FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION
At CPNN, we are beginning to receive notices of free virtual events concerning the culture of peace. In order to inform our readership of these events, we will try an experiment: a “rolling article” about these events. We will try to update the listing every day or two, removing the events that are past (listed here) and adding new events as they are received at our contact email address. To be included here, an event must be free and must provide a registration link. Unless otherwise indicated the events are in English.
We will also include here the application deadlines for initiatives promoting the culture of peace.
Zoom is one of many new technologies available for virtual conferences.
Sat May 15 @ 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm (Eastern Standard Time – USA)
Prohibiting First-Use of Nuclear Weapons
A conference organised by Peace Action Massachusetts to promote the adoption by the USA of a no-first-use policy. The conference will include break-out sessions to enable in-depth discusison with participants on key aspects to advance no-first-use including congressional strategy, supporting the ICBM Bill, reducing nuclear weapons budgets, social media and outreach/movement building.
— Click here to register.
18 Mayo 2021, Martes | 16.00 (Central European Time)
Webinar : La protesta social en Colombia: más allá de la violencia
Al igual que ha ocurrido en muchos otros países, la pandemia del Covid-19 ha contribuido a exacerbar dinámicas de exclusión y polarización económica y social que han acabado incendiando los ánimos y dando lugar a explosiones descontroladas de violencia. El presente webinar pretende analizar las causas profundas de dicho desencanto social, y vislumbrar posibles soluciones que ayuden a desactivar las razones de la frustración política y social.
— Con Liliana Zambrano, Politóloga colombiana y Pedro Valenzuela, Politólogo de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida y de la Universidad de Pittsburgh.
19 May 2021 at 9am Eastern Standard Time
Equipping IRCs to Advance the Six Strategic Goals
Based upon the feedback and recommendations received from the first Global Webinar Series, Religions for Peace, in coordination with Regional Offices, will convene the second series of global capacity development webinars in 2021, with a view to continuing to facilitate the process of strategic Learning Exchange among IRCs across the movement. These webinars will focus on our Six Strategic Goals:
Promote Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies
Advance Gender Equality
Nurture A Sustainable Environment
Champion the Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion
Strengthen Interreligious Education
Foster Multi-religious Collaboration and Global Partnerships
— Simultaneous translations for Arabic, French, and Spanish will be provided
— This event is by invitation only. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 20, 12-1 pm Pacific Standard Time (California)
Nonviolence Skills Practice Hour- May Session
The Metta Center for Nonviolence is teaming up with Meta Peace Team for a monthly one-hour nonviolence skills practice sessions in 2021 with skills ranging across the spectrum of nonviolent intervention and personal nonviolent development.
— Meta Peace Team has trained and placed violence de-escalation peace teams locally, nationally, and internationally for over 25 years, and teaches these skills to anyone interested: They’re just as important in our own day-to-day lives! Their mission is to build a just and sustainable world through active nonviolence.
— The session will begin with a short inspirational reading, a skill review, and then participants will have a chance to practice together.
— You must register ahead of time and be available with video on Zoom for the sessions. (See below)
— This project is part of the Third Harmony Project and the Meta Peace Team “hub” project.
— Register here
Saturday May 22 @ 3pm-5pm (New Zealand Time)
No First Use Of Nuclear Weapons: Asia-Pacific Perspectives
The New Zealand Centre for Global Studies is organising this webinar in order to examine what role NFU policies can play to reduce nuclear dangers and advance nuclear disarmament in the Asia-Pacific region. The region includes five nuclear armed countries (China, India, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia) and three additional countries under extended nuclear deterrence relationships which provide possibility of first-use of nuclear weapons (Australia, Japan and South Korea).
— Speakers include Professor Nobumasa Akiyama (Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo), Dr. Marianne Hanson (University of Queensland, Brisbane); Dr. Manpreet Sethi (Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi), and Dr. Tong Zhao (Senior fellow, Carnegie-Tsinghua, Beijing). Click here to register.
— Click here to register.
Wed/Thurs May 26/27: Three sessions
Session 1 is timed for the Americas and Europe, Session 2 is timed for Asia/Pacific, and Session 3 is a joint session.
Global No First Use campaign meeting
This global event will bring together campaigners, policy makers, academics and others to discuss strategies, share initiatives and build cooperation for a GlobalNo-First-Use (NFU) campaign with the objectives to:
a) advocate for the adoption and implementation of NFU policies by nuclear-armed States;
b) assist the USA no-first-use campaign by building necessary support from US allies in Asia/Pacific and NATO/Europe;
c) advance NFU as part of the broader objectives of nuclear risk-reduction, non-proliferation and disarmament, and as complementary to other related measures and initiatives.
— This participatory event is organised by the Abolition 2000 working group on nuclear risk reduction (global), Basel Peace Office (Switzerland), Beyond the Bomb (USA), Peace Depot (Japan), People for Nuclear Disarmament (Australia), PragueVision Institute for Sustainable Security (Czech Republic), World Future Council (Germany/International) and Zona Libre (Mexico).
— Registration is restricted to those supportive of NFU and interested in advancing the global campaign.
— Click here to apply for registration.
May 28, 9:30 AM Central European Time
Webinar: 9th Luxembourg Peace Prize Ceremony
This two your webinar by the Schengen Peace Foundation features five Luxembourg Peace Prize laureates past and future, including Dr Scilla Elworthy, Dr William Vendley, Transatlantic Dialogue, and outstanding peace organization, technology, journalism, art and environmental.
FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION
Here are events and application deadlines in May that were previously listed on the CPNN page for upcoming virtual events. Where possible links are provided to recordings of the events. Unless otherwise noted the events are in English.
Sunday, May 02, 2021 • 10:00-11:30 AM • Eastern Daylight Time (US & Canada) (GMT-04:00-5:30 PM)
Webinar: Campaign to Ban Killer Drones Is Launched as Biden Appears Ready to Expand Drone War
This webinar will announce the launch of BanKillerDrones, a new campaign for an international treaty to ban weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance. This comes at the moment when the Biden Administration is reportedly looking to increase U.S. drone killing and drone surveillance as key to retaining some level of colonial control in Afghanistan, under the guise of countering Al Qaeda, as U.S. troops are removed. The reality appears to be that U.S. drones, and other U.S. military aircraft, will continue to support U.S. special forces operating in Afghanistan. A New York Times article on April 15 indicates that drone killing will be even more at the center of global U.S. military policy, quoting U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: “‘There’s probably not a space on the globe that the United States and its allies can’t reach,’ Mr. Austin told reporters.” Civilians continue to be the primary casualties of drone war.
— With Brian Terrell, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Leah Bolger.
— Click here for youtube recording.
Thursday, May 06, 2021, 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
An Online Conversation on Peace, Russia, and the United States with Vladimir Kozin and Ray McGovern
Two serious experts, Ray McGovern, former CIA briefer on USSR/Russia to several U.S.Presidents, and Vladimir Kozin, Russian expert on Defense, missiles and nuclear war, will discuss their concerns for where the United States and Russia are today regarding the potential for World War III.
— David Swanson, author, activist, journalist and Director of World BEYOND War, will host this ZOOM event.
— Register here
May 6, 9 AM to 3:15 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Global Online Summit on ‘Repair, Reconstruction and Restoration’
You are invited to join Facing History and Ourselves for our global summit on repair, reconstruction and restoration. With scholars, educators, educational and civil society leaders we will reflect on how we develop equitable, just societies, redress historical violence and its legacies, restore trust, and build durable, multiracial and multicultural democracies.
— Register here
May 13, 2021 04:00 PM Central European Time
How militarism fuels climate change
Second course of the series with Jan Oberg sponsored by the DNS International Teacher Training College
— The “democratic” governments we have today were made for the world more than 100 hundred years ago. While the world has become more globalized and interconnected, the governing institutions have remained the same. Western governments are still looking at their own bellybuttons, and the issues of militarism and Global warming are an example of that.
