A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967
"This is the most astounding and astoundingly disturbing hearing I have been to since I have been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today" - Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)During the hearing, lawmakers questioned the panel on the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and weighed further actions. It was the first Senate hearing on the potential rewriting of the AUMF.
The rule empowers the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
This widespread directive has enabled the Commander in Chief to oversee everything from the rendition, transfer and indefinite detention of "suspects," to the authorization of lethal drone strikes.
Further, Pentagon officials argued Thursday that under the AUMF troops could be sent to Syria, Yemen and the Congo without new congressional authorization.
Testifying before the panel, Michael A. Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, defended the rationalesayingthat if a terrorist organization outside of al-Qaeda, the Taliban or any other "associated forces" began to threaten the United States, "Then we might have to look at different authorities or extended authority or adjustment of authority to go after that organization."
Sheehan added that "when hostilities with al-Qaeda end, the AUMF will no longer be in force," ignoring theverified, self-perpetuating nature of the "global war on terror" in that American militarism has only increased hostilities worldwide.
"This is the most astounding and astoundingly disturbing hearing I have been to since I have been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today," said Senator Angus King (I-Maine) at the hearing Thursday.
"I'm just a little old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don't see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution," King said. "Under your reading, we've granted unbelievable powers to the president and it's a very dangerous precedent."
"You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s nowhere in this document," he added. "It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void."
Encouraging the lawmakers to retire the AUMF, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch,explainedthat there is "no more important distinction than the line between peace and war," because during peacetime a suspect can only be detained after full due process. Whereas in war, governments can kill at will.
[T]he combination of a declared global war and the newly enhanced capacity to kill individual targets far from any traditional battlefield poses new dangers to basic rights—ones that will only grow as the US role in the Afghan armed conflict winds down. That leaves only al-Qaeda and similar armed groups but without the elements that traditionally limit use of the war power: the control of territory and a recognizable battlefield. To paint the problem most starkly, might a government that wants to kill a particular person simply declare “war” on him and shoot him, circumventing the basic due-process rights to which the target would ordinarily be entitled?
Calling the AUMF a "blank check written in advance," Roth added that although President Obama has formally dropped the Bush administration’s use of the phrase "global war on terror," he noted that their interpretation of the rule "looks very similar."
It continues to be incredibly important to expose the stories which are not told on what passes for "news" in America. Another world is possible. Blessed are the Peacemakers. May they inspire us all. ~ Molly
From left, Greg Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli. (Photo: Saul Young/News Sentinel)In just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US.
Here is how it happened.
In the early morning hours of Saturday June 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property. Y-12, called the Fort Knox of the nuclear weapons industry, stores hundreds of metric tons of highly enriched uranium and works on every single one of the thousands of nuclear weapons maintained by the U.S.
“The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases, which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not exist. For this we give our lives — for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons.” - Sr. Megan Rice
Describing themselves as theTransform Now Plowshares, the three came as non-violent protestors to symbolically disarm the weapons. They carried bibles, written statements, peace banners, spray paint, flower, candles, small baby bottles of blood, bread, hammers with biblical verses on them and wire cutters. Their intent was to follow the words of Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Sr. Megan Rice has been a Catholic sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus for over sixty years. Greg Boertje-Obed, a married carpenter who has a college age daughter, is an Army veteran and lives at a Catholic Worker house in Duluth Minnesota. Michael Walli, a two-term Vietnam veteran turned peacemaker, lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington DC.
In the dark, the three activists cut through a boundary fence which had signs stating “No Trespassing.” The signs indicate that unauthorized entry, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
No security arrived to confront them.
So the three climbed up a hill through heavy brush, crossed a road, and kept going until they saw the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) surrounded by three fences, lit up by blazing lights.
Still no security.
So they cut through the three fences, hung up their peace banners, and spray-painted peace slogans on the HEUMF. Still no security arrived. They began praying and sang songs like “Down by the Riverside” and “Peace is Flowing Like a River.”
When security finally arrived at about 4:30 am, the three surrendered peacefully, were arrested, and jailed.
The next Monday July 30, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were arraigned and charged with federal trespassing, a misdemeanor charge which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail. Frank Munger, an award-winning journalist with the Knoxville News Sentinel, was the first to publiclywonder, “If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant's core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant's security against more menacing intruders.”
On Wednesday August 1, all nuclear operations at Y-12 were ordered to be put on hold in order for the plant to focus on security. The “security stand-down” was ordered by security contractor in charge of Y-12, B&W Y-12 (a joint venture of the Babcock and Wilcox Company and Bechtel National Inc.) and supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration.
On Thursday August 2, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli appeared in court for a pretrial bail hearing. The government asked that all three be detained. One prosecutor called them a potential “danger to the community” and asked that all three be kept in jail until their trial. The US Magistrate allowed them to be released.
Sr. Megan Rice walked out of the jail and promptly admitted to gathered media that the three had indeed gone onto the property and taken action in protest of nuclear weapons. “But we had to — we were doing it because we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there, that’s our obligation,” Rice said. She also challenged the entire nuclear weapons industry: “We have the power, and the love, and the strength and the courage to end it and transform the whole project, for which has been expended more than 7.2 trillion dollars,” shesaid. “The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases, which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not exist. For this we give our lives — for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons.”
