A New Calendar of Holidays ::posted Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:03:15 +0000:: http://ift.tt/Y4Hk5K
A new calendar of peace holidays has just been published. And none too soon, if you’ve noticed the epidemic of military holidays around us.
I can understand that Catholics have a saint for every day of the year. And I’m not shocked that various ancient religions have holidays for a high proportion of the year’s days. But what to make of the United States, which now has a military holiday for at least 66 separate days, including Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and lesser known days like the just passed Marine Corps Reserve Birthday?
In the coming weeks we have V-J Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day / Patriot Day, the U.S. Air Force Birthday, National POW / MIA Recognition Day, and Gold Star Mother’s Day. There are, in addition, six week-long military holidays and three month-long ones. May, for example, is National Military Appreciation Month.
The military memorializes past war lies (Remember the Maine Day), cultural depravity normalized by eternal war (Month of the Military Child), and past crimes like attacking Cuba and killing a mule (Mantanzas Mule Day). This website even — wonderfully and accidentally — includes the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, which is a day dedicated to opposing militarism. The same website — disgustingly and inappropriately — includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday as a military holiday.
Still, the general pattern is this: in the United States there are holidays to celebrate militarism just about every week, and increasingly one hears about them on the radio, at public events, and in corporate advertising that apparently believes militarism sells.
What would a calendar of peace holidays look like? At WorldBeyondWar we believe it would look something like this.
We’re making it available for free as a PDF that you can print out and make use of: PDF, Word.
We’re also displaying on the front page of WorldBeyondWar.org the holiday, if any, to be marked or celebrated on whatever day it happens to be at the time. So you can always just check there.
We think that part of developing a peace culture is marking great peace moments from the past. Knowing what peace holiday any given day is, or what holidays are coming up soon, can be very useful in creating and promoting events, writing op-eds, and interesting the corporate media in something that is otherwise too important and news worthy to be touched.
World peace holidays can build unity among activists. They can be used for education (celebrating the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 on May 18th could cause someone to want to know what that conference was). And they can be used for encouragement and inspiration (on a gloomy March 20th it might be nice to know that “on this day in 1983, 150,000 peace rallies were held in Australia”).
In this initial draft of the World Beyond War Calendar we’ve included 154 holidays, all of them days — no weeks or months. We could have included a significant peace event for 365 days a year but chose to be selective. It’s a tightly held secret, of course, but there has been a lot more peace than war in the world.
Some of the days are also military days re-purposed. For example:
September 11. On this day in 1973 the United States backed a coup that overthrew the government of Chile. Also on this day in 2001 terrorists attacked in the United States using hijacked airplanes. This is a good day to oppose violence and nationalism and revenge.
Others are military days the military doesn’t celebrate. For example:
January 11. On this day in 2002 the United States opened its notorious prison in Guantanamo. This is a good day to oppose all imprisonment without trial.
August 6. On this day in 1945 the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing some 140,000 men, women, and children. President Truman went on the radio to justify this as revenge and lie that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city. This is a very good day to oppose nuclear weapons.
Others are well-known days reclaimed for peace. For example:
January 15. On this day in 1929 Martin Luther King Jr. was born. The holiday, however, is celebrated on the third Monday of January. These are good opportunities to recall King’s work against militarism, extreme materialism, and racism.
Mothers Day is celebrated on different dates around the world. In many places it is the second Sunday in May. This is a good day to read the Mother’s Day Proclamation and rededicate the day to peace.
December 25. This is Christmas, traditionally a holiday of peace for Christians. On this day in 1776, George Washington led a surprise night crossing of the Delaware River and pre-dawn raid on unarmed hung-over-from-Christmas troops still in their underwear — a founding act of violence for the new nation. Also on this day in 1875 Jessie Wallace Hughan, founder of the War Resisters League, was born. Also on this day in 1914, soldiers on both sides of the trenches of World War I took part in a Christmas Truce. This is a good day to work for peace on earth.
Other days are new to most people. For example:
August 27. This is Kellogg-Briand Day. On this day in 1928, in what was the biggest news story of the year, the major nations of the world gathered in Paris, France, to sign the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning all war. The treaty remains on the books today. The day is increasingly being recognized and celebrated as a holiday.
