Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My G20 by Jase Short - Part One

My G20: A Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever
by Jase Short

We arrived at 5 AM in Pittsburgh on Thursday for the G20 protests; immediately, we were treated to the sight of National Guard troopers directing traffic around major bridges. After two hours sleep in a Catholic Church’s cafeteria (following a 11 hour drive), we got ready to go into the city. We gathered in Arsenal Park: our numbers seemed sparse at first (the media was everywhere however, one of my comrades was interviewed by the New York Times), but the student feeder march joined us after an hour of mulling about, swelling our ranks to over 1,000 (media reports say 2,000 plus). We were ready.

But the security services were ready as well. In the end, the 4,000 police and 2,000 National Guard (and countless smaller units of ATFE, FBI, etc.) proved to be too little and on Friday the city imported another 2,000 police from around the country.

The riot police blocked our exit from the park. So, being clever people who believe in reason, we simply turned the march around and walked out the other end of the park. Our march permit had been denied, but we only intended to march, which is completely legal. Americans DO in fact have the constitutional right of assembly.

The police felt differently: their orders were coming from the very top, and they do not like anti-capitalist protests as they have a nasty habit of accomplishing some goals (Seattle, Genoa, etc.). Remember the recent past, as recalled by Slavoj Zizek in his new book:

“In Washington in 2004, so many people demonstrated about the danger of a financial collapse that the police had to mobilize 8,000 additional local policemen and bring in a further 6,000 from Maryland and Virginia. What ensued was tear-gassing, clubbing, and mass arrests–so many that police had to use buses for transport. The message was loud and clear, and the police were used literally to stifle the truth.” (First As Tragedy, Then As Farce Zizek, p. 9)

We were met with an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC from here on) on which was mounted a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), a weapon which had hitherto only been used on Iraqis during the US occupation. It emits a high pitched sound which–if turned all the way up–can disperse a crowd quite rapidly, causing nausea, permanent ear damage, and more. Lucky for us it was on a low setting: those who were very close to it didn’t seem to notice.

“BY ORDER OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH CHIEF POLICE, I HEREBY DECLARE THIS AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY…” the APC had a mechanical voice repeating these orders over and over again. At times, its sentences would be interrupted by an LRAD sound attack, often right before the words “serious injury.”

We darted into the alleyways, the black block (mostly anarchist affinity groups who wear black hoodies, black pants, etc. and carry out very low key civil disobedience of the more aggressive variety, they were quite tame here however) leading the way. We assembled on the street parallel to the original one, a residential area. One would think gassing a relatively poor neighborhood would not go over well, but the police did not seem to mind. Some black block folks attempted to heroically retaliate with a dumpster to the sound of many folks cheering them on.

We fled the gas, reassembling yet again and began a march down Liberty Avenue. I took my bandanna off too early, and so suffered quite a cough (I lamented that I was a smoker). We reassembled, intent on carrying out our peaceful demonstration against the crimes of the Group of 20. As we marched down Liberty, a black block member ran up to a Pinnacle National Bank branch, withdrew a hammer from his bag, and made quick work of the two ATMs and the window of the bank (the older security guard held out his hands in a vain gesture).

We screamed at this individual: virtually the whole march. I do not blame the entire black block for his actions, but certainly they did us no good, and were not representative of our intentions. What is the smashing of a bank window to the smashing of entire countries for the profit of a handful of banks? Nevertheless, it was bad for all of us, and very undemocratic. When I tried to yell at him, I choked on the tear gas residue built up in my throat, and quickly discovered that I am capable of producing projectile tears.

We continued the march down Liberty, blocking most of the traffic, but not for more than 15 minutes…we were headed downtown…

An ambulance was coming right at us. We parted to both sides of the street. I was part of a group of 7 individuals from Tennessee, and 5 of us were on one side of Liberty, 2 on the other. Before we could reassemble we discovered the ambulance was a dirty trick: one after another, civilian vans pulled up through the gap; heavily armed storm trooper-looking men with attack dogs jumped out of the vans and came right at us. Some started to run (me included) but someone shouted to stop, so I remembered: if we run, they will follow; we walked away, as if dispersing.

But we had Twitter on our phones…we were thinking collectively, constantly sharing information and supplies (water for example)…and our small party of 5 (quite concerned about the fate of the other 2) had a GPS. We got a Twitter message that demonstrators were regrouping at a public park (a different one than the one we had been to), so we told the scattered folks we ran into on the way, assembling a small group of about 20. Eventually we made it to the park, and two other marches (in the hundreds) joined up simultaneously, resulting in a collective cheer.

