A NATO helicopter killed two children herding cattle. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Toor Jan, 11 years old, and Andul Wodood, 12, had been walking behind their donkeys in Oruzgan Province when the helicopter fired on them, Afghan officials said. The two donkeys were also killed.
General Dunford said that coalition forces thought they were firing on insurgent forces, and killed the boys by accident.
More “collateral murder,” not mediated by a NATO apology.
The response of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, reported by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, was to say “we are those 2 Children,” and to find donkeys, make signs, and take to the public square to protest the killings.
If children can make this protest under conditions of war and great deprivation, what does that challenge us to do?
March 10 is an anniversary, along with those of the wars the U.S. has launched on the world, that I find sickening to have to remember. But I do. Every year since 1993, I think of Dr. David Gunn, who was shot in the back and killed while walking to a clinic he had just opened in Pensacola, FL, to provide abortions. Only two days after International Women’s Day; twenty years after abortion began legal in the U.S. because of the struggle of women to control our bodies, the murderous violence began.
Dr. Gunn’s death, on March 10, 1993, outside his clinic, after threats and stalking, at the hands of a fundamentalist Christian vigilante named Michael Griffin, was the first murder in a series of murders, attempted murders and bombings of people providing abortion care in the U.S. and Canada. His son, David Gunn Jr. wrote:
Dr. Gunn was a skilled, dedicated physician. Dr. Gunn traveled over 1000 miles a week providing an unpopular service in communities that lacked reliable abortion providers. He practiced medicine in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, seeing patients in Mobile, Fort Walton, Columbus, Pensacola, Montgomery, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Savannah, and Orlando. He drove all of these miles in great physical pain. You see, Dr. Gunn suffered the effects of a childhood bout with polio, which resulted in the limited use of his left leg; however, he did not let his physical pain obstruct his duty as a doctor. Furthermore, Dr. Gunn endured daily picketing, protesters, stalkings, and death threats; all of which caused severe mental stress. In light of all of these obstacles, Dr. Gunn stayed strong and continued to provide women with all of their health care needs.
Soon after the murder, the New York Times did a sympathetic portrait of Dr. Gunn, describing his transformation from a member of the Church of Christ, a fundamentalist group against abortion, to a trained OB/GYN doctor who chose to work in a county with the highest infant morality, in order to change that. His pain from polio, and the constant harassment he suffered – “wanted” posters, being followed on back roads – didn’t make him back down. Colleagues reported that on January 22, 1903, on the anniversary of Roe v Wade, he played the song “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty on loudspeakers aimed at antiabortion protesters in Montgomery AL.
In the next several years, more doctors and clinic staff were killed in the U.S. In 1996, the anti-repression organization Refuse & Resist! named March 10 as the National Day to Appreciate Abortion Providers, calling on other organizations and thousands of individuals to participate public programs, volunteer efforts, and letter-writing campaigns to show appreciation for those who put their lives on the line to help women. “Without providers, there is no choice.”
This year, March 10 falls on a Sunday. Find ways to mark it.
It’s a good thing that tens of thousands of people, many young, braved the cold Sunday and marched around the White House demanding that Barack Obama turn against the Keystone Pipeline. The pipeline is already a disaster for Canada, and for the ultimate recipients of the oil, whether that’s the U.S. or China, because of the price to the global environment. A concise description of the damage already done, and that could be launched was run by Revolution Newspaper last week in Resisting the Keystone XL Pipeline—and Fighting for Humanity and the Planet:
Canada’s tar sands, the second largest oil reserve in the world (behind Saudi Arabia), already produce 155,000 barrels of oil per day. The tar sands are sticky deposits of bitumen (solid or semi-solid petroleum), trapped beneath 54,000 sq. miles of Canada’s boreal forests and wetlands. Extracting oil from the tar sands produces three times more greenhouse gases (which cause global warming) than extraction of conventional oil.
It seems on Sunday, many were marching to encourage Obama, in the belief that he only needs support to keep the “backbone” to resist the relentless profit-drive of the global imperialist system to use up fossil fuel resources as quickly as they can. But it’s one thing for people to hope, and another thing altogether for leaders to sell hope in the hope-less enterprise of getting the Democrats to do what people wish they would.
My friend Elizabeth Cook, an activist in New Orleans for peoples’ right to live in the face of hurricanes and manufactured oil disasters, wrote:
What many activists don’t realize, or perhaps it doesn’t matter, is that essentially when 350.org, the Sierra Club and NRDC more or less delivered endorsements for Obama for re-election, they served to undermine the very efforts they are able to encourage out of concerned individuals.
