Sunday, December 30, 2007

Citizens to pay visit to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton

Street Address of headquarters: 4420 Fairfax Drive N., Arlington, VA

WASHINGTON -- On January 2, 2008, one day before the Iowa caucus, citizens will go to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign headquarters, at 4 p.m., to follow up on a letter requesting the Senator's pledge to affirm the points put forth by Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

A small delegation of peace activists, representing the Washington Peace Center, Code Pink, Grassroots America and Northern Virginians for Peace and Justice will attempt to persuade Ms. Clinton to take measurable steps to end the Iraq War, which is entering its fifth year. Previously, Ms. Clinton has made remarks indicating her position to keep troops in Iraq through 2013, in spite of the fact that more than 70% of Americans favor a more immediate withdrawal of troops.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcnv.org, the initiator of the SODaPOP "Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project" has made visits to the offices of Ms. Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani in Iowa where important dialogue took place, but which ultimately ended with nonviolent resisters being arrested and being held overnight, after they refused to leave those offices. The January 2 peaceful protest will coincide with a second one in Des Moines at the same time.

Though Ms. Clinton will most probably be in Iowa that day, local activists hope to dialogue with staffers who in turn, will hopefully convey the message to Ms. Clinton. It is hopeful that this dialogue along with a presence outside the headquarters, that will highlight the ravages of war and the infamous quotes regarding the 2013 date, will pressure Ms. Clinton on a day most important for her to win the favor of the caucus attendees.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

My friend Eve arrested again for speaking truth to power!

Washington -- During the Atlantic Life Community's faith and resistance winter retreat, a 76 year-old D.C. peace and justice activist was arrested Saturday for the 11th time this year during a protest against the U.S. government's warmongering policies and commemorating the 117th year since the Wounded Knee massacre.

Tetaz, and Patrick O'Brien, a member of a Catholic Worker community in North Carolina, were arrested shortly after 12 p.m. in the picture post card zone directly in front of the White House. They refused to leave the space, declared by the Secret Service and the Park Police as an area with unconstitutional limits on the exercise of free speech. Tourists appeared puzzled as the two peaceful and solemn protesters were placed in plastic handcuffs and lead to waiting Park Police cars.

"The killing and bloodshed must end," Tetaz said. "Every life is sacred." A retired D.C. public schoolteacher, Tetaz has been a regular feature of nonviolent civil resistance actions this year. She is also the founder of Life Pathways, a non-profit dedicated to helping single mothers start a career in the health care field, and establish independence.

During the last several arrests and court-related appearances, Adams Morgan resident Tetaz has refused to pay all fines. It is also routine for Catholic Workers to refuse all fines, and defend themselves in court.

The Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890 resulted in the U.S. Army slaughtering approximately 150 Lakota Sioux men, women and children. More than another 100 Sioux fleeing the battle and the army's pursuit are believed to have died due to hypothermia.

The Atlantic Life Community consists of about 10 Catholic Worker communities located between the Carolinas and New England. Each community is dedicated to nonviolently protesting war and injustice, and feeding and assisting the poor in their areas. In D.C., the Dorothy Day House, named after the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, is located on Rock Creek Church Road, NW. It has served as host during this winter's retreat.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Orleans City Council Bars Public From Housing Vote

This is truly disturbing, but it's apparent racism is alive and well in the good old USA. This is nothing less than ethnic cleansing in New Orleans!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We plan on visiting Hillary's National HQ

Sen. Hillary Clinton
4420 North Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22203

Re: Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project

Dear Senator Clinton:

I am writing to announce a new initiative of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and several peace and justice groups in the earliest races of the presidential campaign, SODaPOP, or "Seasons of Discontent; a Presidential Occupation Project." We at the Washington Peace Center are joining VCNV in this campaign, and are inviting activists to come to Iowa and New Hampshire from around the nation "to bring nonviolent civil resistance and civil disobedience to the campaign offices and headquarters of Presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, who do not publicly declare that they will take the necessary concrete steps to end the Iraq war, to rebuild Iraq, to forswear military attacks on other countries such as Iran, and to fully fund the Common Good in the U.S."

Please sign the enclosed promise and return it to our office by FAX (VCNV) or mail (WPC) as soon as possible. In the event that the pledge is not signed and returned, participants may deliver another copy your offices in both Iowa and Arlington and wait for your positive response. We assure you that any "occupations" will be nonviolent and respectful of your staff. Despite our disappointment in your repeated threats to continue and possibly to extend the current illegal war, we have hopes that an occupation of your office will not be necessary. We hope that this letter or if need be, our actions will help you to take the action you will need to take if you will be part of the solution for our country's crisis.

This matter is extremely urgent and we hope to hear a positive response from you immediately. Please feel free to call the Washington Peace Center at 202-234-2000 with questions or concerns.

Enclosed is a copy of the promise proposal, originally posted at CounterPunch.org on August 30. We eagerly wait your signature on this document.

Respectfully,

Pete Perry,
On behalf of the Washington Peace Center

As candidate for the office of the President of the United States of America, I, Senator Hillary Clinton promise to:
∑ Complete withdrawal of the U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan within 100 days of assuming the office of President of the United States.
∑ Complete halt to any and all military actions -- including ground, air and naval against Iraq and Iran.
∑ Press Congress for full funding for the reconstruction of Iraq to repair the damage caused over these past 17 years of economic and military warfare that the U.S. and its allies waged against Iraq.
∑ Press Congress for full funding of the Common Good in the U.S. to rebuild our education and health care systems; to create jobs training programs for jobs that pay a living wage; to provide universal health care for all; to rebuild our country's inner cities, especially New Orleans and the Gulf Coast; and to initiate a campaign on the scale of a new Tennessee Valley Authority and Rural Electrification Project of the Great Depression era to create affordable, safe and sustainable alternative forms of energy and energy consumption; and for other vital social programs.
∑ Press Congress for full funding for the highest quality health care, education and jobs training benefits for veterans of our country's Armed Services.
∑ Furthermore, as a member of the United States Senate I will vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war other than those funds that are essential to fund the complete and immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
∑ Publicly commit to oppose the use of U.S. military forces against Iran, Pakistan or any other opening front in the so-called "war on terror."

_______________________________________ _________ 2007
Signature date
Please FAX signed copy to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 773-878-4163

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

US judge orders CIA tapes hearing


A US judge has overruled Bush administration objections and ordered a hearing into
The tapes are believed to have shown interrogation methods that included simulated drowning known as waterboarding, which has been condemned as torture.

The CIA said it destroyed the tapes lawfully and did so out of concern for the safety of agents involved if the recordings were ever made public.

The White House has repeatedly denied that the US uses torture.

The justice department declined to comment on the judge's hearing order but the department last week urged Kennedy not to investigate the videotapes.

It also said that in light of other government probes into the tapes, a judicial inquiry into the destruction was inappropriate.

The government has also sought delays in congressional attempts to investigate the tapes' destruction, saying they would hamper a joint investigation by the justice department itself and the CIA.

"Plainly the government wants only foxes guarding this henhouse," Remes wrote in a court filing.whether the CIA violated a court order when it destroyed videotapes of interrogations.

US District Court Judge Henry Kennedy scheduled a court hearing on the tapes for Friday.

The federal judge had in June 2005 ordered the administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay".

The justice department argued that the videos were not covered by the order because the two men were being held in secret CIA prisons overseas, not at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Lawyers for a group of Guantanamo Bay inmates contesting their detention had requested the hearing to learn whether the government had complied with the preservation order.

They cited reports that information obtained from the interrogations implicated five unnamed Guantanamo detainees.

The CIA, pre-empting a news report, admitted on December 6 that it had destroyed hundreds of hours of interrogation tapes, prompting an outcry from congressional Democrats and human rights activists.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Climate Change News: Bali Forum Backs Climate 'Road Map'

U.S. Accedes on Aid Pledges, Wins Fight to Drop Specific Targets for Emissions Cuts

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2007; A01

NUSA DUA, Indonesia, Dec. 15 -- Delegates from nearly 190 countries emerged from a final 24 hours of bruising negotiations Saturday with an agreement on a new framework for tackling global warming, one that for the first time calls on both the industrialized world and rapidly developing nations to commit to measurable, verifiable steps.

The deal, which will form the basis for a two-year, U.N.-sponsored process aimed at forging a binding international climate pact by the end of 2009, could transform the way rich and poor nations work together to preserve a rapidly warming Earth, observers said. But it also postpones many tough decisions and provides more incentives than penalties when it comes to addressing global warming.

The consensus document was accepted by acclamation following an acrimonious confrontation between the U.S. delegates and leaders of developing nations, who bluntly accused Washington of pressing them for commitments while refusing to make its own. Finally, after a succession of delegates lambasted the American position, the U.S. delegation acceded to language pledging industrialized countries to provide quantifiable technological and financial aid to less well-off nations, including the economically burgeoning China, India and Brazil.

In a session marked by high drama and temporary setbacks, the developing nations also agreed to take specific steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with the assistance of wealthier nations.

"Bali has delivered what it needed to do," U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said in a final news conference Saturday night. "That road forward is ambitious, it is transparent, and it is flexible."

Bush administration officials, who fought to keep mentions of specific emissions targets out of the document, said they were pleased with the progress that had been made. The agreement will guide negotiators in their quest to produce an accord outlining how deeply the industrialized countries should cut their emissions between 2012 and 2016, after commitments made under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol expire. The United States never accepted that pact.

"We, in coming here to Bali, have not foreclosed options," said Paula J. Dobriansky, U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs. "We have our work cut out for us. There's a real need to look at the developed countries and the developing countries, especially the major emerging economies, and pull together on behalf of the planet."

