Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Nukes or social progress?



https://www.lisaformaine.org/

Another Hiroshima is coming -- unless we stop it now


By John Pilger

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.

I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties.

I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He described a huge flash over the city, "a bluish light, something like an electrical short", after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. "I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead."

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukemia.  

"No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin" said The New York Times front page on 13 September, 1945, a classic of planted disinformation. "General Farrell," reported William H. Lawrence, "denied categorically that [the atomic bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity."

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the "press pack".

"I write this as a warning to the world," reported Burchett in the London Daily Express  of September 5,1945. Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called "an atomic plague".




For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven. 

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of America's war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target - China.

During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives.

"Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. "Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war [against Japan] and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."

The National Archives in Washington contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Nothing was done.

The US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US Air Force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". Stimson later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the [atomic] bomb".

Stimson's foreign policy colleagues -- looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping "in our image", as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it -- made clear they were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the [atomic] bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis."

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

The "experiment" continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years.

The human and environmental consequences were catastrophic. During the filming of my documentary, The Coming War on China, I chartered a small aircraft and flew to Bikini Atoll in the Marshall's. It was here that the United States exploded the world's first Hydrogen Bomb. It remains poisoned earth. My shoes registered "unsafe" on my Geiger counter. Palm trees stood in unworldly formations. There were no birds.

I trekked through the jungle to the concrete bunker where, at 6.45 on the morning of March 1, 1954, the button was pushed. The sun, which had risen, rose again and vaporised an entire island in the lagoon, leaving a vast black hole, which from the air is a menacing spectacle: a deathly void in a place of beauty.

The radioactive fall-out spread quickly and "unexpectedly". The official history claims "the wind changed suddenly". It was the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony reveal.

Gene Curbow, a meteorologist assigned to monitor the test site, said, "They knew where the radioactive fall-out was going to go. Even on the day of the shot, they still had an opportunity to evacuate people, but [people] were not evacuated; I was not evacuated… The United States needed some guinea pigs to study what the effects of radiation would do."

Like Hiroshima, the secret of the Marshall Islands was a calculated experiment on the lives of large numbers of people. This was Project 4.1, which began as a scientific study of mice and became an experiment on "human beings exposed to the radiation of a nuclear weapon". 

The Marshall Islanders I met in 2015 -- like the survivors of Hiroshima I interviewed in the 1960s and 70s -- suffered from a range of cancers, commonly thyroid cancer; thousands had already died. Miscarriages and stillbirths were common; those babies who lived were often deformed horribly.

Unlike Bikini, nearby Rongelap atoll had not been evacuated during the H-Bomb test. Directly downwind of Bikini, Rongelap's skies darkened and it rained what first appeared to be snowflakes.  Food and water were contaminated; and the population fell victim to cancers. That is still true today.

I met Nerje Joseph, who showed me a photograph of herself as a child on Rongelap. She had terrible facial burns and much of her was hair missing. "We were bathing at the well on the day the bomb exploded," she said. "White dust started falling from the sky. I reached to catch the powder. We used it as soap to wash our hair. A few days later, my hair started falling out."

Lemoyo Abon said, "Some of us were in agony. Others had diarrhea. We were terrified. We thought it must be the end of the world."

US official archive film I included in my film refers to the islanders as "amenable savages". In the wake of the explosion, a US Atomic Energy Agency official is seen boasting that Rongelap "is by far the most contaminated place on earth", adding, "it will be interesting to get a measure of human uptake when people live in a contaminated environment."

American scientists, including medical doctors, built distinguished careers studying the "human uptake'. There they are in flickering film, in their white coats, attentive with their clipboards. When an islander died in his teens, his family received a sympathy card from the scientist who studied him.

I have reported from five nuclear "ground zeros" throughout the world -- in Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada, Polynesia and Maralinga in Australia. Even more than my experience as a war correspondent, this has taught me about the ruthlessness and immorality of great power: that is, imperial power, whose cynicism is the true enemy of humanity.

