News Releases

Israel Targeting of Iran the Result of U.S. Backing, Refusal to Acknowledge Its Nuclear Weapons

RONNIE KASRILS, rkasrils@gmail.com
Kasrils was Minister for Intelligence Services in South Africa from 2004 to 2008 and was a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era.

    He said today: “Israel is once again acting criminally as the hand behind the recent attack on an Iranian vessel in the Gulf and now as The New York Times reports: ‘Blackout Hits Iran Nuclear Site in What Appears to Be Israeli Sabotage.’ …

    “There can be little doubt that this attack on Iran is calculated to damage the prospects for a wider peace, seeming to sabotage the talks in Vienna about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran which have started on a positive note in Vienna. [The New York Times reported Friday: “Iran Nuclear Talks Start on Positive Note in Vienna.”]

    “Israel is granted an effective green light for its illegal actions and dangerous war mongering whilst the U.S. government has time and again backed it. Just a few months ago South Africa’s emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote, urging incoming President Biden, to end the USA’s ‘pretence over Israel’s secret nuclear weapons’ and that ‘the refusal of [the] U.S. administration to even acknowledge Israel’s massive nuclear weapons arsenal threatens the region and indeed the planet’.” See piece by Tutu in The Guardian: “Joe Biden Should End the U.S. Pretence over Israel’s ‘Secret’ Nuclear Weapons: The cover-up has to stop — and with it, the huge sums in aid for a country with oppressive policies towards Palestinians.”

    Kasrils added: “All this reminds us in South Africa that Israel worked with the apparethid government to enable it to develop its nuclear weapons. Such proliferation violates U.S. and international law, and should result in a cutoff of billions in U.S. taxpayer funding, which enables Israel to destabilise the Middle East and threaten even nuclear war, whilst it continues to brutally oppress the Palestinian people. The USA, and Western powers, allows Israel to act with chilling impunity and are therefore complicit in its crimes.” He wrote the piece “I Fought South African Apartheid. I See the Same Brutal Policies in Israel” for The Guardian.

GRANT F. SMITH, gsmith@irmep.org, @IRmep, Skype: grant.f.smith
Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy and recently wrote the piece “Biden Could Reverse Six Harmful Israel Policies… With the Only Power That Stops Israel’s Lobby.”

    He said today: “During the Obama administration, Israel and its U.S. lobby did everything they could to sabotage the JCPOA, including spying on secret negotiations and coordinating opposition in the U.S. where the majority of Americans supported the deal.

“Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on the Biden administration to be forthright about the Middle East’s leading state sponsor of nuclear proliferation — Israel. Only by reentering the JCPOA and negotiating for a Middle East nuclear free zone — by dismantling Israel’s nuclear arsenal — will the U.S. be truly serving as an honest broker in the region.”

Amazon Union Vote

MIKE ELK, mike.elk@gmail.com@MikeElk
Elk is senior labor reporter for PaydayReport.com. His latest piece is “Anti-Union Amazon Workers Explain How Mandatory Anti-Union Meetings Turned Them Against RWDSU [Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union].”

He said today: “As the union is trailing nearly 2-to-1 with almost half of the vote in, it appears likely that the union drive at Amazon in Alabama will be defeated.

“In our interviews with workers, we discovered that most workers weren’t so heavily anti-union as much as they just didn’t know anything about unions.

“This union failed to form a strong organizing committee that had a real plan to show how the union worked prior to the election. To win union elections, the election feels like more formality since the organizing committee has already been acting as a union, winning campaigns in the workplace to change things and standing up for co-workers facing unfair discipline.

“When the union election comes, workers already feel like they know the union and are a part of it. Instead, what happened at Amazon was that workers knew little; this allowed the company through anti-union meetings to create a fear of the change that unions could bring — from warning workers that their wages may actually decrease under a contract, or worse, the facility closes.

“Within 24 hours of the defeat of the union at Amazon appearing likely, non-union workers at Amazon went on a wildcat strike in Chicago. So while it may appear that workers at Amazon were defeated, they are still on the march as the strike in Chicago shows.

“Winning union elections is tough, but the key to winning them is to invest heavily in training workers in how to organize and mobilize workers before they even have a union. Otherwise, unions will never win these union votes because workers won’t feel already like they’re part of the union.”