The consensus among the delegates here, however, came about only after two weeks of tense and emotional discussions that included last-minute exhortations by former vice president Al Gore and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as well as a final confrontation in which the developing nations took turns chastising the United States for not, in their view, doing its part.

Despite the difficult bargaining that lies ahead to produce an actual treaty, several participants said the conference's success in reaching a compromise showed that politicians across the ideological and geographical spectrum no longer feel they can afford to ignore public concern over global warming.

"As we saw in the room today, the political price for blocking things has come up in recent months," said Connie Hedegaard, the Danish climate and energy minister, whose government will host the 2009 treaty talks.

Among other things, Hedegaard was referring to the moment when the Bali session nearly collapsed after Dobriansky told delegates that the United States was "not willing to accept" language calling on industrialized nations to deliver "measurable, reportable and verifiable" assistance. Her comments sparked a stunning round of boos and hisses from the audience and sharp rebukes from representatives of developing countries.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk, South Africa's minister of environmental affairs and tourism, called Dobriansky's comments "unwelcome" and questioned why Washington was not doing more after leaders from emerging economies had dropped their resistance to taking measurable and verifiable steps to reduce their emissions.

"It has never happened before," van Schalkwyk said of his and other developing countries' willingness to be monitored. "A year ago it would have been unthinkable."

In rapid succession, an array of developing nations reprimanded the Americans.

"If you cannot lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get out of the way," declared Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea's ambassador for climate change.

In many ways, the Bali "road map" agreement marks a turning point in how the North and South will seek to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions, participants and observers said. Rapidly industrializing nations such as China and Brazil pledged to account for their global warming contributions as long as developed nations provide them with clean energy technology and help bolster their ability to respond to climate change.

By contrast, the Kyoto Protocol exempted emerging economies from any climate obligations, even though they are poised to overtake industrialized nations in greenhouse gas emissions within a matter of years.

"What we've seen disappear today is what I would call 'the Berlin Wall of climate change,' " the United Nations' de Boer said. "This document opens up the possibility of countries who are seeing their economies grow rapidly move into a new spectrum level of commitment, supported by developed countries."

The agreement also establishes a mechanism for giving tropical nations financial compensation for preserving their rain forests and calls for expanding financial aid for countries struggling to adapt to climate change.

"We want to do our part," said Conrad, of Papua New Guinea, which has led the fight for a program to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. "It's just a matter of how do we do our part, in an equitable way."

While the Bush administration made some concessions, it also scored a key victory by eliminating explicit language calling on industrialized countries to cut their emissions 25 to 40 percent, compared to 1990 levels, by 2020, a high priority for the European Union. Eventually the Europeans relented, settling for a footnote in the document's preamble that refers to a section in the 2007 scientific report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That section suggests that cuts that deep will be required to keep Earth's average temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

Hans Verolme, who directs the World Wildlife Fund's climate change program, said the compromise produced a consensus, but "in the process, we lost substance" in specifying how much developed nations must cut emissions.

James L. Connaughton, who participated as chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said reducing developed countries' emissions by even 25 percent over the next 13 years was not achievable. "We want to be ambitious, but cuts that deep, that fast, are beyond reach."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Libraries and Information Sciences -- Yes, that's what I am studying

Upon completing the course Information and Libraries in Society, I believe I have a richer understanding and appreciation for the information professional’s role within American society. In an increasingly interconnected world where rapid access to information is more easily attainable than at any other point in human history, the need to organize such an enormous amount of data is critically important. Civilizations will continue to need those trained in organizing data and helping researchers obtain information through the most effective means.

This class helped me realize that in addition to learning about metadata tags and the finer points of Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs), and which references are the best when studying a great author or learning more about a particular nation, that it is important that an information professional understand his or her role within modern society. The librarian, or information professional, of today will need to be competent in the services he or she provides, ethical in the way he or she behaves as a professional, and be willing to adapt with changing technologies and evolving expectations within a given society.

Professional standards for librarianship and the overall information profession has been a source of debate for a little more than a century. There were simply no standards for the librarian in the 19th century, however, in 1902 the American Library Association (ALA) directed its Committee on Library Training to issue a report on existing library training programs (Rubin, 247). This report generated a set of library school standards the following year. Since that time, ALA has been responsible for the accreditation process of library and information science schools. However, some might argue that there need to be concrete competency standards for those currently engaged in the information profession, whether in libraries or elsewhere.

In 2002, the ALA Committee on Accreditation issued a report from its Standards Review Subcommittee, which highlighted a need to update the standards from a decade previously in the following areas (American Library Association 2002):

∑ Distance education
∑ Impact of technology in general on information science education
∑ Impact of technology, distance education, and enrollment growth on expectations of productivity from faculty
∑ Are there expectations on faculty to secure outside funding?
∑ Comments on diversity need to be better integrated

It appears that ALA is still struggling with many of these questions about its own standards, and there are many questions we need to ask ourselves. One key question is “Am I well-versed in some of the latest information technology?” Information professionals are on the front lines of the evolving wired world, and it’s best for our own future if we try and become early adopters of these technological tools.
I enjoyed the class discussions on ethical standards within the information profession, and I think these will serve to continue internal discussions.

Librarianship and the entire information science arena needs to have a set of ethical standards in order to provide a high-quality of professional service to patrons. The ALA has an eight-point code of ethics, the Society of American Archivists has a 13-point code of ethics, and a few other professional associations have their own ethical standards.

Somewhere along Daft’s continuum, with codified law on one end and free choice on the other, ethics will help guide us through difficult choices. A couple questions to always keep in mind are (Rubin, 331):

∑ What extent is the organization or individual professional socially responsible or irresponsible when acting in a particular manner?
∑ What extent are the actions of the organization or individuals acting in its behalf harming or benefiting other individuals, organizations, or the profession?

Somewhat related to the above discussion is the issue of censorship, and the need to weigh a community’s values vs. the right of the individual to have open access to information. Personally, I believe the information professional should be an activist for open access and equal service to all patrons. I tend to take Ranganathan’s five laws of librarianship to heart: books are for use, books are for all, every book its reader, save time for the reader, and the library is a growing organism.

Perhaps the most intriguing and challenging of Ranganathan’s five laws is the last, as libraries and other places of information services are constantly evolving (growing). The librarian, or information professional, must stay abreast of these changes and I personally think he or she should try their best to be early adopters of information technology.

In the 1980s libraries shifted dramatically from card catalogs to OPACs, and today we are witnessing the beginnings of Web 2.0. There are new challenges and opportunities for librarians and others in the information sciences field to go to the patron via the Internet, rather than always having the user come to them. Although some have criticized the name Web 2.0, as it was not an entirely new version of the World Wide Web, but rather there were “new things coming, and the ‘2.0’ referred to whatever those might turn out to be. (Paul Graham, 2005)”

What we are witnessing now in regards to libraries and librarians, and other information professionals, is an attempt to reach out through more collaborative and user created Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook and Del.icio.us. There will no doubt be further information technology advancements, and it’s important for information specialists, librarians included, to quickly adopt these, perhaps even quicker than the society at large.

Bibliography

American Library Association. 2007. COA Standards Review Subcommittee.
http://www.ala.org/ala/accreditation/accredstandards/index.cfm
(accessed December 4, 2007).

Graham, Paul. Web 2.0. http://www.paulgraham.com/web20.html
(accessed December 4, 2007).

Rubin, Richard. 2004. Foundations of Library and Information Science. New York:
Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why the CIA tapes were destroyed...


Americans often need their memories refreshed. This is an old report, but apparently this came out within a month of when the now infamous CIA interrogation tapes were destroyed... Retired agent John Kiriakou is now making major headlines, finally admitting that yes the CIA used water-boarding, and yes it is in fact a form of torture. Anyhow, it's helpful to see what was going on regarding the agency and torture at the time.

ASIL Insight
Alleged CIA Kidnapping of Muslim Cleric in Italy
By Frederic L. Kirgis
July 7, 2005

Introduction

In late June 2005, it was reported that an Italian judge had issued arrest warrants for 13 U.S. CIA agents accused of kidnapping imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr in Italy in 2003, and sending him to Egypt for questioning regarding possible terrorist activities. Nasr apparently is an Egyptian national, although he was living in Italy when he was abducted. Allegedly, when he arrived in Egypt he was imprisoned and tortured during interrogations. The Italian government has denied that it condoned his abduction, but former CIA agents have said that an Italian intelligence official gave his implicit approval.[1]

The case raises several questions under international law. Did the United States violate Italy’s sovereignty if CIA agents abducted Nasr in Italy, as alleged? Did the United States violate its international legal obligations if it delivered Nasr to the control of a government that would be likely to torture him or to acquiesce in acts of torture against him? Could Italy obtain extradition of the CIA agents (who apparently are no longer in Italy)? If Italy does get custody of them, would they be immune under international law from prosecution in Italian courts?

Italy’s Sovereignty

In 1927 the World Court set forth a basic rule: “the first and foremost restriction imposed by international law upon a State is that – failing the existence of a permissive rule to the contrary – it may not exercise its power in any form in the territory of another State.”[2] Agents of one State who abduct someone in another State would be exercising State power. There is no general rule of international law permitting that kind of State power in the territory of another State. Nevertheless, the latter State – Italy in this case – could waive its right to object, by consenting to the exercise of power. If Italian officials did consent, even tacitly, that should do away with the violation-of-sovereignty issue.