One thing was for sure: the police were making us learn how to rely on each other as a collective will and intellect; they should avoid that for their own sake.

We marched again. The APC was briefly held up by an older gentlemen, who (Tiananmen Square style) laid down in front of it. We made it to Liberty and Baum, only to be attacked by hordes of riot police bearing large wooden sticks (rather than the normal batons), some kind of new orange gas, the LRAD, flash bang grenades and shotguns loaded with bean bags (one young person went to the ER). Our small group was unwilling to face arrest–especially given that many were being prosecuted and because we didn’t know what happened to those the National Guard kidnapped in civilian cars–so we called it a day and had a much dinner. Twitter informed us our comrades–200 strong–continued the march, only to be cut down to 75–then surrounded.
(End of Part 1)

Screening of 'Rethink Afghanistan'

Rethink Afghanistan: Why are we there and what does it mean?

A free screening of the film Rethink Afghanistan is scheduled for 7:00pm, Tuesday, October 6 in Gailor Auditorium. The 72-minute documentary examines the consequences of military escalation in Afghanistan and how the war could further destabilize a nuclear-armed Pakistan. The cost of sending one U.S. soldier to Afghanistan is over $700,000. Why? Conditions of Afghan women are drastically worse since the U.S. invasion in October of 2001. Why? What is the relationship between Al-Qaida and the Taliban? A discussion will follow the film, with Dr. Arthur Knoll, Dr. Yasmeen Mohiuddin, and Henry Hamman serving as discussion leaders. Dr. Knoll is a former professor of Middle Eastern history. Dr. Mohiuddin is a Pakistani native. In her role as Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University, she established Sewanee's Summer-in-South Asia Program, enabling students to travel to Bangladesh and study the Grameen Bank’s success in making loans to the severely impoverished population. Journalist Henry Hamman set up a relief program for Afghan refugees in western Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and reported on the negotiations that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan; his novel, LAPIS, is set in Afghanistan. The screening of Rethink Afghanistan is being cosponsored by the African American Alliance and the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace. For more information, contact Leslie Lytle at 592-6594 or

Sewanee Peace Vigil, Oct. 7, 4:30pm

CCJP will host a Peace Vigil calling for a halt to U.S. military action in Afghanistan on Wednesday, October 7, 4:30 pm, on the corner of University Avenue and Highway 41A. Participants are encouraged to wear black and to display a sign expressing their opposition to U.S. militarism. October 7 marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-Afghanistan conflict which began on October 7, 2001, when the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the goal of neutralizing the international terrorist group al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. According to most foreign policy experts, al-Qaeda is no longer a presence in the country. Signs will be available at the vigil site. Participants may park in the Sewanee Gardener’ Market lot at the corner of Highway 41A and Hawkins Lane. For more information contact Leslie Lytle at 592-6594 or

Friday, September 25, 2009

Space Week Events to Highlight Drones

On October 3-10 a week of local protest events to Keep Space for Peace will be held worldwide.

Each fall the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space organizes Keep Space for Peace Week: International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space. These events are intended to help educate the public about the need to prevent the arms race from moving into the heavens.

According to Global Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon, “The space week protests represent the largest grassroots global expression against moving the arms race into space. This year we are highlighting the U.S. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that are flown over Afghanistan and Pakistan by pilots sitting at computer terminals on bases back inside the US. This new high-tech satellite directed warfare is indeed death at a distance but the mounting civilian casualties reveals that the blood is still on our hands. We believe it is time to open our eyes and stop the military’s use of space for war on Earth.”

Dave Webb, the Vice-Chair of Great Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and also the chairperson of the Global Network, says, ““All of these operations, the remote control of robots and the integration with other war-fighting systems to provide a global reach of power and devastation, are all made possible through satellite communication technology. We are trying to remind everyone what kind of a destabilizing future these systems could create. We must not allow these technologies to go unchallenged. Indeed we must do all we can to stop the spread and rule of violence and destruction.”

The October 3-10 actions are being co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, and the World March for Peace & Non-Violence. Protests are expected at city centers and key space related factories and military bases. Educational forums will be held and space videos would be shown throughout the week.

To see the list of Space Week protest sites check

Monday, September 21, 2009

Interfaith Peace Workshop October 18th

World musicians Amir Paiss (co-founder of the Israeli / world music band, Sheva, or “Seven”) and Gabriel Meyer Halevy (co-founder of the Sulha Peace Project) will be here on October 17 & 18 to lead workshops on PEACEBUILDING in ISRAEL-PALESTINE. Anyone who is interested in Middle East peace is invited to attend, as these events are open to the public – and no prior knowledge is necessary! The only prerequisite is an open mind and open heart.

