Tag Archives: North America

United States Conference of Mayors Calls on the United States to Welcome the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to Act Now to Prevent Nuclear War and Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Pressenza (reprinted by permission)

At the close of its 89th Annual Meeting, held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on August 31, 2021, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Executive Committee unanimously adopted a bold new resolution Calling on the United States to Welcome the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons [TPNW] and to Act Now to Prevent Nuclear War and Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.


The resolution calls on the United States government “to welcome the Treaty as a positive step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear weapons.” It continues: “The United States Conference of Mayors welcomes the June 16, 2021 Joint Statement by President Biden and Russian President Putin in which they ‘reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’; and calls on the Biden Administration to reduce nuclear tensions through intensive diplomatic efforts with Russia and China, and to actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals in conformity with requirements of international law preceding the TPNW by decades.”

Observing that, “according to a report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in 2020, the nine nuclear-armed states spent $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons, with the U.S. leading at $37.4 billion, or $70,881 per minute,” the USCM resolution opens with a stark warning from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

WHEREAS, on January 27, 2021, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced it is keeping the hands of its Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest we’ve ever been to global annihilation, stating: “By our estimation, the potential for the world to stumble into nuclear war-an ever-present danger over the last 75 years-increased in 2020,” and noting: “the existential threats of nuclear weapons and climate change have intensified in recent years because of a threat multiplier: the continuing corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision-making depend…[T]he COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call.”

The USCM resolution underscores that “tensions between the United States and Russia and between the United States and China have increased dramatically, with flashpoints in Ukraine and Taiwan that could potentially spawn nuclear confrontations.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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The USCM expresses its concern that “President Biden’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2022 increases military expenditures by $11 billion and extends funding for all nuclear warhead and delivery system upgrades in his predecessor’s budget, as well as its massive investment in the nuclear weapons infrastructure, to project nuclear weapons research, development, production, and deployment well into the 21st century, in violation of United States disarmament obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”

The USCM resolution reports that “the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force on January 22, 2021, prohibiting the development, acquisition, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons for those countries that have ratified it.” But it points out that, “while the TPNW represents the total repudiation of nuclear weapons by most of the states that do not possess them, the United States, the eight other nuclear-armed states and almost all of the countries under the U.S. nuclear umbrella boycotted the negotiations and have not joined the treaty.”

The USCM makes several concrete policy recommendations in its new resolution:

“call[ing] on the Biden Administration to fully incorporate United States obligations regarding non-use and elimination of nuclear weapons under international law into its forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review”;

“call[ing] on the President and Congress to cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons and to redirect funds currently allocated to nuclear weapons and unwarranted military spending to address decades of inaction on infrastructure, poverty, the growing climate crisis, and rising inequality”; and

“call[ing] on the President and Congress to elevate arms control and disarmament as a federal priority by reestablishing the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.”

As recognized in the resolution, “Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982 and led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is working for a world without nuclear weapons, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace, as essential measures for the realization of lasting world peace;” and “Mayors for Peace has grown to 8,043 cities in 165 countries and regions, with 219 U.S. members, representing in total over one billion people.”

Noting that, “The United States Conference of Mayors has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for sixteen consecutive years,” the USCM “urges all of its members to join Mayors for Peace to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities.”

The 2021 USCM resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, and co-sponsored by Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio and current President of the USCM; Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina and past President of the USCM; Patrick L. Wojahn, Mayor of College Park, Maryland; Roy D. Buol, Mayor of Dubuque, Iowa; J. Christian Bollwage, Mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey; Jon Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts; and William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The United States Conference of Mayors  is the official nonpartisan association of more than 1,400 American cities with populations over 30,000. Resolutions Adopted at annual meetings become USCM official policy.

Click here for the full text of the resolution.

58 Years After Historic Rally, Thousands March on Washington for Voting Rights, DC Statehood

. HUMAN RIGHTS .

An article by Julia Conley from Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). to republish and share widely)

A summer marked by rallies, motorcades, and pressure campaigns targeting lawmakers standing in the way of voting rights legislation culminated on Saturday in the 2021 March on Washington, where thousands demanded that Congress pass far-reaching measures to protect and expand the right to vote. 
Demonstrators traveled  from across the country to mark the 58th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

As groups including the Poor People’s Campaign, Stand Up America, and Public Citizen have for months, thousands of protesters called on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and to eliminate the legislative filibuster to do so if necessary.

The  For the People Act  would grant statehood to Washington, D.C.; ban partisan gerrymandering; implement automatic voter registration for federal elections, and take other major steps to expand voting rights.
 

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Questions related to this article:

The struggle for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

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The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore full anti-discrimination protections to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
 
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, was among  those who spoke  at the event—officially  called  “March On for Washington and Voting Rights”—as well as Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), relatives of the late Rep. John Lewis, and family members of George Floyd.
 
Addressing the crowd about statehood for Washington, D.C., Barber said the district’s nearly 700,000 residents have “been robbed” for more than 200 years.
 
“I didn’t say a thief came in,”  said  the reverend. “A thief is different than a robber. A thief is sneaky. But a robber takes your rights right in front of you.”
 
While right-wing Democrats including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are threatening the passage of far-reaching voting rights legislation with their support for the filibuster and claims that the bills are too “partisan,” Republican state legislators have  introduced  more than 360 bills restricting the right to vote, and dozens are moving towards passage. 
 
Speakers including the Rev. Liz Theoharis, who co-chairs the Poor People’s Campaign with Barber, connected ongoing attacks on voting rights to the climate emergency, economic justice, and the recent actions of the right wing-led Supreme Court—which gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 and this week  blocked  the Biden administration’s extended eviction moratorium.

“We must protest, we must rally, we must organize and mobilize and sit in and stand up,” said Theoharis. “Not just for a day. Not just for a summer. But until all people are housed, until all people are fed, until all people earn a living wage.”

