News Releases

The Coming Trial: Activists Facing Decades in Prison for Turning Weapons into Plowshares

On April 4, 2018 — exactly 50 years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — seven Plowshare activists entered a major U.S. nuclear submarine base to nonviolently and symbolically disarm nuclear weapons.

Earlier this year, a statement was released supporting this Plowshares action which took place at Kings Bay, Georgia. See: “Rev. Tutu Among Luminaries Backing Activists Facing 25 Years for Nuclear Weapons Action.”

The trial of the “Kings Bay Plowshares 7” is set to begin on October 21 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Some of the Plowshare activists have been locked up for over one and a half years, though all but one are out of jail right now and available for interviews.

Father Stephen Kelly, a Jesuit priest, is the only one still in jail. See the recent statement he gave to a gathering of hundreds of supporters at an event in New York City, in which he invokes Isaiah 2:4, which gives the Plowshares movement its name: “He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

ELIZABETH McALISTER, @kingsbayplow7
McAlister has been involved in the Plowshares movement for decades. She was just recently released –after over a year and a half in jail. Eventually the government allowed her not to wear an ankle monitor, but she still has to regularly report. She is the widow of Philip Berrigan. See piece in The Baltimore Sun.

When they did the action, the activists held up signs: “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide” and “Nuclear Weapons: Illegal / Immoral.” McAlister explained of the Trident submarines at the base, with all the warheads atop each of their missiles: “If they were ever launched, it is the end of life on earth. I don’t think we have the right to end life on earth. We don’t have the right to keep those weapons and threaten to launch them.”

MARTHA HENNESSY, [until Sat.] marthahennessy at gmail.com
Hennessy is also one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. She is currently in Vermont. She is also the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Hennessy was featured on the Intercepted podcast earlier this year. Also see a recent interview with her that gives an overview of the legal and moral justifications for their action, including ongoing U.S.nuclear weapons policy.

The other Kings Bay Plowshare 7 are: Mark ColvilleClare GradyPatrick O’Neill and Carmen Trotta. See statements defending their actions on the basis of religious freedom in August by O’Neill and Colville, who noted: “for over nine months now this court has denied me the opportunity to meet with my co-defendants and their lawyers to prepare for court appearances or to discuss written submissions to the court.”

More information is available at KingsBayPlowshares7.org and via:
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com
Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com

Taxes on Rich Plummet, Economic Growth Slows and More Are Left Behind

graphic based on the work of economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman (and produced by the New York Times) showing the lower and lower tax rates that rich people have paid has been widely shared on social media.

JOHN MILLER, jmiller at wheatonma.edu, @dollars_sense

Miller is professor of economics at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He is a longtime contributor to Dollars & Sense magazine, and co-author with Arthur MacEwan of Economic Change, Economic Collapse.

He said today: “The tax burden of the wealthy — what they pay out in federal, state, and local taxes relative to their income — has plummeted over the last seventy years. In 1950 the wealthiest 400 families paid out 70 percent of their income in taxes, 47 percent in 1980, and just 23 percent in 2018. That surely is The Triumph of Injustice, the title of the new book by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman that documents those changes. Nor has systematically slashing the tax burden of the super rich delivered its promised faster economic growth. Economic growth rates slowed from a rate of 4 percent a year during the 1960s, to 3 percent a year during the 1980s, and then stagnated after the 1990s. Since 2000 the economy has grown more slowly than during any of the five decades from 1950 to 2000, inequality has soared, and the economy has done less and less to improve the lot of most people.” See Miller’s recent piece “The Optimal Tax.”

U.S. Allowing Turkish Assault on Kurds in Syria: Escalating Chaos and Helping ISIS?

The Guardian reports: “Latest betrayal of Kurds risks undermining defeat of ISIS.”

NPR reports: “More Than 100 Killed And Thousands Injured In Anti-Government Protests In Iraq.”

EDMUND GHAREEB, edmundghareeb at gmail.com
Ghareeb is an internationally recognized scholar on the Kurds and on Iraq. He teaches at American University. His books include The Kurdish Nationalist MovementThe Kurdish Question in Iraq and War in the Gulf which he co-authored with Majid Khadduri.

KANI XULAM, kani at kurdistan.org, @akininfo
Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network. He said today: “One word describes President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. Perhaps he loves and thrives on chaos, which will be its upshot. [Turkish leader Recep] Erdogan, alas, watched Islamic State grow into a threat to the Middle East and the world. Kurds and their Arab allies waged an existential war to rid the world of this menace. Instead of thanking the Kurds and their allies, we are now going to witness their slaughter in the hands of the Turkish army. It is a disaster in the making with ramifications for the world.”

