Saturday, December 31, 2011

UPDATE: Muslim Men to March in Texas



Update THE PEACE THRU JUSTICE FOUNDATION
11006 Veirs Mill Rd, STE L-15, PMB 298
Silver Spring, MD. 20902

SAFAR 1433 A.H.
(December 31, 2011)

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

I begin with a note of heartfelt thanks for all those who took time out of a day of relaxation (and for many, heightened expectation), to dramatize their concern for a most deserving political prisoner, and prisoner of war, by the name of Aafia Siddiqui. ALLAH blessed us with a beautiful day, and the collection of concerned citizens who came together was even more beautiful (alhamdullilah)!

As I noted earlier to Aafia's sister (Dr. Fowzia), one of the most important elements that came out of today's mobilization was the broadening of the base of support for Aafia in America. There were Muslims and non-Muslims, Sunni and Shi'a, people of varying racial and cultural orientations, the young and the not so young:).

Yesterday, through the introduction of a local activist, by the name of Thomas Muhammad, I also had an opportunity to brief an outspoken African-American councilwoman (for the city of Dallas) on Aafia's case over lunch; and she has pledged her support to do whatever she can in the days ahead, insha'Allah. With these connections being made, and with ALLAH's help, we expect the base of support to broaden even more, insha'Allah.

With that said, may ALLAH bless you, and fortify you, in this new year (of the Islamic and Gregorian calendars).

Your brother in Islam,

MS

From the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui ..

Dear Mauri

We want to thank you and all the people who have made the courageous effort to stand with you peacefully today at Carswell on this New Year's eve.

In some ways it is sad that such a mobilization is even needed to ask for something so basic as humane treatment of a prisoner and a right to visit in confidence with family and lawyer without dehumanizing conditions.

We hope that relevant authorities will take note and find it in their hearts to do the humane thing. Such gatherings do seem to have an impact. In April of this year, a group similar to this made a point and the result was that Aafia did finally get some phone calls to family and a visit after almost 2-1/2 years. Of course, what the system can give, it can also take away, and so Aafia has been banished again into isolation.

We are thankful for the effort made by each and every one for standing for humane treatment of all the prisoners at Carswell.

May you all have a peaceful and prosperous New Year and May you all see your loved ones in safety, freedom and good health.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's family

=======

Full assembly at 11 am MUSLIM MEN MARCH ON FMC CARSWELL (Fort Worth) on behalf of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and other Female Prisoners experiencing the agony of long-term isolation, refusal of visits from family members, a history of severe mistreatment and many reports of extreme human rights violations.

For more information please go to Justice for Aafia here and here

Also view the four items just below this posting and the comments under several.

Friday, December 30, 2011

March for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and other Female Prisoners



@08:00 - 05:00PM

An emergency mobilization for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, and all other female prisoners suffering abuse in a federal institution that has a long, shameful record of violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

While ALL ARE INVITED to join this urgently needed mobilization, we feel it is a special obligation on Muslim Men!

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS URGENTLY NEEDED MOBILIZATION

BY

1. HELPING US SPREAD THE WORD

2. PLANNING TO ATTEND

3. DONATE

You can mail a donation to:

The Peace Thru Justice Foundation

11006 Viers Mill Road

STE L-15, PMB 298

Silver Spring, MD. 20902



========

If you plan to report or disseminate the news about this group for peace thru justice and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui be sure to check out the two posts just below, the family site here and find Don't Blame the Victim at aboutaafia.blogspot.com -- here -- and here Also find plenty on Dr. Aafia and her court hearings/trial/indictment on this site and at andyworthington.co.uk

Update on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and A Christmas Gift

Update on Aafia this Year End Season (2011) See this and much more pertaining to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui at freeaafia.org

In September, 2011 Aafia was finally allowed a family visit after almost 2-1/2 years. Then another one in early November. She was also finally allowed to meet with a lawyer of her choice. But almost immediately following her interaction with a non-government appointed lawyer, Aafia has now had her "privileges" suspended indefinitely.

What this means is that she is effectively not allowed any visitation from anyone except US or Pakistani government officials. No contact with family and a confiscation of all her meager "possessions" including all religious books and materials. She is also subjected to solitary confinement. Her health is deteriorating with serious concerns about her physical treatment based on last accounts. She is not allowed visits from independent physicians.

Yet, despite all of this, Aafia remains an inspiration and lives on in the hearts of those who have faith. We believe that even when everything looks bleak and one could be excused for feeling helpless, the help of God is nearer than we realize. We also believe that success will be the ultimate destiny for those who who have maintained the trust. The efforts of our supporters who believe in justice will not be in vain.

This holiday season we are thankful for Ahmad and Maryam. We pray for those at Carswell to be guided and have mercy. We wish for the happiness and safety of all our supporters. We pray for peace, justice and freedom to prevail throughout the world.

From the Family of Dr. Aafia

==========

A Christmas Gift
by Andrew Purcell

Dec 21, 2011

Okay. I got my Christmas gift seven weeks early. A complete surprise considering it came directly from Aafia.

How did this happen?

She is too dangerous for me to be allowed to visit. Certainly doesn't have a lot of opportunity to go to the mall and shop.

During the first weekend of November I drove to Fort Worth with Aafia's brother. The prison officials would not confirm the visit. Come up and maybe, we'll see. He made the five hundred plus mile round trip expecting to be turned away. He was surprised that after some discussion they were allowed a four hour visit.

A good visit has a much different definition at Carswell Prison than it does in the real world, and this was not a good visit. When he got back to the hotel he proceeded to tell me about it.

In the middle of this he paused and said that Aafia had a question for me. She asked me to read books about Islam because she wanted to make sure that I go to Heaven.

This is the woman we are fighting for. Living through nearly nine years of hell and she is concerned about my soul.

As Christmas greetings go, this is not the traditional carols and a light snowfall on Christmas Eve, but I can't imagine many gifts that I will cherish more.

(See an earlier piece by Andrew Purcell in post below this one on oneheartforpeace)

Why the Dr. Aafia Campaign Makes a Lasting Difference

Here is Andrew Purcell's beautiful message Ramadan EID year before last

A SPECIAL EID MESSAGE FROM A FRIEND
Why Dr. Aafia's Campaign is Cause for Celebration

"I know very well how everything I do for Aafia keeps backfiring. It is just so frustrating. I am just hurt and overwhelmed, shocked at the situation here."

- Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui
the sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

From her place in the center of the eye of the hurricane I know how Dr. Fowzia could write those words. She is standing in the midst of a situation that nothing could have prepared her for.

She wonders if anything she has done for Aafia makes any difference at all. After all Aafia is still in an American jail, waiting to be sentenced to life in prison later this month. She is no closer to coming home than she was when she was found dazed and disoriented on the streets of Ghazni. So Dr. Fowzia sees herself as a failure...

...but not so fast. Take a few steps back and catch your breath. In 2003 Dr. Aafia and her three children vanished from the face of the Earth as agents of the military dictator kidnapped and sold them to representatives of the United States. Now step forward seven years. As a direct result of Dr. Fowzia's work, her sister Aafia is no longer being held and tortured in an unacknowledged prison facility and two of her three children have been recovered and are living with their grandmother.

Traditionally the families and friends of those who have disappeared by secret government orders have been lucky if they can find a general location where the bodies might have been dumped. Dr. Fowzia and her supporters have achieved something unprecedented in the field of human rights; they have forced the reappearance of Aafia, her son Ahmad, and her daughter Maryam. Three living human beings.

It is true that Aafia is still being held in an American jail and there is still no sign of her youngest son Suliman. Is this the victory? Not yet. In this line of work few victories come easily. There are no rules. Progress is measured as a few steps here and a couple of inches there.

When Aafia is sentenced later this month it will not mean her case is over and lost. It will instead be the confirmation of a victory that freed her from torture in a secret prison and returned two of her children home.