This struck me forcibly when I filmed at Taranaki Ground Zero at Maralinga in the Australian desert. In a dish-like crater was an obelisk on which was inscribed: "A British atomic weapon was test exploded here on 9 October 1957". On the rim of the crater was this sign:

                  WARNING: RADIATION HAZARD

                  Radiation levels for a few hundred metres

               around this point may be above those considered

                        safe for permanent occupation.

For as far as the eye could see, and beyond, the ground was irradiated. Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder: plutonium is so dangerous to humans that a third of a milligram gives a 50 per cent chance of cancer.

The only people who might have seen the sign were Indigenous Australians, for whom there was no warning. According to an official account, if they were lucky "they were shooed off like rabbits".

Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan .... Huawei. How confusing it is when "our" most reviled leader says so.

The current phase of this campaign began not with Trump but with Barack Obama, who in 2011 flew to Australia to declare the greatest build-up of US naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region since World War Two. Suddenly, China was a "threat". This was nonsense, of course. What was threatened was America's unchallenged psychopathic view of itself as the richest, the most successful, the most "indispensable" nation.

What was never in dispute was its prowess as a bully -- with more than 30 members of the United Nations suffering American sanctions of some kind and a trail of the blood running through defenceless countries bombed, their governments overthrown, their  elections interfered with, their resources plundered.

Obama's declaration became known as the "pivot to Asia". One of its principal advocates was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who, as WikiLeaks revealed, wanted to rename the Pacific Ocean "the American Sea".



Whereas Clinton never concealed her warmongering, Obama was a maestro of marketing."I state clearly and with conviction," said the new president in 2009, "that America’s commitment is to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

Obama increased spending on nuclear warheads faster than any president since the end of the Cold War. A "usable" nuclear weapon was developed. Known as the B61 Model 12, it means, according to General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that "going smaller [makes its use] more thinkable".

The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one US strategist told me, "the perfect noose".

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the infamous catch cry of its chief Cold War strategist, Herman Kahn – "thinking the unthinkable". Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a "winnable" nuclear war.

Kahn's apocalyptic view is shared by Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical fanatic who believes in the "rapture of the End". He is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. "I was CIA director," he boasted, "We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses."  Pompeo's obsession is China.

The endgame of Pompeo's extremism is rarely if ever discussed in the Anglo-American media, where the myths and fabrications about China are standard fare, as were the lies about Iraq. A virulent racism is the sub-text of this propaganda. Classified "yellow" even though they were white, the Chinese are the only ethnic group to have been banned by an "exclusion act" from entering the United States, because they were Chinese. Popular culture declared them sinister, untrustworthy, "sneaky", depraved, diseased, immoral.



An Australian magazine, The Bulletin, was devoted to promoting fear of the "yellow peril" as if all of Asia was about to fall down on the whites-only colony by the force of gravity.

As the historian Martin Powers writes, acknowledging China's  modernism, its secular morality and "contributions to liberal thought threatened European face, so it became necessary to suppress China's role in the Enlightenment debate .... For centuries, China's threat to the myth of Western superiority has made it an easy target for race-baiting."

In the Sydney Morning Herald, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as "rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows". Hartcher, who favourably quotes the American demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the "dreams" of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the "Mandate of Heaven" of 2,000 years ago. Ad nausea.

To combat this "mandate", the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of American missiles that can be fired at China.

The trickle-down is already evident. In a country historically scarred by violent racism towards Asians, Australians of Chinese descent have formed a vigilante group to protect delivery riders. Phone videos show a delivery rider punched in the face and a Chinese couple racially abused in a supermarket. Between April and June, there were almost 400 racist attacks on Asian-Australians. 

"We are not your enemy," a high-ranking strategist in China told me, "but if you [in the West] decide we are, we must prepare without delay." China’s arsenal is small compared with America’s, but it is growing fast, especially the development of maritime missiles designed to destroy fleets of ships.