The cost of the global war on terror: $6.4 trillion and 801,000 lives

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Brown University

Nearly two decades after New York’s Twin Towers fell on 9/11, the estimated cost of America’s counterterrorism efforts stands at $6.4 trillion.

That’s according to a Nov. 13 report released by the Costs of War project based at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

According to the report, since late 2001, the United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend $6.4 trillion on counterterrorism efforts through the end of 2020. An estimated $5.4 trillion of that total has funded, and will continue to fund, counterterrorism wars and smaller operations in more than 80 countries; an additional minimum of $1 trillion will provide care for veterans of those wars through the next several decades.

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home,” said Catherine Lutz, co-director of Costs of War and a Brown professor of international and public affairs and anthropology. “These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago. We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century.”

In a separate report released on the same day, Lutz and Neta Crawford, another Costs of War co-director and a professor of political science at Boston University, estimate that between 770,000 and 801,000 people have died in post-9/11 wars. The total estimate includes civilian deaths — some 312,000 or more — as well as deaths of opposition fighters (more than 250,000), members of the U.S. military (7,014) and journalists and humanitarian workers (1,343).

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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The Costs of War project, a joint effort between Brown’s Watson Institute and Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, was launched in 2011 with the goal of comprehensively documenting the costs of the United States’ counterterrorism wars in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Unlike accounts of war costs released by the Pentagon, Costs of War financial reports take into account not only Department of Defense (DOD) spending but also spending by the departments of state, veterans affairs and homeland security, as well as the cost of interest paid on borrowed funds. The Costs of War death toll is calculated based on casualty reports released by the DOD and Department of Labor, figures provided by the United Nations, and obituaries and other news stories.

“If you count all parts of the federal budget that are military related — including the nuclear weapons budget, the budget for fuel for military vehicles and aircraft, funds for veteran care — it makes up two thirds of the federal budget, and it’s inching toward three quarters,” Lutz said.

“I don’t think most people realize that, but it’s important to know. Policymakers are concerned that the Pentagon’s increased spending is crowding out other national purposes that aren’t war.”

This month’s new reports are among the first to be published in the Costs of War project’s “20 Years of War” series, which recognizes the anniversary of the beginning of the global war on terror with new research and updates to existing papers. The research series launched thanks to a $450,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, along with support from the Watson Institute and the Pardee Center.

All three of the Costs of War co-directors — Lutz, Crawford and Watson Institute Senior Research Associate Stephanie Savell— kicked off the “20 Years of War” series with a visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 13, where they presented their latest findings to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and an international pool of journalists.

“We have already seen that when we go to Washington and circulate our briefings, they get used in the policymaking process,” Lutz said. “People cite our data in speeches on the Senate floor, in proposals for legislation.

The numbers have made their way into calls to put an end to the joint resolution to authorize the use of military force.

They have real impact.”

UNAC statement: Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US! Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A statement from the United National Antiwar Coalition

On August 6, we will once again recognize one of the most horrendous events ever to take place in human history. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the largely residential city of Hiroshima. Three days later they dropped a second nuclear bomb on the city of Nagasaki. As many as 250,000 people, men, women and children were annihilated and many more died subsequently from the wounds, radiation poisoning and radiation-induced cancers. The United States is the only country to ever drop a nuclear bomb on people.

The stated reason for this barbaric act was to hasten the end of World War II. But many historians believe that Japan was ready to surrender before the dropping of the bomb especially once the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan and moved its forces into Manchuria. Germany had already surrendered, and Japan stood alone. At the time, some argued that the bomb should be dropped in Tokyo Bay in the water where it would have done far less damage and Japan’s leaders could see its destructive potential, but the decision was made to drop it on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. Once was not enough, they had to do it twice.


Many people now believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not to end WWII, which was in its final days but to start the Cold War and show the Soviet Union and the world what the US could do if any country dared to oppose it.

One also wonders if dropping the bomb on non-white people played a role. Were Japanese lives valued less by the white supremacist US government, which maintained a segregated military during World War II? After all, people of Japanese descent, including US citizens were put in internment (concentration) camps in the US while people of German descent were not.

There was also serious consideration by the US of using nuclear weapons in the Korean war. The US actually sent the B29 bombers used to drop the bombs on Japan to a military installation in Okinawa along with the nuclear bombs and the fissile cores needed to make them work. This was in preparation for their possible use in the war. President Truman told a press conference in November 1950 that he would take whatever steps were necessary to win in Korea, including the use of nuclear weapons. General Douglas MacArthur, who was the “supreme commander” of the US led forces in Korea disagreed with Truman on the use of nuclear weapons in the war. So, Truman fired MacArthur and replaced him with General Matthew Ridgway, who was given “qualified authority” to use the bombs if he felt they were necessary.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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The problem the US administration faced with in the use of the atomic bomb in Korea were two-fold. The first was that the US public and certainly the people of the world were horrified after seeing the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Much of this horror was accredited to the book Hiroshima by John Hershey which was published in its entirety in the New Yorker magazine in 1949. The book described the destruction and told the story of 6 survivors of the bombing. It led to a groundswell of opposition to nuclear weapons. The second problem for the US administration was that in 1949 the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of an atomic bomb, and the assessment was that they soon would have a workable weapon. Although nuclear weapons were not used in Korea, the military did several test-runs with their B29 bombers carrying conventional bombs.