The Torture Issue

Torture is universally regarded as a violation of international law. No government openly asserts that torture is lawful. It is condemned under several treaties, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a multilateral treaty to which 139 States (including Egypt, Italy and the United States) are parties. Article 3 of the Convention against Torture says, “No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” It goes on to say that the existence of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights should be taken into account in ascertaining whether that standard is met. The United States understands “substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture” to mean “if it is more likely than not that he would be tortured.”[3]

It could be argued that even if U.S. agents kidnapped Nasr and had him delivered to Egypt for questioning, the United States did not “expel, return or extradite him” within the meaning of the Convention. Clearly, the United States did not extradite him, and it probably could not be said to have “expelled” him within the meaning of the Convention. The question then would be whether it “returned” him to Egypt. Arguably not, since he apparently was living in Italy and had not come there from Egypt. But the contrary argument could also be made, since he apparently is an Egyptian national who lived in Egypt at some time in the past.

It could also be argued that there were not substantial grounds for believing that Nasr would be in danger of being subjected to torture, even if Egypt had tortured some prisoners in the past. But here again, a counter-argument could be made -- particularly if the United States had substantial grounds for believing that Egypt in the past had consistently tortured prisoners, or had in particular tortured prisoners like Nasr (for example, those suspected of terrorist activities).[4] If there were substantial grounds, it would not matter for purposes of Article 3 of the Convention whether he was actually tortured once he got there. If there were not substantial grounds in advance to believe he would be in danger of torture, Article 3 would not be violated even if he was actually tortured after he arrived. Article 3, in other words, looks to what could be expected rather than to what actually happened after the individual has been turned over.

Extradition

News reports have not indicated where any of the 13 CIA agents are now. Since they apparently are not in Italy, the Italian prosecutors are hoping to have them extradited back to Italy for trial if they can be located.[5] Extradition is normally accomplished under an extradition treaty between the requesting and the requested State. Extradition requests are made through diplomatic channels, not directly by prosecutors or by the judge who issued the arrest warrants. If the Italian government acquiesced in the kidnapping, it is unlikely that it would request extradition of those who carried it out. That would end the matter, at least if none of the 13 return to Italy on their own.

If an extradition request were made to the United States government, and if any or all of the 13 agents are in the United States, the controlling international legal instrument would be the 1984 Extradition Treaty between the United States and Italy.[6] It says that an extraditable offense is one that is punishable under the laws of both States by a prison sentence of one year or more. Assuming that the conduct of the 13 agents would be treated as kidnapping under Italian law, the next question would be whether it would fall within a relevant kidnapping statute in the United States. Looking just at the federal kidnapping statute (which does provide for sentences of at least one year), it applies to “[w]hoever unlawfully . . . kidnaps . . . or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person . . . when the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce . . . .” Because of the words “or otherwise,” the statute has been held not to require that the abductors’ purpose be pecuniary gain. But the U.S. Supreme Court has said that Congress’ evident purpose in adding the words “or otherwise” was to reach abductors who seek some benefit for themselves, even if it is non-pecuniary.[7] That probably would not be the case with respect to the CIA agents, who presumably would not have been seeking direct benefits for themselves if they were carrying out instructions from their superiors in the U.S. government.

The United States-Italy Extradition Treaty does not permit either State party to decline extradition simply because the person sought to be extradited is its own national. But the Treaty does say that extradition shall not be granted when the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense. Many other extradition treaties say the same thing. There is doubt about just how far the “political offense” exception extends. It has been said that “[t]he purpose of the political offense exception is to shield persons whose prosecution or punishment by the requesting state is politically motivated or for an offense whose genesis is the criminalization of conduct which constitutes an expression of political or religious belief.”[8] It has also been noted that in practice, the political offense exception is rarely used successfully.[9] The exception certainly could be asserted in the case of the CIA agents, but whether it would be successful (assuming that the kidnapping is otherwise covered by the Treaty) is hard to predict.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Declaration of Peace's 9-Point Peace Plan

1. An End to All Funding for U.S. Military Operations in Iraq

2. Safe and Rapid Withdrawal of All U.S. Troops and Coalition Forces
from Iraq, With No Future Deployments

3. No Permanent U.S. Military Bases or Installations in Iraq

4. Support for an Iraqi-led Peace Process, Including a Peace Conference
to Shape a Post-occupation Transition

5. Return Control of Iraqi Oil to the People of Iraq, as Well as Complete
Sovereignty in their Economic and Political Affairs

6. Support for Reparations and Reconstruction to Address the
Destruction Caused by the U.S. Invasion, Military Occupation,
and Thirteen Years of Economic Sanctions

7. Establish a U.S. “Peace Dividend” for Job Creation, Health Care,
Education, Housing, and Other Vital Social Needs at Home

8. Increased Support for U.S. Veterans of the Iraq war

9. No War Against Iran or Any Other Nation

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Former State Dept. Official Jailed for Nonviolent Resistance


ANN WRIGHT SENTENCED TO 3 DAYS INCARCERATION IN PROTEST OF AMB RYAN CROCKER TESTIMONY IN SEPT 2007

Dec. 5, 2007

Former US State Department official and retired Army Colonel Ann Wright was sentenced today to three days in jail, for her role in a protest of testimony by US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, at hearings on Sept. 11, 2007. Col. Wright was tried by a jury in DC Superior Court on the charge of “Unlawful Conduct in Congress” (disorderly and disruptive conduct) in connection with hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee. At that hearing, Col. Wright spoke out at the conclusion of Amb. Crocker’s testimony, saying “I am a diplomat, a diplomat for peace. No peace through occupation!” Following her brief statement (which did not interrupt any speaker) she was placed under arrest and charged with unlawful conduct on US Capitol Grounds.

At a jury trial today, Col. Wright was found guilty, following a spirited defense focusing on her personal acquaintanceship with Amb. Crocker and her need to speak to him about his views on Iraq. (Col. Wright was one of the Foreign Service officers who helped Amb. Crocker reopen the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in Dec. 2001.)

After her conviction by the jury, DC Superior Court Associate Judge Zinora Mitchell-Rankin sentenced Col. Wright to a period of 6 months supervised probation, 6 months suspended sentence with 3 days served, community service and a small fine. She was remanded by US Marshals immediately to begin serving her 3-day sentence in the DC Correction Center.

Col. Wright will resume her speaking tour next week, speaking on her forthcoming book and the situation in Iraq and Iran.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Republican candidates failed a quiz on the U.S. Constitution

Tonight, the Constitution Died
Wed Nov 28, 2007

There was a moment in tonight's YouTube Republican debate that terrified me.

No, it wasn't Romney's chilling equivocation on waterboarding: that was expected, and at least for this electoral cycle, thank God, the party still has John McCain's awesome moral clarity on that issue. Nor was it Tom Tancredo's conflation of the U.S. armed forces with medieval Christian crusaders; after all, the guy doesn't have a chance, any more than does Ron Paul, whose views on the Trilateral Commission reveal him to be only one missed day of meds shy of the reeking lunatics with hand-lettered signs who prowl Lafayette Square.

No, what had me shaking with anger and fear tonight was the moment when the Constitution slipped into the abyss for good, and nobody--but nobody--in that auditorium appeared to notice that it has. Did you?

I'm talking about the moment when an ordinary American--an all too typical American--
--held up a Bible and said (I write from memory, but this was his meaning): "I'm going to ask you a question whose answer will tell us all we need to know about every one of you: do you believe that every single word of this book is true?"

And Giuliani answered like a sensible Catholic. And Romney answered like a Mormon scared to admit to the Book of Mormon. And Huckabee answered like a good Baptist minister, a good pastoral answer balancing faith and reasoned understanding. . . .

And I looked up and realized that the Constitution had vanished. Because no one--not one candidate, not Anderson Cooper the moderator, not a single person in that packed and often raucous audience--spoke the only possible Constitutionally permissible answer:

Article.VI. . . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

No religious test. None. Yet what we saw tonight was a religious test. A crystal-clear, absolutely open and direct violation of Article VI of the Constitution.

And no one in that roomful of politicians and political experts and politically committed Americans had the courage to say so, or perhaps even the knowledge to recognize it for what it was.

In that silence, we had to know: the Constitution has died, and we are so encircled by those who killed it that we cannot even see that it is gone.

UPDATE: In fairness, I should clarify that what shocked me was not that the question was asked (which was itself an exercise of individual right)--it was how it was (not) answered. A citizen said: your religious opinion tells us all we need to know to decide whether you should be president. And no one onstage or off objected to that at all.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Washington Peace Center event next week!

The Washington Peace Center presents...

To Know The Other:
The Human Face of Palestine


Thursday, November 29th, 2007
7:00pm
Martin Luther King Memorial Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

Nora Buch, a local DC teacher, returned to Washington, DC from Palestine where she taught English at Al Quds University in the West Bank. She lived with Palestinians in the village of Abu Dees where the university is located. Abu Dees was a part of Jerusalem before the construction of the Separation (Apartheid) Wall. During her time in Palestine her understanding of this region deepened. Nora will share her experiences living and working with Palestinians through an interactive presentation with the audience.

This event will mark the commitment by The Washington Peace Center for at least one year, November 29, 2007 to November 29, 2008, to commemorate Al-Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian ethnic cleansing and dispossession. This commitment will also involve organizing and supporting events and activities concerning peace with justice in The Middle East.