The Sulha Peace Project is a joint Israeli and Palestinian peace festival founded in 2001 which brings together Jews, Muslims and Christians (from Israel-Palestine and around the globe) to rebuild trust, restore dignity, and pave the way for peace in the Middle East. "Sulha" is an Arabic word describing an indigenous process of mediation. To learn more about the Sulha Peace Project, go to

An Interfaith Peace Workshop led by members of the Sulha Peace Project

Sunday, October 18, 2009
2:00 – 4:00 pm
West End Synagogue
3810 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37205

An afternoon Workshop & Kirtan (sacred chanting) on the Kabbalah & Sufism

Saturday, October 17, 2009
2:00 – 5:30 Workshop
5:30 – 6:30 Vegetarian Dinner (included)
7:00 – 8:30 Kirtan (sacred chanting)
W.O. Smith Music School
1125 8th Ave S, Nashville
COST: $50 for workshop, dinner & kirtan
$10 for kirtan only

Tamara Ambar Losel
Executive Director
Nashville Conflict Resolution Center
4732 W. Longdale Drive
Nashville, TN 37211
phone: 615-333-8400 (Note our NEW phone #)
fax: 615-296-4336

Friday, September 18, 2009

Missile Defense: The Other Story

Missile Defense: The Other Story
by Bruce Gagnon

Yesterday we witnessed a flurry of emails and articles proclaiming victory after President Obama's announcement that he was going to scrap George W. Bush's plans to deploy missile defense interceptors in Poland and a Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic. There is no doubt that our peace activist friends in those two countries do indeed have reason to celebrate after their hard and determined work to stop those deployments. We also need to recognize and thank the many people around the world who acted in solidarity with them during these past couple years of intensive campaigning.

But now that we've had a day to rejoice, the time has come for more reflection on what the Obama administration intends to do next. I've quickly learned during these eight months of watching Obama in action that when he gives something with one hand it is wise to watch what his other hand is taking away.

In his September 17 speech Obama stated that his new missile defense architecture for Europe would be more "comprehensive than the previous [Bush] program" and would be "enhanced" by NATO involvement.

Secretary of War Robert Gates was left to explain the details of the new missile defense "architecture" that would replace the now rejected deployment plan for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Gates stated that he was the one who had proposed three years ago to deploy the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. He concluded that the original plan was no longer the best military "architecture" for the current "threat" from Iran. Thus instead of missile defense interceptors that would target offending missiles in their mid-course of flight, and that had a series of bad test results, the Pentagon now wanted to deploy in northern and southern Europe missile defense systems that had a proven testing record and were more appropriate for the kind of threat now expected from Iran.

The intelligence community now assesses that the threat from Iran's short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Shahab-3, is developing more rapidly than previously projected," Gates said. "This poses an increased and more immediate threat to our forces on the European continent, as well as to our allies."

Gates continued, "We now have proven capabilities to intercept these [short range] ballistic missiles with land and sea-based interceptors supported by much improved sensors. This allows us to deploy a distributed sensor network rather than a single-fixed site, like the kind slated for the Czech Republic."

US Navy Aegis destroyers, outfitted with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) missile defense interceptors, would "provide flexibility to move interceptors from one region to another," Gates said. In years to come the SM-3 will be upgraded and be deployed throughout Europe as land-based systems as well. Since 2007 the SM-3 has had eight successful tests, including the February of 2008 shoot-down of a falling military satellite with an SM-3 missile from an Aegis ship in what many saw as proof that these systems also had "anti-satellite" weapons capability.

You can watch brief video clips of Gates here and Obama here from yesterday.

The Russians first reaction was positive, as would be expected, since they were deeply concerned that the Poland and Czech deployments could be used by the US as the shield in a first-strike attack. But their concerns have not completely disappeared.

The Washington Post reported today that Maj. Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the Russian military's main research institute for nuclear strategy, cautioned that the reconfigured U.S. system could still pose a threat to Russia. "Everything depends on the scale of such a system," he told the Interfax news agency. "If it comprises a multitude of facilities, including a space echelon, it may threaten the Russian potential of nuclear deterrence."

As described by Gates and his top generals, Obama's new missile defense plan will unfold in three stages. By 2011, the Pentagon will deploy Navy Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean.