See accuracy.org news release from 2016: “Turkey’s Hidden War Against the Kurds,” which cites the work of Robert Worth in the New York Times Magazine.

See: “A Brief History of American Betrayal of the Kurds” at ZNet from 2016 and “The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey” at Counterpunch from 2015.

Behind Ecuador’s State of Emergency

BBC is reporting: “Ecuador protests: State of emergency declared as fuel subsidies end.” Also see New York Times: “Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Striking Workers Block Roads.” The Ecuadorian government says some 275 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, according to Reuters, which are in reaction to changes implemented in accordance with Ecuador’s $4.2 billion agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

ANDRÉS ARAUZ, andres.arauz at comunidad.unam.mx
Arauz is a former Ecuadorian central bank official and a PhD candidate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He is co-author, with Mark Weisbrot, of the research report, “‘Headwinds to Growth’: The IMF Program in Ecuador.” He said today: “Military and police repression were widely expected; IMF-sponsored reforms can rarely be implemented without repression. Even if Moreno outlasts these protests, the IMF agreement requires more rounds of austerity measures in the coming months, including an ‘indirect tax’ (i.e., sales) hike, so political and social instability are likely to become chronic.”

MARK WEISBROT, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net

Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. and co-author, with Arauz, of the research report linked above.

He recently wrote a piece for for The Guardian headlined: “The IMF is hurting countries it claims to help: The fund’s loan agreement with Ecuador will worsen unemployment and poverty.”

Wrote Weisbrot: “In March, Ecuador signed an agreement to borrow $4.2 billion from the IMF over three years, provided that the government would adhere to a certain economic program spelled out in the arrangement. In the words of Christine Lagarde — then the IMF chief — this was ‘a comprehensive reform program aimed at modernizing the economy and paving the way for strong, sustained, and equitable growth’.

“But is it? The program calls for an enormous tightening of the country’s national budget — about 6 percent of GDP over the next three years. (For comparison, imagine tightening the U.S. federal budget by $1.4 trillion, through some combination of cutting spending and raising taxes). In Ecuador, this will include firing tens of thousands of public sector employees, raising taxes that fall disproportionately on poor people, and making cuts to public investment.

“The overall impact of this large fiscal tightening will be to push the economy into recession … Unemployment will rise — even the IMF program projections acknowledge that — and so will poverty.”

Why Are Some Real Whistleblowers Derided? The Case of MoveOn and “Whistleblower Aid”

Why Are Some Real Whistleblowers Derided? The Case of MoveOn and "Whistleblower Aid"Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in the Washington Post Tuesday: “After House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry last week, President Trump condemned the person responsible for the whistleblower complaint that set the wheels in motion, likening the whistleblower to ‘spies’ who are guilty of ‘treason.’ It may be tempting to attribute this rhetoric to the president’s dictatorial streak, but the sentiment behind Trump’s words is all too familiar. Yes, many are portraying the anonymous intelligence official who blew the whistle on Trump as a hero, but all too often Americans who reveal truths about government misdeeds are treated as traitors.

“Take Edward Snowden. It has been six years since Snowden leaked a trove of secret documents that exposed the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program. For this act of public service, Snowden was charged with violating the Espionage Act, forcing him to live in exile in Russia. And even as the latest whistleblower scandal was breaking, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Snowden over the release of his new memoir, Permanent Record — an absurd act of spite considering that the book contains no details about surveillance that have not been previously reported. …

“[Daniel] Ellsberg, of course, is the godfather of modern whistleblowing. After his 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers revealed that multiple U.S. administrations had misled the public about their plans for war in Vietnam, Ellsberg faced charges under the Espionage Act. Henry Kissinger famously labeled him ‘the most dangerous man in America who must be stopped at all costs.’ But Ellsberg was not stopped. The charges against him were dropped after it was revealed that White House operatives had broken into his psychiatrist’s office in an attempt to discredit him — and he has gone on to a prolific career as a writer, lecturer and activist.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, @xposefacts
Solomon just wrote the piece “MoveOn’s Phony New Campaign for ‘Protecting Whistleblowers,’” which states: “All of a sudden, MoveOn wants to help ‘national security’ whistleblowers.

“Well, some of them, anyway.