Please join us in this work!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stop Hate Crimes and Police Violence Concert on the Mall

Today a great Go-go and Hip-hop concert was held on the National Mall. It was organized by the HipHop Caucus and drew attention to the racially-motivated hate crimes happening across the nation. Yes, racism is alive and well in America. It's sad that these heinous and violent hate crimes seem to be happening more frequently. Mentioned were 14-year-old Deonte Rawlings' murder at the hands of police here in D.C., the Jena 6 (Louisiana) injustice and the abominable torture and rape of Megan Williams in West Virginia.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood did a great job as emcee, and there were some excellent D.C. Go-go acts, including TCB. Marine mom Tina Richards was working hard, as she often does and it's good to see her as such a solid working partner with Rev. Yearwood.

The speakers were eloquent, and expressed truly justified outrage at how messed up things are when it comes to how black citizens are viewed by the prevailing power structure. I enjoyed listening to the New Black Panther Party speaker Malik Shabazz who is the attorney for Megan Williams, that was until he uttered one word. It is a hate word. He was saying that black men must defend black women's dignity and honor, and must always show them respect. Which I completely agree with, and thought was really very powerful and truthful. But then he said if they fail to do this, they are nothing but "punks and FAGOTS." It's too bad that he used a word that is essentially the same as the horrible horrible N word. He tried to clarify saying that his use of the word was "political" and not homophobic. But, excuse me, as a straight male saying that -- I think he can understand the implications and how hurtful it can be. Besides that his speech was excellent.

Also, it was disappointing to see so few white folks there. The progressive movement is divided. At this event it was 90% black, and at peace marches, it's about 90% white. How can we seriously address racism in America, if we as progressives continue to divide ourselves along color lines? We must reach out across all barriers!

Megan Williams' story should be known by every single American. It is absolutely horrific. Here is an account of what happened to this 20-year-old woman:

This is an this ugly and outrageous ordeal. Prosecutors said. “Every time they stabbed her, they called her "nigger." Carmen Williams, the mother, told The Charleston Gazette. “She wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, ‘Mommy.’ What’s really, really bad is, we don’t know everything, and they did to her. She is crying all the time.” No doubt, had she not been rescued they were going to kill her and throw her in a nearby lake.

Arrested are: Frankie Brewster, 49, and her son Bobby Brewster, 24., Karen Burton, 46; her daughter Alisha, 23; Danny Combs, 20, and George Messer, 27 –six whites from nearby Logan County, West Virginia. The suspects took turns beating, stabbing, choking and sexually abusing Williams, while consistently threatening her with death, according to criminal complaints. A rope was placed around Williams’ neck, her hair was ripped out and she was made to eat dog and rat feces, drink from a toilet and lick up blood, the complaint charges. At one point, she was sexually assaulted while scalding water and melting hot wax from a candle was poured on her body. At another point she was forced to lick the toes of the sadistic defendants. She was stabbed in the leg at least four times and both of her ankles were cut by a female suspect who allegedly taunted her, saying, “This one is for Kunta Kinte, and that’s what we do to niggers around here.”

“The Megan Williams case is beyond a doubt, one of the worst hate crimes in U.S. History. The Megan Williams case is even worse than the case of the Jena 6”…said Attorney Malik Shabazz Esq., Megan Williams Family Attorney and Spokesman for Black Lawyers For Justice, speaking at the October 3rd preliminary hearing in Logan County, West VA.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kucinich won the debate last night


By John Nichols, The Nation

When it comes to the question of impeachment, the difference between Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden and Department of Peace champion Dennis Kucinich is merely a matter of timing.

Biden says that if George Bush attacks Iran without a formal declaration of war by Congress, the president must be impeached.

Kucinich thinks it would be smarter to act before the bombs start flying.

The distinction was illustrated during Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas when Catherine Jackson, the mother of an Iraq War veteran – Marine Christopher Jackson, who told the audience, "Our troops need to come home now" -- expressed her fear that "members of the Bush administration and neoconservative members of Congress are beating the drums of war again."

Ms. Jackson asked what the candidates what they would do to prevent an attack on Iran.

Biden was especially pointed in his response, saying of the president: "If he takes the country to war in [Iran] without a vote of Congress, which will not exist, then he should be impeached."

Later, when Kucinich addressed the issue, he suggested that it was not enough to talk about holding members of the administration to account after the fighting starts. Noting the established high crimes and misdemeanors of Vice President Dick Cheney – the most outspoken champion of picking a fight with Iran –Kucinich told the crowd the president and vice president are already "out of control."

The Ohio congressman, who earlier this month sought to open a House debate on impeaching Cheney for attempting to provoke a war with Iran, among other transgressions, explained that there is an appropriate and immediate answer to the fears expressed by Ms. Jackson.

"It's called ‘impeachment.' You don't wait. You do it now. Impeach them now," Kucinich declared, over the cheers of the audience.

Among those on their feet and applauding was Catherine Jackson.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

We cannot forget Myanmar: UN investigator meets Myanmar prisoners

Nov. 15, 2007, 8:31AM
© 2007 The Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar — A U.N. human rights investigator said he was able to meet with several prominent political prisoners Thursday before ending his five-day mission to Myanmar.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was sent by the U.N. to investigate allegations of widespread abuse in connection with the ruling junta's bloody September crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

He went to Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, where he was able to talk with several political detainees, including labor activist Su Su Nway, who was arrested Tuesday, he said at a news conference at Yangon's airport.

Pinheiro also met with 77-year-old journalist Win Tin, held since 1989, and members of the 88 Generation Students group, who have been especially active in nonviolent anti-government protests in recent years. Pinheiro did not reveal details of their conversations.

He said he had requested a meeting with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, but it had not been granted by the government.

He added, however, that he was satisfied with the cooperation he had received from the government, and noted that U.N. special envoy for Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari, who visited a week earlier, had been allowed to meet Suu Kyi.

One of Pinheiro's goals had been to determine the numbers of people detained and killed by the regime in the recent unrest. He privately told diplomats Wednesday that no exact number could yet be determined, according to one envoy who asked not to be identified, citing protocol.

The military government said 10 people were killed when troops opened fire on crowds of peaceful protesters on Sept. 26-27. Diplomats and dissidents, however, say the death toll was much higher.

Buddhist monks inspired and led the movement until it was brutally crushed. The authorities began their crackdown by raiding several monasteries in Yangon in the middle of the night and hauling monks away.

The government has acknowledged detaining nearly 3,000 people but says it has released most of them. Many prominent political activists, however, remain in custody.

Pinheiro had also visited Insein Prison on Monday, but was only given access to officials.

Insein has held numerous political prisoners over the years. Many former inmates describe torture, abysmal conditions and long stretches in solitary confinement.

Pinheiro's trip was otherwise dominated by meetings with junta officials. He had been given access to several detention centers in Yangon in addition to Insein, but was not allowed to meet any prisoners.

Despite worldwide criticism, the junta continued its crackdown on dissidents during Pinheiro's visit.

The latest to be detained were three people handing out anti-regime pamphlets Wednesday at a fruit and vegetable market in Yangon, witnesses said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they feared government reprisals.

The incident followed earlier arrests of two prominent dissidents.

Su Su Nway, a prominent activist who had been on the run for more than two months, was arrested Tuesday morning in Yangon as she tried to place a leaflet near a hotel where Pinheiro was staying, said exiled Myanmar dissidents in Thailand.

U Gambira, a monk who helped spearhead the pro-democracy demonstrations in Yangon, was arrested several days ago, said Stanley Aung of the Thailand-based dissident group National League for Democracy-Liberated Area.

Pinheiro said he did not get to meet with U Gambira.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tom Hayden writes Obama about "false polarities" among the Democrats

A well-written piece, and maybe Obama will listen. Hayden is clearly more hopeful about the Dems than I am! I don't think I'll be returning to the party in this lifetime. In addition, I am not convinced that the polarities are false; other progressive Dems should also be abandoning the corporately-controlled party.

An Appeal to Barack Obama
By Tom Hayden

"The Democrats have been stuck in the arguments of Vietnam, which means that either you're a Scoop Jackson Democrat or you're a Tom Hayden Democrat and you're suspicious of any military action. And that's just not my framework." - Sen. Barack Obama.

Barack, I thought Hillary Clinton was known as the Great Triangulator, but you are learning well. The problem with setting up false polarities to position yourself in the "center", however, is that it's unproductive both politically and intellectually.

Politically, it is a mistake because there last time I looked there were a whole lot more "Tom Hayden Democrats" voting in the California primary and, I suspect, around the country, than "'Scoop' Jackson Democrats." In fact, they are your greatest potential base, aside from African-American voters, in a multi-candidate primary.

More disturbing is what happens to the mind by setting up these polarities. To take a "centrist" position, one calculates the equal distance between two "extremes." It doesn't matter if one "extreme" is closer to the truth. All that matters is achieving the equidistance. This means the presumably "extreme" view is prevented from having a fair hearing, which would require abandoning the imaginary center. And it invites the "extreme" to become more "extreme" in order to pull the candidate's thinking in a more progressive direction. The process of substantive thinking is corroded by the priority of political positioning.

I have been enthused by the crowds you draw, by the excitement you instill in my son and daughter-in-law, by the seeds of inspiration you plant in our seven-year old [biracial] kid. I love the alternative American narrative you weave on the stump, one in which once-radical social movements ultimately create a better America step by step. I very much respect your senior advisers like David Axelrod, who figured out a way to elect Harold Washington mayor of Chicago. You are a truly global figure in this age of globalization.

But as the months wear on, I see a problem of the potential being squandered. Hillary Clinton already occupies the political center. John Edwards holds the populist labor/left. And that leaves you with a transcendent vision in search of a constituency.