— Watch the 30 minute online lecture any time before the discussion.
— After you watch the lecture join the zoom discussion with Jan Thursday 13th of May 16:00 with the link you get after registering for the event on this page
— To help the discussion be fruitful, send your questions to email@example.com a day before the event. Otherwise put your questions in the chat during the discussion.
FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION
A press release from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
This statement was inspired by the discussions at the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit, issued by the Steering Committee on April 29 and co-signed by Nobel Laureates and experts.
The Nobel Prizes were created to honor advances of “the greatest benefit to humankind.” They celebrate successes that have helped build a safe, prosperous, and peaceful world, the foundation of which is scientific reason.
“Science is at the base of all the progress that lightens the burden of life and lessens its suffering.” Marie Curie (Nobel Laureate 1903 and 1911)
Science is a global common good on a quest for truth, knowledge, and innovation toward a better life. Now, humankind faces new challenges at unprecedented scale. The first Nobel Prize Summit comes amid a global pandemic, amid a crisis of inequality, amid an ecological crisis, amid a climate crisis, and amid an information crisis. These supranational crises are interlinked and threaten the enormous gains we have made in human progress. It is particularly concerning that the parts of the world projected to experience many of the compounding negative effects from global changes are also home to many of the world’s poorest communities, and to indigenous peoples. The summit also comes amid unprecedented urbanization rates and on the cusp of technological disruption from digitalization, artificial intelligence, ubiquitous sensing and biotechnology and nanotechnology that may transform all aspects of our lives in coming decades.
“We have never had to deal with problems of the scale facing today’s globally interconnected society. No one knows for sure what will work, so it is important to build a system that can evolve and adapt rapidly.” Elinor Ostrom (Nobel Laureate 2009)
The summit has been convened to promote a transformation to global sustainability for human prosperity and equity. Time is the natural resource in shortest supply. The next decade is crucial: Global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by half and destruction of nature halted and reversed. An essential foundation for this transformation is to address destabilizing inequalities in the world. Without transformational action this decade, humanity is taking colossal risks with our common future. Societies risk large-scale, irreversible changes to Earth’s biosphere and our lives as part of it.
“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” Albert Einstein (Nobel Laureate 1921)
We need to reinvent our relationship with planet Earth. The future of all life on this planet, humans and our societies included, requires us to become effective stewards of the global commons — the climate, ice, land, ocean, freshwater, forests, soils, and rich diversity of life that regulate the state of the planet, and combine to create a unique and harmonious life-support system. There is now an existential need to build economies and societies that support Earth system harmony rather than disrupt it.
“It seems appropriate to assign the term ‘Anthropocene’ to the present.” Paul Crutzen (Nobel Laureate 1995)
Geologists call the last 12,000 years the Holocene epoch. A remarkable feature of this period has been relative Earth-system stability. But the stability of the Holocene is behind us now. Human societies are now the prime driver of change in Earth’s living sphere — the biosphere. The fate of the biosphere and human societies embedded within it is now deeply intertwined and evolving together. Earth has entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Evidence points to the 1950s as the onset of the Anthropocene — a single human lifetime ago. The Anthropocene epoch is more likely to be characterized by speed, scale, and shock at global levels.
The health of nature, our planet, and people is tightly connected. Pandemic risk is one of many global health risks in the Anthropocene. The risks of pandemics are now greater due to destruction of natural habitats, highly networked societies, and misinformation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global shock since the Second World War. It has caused immense suffering and hardship. The scientific response in the face of catastrophe, from detection to vaccine development, has been robust and effective. There is much to applaud. However, there have been clear failings. The poorest and most marginalized in societies remain the most vulnerable. The scale of this catastrophe could have been greatly reduced through preventive measures, greater openness, early detection systems, and faster emergency responses.
Reducing risk of zoonotic disease like COVID-19 requires a multi-pronged approach recognizing “one health” — the intimate connections between human health and the health of other animals and the environment. Rapid urbanization, agricultural intensification, overexploitation, and habitat loss of large wildlife all promote the abundance of small mammals, such as rodents. Additionally, these land-use changes lead animals to shift their activities from natural ecosystems to farmlands, urban parks, and other human-dominated areas, greatly increasing contact with people and the risk of disease transmission.
The global commons
Global heating and habitat loss amount to nothing less than a vast and uncontrolled experiment on Earth’s life-support system. Multiple lines of evidence now show that, for the first time in our existence, our actions are destabilizing critical parts of the Earth system that determine the state of the planet.
For 3 million years, global mean temperature increases have not exceeded 2°C of global warming, yet that is what is in prospect within this century. We are on a path that has taken us to 1.2°C warming so far — the warmest temperature on Earth since we left the last ice age some 20,000 years ago, and which will take us to >3°C warming in 80 years.
At the same time, we are losing Earth resilience, having transformed half of Earth’s land outside of the ice sheets, largely through farming expansion. Of an estimated 8 million species on Earth, about 1 million are under threat. Since the 1970s, there has been an estimated 68% decline in the populations of vertebrate species.
“The only sustainable prosperity is shared prosperity.” Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate 2001)
While all in societies contribute to economic growth, the wealthy in most societies disproportionately take the largest share of this growing wealth. This trend has become more pronounced in recent decades. In highly unequal societies, with wide disparities in areas such as health care and education, the poorest are more likely to remain trapped in poverty across several generations.
More equal societies tend to score highly on metrics of well-being and happiness. Reducing inequality raises social capital. There is a greater sense of community and more trust in government. These factors make it easier to make collective, long-term decisions. Humanity’s future depends on the ability to make long-term, collective decisions to navigate the Anthropocene.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the largest economic calamity since the Great Depression, is expected to worsen inequality at a moment when inequality is having a clear destabilizing political impact in many countries. Climate change is expected to further exacerbate inequality. Already, the poorest, often living in vulnerable communities, are hit hardest by the impacts of climate, and live with the damaging health impacts of energy systems, for example air pollution. Furthermore, although urbanization has brought many societal benefits, it is also exacerbating existing, and creating new, inequities.
It is an inescapable conclusion that inequality and global sustainability challenges are deeply linked. Reducing inequality will positively impact collective decision-making.
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The accelerating technological revolution — including information technology, artificial intelligence, and synthetic biology — will impact inequality, jobs, and entire economies, with disruptive consequences. On aggregate, technological advancements so far have accelerated us down the path toward destabilizing the planet. Without guidance, technological evolution is unlikely to lead to transformations toward sustainability. It will be critical to guide the technological revolution deliberately and strategically in the coming decades to support societal goals.
Acknowledging urgency and embracing complexity
The future habitability of Earth for human societies depends on the collective actions humanity takes now. There is rising evidence that this is a decisive decade (2020-2030). Loss of nature must be stopped and deep inequality counteracted. Global emissions of greenhouse gases need to be cut by half in the decade of 2021-2030. This alone requires collective governance of the global commons — all the living and non-living systems on Earth that societies use but that also regulate the state of the planet — for the sake of all people in the future.
On top of the urgency, we must embrace complexity. Humanity faces rising network risks and cascading risks as human and technological networks grow. The 2020/2021 pandemic was a health shock that quickly cascaded into economic shocks. We must recognize that surprise is the new normal and manage for complexity and emergent behavior.
A decade of action
Time is running out to prevent irreversible changes. Ice sheets are approaching tipping points — parts of the Antarctic ice sheet may have already crossed irreversible tipping points. The circulation of heat in the North Atlantic is unequivocally slowing down due to accelerated ice melt. This may further affect monsoons and the stability of major parts of Antarctica. Rainforests, permafrost, and coral reefs are also approaching tipping points. The remaining carbon budget for a 67% probability of not exceeding 1.5°C global warming will be exhausted before 2030. At the same time, every week until 2050, the urban population will increase by about 1.3 million, requiring new buildings and roads, water and sanitation facilities, and energy and transport systems. The construction and operation of these infrastructure projects will be energy and emissions intensive unless major changes are made in how they are designed and implemented.
