Alice’s Nightmare in Droneland- Live at Hancock Air Base

Statement Read at the Alice’s Nightmare in Droneland Event:

from World Beyond War Blog, published October 29, 2020

We assemble her this morning to petition our government to end its use of killer MQ9 Reaper drones pilonted from Hancock Air Force Base. Hancock is home to the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard.  The 174th – together with all too many troops on other US bases across the planet – has been waging muderous war, in our name, against the people of the Islamic oil lands, against Iraqis, iranians, Afghans, Pakistanis, Syrians, Yemenis, Somalis, Libyans …

We come from across New York State and Beyond, united as the Upstate Drone Action Coalition, a grassroots assembly of nonviolent activists.  For years our local members have demonstrated here weekly, protesting Hancock’s role in these crimes against humanity.  A score of times for the past decade, Upstate Drone action – under cover of the first amendment of the U.S, Constitution – has engaged in civil resistance at Hancock’s very gate.  Dozens of us have been arrested, have gone to trial, and some have endured prison.  We persist because MQ9 drone attacks are evil.  They are shameful, barbaric, illegal, racist.  They are unjust, immoral, cowardly.  They are islamophobic…. They help generate the planet’s swelling ranks of refugees as human beings are displaced, maimed, killed, orphaned, widowed.  Sadly, drone attacks numb our conscience.

Weaponized drone attacks are naked terrorism.  What is ‘terrorism’, constantly invoked but rarely defined?  Genuine terrorism is violence  – or the threat of violence – perpetrated on civilians for political or economic gain.  Our nation is the greatest purveyor of terrorism on our planet.  U.S. terrorism spawns blowback.  Last January’s reaper drone assassination of Iran’s General Qassim Suliemani, for example, risked extreme retaliation.  Given teh volatility of our era, such attacks may very well spark nuclear war.   That is, global annihilation.

High-tech drone terrorism generates proliferation, with many nations racing – in defense – for mastery of the skies.  Weaponized and surveillance drones have already come home to roost.  Hancock’s Reaper drones, menacingly, have even surveilled our weekly demonstrations.

Friends, look around you.  See the imagery from that brilliant 19th century fable, Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’. We call our 21st century tableau, ‘Alice’s Nightmare in Drone Land’.   Chesire cat, depicted here tells us drone assassination is madness.  Mad Hatter, knowing that the U.S. military is one of the world’s major polluters and consumers of oil, urges us to stop destroying our climate.

“Alice herself cries out, ‘Please don’t kill me – I’m not a terrorist.’  Let us open our hearts to teh anguished cries of every ‘Alice’, especially those mothers and children throughout the oil lands.  And if, finally, we would oupen our ears to our fellow humans, we might also come to hear the screams – carried by wind, fire and flood – of our anguished and very resistant planet.

James Ricks of Ithaca and Harry Murray of Rochester, long time Drone protesters and veterans of civil resistance at Hancock Field

Drone Warfare Update from Upstate Drone Action:

U.S. expanding drone strikes from Somalia into Kenya
Camp Simba is on Manda Bay, Kenya’s east coast, an airbase that the U.S. command has been using for over a decade. There, private Pentagon contractors have been flying surveillance flights throughout northern Africa and for drone attacks against Islamist militants in Somalia. The contractors also operate armed drones although they don’t make targeting decisions. This allows the U.S. Africa Command to maintain the quasi-legal distinction that only uniform-wearing service members, who are lawful combatants, make the decisions as to who to target and kill.

Although Kenya’s President has made public statements disavowing the Pentagon’s use of its territory, it is not a passive host to American military operations. It has received more military aid than any country in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the world’s top 5 recipients of U.S. counter-terrorism aid.

This use of private contractors is becoming more and more common. Aerex Aerospace is a major contractor at the Manda Bay airbase, having won $44M in federal contracts in 2019. The Paris based news site Africa Intelligence reports its pilots operate Reaper drones and other intelligence=gathering aircraft throughout West Africa. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have relied on contractors because they give some degree of plausible deniability. Last year, the Pentagon spent $370 billion, more than half the US military budget on contractors. (Brown and Boston Universities research)

There has been an expansion of lethal airstrikes with unaccounted civilian causalities in Somalia in the last three years. Human rights groups have reported 4-10 fold more civilian deaths from airstrikes than has the U.S. Africa Command. There is no reason to believe that lethal drone attacks in Kenya would be any more transparent.

The killing of Islamist militants based on suspicions and intelligence reports that later prove false has become the common practice in Somalia. The Trump administration has gone further, giving commanders expanded authority to order lethal drone strikes. As of late September, the military had not received executive approval to begin targeting in Kenya. But putting in place the infrastructure points toward yet another effort to expand an undeclared war in yet another country.