“After many years of carefully refusing to launch a single campaign in support of brave whistleblowers who faced vicious prosecution during the Obama administration — including Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, and CIA whistleblowers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling — MoveOn.org has just cherrypicked a whistleblowing hero it can support. …

“(Full disclosure: The organization where I’m national coordinator, RootsAction.org, has campaigned in support of all five of the above-named whistleblowers, with petitions, news conferences, protests, and fundraising.) …

“The organization that MoveOn just teamed up with — Whistleblower Aid — explicitly does not support people like Snowden, Drake, Kiriakou, Sterling, and Manning, or the more recent whistleblower Reality Winner. The founding legal partner at Whistleblower Aid, Mark Zaid, has maintained a vehement position against unauthorized release of classified information for many years. …

“MoveOn has not only refused to support courageous whistleblowers like Snowden, Drake, Manning, Kiriakou, and Sterling — who’ve informed the world about systematic war crimes, wholesale shredding of the Fourth Amendment with mass surveillance, officially sanctioned torture, and dangerously flawed intelligence operations.

“Now, MoveOn is partnering with a legal outfit that actually contends such brave souls don’t deserve any protections as whistleblowers. Despite its assertion that ‘protecting whistleblowers is critical for a healthy democracy,’ MoveOn is now splitting donations with an organization that supports the absence of legal protections for many of them.”

Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He is coordinator of ExposeFacts.org — a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy that focuses on whistleblowing.

Ukraine: A Short History of U.S. Meddling

YASHA LEVINE, mail at yashalevine.com, @yashalevine
Levine just wrote the article “Ukraine: A Short History of Meddling,” which states that U.S. “meddling in Ukraine goes a lot deeper than Trump’s crude attempt to squeeze kompromat from the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. It goes deeper than even Joe Biden or the DNC or the 2016 election. The truth is that America has been meddling and messing with Ukraine so persistently for so many years that no one thinks there’s anything wrong with it. It’s been the normal way of doing things. That’s why Joe Biden sat around yuk-yuking it up at the Council of Foreign Relations, bragging about bossing Ukraine’s former oligarch-president around — as if this elected billionaire leader of a foreign nation was nothing but a busboy working in Joe’s Delaware country club for tips. And why not? That’s how America’s political class thinks and acts. …

“Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s political system has been dominated by shifting alliances of oligarchic clans organized aground regions and industrial sectors. In this murky and constantly changing world, alliances flip and players use whatever they can to get an advantage. They weaponize ethnicity, religion, nationalism, and regional identity. They use blunt force and leverage their monopoly on media. They also try to recruit foreign power support to bolster their position — Russia, America, the EU. …

“This latest scandal is just another iteration of this grim history, as both the anti-Trump and Trump sides gleefully try to weaponize Ukrainian meddling and use Ukraine as a proxy war in their domestic fight for the presidency.”

Levine’s books include Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet and he recently started a newsletter “Immigrants as a Weapon,” which looks at how the U.S. government “weaponizes nationalism and immigrant communities.”

See from Naked Capitalism, from 2014: “R. Hunter Biden Should Declare Who Really Owns His New Ukrainian Employer, Burisma Holdings.”

Also, see list of of major U.S. interventions by Bill Blum, author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.

Also see, from Dov H. Levin in International Studies Quarterly: “When the Great Power Gets a Vote: The Effects of Great Power Electoral Interventions on Election Results.”

* Ukraine Election Interference * Biden Corruption

* Ukraine Election Interference * Biden CorruptionLEV GOLINKIN, golinkin at gmail.com
Golinkin is the author of A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, a Memoir of Soviet Ukraine, which he left as a child refugee. He has had pieces in the New York TimesWashington Post and numerous other outlets.

He just wrote the piece “The Full Scope of Ukraine’s Impact on the 2016 Election Has Yet to Be Examined” for The Nation which states: “President Donald Trump’s strong-arming of the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden raises serious questions about the White House’s alleged attempt to leverage foreign aid in order to influence the 2020 election. However, the United States has not even grappled with the full scope of Ukraine’s impact on the 2016 election.”

Golinkin highlights a 2016 Financial Times article (“Ukraine’s leaders campaign against ‘pro-Putin’ Trump“) about “Ukraine’s takedown of [former Trump campaign chair Paul] Manafort, including quotes from [Ukrainian parliament member Serhei] Leshchenko and Western analysts. ‘The prospect of Mr. Trump, who has praised Ukraine’s arch-enemy Vladimir Putin, becoming leader of the country’s biggest ally,’ it began, ‘has spurred not just Mr. Leshchenko but Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a U.S. election.’

