study war no more," but in this case it may prove useful to become students of military strategies and tactics. (Those wishing to become students of Long War theory should consult the bibliography at the end of this essay.)

1. The New Counterinsurgency Is a Return to the Indian Wars.

In a September 24, 2007 article in The Nation, "The New Counterinsurgency," I wrote that the Petraeus plan for Iraq was as old as our nation's long Indian wars. That thesis was confirmed in the writings of the neo-conservative Robert Kaplan, in his September 21, 2004, article in the Wall Street Journal, "Indian Country."

Kaplan is obsessed with the anarchy loosed on the world by post-colonial, tribal-based societies, and emphasizes the need for small wars carried on "off camera," so to speak. Kaplan approvingly quotes one US officer as opining that "you want to whack bad guys quietly and cover your tracks with humanitarian aid projects." The comparison Kaplan makes between today's Long War and our previous Indian wars is that the "enemies" were highly decentralized tribal nations who had to be defeated in one campaign after another. He realizes that conventional war against the Plains and western tribes was an unsustainable strategy and that the native people were overwhelmed by an inexhaustible supply of white settlers and superior technology like the railroad. Fighting the new Indian wars today, he advises, means "the smaller the American footprint and the less notice it draws from the international media, the more effective is the operation." In this sense, Iraq is a strategic setback for Kaplan, "a mess that no one wants to repeat."

2. Strategic Military Framework: The Fifty-Year Long War.

Like the Indian wars, winning the Long War will require taking advantage of the deep divisions that exist in tribal societies, along lines of religion, ethnicity, race and geography. The efforts of many Indian leaders to form effective confederations against US expansion never succeeded. On the other hand, US army strategies to pay tribes to deploy "scouts" who would inform on and fight other tribes were successful. The main strategy of the Long War is to attract one tribal or ethnic group to fight their rivals on behalf of the foreign occupier. Nagl accurately predicted that "winning the Iraqi people's willingness to turn in their terrorist neighbors will mark the tipping point in defeating the insurgency."

Counterinsurgency is portrayed to the public as a more civilized, even intellectual, form of war directed by Ivy League professionals, with a proper emphasis on human rights, political persuasion and protection of the innocents. Every civilian insulted by a door knocked down, it is said, is lost to the cause, thus creating a military motive to be respectful to local populations. The new Marine-Army counterinsurgency manual is filled with such suggestions.

But this "hearts and minds" approach downplays what Vice President Dick Cheney called the use of "the dark side." Before a local population will turn in its neighbors, to use Nagl's image, the occupying army must be seen as defeating those "neighbors," killing and wounding the alleged insurgents in significant numbers; weakening or destroying the infrastructure in their villages, and creating an exodus of refugees (in Vietnam, this was known as "forced urbanization," a term of the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington). In the meantime, the population considered "friendly" is tightly guarded in what used to be called strategic hamlets and, in Iraq, became known as "gated communities": behind concertina wire, blast walls and watch towers, and with everyone subject to eye scanners. The lines between enemy, friendly and neutral in this context are fluid, guaranteeing that many people will be targeted inaccurately as "irreconcilable" sympathizers with the insurgents. Profiling and rounding up people who "look the type" will lead to detention camps filled individuals lacking any usable evidence against them. As one Taliban operative told the New York Times, perhaps over-confidently:

I know of the Petraeus experiment out there. But we know our Afghans. They will take the money from Petraeus, but they will not be on his side. There are so many people working with the Afghans and the Americans who are on their payroll, but they inform us, sell us weapons. (May 5, 2009)
The truth is that conventional warfare by US troops against Muslim nations is politically impossible, for two reasons that suggest an inherent weakness. First, the local people become inflamed against the foreigners, creating better conditions for the insurgency. Second, the American people are skeptical of ground wars involving huge casualties, costs, and possibly the military draft. Counterinsurgency becomes the fallback military option of the unwelcome occupier. Counterinsurgency is low-visibility of necessity, depending on stealth, psychological and information warfare, both abroad and at home.