Your opposition to the Iraq War could have distinguished you, but it became more parsed than pronounced. All the nuance might please the New York Times' Michael Gordon, who helped get us into this madness in the first place, but the slivers of difference appear too narrow for many voters to notice. Clinton's plan, such as it is, amounts to six more years of thousands of American troops in Iraq [at least]. Your proposal is to remove combat troops by mid-2010, while leaving thousands of advisers trying to train a dysfunctional Iraqi army, and adding that you might re-invade to stave off ethnic genocide. Lately, you have said the mission of your residual American force would be more limited than the Clinton proposal. You would commit trainers, for example, only if the Iraqi government engages in reconciliation and abandons sectarian policing. You would not embed American trainers in the crossfire of combat. This nuancing avoids the tough and obvious question of what to do with the sectarian Frankenstein monster we have funded, armed and trained in the Baghdad Interior Ministry. The Jones Commission recently proposed "scrapping" the Iraqi police service. Do you agree? The Center for American Progress, directed by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, is urging that all US troops, including trainers, be redeployed this year. Why do you disagree? Lately you have taken advantage of Hillary Clinton's hawkishness on Iran to oppose bombing that country without Congressional authorization. But you carefully decline to say whether you would support bombing Iran when and if the time comes.

This caution has a history:

- you were against the war in 2002 because it was a "dumb war",
but you had to point out that you were not against all wars, without
exactly saying what wars you favored;

- then you visited Iraq for 36 hours and "could only marvel at
the ability of our government to essentially erect entire cities
within hostile territory";

- then as the quagmire deepened, you cloaked yourself in the
bipartisan mantle of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group, which advocated
leaving thousands of American troops in Iraq to fight terrorism, train
the Iraqis until they "stand up", and sundry other tasks of
occupation;

Perhaps your national security advisers are getting to you when it should be the other way around. Their expertise is not in the politics of primaries. If anything, they reject the of populist peace pressure influencing elite national security decisions. The result is a frustration towards all the Democratic candidates for what the Center for American Progress has recently called "strategic drift." The political result is the danger of returning to John Kerry's muffled message in 2004. The policy result may be a total security disaster for our country, draining our young soldiers' blood and everyone's taxes on the continuing degradation of our national honor in a war which cannot be won.

Just for the record, let me tell you my position on Iraq. I think the only alternative is to begin a global diplomatic peace offensive starting with a commitment to withdraw all our troops as rapidly as possible. That is the only way to engage the world, including the Iraqi factions, in doing something about containing the crises of refugees, reconciliation and reconstruction. It means negotiating with Iran rather than escalating to a broader war. If you want to "turn a new page", it should not be about leaving the Sixties behind. It will be about leaving behind the superpower fantasies of both the neo-conservatives and your humanitarian hawks. And yes, it is to be "suspicious", as Eisenhower and John Kennedy came to be suspicious, of the advice of any Wise Men or security experts who advocated the military occupation of Iraq. Is that position as extreme as your rhetoric assumes?

Your problem, if I may say so out loud, and with all respect, is that the deepest rationale for your running for president is the one that you dare not mention very much, which is that you are an African-American with the possibility of becoming president. The quiet implication of your centrism is that all races can live beyond the present divisions, in the higher reality above the dualities. You may be right. You see the problems Hillary Clinton encounters every time she implies that she wants to shatter all those glass ceilings and empower a woman, a product of the feminist movement, to be president? Same problem. So here's my question: how can you say let's "turn the page" and leave all those Sixties' quarrels behind us if we dare not talk freely in public places about a black man or a woman being president? Doesn't that reveal that on some very deep level that we are not yet ready to "turn the page"?

When you think about it, these should be wonderful choices, not forbidden topics. John Edwards can't be left out either, for his dramatic and, once again, unstated role as yet another reformed white male southerner seeking America's acceptance, like Carter, Clinton and Gore before him. Or Bill Richardson trying to surface the long-neglected national issues of Latinos. I think these all these underlying narratives, of blacks, women, white southerners and la raza - excuse me, Hispanic-Americans - are far more moving, engaging and electorally-important than the dry details of policy.

What I cannot understand is your apparent attempt to sever, or at least distance yourself, from the Sixties generation, though we remain your single greatest supporting constituency. I can understand, I suppose, your need to define yourself as a American rather than a black American, as if some people need to be reassured over and over. I don't know if those people will vote for you.

You were ten years old when the Sixties ended, so it is the formative story of your childhood. The polarizations that you want to transcend today began with life-and-death issues that were imposed on us. No one chose to be "extreme" or "militant" as a lifestyle preference. It was an extreme situation that produced us. On one side were armed segregationists, on the other peaceful black youth. On one side were the destroyers of Vietnam, on the other were those who refused to
submit to orders. On the one side were those keeping women in inferior roles, on the other were those demanding an equal rights amendment. On one side were those injecting chemical poisons into our rivers, soils, air and blood streams, on the other were the defenders of the natural world. On one side were the perpetrators of big money politics, on the other were keepers of the plain democratic tradition. Does anyonebelieve those conflicts are behind us?

I can understand, in my old age, someone wanting to dissociate from the extremes to which some of us were driven by the times. That seems to be the ticket to legitimacy in the theater of the media and cultural gatekeepers. I went through a similar process in 1982 when I ran for the legislature, reassuring voters that I wasn't "the angry young man that I used to be." I won the election, and then the Republicans objected to my being seated anyway! Holding the idea that the opposites of the Sixties were equally extreme or morally equivalent is to risk denying where you came from and what made your opportunities possible. You surely understand that you are one of the finest descendants of the whole Sixties generation, not some hybrid formed by the clashing opposites of that time. We want to be proud of the role we may have played in all you have become, and not be considered baggage to be discarded on your ascent. You recognize this primal truth when you stand on the bridge in Selma, Alabama, basking in the glory of those who were there when you were three years old. But you can't have it both ways, revering the Selma march while trying to "turn the page" on the past.

This brings me back to why you want to stand in the presumed center against the "Tom Hayden Democrats." Are you are equally distant from the "George McGovern Democrats.", and the "Jesse Jackson Democrats"? How about the "Martin Luther King Democrats", the "Cesar Chavez Democrats", the "Gloria Steinem Democrats"? Where does it end?

What about the "Bobby Kennedy Democrats"? I sat listening to you last year at an RFK human rights event in our capital. I was sitting behind Ethel Kennedy and several of her children, all of whom take more progressive stands than anyone currently leading the national Democratic Party. They were applauding you, supporting your candidacy, and trying to persuade me that you were not just another charismatic candidate but the one we have been waiting for.

Will you live up to the standard set by Bobby Kennedy in 1968? He who sat with Cesar Chavez at the breaking of the fast, he who enlisted civil rights and women activists in his crusade, who questioned the Gross National Product as immoral, who dialogued with people like myself about ending the war and poverty? Yes, Bobby appealed to cops and priests and Richard Daley too, but in 1968 he never distanced himself from the dispossessed, the farmworkers, the folksingers, the war resisters, nor the poets of the powerless. He walked among us.

The greatest gift you have been given by history is that as the elected tribune of a revived democracy, you could change America's dismal role in the world. Because of what you so eloquently represent, you could convince the world to give America a new hearing, even a new respect. There are no plazas large enough for the crowds that would listen to your every word, wondering if you are the one the whole world is waiting for. They would not wait for long, of course. But they would passionately want to give you the space to reset the American direction.

What is the risk, after all? If "think globally, act locally" ever made any sense, this is the time, and you are the prophet. If you want to be mainstream, look to the forgotten mainstream. You don't even have to leave the Democratic Party. It's time to renew the best legacy of the Good Neighbor policy of Roosevelt before it dissolved into the Cold War, the Strangelove priesthood, the CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala, the sordid Bay of Pigs, the open graves of Vietnam. It's time to renew the best legacy of the New Deal before it became Neo-Liberalism, and finally achieve the 1948 Democratic vision of national health care.

May you - and Hillary too - live up to the potential, the gift of the past, prepared for you in the dreams not only of our fathers, but of all those generations with hopes of not being forgotten.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eve: I am more committed now than ever

I visited Eve yesterday afternoon -- at her apartment! She got out of the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility at 1:30 PM. Her sister Ann was there to pick her up. Although physically tired, she is in very high spirits. She said she befriended prisoners and guards alike inside.

She said that she is more convinced than ever that violence never accomplishes anything. She listened and shared with all the women inside CTF whom she met. Her first cell mate was a young woman who was apparently in for drugs. She immediately helped Eve make her bed, and was very friendly to her.

Eve was able to get a Bible, but not until Wednesday. She said she did not see any physical violence, but there were many violent words thrown about. She said the guards were kind of like mamas to the the overall young and overwhelmingly black prisoner population. "My sisters in chains" is how Eve described the inmates.

No one treated Eve poorly, although the intake guard gave her a hard time about protesting against the war and occupation of Iraq. She was puzzled as he kept saying "Do you want babies to get blown up!?" Of course she thought, our military is there and lots of babies are getting blown up! She said his anger was coming from his own grief, and he didn't really know what to do with it.

She said prison was like a community to many of the women inside. That's why when they are picked up various crimes (most have to do with drugs) they don't mind it much, because they don't have a community on the outside. So, in a way, and it is very sad, prison has become their home.

Tips Eve gives for going to prison include sharing food (she liked to give away her cookies), and sharing of your time -- don't keep yourself apart from the rest of the population. Also, you must be prepared to not get a whole lot of sleep, because there are loud noises throughout day and night.