The sentencing will also mark the beginning of the next steps in the campaign. Suliman, the child who may never have had a chance to live, must be accounted for. If he is still alive, return him to his family, if he is not, an explanation must be provided. Aafia must be cleared of the slanders and libels that have been thrown at her. And of course, return Aafia home.

This may seem to be a lot of effort for one woman and a child who may not even be alive. If it were just the two of them you might be inclined to count your blessings and quit. Aafia and Suliman were just born with bad luck.

But it isn't just about them. Or Ahmad and Maryam. Or Aafia's mother, sister, and brother. Or even her ex-husband or her crazy uncle. Hundreds of Pakistanis disappeared in very much the same fashion during the rule of the military dictator. Bring Aafia home and account for Suliman and it will be proof that others can also be returned. It just takes the will to shine a little bit of light on evil, and evil gets very frightened.

In the Bible story, Moses brought God's message to the Pharaoh, "Let my people go!" Pharaohs come and go using different names, but the message remains.

Look at how Dr. Fowzia responded to her sister's plight armed with only faith in God, a pure soul, and courage. Despite death threats, she and a small group of supporters stood up to a dictator and within a few days Aafia reappeared. A few weeks later the dictator was gone.

This can be repeated to help others. Human rights groups will be studying this case for years as proof that the evil can be overcome.

As a final note, when Aafia came to America she often spoke to me about Islam. She said that while many people focused on fasting and feasting during Ramadan, there was more to it. Ramadan is also a time of reflection. Reflection on the things you have done for others. Like Dr. Fowzia and the campaign for her sister. This has acomplished something extraordinary and it will accomplish even more. This campaign has rewritten the book on saving people from injustice.

Andrew Purcell

Find posting here

Thursday, December 29, 2011

From UK: PRESS RELEASE: tenth anniversary of Gitmo

Notification of events surrounding the tenth anniversary of the first detainees arriving at Guantanamo Bay

----------------------------------------------
CagePrisoners
----------------------------------------------

28 December 2011


PRESS RELEASE: Notification of events for the tenth anniversary of Guantanamo

Notification of events surrounding the tenth anniversary of the first detainees arriving at Guantanamo Bay:

1. Press launch of ‘Laa Tansa: Never Forget’ project

Laa Tansa is a major online project that has been undertaken by CagePrisoners in order to provide the most complete picture of Guantanamo to date. The press conference will provide media the opportunity to interview a large host of former Guantanamo detainees, their lawyers and families who will all be present at the event.

Date: 10 January 2012

Time: 10:30 am

Venue: Frontline Club
13 Norfolk Place
London
W2 1QJ

Speakers: Former Guantanamo detainees, their families and their lawyers. Please see the notes at the end for a full list of those who will be present.

2. Guantanamo Remembered: 10 Years event

On the tenth anniversary of Guantanamo Bay’s opening, CagePrisoners, Reprieve and the Islamic Human Rights Commission will co-host an event in order to reflect on the impact of a decade on the lives of those in Guantanamo and their families.

Date: 11 January 2012

Time: 6:00 pm

Venue: Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London
WC1R 4RL

Speakers: Former Guantanamo detainees, their families and their lawyers. Please see the notes at the end for a full list of those who will be present.

3. UK Film Premiere: Death in Camp Delta

CagePrisoners host the UK film premiere of the Erlin Borgen film, Death in Camp Delta. The film tells the story of Yasser al-Zahrani who died in Guantanamo. The film features former Guantanamo prisoners Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg, Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj, survivor of the brutal massacre at Qala-i-Jangi, Walid al-Hajj, and Colonel Talal al-Zahrani, father of Yasser.

Date: 12 January 2012

Time: 6:30 pm

Venue: Curzon Cinema (Soho)
99 Shaftsbury Avenue
London
W1D 5DY

Speakers: Erling Borgen (Filmmaker and Director of Death in Guantanamo)
Moazzam Begg (former Guantanamo detainee and Director of CagePrisoners)
Talal al-Zahrani (father of deceased Guantanamo detainee,
Yasser al-Zahrani)
Cori Cryder (Legal Director of Reprieve)


[ENDS]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Notes:

1. Guest speakers at the press launch and event includes:

Moazzam Begg (former Guantanamo detainee and Director of CagePrisoners)
Sami El-Hajj (former Guantanamo detainee)
Mousa Zemmouri (former Guantanamo detainee)
Murat Kurnaz (former Guantanamo detainee)
Waleed Haj (former Guantanamo detainee)
Saad al-Azemi (former Guantanamo detainee)
Colonel Talal al-Zahrani (father of deceased Guantanamo detainee)
Victoria Brittain (Patron of Cageprisoners)
Clive Stafford Smith (Director of Reprieve)
Massoud Shadjareh (Director of Islamic Human Rights Commission)
Gareth Peirce (Human Rights Lawyer)
Michael Ratner (President of the Center for Constitutional Rights)
Asim Qureshi (Executive Director of Cageprisoners)

Media enquiries for interviews with the above guests can be directed to CagePrisoners at the contact details below.

2. CagePrisoners is a human rights NGO that exists to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror. We aim to give a voice to the voiceless.

Give a voice to the voiceless.

CagePrisoners Ltd.
27 Old Gloucester Street
London
WC1N 3XX

Press contact: (44) 203 167 4416
Email: asim@cageprisoners.com
Web: www.cageprisoners.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peace According to the Peace-Makers



World Peace

Peace is an Inside Job

Christmas is a time to recognize the birth of a great teacher, who taught us to practice peace and forgiveness. At WWH, we embrace lessons from all faiths to help us navigate religious, political, and personal conflicts.

There are many paths toward peace and fulfillment and they all begin inside. We must commit to kindness and compassion as our life’s top priority. Stop the angry and unkind thoughts, and replace them with goodness or neutral ideas. It’s not easy when our hearts are full of pain and fear, but by building a calm inner space we can control our words and actions, and change our world.

Join us in our goal to live peacefully in the world.

Think compassion. Live healing and forgiveness.

See "World Without Hate" movement and site

Even After All this Time
**
By Hafez (See "The Gift") - the poet from Iran - who said “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”*

*photo above is of an Iranian Sunrise
flickr.com

**the photo of Hafez poem at end of this post is of part of an american school project for peace among diverse children.

Why should we allow War to be the "god" of our planet?

Will we continue to allow War to be the "god" of our planet or will we would-be peacemakers together make the difference?


WHAT IF? WHAT NOW? here

Remembering and refusing to repeat ANYWHERE - December 27 three years ago in GAZA -- one of history's greatest crimes -- FIND here Gaza and go back in November/December three years ago to find archives on this site: oneheartforpeace

US CITIZENS: PLEASE CALL your legislators, leaders and the White House to demand respectful negotiation - no more instigation of war with bully back tactics.

Here is a startling piece about North Carolina USA legislators to US Congress:
"Three days ago by a margin of 410 to 11, Congress has just passed one of the most potentially dangerous pieces of legislation in world history, The Iran Threat Reduction Act.

Every member of the North Carolina delegation voted in favor except for two who were absent – both rock-ribbed Republicans (Myrick and Coble). While other nations and international organizations are attempting to criminalize war, the US congress is attempting to criminalize diplomatic contact and potential peace negotiations. This astonishing piece of legislation symbolizes the dangers Americans face from their elected representatives in government and those from the Military Industrial Complex who are actually in control of our government." This is according to the speech I found from Information Clearing House ICH here

North Carolinians and US citizens: WAKE UP! There's a light we can and MUST be doing to alert our leaders to REFLECT before they vote on the legacy they leave behind representing our voters. CALL and speak your mind -- yet I have found when I do research carefully, isolate a few main points and speak with respect I have the ears of my representatives longer and get respect back.