Unlike WWII, the United States has consistently refused to end the Korean war. To the US government, it is still going on and they still intend to win. The US maintains a large troop presence in Korea at the border with the North and has conducted annual “war games,” which many consider practice invasions of the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK), AKA, North Korea. These “war games,” typically include scenarios in which the US uses nuclear weapons against the DPRK. In recent years the US has provocatively sent nuclear capable bombers within 75 miles of the border with the DPRK. Yet in the upside-down logic of US Imperialism and its corporate media it is not the war games, the US troops on the border, or the nuclear capable flights that are provocative but the clearly defensive nuclear program of the DPRK.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki opened the nuclear arms race that has led to today’s reality where it is possible to kill off the entire population of the world several times over. This is supposed to make us safer.

But the nuclear arms race was always one-sided, with the US making the new and more advanced systems, and then the Soviet Union and later China taking steps to do the same to gain parity. After the development of the atomic bomb, the US made the more powerful hydrogen bomb, then the Soviets did the same. The US then made missile delivery system and multiple warhead missiles, nuclear submarines, etc. and then others scrambled to gain parity. And now the US has announced it will develop a space force, so other countries feel the need to find a way to counter or do the same. Without the investment of money and effort that was put into these weapons of mass destruction, the world may have been able to address global warming, hunger, poverty, etc. That would have made us safer.

In recent years the U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, has initiated a $1.5 Trillion program to modernize the US nuclear arsenal and started the creation of the new military space force.

For these reasons, the United National Antiwar Coalition sees the main danger of nuclear war coming from the United States and believes that we in the US have a special obligation to the world to oppose that danger.

Ban nuclear weapons starting with the US!
Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki

US: Why Daniel Hale Deserves Gratitude, Not Prison

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Kathy Kelly in Transcend Media Service

“Pardon Daniel Hale.” These words hung in the air on a recent Saturday evening, projected onto several Washington, D.C. buildings, above the face of a courageous whistleblower facing ten years in prison.

The artists aimed to inform the U.S. public about Daniel E. Hale, a former Air Force analyst who blew the whistle on the consequences of drone warfare. Hale will appear for sentencing before Judge Liam O’Grady on July 27th.


Image of Daniel Hale projected on a building in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 2021. Photo credit:  Nick Mottern

The U.S. Air Force had assigned Hale to work for the National Security Agency. At one point, he also served in Afghanistan, at the Bagram Air Force Base.

“In this role as a signals analyst, Hale was involved in the identifying of targets  for the US drone program,” notes Chip Gibbons, policy director for Defending Rights and Dissent, in a lengthy article about Hale’s case. “Hale would tell the filmmakers of the 2016 documentary National Bird  that he was disturbed by ‘the uncertainty if anyone I was involved in kill[ing] or captur[ing] was a civilian or not. There’s no way of knowing.’”

Hale, thirty-three, believed the public wasn’t getting crucial information about the nature and extent of U.S. drone assassinations of civilians. Lacking that evidence, U.S. people couldn’t make informed decisions. Moved by his conscience, he opted to become a truth-teller.

The U.S. government is treating him as a threat, a thief who stole documents, and an enemy. If ordinary people knew more about him, they might regard him as a hero.

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Question for this article:

Drones (unmanned bombers), Should they be outlawed?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

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Hale was charged  under the Espionage Act for allegedly providing classified information to a reporter. The Espionage Act is  an antiquated World War I era law, passed in 1917, designed for use against enemies of the U.S. accused of spying. The U.S. government has dusted it off, more recently, for use against whistle blowers.

Individuals charged under this law are not allowed  to raise any issues regarding motivation or intent. They literally are not allowed to explain the basis for their actions.

One observer of whistleblowers’ struggles with the courts was himself a whistleblower. Tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, John Kiriakou spent  two and a half years in prison for exposing government wrongdoing. He says  the U.S. government in these cases engages in “charge stacking” to ensure a lengthy prison term as well as “venue-shopping” to try such cases in the nation’s most conservative districts.

Daniel Hale was facing trial in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon as well as many CIA and other federal government agents. He was   up to 50 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.

On March 31, Hale pled guilty  on one count of retention and transmission of national defense information. He now faces a maximum of ten years in prison.

At no point has he been able to raise before a judge his alarm about the Pentagon’s false claims that targeted drone assassination is precise and civilian deaths are minimal.

Hale was familiar with details of a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker. He saw evidence that between January 2012 and February 2013, “U.S. special operations airstrikes killed  more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Had he gone to trial, a jury of his peers might have learned more details about consequences of drone attacks. Weaponized drones are typically outfitted with Hellfire missiles, designed for use against vehicles and buildings.

Living Under Drones, the most complete documentation  of the human impact of U.S. drone attacks yet produced, reports:

“The most immediate consequence of drone strikes is, of course, death and injury to those targeted or near a strike.  The missiles fired from drones kill or injure in several ways, including through incineration, shrapnel, and the release of powerful blast waves capable of crushing internal organs.  Those who do survive drone strikes often suffer disfiguring burns and shrapnel wounds, limb amputations, as well as vision and hearing loss.”

A new variation of this missile can hurl about 100 pounds of metal through the top of a vehicle or building; the missiles also deploy, just before impact, six long, whirring  blades intended to slice up any person or object in the missile’s path.

Any drone operator or analyst should be aghast, as Daniel Hale was, at the possibility of killing and maiming civilians through such grotesque means. But Daniel Hale’s ordeal may be intended to send a chilling message to other U.S. government and military analysts: keep quiet.

Nick Mottern, of the Ban Killer Drones  campaign, accompanied artists projecting Hale’s image on various walls in D.C. He engaged people who were passing by, asking if they knew of Daniel Hale’s case. Not a single person he spoke with had. Nor did anyone know anything about drone warfare.

Now imprisoned at the Alexandria (VA) Adult Detention Center, Hale  awaits sentencing.

Supporters urge people to “stand with Daniel Hale.” One solidarity action involves writing Judge O’Grady to express gratitude that Hale told the truth about the U.S. use of drones to kill innocent people.