November 5. On this day in 1855 Eugene V. Debs was born. Also on this day in 1968 Richard Nixon was elected U.S. president after secretly and treasonously sending Anna Chennault to sabotage Vietnam peace talks, campaigning on a nonexistent secret plan for peace, and actually planning to continue the war, as he did once elected. This is a good day to think about who our real leaders are.
November 6. This is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
Here’s the web version.
Here’s the PDF.
Here’s the Word.
The calendar is a first of what we expect to be many editions. In fact, it will be constantly updated. So please send additions and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Case: White House Argues Against Considering Climate Change on Energy Projects ::posted Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:34:26 +0000:: http://ift.tt/1px6KV1
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Just over a month before the United Nations convenes on September 23 in New York City to discuss climate change and activists gather for a week of action, the Obama White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) argued it does not have to offer guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to consider climate change impacts for energy decisions.
It’s all about Ukraine: Two Chance Meetings While Traveling in Europe ::posted Sun, 31 Aug 2014 15:36:52 +0000:: http://ift.tt/1B8dIm4
By Dave Lindorff
Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening ::posted Sun, 31 Aug 2014 01:53:57 +0000:: http://ift.tt/1CeA1rN
The word ‘listening’ has many meanings and the context in which it is done will often determine the level of concentration that is required for one to be considered to be listening.
6 Unhinged Right-Wing Moments This Week: Fox’s Comical Beyoncé Freakout ::posted Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:44:00 +0000:: http://ift.tt/VZnjvw
Where are her pants? How can she be a feminist without pants?
1. Bill O’Reilly’s ‘Achey breaky heart’ about Beyoncé videos.
Young women of America, please stop watching Beyoncé videos. It breaks Bill O’Reilly’s heart for some strange reason he has yet to coherently explain.
The good folks at Fox News were mightily confused this week after viewing the pop diva’s performance at the Video Music Awards in which she appeared in front of a huge screen with the word “FEMINIST.” But here’s the thing: she seemed to have forgotten her pants. Her pants! How can you be a feminist when you don’t have any pants on? They were stumped.
Later in the week, O’Reilly was chatting away with Dr. Ben Carson about the usual stuff, how black people are to blame for all their own problems, welfare, blah blah blah. It’s very disappointing for O’Reilly; he thought he had already given black people all the moral instructions they need. Because, in the past, there were some really good black people. Why can’t today’s black people be more like black people of the days of old?
“You remember Motown. Do you not?” O’Reilly reminisced. “Wasn’t that a fabulous, fabulous music industry, uplifting? You remember Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. Weren’t they fabulous athletes — I idolized Willie Mays….”
Awww, thanks for sharing that, Uncle Bill. We’re always up for hearing more about the black people you approve of. Alas, there are fewer and fewer of them. “And what do we have now?” O’Reilly continued. “What do we have now? Gangster rappers, you know, Beyoncé. The most famous, you know, doing these videos that show these kinds of things to young, 9, 10, 11-year-old girls? I mean — and it’s celebrated. It’s celebrated. You know, that’s the big change.”
He was obviously pretty worked up because he was having some trouble stringing those thoughts together into sentences, you know, that’s a problem. It’s widespread. It’s widespread!
Ben Carson said some things, including thanking Bill O’Reilly for his leadership on these issues (yes, leadership). Then Bill O’Reilly, the great civil rights leader, broke in and declared, “It breaks my heart! It really does.”
Stop, stop, we’re weeping, Uncle Bill. Can’t stand to see you suffer so.
2. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly: If women were more focused on getting married, maybe men wouldn’t sexually assault them so much.
Phyllis Schlafly shared some pearls of wisdom with young women on her radio show this week: Stop focusing on your career so much and get hitched. That’ll stop the menfolk from raping.
Brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that?
Wise old Phyllis asked a question she already had an answer for: “What’s the answer for women who worry about male violence?” (Wait, isn’t that all women? And all people?) “It’s not to fear all men,” Schlafly continued. “It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent ‘hookups,’ which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.”
Hell, what are young ladies even going to college for? To selfishly get educated? What’s next? Are they going to selfishly go out and support themselves? And have boyfriends or girlfriends? That is pretty much asking to be raped.
Had enough crazy? Here’s more.
3. Ex-college president says women should be trained not to drink so they can punch their sexual assaulters in the nose accurately.
Direct your letters to Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, former president of George Washington University, and apparent expert on Greek life and women’s drinking habits. While appearing on the Diane Rehm Show, this beacon of higher education said we should not blame the victims of sexual assault. Then he proceeded to blame them.