Although Eve's sentence was 7 days, it turned out to be about 6 days. We have noticed this before that one day of the trial seems to count toward the sentence.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Anti-war protests heat up the campaign trail


By Mike Ferner

DES MOINES -- A new campaign to place the Iraq war in the center of Iowa's presidential caucus races kicked off in Des Moines yesterday. But as often happens, it wasn't so much the protest that made the story as the reaction to it.

"Seasons Of Discontent--A Presidential Occupation Campaign," or SODAPOP as its organizers dubbed it, targeted the campaigns of Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, taking over their offices in the Iowa state capital and disrupting both campaigns for several hours before a total of 19 people were arrested.

The "law and order" Giuliani campaign waited only about two hours to call on the suburban Clive, Iowa police to arrest 10 activists. The Clinton campaign appeared more reluctant to remove the protesters, waiting almost eight hours before requesting the Des Moines Police Department remove nine activists. The last two hours of the Clinton occupation generated reactions from young staffers that typically send a candidate's damage control unit into overtime, especially when that candidate is trying to appeal to rock-solid Democratic voters.

The nine, along with a handful of supporters, called on Clinton's Ingersoll Ave. office at 1:30pm, telling staffer David Barnhart that they had come for the Senator's response to a letter they had sent her a month earlier, asking her to publicly pledge "to take the necessary concrete steps to end the Iraq war, to rebuild Iraq, to foreswear military attacks on other countries, and to fully fund the Common Good in the U.S."

Barnhart ended a brief exchange with Catholic Peace Ministry director, Brian Terrell by saying, "Look, nobody wants to end the war in Iraq more than Hillary Clinton. We love to hear a diversity of opinion, but we are asking you to leave now."

Ignoring Barnhart's request, the occupiers spent until 8:00pm reading the names of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers killed in the war, taping "End the Iraq War" flyers onto Clinton campaign signs, taking a brief turn calling registered voters to inform them of Clinton's war votes before the phone was disconnected, having limited success engaging staffers and volunteers in discussion, and making enough racket doing so to make it difficult to continue business as usual. In twos and threes throughout the afternoon, all the campaign volunteers and most of the staff departed.

At 6:30, Terrell and Farah Mokhtareizadeh, a 24 year-old peace activist from Philadelphia, followed by two reporters, drove across town to Clinton's Second Street office. Through the building's glass doors they saw a group of about 25 people but found the door locked. First Terrell, and then the reporters, asked to come in. One reporter, told earlier in the day that all statements for the Clinton campaign had to come from press secretary Mark Daly, asked unsuccessfully to speak with him. Staff members ushered the knot of volunteers into an interior room, leaving a half-dozen of their colleagues in the outer area who proceeded to ignore not only Terrell and the reporters, but over the next half hour, more than a dozen volunteers and paid staff, all surprised to see the doors locked and unable to get anyone's attention from inside.

At one point the reporters went to a side window to try and observe what was happening, only to have a large "Hillary" sign placed to block their view. At that, the four drove back to the Ingersoll Avenue office.

Shortly after they returned, Mokhtareizadeh began reading the famous speech that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York, titled "Declaration of Independence from the Vietnam War." The most frequently quoted lines in it are, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death," but it also contains a prophetic warning from the Buddhist leaders of Vietnam.

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat."

Moments after those lines were read, a booming guitar riff thundered from the open door of a work room adjoining the space held by the occupiers, drowning out King's words. Mokhtareizadeh picked up a bullhorn and continued King's speech, overpowering the music.

Shortly thereafter, the decible battle ended in success for the occupiers and King's speech continued at a humane level. A reporter went to the office from which the music had emanated and asked the staff member if he wanted to give a statement about the odd juxtaposition posed by a speech of Martin Luther King's being drowned out in a prominent Democrat's Iowa campaign headquarters. The unidentified staff member declined and referred the reporter to Mr. Daly.

At the conclusion of the King speech, Robert Braam, a 51 year-old cabinetmaker from Manhattan, Illinois took up reading the names of Iraqis killed in the war until through the main door strode an assertive, middle-aged woman who went about the office introducing herself with a firm handshake to every protester, as Teresa Vilman of the Hillary Clinton campaign. "I'll give you three minutes to leave and then I'll call the police," she said, smiling, "which I guess is what you want anyway."

With that, Vilman directed the remaining staffers to take down the numerous "End the Iraq War" flyers and remove all traces of the occupation. She cheerily asked the protesters, "If you don't mind, would you please take the empty water bottles with you?"

No one objected to her request, but David Goodner, a senior at the University of Iowa, retorted, "If you don't mind, would you please get Mrs. Clinton on the phone for us?" And Des Moines resident, Mona Shaw, 56, added, "And if she doesn't mind, ask her to keep from invading Iran."

Within minutes, five police cars and over a dozen officers began rolling into the campaign office's parking lot. At Captain Bob Clock's request, Vilman went up to every activist and the reporters, asking each to leave. Supporters of the occupiers who did not intend to be arrested, and the reporters exited the office. Not long afterward, Des Moines police officers led nine handcuffed occupiers out of the Hillary Clinton campaign office and into a waiting paddy wagon. The ninth was Mokhtareizadeh, who, throughout the day was not planning on being among the arrestees. As she returned inside the office to submit to the police, she said, "After reading that whole speech from Dr. King, I just had to get arrested with the others."

The other SODAPOPers arrested at the Clinton campaign office were Renee Espeland, 46, a Des Moines chimney sweep; Chris Gaunt, 51, a third-generation Iowa farmer from Grinnell; and Chrissy Kirchoefer, 30, from Marseilles Illinois.

They were joined in the Polk County Jail by the ten arrested at Giuliani's Iowa headquarters, Kathy Kelly, Co-director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Chicago; Suzanne Sheridan 31, photo assistant and artist model, Francis of Assisi Catholic Worker House in Chicago; Ron Durham, 26, bike repair and handyman, Francis of Assisi House, Chicago; Elton Davis, 45, proprietor of Sweet Bee Infoshop, Des Moines; Ed Bloomer, 60, Dingman Catholic Worker House, Des Moines; Joy First, 53, of Madison, Wisconsin; Nick Kinkel, 19, Des Moines; Mickey Davis, 16, Waukee, Iowa; Jeff Leys, 43, and Dan Pearson, 26, both Co-directors of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Chicago.

Organizers say the protests in Iowa will continue, with more occupations slated for December 29 to January 3, 2008 as the caucuses take place. They hope peace activists will generate similar actions in other states as the presidential primary season develops, and challenge candidates "as they make public appearances around the state without regard for arbitrary 'free speech zone' restrictions that may be established by candidates, parties, police or the Secret Service."

###
Ferner is a freelance writer from Ohio and author of "Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq."

Friday, November 09, 2007

My friend Eve, 76, does time for peace

First appeared on OpEd News on Nov. 5th

By Pete Perry

I first met Eve Tetaz over a year ago on September 26, 2006. On that day, we were both being detained by the Capitol Hill Police after nonviolent direct actions on Capitol Hill against the illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq. Three groups were arrested that day on Capitol Hill as we attempted to meet with our senators, and deliver a coffin with pictures of those killed in Iraq to the steps of the Capitol Building.

Eve was with the group who attempted to deliver the coffin to the steps of the west side of the Capitol, the side facing the mall. The police repeatedly stopped her group that day. The first police line they encountered was when they crossed Constitution Avenue, and were warned that they were violating a permit by crossing the street from where a morning rally had been held. Then her somber and mournful group was stopped twice more on the west lawn. During the third attempt by the police to turn back a group of peaceful protesters simply wishing to express their complete opposition to the war and occupation in Iraq, Eve was shoved and fell to the ground where she bumped her head.

I recall her during our detainment, as the police tended to a large knot that had grown on her head. She was serene and pleasant during the several hours we were held in a garage in southwest Washington. The rest of us watched and remarked at how horrible her treatment had been.

It was unconscionable that a senior citizen of slight build who was nonviolently protesting an illegal and immoral war had been treated in such a manner. Some of us hoped she would press civil charges against the arresting officers. It was not until later that day we learned the police had offered to take her to a hospital emergency room, but Eve calmly declined the offer. She did not want to be separated from the rest of us, and it seemed as if she did not want special treatment, despite her injury. A couple police officers even apologized to her, and she engaged them in a friendly conversation in return.

The next day she returned with a group, including priests and Catholic Workers, to the front of the Rayburn House Office Building where a nonviolent die-in occurred. She was held overnight with a couple others this time, as she was a repeat offender, two days in a row. During her arraignment D.C. Magistrate Judge McCarthy called her a “habitual” with a slight smile on his face.

I wonder why more of us won’t pursue some measure of self-sacrifice in order to intensify the resistance to evil policies pursued by the government, which we fund through tax dollars? I also contemplate my own unwillingness to fully follow Eve’s example. Are we OK with the state of affairs in our nation, and the way it behaves in the world? Or are we completely pacified by our creature comforts, and are simply afraid to rock the boat?

Monday she will report to D.C. Superior Court in order to begin her seven-day jail sentence. In court on Friday, she refused to pay fines stemming from two of her protest actions. She has been arrested 10 times this year, and she is now refusing to pay all fines.