Just in today: US warns Iran...here

An End of Year Catch-Up on Torture-Related Rights


Please spread the word:

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION in Washington DC USA January 11, 2012 (Hear Andy Worthington and many many others) GO here

Year's End:

Year of 2011 Torture News here

Torture Flight Profits from Autumn & recent history here

ACTIONS we can do from HOME: speak up for Omar Khadr -- READ Andy Worthington's latest: Christmas Thoughts for Child Prisoner Omar Khadr (PLZ send letters of outrage) GO here

We can do more internationally to help stop or prevent carelessness and use nuclear energy worldwide. Plz, GO to this NEW US - Japan Medical Study Estimates 14,000 Dead US Infants from Fukushima Fallout. here For one instance of neglect worldwide now often becomes EVERYONE's problem worldwide.

And remember the USA needs help worldwide to force our leaders to seek peace, negotiations & alternatives to the bully pulpit, drones galore, use of groups like Blackwater turned Xe now become after many other face-changes Academi.

MORE We Can Do together -- Support Professional Efforts to Heal Torture and Scars of War - GO here -- here -- here -- also --psychiatrists and torture here

Last but not least: Help END and PREVENT more abuses! Support all the groups giving us the facts such as No More Gitmos and Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the ACLU(along with their suggested actions)-- wherever you have time and can agree with these.

Support all the journalists and others calling for an end to DRONES such as the Nonviolent Christian Peacemakers, War is a Crime, World Without Hate dot org, World Cant Wait and longtime efforts such as Amnesty, Reprieve, Human Rights Watch and Center for Constitutional Rights CCRJUSTICE dot org -- all the lawyers, staff and activists who seek to end or prevent torture and other abuses to human respect, dignity and the right to a just trial.

Help existing democracies return to a day when innocence until proven guilty is the norm not the exception.

Right now, the CCR (Center for Constitutional Rights) is asking: Do Private Military Contractors Have Impunity to Torture? GO here There are many other such groups I've hightlighted on this site - just take a quick skim or cruise...

Here's to a torture and rights-abuse FREE 2012. Here's to a fulfilling year with healing for us all. Let's all do our part....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Serenity


A Karachi Sunset

The original full version of the Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference;

Living one day at a time.
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.

Taking, as he (the one we follow) did, this (imperfect) world as it is --
not as I would have it.

Trusting that He, Allah, the God of my understanding, will make all things right
as I surrender to His Will --
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Ameen, Amin, Amen, So Be It.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

*
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Tagore, Rabindranath (1861-1941), poet, philosopher, teacher, founder of schools and Nobel laureate, was born in Calcutta. He began to write poetry very young; his first book appeared when he was 17 years old. After a brief stay in England (1878) to study law, he returned to India, where he composed hundreds of songs. In 1929 he began painting.

Tagore wrote primarily in Bengali, but translated many of his works into English himself. In 1915 he was knighted by the British king George V. yet he renounced his
knighthood in 1919 following the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators
by British troops.

He believed in a world based on transnational values. He willingly allowed his composition of songs to be used by three nations for their national anthem: India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In 1901 Rabindranath Tagore founded a school at Santiniketan, West Bengal, India, which later developed into an international institution called Visva Bharati, where he tried to revive the famed "Gurukula" system: in which students spent much time at their teacher's house and studied there. Later, he utilized nature as a place for students to study.

* The copy of the painting above is "The Boy" found in Gitanjali - find this and other paintings with poems here

Aafia Siddiqui: Notice of Events and Newsletter



First, from a coalition of various political and social groups:

An emergency mobilization for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, and all other female prisoners suffering abuse in a federal institution that has a long, shameful record of violating the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

While ALL ARE INVITED to join this urgently needed mobilization, we feel it is a special obligation on Muslim Men!

PLEASE SUPPORT THIS URGENTLY NEEDED MOBILIZATION

BY

1. HELPING US SPREAD THE WORD

2. PLANNING TO ATTEND

3. DONATE

You can mail a donation to:

The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
11006 Viers Mill Road
STE L-15, PMB 298
Silver Spring, MD. 20902

The event notices are provided as information and do not necessarily imply sponsorship or endorsement by the family or the FreeAafia campaign.

SEASON'S GREETINGS
From the Family of Dr. Aafia
December, 2011

Update on Aafia this Year End Season (2011)

In September, 2011 Aafia was finally allowed a family visit after almost 2-1/2 years. Then another one in early November. She was also finally allowed to meet with a lawyer of her choice. But almost immediately following her interaction with a non-government appointed lawyer, Aafia has now had her "privileges" suspended indefinitely.

What this means is that she is effectively not allowed any visitation from anyone except US or Pakistani government officials. No contact with family and a confiscation of all her meager "possessions" including all religious books and materials. She is also subjected to solitary confinement. Her health is deteriorating with serious concerns about her physical treatment based on last accounts. She is not allowed visits from independent physicians.

Yet, despite all of this, Aafia remains an inspiration and lives on in the hearts of those who have faith. We believe that even when everything looks bleak and one could be excused for feeling helpless, the help of God is nearer than we realize. We also believe that success will be the ultimate destiny for those who who have maintained the trust. The efforts of our supporters who believe in justice will not be in vain.

This holiday season we are thankful for Ahmad and Maryam. We pray for those at Carswell to be guided and have mercy. We wish for the happiness and safety of all our supporters. We pray for peace, justice and freedom to prevail throughout the world.

Family of Aafia Siddiqui

A Christmas Gift
by Andrew Purcell

Dec 21, 2011

Okay. I got my Christmas gift seven weeks early. A complete surprise considering it came directly from Aafia.

How did this happen?

She is too dangerous for me to be allowed to visit. Certainly doesn't have a lot of opportunity to go to the mall and shop.

During the first weekend of November I drove to Fort Worth with Aafia's brother. The prison officials would not confirm the visit. Come up and maybe, we'll see. He made the five hundred plus mile round trip expecting to be turned away. He was surprised that after some discussion they were allowed a four hour visit.

A good visit has a much different definition at Carswell Prison than it does in the real world, and this was not a good visit. When he got back to the hotel he proceeded to tell me about it.

In the middle of this he paused and said that Aafia had a question for me. She asked me to read books about Islam because she wanted to make sure that I go to Heaven.

This is the woman we are fighting for. Living through nearly nine years of hell and she is concerned about my soul.

As Christmas greetings go, this is not the traditional carols and a light snowfall on Christmas Eve, but I can't imagine many gifts that I will cherish more.

For more news and other items GO here

==============

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quiet Immensity


A BLESSING

May you awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and may anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(Anam Cara)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

UPDATES on the NDAA

Be sure to read or skim the comments under each article as well and skim pertinent posts on oneheartforpeace:

Examiner.com Human Rights:
here

Verdict.justia.com NDAA Explained:
here

Daily Kos (difference taken with some of Greenwald's work - yet here the comments may be helpful as well -- I'm leaving this as URL for easy cut and past to your contacts):
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/20/1047407/-Greenwalds-3-NDAA-myths-is-moony-and-wrong

If any of you follow Marjorie Cohn, Prof. at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, in San Diego, Calif and former president of the National Lawyer's Guild and author or many books -- her most recent, "Torture and the US", will soon be out in paperback and full of pertinent info. If you happen upon a new article or radio show on the NDAA, plz let me know!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Glenn Greenwald's NDAA Summary on Democracy Now! December 19, 2011

(Here's) what this bill will do, and it will be signed into law now by President Obama...it will be the first time that the United States Congress has codified the power of indefinite detention into the law since the McCarthy era of the 1950s. The 1950 Congress passed a bill saying that communists and subversives could be imprisoned without a trial, without full due process, based on the allegation that they presented a national threat, an emergency, a threat to the national security of the United States.

President Truman, knowing that the bill would—the veto would be overridden, nonetheless vetoed it and said that it made a mockery of the Bill of Rights. That law was repealed in 1971 with the Non-Detention Act, that said you cannot hold people in prison without charging them with a crime.