"For the first time," wrote Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists, "China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack… This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy…"

In Washington, I met Amitai Etzioni, distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University, who wrote that a "blinding attack on China" was planned, "with strikes that could be mistakenly perceived [by the Chinese] as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma [that would] lead to nuclear war."

In 2019, the US staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War, much of it in high secrecy. An armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an "Air-Sea Battle Concept for China" – ASB – blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa.

It is fear of such a blockade that has seen China develop its Belt and Road Initiative along the old Silk Road to Europe and urgently build strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands.

In Shanghai, I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and novelist, typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is Great! Having grown up in the chaotic, brutal Cultural Revolution, she has traveled and lived in the US and Europe. "Many Americans imagine," she said, "that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The [idea of] the yellow peril has never left them… They have no idea there are some 500 million people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600 million."

Modern China's epic achievements, its defeat of mass poverty, and the pride and contentment of its people (measured forensically by American pollsters such as Pew) are wilfully unknown or misunderstood in the West. This alone is a commentary on the lamentable state of Western journalism and the abandonment of honest reporting.

China's repressive dark side and what we like to call its "authoritarianism" are the facade we are allowed to see almost exclusively. It is as if we are fed unending tales of the evil super-villain Dr. Fu Manchu. And it is time we asked why: before it is too late to stop the next Hiroshima.

www.johnpilger.com

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Why the US really accuses Russia & China of weaponizing space


By Finian Cunningham

Washington has made startling accusations that Russia & China “have already turned space into a war-fighting domain,” but what’s really going on is the US is attempting to distract from its own controversial space militarization.

There is also a sequence of events reflecting Washington’s increasingly hysterical hostility towards Russia and China in which all events are perceived through an obsessive American lens of “hybrid warfare.”

An additional factor is the intensified US demand to include China in arms control talks with Russia, which resumed this week.

The claim made against Russia and China by Christophe Ford, a State Department arms control envoy, comes against the backdrop of President Trump announcing the establishment of a new Space Force Command earlier this year. That move by the Trump administration flies in the face of decades-long advocacy at the United Nations by Russia and China to keep weapons out of space.

The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty forbids weaponization in the outer atmosphere. Thus, America’s renewed efforts through its Space Force Command are arguably illegal. Allegations from Washington that Moscow and Beijing have turned space into a war-fighting domain appear to turn reality on its head.

Karl Grossman, a professor at the State University of New York who has written extensively on the subject, says that Russia and China have consistently advocated for the expansion of the existing UN treaty to ban not only the placement of weapons of mass destruction but also for a prohibition on any weaponization in outer space.

“The United States has repeatedly voted against this effort, essentially casting a veto at the UN,” Grossman said.

It would seem therefore that America’s claims are motivated by a need to obscure its own controversial militarization of the “final frontier.”

On July 15, the US and Britain accused Russia of testing an anti-satellite weapon in space. Moscow denied this, saying it was carrying out an in-orbit satellite “inspection” by another one of its own satellites. The US Space Force Command acknowledges it was a “non-destructive event” but nevertheless alleged it was an attempt by Russia to deploy a “bullet” in space.

“Inspection of satellites” could of course be a euphemism for gaining the capacity to spy on other nations’ space vehicles. The US is reportedly involved in developing the same kind of surveillance activity against foreign satellites. But for the Americans to accuse Russia of testing a space-based “anti-satellite weapon” seems to be a provocative stretch.

Notably, the report of the alleged Russian weapon test was followed immediately by sonorous statements hailing the establishment last year of the US Space Force “to deter aggression and defend the nation.”

Grossman says: “The new US Space Force is, I’d say desperately, trying to justify itself and thus its announcement that Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons test needs to be considered in this context.”

But there is more to the sequence of events. Last week, on July 23, China launched its first rover to explore Mars. If the mission succeeds in landing on the Red Planet in seven months, it will be seen as a breakthrough achievement by China, putting the country on par with the US in space exploration. The Chinese launch came a week before NASA blasted off its new rover to Mars which is due to reach the planet in February around the same time as China’s.