3. What Happened on the Dark Side in Iraq

In Iraq, the dark side first involved the 2003-2004 American-sponsored round-ups and torture, only leaked to the American public and media by a US guard in Abu Ghraib. In addition, as many as 50,000 young Iraqis, mostly Sunnis, have been held in extreme conditions in detention centers across the country (some of them now being released under the pact negotiated between Baghdad and Washington). Then there were the unreported, top-secret extrajudicial killings described chillingly in Bob Woodward's The War Within, which were so effective that they reportedly gave "orgasms" to Gen. Petraeus's top adviser, Derek Harvey. Woodward writes that these killings, in which the Pentagon was the judge, jury and executioner, based heavily on local informants, were "very possibly the biggest factor in reducing" Iraq's violence in 2007. It is likely that death squads were carrying out the revived version of a "global Phoenix program," as advocated by Gen. Petraeus's leading counterinsurgency adviser, David Kilcullen, in the Small Wars Journal (November 30, 2004). Jane Mayer, in The Dark Side, confirms that Phoenix became a model after 9/11, despite the fact that military historians called it massive, state-sanctioned murder, and clear evidence that 97 percent of its Vietcong victims were of "negligible importance."

It is far more widely known that Gen. Petraeus reduced the Sunni insurgency by hiring some 100,000 Sunnis, mostly former insurgents, to protect their communities and battle Al Qaeda in Iraq. This was in accord with the strategy proposed by another top Petraeus adviser, Steven Biddle, in 2006:

Use the prospect of a US-trained and US-supported Shiite-Kurdish force to compel the Sunnis to come to the negotiating table [and] in order to get the Shiites and the Kurds to negotiate too, it should threaten to either withdraw prematurely, a move that would throw the country into disarray, or to back the Sunnis. (Foreign Affairs, March-April 2006)
Now those so-called "Sons of Iraq," first known as the "Kit Carson Scouts," are increasingly frustrated by the refusal of the US-supported al-Maliki government to integrate them into the state structure and pay them living wages. It is unclear what the future holds for Iraq as US troops begin to withdraw. Elements of the military, perhaps including Gen. Raymond Odierno, are known to be unhappy with the pace of withdrawal, and already are negotiating with the Iraqi government to delay the six-month deadline for redeploying American troops to barracks outside Iraqi cities. It is apparent that neither conventional warfare (2003-2006) nor counterinsurgency (2006-2009) have solved the fundamental problem of pacifying an insurgent nationalism which was mobilized by the 2003 invasion itself.

In Iraq, the US strategy was to speed up the Iraqi clock while slowing down the American one, Petraeus was fond of saying. That meant accelerating a political compromise between Shi'a, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq, along the lines of the 2007 Baker-Hamilton Report, while cooling American voter impatience with promises that peace was just around the corner of the 2008 elections. It was around this time that the Center for a New American Security was formed among Democratic national security advocates deeply worried that a voter mandate could end the war "prematurely."

The key operative in CNAS was Michelle Flournoy, who went on to vet Pentagon appointments for the Obama transition team and now serves as an assistant secretary of defense. Contrary to the views of many in the antiwar movement and Democratic Party, Petraeus's 2007-08 troop surge was successful in its political mission of sharply reducing both US and Iraqi casualties. However, the US military surge included the massive wave of extrajudicial terror chronicled by Woodward, as well as paying tens of thousands of Sunni insurgents not to shoot at American troops. Neither approach could be counted on to stabilize Iraq for long.

At the end of 2008, the Bush administration was forced to accept what the al-Maliki government described as "the withdrawal pact," according to which the United States would gradually withdraw all troops by late 2011. Since the US forces have not "won" the war militarily, there is little evidence that Iraq will become the stable pro-Western model some seek for their Long War. Even if another insurgency or civil war is averted, Iraq will be aligned with Iran's regional interests for some time to come. President Obama will be under serious pressure from US military officials in Iraq and their allies among the neo-conservatives in Washington, to delay his promised withdrawal or be accused of "losing" Iraq.

The Iraqi security forces now consist of 600,000 soldiers, including 340,000 members of a largely-Shi'a force often described as sectarian or dysfunctional. At present, the US continues to face the dilemma described by James Fallows in 2005:

The crucial need to improve security and order in Iraq puts the United States in an impossible position. It can't honorably leave Iraq--as opposed to simply evacuating Saigon-style--so long as its military must provide most of the manpower, weaponry, intelligence systems and strategies being used against the insurgency. But it can't sensibly stay when the very presence of its troops is a worsening irritant to the Iraqi public and a rallying point for nationalist opponents--to say nothing of the growing pressure in the United States for withdrawal."
4. The Long War Moves from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan

The same counterinsurgency strategies are being transferred to Afghanistan and Pakistan, with US troop levels destined to reach 70,000 this year, bringing the overall Western force level closer and closer to the declining total in Iraq. In Afghanistan, the expanded American forces will concentrate on destroying the poppy fields and villages dominated by the Taliban in southern Kandahar and Helmund provinces, a resource-denial strategy from the Indian wars. Many Americans are expected to be killed or wounded in this effort to secure and inoculate the rural population against the Taliban. Many Taliban are likely to be killed along with along with local civilians, while the core cadre may retreat to redeploy elsewhere.