The war on terror has eroded that principle, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, but Congress is now, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and a Democratic president, is about to enact into law the first bill that will say that the military and the United States government do have this power. It’s muddled whether it applies to U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, but it’s clearly indefinite detention, and there’s a very strong case to make that it includes U.S. citizens, as well, which, as we know, the Obama administration already claims anyway, and that’s what makes it so dangerous.
===
Read more on Democracy Now! for 19 December, 2011:

Including this condensation by Democracy Now!

Obama Prepares to Authorize Indefinite Detention of U.S. Citizens for First Time Since McCarthy Era–Glenn Greenwald on NDAA

The $662 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last week includes controversial provisions that could usher in a radical expansion of indefinite detention under the U.S. government by authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial.

Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com.

Rais Bhuiyan symbolizes theme of AMV Peace Convention



2011 AMV Convention glimpse-1C

AMV American Muslim Voice Peace Convention 2011 draws large crowd

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

American Muslim Voice held its Annual Peace Convention on Sunday (Dec 11, 2011) at the Chandni Restaurant in Fremont/Newark. The 5-hour long Convention attracted a crowd of around 400 people from near and far. The master of ceremony was Anser Hasan, a reporter from the CBS5 morning show.

AMV brought together Muslim scholars, featured speakers, panelists, award recipients and a diverse crowd of people in order to highlight the importance of community and peace building in America. 2011 AMV Convention Multifaith prayers-C

The program began with multi-faith prayers by Rabbi Elisheva Salamo (Jewish), Sister Margaret Hoffman (Christian) and Omar Raza (recitation of the Holy Quran).

The theme of the convention was “Awakening the American Spirit: Turning the Tide of Hate into Love.” The convention was divided into two sessions. The first session comprised of two parallel events: Conversation with Muslim Scholars and Civil Rights Panel Discussion.

Khalid Saeed, the AMV National President, presented an overview about the AMV achievements since its establishment eight years.2011 AMV Convention KS-9C

He said: “We take pride and comfort in being recognized regionally and nationally as a Muslim peace building and community building organization. We have been active in support of human and immigrant rights; we are unique as a grassroots facilitator of interfaith/intercultural dialogue. The secret of our success is practicing Islam with our actions- not just words- in the main stream among our fellow Americans- responding first to each community’s needs, serving the whole community and nation from the part of us that is rooted in the universal values of love, peace, and justice given to us through Islam.”

He went on to say: AMV campaigns like, “Share the joy of Ramadan and Eid with your fellow Americans,” “Light the night for peace and friendship,” an Iftar dinner held in 2009 across from White House have been very successful in changing the negative image of Islam and Muslims, promoting mutual respect, acceptance and harmony. [Text of Khalid Saeed’s Speech]

Rais Bhuiyan

Rais Bhuiyan, a featured speaker perhaps symbolized the theme of the convention. A victim of post-9/11 shooting spree, Bhuiyan forgave and tried to spare the life of the man who shot him and left him for dead. Rais Bhuiyan shared his courageous story of compassion, love and forgiveness. A white supremacist shot Rais and two other South Asians. The other two innocent victims of hate died while Rais survived. He was blinded in one eye and still carries 35 shotgun pellets embedded in his face. Rais Buiyan-F

Just 10 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rais Bhuiyan was working at a gas station in Dallas when he was shot in the face by a man named Mark Stroman, an avowed white supremacist, who was on a shooting spree, targeting people who appeared to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent.

Stroman also shot and killed Waqar Hasan, a Pakistani immigrant in Dallas. Vasudev Patel, an Indian immigrant and gas station owner in Mesquite, TX, was Stroman’s third and final victim. Stroman admitted to the shootings.

The press labeled the murders Texas's first post 9/11 hate crime. Stroman himself claimed that “blinded by rage,” he killed to avenge the United States. The prosecution convinced the jury that robbery was his true motive, (even though he hadn’t taken money from his victims) and he was sentenced to death.

Bhuiyan had mounted an aggressive campaign to convince Texas authorities to commute Stroman's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He has asked the state board of pardons and paroles to make a positive recommendation for clemency to Gov. Rick Perry, and has asked Texas prison administrators for permission to meet face-to-face with Stroman for a victim-offender reconciliation process. After those efforts were met with no response from Texas officials, Bhuiyan filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that his rights as a crime victim to meet with his attacker had been unjustly denied.

Bhuiyan’s efforts on behalf of Stroman were motivated by his Muslim faith. He says: The Koran teaches that those who forsake retribution and forgive those who have wronged them become closer to God.

Bhuiyan has created a website called World Without Hate to educate others about hate crimes as a means of preventing them. He's also working with Amnesty International and Stroman's defense attorney, who has filed several appeals on Stroman's death sentence.

Read more about this inspiring event at American Muslim Voice home page -- Click here

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Everything is an opportunity for awareness

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways...

— from Open Secret: Versions of Rumi Interpreted by Coleman Barks with Translator John Moyne
====
SONG here

US "efforts" in Iraq according to Craig Murray (and Christopher Hitchens)

While I admire the writer Christopher Hitchens prolific way with words and willingness to share his struggles, we can't take lightly that he was pro-Iraq war ...

See the article by Craig Murray which follows and the comments under that one at his site:

here

Hitchens/Iraq

here (Could there have been any "best" reasons for war with Iraq?)

UPDATES Dec 19 2011: US County Responds to the 2012 NDAA

See this one especially at Democracy Now for a short up-to-date summary by Glenn Greenwald who may have been studying the NDAA most intensely since the national debate has begun -- GO here

You may want to see a bold US early effort in response to the unweildy and deeply worrisome passing of the US National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012

County Commission in COLORADO passes NDAA resolution
El Paso County resolution on due process passes

Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 11:59 AM:

Last night, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners became the first such body in the state, and likely the nation, to pass a resolution in response to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

here

Quote of the evening came from County Commissioner Sallie Clark: "I don't usually agree with the ACLU, but today I do."

Also, keep watching the bordc.org and nogitmos.org

======

Thursday, December 15, 2011

poems on loving anyway

*
Thanks
by W.S Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is


let it go – the
by e.e. cummings

let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to
go

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go
dear
so comes love


The Invisible Cloak
by John O'Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


The Arc That Bends Towards Mercy
loves justice too
don't think that will ever change
in case you want off the hook
yet
in the case of a butterfly
or a sparrow with a broken wing
or person
or child
in any kind of body
or what if
you've been attacked
or you're the slinger
or maybe everybody
needs forgiving...

when you consider your options
maybe right away
or
even after a long time
you get your choice
you get to choose
when and how to heal
when to go back
and ahead
to find
that...

what you don't have to take
or be
anymore
is not only
the wounding
but the wounding back

what you feel then
is that you are riding
once more
on the golden elephant
over the arc of tears
into the arms of home
and even before getting to heaven...
even you might want to stop again
and get the elephant to let you off
for another sunrise when
once more orange and pink swirls
with caws and fish and birds
over the sea reaching as if to Asia
or to America
either
or both
are swaddled in visions
and truehopes once more
and compassion and beauty is
here
once more
as real as the morning mist
over the waters
rising
yet still connecting
communities of us all
as never before
in fact as a nation of one
in the here
in the becoming
world
wide--
and our real lives
become authentic
a lived reality stage
once more.

Once again
there is still
room for love...

(By connie l. nash on the morning after the US may have killed the Bill of Rights 220 years after it was written - 16 December, 2011)

* scene found at Yes! Magazine for Fall 2011 at site for Thanks by W. S. Merwin

Update: Why a Constitutional Law Professor Cannot Sign NDAA

Update midnight just before 16 December: You may want to view C-Span for today's recorded Congressional activity. And you may be so moved as to sign this petition:
GO here

Excerpt: "...you don't need to be a constitutional scholar to know that permanent wartime powers amounts to the overthrow of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. Common sense alone says you might have unlimited powers in a war of limited duration, or you might have limited powers in a war of unlimited duration, but the plain language of the Constitution tells us you cannot have both: unlimited powers in a war of unlimited duration."