In 2021, major summits will generate political and societal momentum for action on climate, biodiversity, food systems, desertification, and the ocean. In 2022, the Stockholm+50 event marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Summit. This is an important opportunity to reflect on progress to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), due to be completed by 2030. Yet a disconnect exists between the urgency indicated by the empirical evidence and the response from electoral politics: The world is turning too slowly.
“We must break down the walls that have previously kept science and the public apart and that have encouraged distrust and ignorance to spread unchecked. If anything prevents human beings from rising to the current challenge, it will be these barriers.” Jennifer Doudna (Nobel Laureate 2020)
Effective planetary stewardship requires updating our Holocene mindset. We must act on the urgency, the scale, and the interconnectivity between us and our home, planet Earth. More than anything, planetary stewardship will be facilitated by enhancing social capital — building trust within societies and between societies.
Is a new worldview possible? 193 nations have adopted the SDGs. The global pandemic has contributed to a broader recognition of global interconnectivity, fragility, and risk. Where they possess the economic power to do so, more people are increasingly making more sustainable choices regarding transportation, consumption, and energy. They are often ahead of their governments. And increasingly, the sustainable options, for example solar and wind power, are similar in price to fossil fuel alternatives or cheaper — and getting cheaper.
The question at a global systems level today is not whether humanity will transition away from fossil fuels. The question is: Will we do it fast enough? Solutions, from electric mobility to zero-carbon energy carriers and sustainable food systems, are today often following exponential curves of advancement and adoption. How do we lock this in? The following seven proposals provide a foundation for effective planetary stewardship.
* POLICY: Complement GDP as a metric of economic success with measures of true well-being of people and nature. Recognize that increasing disparities between rich and poor feed resentment and distrust, undermining the social contract necessary for difficult, long-term collective decision-making. Recognize that the deteriorating resilience of ecosystems undermines the future of humanity on Earth.
* MISSION-DRIVEN INNOVATION: Economic dynamism is needed for rapid transformation. Governments have been at the forefront of funding transformational innovation in the last 100 years. The scale of today’s challenges will require large-scale collaboration between researchers, government, and business — with a focus on global sustainability.
* EDUCATION: Education at all ages should include a strong emphasis on the nature of evidence, the scientific method, and scientific consensus to ensure future populations have the grounding necessary to drive political and economic change. Universities should embed concepts of planetary stewardship in all curricula as a matter of urgency. In a transformative, turbulent century, we should invest in life-long learning, and fact-based worldviews.
* INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Special interest groups and highly partisan media can amplify misinformation and accelerate its spread through social media and other digital means of communication. In this way, these technologies can be deployed to frustrate a common purpose and erode public trust. Societies must urgently act to counter the industrialization of misinformation and find ways to enhance global communication systems in the service of sustainable futures
* FINANCE AND BUSINESS: Investors and companies must adopt principles of recirculation and regeneration of materials and apply science-based targets for all global commons and essential ecosystem services. Economic, environmental, and social externalities should be fairly priced
* SCIENTIFIC COLLABORATION: Greater investment is needed in international networks of scientific institutions to allow sustained collaboration on interdisciplinary science for global sustainability as well as transdisciplinary science that integrates diverse knowledge systems, including local, indigenous, and traditional knowledge
* KNOWLEDGE: The pandemic has demonstrated the value of basic research to policymakers and the public. Commitment to sustained investment in basic research is essential. In addition, we must develop new business models for the free sharing of all scientific knowledge.
Global sustainability offers the only viable path to human safety, equity, health, and progress. Humanity is waking up late to the challenges and opportunities of active planetary stewardship. But we are waking up. Long-term, scientifically based decision-making is always at a disadvantage in the contest with the needs of the present. Politicians and scientists must work together to bridge the divide between expert evidence, short-term politics, and the survival of all life on this planet in the Anthropocene epoch. The long-term potential of humanity depends upon our ability today to value our common future. Ultimately, this means valuing the resilience of societies and the resilience of Earth’s biosphere.
Signatures are listed at the end of the press release.
FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .
An article from Telemedellin (translation by CPNN)
Medellín is advancing in the goal of developing a culture of peace in the neighborhoods and territories of the city.
Video with the Secretary of Non-Violence
Despite having the youngest secretary of the Medellín Mayor’s Office, this agency has also achieved important achievements in accompanying the victims of the armed conflict. The Secretariat of Non-Violence of Medellín has only been created for 7 months.
But in that short time, major achievements have been made, especially in the work of accompaniment of the victims of the armed conflict.
Despite the pandemic, actions continue to be implemented in neighborhoods and territories, to develop a culture of peace and non-violence, through different strategies, including schools of art and peace.
And like the culture of peace, it must start from the youngest, with them programs have also been implemented from the secretariat, such as peace reporters.
What follows now, for the Secretariat of Non-Violence, upon receiving this year the report of the Truth Commission, is to advance with other initiatives, including the massive measures of symbolic reparation and measures of satisfaction of the victims of the conflict.
FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION
A blog from Glenn Greenwald
On Mother’s Day in 2019, I obtained a massive archive of materials from Brazil’s most powerful officials. The reporting we did changed the country, and our lives.
In 2015, I travelled to Sweden for an event with former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein. It was billed as a conversation about modern journalism between the reporter who had broken the biggest story of the prior generation (Watergate) and the one responsible for the biggest story of the current one (NSA/Snowden revelations).
A couple of years earlier, at the height of the Snowden reporting, Bernstein and I had traded some barbed insults through the media. So before traveling to Sweden, he generously reached out to invite me to dinner in order, essentially, to clear the air so that we could have a civil conversation. The night before the event, we met for dinner at the hotel restaurant. We quickly laughed off the acrimony — it had been a couple of years prior, and both of us have had much worse said about us — and proceeded to have a perfectly enjoyable conversation.
Truth be told, I was excited to meet and talk to Bernstein. Though his Trump-era persona became conventionally fixated on melodramatizing Trump’s evils for CNN, at the time Bernstein for me was most associated with the high investigative drama of Watergate. As a kid, it was that journalistic triumph, along with the Pentagon Papers, that captured my obsessive attention and shaped my views of what journalism is: reporters and whistleblowers who risk everything and face various multi-level dangers to confront and expose corruption by the most powerful actors in society. Throughout pre-adolescence, I spent countless hours reading All the President’s Men and repeatedly watching the excellent 1976 film based on it — in which Bernstein was played by Dustin Hoffman and Bob Woodward played by Robert Redford — and that noble and exciting iconography stayed with me and shaped how I view what journalism should be. It still does.
Our two-hour conversation that night covered many topics, but one comment from Bernstein stayed with me. “I know you likely already know this,” he said, “but a story like the NSA reporting you’re doing is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so make sure to enjoy it while it lasts.”
But just a few years later in 2019, on Mother’s Day in Brazil, a series of events began that proved his prediction quite wrong. In the late morning, I received a call from Manuela D’Avila, a well-known two-term Congresswoman who was the Vice Presidential candidate on the center-left ticket that lost to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election. She told me that, just hours before, her phone had been hacked, and the hacker showed her conversations he had obtained from her phone between her and several of her closest friends and colleagues that she had conducted on the Telegram app. She assumed she was the target of some kind of malicious blackmail scheme.
But the hacker quickly assured her that she was not his target. He had hacked her phone only to demonstrate that he had the capability of invading anyone’s Telegram account that he wanted. He told her that he had spent months hacking into the phones of some of Brazil’s most powerful officials, and had downloaded enormous amounts of material proving grave corruption on their part. They discussed how this material should be handled, and agreed that they would contact me — given my prior experience in reporting on a similar archive about NSA spying on Americans — to see if I was willing to work with this material. I told Manuela that of course I would be, and within minutes on that Sunday afternoon, I was talking on Telegram to the source.