A second phase in about 2015 will field an upgraded, land-based SM-3 in allied countries, and discussions are underway with Poland and the Czech Republic on basing the missiles in their territory, Gates said. In 2018, the third phase will deploy a larger and more capable missile, which will allow the system to protect Europe and the United States against short- and intermediate-range rockets and, eventually, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Bloomberg News reports that, “This shift clearly benefits Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and is negative” for Boeing. “The move away from fixed missile-defense sites in Eastern Europe is a continuation of the more flexible, tactical missile-defense shield that Secretary Gates advocated," said Rob Stallard, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Inc. in New York.

The Pentagon’s 2010 budget seeks 250 Standard Missile-3 interceptors. It also seeks to increase to 27 from 21 the number of warships equipped to
launch the Standard Missile-3s and requests $1.6 billion to develop software and hardware to upgrade ships and to develop a ground-based model.

The Pentagon is also now promising Poland that Patriot missiles will still be deployed in that country as previously planned.

So in the end I see this as an adjustment in strategy due to technology as much as anything. The flexible, more mobile, short range missile defense systems are proving ready to go while the former Bush proposal for Poland and Czech Republic included technologies that are not yet proven.

Obama can appear to be stepping back from an immediate confrontation with Russia but in fact he is following the lead of the Pentagon who for some time has been saying that they must move to expand the more promising Navy Aegis-based missile defense system. This program has already been dramatically growing in the Asian-Pacific region and will now be slated for expanded European operations.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (Blog)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mad as Hell Doctors Comes to Nashville

A group of doctors from Portland, Oregon will be in Nashville Monday as part of a national tour in Support of a Single Payer health care system. The group is traveling to Washington, D.C., in their "Care-A-Van" with a simple but loud message: We need a single-payer health system in which the government covers everyone and the private insurance industry is cut out. The doctors will make stops in 26 cities to campaign around the issue, and they want to meet with Barack Obama in Washington to make their case for real reform.

Dr. Paul Hochfeld, a Corvallis, Ore., emergency room doctor for 24 years and founder of the group, told a crowd: "[T]his industry has hijacked health care--they are all about profits, and not the public good." The doctors say that the only way people in America will be guaranteed quality health care is through a single-payer system. Dr. Joseph Eusterman, a doctor who deals with injured workers and workers' comp claims, said he's seen people lose their jobs, and then the fear mounts. So he's mad about the lies being told by the fear-mongers and fanatics, whom he dubbed "fearnatics." As Coos Bay, Ore., Doctor Rick Staggenborg said in an interview, "Health care reform is being stymied by the same corporate interests who are the chief contributors to senatorial campaigns. With this clear conflict of interest, you can't expect real reform.”

Prior to the main demonstration at HCA,the “Mad As Hell Doctors” will deliver gift baskets to the staff of Lentz Clinic. The Lentz Public Health Center begins its flu shot program Monday, 9/21. Supporters of Single Payer Health care believe that this is an example of a publicly funded health care program that, although overworked and under-funded, provides us with valuable health care services. Just down the road from Lentz Clinic is the other end of our health care network – a for-profit hospital chain that has the distinction of committing the biggest case of health care fraud in the history of the planet. Under the leadership of Rick Scott- now an outspoken opponent of Single Payer and leader in opposing reform – Hospital Corporation of America stole billions of dollars from Medicare. The corporation paid $1.7 billion in fines. Ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Republican Senator from Iowa Chuck Grassley said, “This case is so complicated, and so huge, that no one will ever know exactly how much HCA took. This case is troubling because it shows how one company, with unbridled greed, systematically defrauded the government's health care programs.”

For more information contact Warren Duzak, 615-292-5608, 615-428-5433.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

International People's Declaration of Peace

International People's Declaration of Peace


We the undersigned, as responsible citizens of this planet, hereby recognize the immediate universal need for sustained "security through peace" for present and future generations of the human family.

In order that we all may live and prosper in dignity, we recognize the need for a genuine worldwide grassroots commitment by all humans to break the dehumanizing chains of the inherent savagery of militarism, of economic exploitation, of slaveries, of torture, of killing, and of all aspects of the culture of war and brutality that threatens survival of civilization on this planet.

We recognize that the present geo-political paradigm is systemically incapable of delivering us from the merchants of war and exploitation; and void of offering positive, alternative solutions. Thus we come together, as responsible citizens of this planet, to declare peace and work together as brothers and sisters for our collective freedom now.

May this Declaration of Peace be the spark for this manifest of commitment as initially discussed amongst citizens of this planet upon the sailing vessel, the Mass Transit, in Martha's Vineyard, on August 27th, 2009.