Ban Killer Drones Campaign Seeks a Treaty to Prohibit Weaponized Drones

Veterans for Peace and other groups this week have held protests outside Creech Air Force Base in Nevada against killer drones coordinated from the facility. The demonstrators also held a vigil in support of military analyst Daniel Hale who will soon be sentenced for exposing drone killings to the public.

 As the Biden administration assesses the U.S. government’s use of drones to kill people, a grassroots global campaign — BanKillerDrones.org — was launched on Friday, declaring its “commitment to achieving an international treaty that will ban weaponized drones and military and police surveillance.” The campaign is being launched on the 12th anniversary of the first protest of U.S. drone attacks, when 14 activists were arrested at Creech Air Force Base. Since 2009, activists have sustained international protests at numerous military bases while also decrying military and police drone surveillance.

The campaign is endorsed by 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Irish peace activist Mairead Maguire; international peace activist Kathy Kelly; CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin; Christine Schweitzer, Coordinator of the German peace organization Federation for Social Defence; Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army colonel and State Department diplomat and many other peace and justice organizations.

Mairead Maguire, who visited Afghanistan in 2012, said, in support of the ban: “One Afghan youth told us how, when they went up into the mountains with their donkeys to collect wood for their fires, many of their friends were killed by armed drones. These drones are controlled by men in U.S. military bases far away, and with the switch of a computer they blow to pieces kids in Afghanistan trying to warm their families.”Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com said: “After 20 years of experience with drone killing and drone surveillance, we are at the point of awareness that the technologies that enable drone atrocities, endless war and wholesale violation of human rights, particularly against people of color, must be put back in the box.”

David Swanson of World Beyond War said: “According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone murder-strikes in Afghanistan climbed from at least 235 in 2015 to at least 7,167 in 2019. In Somalia the same pair of years saw an increase from at least 11 to at least 63. Yemen saw at least 21 drone murder-strikes in 2015, but at least 127 in 2017. The numbers are uncertain, because the U.S. public relies on reports from the receiving end, not being entitled apparently to any reports from the U.S. government. The numbers of people killed, injured, made homeless, driven to starvation, forced into a wider war, or traumatized are even less certain. But we do know enough to be certain that the people launching the missiles never identify most of the people they kill.”

BRIAN TERRELL, brian1956terrell@gmail.com
    Terrell, who has served seven months in federal prison and local jails for his drone war protests, is one of the lead organizers of the campaign. He said: “Along with governmental and diplomatic efforts, an international agreement to ban killer drones will be made possible through sustained protest and petition at the grassroots level. Not an end in itself, a ban will have effect only when the private and state actors that profit from drone proliferation are held accountable by the world’s people.”

The Ban Killer Drones campaign will be working with other anti-war and human rights groups to organize protests, letter-writing, promotion of supportive legislation and other outreach in the U.S. and globally, engaging especially those who have experienced or are experiencing drone attacks, especially by the U.S., Israel, the U.K., France and Turkey, the foremost perpetrators of drone war.

Biden Re-ups Policies that Fuel Desperate Migration from Central America

AVIVA CHOMSKY, achomsky@salemstate.edu
Chomsky is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts and a contributor to TomDispatch. Her book, Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration, is being published this month. Her latest piece, “Will Biden’s Central America Plan Slow Immigration — Or Speed it up?” was just published by Salon.

She writes: “Read closely, a significant portion of Biden’s immigration proposal focuses on the premise that addressing the root causes of Central America’s problems will reduce the flow of immigrants to the U.S. border. In its own words, the Biden plan promises to promote ‘the rule of law, security, and economic development in Central America’ in order to ‘address the key factors’ contributing to emigration. Buried in its fuzzy language, however, are long-standing bipartisan Washington goals that should sound familiar to those who have been paying attention in these years.

“Their essence: that millions of dollars in ‘aid’ money should be poured into upgrading local military and police forces in order to protect an economic model based on private investment and the export of profits. Above all, the privileges of foreign investors must not be threatened. As it happens, this is the very model that Washington has imposed on the countries of Central America over the past century, one that’s left its lands corrupt, violent, and impoverished, and so continued to uproot Central Americans and send them fleeing toward the United States. …

“For almost two decades the United States has been bullying (and funding) military and police forces to its south to enforce its immigration priorities, effectively turning other countries’ borders into extensions of the U.S. one. In the process, Mexico’s forces have regularly been deployed on that country’s southern border, and Guatemala’s on its border with Honduras, all to violently enforce Washington’s immigration policies.