David Swanson asks, in Pseudo-Protests and Serious Climate Crisis:
Why all the pro-Obama rhetoric? Robert Kennedy, Jr., was among the celebrities getting arrested at the White House in the days leading up, and his comment to the media was typical. Obama won’t allow the tar sands pipeline, he said, because Obama has “a strong moral core” and doesn’t do really evil things. As a belief, that’s of course delusional. This is the same president who sorts through a list of men, women, and children to have executed every other Tuesday, and who jokes about it. This is the guy who’s derailed international climate protection efforts for years. This is the guy who refused the demand to oppose the tar sands pipeline before last year’s election.
Revolution points out:
In his second inaugural address last month, Obama promised to elevate climate change to the “top tier” of his second-term priorities. Suddenly the focus of the Keystone XL protest shifted to a rally to “help the president start his second term with strong climate action” (350.org website). Say what? One promise made in an inaugural speech, and we’re supposed to rally to “help” this president who has done so much to politically demobilize people while this system grinds on carrying out intolerable crimes—not just in relation to the environment, but with the expanded war by drones, continuing mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth, record number of deportations of immigrants, etc., etc.?
I concur that we should not look “up” to those in office to save the planet. But where to look?
Elizabeth points to direct action:
The messaging itself is extremely problematic: tar sands are already coming into this country via other pipeline routes, and by rail and soon by barge. The southern portion of the Keystone pipeline is already being built, with Obama’s stamp of approval, although there is a brave and small group of activists that have been engaging in civil disobedience on that southern leg of the pipeline connected with the Tar Sands Blockade Coalition
David says to keep independent of the Democratic Party:
What if there were a third option, namely that of simply demanding the protection of our climate? We might lose some of those who enjoyed burning Bush in effigy and some of those who enjoy depicting themselves as friends of the Obama family. But would we really lose that many? If the celebrities and organizers took such an honest policy-based approach, if the organizations put in the same money and hired the same buses, etc., how much smaller would Sunday’s unimpressive rally have really been?
World Can’t Wait held a conference on Saturday in Chicago where people knitted their heads together over where to look for the answers, how to unite, and even what to learn on the subject. We are not going to let this destruction go on without a political fight from the people. See Reportback on Climate Crisis Conference.
Sunday evening I was part of a conversation with participants from many groups (including but not limited to Code Pink, KnowDrones.com, National Coalition of Nonviolent Resistance, NoDronesNetwork, UNAC, Upstate Coalition to End Wars & Ground the Drones, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait) and individuals working on opposing drones from around the country.
The inspiration for the call was the increased attention – and protest against – the U.S. drone war and targeted killing, brought on by the release of the White Paper just before the Brennan hearings, and the successful protest by Code Pink at the hearings, causing it to be closed to the public. Broadcasts on PBS Nova and Bill Moyers, a cover story in TIME, and thousands of news stories about the Obama administrations’ justification of targeted killing, expansion of executive power, and secrecy on the program have brought the question to light.
Editorial cartoons in the LA Times and New York Times lampooned Obama as a drone warrior, NPR featured a debate, Forbes ran a piece by James Zogby, and the NY Times ran front page analysis on how Obama is treading a similar path to Bush, including this: “By emphasizing drone strikes, Mr. Obama need not bother with the tricky issues of detention and interrogation because terrorists tracked down on his watch are generally incinerated from the sky, not captured and questioned.”
On the call, much appreciation was expressed for the eight people who disrupted the Brennan hearing February 7, including Ann Wright. They were arrested and have a court appearance in March for disrupting Congress. Code Pink is following up with lobbying efforts, after visiting the offices of Senators Feinstein and Chambliss from the Senate Intelligence Committee, which continues secret hearings this week on Brennan.
David Swanson reported that after the resolution against drones passed by Charlottesville VA City Council, he’s hearing from other cities preparing resolutions against drones. Nick Mottern of KnowDrones.com reported that more than a dozen locations have replica drones, and more on order, prompting him to raise funds to buy a mold so that they can be produced more easily and quickly. Joe Scarry reported on a series of regional conference calls planning actions at NoDronesNetwork. Seattle is sending its two surveillance drones back to the manufacturer, an action which may have prompted Portland, OR, to cancel plans to acquire drones.
Actions in April as part of the month of coordinated protest at manufacturers, research institutions, and bases are being planned in Chicago, New York City, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston, the Pacific Northwest, San Diego, Wisconsin, and monthly protests at the CIA may extend to week-days. Find more here and get involved.
Please communicate with Nick Mottern via email@example.com with follow up comments.