The times she has been arrested this year:

∑ Eve was arrested with 88 others inside the Federal Courthouse in D.C. on January 11th (marking five years that Guantanamo has been holding “detainees” as enemy combatants).
∑ She was arrested inside Senator McCain’s office, with nine others, pleading he turn away from warmongering and pursue peace.
∑ Eve was arrested inside the Hart Senate Office Building, with six others; a graveyard was erected and they read names of those killed during the war in Iraq.
∑ She was arrested with 221 others on a bitterly cold night in front of the White House, as part of the Christian Peace Witness.
∑ Eve was arrested with three others in the hallway immediately outside of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. They were singing songs of peace and urging the congressional leader to vote against any further war funding.
∑ Following a march from the federal courthouse, where the defendants from the January 11th action had their case dismissed, Eve was arrested with 13 others dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods. They chained themselves to the White House fence. They demanded the unconstitutional detentions in Guantanamo cease, and that habeas corpus be restored.
∑ Eve, along with 32 others on the day after Mother’s Day, were arrested in the middle of the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and Independence Avenue. She knelt on the pavement praying for peace as she was arrested.
∑ In July, she was arrested twice while wearing sackcloth and doused with ashes – ancient symbols of mourning. She said she was representing “Rachel mourning for her children because they were no more.” The first arrest action was in front of the White House, and within a couple hours the Park Police released her. Friends met her and they walked to Capitol Hill where she violated a stay away order. She was arrested after entering the Hart Building, and requested a meeting with Senator Hillary Clinton. She has since sent the New York senator a letter concerning the illegal and immoral war and occupation in Iraq and continues to wait for a response.
∑ During a visit to the Pentagon with a group of Catholic Workers, Eve was arrested with three others while trying to grow nutritious vegetables on land defiled by policies of death and destruction.

These are some of Eve’s actions this year. She said once she gets out of jail, she’ll resume her peace mongering, until “nations study war no more.” When she is released next weekend, she has vowed to continue doing what she has been faithfully doing for over a year now because approximately 1 million Iraqis have lost their lives, as well as 3,850 Americans in combat. These Americans were sent to a war based on lies. In addition millions of Iraqis and Afghanis have been displaced from their homes, and hundreds – perhaps thousands – of men are held in Guantanamo and several secret prisons around the world with no access to legal representation and no formal charges being brought against them. Meanwhile, a new attorney general is expected to be confirmed whom won’t answer a simple question about what he thinks is or is not torture.

On Monday I met Eve for breakfast before she began her sentence, she said she is becoming more committed than ever in her journey to end a horribly destructive policy of endless war.

~Pete Perry is a Washington, D.C. native and peace and justice activist. In addition to being Eve’s appointed cat-sitter and bird feeder, he serves on the board of the Washington Peace Center.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Report on Eve


From Eve's sister Ann:

Thanks, everybody for your concern and good wishes. Here's what I know at4:15 PM on Tues Nov 6.

Jack Barringer, one of her lawyers, visited Eve a few hours ago. She was very tired but in good spirits. She didn't get to the jail until 5 PM and the "processing" (like a meat grinder) wasn't over until 4 AM. Her cell mate helped her make up her bunk and has been very nice to her. Eve told Jack : "I'm more committed now than I was when I got here." Remarkable!

Her visiting day is (was) yesterday. That means those of us who are not lawyers can't visit. She CAN make collect phone calls, so if you get a collect call from CTF (the privately run correctional facility that's holding her) it's Eve.

I will let you know if I hear more details. Jack thinks she won't be released until the weekend or perhaps Monday. He's going to visit her again later in the week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Eve Tetaz's statement on her jail sentence


By Eve Tetaz

Dear Friends,
As I begin my 7 day sentence in DC Jail for peacefully and non- violently protesting the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, I wish to appeal to the American people to join together as one voice in opposing the illegal and immoral actions of our leaders whom we have elected to act in our name. We are a nation of law governed by the Constitution that begins with the words “We the people…” When our leaders betray our trust by committing crimes against humanity in the waging of a war that has been condemned by international law, the highest religious authorities, and members of our own military, I believe that we must declare before the world, NOT IN MY NAME. When the government advocates the use of such tactics as rendition and torture to further their ends, we must shout, NOT IN MY NAME. As a nation made up of responsible individuals capable of making moral choices, we are obliged to admit our wrong doings in order that justice be served, and our credibility among other nations be maintained. When our leaders cease to reflect the principles upon which this country was founded, I believe it to be the duty of every American citizen to peacefully and non-violently refuse to submit to their authority, in a manner that he or she deems appropriate. I am reminded of Moses when he challenged the Children of Israel to act as moral beings and be held accountable for their actions.
I have set before you today life and death, blessings and curses.
Choose life so that you and your descendants may live…

My friends, today I have chosen life in the hope that my country will change course and turn from a path that will only lead to death and destruction; it is my earnest prayer that this nation will, instead, lead the way in teaching nations to turn their swords into plowshares and study war no more.
Eve Tetaz
November 5, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Eve Tetaz Sentenced to 7 Days for Peaceful Protests

Contact:
Malachy Kilbride, 202-841-2230
Eve Tetaz, 202-332-0599 November 2, 2007

WASHINGTON – Eve Tetaz, a retired D.C. public schoolteacher, was sentenced Friday to seven days in jail, because of her continuing protests and nonviolent resistance against the war and occupation of Iraq.

Shortly before 5 p.m., D.C. Superior Court Magistrate Judge Marisa Demeo sentenced the peace activist and Adams Morgan resident to seven days in D.C. Jail, but delayed the beginning of the sentencing period until Monday. Tetaz, 76, could not begin her sentence Friday because the court was already beginning to close at 5, and there were no longer any U.S. Marshals available to begin processing her.

“As a former teacher, I believe that a picture or simple action is worth more than a thousand words,” Tetaz said in her sentencing statement, explaining her protests on Capitol Hill and the White House. “I will continue to do what I am doing.”

Tetaz faced four charges stemming from two different protests, but government prosecutors decided to drop one charge. The peace activist plead no contest to two charges of failure to obey a lawful order and one charge of unlawful assembly incommoding. The two protests associated with the charges were a march to Capitol Hill on the day after Mother’s Day led by Cindy Sheehan and Code Pink, and the other was an action in July when Tetaz protested as the Biblical figure of Rachel mourning for her children in front of the White House.

Earlier in the day, fellow peace activists Gael Murphy of Code Pink, Rev. Lennox Yearwood with the Hip-Hop Caucus and Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke in support of Tetaz with a few members of the media.

“Eve is drawing a line, and saying that there has to be a different way – a way of peace,” Yearwood said. “This woman is an inspiration to all of us.”

Tetaz is a member of the Church of the Savior, and founder of LifePathways, a non-profit organization committed to helping single parents establish a career in the healthcare field.

On Monday morning Tetaz will report to court, accompanied by friends, to begin her sentence.

###

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Notable anti-war activists support senior woman expected to receive jail time


WASHINGTON – Three prominent peace activists will offer their support to a 76-year-old woman this Friday, November 2, when she appears before a senior Judge of the DC Superior Court for a status hearing as a result of her engaging in civil disobedience to nonviolently protest the continued war and occupation of Iraq.

Gael Murphy of Code Pink, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip-Hop Caucus and Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War, will speak to the press supporting the retired D.C. schoolteacher Eve Tetaz. The Adams Morgan resident has a hearing Friday morning in D.C. Superior Court. The three prominent anti-war activists will speak to the media on behalf of their friend at 11 a.m. in front of the courthouse at 500 Indiana Avenue, N.W.

"This courageous woman has been an inspiration to us," said Rev. Yearwood. "In order to stop continued illegal and immoral warfare, more will need to follow in her steps."

Yearwood has been arrested a few times for protesting the Iraq War, including a September 10th arrest in which he was injured when six Capitol Hill Police officers tackled him outside of a House hearing room where General Petraeus was testifying. He was on crutches for several weeks after the incident.

Murphy and Kokesh have also been arrested in the past for engaging in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience during protests against the Iraq War. They have six pending charges between them. Kokesh made national news during the summer when the U.S. Marine Corps re-discharged him, as less than honorable. Murphy is a co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace, the most visible anti-war group in Washington this year.

At 9:30 a.m., Tetaz's hearing will begin. She plans on pleading no contest to four misdemeanor charges. Within the last couple weeks, the prosecution said it would not resist a no contest plea. Tetaz maintains that she is not guilty, and if the judge accepts her plea of no lo contender, she faces immediate sentencing, which will involve jail time. In the event that the Judge refuses her plea, she will go to trial.

"The right to peacefully and non-violently petition the government is the cornerstone of democracy," Tetaz said. "I was obeying a higher law, which decries the crimes against humanity committed in Iraq."

Tetaz is the founder of Life Pathways, a non-profit organization helping single parents become financially independent and trained in the field of health care. She is a member of the Church of the Savior, and has been an advocate for the poor on issues of economics and social justice.

Who: Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Gael Murphy and Adam Kokesh speak to the media in support of their friend 76-year-old peace activist Eve Tetaz.
What: Eve Tetaz faces serious jail time due to four misdemeanor charges stemming from nonviolent protests against the Iraq War.
When: 11 a.m., Friday, November 2nd.
Where: D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW

Friday, October 26, 2007

A night in D.C.

Life goes on. School goes on. It was nice to take a break from it all tonight. I spent the evening hanging out with a good friend at a nice bar downtown. I truly love this friend, but it's been decided that we will remain friends. Life often presents you with bittersweet moments, where you know you will not receive what you really, truly wish for but somehow you know that things will turn out alright. I am just thankful to have him in my life.

Life is generally OK. Classes are a bit stressful, but I know I will survive. I spend many of my waking hours studying. I also worry about my friend David who will soon be facing a trial in D.C. Superior Court. He is easily one of the most dedicated activists in D.C.; you'll often find him demonstrating in front of the White House in his Bush devil costume. I also worry about my friend Dawn in Burma. She runs a great blog on Xanga. I pray for peace and freedom in the world.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My friend Eve prepared to do time for peace

Scheduled speakers to include Rev. Yearwood, president of the HipHop Caucus and Gael Murphy, co-founder of Code Pink. Others have been invited.