It seems significant that Christophe Ford, the US arms control envoy, first made his announcement accusing Russia and China of weaponizing space the day after China’s historic Mars mission launch. Given the closely overlapping engineering shared by space rocketry and ballistic missiles, it could, therefore, be loosely argued that a Mars mission by China has military dimensions. (As would all American missions, if using the same tenuous reasoning.)

However, in the present context of rampant accusations against Russia and China of waging “hybrid war,” including everything from “meddling in elections to subvert US democracy” to “unleashing a virus pandemic to destroy American capitalism,” it is not hard to see how in Washington’s mindset events in space could be construed as yet more hybrid warfare. American paranoia is simply going extraterrestrial.

Another important factor in the sequence is the resumption of arms control talks this week in Vienna between the US and Russia. These negotiations are aimed at extending the New START accord limiting strategic weapons. Washington is pushing the Russian side to lever China into joining a new trilateral arms control agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted in a recent keynote speech that Washington was seeking Russia’s help in curbing China’s nuclear arsenal. Moscow has indicated that such a trilateral accord with China, considering its relatively smaller arsenal, is not relevant at this stage in bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia over New START.

The US warned it would bring up the issue of Russia’s alleged anti-satellite weapon at the arms control talks this week in Vienna.

It seems the US is using claims about space weaponization not only to distract from its own illicit program, but also to undermine Russia in arms talks as a way to pressure Moscow into accommodating Washington’s overbearing demands regarding China.

That does not augur well for a successful arms control agreement or for global security. A foreboding case, so to speak, of ‘watch this space’.

~ Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist. For over 25 years, he worked as a sub-editor and writer for The Mirror, Irish Times, Irish Independent and Britain's Independent, among others.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Hold the Halos



By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

Last week I received an invitation to attend the annual whistleblowers luncheon hosted by the National Whistleblower Center (NWC).  The luncheon is always a big deal.  It’s held in Washington, D.C., in the Russell Senate Office Building’s Kennedy Caucus Room, the same room that hosted the Watergate hearings, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Iran-Contra hearings and other momentous events in American political history.

It’s attended by hundreds of whistleblowers from all over government and the private sector, as well as more than a few politicians.  The NWC usually has one of those politicians as a guest speaker.  There is lots of applause, a lot of self-congratulations, and everybody goes away with a full belly, even if nothing of substance gets done.

This year, however, I’m boycotting the event.  So is Darin Jones.

Procurement Improprieties


You may recall me writing about my friend Darin Jones.  Darin is an FBI whistleblower and former supervisory contract specialist who in 2012 reported evidence of serious procurement improprieties.  Darin said that Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) had been awarded a $40 million contract improperly because a former FBI official with responsibility for granting the contract then was hired as a consultant at CSC.

Jones maintained that this was a violation of the Procurement Integrity Act.  He made seven other disclosures alleging financial improprieties at the FBI, and he was promptly fired for his whistleblowing.

What was done to Darin Jones was patently illegal.  I wrote at the time:

“Immediately upon his firing, Jones appealed. He was not reinstated, however, because he had made his revelation to his supervisor and not to one of the nine people on the FBI leadership-approved list of who could hear a whistleblower complaint. Jones appealed again, beginning a more than four-year odyssey.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is the champion of whistleblowers on Capitol Hill, whether you like his politics or not. Jones contacted Grassley and asked for help. His dismissal was clearly retaliation for his revelations and was illegal, according to the whistleblower protection law. Grassley agreed and wrote three separate letters to then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. None were answered.

Grassley urged the Justice Department to reinstate Jones, saying that his dismissal was a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016, which strengthened the original whistleblower protection law. He added that when Yates appeared before his Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearings earlier in the year, she promised ‘to improve the process for adjudicating claims of retaliation, including expanding the list of persons to whom a protected disclosure may be made.’