At a time when drone sales and usage are proliferating worldwide and causing increasingly gruesome damage, President Joe Biden continues to launch  killer drone attacks around the world, albeit with some new restrictions.

Hale’s honesty, courage, and exemplary readiness to act in accord with his conscience are critically needed. Instead, the U.S. government has done its best to silence him.

Key witness in Assange case admits to lies in indictment

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from Stundin (Iceland)

A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.


MYND: SAMSETT / STUNDIN

The man in question, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson, was recruited by US authorities to build a case against Assange after misleading them to believe he was previously a close associate of his. In fact he had volunteered on a limited basis to raise money for Wikileaks in 2010 but was found to have used that opportunity to embezzle more than $50,000 from the organization. Julian Assange was visiting Thordarson’s home country of Iceland around this time due to his work with Icelandic media and members of parliament in preparing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a press freedom project that produced a parliamentary resolution supporting whistleblowers and investigative journalism.

The United States is currently seeking Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom in order to try him for espionage relating to the release of leaked classified documents. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison. The indictment has sparked fears for press freedoms in the United States and beyond and prompted strong statements in support of Assange from Amnesty International, Reporters without borders, the editorial staff of the Washington Post and many others.

US officials presented an updated version of an indictment against him to a Magistrate court in London last summer. The veracity of the information contained therein is now directly contradicted by the main witness, whose testimony it is based on.

No instruction from Assange

The court documents refer to Mr Thordarson simply as “Teenager” (a reference to his youthful appearance rather than true age, he is 28 years old) and Iceland as “NATO Country 1” but make no real effort to hide the identity of either. They purport to show that Assange instructed Thordarson to commit computer intrusions or hacking in Iceland.

The aim of this addition to the indictment was apparently to shore up and support the conspiracy charge against Assange in relation to his interactions with Chelsea Manning. Those occurred around the same time he resided in Iceland and the authors of the indictment felt they could strengthen their case by alleging he was involved in illegal activity there as well. This activity was said to include attempts to hack into the computers of members of parliament and record their conversations.

In fact, Thordarson now admits to Stundin that Assange never asked him to hack or access phone recordings of MPs. His new claim is that he had in fact received some files from a third party who claimed to have recorded MPs and had offered to share them with Assange without having any idea what they actually contained. He claims he never checked the contents of the files or even if they contained audio recordings as his third party source suggested. He further admits the claim, that Assange had instructed or asked him to access computers in order to find any such recordings, is false.

Nonetheless, the tactics employed by US officials appear to have been successful as can be gleaned from the ruling of Magistrate Court Judge Vanessa Baraitser on January 4th of this year. Although she ruled against extradition, she did so purely on humanitarian grounds relating to Assange’s health concerns, suicide risk and the conditions he would face in confinement in US prisons. With regards to the actual accusations made in the indictment Baraitser sided with the arguments of the American legal team, including citing the specific samples from Iceland which are now seriously called into question.

Other misleading elements can be found in the indictment, and later reflected in the Magistrate’s judgement, based on Thordarson’s now admitted lies. One is a reference to Icelandic bank documents. The Magistrate court judgement reads: “It is alleged that Mr. Assange and Teenager failed a joint attempt to decrypt a file stolen from a “NATO country 1” bank”.

Thordarson admits to Stundin that this actually refers to a well publicised event in which an encrypted file was leaked from an Icelandic bank and assumed to contain information about defaulted loans provided by the Icelandic Landsbanki. The bank went under in the fall of 2008, along with almost all other financial institutions in Iceland, and plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. The file was at this time, in summer of 2010, shared by many online who attempted to decrypt it for the public interest purpose of revealing what precipitated the financial crisis. Nothing supports the claim that this file was even “stolen” per se, as it was assumed to have been distributed by whistleblowers from inside the failed bank.

More deceptive language emerges in the aforementioned judgment where it states: “…he [Assange] used the unauthorized access given to him by a source, to access a government website of NATO country-1 used to track police vehicles.”

This depiction leaves out an important element, one that Thordarson clarifies in his interview with Stundin. The login information was in fact his own and not obtained through any nefarious means. In fact, he now admits he had been given this access as a matter of routine due to his work as a first responder while volunteering for a search and rescue team. He also says Assange never asked for any such access.

Revealing chat logs

Thordarson spoke with a journalist from Stundin for several hours as he prepared a thorough investigative report into his activities that include never before published chat logs and new documents.

The chat logs were gathered by Thordarson himself and give a comprehensive picture of his communications whilst he was volunteering for Wikileaks in 2010 and 11. It entails his talks with WikiLeaks staff as well as unauthorized communications with members of international hacking groups that he got into contact with via his role as a moderator on an open IRC WikiLeaks forum, which is a form of live online chat. There is no indication WikiLeaks staff had any knowledge of Thordarson’s contacts with aforementioned hacking groups, indeed the logs show his clear deception.

The communications there show a pattern where Thordarson is constantly inflating his position within WikiLeaks, describing himself as chief of staff, head of communications, No 2 in the organization or responsible for recruits. In these communications Thordarson frequently asks the hackers to either access material from Icelandic entities or attack Icelandic websites with so-called DDoS attacks. These are designed to disable sites and make them inaccessible but not cause permanent damage to content.

Stundin cannot find any evidence that Thordarson was ever instructed to make those requests by anyone inside WikiLeaks. Thordarson himself is not even claiming that, although he explains this as something Assange was aware of or that he had interpreted it so that this was expected of him. How this supposed non-verbal communication took place he cannot explain.

Furthermore, he never explained why WikiLeaks would be interested in attacking any interests in Iceland, especially at such a sensitive time while they were in the midst of publishing a huge trove of US diplomatic cables as part of an international media partnership. Assange is not known to have had any grievances with Icelandic authorities and was in fact working with members of parliament in updating Iceland’s freedom of press laws for the 21st century.