We the undersigned responsible citizens of this planet declare:

We will recognize, first and foremost, the intrinsic value of each and every human being;

We will recognize that even though we are individuals with both unique talents and needs, we are also one in the community of humanity;

We will vigorously proclaim that no person is better than any other person irrespective of: race, religion, occupation, income level, gender, marital status, age, or national origin;

We will not allow ourselves, or our children, to enlist in, or be forcibly conscripted into our nation's armed services recognizing this is never an option whether it is for economic reasons or false patriotic fervor.

We will remove ourselves as far as ideologically possible from our governments when war is proposed, or promulgated;

We will actively protest against wars, violence or economic oppression no matter who, or what, governs our nations;

We will not allow the fruits of our labor to be used by our governments to finance wars;

We will boycott news sources that promote war and not buy into the culture of violence that is promoted by certain movies, video games and other popular culture;

We will boycott products and/or services from companies that profit from war and to the greatest extent as possible, we will not work for companies that profit from war;

We will proclaim to our nations, families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers that using violence to solve problems is infantile and barbaric and we will not use violence in our own lives and we will teach our children peaceful conflict resolution.


War is the unspeakably evil pursuit of the worlds' ruling class. Wars of aggression are inherently war crimes and crimes against humanity and we the people of the world suffer while the ruling class grows wealthy off of the flesh and blood of our loved ones.

We firmly declare that peace is the natural law and we reject violence in all forms: from state sanctioned violence to personal violence.

Recognizing that most wars are the will of governments, and not the will of the people, we will firmly and with the highest conviction, state, that WE are not enemies to each other and we will stand in solidarity to Declare Peace with all the world.

Recognizing that the United States of America is still, as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. said the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" and the biggest arms dealer and war profiteer; citizens of the USA should acknowledge the special role that must be played and the sacrifices that must be made to help lead this planet on the path to peace and worldwide reconciliation, as the USA has allowed its leaders to lead this planet in aggressive behavior.

This declaration is firmly binding on all who sign it and the human dignity that is proffered on each signatory is its own reward.

Militarising space: The Fallujah fallacy

By Eric Walberg

The Pentagon has made remarkable strides in militarisation of space this year, but its techno-schemes are built on the same sandy foundations as the rest of its defence policy, laments Eric Walberg. In April, Air Force Space Command activated a new unit -- the 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas -- to keep pace with “the rapid changes in information technology and allow space and cyberspace capabilities to be more accessible to military ground commanders”, according to the Space Command’s top military officer General Robert Kehler. Kehler called the activation “the beginning of what will be a deliberate and focused effort to develop and evolve cyberspace forces and capabilities.”
In August, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) commenced its 12th annual Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Alabama, at the shiny new Von Braun Centre, named after the father of Nazi Germany’s missile project and one of the creators of the US ICBM programme, who along with several German colleagues was sent to Huntsville in 1950 (Operation Paperclip) to work on the first live nuclear ballistic missile tests conducted by the Pentagon.
[Actually 100 of Hitler's rocket team were brought to Huntsville by the Pnetagon to create the US space program.]

Von Braun -- sorry, I mean Kehler -- told the Space and Missile Defense Conference that global deterrence is necessary to encourage restraint, deny benefits and impose costs to those nations and non-nation states that threaten the Reich -- sorry, I mean the US and its allies.

The 2,000 participants heard lots more sabre-rattling from the likes of the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, a retired Marine Corps general. Bloomberg news agency predicted correctly in January that “President-elect Barack Obama will probably tear down long-standing barriers between civilian and military space programmes to speed up a mission to the moon amid the prospect of a new space race with China.”

There were no dissenting voices at the inauguration of the 24th Air Force Cyberwar Unit in April or at the Star Wars conference in August. It appears to be conventional wisdom that, as Army Lieutenant General Kevin Campbell told the conference, space is “key terrain” which the US can’t afford to cede. More and more countries have the money to use space, if not to fund their own launch and development programmes, and “we should expect our adversaries to take advantage of that.” Lieutenant General Larry James, commander of the 14th Air Force space forces in California (how many air forces does one country need?) said a major problem commanders face is “space situational awareness” -- knowing what’s in orbit, whom it belongs to and what it’s supposed to be doing. Among the suggested solutions is greater use of commercial partners. How clever, let’s privatise space warfare while we’re at it. Perhaps it will be more “efficient”.