She never did that. In fact, Yates ordered the director of the Justice Department’s Professional Misconduct Review Unit to write to Jones and to tell him, ‘The Deputy Attorney General’s review is complete and her decision is final. Your case is no longer pending. You should not expect to receive any future communications that you or any other organization or individuals may submit with regard to your whistleblower reprisal case.’ In other words, the official policy of the Justice Department was to ignore the law and to give the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and the whistleblower himself the middle finger.

The FBI’s response was equally bad, albeit predictable. The FBI’s Office of the General Counsel wrote to Jones, ‘The FBI has advised you that it will not conduct further investigation into your allegations that the FBI removed you from employment because you reported a compliance concern and retaliated against you in violation of applicable whistleblower retaliation protection regulations. The FBI has met its legal obligations and considers this matter closed without any basis for further review or reopening. Please be advised that the FBI will not respond to any additional correspondence or emails related to or arising from the termination of your employment.’

That’s another middle finger.

Note also that the FBI refers to ‘whistleblower regulations.’ It’s not a regulation. It’s a law. And the FBI, too, has to respect and follow the law even when they don’t want to.”

The Man Behind It

To make matters worse, it was the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz who was behind all of this.  It was Horowitz who said that Darin Jones’s information was not whistleblowing and was not worthy of investigation.  It was Horowitz who refused to respond to Grassley or to Jones’ attorneys to reinstate him.

This is the same Horowitz who has garnered wide press attention and acclaim for investigating the FBI’s handling of the Michael Flynn case, the FBI’s handling of the Larry Nassar sexual assault case and the federal response to the demonstrations in Portland all the while ignoring legitimate whistleblowers.

And who do you think the National Whistleblower Center has as its keynote speaker at its annual luncheon?  Michael Horowitz.  The press would have you believe that he’s a hero.  Even the National Whistleblower Center would have you believe that he’s a hero.  He’s not. Many of us think he’s a fraud.  Just ask Darin Jones.

~ John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Yemen: A Torrent of Suffering in a Time of Siege


By Kathy Kelly

“When evil-doing comes like falling rain, nobody calls out “stop!” When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible. When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard. The cries, too, fall like rain in summer.” --  Bertolt Brecht

In war-torn Yemen, the crimes pile up. Children who bear no responsibility for governance or warfare endure the punishment. In 2018, UNICEF said the war made Yemen a living hell for children. By the year’s end, Save the Children reported 85,000 children under age five had already died from starvation since the war escalated in 2015. By the end of 2020, it is expected that 23,500 children with severe acute malnutrition will be at immediate risk of death.

Cataclysmic conditions afflict Yemen as people try to cope with rampant diseases, the spread of COVID-19, flooding, literal swarms of locusts, rising displacement, destroyed infrastructure and a collapsed economy. Yet war rages, bombs continue to fall, and desperation fuels more crimes.

The highest-paying jobs available to many Yemeni men and boys require a willingness to kill and maim one another, by joining militias or armed groups which seemingly never run out of weapons. Nor does the Saudi-Led Coalition  which kills and maims civilians; instead, it deters relief shipments and destroys crucial infrastructure with weapons it imports from Western countries.

The aerial attacks displace traumatized survivors into swelling, often lethal refugee camps. Amid the wreckage of factories, fisheries, roads, sewage and sanitation facilities, schools and hospitals, Yemenis search in vain for employment and, increasingly, for food and water. The Saudi-Led-Coalition’s blockade, also enabled by Western training and weapons, makes it impossible for Yemenis to restore a functioning economy.

Even foreign aid can become punitive. In March, 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) decided to suspend most aid for Yemenis living in areas controlled by the Houthis.

Scott Paul, who leads Oxfam America’s humanitarian policy advocacy, strongly criticized this callous decision to compound the misery imposed on vulnerable people in Yemen. “In future years,” he wrote, “scholars will study USAID’s suspension as a paradigmatic example of a donor’s exploitation and misuse of humanitarian principles.”