What he told me was stunning, and it of course viscerally reminded me of the first time I was contacted back in 2012 by Edward Snowden. He said that he had obtained a gigantic digital archive of chats, documents, audios, videos, and photos from the telephones of Brazil’s most influential figures. He told me that he had reviewed less than ten percent of these materials, but already found acts of such grave deceit and illegality that he was certain it would shake Brazilian politics at its core.
The moments when you are first contacted by a source like this are delicate but critical. It is a difficult dance with conflicting goals. We spent roughly an hour talking as I tried to create a climate of trust, determine the authenticity of his claims, ensure that he was not an agent of entrapment, interrogate him without making it seem as if I were investigating or doubting him, and develop an understanding of what he did and why. Once satisfied that he was likely a genuine source, I told him he could start uploading the documents to my Telegram account.
For the next twelve hours, one document after the next materialized on my phone, a new one appearing every two or three seconds. I went to bed that night, woke up the next morning, and saw that the documents were still coming fast and furious. The same thing happened the next day, and then the day after, and then the day after that. It continued for a full week with no end in sight, at which point I realized that this archive would be larger than even the Snowden archive, which, in terms of sheer size, had been the largest leak in the history of modern journalism. This archive was larger, and so we had to work with technologists we trusted to build a dropbox that would provide a secure way for all the documents to be uploaded at once.
It took roughly three weeks to secure all the documents. I was particularly eager to ensure they were secured outside of Brazil, out of the reach of Brazilian courts and other state authorities. As they were uploading to my phone that first day, I worked with my Brazilian journalism colleague Victor Pougy to try to review as many of the documents as we could. Even using the crude method of randomly selecting documents to read, it became very evident that this archive was not only genuine but explosive — and aimed directly at the most powerful and popular political officials in the country.
The first conversation I had after speaking with the source was with my husband, David Miranda. He had played a central role in the Snowden reporting, having been notoriously detained by British authorities in 2013 at Heathrow Airport under a terrorism law while transporting a portion of the NSA archive we received from Snowden that had been corrupted. David’s detention occurred just weeks after British agents physically invaded the London newsroom of The Guardian and forced editors, under threat of an injunction, to physically destroy the computers on which their copies of the Snowden archive was maintained (that full copies of the archive were secure in other places, including with me in Brazil, did not deter their thuggish but futile actions).
David had traveled to Berlin because my brilliant colleague Laura Poitras — who directed the Oscar-winning film about our work with Snowden, CitizenFour — had managed to repair that part of the corrupted archive. David traveled to Germany to pick it up and bring it back to Rio for me to work on. His detention in London and the threats of prosecution he endured — approved of in advance by the Obama administration — not only caused a major rift in diplomatic relations between Brazil and the UK, but also became the subject of a successful lawsuit David brought against the British government, resulting in an enduring judicial ruling that the use of this terrorism law against journalists violated core press freedoms.
At the time the Brazil source had contacted me, David was an elected member of the Brazilian Congress. Just as we did when I first received the NSA archive from Snowden, we discussed the likely risks and dangers of doing this reporting. I told him that our experience in having navigated all the various threats from the Snowden reporting would render us well-prepared to deal with the fallout from the reporting on this new archive. He quickly disputed that view, insisting that it was naive and that it ignored the long-standing, as well as the new, realities of Brazil. He pointed out that unlike in the Snowden reporting — where the governments we were angering were thousands of miles away — this time we would be doing reporting on the people governing the country in which we lived. That, along with the fact that the newly elected Bolsonaro was at the peak of his power, having just been elected in a sweeping victory months before, would make this journalism far riskier and more intense.
But David’s primary argument was based in the particular dangers posed by the person most incriminated by this archive. That was Sergio Moro, who had become the singular most popular figure in Brazil when, as a low-level judge in the mid-sized city of Curitiba, he presided over a sweeping anti-corruption probe that sent to prison some of Brazil’s most powerful politicians and business people. The judicial probe that Moro led starting in 2014 — dubbed “Operation Car Wash” (lava jato in Portuguese) — became the most powerful force in Brazil. He and the team of young prosecutors he led imposed lengthy prison sentences on a wide range of powerful figures seemingly without blinking.
Venerated by Brazil’s all-powerful, oligarchical Globo-led media, Moro and the Car Wash prosecutors became religious-type icons in Brazil. Murals of Moro appeared on the sides of buildings in numerous cities. Moro was frequently depicted as Superman at political protests; he was the only Brazilian named in 2016 to the TIME 100 list list of the world’s most influential people; and polls showed he was by far the most popular figure in the country. The army of popular support behind him rendered all institutions afraid of him, including the superior courts responsible for overturning his rulings that clearly violated defendants’ rights. Nobody was willing to risk the wrath of the public by positioning themselves against SuperMoro.
It is hard to overstate the power Moro wielded. His actions, as an unelected low-level judge, drove virtually every major political event in Brazil for close to five years. His legally dubious decision to order the tape recording of private conversations between then-President Dilma Rousseff and former President Lula da Silva, and his even more dubious actions in causing those tape recordings to leak to the press, was the key event that drove the 2016 impeachment of Dilma from the presidency. But by far his biggest prize was the 2017 conviction on corruption charges of Lula, the most iconic figure in Brazil who was term-limited out of the presidency in 2010 after serving two consecutive terms and who left office with an 87% approval rating. When the newly elected Obama met Lula at the 2009 G-20 summit, he exclaimed: “This is my man, right here . . . the most popular politician on earth.”
The corruption case against Lula was sketchy from the start. But Moro quickly declared him guilty on all counts, and sentenced him to close to a decade in prison. At the time, it was widely known that Lula intended to run again for the presidency in 2018, and all polls showed him well ahead of all competitors, including Bolsonaro.
But an appeals court notorious for subservience to Moro quickly affirmed Moro’s guilty verdict, rendering Lula barred from running for office. In sum, Moro cleared the path for Bolsonaro by removing what was by far his biggest obstacle: Lula. As a result, Bolsonaro faced not the iconic and charismatic Lula, but instead the competent though little-known one-term Mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad, who Lula, from prison, handpicked to run on his party line, and the right-wing Congressman easily cruised to victory.
One of Bolsonaro’s first acts upon winning was to reward the judge who had removed his most formidable opponent. He offered Judge Moro the most powerful position in his government: Justice Minister. But at the time, Moro was more popular than Bolsonaro, and Bolsonaro needed him more than Moro needed Bolsonaro. So Moro conditioned his joining the government on Bolsonaro’s willingness to consolidate massive powers of investigation, surveillance, detention and law enforcement — that had long been dispersed among numerous agencies and ministries — under his singular control. Bolsonaro quickly agreed. Just days after Bolsonaro’s stunning victory, Moro’s newly unveiled position — Minister of Justice and Public Security — was so unprecedentedly powerful that the Brazilian press referred to him as “Super Minister.”
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So that was to be the principal target of our reporting: the most popular figure in Brazil, the anchor of the new Bolsonaro government, a judge whose tentacles extended into every sector of the Brazilian judiciary, and the state official now in charge of all government weapons of surveillance, monitoring, the Federal Police, and all investigative bodies.
What made this archive so explosive in every sense of the word was not just that its principal target was Moro, but far more importantly, the revelations of grave corruption it demonstrated. Among the documents were years worth of private chats between Moro and the lead Car Wash prosecutors, secretly and illegally plotting how to ensure convictions of the very defendants which Moro — as their judge — was duty-bound to arbitrate objectively and neutrally. These documents proved he was anything but neutral: he acted for years as the chief prosecutor, going so far as to direct and craft the law enforcement operations and the charges brought against criminal defendants, only to then walk into court, donning his black robe, and sending those same defendants to prison for many years with self-righteous sermons about the primacy of ethics and integrity in public service.