U.S. Arms Deal Integral part of UAE recognition of Israel

A previously secret part of the United Arab Emirates diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel has become public in recent months. The Emiratis had been pushing for at least six years to buy F-35 fighter planes and Predator and Reaper drones. Israel had objected to the sales based on its reliance on a 50-year U.S. policy of maintaining the country’s “qualitative military edge” over the neighboring Arab countries. Israel has a fleet of the stealth F-35 fighters and is a leading purveyor of advanced drone technology. Since 2017, Congress has prevented arms sales to the UAE and Saudi Arabia because of the thousands of civilians killed in their proxy war with Iran in Yemen.

Previously the U.S. government had held back on selling the Reaper drones, made by Lockheed Martin, because sales are banned by an arms control pact among 35 nations. In July, the Trump administration announced it would bypass the relevant parts of the agreement and issues sales licenses.

One thing that continues to amaze me is that even prize winning journalists whose articles I pulled this information from; never refer to Israel as a nuclear weapons power. This back-story of the U.S. obsession with Iran’s nuclear weapons development is the pathetic public secrecy of our maintenance of nuclear superiority in the Middle East, not to mention everywhere else in the world.

Court Rules Against Trump drone killing policy

A U.S. district court has ordered the Trump administration to lift the total secrecy surrounding its rules for drone strikes and other killings abroad. This order comes as a result of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and New York Times in December 2017.

The Trump administration’s rules, known as the “Principles, Standards, and Procedures,” are believed to loosen Obama-era policy restrictions aimed at limiting civilian casualties in areas “outside of active hostilities,” such as in Yemen, Somalia, among others. The district court rejected the administration’s claim that it could not even confirm or deny whether the new rules exist. The Trump lethal force rules reportedly include lifting a requirement that a target must present a “continuing, imminent” threat to the United States, and permitting lethal strikes against a broader category of people, including those with no special skills or leadership roles. The Trump administration’s rules also reportedly eliminate the high-level vetting required for each individual strike, instead requiring only “higher-level approval” of “country plans” that will be reviewed annually.

Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney with the ACLU, had the following comment:

“Just like during the last administration, a court has decided that President Trump has stretched implausible claims of secrecy over the government’s killing rules too far. The government should not only acknowledge these new rules exist, but make them public.  Credible media and human rights groups have made clear that the Trump administration is killing more people in more places, with civilians and their communities bearing the brunt of tragic costs. We look forward to the government’s response and to ensuring the administration is held accountable for this country’s lethal force program abroad.”

Trump Sued Over U.S. Sanctions on War Crimes Investigation

The International Criminal Court (ICC )is in the midst of investigating possible war crimes committed by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In June the Trump administration issued executive orders sanctioning the Court. This has resulted in legal jeopardy for four law professors who have been providing legal advice and education to the ICC. The four, Diane Marie Amann of the University of Georgia School of Law, Milena Sterio of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Margaret deGuzman of Temple University’ Beasley School of Law and Gabor Rona of the Cardozo School of Law, have filed a lawsuit claiming the order violates their First Amendment rights. The federal sanctions regime threatens them with as many as 20 years in prison.

U.S. Drone Strike in Syria Kills a Child as well as two Al Qaeda operatives

Airwars, the London-based airstrike monitoring group, reports that on October 15th the U.S. military carried out a drone strike killing two senior Al Qaeda operatives in Saeed, a town west of Idlib in northwest Syria. The strike killed a child and wounded multiple other civilians.  The United Nations reported that two aid workers and their driver were injured, one of them critically, when the car they were traveling in was hit by shrapnel from a drone strike on another car in Idlib the same day. The U.S. Central Command has not reported on any civilian harmed in the killings. Neither Fox News nor the Washington Free Beacon, the only two news outlets to cover this strike, mentioned the suspected civilian causalities.




Shut Down Creech 2020

by Tobey Blome
Amazing week resisting killer drones at Shut Down Creech, culminating in a blockade and a 30 minute delay of commute traffic into the base early Friday morning, October 2nd, and no arrests.
Ground the Drones!
Toby, Maggie and all of earth’s Creechers!

Press Release

Contacts:   Toby Blomé, 510-501-5412;        Maggie Huntington, (602) 459-5257
 
Peaceful Anti-drone protestors block entrance to U.S. Assassin Drone Base;
Military traffic unable to enter base for half an hour.
 