The Bagram prison is being massively expanded as a detention facility where President Obama's Guantánamo orders do not apply. Bagram now holds an estimated 650 prisoners who, unlike those in Guantánamo, have "almost no rights," including access to lawyers. "Human rights campaigners and journalists are strictly forbidden there," according to a January 28, 2009, report by Der Spiegel International.

According to a RAND report using World Bank data, Afghanistan has perhaps the lowest-ranking justice system in the world. "In comparison to other countries in the region--such as Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukbekistan--Afghanistan's justice system was one of the least effective." Bagram is only one of many detention facilities that will be filled across the country; the Taliban "liberated" over 1,000 inmates, including 400 of their cadre, from a Kandahar prison just last year.

Counterinsurgency theory, based on the British experience in Malaysia, requires a period of ten to twelve years to impose enough suffering and exhaustion to force the population into accepting the peace terms of the dominant power. This is precisely the timetable laid out by Kilcullen before Sen. John Kerry's Senate Armed Services Committee on February 5:

[It will take] ten to fifteen years, including at least two years of significant combat up front.... thirty thousand extra troops in Afghanistan will cost around 2 billion dollars per month beyond the roughly 20 billion we already spend; additional governance and development efforts will cost even more.... [but] If we fail to stabilize Afghanistan this year, there will be no future.
Kilcullen and others support the current plan to expand the total Afghanistan security forces from 80,000 to a total of 400,000 overall, costing $20 billion over six to seven years.

In Pakistan, where torture and extrajudicial abuse also are prevalent, the US spent $12 billion during the past decade on a [Musharraf] military dictatorship, compared with one-tenth that amount on development schemes. These policies only deepened the Muslim nation's anti-Americanism, alienated the middle-class opposition, and left the poor in festering poverty. In addition to these self-imposed problems, the Pentagon is engaged in a frantic uphill effort to change Pakistan's strategic military doctrine from preparation for another conventional (or even nuclear) war against India to a counterinsurgency war against the Taliban embedded amid its own domestic population, especially in the extremely impoverished federally administered tribal areas that border Afghanistan.

The likelihood of the United States' convincing Pakistan to view the domestic threat as greater than that from India is doubtful. Pakistan has fought three wars with India, and views the US as supporting the expansion of India's interests in Afghanistan, where the Pakistan military has supported the Taliban as a proxy against India. The Northern Alliance forces of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks were strongly supported by India in 2001 against Pakistan's Taliban's allies, and the fall of Kabul to the Northern Alliance was a "catastrophe" for Pakistan, according to Juan Cole. Since 2001, India has sent hundreds of millons in assistance to Afghanistan, including funds for Afghan political candidates in 2004, assistance to sitting legislators, Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Heart and Kandahar, and road construction designed, according to the Indian government, to help their countries' armed forces "meet their strategic needs."

Polls show that a vast majority of Pakistanis view the United States and India as far greater threats than the Taliban, despite the Taliban's unpopularity with much of Pakistan's public. While it is unlikely that the Taliban could seize power in Pakistan, it may be impossible for anyone to militarily prevent Taliban control of the tribal areas and a growing base among the Pashtun tribes (28 million in Afghanistan, 12 million in Pakistan).

The remaining options begin to make the United States look like Gulliver tied down among the Lilliputians.

The US will demand that Pakistan's armed forces fight the Taliban, which the American military has driven into Pakistan. Pakistan will demand billions in US aid without giving guarantees that they will shift their security deployments in accord with Washington's will. The US will make clear that it will go to extreme lengths to prevent a scenario in which Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falls into the Taliban's hands. No one on the US side acknowledges that this spiraling disaster was triggered by US policies over the past decade.

5. The Quagmire of Crises

To summarize, the "arc of crisis" is turning into a "quagmire of crises." The current US military strategy in Pakistan is contradictory mix of an air war by Predators combined with US special forces trying to organize a tribal war in search of Al Qaeda. US policies already have driven Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, partly with covert support from Pakistan's army. As a result, both Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters have taken up havens in the remote wilderness of Pakistan's tribal areas. So far the US has budgeted $450 million for the tribal-based "Frontier Corps" in the frontier region. This strategy has not only failed to prevent the Taliban from taking virtual control of the tribal region, but the effort has killed hundreds of civilians, provoked deeper public opposition, and driven the Taliban insurgency further east into Pakistan.