Most incriminating of all were the documents proving that Lula’s conviction was obtained through systemic, sustained corruption on the part of Moro and the team of prosecutors he led. The chats showed that the prosecutors knew that they lacked evidence of Lula’s guilt. The archive revealed how they plotted to illegally keep the case with Moro to ensure a guilty verdict. They showed Moro ordering the prosecutors to change strategies and even their public messaging against Lula as he was judging the case. They proved that Moro violated not only his own practices but also the law in first recording and then leaking to the press Lula’s private conversations, all to stoke public anger against Lula and engender support for his imprisonment. And they contained numerous admissions of political motives which the judge and prosecutors had long vehemently denied: that they were devoted to abusing their powers to prevent the return of Lula’s Workers’ Party to the presidency. And that was just a small sample of the grave corruption these materials demonstrated.
Brazil’s Constitution — enacted in 1988 upon re-democratization, after the 1964 U.S.-engineered military coup led to a 21-year brutal military dictatorship — provides press freedom guarantees more robust than the U.S. Constitution. But nobody knew if those words would matter. Bolsonaro — who had spent almost three decades in Congress arguing that military dictatorship is a superior form of government to democracy, and having vowed to close Congress and reinstate the most repressive dictatorship-era decrees if elected President — had just been inaugurated four months before I began speaking with this source. His party, which barely existed before 2018, became the second-largest in Congress. He was at the peak of his power. As we began the reporting, nobody knew whether Brazilian democratic institutions — young and fragile — had either the will or the power to uphold them.
Hovering over all of this was the brutal assassination just a year earlier of one of our closest friends, Marielle Franco, a black LGBT woman from the favelas elected along with David to the Rio de Janeiro City Council in 2016, only to be murdered in 2018. Although some do, I do not believe the Bolsonaros were directly involved in her assassination, but the paramilitary militia composed of current and retired agents of the police and military responsible for her assassination are closely linked to Bolsonaro’s family. Political violence has long been a central attribute of Brazilian politics, and it seemed certain that the empowerment of Bolsonaro’s movement would exacerbate that danger as well. Bolsonaro has often vowed as much, saying, for instance, that the primary error the military dictatorship was that it had not killed enough dissidents.
After spending weeks working on the archive with the team of young Brazilian journalists at The Intercept Brasil, the small news outlet I founded in 2016, we published our first series of reports from the archive on June 9, along with an Editors’ Note explaining what we had, why we were reporting it, and what methods we would use to determine what materials would be made public. We published them in both Portuguese and English. We purposely chose to simultaneously publish three of the most explosive stories at once, in large part due to the fear that Moro would be able to use his power to obtain a judicial order to restrain further publishing.
The impact was far greater than what we had even dreamed. The stories ricocheted throughout social media and then through the national press. They were by far the most-read stories in The Intercept‘s history. The reporting dominated headlines for weeks. Both Moro and I were summoned to the lower House and Senate, where we each testified for more than nine hours. I used strategies copied from our tactics in the Snowden reporting, which I believe gave us a significant strategic advantage: for weeks, the Bolsonaro government and Moro struggled to find their footing against the onslaught of revelations we were publishing, one after the next, eventually in partnership with Brazil’s largest news outlets.
But once they steadied themselves, the backlash was intense, beyond anything I had experienced. The next year of our lives — not just mine but David’s and the team of young journalists with whom we worked — was far more intense and difficult than anything we faced in the Snowden story. On a virtually daily basis, the top trending Twitter hashtags were ones calling for my immediate arrest or deportation. News reports were leaking that generals were discussing how to prosecute me under dictatorship-era national security laws. We received so many credible death threats — with private information about our home and our children — that we could not leave the house without armored vehicles and teams of armed security, an arrangement that continues through today. Protests around the country contained signs demanding my arrest. Documents forged by the Bolsonaro movement and promoted by his Senator-son purported to show that I had paid Russian hackers in bitcoins to obtain the documents, and a major news magazine put this deranged conspiracy theory on its cover.
News reports emerged that agencies under Moro’s control initiated investigations into my finances, and then, when the Brazilian Supreme Court stopped those, into David’s. He issued a decree providing himself with the power of summary deportation, widely viewed as directed at me. Threats of violence aimed at public events where I was scheduled to speak were so serious that some were cancelled while others had to concoct extreme security measures (I once had to speak from an off-shore boat at a literary event, while pro-Bolsonaro protesters shot fireworks horizontally at us and the crowd). I was attacked, physically, live on air, by a pro-Bolsonaro journalist the day before Lula was freed.
Bolsonaro repeatedly threatened prison and maligned our family as fraudulent. And in early 2020, I was charged with multiple felony counts in connection with the reporting, charges dismissed on the ground that the Brazilian Supreme Court, reacting the prior year to Bolsonaro’s threats against me, had prohibited any retaliatory action against me (prosecutors appealed dismissal of those charges, and that appeal is still pending).
But the journalism we did — in partnership with several of Brazil’s largest outlets, led by the team of courageous Brazilian journalists assembled by Leandro Demori, the young and dynamic editor-in-chief we hired in 2017 — was, along with the Snowden reporting, the most gratifying I have ever done. Among other things, it led to Lula’s being freed from prison and then, just last month, the reversal of all of his criminal convictions by the Supreme Court on the ground that Judge Moro’s conduct was improper. That has resulted in a full restoration of Lula’s political rights, which means he is almost certain to run against Bolsonaro in 2022 — a contest the Brazilian people were denied in 2018 by virtue of grave judicial and prosecutorial corruption (Moro, in 2020, quit his position, accusing Bolsonaro of corruption, and he ironically became the prime enemy of Bolsonaro’s supporters, who now often use our reporting to point to Moro’s corruption).
Even more importantly, I believe that the defiant and aggressive way we reported these materials emboldened institutions to stand up to Moro and in defense of democratic values. An Associated Press article that reported on my testimony before Congress — at which I was threatened for hours with prison by pro-Moro-and-Bolsonaro lawmakers — called the reporting “the first major test of press freedom under Bolsonaro, who took office on Jan. 1 and has openly expressed nostalgia for Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship — a period when newspapers were censored and some journalists tortured.” The reaction of Congress, the Supreme Court and even the national press meant that test was passed: we established the right of citizens and journalists to be protected by the basic rights guaranteed in Brazil’s Constitutions. Amazing and inspiring rallies around the country — attended by students and older activists and artists who were persecuted by the military regime — were commonplace, alongside more hostile ones that threatened violence.
The book I have written about this entire series of events — entitled “Securing Democracy: My Fight for Press Freedom and Justice in Bolsonaro’s Brazil” — is being published today, in both hardcover and Kindle. You can order it here.
The book, of course, is partially about Brazil. The first chapter recounts the recent political and cultural history of this incredibly important and fascinating country, the path that led to Bolsonaro, and what lessons can be drawn for democracies around the world, including in the U.S. A representative excerpt from that first chapter — headlined “Why Brazil Still Matters”— was published on Monday by The Nation.
But I regard the book as being far more about journalism and democracy in general than about Brazil. Like my 2014 book No Place to Hide, which tells the story of what it was like to report on the NSA archive and work with Edward Snowden, a bulk of the book tells the story from the inside about what it was like to work with this source, how we did the reporting, the dangers and backlash we had to navigate, and the monumental changes it fostered for Brazilian politics. To me, though, the real theme is what journalism is supposed to be, why it is so vital to a healthy democracy when practiced in its highest form. People often question why I devote so much energy to criticisms of the U.S. corporate press, and this book demonstrates the reason: journalism when done right can produce enormous good, while corrupted journalism is toxic and poisonous for a democracy.