“One of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave,” he said, perhaps thinking he was being clever, or kind of cool for that nose-punch line. “And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.”
Wait, did we miss the part where he said young men should drink less, and stop raping people? We must have.
4. Always wrong on Iraq and everything else, war-loving Bill Kristol says Obama should bomb them faster and more.
The editor of the Weekly Standard does not let the fact that he was dead-wrong about Iraq last time the U.S. invaded the country stand in the way of his desire to mouth off about what we should do there now. He does not like the fact that Obama is taking so long to bomb ISIS (a.k.a. ISIL) in Iraq, even though Obama had already started bombing Iraq when Kristol said this, so, what the hell is he talking about? Does he even know what he is talking about? It appears not.
He was particularly critical of Obama’s speech in which the President said the whole world is “appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.” Kristol apparently found this statement “appalling” because the President is doing “nothing,” which we suppose is the word in Kristol-speak for launching airstrikes and helping to arm Kurdish militias to fight ISIL. (Although it is not the usual definition of “nothing” as others know it.)
Here’s an example of how Kristol, who no one in their right mind would listen to since he is unfailingly wrong, would handle the problem with ISIS (and possibly every other problem ever, like, say, having to wait too long in a checkout line).
“You know, why don’t we just [bomb]?” he asked military expert Laura Ingraham on her show. “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?”
Yeah, just bomb. That never hurts anything.
5. Fox News contributor: Can Michael Brown really be considered an “unarmed” teen when he was just so big?
This bit of genius comes from Fox contributor Linda Chavez, who was on the air this week doing her darndest to dismantle what she regarded as the “mantra” about Michael Brown, namely, the “unarmed black teenager shot by a white cop.” She would prefer a different mantra, perhaps something like Ommmm.
What she does not like about the description, “unarmed black teen shot (six times) by a white cop” is this: “We’re talking about an 18-year-old man who is six-foot-four and weighs almost 300 pounds.”
So, our question is this? What exactly is the size cut-off? When does a person become too big to be considered unarmed? When exactly does flesh morph into a weapon?
We know, we know, when the flesh is black.
6. Tea Partier, former presidential hopeful Herman Cain: Obama is plotting to be impeached.
Remember Herman Cain? The Godfather’s Pizza mogul from Georgia who ran for the Republican presidential nomination and made Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich look, well, sane? He’s still kicking. In fact, in his recollection he “damn near won” that nomination, which isn’t how anyone else recollects it… probably because it didn’t happen.
So, the Tea Partier is no stranger to delusional thinking. Cain recently shared a theory with Rick Wiles’ End Times radio show. His theory is that Obama is trying to get impeached. It’s all part of his devilish scheme to keep Democrats in power. Kind of counter-intuitive, right? Cain specializes in that. Also, nonsense.
Cain says the way Obama will accomplish this feat is by issuing an executive order that provides undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship. This will cause Hispanic voters to turn out in droves in the midterm election (and vote for Democrats). But even better for Obama, it will force Republicans to impeach him, which he loves. Everyone loves getting impeached. Just ask Bill Clinton. Here’s how Cain figures it:
“The Democrats would love for the media to be obsessed with impeachment proceedings leading up to November because the Democrats do not want the media to be focusing on failed economic policy, no foreign policy, [and] corruption that’s going on in all of the various departments.”
So, there it is. The whole dastardly plot. You’ve been warned.
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Looks Like The ‘Burger King’s’ Subjects Are Royally Pissed Off ::posted Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:37:00 +0000:: http://ift.tt/1tlbwGQ
Burger King intends to renounce its American status for tax purposes, and public opinion is not on its side.
Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace that “kings are the slaves of history.” And when the “king” in question depends on the patronage of happy customers for his well-being, his monarchy is also a slave to public opinion. Unfortunately for Burger King, which intends to renounce its American status for tax purposes, neither history nor public opinion is on its side.
In fact, if social media is any gauge, the Burger King’s American subjects are downright pissed.
Burger King’s Facebook page currently features the rather unfortunately-timed slogan, “Chicken Fries Are Back.” (Is that as in, too chicken to pay your taxes?), and it has drawn a lot of angry comments about its planned tax move.(All comments are unedited, except as noted.)