Detention of Americans

Why a Constitutional Law Professor Cannot Sign NDAA, Allowing Military Detention of Americans

By Ralph Lopez - Posted on 15 December 2011 on warisacrime.org

There has never been a better time to take a close look at how we got here, with Obama, a former Constitutional law professor, about to sign a law which overnight turns the U.S. into a Third World country, where anyone can be swept off the streets by the military to rot forever, or even be killed. Some people say wearily that the new powers for the indefinite military detention of Americans are not new at all. That this is nothing the government cannot, and has not, already done.

What this misses is that the new government powers seek to codify, "hard-wire" if you will, an area of law which is in flux, and far from settled in the courts. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proclaimed in his momentous speech on the Senate floor that:

“1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

Graham goes on to say that the proposed law is simply based on the "law of the land" in the Fourth Circuit Court decision in the case of Jose Padilla, the first American arrested in the US and declared "enemy combatant" in the war on terror. Padilla was held for 3 1/2 years in isolation, tortured, and given, according to his lawyer, some kind of hallucinogenic drug such as LSD. His attorney Andrew Patel said that after a time, according to brig staff, “Mr. Padilla's temperament was so docile and inactive that his behavior was like that of a piece of furniture. ”

An examining psychiatrist before his eventual trial said that after the 3 1/2 years, Padilla exhibited "facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body.”

Mr. Graham, University of South Carolina School of Law, the man who at the moment occupies one of the US Senate seats for the Great State of South Carolina, got wrong what any eighth-grader would know from civics class were he no more than a "C" student. A higher authority than Graham, the Founding Fathers, declared in Article VI that not the Fourth Circuit, but the Constitution, was the "supreme law of the land":

"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby..."


The Fourth Circuit decision to which Graham was referring, upholding the Bush administration's authority to hold Padilla indefinitely, without trial if it wished, was handed down by Judge Micheal Luttig. Luttig, University of Virginia School of Law, gave Bush the benefit of the doubt believing that the question would go before the US Supreme Court to be properly deliberated. Luttig in essence relied on the World War II precedent Ex parte Quirin, in which a number of German-Americans were held as enemy combatants after being accused of spying for Germany during World War II.

Luttig must have known that, were the Padilla case to be properly deliberated, one of first questions to arise would be the applicability of a WWII precedent.

One of the most fundamental understandings of American-English jurisprudence is that precedents can only apply when a case has a similar set of operative facts. Black's Law Dictionary defines "precedent" as a "rule of law established for the first time by a court for a particular type of case and thereafter referred to in deciding similar cases." This is not to say precedents cannot apply to cases with very different circumstances: different times, different places. But the "operative" pieces, i.e. the major assumptions, must be substantially the same.

Since a war which lasts forever is substantially different from than one that does not, Luttig must have suspected that previous precedents on enemy combatants, cannot apply. The war on terror is the first war which by definition has no end, in which the "enemy" is an amorphous network rather than the kind of military hierarchy we have opposed in every previous war. This is the first war in which there is no one from whom to accept surrender.

George Bush clearly defined the war on terror as lasting forever when he said to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, that ... the war on terror was "a task that does not end."

Perhaps, then, this is why Luttig was livid when Bush released Jose Padilla to civilian trial before his case could come before the Supreme Court:

Judge Luttig Slams Bush Administration in Padilla Case

The appeals court opinion reflected a tone of anger that is rare for a federal court addressing the United States government, particularly in a matter of presidential authority.

Luttig said the government's actions created the appearance "that the government may be attempting to avoid" Supreme Court review in a matter of "especial national importance."

Why would Luttig be so angry? No one but Luttig knows. What we do know is that the Bush razzle-dazzle prevented his administration's declaration of permanent wartime powers from being struck down, and it made Luttig the man on whose written opinion Graham relied to abolish the Bill of Rights. This would be Luttig's place in American history.

The adjudicated wartime powers now being codified have never been put to the test in the Supreme Court. Yasar Hamdi in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld carried the crucial difference that Yasar Hamdi was captured in Afghanistan, arguably behind true "enemy lines."

You don't need to be a meteorologist to know if it's raining outside, and you don't need to be a constitutional scholar to know that permanent wartime powers amounts to the overthrow of the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. Common sense alone says you might have unlimited powers in a war of limited duration, or you might have limited powers in a war of unlimited duration, but the plain language of the Constitution tells us you cannot have both: unlimited powers in a war of unlimited duration.

This is the question which has been ignored since 9/11. Instead of addressing it, the Congress, and the Executive, are jumping on a flawed Appeals Court decision and rushing to codify it. But Appeals courts make bad rulings all the time, and there is no rush to codify the error. Judge Luttig may not be a bad man. But his place in history may be assured, and it is not an enviable one. Could it be that his anger was not misplaced?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

UPDATE: The NDAA:The "Rule of Law" and Cakes

Feinstein's "Fix" did not Fix the NDAA - GO here to see why. Plz see "Did Dianne Feinstein's "Fix" on AUMF Language Actually Authorize Killing American Citizens (Be sure to see the pertinent conversation in the Comments on the emptywheel.net site and also below on oneheartforpeace)

SO, PLEASE Call your elected officials -- including the President -- NOW to say NO loud and clear to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). (And even after it is declared cut in stone - complain loud and clear!) CALL EMAIL FAX the White House. Maybe President Obama will flip-flop again with enough pressure? Plz, no excuses - don't delay! Find Contact Info for our US folk here Capitol Switchboard 202 224-3121

File: A mosaic LAW by Frederick Dielman, 1847-1935.JPG*

CBS reported Wednesday evening that Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office said, "If President Obama signs this bill (The National Defense Authorization Act - NDAA), it will damage both his legacy and American's reputation for upholding the rule of law."

Our best experts are saying things like "The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era, and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill."

My daughter and son both had birthdays recently. So once again, I had the dillemma of wanting to make homemade cakes - but knowing they always flopped. My daughter pointed out with tact and truth: Mom, you're a great cook just not at cakes. It's because with cakes "you don't follow rules". I finally got it.

The Rule of Law is a requirement, not a mere matter of whim or belief in an individual's or a certain group's morality.

Without a way to challenge an executive or legislative action in court, the executive and legislative branch is not truly bound by the rule of law.

So what are we allowing TODAY as the NDAA measure to end some of our most basic laws proceeds? What is happening with a detainee' ability to argue - successfully or not -that she deserves the US Bill of Rights as well as whatever process the Constitution says he or she is due? What is happening as we give unconscionable power into the hands of our President?

Over our relatively small number of years we've fought to be a democracy, we've also seen the grave need for new rulings for which we've worked and battled long and hard - nationally and stateside. We've needed and got laws which don't give as much wiggle room for hate crimes and for bias on issues of life and death. In North Carolina, for example, The Racial Justice Act has set the stage for better safeguards, not less and has been saved (for now) by NC Gov. Beverly Perdue's rejection of the repeal voted on in the state's congress.

We and our representatives in the courtroom and on the police beat need help to do what we say we will do about fairness. We need the thoroughness and care required by a law about fairness -- even if we are inconvenienced in the process. That the court is going to be just on racial justice without such a safeguard -- as some of the legal "experts" and representatives in NC have claimed -- has simply not been true in history -- neither long past nor more recent.

Like rules for making a decent cake, we need such guidelines. To repeal the same after such a disgusting history without it, and such hard, long, careful work to get it, would be to scoff the "rule of law" for the rights of all.

Sometimes even the best lawyers spout their intentions of deciding on justice fairly by themselves on many issues. They often complain about certain laws that seem to cramp their style or hold things up. Often such self-aggrandizing folk claim they would follow the principles just as well without the law. But is this always or even often true --given the history of human kind without such just law?