“Securing Democracy” has been very well-received by early reviews, including by Kirkus, by Jacobin, and by the Brazilian journalist Daniel Avelar. And the reporting we did and the resulting attacks and reforms were well-covered by the western press. But unlike the 2014 Snowden book — which was reviewed by most major print and television U.S. outlets — this book is likely to be ignored by them. In part it is because the key events take place in Brazil, but much more so it is because my status in the media ecosystem has changed dramatically since then. While I was never universally beloved by the U.S. corporate media, to put that mildly, my NSA work was with The Guardian and other major media outlets and that fact, along with the Pulitzer the reporting won, required them to pay attention. The war I have subsequently waged on how corporate journalism is practiced over the last few years incentivizes them to ignore the book.
But, to their great consternation, they no longer control discourse. There are numerous alternative outlets where one can now go to discuss one’s work. I have numerous independent outlets scheduled to discuss the book and have already begun some. But what Substack has enabled is that a writer can now have their own readership without being captive to the constraints of large corporate outlets, and that is what I am relying on: a direct relationship with my own readers.
I am at the place in my career where I would never write, let alone promote, a book that I did not believe in. I’m genuinely proud of the journalism I was able to do with my colleagues in this story, and I am equally proud of this book, which attempts not just to tell that dramatic story but highlight the core challenges, and unparalleled potential, of the role of real journalism in a democracy.
My book “Securing Democracy” is on Amazon in Kindle or hardcover or, if you prefer to support independent bookstores, on Bookshop as well. An audio version will be eventually available, but not likely until July.
(Thank you to the Transcend Media Service for calling this article to our attention.)
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An article from the Angola Press Agency
Angola has reiterated the 2nd Luanda Biennial’s commitment to strengthening of the climate of peace in Africa.
This was expressed by Secretary of State for International Cooperation and Angolan Communities, Domingos Vieira Lopes, on Tuesday.
Focus on a culture of peace is also aimed at creating conditions to attract more foreign private investment to the continent, said the Angolan diplomat.
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Speaking at the opening of the seminar on “The role of Angolan diplomacy in promoting a culture of peace”. Domingos Vieira Lopes defended the need to intensify investment and industrialisation in the continent to enhance the main export products.
However, he appealed for the support and participation of the member states of the African Union in the Pan-African Forum, in order to deepen knowledge about continental reality.
The diplomat said the online seminar served to reflect on the experience acquired through the peace and reconciliation process in Angola, after 19 years.
The meeting also aimed at sharing ideas on the best way to contribute to the preservation of peace.
As for the ongoing preparations for the 2nd edition of the Luanda Biennial, scheduled for next September, the Itinerant Ambassador and coordinator of the National Management Committee for the Biennial in the Angolan capital, Diekumpuna Sita José, said that the concept of a culture of peace has to do with change.
He added that the fundamental objective of African leaders is to achieve long lasting conciliation.
EDUCATION FOR PEACE .
An article by Sabine Bock from Pressenza
The artist duo Captain Borderline has created on the theme of “Collateral Crucifixion” a huge, artistic mural on a complete house facade directly in front of the SPD headquarters, the Willy Brandt House, in Stresemannstr. 15 in Berlin Kreuzberg. In conversation with the two artists, they explained to us the reason for creating the revolutionary, crucifix-like work of art.
(Click on image to enlarge)
For almost 10 years, Julian Assange has been in captivity for exposing horrific, inhumane war crimes in an oil war that violated international law and for making his knowledge available to a broad public. The UN Special Investigator on Torture, Nils Melzer, has been the only neutral body to conduct serious research regarding these incidents.
He concludes that Julian Assange has become the victim of a huge show trial whose sole purpose is to show the media worldwide the limits of investigative journalism. The real issue in this legal case against Assange, then, is freedom of the press. Journalists and whistleblowers are being made to believe, through this witch hunt, that they will suffer the same fate should they report on the illegal machinations of the American or Western establishment and governments. How else can it be that powerful men like George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld can invade a country like Iraq for no reason, bomb it, and be responsible for the deaths of almost a million people with impunity, while a man like Assange, who merely publicizes these illegal machinations of the warmongers as a journalist and publisher, ends up in a maximum security prison for it. The responsible politicians, Bush and consorts, on the other hand, can enjoy their stolen wealth in their castles unmolested. That is why we demand the immediate release of Julian Assange from the British prison and to respect the freedom of the press.
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To help bring to light the truth behind the construct of lies of which Julian Assange has been a victim for many years, the artist duo Captain Borderline created and completed this revolutionary crucifix-like artwork with Julian Assange as the crucified of the media world on the complete house wall directly in front of the Willy Brandt House in Berlin Kreuzberg during the Holy Week before Easter.
With the purchase of an art screenprint you support the non-profit art and culture association “Colorrevolution” e.V. in financing a huge (20m*10m), media-created mural of “Captain Borderline” with this motif directly in front of the Willy-Brandt-Haus in Berlin. https://assange.colorrevolution.de/
[Editor’s note: The artists of Captain Borderline are A. Signl, B. Shanti and Dabtar, as shown here: augsburger-skandal-zeitung.blogspot.com/2013/08/wer-hat-sich-das-alles-ausgedacht.html
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An article by Alan MacLeod from FAIR – Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
The Brazilian Supreme Court this month dismissed all charges against former President Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva. A towering figure in national politics, Lula was the country’s president for eight years between 2003 and 2011. He was later convicted on highly dubious corruption charges and spent 18 months in prison, where his plight drew worldwide attention, making him, in the estimation of Noam Chomsky, the “world’s most prominent political prisoner.”
Lula’s incarceration directly led to far-right authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro coming to power, as Lula, the overwhelming favorite in the polls, was barred from running against him. Sergio Moro, the judge who imprisoned Lula—and secretly worked with the prosecution to convict him—became President Bolsonaro’s justice minister. The journalist who exposed Moro’s secret dealings, Glenn Greenwald, was charged with cybercrimes as a result of his reporting. (The charges were later dismissed.)
The Supreme Court’s ruling leaves Lula free to run against Bolsonaro in 2022—and gives Brazilians a chance to vote for the leader of their choice. But far from celebrating the news, the financial press is very disappointed that the world’s most popular politician is finally free again. “Stock Exchange Loses 4% and Dollar Rises After Lula Charges Annulled,” ran Forbes Brasil’s headline (3/8/21). “Markets Reacted Badly to the Announcement” wrote the Financial Times (3/8/21).
Also seemingly disconsolate at the news was Reuters (3/9/21), who went with “Brazil Markets, on Shaky Foundations, Rocked by Lula Bombshell,” telling readers that investors were “gasping for air.” The report quoted a former central banker saying that Lula’s release would have “dire consequences.” Not for people or democracy—Reuters was not interested in that—but for “asset prices in general.”
“Lula’s Comeback Adds to Long List of Brazil Investor Woes,” read Bloomberg’s headline (3/9/21). Its article quoted one consultant warning that Lula “will seek revenge, and he will blame the markets, the media and business leaders for the downfall of the Workers’ Party.” Why these institutions are not to blame was not explained.
The financial press has long been afraid of what Lula’s liberty would mean for the profits of its readers. The “worst-case scenario,” Forbes (11/10/19) wrote in 2019, would be if he returned to politics and began “rabble rousing” people against Bolsonaro. What he had already done in undermining confidence in the administration was “deeply irresponsible,” reporter Kenneth Rapoza wrote, noting that his criticism of the government that was then imprisoning him merely increased “polarization” and “pain” throughout the country.
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Do the financial media support democracy?
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A great many articles characterized Lula as “polarizing”—a media codeword used extensively in reporting on the Global South, meaning “enacting policies rich people don’t like.” CNBC (3/8/21), for instance, explained that the decision to drop charges against Lula would “polarize voters,” and that financial markets were “roiled” by the latest news.