“’Mr. Leshchenko and other political actors in Kiev say they will continue their efforts to prevent a candidate … from reaching the summit of American political power,’ the story went on.”

In May of this year, Golinkin wrote the piece “Joe Biden’s Conflict of Interest on Ukraine,” in which he wrote: “In March 2016, then-vice president Biden successfully strong-armed Ukraine to fire prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. Biden, who flew into Kiev dangling the promise of a one billion dollar loan guarantee, told Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko the loan wouldn’t be authorized unless Shokin was ousted.

“Here’s how Biden himself recounted it: ‘I looked at them and said: “I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.” Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.’

“At the time, Shokin was allegedly investigating corruption at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. Joe Biden’s son Hunter happened to sit on Burisma’s board, a lucrative position which was netting him millions of dollars.

“That’s where the accusations come in. Biden claims he forced Kiev to fire Shokin — who was widely seen as a corrupt Poroshenko loyalist — for the good of the country, not because of investigations into Burisma. Shokin, meanwhile, insists his firing was politically motivated by his investigation of Burisma.

“Shokin should be taken with a pound of salt. The man was infamously corrupt; his attempt to frame himself as an honest prosecutor punished for tackling shady dealings doesn’t hold water. Additionally, as Bloomberg reported, the Burisma case was utterly dormant. Biden didn’t need to protect Burisma because the company wasn’t under active investigation.

“In sum, Biden had no incentive to defend Burisma. And as the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine, he had every incentive to force Poroshenko to root out Kiev’s endemic corruption, the first step of which was ousting Shokin. Giuliani’s claim that Shokin’s firing was meant to protect Hunter Biden’s income is simply untrue.

“The problem — indeed, the only reason we’re discussing this three years later — is that Hunter Biden should’ve never joined Burisma’s board to begin with. His decision to do so displays a lack of judgement on the part of both Bidens, one that is relevant now that Joe Biden is running for president.

“Earlier this month, the New York Times ran a lengthy report about Hunter Biden’s Burisma entanglement. The picture isn’t flattering: Hunter’s involvement included the establishment of a private equity firm with other children of prominent political actors who proceeded to rake in money from murky overseas entities. Sitting on Burisma’s board netted Hunter several million dollars. What services Hunter provided to Burisma remains unclear, but at one point he was making as much as $50,000 a month.”

Golinkin also recently wrote the piece “When we can’t agree to fight against neo-Nazis, we’ve reached a new low” for The Hill about the rise of neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Why Aren’t Presidents Impeached for War Crimes?

Why Aren’t Presidents Impeached for War Crimes?While Donald Trump spoke of “sovereignty” at the United Nations on Tuesday, the U.S. government continues to bomb various countries and kill innocents. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced she is launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.

CommonDreams reports: “‘Total Massacre’ as U.S. Drone Strike Kills 30 Farmers in Afghanistan.”

JOHN AMIDON, jajaja1234 at aol.com, ED KINANE, edkinane340 at gmail.com, ANN TIFFANY, anntiffany6235 at gmail.com
Amidon, Kinane and Tiffany are members of Upstate Drone Action in New York, which has organized protests at Hancock base. Kinane said today: “On Tuesday, six of us were arrested in the morning. We’ve had protests here for years, since we found out the 174 Attack Wing was based just near us, killing people in Afghanistan with MQ-9 Reaper drones. We had a banner: ‘Drones Fly, Children Die, Our Hearts Are Breaking.’ We were finally released late last night. We did our latest protest after learning of the drone massacre in Afghanistan that killed and wounded farmers there. The U.S. government is using drones to commit war crimes.” The others arrested are Julienne Oldfield, Rae Kramer and Les Billips. See Kinane’s articles at Truthout, including “Weaponized Drones and the Phony ‘War on Terror.'”

The Washington Post reported Tuesday: “U.S. invokes state secrets privilege to block American journalist’s challenge to alleged spot on drone ‘kill list‘”: “For the first time ever, a United States federal court ruled that the government may kill one of its citizens without providing him the information necessary to prove that he is being wrongly targeted and does not deserve to die.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle’s books include Destroying World Order. He said today: “It’s certainly possible that Trump engaged in wrongdoing in his statements to the Ukrainian leader, but this is insignificant compared to totally criminal wrongdoing like bombings, assassinations, murders and war crimes conducted by Trump as well as prior presidents. A fidelity to the rule of law would act on the ample evidence to impeach Trump for such criminality. So, we’re seeing political power and calculation here by both Trump and Pelosi more than anything else.”