“Such outsourcing was, in part, a response to the successes of the immigrant rights movement in this country. U.S. leaders hoped to evade legal scrutiny and protest at home by making Mexico and Central America implement the uglier aspects of their policies. …

“The model Washington continues to promote is based on the idea that, if Central American governments can woo foreign investors with improved infrastructure, tax breaks, and weak environmental and labor laws, the ‘free market’ will deliver the investment, jobs, and economic growth that (in theory) will keep people from wanting to migrate in the first place. Over and over again in Central America’s tormented history, however, exactly the opposite has happened. Foreign investment flowed in, eager to take advantage of the region’s fertile lands, natural resources, and cheap labor. This form of development — whether in support of banana and coffee plantations in the 19th century or sugar, cotton, and cattle operations after World War II — brought Central America to its revolutions of the 1980s and its northbound mass migration of today. …

“In mid-March, President Biden appeared to link a positive response to Mexico’s request for some of Washington’s surplus Covid-19 vaccine to further commitments to cracking down on migrants. One demand: that Mexico suspend its own laws guaranteeing humane detention conditions for families with young children. Neither country had the capacity to provide such conditions for the large number of families detained at the border in early 2021, but the Biden administration preferred to press Mexico to ignore its own laws, so that it could deport more of those families and keep the problem out of sight of the U.S. public.”

Nuclear Weapons: “The Taproot of Violence”: Plowshares Activist Being Sentenced Friday

MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761@gmail.com@amistadobrero @kingsbayplow7
also via Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08@gmail.com

As the Biden administration assesses U.S. nuclear weapons policy, Colville is facing sentencing on Friday morning for entering the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia to protest such policy. Colville’s sentencing — the last one of the activists to be sentenced — will be conducted by phone on Friday, so the public will have access. The codes are below. The activists are known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. They sought to “nonviolently and symbolically disarm the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia” on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

He said today: “Deep gratitude to everyone who wrote letters to the judge. I’m asking her to consider them as expressions of the conscience of the community regarding the criminal enterprise of nuclearism, as it continues to scourge humanity and creation beyond reason or accountability. My family, my neighborhood and I have a right to live without a nuclear gun on hair-trigger alert held perpetually to our heads, and this court’s failure to recognize that right has made it an accessory to crimes against humanity. This is the reality that I plan to confront as clearly and simply as possible on Friday — and the rest, as an old friend used to remind me, is God’s problem.”

Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. In 2019 the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

Colville has been profiled in the Yale Daily News: “The Church at the End of the World: In 2018, a group of Catholic anti-nuclear activists made national news when they broke into a naval base in Georgia. One of their members — a New Haven resident — now awaits his sentencing.” Though Catarineau stresses that the facility in Georgia is “not a ‘navy base,’ it’s a military facility that threatens all humanity.”

See interview with Colville in the New Haven Independent: “Jailed Activist Targets ‘Culture Of Death.'” He quotes Rev. Richard McSorely, S.J.: “The taproot of violence in our society today is our intention to use nuclear weapons. Once we have agreed to that, all other evil is minor in comparison. Until we squarely face the question of our consent to use nuclear weapons, any hope of large scale improvement of public morality is doomed to failure.”

Colville said nuclear weapons “contribute to the cheapening of life and inform the other forms of violence. … When we talk about school shootings, we don’t talk about the cheapening of life that permits this.” Colville used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility. See online “Festival of Hope” featuring Colville and other activists from Monday.

To listen to Colville’s sentencing on Friday at 10 a.m. ET: Dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234 or dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 8878734 and enter the security code 1234. If one isn’t working or overloaded try the other access code. And remember to mute.

“Bad Apple” Argument Obscures Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, just wrote the piece “Calling Chauvin a ‘Bad Apple’ Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence, which states: “As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a ‘bad apple.’ In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing. …

“Black people who are unarmed or not attacking police are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, the Brookings Institution found. … More than 75 percent of the time, chokeholds are applied on men of color. …

“Prosecutors were compelled to bring charges against Chauvin because the whole world had seen him kill Floyd. After massive protests erupted following the horrifying video of Chauvin’s torture of Floyd — now known to have lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds — the MPD [Minnesota Police Department] fired Chauvin and prosecutors charged him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They later added a charge of second-degree murder.