This is in complete contrast to two years ago, when the financial press lauded the election of the fascist Bolsonaro (FAIR.org, 10/31/18). The Financial Times (10/8/18) and CNBC (10/2/18) both noted that markets were “cheering” Bolsonaro’s lead in the polls, while Bloomberg (10/30/18) excitedly reported that he would be an “extraordinarily pro-business” president. “Jair Bolsonaro is a dangerous populist, with some good ideas,” said the Economist (1/5/19). It was the Wall Street Journal (10/29/18) that went furthest, however, endorsing him as a “credible” “reformer” and an “antidote” to the greed and corruption of Lula’s Workers’ Party.
Since then, corporate media have cooled on Bolsonaro: not because of his openly declared racism, sexism, homophobia or nostalgia for dictatorship, but mostly because he has failed to fully carry out many of his promised “reforms”—another media codeword for pro-business policies which usually hurt the majority (FAIR.org, 2/16/18 , 5/8/16; CounterSpin, 8/28/15, 11/29/18). What Bolsonaro’s “reforms” entailed, JP Morgan (12/13/19) helpfully explained: a firesale of state-owned assets, huge cuts to public pensions, tax cuts for the wealthy and wage reductions for state employees.
Even worse, Lula’s release, the press explained, would close the door on these policies. As CNBC wrote (3/8/21):
Financial analysts said the prospect of Lula candidacy would likely drive Bolsonaro to abandon economic reforms he ran on in 2018 and further embrace populist measures to shore up support.
To decode this: CNBC and others who similarly predicted the end of Bolsonaro’s reform agenda (Financial Times, 3/8/21; Bloomberg, 3/9/21, Reuters, 3/9/21), were tacitly admitting that free-market shock therapy is exceptionally unpopular, and has no chance of implementation unless all credible opposition to it is forcefully suppressed.
If this were purely about profits, Lula should not generate such antagonism. “The financial press’ hostility and fear is pointless,” Brazilian journalist Nathalia Urban told FAIR:
The market performed well with him for the eight years he was president, and with Dilma Rousseff for six years afterwards. If the market wants to make money by investing in production and having a strong consumer market, it has to like a government that has one of its pillars to increase the power of expenditure of the working class.
Instead, it is Lula’s position as an independent actor who has consistently stymied US imperial ambitions in Latin America and beyond that is the real problem. Washington was also deeply implicated in his arrest and imprisonment, although corporate media have been hesitant to explore this connection (FAIR.org, 3/8/21).
The dismay over the freeing of the world’s most prominent political prisoner illustrates the opposition of the business press to human rights and the rule of law. Financial media were all too happy to see a far-right authoritarian gain power, as long as he implemented pro-rich policies. No matter what the evidence, the press’ response suggests they think that they still believe democracy just isn’t good for business.
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An article by Jeremy Kuzmarov from CovertAction Magazine
On April 4, 2018—a date symbolically chosen because it is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination—Clare Grady and six other activists broke into the Kings Bay Submarine base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.
They carried hammers and baby bottles filled with their own blood. Their purpose? To symbolically “beat swords into plowshares,” as prophesied in Isaiah 2:4, by disarming one of the world’s deadliest swords—the Trident nuclear submarine.
Plowshares 7 congregate outside courthouse during their trial for breaking into the Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia. Martha Hennessy, Kathleen Rumpf (co-defendent in another Plowshares case), Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neill, Liz McAlister. (July 12th, 2019) [Source: beyondnuclearinternational.org]
It was no walk in the park
First, using a bolt cutter, this unlikely commando team of 60-, 70- and 80-year-old priests, grandmothers and grandfathers squeezed themselves through a remote gate on the base. Then they trekked, slopped, and splashed through two miles of notoriously inhospitable Southern Georgia swampland, swarming with ticks, fire ants, earwigs and mosquitoes—not to mention poisonous rattlesnakes—as well as venomous scorpions only an inch in length but whose sting can be fatal, and alligators, of which Georgia boasts a population of more than 200,000.
Finally, as reported by World Socialist Website, they reached a location “where they prayed, read from Scripture, splashed bottles of their own blood onto a wall, spray-painted messages against nuclear weapons onto a sidewalk, hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles and hung protest banners.”
As agreed in advance, all seven participants—Clare Grady, Father Stephen Kelly, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Elizabeth McAlister, Patrick O’Neill, and Carmen Trotta—remained at the site, peacefully awaiting the police, so they could explain the reason for their actions. They were arrested, tried, and then convicted on October 24, 2019, in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Georgia for the crime of conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property, and trespass.
Clare Grady was sentenced to a one-year prison term in Alderson Federal Prison in West Virginia, which began on February 10th, 2021.
As for the other six activists: Carmen Trotta was sentenced to 14 months; Patrick O’Neill to 14 months followed by two years of supervised probation. (He has appealed the sentence.); Steve Kelly to 33-months less time served and three years of supervised probation; Martha Hennessy to 10 months; and Elizabeth McAlister to time served, which was the 17 months she had spent in prison awaiting trial. (She was also sentenced to three years of probation.). Mark Colville will be sentenced in April.
“Festival of Hope” in Celebration of Clare Grady and the Plowshares 7
Going to prison has not discouraged Clare Grady, nor will it deter her from continued opposition to the makers of war and mass death who control our national government. To celebrate Clare Grady’s resilience and determination, and that of her six companions, the antiwar group Code Pink hosted a “Festival of Hope” webinar in honor of Clare and the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 on February 7, 2021, three days before the start of Clare’s prison term.
Many who spoke at this virtual convocation are long-time activists who have spent their lives in the service of world peace and universal community. They include:
* Agnes Williams, a Seneca leader working in western New York;
* Leona Morgan, a Diné leader from the Navajo Nation, working in New Mexico and Arizona to stop uranium production and dumping on their lands;
* Clare Daly, Irish Parliamentarian and a co-defendant in an Irish trial of civil resistance to U.S. warplanes refueling at Shannon Airport;
* Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor who has worked tirelessly to end nuclear weapons and has been instrumental in the enactment of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that went into force last week;
* Professor Russell Rickford, Cornell University historian of the Black Freedom Struggle and the Black Radical Tradition and an organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America;
* Emma O’Grady, writer, and actor from County Galway, Ireland;
* Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Detroit theologian, author, nonviolent community activist and civil resister to water shut-offs, who offered a closing prayer.
Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima bomb survivor voiced her support for Grady and the Plowshares 7 in a pre-recorded statement that was played at the “Festival of Hope.”
In the statement, Setsuko described in vivid detail her experience in Hiroshima on the fateful day of August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped.
At the time, Setsuko was on an excursion away from her school. Suddenly, she said, she was “blown into the air” and felt herself “floating” before she woke up to find herself in darkness under a collapsed building.
After hearing a male voice telling her “not to give up,” a soldier helped free Setsuko from the building, which was now on fire.
Outside, the air was filled with particles, and people moved on the streets as if they were ghosts, with their hair standing up to the sky, and their skin and flesh burned.
Some of the people had their intestines bulging out while others had their own eyeballs in their hands.
Setsuko escaped to a hill which was packed with dead bodies and people were begging for water.
Among the thousands of innocent people killed on that day were nine members of Setsuko’s family, including her aunt, uncle, sister and four-year-old nephew, whose small body became unrecognizable.
Setsuko stated that “this is what nuclear war does; it results in indescribable mass killing and suffering. Today, the weapons are even more destructive than in 1945, and could kill a million people in a quick moment.”
Standing up for Humanity
Setsuko’s warning was heeded by other speakers at the webinar who further emphasized the health hazards of nuclear energy and its contamination of the environment.
Clare Daly, a member of the European parliament who was jailed for protesting against U.S. military planes flying out of Shannon Airport in Ireland, stated that the “stance taken by Clare [Grady] was absolutely moral and courageous, she is a beacon to activists around the world. Clare joins people like Julian Assange in going to jail for standing up for humanity.”
Grady’s daughter, Leah, read a letter from Plowshares 7 activist Martha Hennessy, currently serving out her ten-month sentence at the Danbury Correctional Institution in Connecticut, who recalled how she and Clare had been imprisoned together for protest acts in the early 1980s and that Clare had taught her how to be a role model to other incarcerated women.