Boyle was legal adviser to Rep. Henry B. González when he released classified material on the House floor in 1992 in an attempt to impeach George H. W. Bush following the start of the the Gulf War and wrote the first draft of the Gonzalez Impeachment Resolution. Bush would later write in his memoirs that if the Gulf War “drags out, not only will I take the blame, but I will probably have impeachment proceedings filed against me.”

In 1990, after Yemen voted against a United Nations Security Council Resolution for war against Iraq, a U.S. representative told the Yemeni Ambassador: “That is the most expensive vote you ever cast.” The U.S. then immediately suspended tens of millions of dollars of aid to that desperately poor country.

Boyle was recently on an accuracy.org news release on the War Powers Resolution, which was largely written by Rep. Paul Findley, who died last month at 98. Also, see: “Attacking Syria ‘Impeachable.'”

White House Refusing Comment on O’Brien’s Ties to Apartheid South Africa

White House Refusing Comment on O'Brien's Ties to Apartheid South AfricaAs accuracy.org first reported on Thursday, just after Robert O’Brien was named National Security Advisor, he was a Rotary scholar at the University of the Free State in South Africa in 1987, a white supremacist institution at the time. O’Brien’s LinkedIn profile states that he speaks two languages: English and Afrikaans. Congress passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act over Ronald Reagan’s veto in 1986.

Today, The Guardian reports in “Robert O’Brien attended ‘routinely racist’ university in apartheid South Africa,” that “Prof Jonathan Jansen, who was vice-chancellor of the university … between 2009 and 2017, said that at the time O’Brien was a student, the institution was ‘in short … a white, Afrikaans university for people then called Afrikaners – very conservative and routinely racist not only in their policies but in their practices.’ … The national security council did not respond to a request for comment.”

BILL FLETCHER, billfletcherjr at gmail.com
Fletcher is executive editor of GlobalAfricanWorker.com and is former president of TransAfrica Forum.

He said today: “This appointment is obscene. It is not just a matter of the school that O’Brien attended but his assessment of apartheid South Africa condemns him to be a person not from the 21st century, but from the 19th century. Coupled with the offensive and reactionary stand of the Trump administration when it comes to the Palestinian quest — against another apartheid system — for human rights, this appointment is not simply objectionable but displays the flag of the global right-wing populist movement with which Trump is aligned.”

The Guardian also notes: ”Last year the [‘civil rights organisation that mobilizes Afrikaners’] AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, caused outrage when he said that although apartheid was ‘wrong,’ not enough people had been killed during the apartheid era to justify it being called a crime against humanity.

“O’Brien was quoted in a 2017 interview with AfriForum as saying: ‘In my opinion, South Africans are the most hospitable people in the world and I have especially experienced this at [UFS].’

“O’Brien makes no mention of apartheid or his time in South Africa in his book While America Slept.

“O’Brien is reported to have met his wife while at the university.”

Climate: * Political Will * Candidates

Climate: * Political Will * CandidatesVICTOR WALLIS, zendive at aol.com
Wallis is author of Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism (2018) and Democracy Denied: Five Lectures on U.S. Politics (2019). See his website: VictorWallis.com.

He said today: “Greta Thunberg told the UN on Monday: ‘People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, How dare you!’

“This puts it in a nutshell. The scientific reports already note the need for systemic change. The diagnosis is no longer at issue. What is missing is the political force to compel the necessary steps. The development of this force — which will require participation by the tens of millions — is what needs to accelerate.

“As of now we are confronted by two forms of denial: the open rejection of science by the Republicans vs. the ‘yes but’ approach of the establishment Democrats. These approaches reinforce each other in practice.

“The idea of a Green New Deal provides a mobilizing focus, but it needs to be understood as requiring the prohibition of fracking and of new oil-exploration. It indeed will create ‘jobs,’ but these will require a new kind of authority that has the power to draw resources away from current wasteful and destructive pursuits — and from the extraordinarily concentrated fortunes that have been allowed to form.

“So far the political energy and organization for such steps is still lacking, but the scale of young people’s involvement — along with their sense of urgency — provides a ray of hope. But all our efforts must go in this direction without delay.

“Elements of the required policy measures can be found both in Bernie Sanders’ environmental plan and in the Green Party’s program, which they have been promoting since 2010.

“The action of the Democrats in quashing the effort to have in-depth discussion of environmental policy is symptomatic of the corporate-inspired resistance that has to be overcome. They fear debate precisely because any thorough discussion would point toward the need for more radical steps than they are willing to have us even think about — let alone put into practice.”

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