“But what would have happened if eyewitnesses had not recorded Floyd’s death? Would Chauvin have been fired and charged with murder? …

“For nine minutes and 29 seconds, Chauvin continued to choke Floyd as several bystanders watched, many visibly recording the killing. Chauvin didn’t try to hide what he was doing. As eyewitness Genevieve Hansen testified, Chauvin looked ‘comfortable’ with his weight on Floyd’s neck.”

Saudi Starvation Blockade of Yemen — Why is Biden Admin Denying it’s Happening? 

Friends Committee on National Legislation, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, Demand Progress, and Just Foreign Policy have teamed up with actor and humanitarian Mark Ruffalo and the creators of the 2021 Oscar-nominated film “HUNGER WARD,” to urge President Biden to convince Saudi Arabia to immediately lift its “inhumane blockade of Yemen.” Their letter to the administration is excerpted below.

Meanwhile, a group of activists are continuing their hunger strike to stop U.S. backing of Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

IMAN SALEH and MONICA ISACC, yemeniliberationmovement@gmail.com@liberateyemen
Saleh and Isacc are with the Yemeni Liberation Movement. Members of the group began a hunger strike on Monday, March 29 to protest U.S. government support for the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen.

HASSAN EL-TAYYAB, hassan@fcnl.org@HassanElTayyab
El-Tayyab is the FCNL’s legislative manager for Middle East policy. He said today: “The U.S.-backed Saudi blockade on Yemen is a key driver of the world’s largest humanitarian catastrophe.”
See the letter the coalition of groups just sent to the Biden administration and news release. The letter states: “We are deeply concerned that prior to the CNN report, no U.S. official in the new administration had explicitly publicly acknowledged the six-year-old, Saudi-imposed blockade — much less criticized it. U.S. special envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, declined to adequately respond to [CNN reporter Nima] Elbagir’s on-the-ground reporting and direct questions, referring to Yemen’s hunger crisis simply as ‘complex,’ while denying evidence of the blockade shown in CNN’s report, and, per Elbagir’s account, falsely claiming that ‘food continues to flow through Hodeidah unimpeded.’
“Elbagir concluded: ‘How is [peace] possible when you are not acknowledging the full impact of that U.S.-backed Saudi embargo on the people of Yemen?’ According to the UN, 400,000 children under the age of five could perish from hunger this year without urgent action. For years, the Saudi blockade has been a leading driver of Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe. The recent fuel shortages triggered by the blockade are quickly accelerating major reductions in access to affordable food, clean water, electricity, and basic movement across Yemen. The blockade also threatens to shut down, within weeks, the hospitals reliant on power generators to tend to victims of famine, while making even emergency travel to hospitals prohibitively expensive for Yemeni families, condemning untold numbers of children to certain death at home.”

Fasting for Yemen and Against U.S. Support for Saudi as Over 2 Million Children Face Extreme Malnutrition

IMAN SALEH and MONICA ISACC, yemeniliberationmovement@gmail.com@liberateyemen
Saleh and Isacc are with the Yemeni Liberation Movement which is having a news conference Saturday, April 3rd at 1 p.m. ET at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    Members of the group began a hunger strike on Monday, March 29 to protest U.S. government support for the Saudi-led blockade on Yemen. The group is also leading a nationwide fast for Yemen on Monday.

    The hunger strikers and their supporters, largely from Detroit, are “demanding an end to any U.S. support for the blockade — including military, intelligence, diplomatic, or other support — and call for President Biden to use all diplomatic tools to pressure Saudi Arabian dictator Mohammed bin Salman to end it.”

The group notes that despite Biden’s pledge to the contrary, Al-Jazeera reported in March that “the U.S. military is reported to be increasing its assistance to the Saudis, claiming such help is defensive and not offensive.”

The group adds: “Calls for an immediate end to the blockade have become widespread after CNN aired a groundbreaking report on March 10.”
According to a joint statement by four leading United Nations agencies in February: “Nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, four United Nations agencies warned today. Of these, 400,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment.”

Will Infrastructure Investment be Syphoned by Hedge Funds?

A top USA Today headline reads: “Joe Biden wants to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure and jobs.”