Patrick O’Neill, who is serving a 14-month sentence, sent a message from the Elkton Correctional Institution in Ohio that Clare will be a “light in the darkness” for women in her next stop, “a den of oppression and despair.”
At the trial, Plowshares 7 attorneys had tried to argue that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protected the protest because the seven were motivated by their faith and that nuclear weapons are illegal, as an indictment Hennessy taped to the door of the base alleged.
When Hennessy attempted to show the jury photos of bodies at Hiroshima, the judge objected.
At their sentencing, Plowshares activists invoked the Nuremberg principle, stating that it was their duty to try to stop another nuclear holocaust, and that those who “say nothing in the face of evil, are contributing to evil by their collective silence.”
Steve Kelley, who is a Jesuit priest said that he considered himself a “prisoner of conscience for Christ,” preaching against “the sin that flourishes in weapons of mass destruction.”
Grady stated at her sentencing that the weapons she had tried to sabotage were “not private property, they belong to the people of the United States, they belong to me, to you, to us.”
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These weapons kill and cause harm in our name, and with our money. This omnicidal weapon doesn’t just kill IF it is launched, it kills every day. Indigenous people are, and continue to be, some of the first victims of nuclear weapons—the mining, refining, testing, and dumping of radioactive material for nuclear weapons all happens on Native Land. The trillions of dollars spent on nuclear weapons are resources STOLEN from the planet and her people.”
Most members of the Plowshares 7 are affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement which is committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken.
Art Laffin, co-editor of Swords into Plowshares—Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament explained that “the main symbols used in plowshares actions are hammers and blood. Hammers are used to literally begin the process of disarmament that thousands of talks and numerous treaties have failed to accomplish. The hammer is used to take apart as well as create, and to point to the urgency for conversion of war and weapons production to products that enhance life.”
Liz McAlister has been an anti-war activist since she and her late husband, Philip Berrigan, destroyed draft cards during the Vietnam War, and Martha Hennessy is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker Movement founder who is on her way to being canonized as a saint by the Vatican.
The Plowshares group has carried out more than 100 civil disobedience acts to protest the U.S. warfare state since September 1980 when eight peace activists—including Daniel and Philip Berrigan, who had been known for their antiwar activism in the Vietnam era—entered the General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where the nose cones for the Mark 12-A nuclear warheads were manufactured.
With hammers and blood, the eight enacted the biblical prophecies of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) to “beat swords into plowshares” by hammering on two of the nose cones and pouring blood on documents.
The Plowshares 8’s subsequent legal battle was recreated in Emile de Antonio’s 1982 film In the King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen and featured appearances by the Plowshares 8 as themselves.
Since the Plowshares 8 action, others have entered military bases and weapons facilities and symbolically and actually disarmed components of U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons systems: the MX, Pershing II, Cruise, Minuteman ICBMs, Trident II missiles, Trident submarines, B-52 bombers, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, the Navstar system, the ELF communication system, the Milstar satellite system, a nuclear capable battleship and the Aegis destroyer.
Combat aircraft used for military intervention, such as the F-111 fighter bomber, the F-15A fighter, the F-18 bomber, the A-10 Warthog, the Hawk aircraft, as well as combat helicopters and other conventional weapons, including aircraft missile launchers, bazookas, grenade throwers, and AK-5 automatic rifles, have also been targeted.
One of the most successful actions took place at the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear facility in July 2012 when Mike Walli, Sr., Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, poured blood and spray-painted antiwar messages on it. Because of so-called security issues, this action prompted authorities to close what has been called the “Ft. Knox of Uranium,” for an unprecedented three weeks.
According to William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, the limited mainstream media coverage of the Oak Ridge protest and Congressional reaction—as with the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 action—“were more about how to protect the weapons from protesters than to protect us from the weapons. This rhetoric about safety and security of the weapons complex, and protecting ‘special materials’—a euphemism for ingredients for bombs that can end life as we know it—distracts from the real issue: These are weapons of mass slaughter that must be eliminated before they eliminate us.”
Kings Bay Base
When the Plowshares 7 cut through a padlock and entered the 17,000 acre Kings Bay Base on April 4, 2018, they were equipped with crime-scene tape, banners reading “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide” and “Nuclear Weapons: Illegal—Immoral,” and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace, along with the hammers and blood.
One of their main challenges was to avoid detection from the guard towers as a loudspeaker overhead blared: “Deadly force is authorized!”
After splitting up, the activists went to three sites on the base: the SWFLANT administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation, and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers.
Patrick O’Neill attached a poster of Martin Luther King, Jr., to a mock-up of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile at the welcome area, commenting afterwards: “I mean, my God, you’re gonna build a statue for something that if it’s used would blow up a whole city full of people. This is your idea of welcoming people? I mean, it’s sick.”
Home to more than 1,000 enlisted and civilian government workers and their families, Kings Bay houses at least six nuclear submarines, each armed with 20 Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles of the multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) variety. Each missile contains numerous nuclear warheads, providing a thermonuclear force multiplier and overwhelming first-strike capability as part of the U.S. nuclear triad.
According to the Navy, the ballistic missile submarines serve as a launch platform for intercontinental missiles that are designed specifically for stealth and the precise delivery of nuclear warheads.
If the Trident were ever launched, it would cause 100 times more damage than the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima.
Patrick O’Neill called it “the most insidious and evil weapon of mass destruction ever constructed.”
The Kings Bay site was opened in 1979 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the former Governor of Georgia and a Navy veteran and submarine officer who promoted a naval buildup.
The decision to base the Trident submarines at Kings Bay started the largest peacetime construction program ever undertaken by the U.S. Navy. It took nine years to build at a cost of $1.3 billion.
In preparation for the arrival of new submarines mandated under a trillion dollar nuclear weapon modernization program, a major renovation is coming to the Kings Bay waterfront.
The project, estimated to cost more than $840 million, will include $500 million in upgrades to the dry dock and other infrastructure, as well as a $138.6 million nuclear regional maintenance facility, which makes the Plowshares work ever the more urgent.
In the Shadow of the Berrigan Brothers and Oscar Romero
Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman situated Clare Grady and the Plowshares 7 at the “Festival of Hope” in the tradition of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, and Oscar Romero, El Salvador’s archbishop who was murdered by death squads in 1980 after he spoke out against the ruling oligarchy and for the poor and oppressed.
Cornell University historian Russell Rickford compared Grady to Mae Mallory, an antiwar and Black Power militant who was close with Malcolm X.
Flattered by such comparisons, Grady reiterated at the “Festival of Hope” that she had been motivated by “religious principle and the desire to oppose violence and the normalization of killing; the unrepentant killing that hardly raises eyebrows anymore.”
Grady noted that “the U.S. government plans to spend $100,000 per minute for the next ten years on nuclear weapons and has 800 military bases.
The cost to keep one soldier in Afghanistan for one year is one million dollars, and the cost to keep a prisoner in prison for one year is up to $70,000 while the cost to keep a student in college for a year is far less.”
While dreading going back to prison—or what she calls the belly of the beast—Grady said she has encountered some of her best teachers of resistance in prison, and was inspired by inmates in St. Louis who broke out of their cells and broke windows and threw furniture but did not engage in violence in pressing for more humane conditions.
Grady’s sister Mary Ann, as the last speaker at the webinar, compared the present moment to 1979 when the anti-nuclear movement was just getting off the ground. By the end of the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev had worked together to reduce the nuclear stockpiles of the U.S. and Russia, which is urgently needed today.
With the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock sitting at 100 seconds to midnight, Grady said that the peace movement should continue pushing for divestment from nuclear-weapons’ producing companies—which New York’s City Council has recently proposed—while supporting acts of civil disobedience along the model of the Plowshares 7 who will have left their mark on history.