The US faces a military crisis which Secretary Hillary Clinton recently called "a mortal threat" to America's security, the possibility of Taliban or Al Qaeda's access to Pakistan's nuclear stockpile in the eventuality that the situation deteriorates further. This will trigger an intense political campaign to "do something" about the very threat that US policies have created.

The US and NATO can barely invade Afghanistan, which has 32 million people spread over 250,000 square miles, larger than Iraq. Pakistan, with 172 million people living over 310, 000 square miles, simply cannot be invaded. But in a crisis, it is conceivable that American advisers, even ground troops, might be sent to occupy the 10,000 square miles on Pakistan's side of the border. That might result in an anti-American revolution in the streets across Pakistan.

So what has counterinsurgency achieved thus far? At most, a stalemate of sorts in Iraq after six years of combat on top of a brutal decade of sanctions. Nothing much in Afghanistan, where conventional warfare pushed Al Qaeda over the border into Pakistan. Nothing much in Pakistan, where the Pakistan army is resistant to shift its primary focus away from India.

Kilcullen's war plan for Afghanistan covers ten to twelve years, starting in 2009. The war on the Pakistan front is only beginning, meaning that the Obama administration is managing three wars within the Long War, not including secret battlegrounds like the Philippines or what may happen in Iran or Israel-Palestine, nor the controversial expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia, Iran, China and other hotspots along the Arc of Instability. Some in the intelligence community would even like to expand the "terrorist" threat to include the immigrant and drug routes through Central and Latin America as well.

Even if President Obama wishes to carry out a strategic retreat from "the sorrows of empire," he will be faced with significant pressure from elements of the military-industrial complex, and the lack of an informed public. The path of least resistance, it may appear to Obama in the short run, is incremental escalation (sending 20,000 additional Americans) while stepping up the search for a patchwork diplomatic fix. But incremental escalation can be like another drink for an alcoholic, and even that strategy would require a stepping back from the doctrine of the Long War. Hawks at the American Enterprise Institute and their allies like John McCain and Joe Lieberman are pushing for victory instead of face-saving diplomacy.

The deeper sources of this crisis certainly involve the American and Western quest for oil, the historic inequalities between the global North and South, the West and the Muslim world. But it is important to emphasis the strategic military dimension, particularly the guiding strategic vision of a fifty-year war. The Long War now has a momentum of its own. The impact of the Long War on other American priorities, like healthcare and civil liberties, is likely to be devastating. Since most Americans, especially those supportive of peace and justice campaigns, are well aware of domestic issues and general issues of war and peace, it is important to begin concentrating on the great deficit in popular understanding, that the Long War is already here, building from the previous the cold war dynamic and the Bush era's nomenclature about the "global war on terrorism."

To be continued... thoughts on The Long Peace Movement.


The older classics. For those with serious time, I would recommend Sun-Tzu and Carl Von Clausewitz for an introduction to opposing doctrines, still studied widely.

For the classic Western take on the Arab world, T.E. Lawrence's The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

The recent classics include Che Guevara and Mao Tse-Tung. On the Western side, I suggest the writings of Sir Robert Thompson on Defeating Communist Insurgency; Frank Kitson, Low Insurgency Operations; David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare; Robert Taber, The War of the Flea; and the lengthy but brilliant study of Algeria by Alistair Horne, A Savage War of Peace (the cover of Horne's reissued book announces that it's "on the reading list of President Bush and the US military," and a blurb by the Washington Post's Thomas Ricks that it should be read "immediately").

For immediate works of importance: John Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife (the phrase is from Lawrence); and David Petraeus, Nagl et al., The US Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (in collaboration with Harvard's Carr Center). A brilliant counterpoint to these works is William R. Polk's Violent Politics (see also his Sorrows of Empire).

Important books on Al Qaeda and Islam include Robert Dreyfuss's The Devil's Game; Jason Burke's Al Qaeda, Michael Scheuer's Marching to Hell; Bruce Lawrence, ed., Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden; and Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban.

Other critical books include Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire and Sowing Crisis; Juan Cole, Engaging the Muslim World; Ahmed Hashim, Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq; Mamood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim; Tariq Ali, The Duel; and Rashid's Descent into Chaos.

To follow the counterinsurgency discussions among US security strategists, go to the blog or the Center for American Progress.

About Tom Hayden
Tom Hayden is the author of The Other Side (1966, with Staughton Lynd), The Love of Possession Is a Disease With Them (1972), Ending the War in Iraq (2007) and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader (2008). more...