While the term "the rule of law" in modern times gives credit to A. V. Dicey, the legal concept can be traced through history to many ancient civilizations.

Aristotle opposed letting the highest officials wield power beyond guarding and serving the laws. In other words, Aristotle advocated the rule of law when he said: It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens. The Roman statesman Cicero has been quoted as saying, "We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free."

In Islamic jurisprudence rule of law was formulated before the twelfth century, so that no official could claim to be above the law, not even the caliph.

In 1215, the English King John placed himself and England's future sovereigns and magistrates at least partially within the rule of law, by signing Magna Carta. In the US, the phrase "rule of law" is found in a petition to James I of England in 1610from the House of Commons:

"Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which your majesty's subjects of this kingdom have enjoyed under your royal progenitors, kings and queens of this realm, there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by the certain rule of the law which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them, and not by any uncertain or arbitrary form of government...."

In 1776, the notion that no one is above the law was popular during the founding of the United States, for example Thomas Paine wrote in his pamphlet Common Sense that "in America, the law is king."

The following, from wikipedia on the Rule of Law may help us (capitalization is mine):

"Formalists hold that the law must be prospective, well-known, and have characteristics of generality, equality, and certainty. The substantive interpretation holds that the rule of law intrinsically protects some or all individual rights...

'All government officers of the United States, including the President, the Justices of the Supreme Court, and all members of Congress, pledge first and foremost to uphold the Constitution. These oaths affirm that the rule of law is superior to the rule of any human leader. At the same time, the federal government has considerable discretion: the legislative branch is free to decide what statutes it will write, as long as it stays WITHIN ITS ENUMERATED POWERS and respects the constitutionally protected RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS... "

Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks among many others have written that "Cicero, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and the framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that an unjust law was not really a law at all."

The Council of the International Bar Association passed a resolution in 2009 endorsing a substantive or "thick" definition of the rule of law:

"... An independent, impartial judiciary; the presumption of innocence; the right to a fair and public trial without undue delay; a rational and proportionate approach to punishment; a strong and independent legal profession; strict protection of confidential communications between lawyer and client; equality of all before the law; these are all fundamental principles of the Rule of Law. Accordingly, arbitrary arrests; secret trials; indefinite detention without trial; cruel or degrading treatment or punishment; intimidation or corruption in the electoral process, are ALL UNACCEPTABLE. The Rule of Law is the foundation of a civilised society. It establishes a transparent process accessible and equal to all. It ensures adherence to principles that both liberate and protect. The International Bar Association calls upon ALL countries to respect these fundamental principles. It also calls upon its members to speak out in support of the Rule of Law within their respective communities. "(World Justice Project)

British jurist A. V. Dicey who popularized the phrase "rule of law" in 1885 emphasized three aspects of the rule of law:

1. No one can be punished or made to suffer except for a breach of law proved in an ordinary court.
2. No one is above the law and everyone is equal before the law regardless of social, economic, or political status.
3. The rule of law includes the results of judicial decisions determining the rights of private persons.

Some would argue that if there's a fear of being killed - it's OK to assasinate or in the case of the NDAA lock up (with or without charge or advocacy) whoever is deemed to be the "villain". This, of course, creates wide differences in standards from place to place and among WHO decides. What if who decides wants to hide the facts from public eyes? Isn't that a little like saying I can simply "wing-it" -- disregarding the necessary rules -- and end up with a beautiful cake?
* At last, I learned my lesson this year and for the first time I remember I DID make -- not only one lovely cake -- I made TWO (even if I did make them from mixes). Just maybe, next year, I'll go for "from scratch - but you better bet, I'll follow the rules with cakes if I'm going to have happy eaters.

My daughter -- just yesterday -- also spoke wisely for the value of rules in other aspects of our social lives. She reminded me calmly -- and with absolutely perfect reasoning -- that I needed to have an eye to LONG-RANGE results when it came to certain kinds of conversations within the family. Isn't this the same for our Rule of Law?

What are we doing NOW for our nation's future? What about our children's and grandchildren' futures?

What do we gain in our communities and societies by seeking to calm temporary fears with bandaid measures and protections of officials over the people indicted or arrested? What about our proven overload of security measures like drones and waterboarding? What about our random disappearances - killings - imprisonments - tortures and the humiliation of unecessary threats and other intimidations? )

How are we making our societies and nations safer when we merely tantalize "other extremists" to "do unto others as done to them" rather than the more sound version of the golden rule?

What will we tell our children someday when they (and their compatriots and fellow democracy-lovers around the world) wonder what we did so that they are unable to receive justice and fair advocay in a court of law? Are we going to have to tell them - - if we are telling the truth -- that we messed up our's and their constitution and bill of rights out of fear, ignorance, because we were merely "following orders" and unwilling to stand alone?

What if we 'egg on' more and more trouble with our injustices than we assume we've been dealt? Haven't we already done enough damage along this line?

What if we are setting continual patterns that will continue to multiply? What if our supposed and real "enemies" deal the same to our own sons and daughters? What about the "recruitment tools" we simply plase securely in the palms of those we call extremists? What about the absolute fact that our nation sells -- barters -- and distributes more small handguns around the world than any other nation? Who among us has seriously considered and acted upon the fact that many of those end up in the hands of various manner of extremists/terrorists?

What and how many international agreements -- to which we are party -- do we continue to despise?

What kind of nation does the rest of the world watch us become as we call many of our laws and repeals of older, longer-standing rulings and principles null and void?

Look what has happened with the misuse and over-use of our emergency methods -- occupations before agreed upon -- use of torture such as as Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and many other places still under US auspices? Are we as a nation really happy with our Patriot Acts and growing surveillance state and the drones now using our skies without our permission? What of our willingness to become a police state step by step?

What about our US leaders choice to in cahoots with corporations such as Verizon in sharing private information?

What about the actual origins and choice of this particular time in our history - right before holy and holly days to quickly process such a ruling before we can all sit down and take a breath and learn what in the world is going on now?

I'm writing this little Op Ed on The US Bill of Rights Day. Today, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC.org) states:

"The Bill of Rights was meant to ensure basic rights during times of war and times of peace, regardless of who is in power. IN ORDER TO ENSURE ITS FUTURE, we must keep using the First Amendment and speaking out when our rights and the rights of non-citizens are threatened."

In 1941, 150 years after the first 10 amendments were ratified, President Franklin Roosevelt declared December 15 "Bill of Rights Day."

How will we be proud of ourselves next year -- if today -- by such rulings as the National Defense Authorization Act -- we end up declaring away our most basic, famed and protective American rights?

If you are even just a little bit concerned - why not call NOW? Why don't we seek to stop such an unruly "law" or at least to say WHOA Nellie -- slow down! ...let's have some more national conversations first. Then we can all take a deep breathe before we sign our birthrights away.

(Some of the history notes above - especially where quoted with or without quotations were found at free Wikipedia on Rule of Law. Capitalizing freedom for emphasis on this unusual day is mine.)



* cake image above found at photobucket.com - credit goes to BARB43_bucket

After you've made your calls --

Source for breather image: myrevelment.com via Kelly on Pinterest

UPDATE: US: [Activists] Bill of Rights (1791-2011) R.I.P.?


Keep Watching: David Swanson on warisacrime.org If you've only a minute or two Plz Call your Senators -- including the President -- Capitol Switchboard 202 224-3121
NOW to say NO loud and clear to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). (And even if this passes the Senate today -- CALL EMAIL FAX the White House. Plz, no excuses - don't delay! Find Contact Info for our US folk here See more in post below and here See also the House Vote on Conference Report: H.R. 1540 on Swanson's War is a Crime site where you can find more on on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 Capitol Switchboard 202 224-3121


UPDATE December 15, 2011:

Senate Votes on "Defense" Bill Today

TODAY (Thurday) is the Senate's turn to vote on FY2012 "Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House passed yesterday evening by a vote of 283-138. This bill contains $554 billion for the Pentagon base budget and another $115.5 billion for the wars, and includes dangerous provisions for the "indefinite detention" of terrorism suspects. (Roll Call Here)We need to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls to our Senators calling upon them to Vote "No" on this dangerous and wasteful bill. Please add your voice TODAY: Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121.