On the FBI radar

Thordarson’s rogue acts were not limited to communications of that nature as he also admits to Stundin that he set up avenues of communication with journalists and had media pay for lavish trips abroad where he mispresented himself as an official representative of WikiLeaks.

He also admits that he stole documents from WikiLeaks staff by copying their hard drives. Among those were documents from Renata Avila, a lawyer who worked for the organization and Mr. Assange.

Thordarson continued to step up his illicit activities in the summer of 2011 when he established communication with “Sabu”, the online moniker of Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker and a member of the rather infamous LulzSec hacker group. In that effort all indications are that Thordarson was acting alone without any authorization, let alone urging, from anyone inside WikiLeaks.

What Thordarson did not know at the time was that the FBI had arrested Sabu in the beginning of June 2011 and threatened him into becoming an informant and a collaborator for the FBI. Thus, when Thordarson continued his previous pattern of requesting attacks on Icelandic interests, the FBI knew and saw an opportunity to implicate Julian Assange.

Later that month a DDoS attack was performed against the websites of several government institutions.

That deed was done under the watchful eyes of the FBI who must have authorized the attack or even initiated it, as Sabu was at that point their man. What followed was an episode where it seems obvious that Icelandic authorities were fooled into cooperation under false pretenses.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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Ögmundur Jónasson was minister of interior at time and as such the political head of police and prosecution and says of the US activities: “They were trying to use things here [in Iceland] and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange”.

“They were trying to use things here [in Iceland] and use people in our country to spin a web, a cobweb that would catch Julian Assange”

Jónasson recalls that when the FBI first contacted Icelandic authorities on June 20th 2011 it was to warn Iceland of an imminent and grave threat of intrusion against government computers. A few days later FBI agents flew to Iceland and offered formally to assist in thwarting this grave danger. The offer was accepted and on July 4th a formal rogatory letter was sent to Iceland to seal the mutual assistance.. Jónasson speculates that already then the US was laying the groundwork for its ultimate purpose, not to assist Iceland but entrap Julian Assange:

“What I have been pondering ever since is if the spinning of the web had already started then with the acceptance of the letter rogatory establishing cooperation that they could use as a pretext for later visits,” says Jónasson.

Icelandic policemen were sent to the US to gather further evidence of this so-called imminent danger and Jónasson says he does not recall anything of substance coming out of that visit and no further attacks were made against Icelandic interests.

But the FBI would return.

Icelandic officials deceived by the US

Towards the end of August, Thordarson was being pursued by WikiLeaks staff who wished to locate the proceeds of online sales of WikiLeaks merchandise. It emerged Thordarson had instructed the funds be sent to his private bank account by forging an email in the name of Julian Assange.

Thordarson saw a way out and on August 23d he sent an email to the US Embassy in Iceland offering information in relation to a criminal investigation. He was replied to with a call and confirmed that he was offering to be an informant in the case against Julian Assange.

The prosecutors and FBI were quick in responding and within 48 hrs a private jet landed in Reykjavik with around eight agents who quickly set up meetings with Thordarson and with people from the Icelandic State Prosecutors office and the State Police Commissioner.

Mid day, Mr. Jónasson, then Minister of Interior got wind of this new visit and requested confirmation that this related to the same case as earlier in the summer. “I asked on what rogatory letter this visit was based and if this was exactly the same case”, Jónasson says in an interview with Stundin. “I then found out that this was of a totally different nature than previously discussed”. He says he put two and two together and said it was obvious that the intention was to lay a trap in Iceland for Assange and other staff members of WikiLeaks.

Such actions were according to Jónasson way outside the scope of the agreement and thus he ordered that all cooperation with the agents be stopped and that they would be informed they were acting in Iceland without any authority. Only days later he learned that the agents and prosecutors had not yet left the country so the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the US embassy with the demand they halt police work in Iceland and leave the country.

They did, but left with the new informant and “star witness”, Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson who flew with them to Denmark.

Not a hacker but a sociopath

Thordarson has been nicknamed Siggi the hacker in Iceland. That is actually an antonym as several sources Stundin has talked to claim that Thordarson’s computer ability is menial. This is supported by several chat logs and documents where he is requesting assistance from others doing rather uncomplicated computer jobs. Once he even sought FBI expert help in uploading a video from his own phone.

The meeting in Denmark was the first of a few where the FBI enthusiastically embraced the idea of co-operation with Thordarson. He says they wanted to know everything about WikiLeaks, including physical security of staff. They took material he had gathered, including data he had stolen from WikiLeaks employees and even planned to send him to England with a wire. Thordarson claimed in interviews he had refused that particular request. It was probably because he was not welcomed anymore as he knew WikiLeaks people had found out, or were about to firmly establish, that he had embezzled funds from the organization.

After months of collaboration the FBI seem to have lost interest. At about the same time charges were piling up against Thordarson with the Icelandic authorities for massive fraud, forgeries and theft on the one hand and for sexual violations against underage boys he had tricked or forced into sexual acts on the other.

After long investigations Thordarson was sentenced in 2013 and 2014 and received relatively lenient sentences as the judge took into account that he changed his plea at court and pleaded guilty to all counts.

According to a psychiatric assessment presented to the court Thordarson was diagnosed as a sociopath, incapable of remorse but still criminally culpable for his actions. He was assessed to be able to understand the basic difference between right and wrong, He just did not seem to care.

Incarceration did not seem to have an intended effect of stopping Thordarson from continuing his life of crime. It actually took off and expanded in extent and scope in 2019 when the Trump-era DoJ decided to revisit him, giving him a formal status as witness in the prosecution against Julian Assange and granting him immunity in return from any prosecution.