As the evil-doing in Yemen comes “like falling rain,” so do the cries of “Stop!” from millions of people all over the world. Here’s some of what’s been happening:

·       U.S. legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars in weapons and maintenance to Saudi Arabia and its allies. But President Trump vetoed the bill in 2019.

·       Canada’s legislators declared a moratorium on weapon sales to the Saudis. But the Canadian government has resumed selling weapons to the Saudis, claiming the moratorium only pertained to the creation of new contracts, not existing ones.

·       The United Kingdom suspended military sales to Saudi Arabia because of human rights violations, but the UK’s international trade secretary  nevertheless resumed weapon sales saying the 516 charges of Saudi human rights violations are all isolated incidents and don’t present a pattern of abuse.

·       French NGOs and human rights advocates  urged their government to scale back on weapon sales to the Saudi-Led coalition, but reports on 2019 weapon sales revealedthe French government sold 1.4 billion Euros worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

·       British campaigners opposing weapon transfers to the Saudi-Led Coalition have exposed how the British Navy gave the Saudi Navy training in tactics essential to the devastating Yemen blockade.

·       In Canada, Spain, France and Italy, laborers opposed to the ongoing war refused to load weapons onto ships sailing to Saudi Arabia. Rights groups track the passage of trains and ships carrying these weapons.

On top of all this, reports produced by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the International Commission of the Red Cross repeatedly expose the Saudi-Led Coalition’s human rights violations.

Yet this international outcry clamoring for an end to the war is still being drowned out by the voices of military contractors with well-paid lobbyists plying powerful elites in Western governments. Their concern is simply for the profits to be reaped and the competitive sales to be scored.

In 2019 Lockheed Martin’s total sales reached nearly 60 billion dollars, the best year on record for the world’s largest "defense" contractor. Before stepping down as CEO, Marillyn Hewson predicted demand from the Pentagon and U.S. allies would generate an uptake between $6.2 billion and $6.4 billion in net earnings for the company in 2020 sales.


Hewson’s words, spoken calmly, drown out the cries of Yemeni children whose bodies were torn apart by just one of Lockheed Martin’s bombs.

In August of 2018, bombs manufactured by Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin fell on Yemen like summer rain. On August 9, 2018, a missile blasted a school bus in Yemen, killing forty children and injuring many others.

Photos showed badly injured children still carrying UNICEF blue backpacks, given to them that morning as gifts. Other photos showed surviving children helping prepare gravesfor their schoolmates. One  photo showed a piece of the bomb protruding from the wreckage with the number MK82 clearly stamped on it. That number on the shrapnel helped identify Lockheed Martin as the manufacturer.

The psychological damage being inflicted on these children is incalculable. “My son is really hurt from the inside,” said a parent whose child was severely wounded by the bombing. “We try to talk to him to feel better and we can’t stop ourselves from crying.”

The cries against war in Yemen also fall like rain and whatever thunder accompanies the rain is distant, summer thunder. Yet, if we cooperate with war making elites, the most horrible storms will be unleashed. We must learn--and quickly--to make a torrent of our mingled cries and, as the prophet Amos demanded, ‘let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

 ~ Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence www.vcnv.org

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Excellent webinar on Medicare4All - educational & inspiring



In "Improved Medicare for All: Universal Single-Payer Health Care", independent Green U.S. Senate candidate Lisa Savage hosts former Green congressional candidate and universal healthcare advocate Dr. Margaret Flowers, Maine AllCare’s Dr. Bill Clark, and recovery and harm reduction advocate Glenn Simpson for a wide-ranging discussion on the growing demand for a health care system that puts people over profit, and why both health care practitioners and the public increasingly agree that Improved Medicare for All is the solution we need. 

Lisa Savage is convening a series of policy-focused webinars this summer, “The Way Forward,” that will bring together policy and subject-matter experts from Maine and around the country to have substantive discussions about solving some of our country’s most difficult policy issues, with opportunity for questions and discussion.

Sunday song