FROM:David Swanson

WarIsACrime.org

Bill of Rights (1791-2011) R.I.P.?
Well, 220 years is a pretty good run, eh? Just in time for Thursday's Bill of Rights Day, Congress has included in a massive war and weapons funding bill an authorization of presidents and the military to imprison you or anyone else forever without a trial.

Step One: Call your representative and your two senators and demand that they vote No on final passage of the "Defense Authorization Act." 202-224-3121

Get the staffer you speak with to tell you why their boss would even consider voting yes on imprisonment with no trial. Post what they tell you at
http://warisacrime.org/nomohabeas or GO here

Step Two: Tell the president to veto. GOhere or here EMAIL AND CALL 202 456-1111 -- 202 456-1414 (Go to previous click for other numbers. Do them ALL.)

The conference committee made changes to the bill to answer President Obama's concerns, not ours. The bill now leaves the president free to imprison or kill individuals without handing them over even to a military tribunal. The White House calls this "flexibility." The authors of the Bill of Rights called it tyranny.

Read: House And Senate Negotiators Agree On Bill Hoping To Avoid Obama Veto

Watch: Daily Show: Arrested Development

Step Three: Take part in an event on Thursday or gather together your own GO here for Ideas: http://bordc.org/ndaa of GO here

*****
Get Some Sweatshirts, Stay Warm Out There

Stay warm this winter in a black hooded sweatshirt.

Order them by the dozen and donate them to occupations!

*****
Upcoming Events

Until We Win OccupyWashingtonDC.org and OccupyTogether.org

Dec. 14, 2011, Washington, D.C., Teach in on the Defense Authorization Act

Dec. 15, 2011, Protests of Imprisonment Without Trial

Dec. 16-17 Maryland, Vigil and Rally for Bradley Manning

Dec. 26, 2011 - Jan 3, 2012, Occupy Iowa Caucuses

Jan. 7, 2012, 5:00-7:00 p.m. ET David Swanson chat at FireDogLake book salon.

Jan. 11, 2012, Washington, D.C., Witness Against Torture

Jan. 14, 2012, Richmond, Va., Virginia People's Assembly

Jan. 17, 2012, Washington, D.C., Occupy Congress

Jan. 20, 2012, Occupy the Courts

Jan. 23, 2012, Day of Rest and Reflection

Jan. 25, 2012, Washington, D.C., Stand With the Egyptian People.

Feb. 25-26, David Swanson speaking in Hilton Head, SC.

March 23-25, 2012, Stamford, Ct., United National Antiwar Coalition Conference

March 30, 2012 National Occupation of Washington DC (NOW DC) and on FaceBook

April 3, 2012, David Swanson at McNally Jackson Books in New York, NY.

May 18 - 20, 2012, Chicago, Challenge the NATO War Makers

July 4, 2012, Philadelphia, 99% Convention

July 14, 2012, David Swanson at Peacestock 2012 in Wisconsin.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Task Day: NO to Monsanto/YES to REAL Democracy

image found on Visions Green - Pakistan

Ever get perplexed if not frantic about the reams of actions you are asked to do every single day? So do I. And no longer can I as a "returning writer" afford to spend the time needed to sort and prioritize, let alone follow through on most if any of these. So, I've decided once a week is all I can usually afford. Let me do some of your research and homework for you, if you'd like...

Weekly now, I'm pulling together a few easy, select ACTION items to do for family, friends (and others far and wide) interesting in bettering the US and the World to consider. These will be Actions I am also doing -- which concern me deeply. They are Actions which -- after careful consideration -- weigh as both do-able and essential for the well-being of our human/natural society at large.

Say NO to the would-be worldwide corporate empire: MONSANTO

Let's Require Monsanto to Pay the Consequences for their many crimes worldwide (you don't need to go far to find out about their very shady, dishonest history; to see how many natural systems they've wrecked, how many decent and family farmers they've stolen heirloom seed legacies from and how ALL of our health world-wide is in grave dangers. Let's urge our leaders, presidents, whole food stores, local farmers, grocers, aid and food workers and others to say NO to Monsanto! Just sign the simple petition here

I learned from our adoped son born in Uganda that they've been fightin Monsanto for some time as have other African nations. Check out the sneaky way Monsanto has approached poor women and micro-credit in Bangladesh. See what has been going on in Pakistan with Monsanto and how pressure to bear has had an effect on officials. Look at the ONGOING work Haiti is doing to literally and metaphorically burn Monsanto seeds: PAKISTAN here HAITI here In many ways, other nations considered "less developed" or "poorer" could teach the yawning US a lesson or two here as in many other areas.

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Re-Establish a REAL Democracy (find more items soon either here or in Comments for today)

The following concerns most directly the US right now - so if you are a US citizen/and or know one anywhere - plz let them know about the following crucial issues. If not, you may look for similar concerns about which to gather petitions or letters where you are.

SOPA
See American Censorship dot org or GO here as there is an URGENT campaign to stop censorship - Act Quickly by call or email oppose the SOPA Stop Online Piracy Act because:

This legislation will kill jobs and stifle innovation.
It will make the Internet less secure.
It will risk censoring the Internet in America
It will give comfort to regimes that censor the Internet to undermine political freedom -- in direct contrast to America's stead foreign policy goals

One More Today: URGE President Obama to VETO the National Defense Authoriaztion Act (NDAA) NOW:(and be suspicious of our national leaders plans even if he does the VETO we wish -- no letting up on the way our gov't has turned back the clock decades if not centuries in terms of the Rule of Law! PETITION here

For a little more information, go to Andy Worthington's site -- here see the the top three posts or sowhere he "Laments the Death of Habeas Corpus for the Guantánamo Prisoners" on 12.12.11 and the others on our Judges: "Judges Kill Off Habeas Corpus for the Guantánamo Prisoners, Will the Supreme Court Act?” (some time back" in which he covered the latest grim news from the US courts regarding the Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions. He reminds us that "Last week, when the Senate voted, by 93 votes to 7, to pass the latest National Defense Authorization Act (PDF), they passed legislation that not only approved a budget of $662 billion in military spending for the next fiscal year, but also demanded mandatory military custody for all terror suspects seized in future." So, WELL worth your time to sign the CCR petition above, to call the WH if you have the chance, and to let at least ONE other person know to do the same.

I like that Andy also reminds us to "WRITE to the Forgotten Prisoners in Guantánamo – -- especially now as we come to the 10th Anniversary of the Prison’s Opening on January 11, 2012" Keep watching as a number of us will be surrounding the White House around that date to say ENOUGH already.
Coming to a neighborhood near you? (found image on TruthDig) For article related to the above, go if you have time to Truth Dig's article: "America the Militarized" here

Saturday, December 10, 2011

10 Dec/Human Rights Day: Who Wrote the UDHR?


BEGUM SHAISTA IKRAMULLAH

BY Gita Sahgal on Open Democracy (Author's Note: Sahgal is a founder of the Centre for Secular Space which opposes fundamentalism, amplifies secular voices and promotes universality in human rights. She was formerly Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International.)

Dec. 10, the day commemorating U.N. ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is intended to remind us of the critical work that warrants our attention for the (coming) 364.

Many of the assumptions about who wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are wrong. Gita Sahgal tells the less known story of the men and women who wrote this foundational, emancipatory and anti-colonial document

On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we might consider whether the idea of human rights with their firm assertions, their belief in the ‘rule of law,’ and their globalised vision remain relevant in the world. The idea that there are absolute standards has come under attack from both the left and the right. The philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre , author of 'After Virtue', said, Natural rights and self evident truths proclaimed in the American declaration of independence are tantamount to belief in witches and unicorns. While from the left, in ‘Human Rights and Empire’, Costas Douzinas has called human rights the political philosophy of cosmopolitanism and argued that human rights now codify and ‘constitutionalise ‘ the normative sources of Empire.