The New York Times Problem

In the month following Assange’s arrest in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on April 11th 2019 a new rogatory letter arrived in the Ministry of Justice in Iceland. This time the request was to take a formal statement from Thordarson in Iceland in the presence of his lawyer. The Ministry had a new political head at the time, who had limited knowledge of the prior history of the case.

Although the Department of Justice had spent extreme resources attempting to build a case against Julian Assange during the Obama presidency, they had decided against indicting Assange. The main concern was what was called “The New York Times Problem”, namely that there was such a difficulty in distinguishing between WikiLeaks publications and NYT publications of the same material that going after one party would pose grave First Amendment concerns.

Sigurdur Ingi Thordarson and Julian Assange

President Donald Trump’s appointed Attorney general William Barr did not share these concerns, and neither did his Trump-appointed deputy Kellen S. Dwyer. Barr, who faced severe criticism for politicizing the DoJ on behalf of the president, got the ball rolling on the Assange case once again. Their argument was that if they could prove he was a criminal rather than a journalist the charges would stick, and that was where Thordarson’s testimony would be key.

In May 2019 Thordarson was offered an immunity deal, signed by Dwyer, that granted him immunity from prosecution based on any information on wrong doing they had on him. The deal, seen in writing by Stundin, also guarantees that the DoJ would not share any such information to other prosecutorial or law enforcement agencies. That would include Icelandic ones, meaning that the Americans will not share information on crimes he might have committed threatening Icelandic security interests – and the Americans apparently had plenty of those but had over the years failed to share them with their Icelandic counterparts.

In any event, Assange has never been suspected of any wrongdoing in Iceland. Stundin has seen confirmation of this from the District Prosecutor in Iceland, the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police. Assange has no entry in the LÖKE database of any police activity linked to an individual collected by the Icelandic State Police Commissioner from 2009-2021.

Assange’s lawyer also inquired in the Icelandic Foreign Ministry if the points in his updated indictment where Iceland is referred to as NATO country 1 meant that his case had any relevance to Icelandic membership to NATO, the bilateral defense agreement between USA and Iceland or any national security interests. All such connections were dismissed in a reply from the defense attache at the Ministry.

Immunity and a new crimespree

According to information obtained by Stundin the immunity deal between DoJ and Thordarson was presented at the Headquarters of the Reykjavik police where the only role of the Icelandic policeman was to confirm the identity of Thordarson before leaving him alone with his lawyer in the back room where he met the US delegation.

It is as if the offer of immunity, later secured and sealed in a meeting in DC, had encouraged Thordarson to take bolder steps in crime. He started to fleece individuals and companies on a grander scale than ever; usually by either acquiring or forming legal entities he then used to borrow merchandise, rent luxury cars, even order large quantities of goods from wholesalers without any intention to pay for these goods and services.

Thordarson also forged the name of his own lawyer on notices to the Company House registry, falsely claiming to have raised the equity of two companies to over 800 thousand US dollars. The aim was to use these entities with solid financial positions on paper in a real estate venture.

The lawyer has reported the forgery to the police where other similar cases, along with multiple other reports of theft and trickery, are now piling up.

When confronted with evidence of all these crimes by a Stundin journalist he simply admitted to everything and explained it away as normal business practice. He has not yet been charged and is still practicing this “business”. Local newspaper DV reported last week that Thordarson had attempted to order merchandise on credit using a new company name, Icelandic Vermin Control. Despite using a fake name and a COVID face mask he was identified and the transaction was stopped. He was last seen speeding away in a white Tesla, according to DV.

United States: #ListenFirst Coalition

TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY . .

Excerpts from the website of the Listen First Project

The #ListenFirst Coalition is a network of 300+ organizations focused on bringing Americans together across differences. This interpersonal bridge building field includes national, state, and local organizations. Click here for a listing of the organizations.

The purpose of the #ListenFirst Coalition is to catalyze a mainstream, collaborative social movement to transform division and contempt into connection and understanding by aggregating, aligning, and amplifying all efforts to mend our frayed social fabric. The Coalition fosters collaborative synergies, showcases uniquely impactful work, develops shared resources, and scales collective impact. Members support one another in sharing insight, best practices, new ideas, and opportunities for collaboration.

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Questions related to this article:

The struggle for human rights and tolerance, is it gathering force in the USA?

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Monthly Coalition Calls provide opportunities to connect with one another, explore key questions, get briefed on the latest movement building activity, learn about new partner initiatives primed for amplification, and activate toward upcoming collaborative opportunities. Interested in joining a call? Email coalition@listenfirstproject.org!

Together, the #ListenFirst Coalition built and powers National Conversation Project, an overarching, collaborative movement platform to reach farther and impact greater than any one organization, to mainstream conversations in which we #ListenFirst to understand. Check out the early impact of National Conversation Project, including annual National Weeks of Conversation and weekly #ListenFirst Fridays! In 2020, over 130 Coalition members powered #WeavingCommunity, a national campaign aimed to build relationships in local communities, which reached 20 million people.

The #ListenFirst Coalition welcomes any organization focused on bringing Americans together across differences. There are no membership obligations. The #ListenFirst Coalition and its collective national campaigns are managed by Listen First Project, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

To join the #ListenFirst Coalition, contact us at coalition@listenfirstproject.org. 

[Editor’s note: Some of the virtual events on June 14, 16 and 17 are listed on the CPNN page for virtual events.]