Then the government began increasing the charges against the anti-nuclear peace protestors.
"In ten months, an 82 year old nun and two pacifists had been successfully transformed by the U.S. government from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism." - Fran Quigley
All the suffering of living beings is our own suffering. We have to see that we are they and they are us. When we see their suffering, an arrow of compassion and love enters our hearts. We can love them, embrace them and find a way to help. Only then are we not overwhelmed by despair at their situation. Or our own.
US Government Shills for GMO Seed Companies Throughout the World, Including Monsanto, Report Reveals
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Monsanto to Own Our Amber Waves of GrainIt's official,the amber waves of grainin "America, The Beautiful" are now unofficially owned, in growing acreage, by Monsanto and the other giant seed companies. Not only that, the US State Department and executive branch have been acting as marketing agents for the companies who are patenting the most basic seeds necessary for human survival – and doing it throughout the world.
In the past decade, the United States has aggressively pursued foreign policies in food and agriculture that benefit the largest seed companies. The U.S. State Department has launched a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology, often over the opposition of the public and governments, to the near exclusion of other more sustainable, more appropriate agricultural policy alternatives.
Russian Television (RT) providedmore insightinto the basis for the Food and Water Watch findings:
After US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that the State Department was lobbying worldwide for Monsanto and other similar corporations, a new report based on the cables shows Washington's shilling for the biotech industry in distinct detail.The August 2011 WikiLeaks revelations showed that American diplomats had requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in "target countries" in areas like Africa and Latin America, where genetically-modified crops were not yet a mainstay, as well as some European countries that have resisted the controversial agricultural practice.
Thetitleof the white paper is "Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry's Global Agenda"
Although the WikiLeaks cables covered 2005 – 2009, the Obama administration has continued to cozy up to Monsanto, including the appointment of former Monsanto-associated individuals to government positions. Furthermore, as RT reported, just a short time ago "the president signed into law an agricultural spending bill that included a provision that provides biotech companies with liability from future lawsuits filed over possible health hazards brought on by unregulated and untested GMO products."
One possible change in long-term US policy supporting the privatization of GMO seeds for the most basic staples of food around the world (in conjunction with the sale of companion mega-pesticides) occurred the other day. RT againwas on top of the story:
Biotech giant Monsanto faced a surprising setback after federal authorities refused to approve a new generation of genetically-engineered crops that could survive an unprecedented use of herbicides.
Monsanto was awarded a big win on Monday by the United States Supreme Court, but another federal ruling made only days earlier brought some comparatively bad news to the biotech giant.
The US Department of Agriculture announced Friday that they’ve ordered additional environmental impact statements (EIS) for herbicide-resistant crops that have been waiting for federal approval. Now Monsanto and the chemical company Dow will have to sit anxiously and await the results of those assessments before they are given the go-ahead to sell genetically-engineer plants that have raised serious environmental issues.
At stake is the future for a variety of corn, soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically-engineered to resist two heavy-duty pesticides, namely 2,4-D and dicamba. Both Monsanto and Dow have been hoping to get the go-ahead to sell these crops, but ordering further testing will set the release date back to perhaps 2015.
But don't celebrate just yet. The Obama administration has let Monsanto and the other genetically engineered giants pretty much write their own ticket when it comes to owning and controlling "the staff of life." Just as with the Keystone Pipeline, which is going to be operational shortly -- it's just a question of whether or not a more profitable new route gets built to replace the current northern section that is up in the air – more than likely the Obama administration is just acting is if it is taking environmental concerns seriously, with the intention of approving the Monsanto and Dow hyper-herbicide genetically engineered seeds at a later date (probably in a press release at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon sometime).
Meanwhile, Monsanto is launching another counter-offensive to critics who believe seeds should not be patented and owned by a few global corporations.
A Bloomberg News headline from May 15 reads,"Monsanto Sees ‘Elitism’ in Social Media-Fanned Opposition":"Monsanto Co. (MON) opponents who want to block genetically modified foods are guilty of 'elitism' that’s fanned by social media and fail to consider the needs of the rest of the world, Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said."
As Monsanto and its cohorts in patenting the seeds of life receive US government support to own the amber waves of grain, the Monsanto CEO would have you believe that the company is acting out of benevolence. Those inhabitants of earth who think that seeds needed for human survival belong to the human race-- not private companies with patented profits -- are just greedy individuals, right?
Young men, not knowing what to remember, Come to this hiding place of the moons and years, To this Old Man. Old Man, they say, where should we go? Where did you find what you remember? Was it perched in a tree? Did it hover deep in the white water? Was it covered over With dead stalks in the grass? Will we taste it If our mouths have long lain empty? Will we feel it between our eyes if we face the wind All night, and turn the color of earth? If we lie down in the rain, can we remember sunlight?
He answers, I have become the best and worst I dreamed. When I move my feet, the ground moves under them. When I lie down, I fit the earth too well. Stones long underwater will burst in the fire, but stones Long in the sun and under the dry night Will ring when you strike them. Or break in two. There were always many places to beg for answers: Now the places themselves have come in close to be told. I have called even my voice in close to whisper with it: Every secret is as near as your fingers. If your heart stutters with pain and hope, Bend forward over it like a man at a small campfire.