For more information:
Eve Tetaz, 202-332-0599

Dear Friends,

On Friday, November 2, I appear in DC Superior Court for a status hearing on 4 charges ranging from failure to obey a legal order to incommoding and unlawful assembly.

A press conference will be held on the steps of the court house attended by several leaders and members of the peace community for the purpose of speaking truth to power and drawing attention to the violation of the right of the individual to peacefully and non-violently petition the government for a redress of grievances.

On October 15th the Prosecution presented me with a plea bargain that called for my pleading guilty to one of the charges and facing jail time. I will not plead guilty, but am willing to plead nolo contendere which means that I will only admit to peacefully being present at the scene. The case was continued to November 2 for a status hearing. If the Prosecution accepts my nolo contendere, I will be sentenced at this time. If not, a trial date will be set.

I remember discussing Henry Thoreau's essay entitled "Civil Disobedience" with my 11th Grade students at the height of the Viet Nam War. He maintained that the true place for a just man (or woman) when the government is acting unjustly is prison. So be it. The issue before us is the right of the individual to petition the government for a redress of grievances – a right that is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy.

On July 29, 2007, I was arrested and held overnight in Central Lock Up for violating a stay away order from the Capitol area while attempting to visit Senator Hilary Clinton, and on the eve of my 76th birthday, I was sentenced to two days in DC Jail. The Judges at both my arraignment on July 30th and my September trial, told me that although I had broken the law, I still had the constitutional right to petition my government for redress of my grievances. The day after my release from jail, I wrote to Senator Clinton requesting an appointment for the purpose of clarifying her position on issues involving the conduct of the war. I have not as yet received a reply.

When the government wages an unprovoked, pre-emptive aggressive, illegal and immoral war on Iraq that has been condemned by international law and the highest religious authorities - it does so in our name. When our government sets up a detention facility in Guantanamo condemned by the whole world, it does so in our name. When it kidnaps people off t he streets in countries around the world and furtively transports them to torture facilities in lands that allow torture, it does so in our name.

We the people declare that the government does not have the right to speak in our name when its actions violate the Constitution, and that in order to maintain the ability to be a nation governed by Law, we are obliged to invoke our right under the Constitution to declare without reservation that this country to which we pledge allegiance cannot be permitted to commit these horrific acts in our name.

It is for these reasons that the Peace Community is planning this press conference. Please join us.

Eve Tetaz

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ralph Nader: Things are a lot worse than we thought

This is truly frightening, and it pretty much sums up our current political environment. Ralph sounds as great as ever!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

War Is Over If You Want It

(First Appeared on OpEd News)

By Malachy Kilbride

President Bush will soon ask Congress for about another $200,000,000,000 as the official death count of US service people killed in Iraq passes the 3,800 mark. This 3,800 does not even include those who have died because of their injuries after they left Iraq. The numbers are far higher!

According to Iraq Body Count the number of hostile and non-hostile US injured evacuated by air from Iraq was almost 37,000 as of the end of August, 2007. The number of Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion and occupation is estimated to be over 1,063,825. That is more than those slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide according to www.justforeignpolicy.org . Furthermore, these figures do not capture the real horror, devastation, and unimaginable misery inflicted on the Iraqi people.

A recently released report by the American Friends Service Committee’s Cost of War Campaign says that the United States is spending about $720 million per day for the Iraq War with $1 trillion spent already. It also reports that Americans will have to pay $290 billion for the over 25,000 Iraq War veterans with life-altering injuries such as blindness, exposure to depleted uranium, post traumatic stress syndrome, and the loss of limbs.

Considering the above facts about the human toll and cost this war and occupation has inflicted upon Iraqis, US service people, and their loved ones I often wonder about the level of response from my fellow citizens. Why aren’t more people getting involved to oppose this outrageous war? Considering the fact that this war and occupation is illegal, that we were fraudulently led to a war of aggression by the Bush-Cheney liars, that those elected to serve us in Congress have failed to do their jobs to take any meaningful steps to oppose and stop this war-occupation and are now complicit in this illegality I truly wonder where my fellow citizens are in response to this grave matter.

According to polls Americans now overwhelmingly oppose this war-occupation. Considering that the Democrats were elected in November 2006, due to the obvious opposition to the war in Iraq, they have failed to do anything of substance for almost a year now to either begin impeachment proceedings or to challenge the war-funding in any successful way. The president is the least popular US president ever and the Democrats control both houses of congress yet nothing is being done to have a government of, by, and for the people by holding the lawbreakers accountable. Where is the outrage? Will the 2008 elections help? Does voting work?

In spite of the illegalities and irregularities of the 2000 and 2004 national elections the people still have a voice with their votes. The vote is not simply support for a candidate it is an endorsement of the system. However, too often voters are left with the choice between the lesser of two evils. But, a vote for evil is still a vote for evil and we’ve had enough of that.

We must use our vote, an endorsement of the system, to challenge our elected officials to follow the will of the people. If we are faced with candidates in November 2008 who support more funding for war, violence over diplomacy, torture over human rights then we must make it known we will not endorse this. We must make it known now, not in 2008, to our representatives in congress that although they may be good on other issues we will not vote for them if they do not end this war and stop future wars.

Voting, however, should only be part of our response and responsibility because it is now apparent that those elected to lead us in this democratic republic are not doing their job. It is time for the people to lead and not just vote. But, what is to be done? There are a few things that can be done and it does not include waiting for the November 2008 elections.

We must not get passively sucked into the MSNBC-CNN-FOX News mindless debate about who will be president in 2009. We must disengage ourselves from the media that failed miserably in doing the job of keeping the citizens informed in the 2002-2003 lead up to the invasion of Iraq. We must become actively engaged utilizing the alternate and independent media to keep informed. Then we must act on this information. We need to organize locally and nationally against the plans for a continuation of the war waged by this administration and the complicit congress. We must let our elected representatives in government know that we will not vote for them until the funding for the Iraq War is cut off and the troops brought home immediately.

The same people who brought us the illegal Iraq War are now attempting to demonize Iran and lay the groundwork for a military attack against it. Furthermore, the same politicians, Republicans and Democrats, who went along with the Iraq War, are now joining in the calls for a military strike against Iran. They are all too willing to keep plans for a military attack on Iran on the table but not pursue the impeachment and removal from office of a war criminal. Many people in 2002 truly didn’t believe the US would attack Iraq. Let us not make that same mistake with Iran. The consequences could be far graver and deadlier than the Iraq debacle has been.

Since the Bush Administration and the US Congress waged wars of aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq instead of using true diplomacy many Americans have dissented with acts of nonviolent civil resistance. This is another important and meaningful course of action. In 2007 alone, all across the country, at least 1,000 people have been arrested in peaceful protests against our government over the Iraq War according to Baltimore-based peace activist Max Obuszewski. Obuszewski has been compiling the numbers of peace activists who have been arrested and gone to trial. These figures, however, represent a small part of what has happened only in 2007 because the coverage of this type of dissent is not being reported widely. The numbers of those risking arrest for peaceful civil resistance is much higher if added with the arrests since before Iraq was invaded in 2003 to the present.

There have been many trials this year in which these dissenting citizens, arrested for peaceful protests redressing their grievances, have been found guilty and other times not guilty by judges and juries throughout the land. However, these stories are not reported by the large corporate news organizations. To find out about the level of resistance to the war one needs to do an internet search to see the local news reporting and the independent reporting all across the country of what is truly happening. Another way to find out about this is through the internet news site Whynotnews.org in addition to YouTube and Google video. There is an active vibrant peace movement that is effective but not yet successful. Join it!

In 2007 groups and campaigns like the Occupation Project organized by the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the women’s peace group Code Pink, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, and the Declaration of Peace campaign have organized people to not only lobby Congress but to employ acts of nonviolent civil resistance to express the opposition of the people against the Iraq War.

Some of these peaceful actions of dissent were increasing in early 2006 and many activists firmly believe that the Congress has slowly moved from not talking about withdrawal timelines and funding to now debating it because of the pressure of these actions of dissent. Many citizens have occupied congressional offices on Capitol Hill and the local offices of their representatives in antiwar protests.

Peace vigils have been held outside the home of pro-war Democratic Senator Mikulski and House Speaker Pelosi. But, the Congress still is behind the curve, waiting to receive Bush’s request for billions of dollars more in war-funding, as the people continue to call for an end to the occupation of Iraq and the return of the troops home to their loved ones.

In order for We The People to be effective and successful we need to organize ourselves by acting now and not waiting for the 2008 elections. We need to use the power of our vote by either voting or not voting at the appropriate time but also to challenge the system now. We need to become our own news media so that we can spread the word of our vibrant dissent. Working people need to organize and strike for peace. We need to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to call for an end to the occupations and the wars. One way to find out about nonviolent civil resistance is through the Declaration of Peace, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Some will point out the failure of the peace movement to stop the Iraq War. But, the issue is not how successful the peace movement has been so far. The issue is; have those who have contacted their congressional representatives, held vigils, demonstrated, and risked arrest protesting been faithful to themselves and their ideals. In spite of the numerous untold stories of these peacemakers, those who have actively opposed the war-occupation, the answer is yes. Yes, they have been faithful to their responsibilities as citizens. Have you? What more can you do?

The most important thing is to have hope and to not feel disempowered by sitting around doing nothing. So get up and do something! Learn about the peace groups mentioned above. Become engaged and active in ending the wars and occupations. The wars will end when the people lead.