The MDA told Von Braun’s disciples that it is accelerating the pace of full spectrum air, sea, land, cyber and space missile shield developments in addition to laser weapons, having just completed a successful sea-based missile interception from Hawaii. A disabled spy satellite was shot down in February 2008 by the USS Lake Erie, an Aegis-class Guided Missile Cruiser, which, as the Pentagon insisted at the time, had no military implications whatsoever. In July, the Pentagon announced plans to integrate its latest generation drone, the Reaper, into the global missile shield system. At the same time, Israel tested its Arrow II interceptor missile, jointly developed with the US, off the coast of California. The US and Israeli Defense Forces will hold a joint missile defense exercise in October, Juniper Cobra, testing the advanced X-Band radar, a farewell gift to the land of Shalom from the Bush administration. The radar is capable of tracking small targets thousands of kilometres away. Thousands of kilometres away means surveillance of not only Syria and Iran but a large swathe of southern Russia.

All this makes perfect, if horrible, sense. The US empire is on the march and the Pentagon learned the perils of the draft from the massive public protests it provoked during the Vietnam war. It already operates on a global electronic battlefield where the fighting is increasingly done by robot drones guided by surveillance systems, the idea being to minimise US casualties. This was what Rumsfeld had in mind when he thought he could conquer Iraq and Afghanistan with a handful of troops on the ground. Even so, there is a lack of drafted cannon fodder, so in addition to robots, foreign nationals are offered immediate US citizenship if they sign up, and mercenaries (aka private contractors) -- US and foreign -- are employed to help fight on the ground. Hence the impotence of the peace movement in the face of US multiple wars, although the logic of the Rumsfeld doctrine is already looking pretty threadbare.

Iraq offers a heart-breaking example of a war in which mercenaries so inflamed the locals they were sent to “liberate” that, when given the chance in Fallujah, enraged mobs dragged the bodies of four of them through the streets, burned and hung two of them from a bridge. This scene was televised globally and prompted the US to make a punishing, retaliatory assault on Fallujah, causing widespread death and destruction, with no protest from Western governments. The new old logic on the ground is: conquer hearts-and-minds by terrorising and killing those who resist, preferably with robots and mercenaries.

The logic in the heavens is merely an extension of this: Star Wars is unashamedly a first strike global missile shield system. “The Rise of US Nuclear Primacy” in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Foreign Affairs (March 2006) states: “It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. The US Air Force has enhanced the avionics on its B-2 stealth bombers to permit them to fly at extremely low altitudes in order to avoid even the most sophisticated radar.” Deploying short-, medium- and long-range interceptor missile batteries, mobile missile radar stations, long-range super-stealth nuclear bombers, Aegis-class destroyers equipped to sail the world’s seas to hunt down conventional and nuclear missiles, and surveillance satellites and weapons in space is not designed to target non-existent intercontinental ballistic missile threats from Iran or Syria, or even from North Korea, concludes analyst Rick Rozoff, but to blackmail Russia and China and prepare the groundwork to “win” in a first strike nuclear war.
On August 11, just a few days before the Von Baunites gathered in Alabama, Russian Air Force commander Alexander Zelin warned, “By 2030 foreign countries, particularly the US, will be able to deliver coordinated high-precision strikes from air and space against any target on the whole territory of Russia. That is why the main goal of the development of the Russian Air Force until 2020 is to provide a reliable deterrent during peacetime, and repel any military aggression with the use of conventional and nuclear arsenals in a time of war.” The following day Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, “Outer space is now facing the looming danger of weaponisation. Credible and effective multilateral measures must be taken to forestall the weaponisation and arms race in outer space.”

Make no mistake, the Pentagon is busy shooting for global military supremacy. This year is crucial to get things right before the expiration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) in December. A joint understanding for a follow-on “agreement” to START-1 was signed by Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in July. The US strategy appears to be to replace the treaty with a less formal agreement that eliminates strict verification requirements and weapons limits. Former US assistant secretary of state Paula DeSutter said in May 2007 that the major provisions of the treaty “are no longer necessary. We don’t believe we’re in a place where we need have to have the detailed lists and verification measures.”

More US “logic”, this time dismissing the need for much-hated treaties, which would have to be confirmed by the Senate and, worse yet, adhered to, instead of informal “cooperation”, meaning arm-twisting or merely ignoring protests. The connection between the lack of interest in a replacement for START-1 and Washington’s missile shield designs is not lost on the Russians. The CFR admits that US missile plans in Europe are seen by the Russians “not so much as missile defense as a deployment of first-strike capability.” Zelin revealed that defence upgrading would include developing “new missiles that will be capable of defending against space-based systems.”