Those fighting the attempts by the Bush administration to tear up human rights prohibitions on torture, would be surprised to see themselves as empire builders. The only weapons they had were the Constitutions of their countries and the human rights system, with its unequivocal rejection of torture...

...But are these freedoms ones that are derived from ‘the West’ and therefore limited in their application? States affiliated to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) certainly seem to think so. In the 1980s and 90s Islamic states drafted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, as an alternative declaration.

The idea that different peoples were endowed with separate rights would have seemed absurd in the middle of the twentieth century to those struggling against colonial oppression or trying to build new nations. The barbarity unleashed on the world by a global war, was certainly in the minds of delegates. But so too was the yearning to build a better world within the nation-state, as well as limiting foreign aggression and war.

BEGUM SHAISTA IKRAMULLAH, a member of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and a delegate of the UN in 1948 said: ‘It was imperative that the peoples of the world should recognize the existence of a code of civilized behavior which would apply not only in international relations but also in domestic affairs'...

Susan Waltz, is one of the scholars who has done much to recover stories such as the role of Begum Ikramullah and others in the forgotten history of the drafting of the UDHR. Her work shows how mistaken many assumptions are about this foundational document.

Eleanor Roosevelt is often seen as the single author of the Declaration, since she chaired the drafting Committee. Civil and political rights are seen as classical ‘Western' concerns, whilst social and economic rights are thought to have been advocated for by the Soviet bloc.

In fact, as Waltz shows, Roosevelt supplied (NOTE) neither the text nor the substantive ideas that shaped the UDHR.

Ricardo Alfaro, former President of Panama, proposed the idea and first draft of such a Declaration, which was taken up by many others including public intellectuals such as HG Wells. While early drafts were worked on by Rene Cassin of France, along with many US lawyers, each clause was voted on by member states, and many suggestions came from drafters from small and newly de-colonised states. The Latin American states promoted social and economic rights, while the Soviet Union concentrated on racial discrimination – a convenient way of bashing the US, as well as colonial states...

...Two of the most important drafters were Hansa Mehta of India, and Charles Malik of Lebanon, who was Committee Rapporteur. Hansa Mehta, an extraordinary activist and brave member of the Constituent Assembly in India, was responsible for the wording of the Article I ‘All human beings are equal in dignity and rights,’ arguing that if the word men was used, it would not be regarded as inclusive but rather taken to exclude women. She was the key figure who ensured gender equality in the document.

Yugoslavia proposed that human rights should apply to the peoples of non-self governing and trust territories. Carlos Romulo of the Philippines argued that full rights should be given to the colonies. Article 2, thereby ensures non-discrimination ( a standard clause that came to be adopted in all treaties) on the grounds of race, class property, social origin and so on; but it also ensures that subject peoples were also endowed with rights...

...The clause on marriage, in short, was fought for by a range of opinion to form an egalitarian and adult basis for marriage which was absent then from most countries whether eastern or western...

...Saudi Arabia objected to Article 16 on the right to choice in marriage.

BEGUM SHAISTA IKRAMULLAH opposed the Saudi view making a speech against child marriage. She accepted equal rights in marriage...

The clause on being able to exercise freedom of religion was supported by a number of Muslim delegates. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Zafrallah Khan, quoted the Qur'an ‘Let him who chooses believe, believe and him who chooses to disbelieve, disbelieve.’ He believed that the right to change religion was consistent with Islam. Moahammed Habib from India, supported the statement as consistent with the Constitution of India. However, Saudi Arabia objected to it, and eventually abstained from voting on the Declaration itself. No-one voted against the Declaration, although Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the Soviet bloc abstained, with 50 countries voting for it.

Hernán Santa Cruz of Chile, member of the drafting sub-Committee, wrote: “I perceived clearly that I was participating in a truly significant historic event in which a consensus had been reached as to the supreme value of the human person, a value that did not originate in the decision of a worldly power, but rather in the fact of existing—which gave rise to the inalienable right to live free from want and oppression and to fully develop one’s personality. In the Great Hall…there was an atmosphere of genuine solidarity and brotherhood among men and women from all latitudes, the like of which I have not seen again in any international setting.”

See especially Open Democracy here

Also Story of Pakistan especially on BEGUM SHAISTA IKRAMULLAH
and GO here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

To Live Means to Create...Iqbal's Injunction to Us Today


The following is taken from an eye-opening text by preeminent Iqbal biographer-scholar Khurram Ali Shafique for an online class. The text is based on Javid Nama (or book of Eternity) a book styled as a children's book and written by the famous poet/philosopher Allama Iqbal especially for his son (yet for all who might be open to this vision.)

In this small yet rich/dense book of wisdom and beauty for all ages (both meanings) when Iqbal "arrives at the doorstep of God...." (in his dreamlike vision of taking a journey with his mentor, Rumi)..."there, he looks at God in His Infinite Beauty present in ever changing glories. Iqbal is lost in the secrets of creation: all creatures belong to the same family of light and fire; a mirror is placed in front of his soul, and his sense of wonder is mingled with his faith. The past and the future stand together before a present morning. God is there with all His mysteries and looking at Himself through Iqbal’s eyes.

'Iqbal asks why there is so much misery in the world. God answers, “The pen of destiny wrote whatever We chose from the good and the bad. Do you know the meaning of life? To live means to create through Our power. Make your own world if you are alive, for whoever lacks the power to create is indeed an infidel in Our eyes.” "

William James in his article "Great Men And Their Environment" uses the word "energetic" for leaders who use their inner impetus to create good for our world and selves:

Hegel speaks of revolutions or transformations in human societies as dependent upon extra-ordinary persons who serve the World-Spirit yet who often are fighters or rulers and who's lives often don't end well.

As other scholars say it better and more thoroughly, William James' view in contrast with Hegel's is more inclusive and more positive. According to James, a dynamic Hero (or Heroine) might emerge at any time from anywhere. These are individuals who - by transforming societies - along with themselves - become corner stones or turning points in the journey on history's highway.

Some philosophers have asked if such dynamos were just going along with their fate or World-Spirit (as Hegel believed) or did they serve the Divine purpose?

My favorite interpreters of the Quran demonstrate that we are all born with unlimited creative potentials. In order to achieve good creative or co-creative acts in this world we need guidance from our Creator. Yet, the Creator wants us to be a full part of such a partnership in creating within history itself. We are not expected nor required to be just like other examples in history but free to be who we are and free to choose good within the designs of our own personality and culture.

We are not made to be mechanical objects. We are not mass-production..

The Muslim Ummah, as a number of emerging scholars insist, was neither a racial, territorial or even an entity depending on a certain language. This Ummah stood for spiritual brotherhood of mankind.

So IF Allama Iqbal's message was, like this above mentioned Ummah, beyond nationality and non-racial, than, how might we ALL worldwide, learn to incorporate his surprisingly universal and historically far-reaching message today?

Perhaps only a poet well-versed in history, philosophy,theology and law could come up with such a vision for his time and ours.

Iqbal - in my limited grasp of his content and intent - did not want to wage war on other nations or religions. Yet he did want to declare war on despondency, self-destruction and hopelessness.

If, as I understand, every kind of person from students to well-known leaders were invited to talk with him, what kind of conversations might we be holding with him in our day - around the world?

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Special credit goes also to Muhammad Munawwar Mirza, a world-noted scholar on Allama Iqbal, for some of his ideas which I tried to capture and re-phrase from my own understanding.

I am grateful beyond speech for the wonderful course I just finished under the direction of Khuram Ali Shafique Sahib and with some of the most creative fellow students you'd ever meet anywhere.