The news that the U.S. military plans to officially allow women to serve in many combat positions, pending some more review, is infuriating, but not unexpected. When “don’t ask, don’t tell” was suspended so that LGBT people were to be tolerated in the military, and not driven out, I felt it was only a matter of time before women would face a similar situation.
Just because the government will no longer legally bar women from combat level pay-grades, why would women – or anyone — want to be in the frontlines of illegitimate, immoral, unjust occupations which by definition involve abuse, killing and indefinite detention of the indigenous population? Why should anyone be fighting in such a force?
We know women have been in combat roles, even back to the Gulf War. Women, throughout history, have proven to be brave and skillful fighters and leaders. Just look at the Arab spring and revolutionary movements around the world.
Being in an imperialist army is different. Sexual abuse within the U.S. military is well-known to the brass, tolerated, and even encouraged. Veterans for Peace reports that rape within the military is twice that in the U.S. population. Some say one out of three women in the military are raped, while sexual trauma and abuse is rampant and everywhere.
For a case study in what happened to Robynn Murray, a young woman put into combat in Iraq, see the award-winning film Poster Girl by Sarah Neeson. It’s showing now on HBO on Demand:
Robynn Murray was an all-American high-school cheerleader who became the poster girl for women in combat. But since returning from Iraq, she has fought an insidious foe: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This Oscar Nominated documentary short follows Robynn over the course of two years as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and redemption through art and poetry.
One man is as the center of a story you can’t avoid in the media, since last Friday. General David Petraeus, architect of the U.S. “surge” in Iraq, pulled in to “save” Afghanistan, then bumped over to the CIA last year, was forced to resign because the FBI, we are told, found out about an affair he was having with a fawning biographer.
The other story is one you could barely find until days ago, despite the subject being a soldier who allegedly killed 16, including nine Afghan children, on March 11 last year near Kandahar. Robert Bales, an Army Staff Sargent, is said by the Army to have gone on a rampage in two villages, and is facing a court martial involving the death penalty.
Those in charge of U.S. national security are reeling, though you can hardly find a word of criticism for General Petraeus, save his admitted “indiscretion.” He’s said to be a national hero, and somehow even more of one, since he “sacrificed” his career and resigned.
This is completely outrageous. Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone led to the firing of General McChrystal in Afghanistan has also been following Petraeus for years. He writes that in Afghanistan:
The reputations of the men who were intimately involved in these years of foreign misadventure, where we tortured and supported torture, armed death squads, conducted nightly assassinations, killed innocents, and enabled corruption on an unbelievable scale, lie in tatters. McChrystal, Caldwell, and now Petraeus — the era of the celebrity general is over. Everyone is paying for their sins. (And before we should shed too many tears for the plight of King David and his men, remember, they’ll be taken care of with speaking fees and corporate board memberships, rewarded as instant millionaires by the same defense establishment they served so well.)
David Petraeus ran two illegitimate, unjust occupations, the whole Central Command, and now the CIA. Adultery is surely the least of his crimes.
Bales, who did four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguably was driven nuts, as his lawyers assert. His crime is a horror, as we saw from testimony linked into Fort Lewis over the last few days from victims in Afghanistan. The AP reports:
The stories recounted by the villagers have been harrowing. They described torched bodies, a son finding his wounded father, and boys cowering behind a curtain while others screamed, “We are children! We are children!”
The actions of both of these men represent the real face of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, and they need to be thoroughly investigated, with the aim of keeping criminals like this away from people they could kill.
After the prosecution rests today, defense will move to have the charges dismissed. As we said Monday, after the prosecution’s main witness, the 103rd precinct commander testified, it’s clear they have no evidence that anything at the 103rd was actually disrupted by our protest. See the trial blog report.
It remains an outrage that this trial is even happening. But the defendants and attorneys are determined to put stop-and-frisk on trial.
The cross examination of the Commander was enjoyable and memorable. Many thanks to Marty Stolar, Tom Hilgardner and Meg Maurus for skillful and passionate work preparing for it.
Highlights today: We hope the defense begins, and expect to hear witnesses who participated in the November 19, 2011 protest in Jamaica Queens.
AND we’ll be outside the court 1:00 pm talking to the press, then delivering 1200 messages to the D.A. to drop the charges. We hope you can come out (E/F train to Union Turnpike/Kew Gardens). The trial may continue into next week, after the Monday Veteran’s Day holiday. Court will end at 1:00 pm Friday because of a juror request — and by Thursday we’ll have a sense of how fast it will go.