USA: Some positive news from the United National Antiwar Coalition

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

Excerpts from the blog of the United National Antiwar Coalition

People-to-People Projects Build Israeli Impunity
APRIL 23, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Yara Hawari, published on Consortium News, April 8, 2021 The People-to-People (P2P) framework, which refers to projects that bring Palestinian and Israeli civil society actors together in so-called cooperation and dialogue, has been revived among donor-funded initiatives in Palestine. Emphasizing notions of cooperation, understanding, and peace building, P2P is promoted as a positive framework at a time when the[…READ MORE]


In Defense of Mother Earth
APRIL 16, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

Cancelling the KXL Pipeline: A Victory for the Working Class & the Environment! The Trans Mountain (TMX) Pipeline is Next! by Alison Bodine, published on Fire This Time Magazine, April, 2021 On January 20, 2021, U.S. President Biden’s first day in office, he cancelled the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline by rescinding a Presidential permit required to complete construction at the[…READ MORE]

Ramsey Clark, Human Rights Fighter, 1927-2021
APRIL 16, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Sara Flounders, published on International Action Center, April 12, 2021 We salute Ramsey Clark, who died April 9, 2021, an outspoken defender of all forms of popular resistance to oppression, a leader always willing to challenge the crimes of U.S. militarism and global arrogance. He remained optimistic that the power of people could determine history. His courageous voice will[…READ MORE]

The US Can’t Control the World
APRIL 15, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Margaret Kimberley, published on Black Agenda Report, April 7, 2021 Slow-witted Joe Biden appears to think that we’re still in the age of the sole superpower, when in fact that era has come and gone. “China’s Belt and Road Initiative involves countries on every continent and provides opportunity where the western nations offer only debt and subjugation.” As this columnist[…READ MORE]

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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Flawed Approach Sunk Amazon Union Drive, But Birthed National Movement
APRIL 13, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

By Mike Elk, published by Labor Today, April 9, 2021 Today, the union drive at Amazon in Alabama, which drew unprecedented political and media attention, was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin. Last month, as we stood in the parking lot of Amazon’s warehouse and spoke with 32-year-old Ashley Beringer about her take on the Amazon union vote, it became apparent[…READ MORE]

The Real Victory in Bessemer: Renewal of Working Class Organizing
APRIL 12, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Scott Williams, published on Workers World, April 2, 2021 “The workers in Bessemer never thought they’d spark a national discussion. This is their moment, but it’s not just about Amazon. This is about every employer and the right of every worker to fair pay, safe workplaces, a voice in their workplace and the right to organize unions without illegal[…READ MORE]

NO STALLING! The only solution — U.S. out of Afghanistan
APRIL 9, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Sara Flounders, published on Workers World, April 6, 2021 On Feb. 29, 2020, after rounds of negotiations in Doha, Qatar, with the Taliban — the insurgency they have fought for 20 years — the U.S. signed an agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan all U.S. and NATO forces within 14 months — by this May 1. In return the Taliban[…READ MORE]

Mumia update: The New Krasner Brief
APRIL 6, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Pam Africa, published on Bayview Newspaper, March 28, 2021 As you can see from our petition, we have been seeking to approach Larry Krasner diplomatically. In our effort to attract the widest possible range of supporters, we have written the petition with polite language. We are trying to give DA Krasner the benefit of the doubt by considering the possibility[…READ MORE]

Nicaragua: Building The Good Life (Buen Vivir) Through Popular Revolution
APRIL 4, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Margaret Flowers, published on Popular Resistance, March 28, 2021 As I traveled in Nicaragua on the recent Sanctions Kill delegation, one thing was clear, social transformation (revolution) requires both political power and participation by the people. Without political power, revolutionary programs will not have the material resources they require. Without the participation of the people, revolutionary programs, even with[…READ MORE]

On César Chávez Day, Chicanos fight back against LAPD
APRIL 4, 2021, UNAC EDITOR

by Luis Sifuentes, published on Fightback News, April 2, 2021 The LAPD recently shot six people in seven days. We also saw them unleash their violence last week in Echo Park against the unhoused community and allies, then call it a “service to the community.” And they’re trying to use their violence during last summer’s protests to secure more resources[…READ MORE]

As Biden Plans Withdrawal, Analysis Shows Afghan War Cost At Least 241,000 Lives and $2.26 Trillion

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from Common Dreams (reprinted according to provisions of a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement  that he plans to withdraw all regular U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by this year’s anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, experts at the Costs of War Project on Friday released an update on what nearly two decades of war has cost in both dollars and human lives.


An estimated 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war, and the United States has spent $2.26 trillion  on military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 2001 U.S. invasion, according to the project, housed at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and Boston University’s Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

“These horrific numbers are testament to the costs of war, first to the Afghan people, and then to the soldiers and people of the United States,” said project co-director and Brown University professor Catherine Lutz in a statement. “Ending the war as soon as possible is the only rational and humane thing to do.”

The new Costs of War Project figures are part of a nearly decadelong effort by co-director and Boston University professor Neta Crawford to track the costs of post-9/11 wars in not only Afghanistan and Pakistan but also Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and beyond.

The death tally includes U.S. military and contractors, Department of Defense civilians, Afghan and Pakistani national military and police, other allied troops, civilians, opposition fighters, journalists and media workers, and humanitarian aid workers. The project notes that “these figures do not include deaths caused by disease, loss of access to food, water, infrastructure, and/or other indirect consequences of the war.”

The financial costs include Overseas Contingency Operations budgets of the U.S. Defense and State departments, the DOD’s base-budget war-related increases, veteran care, and estimated interest on money borrowed to fund the war. It does not included future costs of veteran care or future interest payments.

“The DOD spending, at over $900 billion in Afghanistan, is the tip of the iceberg,” Crawford said. “The costs of the Afghanistan war include its escalation into Pakistan, millions of refugees and displaced persons, the toll in lives of combatants and noncombatants, and the need to care for America’s veterans. The Pentagon’s base budget has increased as well.”

“We report these estimates so that the American people will have a better understanding of the scale of the effort and its consequences,” she explained. “The American people also lost some transparency here. A more comprehensive accounting is yet to be completed. It would include not just money that may or may not have been well spent, but the count of those wounded, those who lost limbs, and the tremendous psychological toll of decades of war on combatants and noncombatants and their families.”