Despite the fact that there is no popular will for militarising space, there is little standing in its way, with “defence” policy now solidly bipartisan, and Euro-silence and even Euro-cheerleading. Only “authoritarian” Russia and China call for a treaty against space warfare. The US dismisses these calls as designed to block its plans for the missile interceptor system. Well, yes, that is the point. “The practice of seeking absolute strategic advantage should be abandoned. Countries should neither develop missile defense systems that undermine global strategic stability nor deploy weapons in outer space,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the peaceniks in Geneva, as the Von Braunites were promoting peace US-style. He added that China welcomed moves to rid the world of nuclear weapons, including China’s. “The complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapon-free world have become widely embraced goals,” Yang said, referring to Obama’s call in April for a “world without nuclear weapons”. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told them much the same. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was conspicuous in Geneva by her absence.

Too bad no US generals or senior government officials bothered to drop in on the Geneva conference, where the fallacy in their “logic” could have been explained to them: a treaty signed by the nations of the world, led by all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, would prevent any “adversaries” from taking “advantage” of using space for military purposes. The most touted blaggard, North Korea, cannot even get its satellites into orbit, assuming they are of any military significance. The rogue states that can and do (no names are necessary) would be forced by a treaty to curb their appetites for cyber Armageddon, allowing the world to breathe slightly more easily.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Film Screening - "The San Patricos" Sept 12th

Sons of Ireland and Mexico.

Join us Sept 12 for a celebration of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, a group of Irish and other immigrant American soldiers who changed sides in the Mexican-American War and fought with the Mexican Army against the U.S. invasion of Mexico.

Many of the San Patrick’s Battalion who survived the war were executed, but their sacrifice is celebrated every year in Mexico and Ireland. In and era when the spirit of Internationalism is needed more than ever, come celebrate the struggles one of this first group of internationalists who made common cause with their Mexican brothers and sisters.

WHEN – 4 P.M. Saturday Sept. 12
WHERE – The Progreso Community Center at 478 Allied Drive, Suite 107, Nashville.

A documentary film entitled “The San Patricos” will be shown followed by a discussion. Progressive Historian Howard Zinn calls this film “Absolutely enthralling…. Dynamite material. A superb job.”

Midwives at the Garden

This "Labor (of Love) Day Weekend Famous Midwives Teach, Inspire, at the Carver Park Community Garden

Nashville, TN. As President Obama and the rest of the country tackle the issue of health care reform, an important question arises about the death rate for U.S. women during pregnancy, birth and the year after the end of pregnancy. This question and more will be discussed by midwives Ina May Gaskin and Umsalaama Abdullah during a presentation at George W. Carver Food Park on Saturday, September 5 at 1 pm.

Covering a full range of information that every woman and her partner should know about conception, pregnancy and birth, Umsalaama will also share her experiences in Senegal as clinical director for the African American Islamic Institute. A midwife for over 30 years who has worked as nurse/midwife at several metropolitan hospitals, Umsalaama has delivered more than 4,000 babies in her career. She holds a masters degree from Emory University and is particularly sensitive to the needs and concerns of African and African American women.

Ina May Gaskin is a midwifery pioneer, noted international speaker and author of Spiritual Midwifery, the classic book on home birth. A practicing midwife for over 30 years, she introduced the Gaskin Maneuver and is also the author of Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth. Recently she began the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project to bring attention to the issue of maternal mortality rates, which are four times as high in the African-American community as in the Caucasian community. The project aims to help in identifying a problem that should have national priority and bringing it to the forefront. “Women need better information as they make important decisions with regard to maternity care,” she says.

"This is a phenomenal opportunity to educate and motivate young mothers, fathers and health professionals on the importance (and dangers) of child birth in Tennessee. These two ladies are scholars in their field and are passionate about getting the word out, especially on both maternal and infant mortality rates, everyone is welcome" says Sizwe Herring, Director, EarthMatters Tennessee.

The George W. Carver Food Park is located at 1001 Gale Lane (10th & Gale Lane) in South Nashville. For more information, contact 615-252-6953.

AR Green Party Sues for Ballot Access

Green Party sues for ballot access

Who knew? Secretary of State Charlie Daniels has denied the Green Party access to the 2010 ballot because its presidential candidate did not get 3 percent of the vote for president in Arkansas in 2008. Several other candidates got well more than 3 percent and the Green Party elected a state representative, who later switched to the Democratic Party.