A recent status update entitled “Lunch? Brunch? Same difference” drew this comment, presumably directed toward a constituent’s Senator:
As a veteran I encourage you to sponsor a bill that shuts down every single Burger King located on an American military installation in the U.S. … I feel only companies that are headquartered in the U.S. Deserve to be able to conduct business on govt facilities. I find it very up unpatriotic that our service members who risk there lives would have these tax dodging companies located on their bases …
On a post which advises readers “Be the Chicken Fries you want to be,” comments included “I loved the chicken fries but not from some traitorous tax dodging company…Hello Wendy’s!!!!”
Other commenters addressed the role of government in Burger King’s success and its subsequent display of ingratitude. One wrote:
Burger King’s ingredients are trucked in on taxpayer-funded roads. Burger King’s meat is made safe by taxpayer-funded beef inspectors. Burger King’s workers are paid so little that taxpayer-funded social safety net programs have to pick up their slack. And in return for all of these taxpayer-funded services, Burger King won’t even pay the American corporate tax rate. Boycott…
American tax dollars inspect the safety of your “chicken fries” yet you don’t want to pay American taxes. I will never spend one penny of my American money in your traitorous stores.
The royal court has clearly heard these rumblings of discontent from the citizenry, because its most recent status update says:
“We hear you. We’re not moving, we’re just growing and finding ways to serve you better … both Burger King Corp. and Tim Hortons will continue to operate as independent brands. We’ll just be under common ownership. Our headquarters will remain in Miami where we were founded more than 60 years ago and business will continue as usual at our restaurants around the world.”
The statement goes on to say that the merger decision “is not tax-driven – it’s about global growth for both brands. BKC will continue to pay all of our federal, state and local U.S. taxes. We’re proud of the heritage of Burger King and will maintain our long-standing commitment to our employees, franchisees and the local communities we serve.”
It concludes: “The WHOPPER isn’t going anywhere.”
That part’s certainly true, because there are several “whoppers” in this statement. While it may be true that this merger isn’t solely tax-driven, Burger King is the larger of the two corporations, and it was founded in Jacksonville, Florida in 1953. Domiciling the merged company in Canada would result an evasion of American taxes, and that Facebook pledge to “pay all of our federal, state and local U.S. taxes” obscures some key facts, including the fact that this maneuver would allow it to evade U.S. taxes on overseas profits.
And let’s not start the discredited argument that it’s being forced to move because US corporate tax rates are supposedly too high. The actual rate paid by American corporations, once they’re done applying all the loopholes their lobbyists in Washington have designed, their actual rate is at the low end of the global tax spectrum – and this at a time when many corporations are achieving record-breaking profits.
As for Burger King, its 2013 results led to headlines like the Wall Street Journal’s “Burger King Profit Rises on Lower Costs,” after an increase in profitability of nearly 40 percent. And its performance in the first quarter of this year led USA Today to proclaim that “Burger King cuts costs, serves up tasty profits.”
The proposed tax-dodging moves has led several groups (including the Campaign for America’s Future and Americans for Tax Fairness) to start a petition drive against Burger King. It has also led to grassroots fury, if the company’s Facebook page in any indication. Here are a few of the recent comments to that recent “WHOPPER” of a statement:
burger king crowned king of the tax dodgers! boycott!!!!!
Nice spin. The Burger King Corp. half of the company will remain headquartered in Miami. HOWEVER, the corporate headquarters of the combined company will be based in Canada as a U.S. tax avoidance. A customer exodus to save a few bucks on the tax bill …
If you move I will unfortunately never be able to eat at any Burger King anywhere. I travel internationally and that will include any other country I go to. Pay American tax. Also, you may want to start paying your employees a living wage as well!
And more commenters joined in the impromptu boycott sentiment:
I was going to come in today to get food (haven’t been there in a long time) and heard you guys are being extremely greedy. Never mind. Going to Chipotle instead.
I now consider you to be tax-dodging traitors, and I’ll never spend another dime in your establishments. In other words, enjoy Canada, but say good-bye to my business, ya hosers, eh?
Just wanted to say Goodby sorry to see you leave. Our family has spent a lot of days in Burger Kings lines, we were good customers, spent a lot of money but your lost will be another companies gain. I’m sure Wendys or Checkers will be happy to get us …
To be sure, not every commenter represented lost revenue for Burger King. The handful of right-wingers who consistently trolled these comments clearly aren’t going anywhere, and another said rather crudely that “I wouldn’t eat the horse meat you serve anyway you dicks.”