LYNN PARRAMORE, lynn@lynnparramore.com@INETeconomics
Parramore is senior research analyst for the Institute for New Economic Thinking and recently wrote a piece key to understanding how President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan could be thwarted by hedge fund predators: “Meet the ‘New Koch Brothers’ — the Hedge Fund Activists Wrecking America’s Green New Deal.”

She explains how “billionaire financiers have made sure the companies the government must partner with to achieve critical goals like clean energy are focused on further enriching predatory hedge fund executives.” According to Parramore, these predators “force companies to play Wall Street casino games with their resources instead of investing in R&D and attracting and retaining the best talent.”

“Putting infrastructure plans in place requires the government to partner with companies that have the deep know-how and the substantial resources to develop these complicated and cutting-edge technologies,” writes Parramore. “The problem is,” these hedge fund “activists” usually “aren’t interested in companies being the best at what they do, or doing anything, really, except handing over money to shareholders. A favorite tactic is to force companies to use their cash, or even borrow it, to buy back outstanding shares of their own stock.

“The playbook of today’s hedge fund” manipulators, Parramore notes, “looks like this: Buy a wad of shares of a company on the stock market. Then, line up the proxy votes of the managers of funds who have hedgies manage pieces of their portfolio. Next, send a letter to the CEO of a target company demanding that he or she get busy pumping up the stock price. Hedge funds with deep pockets will spend millions making this happen — remember, their money comes from rich people or institutional investors like pensions and mutual funds who are seeking high yields. Occasionally hedgies will use their own money — those whose ‘war chests’ have come from previous raids.”

Parramore notes that “companies partnering with the government for infrastructure projects should be protected from hedge fund predators, prevented from doing stock buybacks, and incentivized for building up capabilities and new technologies and training employees rather than playing stock market games.”

Military Analyst Daniel Hale to Be Sentenced for Exposing Drone Killings to Public

The Washington Post reports “Former intelligence analyst Daniel Hale pleads guilty to leaking classified information.”

JESSELYN RADACK, jess@exposefacts.org@JesselynRadack
Radack serves as Hale’s whistleblower attorney. She heads the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts and is quoted in the Post article.
She said today: “Hale is not a spy. He was accused of giving an investigative journalist truthful information in the public interest about the U.S. drone warfare program. That information revealed gross human rights violations, and that drones were more deadly and less accurate than the U.S. presented publicly. Ninety percent of people killed were not the intended target — including an American father and teenage son. Articles, books, and documentaries featuring his disclosures have won numerous awards.”

Radack’s work focuses on the issues of secrecy, surveillance, torture, and drones, where she has been at the forefront of challenging the government’s unprecedented war on whistleblowers. Among her clients are national security and intelligence community employees who have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for allegedly mishandling classified information, including Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, and John Kiriakou. (IPA is the fiscal sponsor of WHISPeR.) For more on the case, see: StandWithDanielHale.org.
CHIP GIBBONS, chip@rightsanddissent.org@RightsDissent
Gibbons is policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent, which has done extensive work on Hale’s case. He said today: “On Wednesday, Daniel Hale pled guilty to one count of ‘retention and transmission of national defense information’ in violation of the Espionage Act. Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.

“It is a disgrace to this country that time and time again when brave truth tellers, many of them relatively young, expose the crimes of our government it is they who go to jail.

“Shame on both [political] parties for their role in this and Congress for failing to act.

“Whistleblowers charged under the Espionage Act have an almost impossible chance of mounting a fair defense, which is why Defending Rights & Dissent has repeatedly urged Congress to amend this draconian and antiquated law. Had Hale gone to trial he would have been barred from even uttering the word whistleblower, fairly explaining his actions, or how they were in the public interest.

“It is outrageous that a law ostensibly designed to target spies and saboteurs is used to jail journalists’ sources and even journalists who act in the public interest to reveal official abuses of power.

“Hale’s case spans three administrations, including presidents from both major parties. Espionage Act abuse to prosecute whistleblowers is a bi-partisan disgrace.”

Correction: This IPA news release was initially titled “Military Analyst Daniel Hale Jailed for Exposing Drone Killings to Public.” That is inaccurate. Hale is not in jail, but is currently out on his own recognizance awaiting sentencing, which is widely expected to include jail time.  

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