ACLU Press release and Federal lawsuit links available from this page

Occupation War Deaths: August 23rd - 29th

4336 in Iraq. In Afghanistan 813 -- 542 Other

Those who dies in Iraq from Aug 23 to 29;

Ltn Joey Fortin 22 St Johnsbury VT
Pvt Taylor Marks 19 Monmouth OR
Sgt Earl Werner 38 Mondovi WI

76 Iraqi sisters and brothers were killed.

In Afghanistan were killed:

Sgt Eerik Salmus 26 Estonia
Sgt Raivis Kang 26 Estonia
Pvt Dennis Williams 24 Federal Way WA
Sgt Ronald Sawyer 38 Trenton MO
Cap Cory Jenkins 28 Meza AZ
Cap Shaun Bush 19 England
Cpl Donald Hogan 20 San Clemente CA
Pvt Matthew Wildes 18 Hammond LA
Sgt Kurt Curtiss 27 Murray UT
Pvt Eric Hario 19 Columbia SC
Spc Abraham Wheeler III 22 Monroe MI
Sgt Jason Dahlke 29 Orlando FL

156 Afghanis and Pakistanis were killed.


Veterans Condemn General's Report

March Forward! veterans speak out against Gen. McChrystal's report
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"All foreign forces should leave Afghanistan now!"

The war in Afghanistan, like the one we were sent to fight in Iraq, is based on lies and false rationales. Instead of expanding the war, all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan immediately.

March Forward! supporter Ron Kovic eloquently stated: "As a United States Marine Corps Sergeant who served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, and was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down in 1968, I strongly disagree with General McChrystal. The war in Afghanistan is a huge mistake, another Vietnam disaster in the making. I want to encourage every member of our military, every veteran, and citizen, to raise your voices against this war, to protest, to demonstrate, to do all that you can before more lives are lost."

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, top commander of the Afghanistan war, has submitted his assessment report to the president. The report is another case of official double-speak. McChrystal essentially admits that the previous eight-year strategy has been catastrophic and an abysmal failure.

Yet he announced in a statement on Aug. 31 that "success is achievable and [the war] demands a revised implementation strategy, commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort."

As a politician/salesman in uniform, Gen. McChrystal is selling the country a bill of goods. He asks us to genuflect before the war machine and "trust" the generals.

It's worth remembering that it was Gen. McChrystal who stated in April 2003 in a nationally televised Pentagon briefing on the operations in Iraq, "I would anticipate that the major combat engagements are over." The general is either a professional pitchman or a professional liar, or both.

Deciphering McCystal’s real message is important for every member of the armed forces. In short he is saying: all we have to do is be prepared to send several thousand more US servicemembers to their graves while they try to kill tens of thousands more Afghans and then, or perhaps then, the US will have established a stable puppet government in Kabul.

The war in Afghanistan is a colonial-type war. The people in Afghanistan are among the poorest in the world, but the country has always been considered a "prize" by competing colonial world powers. The Bush Administration had its sights on Afghanistan for its resources, its value as a route for oil pipelines and trade, and its geopolitical significance as a cornerstone of U.S. domination in the region. The Pentagon sought to establish military bases not only in Afghanistan but in all of the former Soviet Republics that border it.

There were no Afghans on the planes that struck on September 11, but today, after nearly eight years of aerial bombings, shellings and infantry attacks, tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed. The U.S./NATO assault, if anything, has contributed to the strengthening of the Taliban and other resistance forces.

The Pentagon brass can’t honestly define what victory means in Afghanistan. Originally they thought Afghanistan would be easily conquered and made into a semi-colonial extension of American power in Asia. That was a fantasy based on imperial arrogance, just like in Vietnam.

Today, what they are really fighting for—meaning what they are sending us to fight for—is to help them avoid the perception of having "lost" a war in a poor, third-world country in Asia. That’s exactly why Nixon and Kissinger kept U.S. forces fighting and dying in Vietnam from 1969-73.

The other reason we are fighting this war is that it is a source of profit for Corporate America. U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $200 billion this year for the Afghanistan war and much of it goes directly into corporate coffers. On Monday, as McChrystal’s report outlining an expansion of the war was revealed, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was at a Lockheed Martin facility pledging to spend $300 billion on new fighter jets like the ones that have been killing scores of Afghan civilians on a daily basis.

The war in Afghanistan only benefits those who can profit from it. It is paid for with billions upon billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money while funds for health care, child care, job training and education are slashed. It is paid for with the blood of U.S. soldiers and Afghan civilians; whether it is the loss of limbs, the death of a family member, psychological trauma, forced displacement, or the long list of tragedies associated with war, the occupation of Afghanistan has and will continue to destroy the lives of millions of people.

This is why March Forward! is joining in the call by the ANSWER Coalition and others to participate in actions throughout the country in scores of cities against the war in Afghanistan. We believe that a mass people's movement can be built that forces this atrocity to end.