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Question for this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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The new numbers come after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) argued  Thursday in an op-ed for the Washington Post that the withdrawal should spark reflection upon “the enormous costs” of nearly two decades of war and enable the U.S. to “refocus on diplomacy as our foreign policy tool of first resort.”

“Executing a responsible and comprehensive withdrawal from Afghanistan is an essential first step toward Biden fulfilling his commitment to end ‘forever wars,'” the lawmakers wrote. “But more work must be done.”

Antiwar activists and human rights advocates concur.

Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, noted  Friday that Biden’s announcement “has raised fears that further insecurity may erode important gains in human rights that have allowed Afghans, women and girls in particular, to enjoy greater freedoms and better education and health.”

“The U.S. government should commit to providing vital funding and diplomatic support to preserve and expand on those gains and press for an end to abuses against civilians,” Gossman said.

In addition to boosting assistance for education and health, especially for Afghan females of all ages, “assistance will be needed to improve enforcement of laws protecting women and to ensure that legal aid is available for women prisoners and juvenile detainees,” Human Rights Watch explained.

The group also called for strengthening Afghan human rights groups, particularly the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and said that “the U.S. should provide long-term institutional support to assist independent news media organizations to become self-sustaining. The U.S. should also press the Taliban—which could become an aid recipient under any future peace agreement—to cease all threats and attacks on the media and to pledge to uphold media freedom.”

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies of the peace group CodePink wrote in The Progressive Thursday that “it’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two-thirds  of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.”

“Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and healthcare would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls,” they asserted. More broadly, the pair filled in some of details that haven’t been a major focus since the president confirmed plans to end the longest U.S. war, writing:

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Benjamin and Davies also noted that “while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating  a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump administration,” and anticipation of that U.S. violation has prompted the Taliban to refuse to join 10 days of United Nations-led peace talks set to start in Istanbul on April 24.

“We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing,” they concluded. “After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.”

USA: Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2021 deserves support

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

Special to CPNN from Anne Creter*

U.S. President Joe Biden introduced the big word “infrastructure” to the national discourse recently with his bold new bill to build concrete “infrastructures” to lift our country up from its arrested “development.” Because the U.S. suffers now from an appalling, escalating epidemic of (gun) violence and domestic terrorism, such proposed structures are urgently needed here. Sustainable development is necessary for our nation to be more safe, secure, healthy and peaceful. Because “sustainable peace” is a necessary condition for development, it is ALSO time now for the U.S. to build bold new governmental “infrastructures” for PEACE!

Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) are dynamic, architectural networks of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources (including governmental departments, ministries and other forms such as commissions, academies etc.) which through dialogue and consultation, promote nonviolence, conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society. They are the missing link ‘connective tissue’ between the desire for the Culture of Peace and actually making it real.

With Covid-19 still rampant our planet is at “The Great Turning” existential moment of choice. As we enter a new life-changing POST-PANDEMIC world, to survive society must develop the attitudes and responses this unchartered territory will demand. Therefore, now more than ever we MUST make “nonviolence” a solid foundation upon which our “new normal” will be built! As the pandemic breaks down dysfunctional old-paradigm structures, viable new alternative “nonviolent” ones exist at all levels that have been proven to promote peacebuilding to cultivate the Culture of Peace. To offset the destruction, we must intentionally construct the new epoch by building a global peace architecture to institutionalize peace; applying the science of nonviolence at all levels as the main organizing principle and priority of government. Peace is a basic human right and government currently is sorely inadequate in guaranteeing it for us.

Pending U.S. bill H.R 1111 just re-introduced in Congress on February 18, 2021 by Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) is an excellent example of a governmental I4P. This historic, comprehensive, transformative bill calls for a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding to make peace an ongoing national focus. It addresses the interconnection of all life and the intersectionality of peace, justice, equality, planetary survival and other aspects of life. We know there are root causes of violence and root conditions of peace.  And that violence prevention saves lives and money, raising the quality of life for all.  This legislation is about addressing the root causes of violence at all levels to create the nonviolent Beloved Community.

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Question related to this article:

Is a U.S. Department of Peace a realistic political goal?

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Some 2021 provisions and updated language in the bill include:

* Confronting systemic racism in America to eliminate persistent racial inequities, including through a Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation.

* Peace education not only anti-bullying / anti-harassment, nonviolent conflict education, mindfulness and restorative practices, but also study of U.S. civil rights and human rights movements and contributions of its diverse ethnicities, races and religious communities.

* Developing violence prevention and de-escalation training for the general public both domestically and internationally, to provide peacebuilding tools and educational skills plus promote “sustainable peace” buy-in and awareness.

* Expanding upon language in prior DoP bills relating to arms control and nuclear weapons; includes health and medical concerns; calls for prevention of hate and a culture of violence and domination — including development of non-threatening community policing strategies, mindfulness and conflict de-escalation training skills among police and other public safety officers. 

* Eradication of dehumanization, genocide and mistreatment of individuals, including by human trafficking, infectious and other diseases. 

* Provides for wide-ranging studies relating to mass shootings; police violence; the impact of war and violence on soldiers, veterans and civilians; the impact of violence, racism and inequality on many conditions of peace and rule of law; and the impact of teaching nonviolent conflict resolution skills and social emotional learning. 

* Includes Tribal Governments among entities to be consulted and collaboration to prioritize those who are most impacted by the related programs. 

* Encouraging all countries to form infrastructures for peace within and among nations!

For more information:

Text of bill.

U.S. campaign.

Global Alliance for Ministries & Infrastructures for Peace.

The author, Anne Creter, is the UN NGO Rep for Peace Through Unity, GAMIP, and the Peace Alliance National Department of Peacebuilding Committee