Even if you can’t come out, you can support in key ways:
- We need $300 for a rush transcript of Monday’s testimony. Donate online, or send a check.
- Facebook & Tweet posts on our Trial Blog, and forward this message. There are still 6-7 trials, with 19 defendants in four boroughs, arising from the wave of mass civil disobedience we began last fall.
- The October 30 benefit, postponed because of the storm, will likely be rescheduled for Thursday December 6. YOU are needed on the promotion team, or to collect food/drink donations, clean up, work the door, etc. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
FRIDAY: For all of you uptowners- we have a special request for support.
9:30 Friday November 9. Bronx Criminal Court 265 E. 161st Street.
Court Support for Jeffeth James
Bronx Criminal Court
James was viciously beaten by NYPD, yet is facing charges. This is the incident where Noche Diaz and 2 others were arrested observing the NYPD. See News12 coverage.
Join Noche Friday morning if you can, in providing support to Jeffeth and his family.
Even handed as the public editor almost always is, this piece by the new Public Editor at The Times comes down on the side of more rigorous investigation of the drone war, while also tending to question its legitimacy. She, and several of the comments, raise the point that if there were a Republican president leading this, there might be more press scrutiny.
The protests we all have been raising now for years are a part of creating this potential crisis of legitimacy in what the government is doing, no matter who wins the election. We need to step it up, and contribute to a creating a situation where it can’t be continued without greater consequences in losing public support.
Worth reading the comments!
Protesters Out In Full At U.N. General Assembly (on NPR September 25, 2012):
The annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City is also an annual meeting for protestors. The “protest pens” were full on Tuesday, and the protestors brought a long list of grievances…
ALCORN: These two anti-Chinese government protests have the largest presence here, something in the low hundreds, but there are others. A coalition of anti-war groups have brought a replica of a drone, complete with hellfire missiles the size of baseball bats. It’s on a stand about 50 feet behind Deborah Sweet, by order of the police.
DEBORAH SWEET: This president has the kill list and sends drones to kill actual people, but we can’t bring a paper and fiberglass replica across from the U.N. to protest the use of drones.
Most of the action Thursday September 13, in the new campaign to Blow the Whistle on Stop-and-Frisk was in the areas most heavily targeted by NYPD. Organizers were in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, Jamaica Queens, and Staten Island. By the end of the day, 20,000 whistles had been distributed.
People wanted a place to gather and blow the whistle downtown, so we obliged. First, at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters, where the decision was made to begin the policy of stop-and-frisk, and from where it’s constantly defended. A few of us showed up with whistles, buttons, and signs saying “We are BLOWING the WHISTLE on STOP-and-FRISK. No more STOPS and ILLEGAL SEARCHES in SILENCE. Join us. Stopmassincarceration.org”
There is a permanent “pen” of metal barricades in front of 1 Police Plaza. After we told police we weren’t going into the pen, and we weren’t even having a protest there, they brought out more officers and extended the pen. But our focus wasn’t on them. We were intent on getting whistles to people who responded to the call to “blow the whistle on stop-and-frisk.”
We did not know that many civilian employees of the NYPD would agree with us that stop-and-frisk should be ended. One of them signed up with us; others said they would lose their job if they spoke out. Journalists from Mexico and China interviewed us. We got so into getting whistles out to people walking by — including lots of mothers who wanted them for their kids who are targeted by NYPD — that we were almost late to Union Square, where people were waiting for us.
About 75 people gathered up to participate in a mic check to blow the whistle. I was glad to see supporters of World Can’t Wait answer the call to come out. Reginald, one of the organizers, told the crowd that he’s 60 years old, has masters’ degrees and has traveled the world. He got stopped in Brooklyn near his home. The cops said, “let us see your drugs. You take drugs, don’t you?” Reginald told them that he takes the drugs his doctor prescribes. They let him go, but he doesn’t want to see others have to go through that. Several Wall Street Occupiers talked about their experiences, and the role of the police across the city, including the murders of Ramarley Graham and Reynaldo Cuevas by NYPD.
We blew the whistle a lot! Especially at 6:00 pm, you could hear the whistles as you came up the subway steps. People came to check out the scene, and some of us did a group photo.
The deal with “blow the whistle” is to make some noise, wherever you are, when you see someone being stopped and frisked or rights being abused by the NYPD. We are out to change the situation where people are stopped and feel alone or humiliated by the police. When you see something, blow your whistle. Others will hear you. Ask them to get out their phones or cameras.
Remember, you have the right to observe and document police conduct. They don’t have the right to abuse anyone, and you don’t have to quiet when you see them doing so. More information at stopmassincarceration.org.