Well, okay, Burger King won’t lose revenue on that guy. But a lot of people are clearly angry, and they’re clearly planning to take their business elsewhere.
What’s more, the fast-food monarch isn’t just losing the serfs and rabble-rousers. Even reliable royalists like Sir Joe of Scarborough are whispering of rebellion. That’s right: Conservative talk show host Joe Scarborough endorsed the idea of a Burger King boycott on his morning talk show, saying “I think a lot of Americans are should not go Burger King again if they’re going cheat on their taxes.”
Another host responded, “Their fries suck.”
“They do suck,” Scarborough agreed.
That’s not the kind of commentary any corporation wants, especially a publicly-traded one. Soon its investors will be beseeching the King of Burgers: Turn back, Sire, before it is too late. Otherwise Burger King may be forced to learn the lesson England’s George III was taught in 1776: Americans bend the knee to no foreign monarch, even if he offers chicken fries on the side.
An informal boycott seems to have started already. If Burger King insists on picking a fight with the American people, the response may very well come in the words of one of its own slogans:
Have it your way.
(Here’s a petition to the CEO of Burger King: “Keep Burger King American and pay your fair share. If not I’ll dine elsewhere.”)
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The U.S. Government Can Brand You a Terrorist Based on a Facebook Post ::posted Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:14:00 +0000:: http://ift.tt/VZnffb
Innocent people’s lives are being ruined. Why isn’t anyone watching the watchlist?
The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be.
As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.
This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.
The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.
Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”, according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists.
The absurdities don’t end there. Take Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a population under 100,000 that is known for its large Arab American community – and has more watchlisted residents than any other city in America except New York.
These eye-popping numbers are largely the result of the US government’s use of a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted.
Reasonable suspicion is such a low standard because it requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.
Consider a real world context – actual criminal justice – where an officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a person in the street and ask him or her a few questions. Courts have controversially held that avoiding eye contact with an officer, traveling alone, and traveling late at night, for example, all amount to reasonable suspicion.
This vague criteria is now being used to label innocent people as terrorism suspects.
Moreover, because the watchlist isn’t limited to known, actual terrorists, an official can watchlist a person if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is a suspected terrorist. It’s a circular logic – individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed.
The government’s self-mandated surveillance guidance also includes loopholes that permit watchlisting without even showing reasonable suspicion. For example, non-citizens can be watchlisted for being associated with a watchlisted person – even if their relationship with that person is entirely innocuous. Another catch-all exception allows non-citizens to be watchlisted, so long as a source or tipster describes the person as an “extremist”, a “militant”, or in similar terms, and the“context suggests a nexus to terrorism”. The FBI’s definition of “nexus”, in turn, is far more nebulous than they’re letting on.
Because the watchlist designation process is secret, there’s no way of knowing just how many innocent people are added to the list due to these absurdities and loopholes. And yet, history shows that innocent people are inevitably added to the list and suffer life-altering consequences. Life on the master watchlist can trigger enhanced screening at borders and airports; being on the No Fly List, which is a subset of the larger terrorist watchlist, can prevent airline travel altogether. The watchlist can separate family members for months or years, isolate individuals from friends and associates, and ruin employment prospects.
Being branded a terrorism suspect also has far-reaching privacy implications. The watchlist is widely accessible, and government officials routinely collect the biometric data of watchlisted individuals, including their fingerprints and DNA strands. Law enforcement has likewise been directed to gather any and all available evidence when encountering watchlisted individuals, including receipts, business cards, health information and bank statements.
Watchlisting is an awesome power, and if used, must be exercised prudently and transparently.
The standards for inclusion should be appropriately narrow, the evidence relied upon credible and genuine, and the redress and review procedures consistent with basic constitutional requirements of fairness and due process. Instead, watchlisting is being used arbitrarily under a cloud of secrecy.
A watchlist saturated with innocent people diverts attention from real, genuine threats. A watchlist that disproportionately targets Arab and Muslim Americans or other minorities stigmatizes innocent people and alienates them from law enforcement. A watchlist based on poor standards and secret processes raises major constitutional concerns, including the right to travel freely and not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.
Indeed, you can’t help but wonder: are you already on the watchlist?
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