A group of 15 peaceful protesters from Nevada, California, and Arizona converged for a weeklong protest at Creech Air Force Base to oppose the remote-controlled killing that takes place in the desert just north of Las Vegas.  Organized by CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace, the bi-annual protest known as “Shut Down Creech” was different due to the concerns and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially because many of the regular activists are elders, and are at higher risk of complications and death. The event included both social distancing and mask wearing at the twice daily commute hour protests at the base. Precautions were also followed during their entire stay at their base camp, “Camp Justice,” down the road from the base. In spite of the risks, these activists were compelled to participate and take a strong and determined stance against the illegal and inhumane remote killing by U.S. drones that occurs daily at the Nevada air base. 
 
Most of the activists were reluctant to engage in civil disobedience, as they often do, because of the risk of COVID-exposure during a possible jail detention.  However, 2 activists, Maggie Huntington from Flagstaff, Arizona, and Toby Blomé from El Cerrito, California ultimately participated in a “soft blockade” to impede commute traffic into the base for as long as they possibly could up until the point that the time limit expired that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police gave to warn blockaders of impending arrest.  Because the activists unexpectedly chose Friday morning for their blockade of resistance, the military and law enforcement officers were caught off guard.  In the early morning rush hour traffic, the women, aged 65 and 76 years old, stretched a large banner, “Stop Droning Afghanistan, 19 years ENOUGH!” across the entrance road into the killer drone base. They also placed in the road several small “coffins,” with names of other countries that are targets by U.S. drones, to impede traffic. They then read into a megaphone the names and ages of some of the victims of U.S. drone attacks memorialized on small pink paper drones.  The activists were able to remove themselves from the road in time to avoid arrest and simultaneously communicate a clear message of objection and noncompliance to the intolerable U.S. practice of remote killing, where hundreds of children have already died as “collateral damage.”  Due to the element of surprise, the alternative northerly gate, a mile up the roadway from the commuter gate, was closed, and it took significant time to open and receive traffic.  As a result military traffic was backed up all the way down highway 95, to the site of the blockade.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of cars were delayed into the base, for about a half hour.  Activists considered the action a very successful achievement toward their goal: To shut down Creech Air Force Base for as long as possible to halt the criminal activity taking place.      www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com
“I’m motivated to participate in this resistance, with the hope that we will teach the soldiers that they must take control of and understand the consequences of their actions,” said Maggie Huntington, one of the blockaders.  According to one Chinese Proverb, “To know and not to act is not to know.”   
Other Shut Down Creech demonstrations during the weeklong anti-drone protest included:  a solemn “funeral procession” along the highway with black clothing, white masks and small coffins;  LED light board letters in the dark of the early morning, declaring: “NO DRONES”; 
 –Observation…..without judgement….is the Highest Form……of Human Intelligence
 
Drone Attacks are……COWARDLY, BARBARIC, RACIST, WRONG, SHAMEFUL, UNJUST, IMMORAL……
Other commute vigil themes included:
War is Not Green/End War for Climate Justice  (The U.S. Military is the #1 Global User of Fossil Fuel)
WAR IS A LIE:   PRESIDENTS LIE, CONGRESS LIES, GENERALS LIE, CIA LIES, etc.



American Atrocities Continue To This Day

by Ed Kinane, Published in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, November 3, 2019

On March 16, 1968, at My Lai, a thatched-hut village in South Vietnam, demented U.S. soldiers slaughtered some 500 peasants. Fortunately — for our awareness of the savagery of war — news of this massacre leaked out.

Later, conscience-stricken veterans publicly testified that My Lai wasn’t an “aberration” or the only GI massacre. Reports of other massacres emerged from other sources (especially the leaked “Pentagon Papers”).

These atrocities underpinned the demolishing of a distant impoverished land — one that had never threatened U.S. people, “interests,” or borders.

Sound familiar?

Fifty years later, run-amuck militarism remains very much with us. On March 19, 2019 a U.S. drone killed 30 Afghan pine nut harvesters gathered at night around a campfire. A further 40 were reportedly wounded in the attack.

This, too, was no isolated event. But in the 21st century, such increasingly high-tech killing has evolved and normalized. Across the Islamic oil lands — Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia — U.S. robotic drones attack first responders, wedding parties and funeral processions. Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees.

Given the much-touted “precision” of the Hellfire missiles — a Lockheed Martin product — that these soulless operations deploy, can we call such massacres “mistakes”? Or excuse them as due to some mystical, unaccountable “fog of war”?

Hundreds of the innocent and unarmed are being killed, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, are being terrorized, spurring waves of refugees.  When do U.S. taxpayers demand: stop the killing? When will we no longer tolerate a demented commander-in-chief and the demented Pentagon that generates such terror?


Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, spent five months in Iraq with the human-rights group Voices in the Wilderness before, during and after “Shock and Awe.” A My Lai Memorial Exhibit will be displayed at the Broome County Public Library from Thursday through Saturday.




8 Arrested Exposing Hancock AirForce Base Terrorism

by Ed Kinane, June 22, 2019

Shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, our Upstate Drone Action caravan of six or seven vehicles arrived, unannounced, at the main gate of Hancock AFB in De Witt, a suburb of Syracuse, New York. Two of us – accompanied by one of our videographers – proceeded to the guardhouse 50 yards in from East Molloy Road to read aloud and deliver a statement (below). The statement called on base personnel, in accordance with U.S. and International Law, to refuse to obey their chain of command’s illegal orders to commit what are ongoing drone war crimes.

Simultaneously we set about creating a street theatre tableau blocking the main entrance to the base. As we have many times over the past decade, we were calling out Hancock for hosting the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard. The 174th remotely pilots missile-spewing robotic MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan (and probably elsewhere). These classified operations result in the terrorizing, maiming and killing of uncounted and uncountable numbers of  unarmed and undefended  children and their parents.

Until our arrest about two hours later, we held an unadorned, white 3×8-ft. banner across the driveway leading to the gate. In bold black letters, it read:

DRONE FLY, CHILDREN DIE  —  OUR HEARTS ARE BREAKING.

Nearby, also in the ingress, two grandmothers in traditional black dresses silently sat grieving, holding “infants” in bloodied swaddling clothes. Bloodied “body parts” and children’s toys and things were strewn about. Crossing back and forth between the banner and the road, pushed by a man in a cape and death’s mask, a model Reaper on wheels fleshed out the tableau.  Across the road from base property, over a dozen supporters, singing and chanting, held signs like: CHILDREN ARE NOT “COLLATERAL DAMAGE.”

Two rain-soaked hours later, the DeWitt town police and Onondaga County sheriffs, having converged in numerous vehicles, ordered us to leave base property.   Those eight who chose not to do so were arrested:  Tom Joyce (Ithaca); Dan Burgevin & Mark Scibilia-Carver (Trumansburg); and Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Les Billips , Ann Tiffany and Ed Kinane (Syracuse).

We were handcuffed, separated by gender and taken in two paddy wagons to the sheriffs’ north station where we were held in three small cells. After a couple hours we were transported by van to the downtown Syracuse “Justice Center.” In booking we were ordered strip, spread our cheeks, and where applicable, lift our scrotums. Our street clothes were put in a device for what seemed to be some chemical inspection and replaced with jail issue.

We were held in a chilly, dirty holding cell with other inmates all day. In the early evening we separately appeared before a Judge Murphy. Public defenders pled us not guilty. The assistant D.A. recommended we be ROR’ed and, released on our own recognizance, without bail. After being taken back to the holding cell, we were released – to the welcoming arms of support people and fellow perps –  sometime after 10:30 p.m.

Five of us — LB, DB, TJ, EK, RK —  must appear in the DeWitt town night court at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25;  JO, AT & MS-C. must appear June 26, also at 6 p.m. We were each charged with two violations — trespass and disorderly conduct, and with a misdemeanor, obstruction of government administration (OGA). Thus far Hancock’s crimes against humanity go insufficiently exposed.

Thanks to our videographers our entire action was live-streamed. The arrest appeared on YouTube. The next morning brief footage appeared near the top of Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” news hour viewed by hundreds of thousands here and abroad. For a three-minute overview, check out:


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez


Arrest Video by John Amidon

*Featured photo by Heriberto Rodriguez




Voices Rising for Yemen – Final Day

Header and photos all from Voices for Creative Nonviolence

by Kathy Kelly, published on Voices for Creative Nonviolence, November 8, 2018

Over these past three days, Voices and a coalition of justice-minded organizations have been at and around the United Nations in New York City protesting the ongoing U.S.-Saudi attack on famine- imperiled Yemen.  Details are available at www.vcnv.org along with next steps for people looking for ways to get involved.  Participants Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, and Jules Orkin write here about the third and final day of protests:

VOICES RISING FOR YEMEN: FINAL DAY

We started our NYC activities this past Tuesday in soggy style, but yesterday, under brilliant sunny skies, the action became a moving procession. About 70 people formed a single file to  carry backpacks, placards, signs bearing the names of children, and various banners, past the U.S. Mission to the UN, past the Saudi Mission, and over to the consulate.  Today we did the same, anticipating that those who stood in front of the consulate would be arrested.

By 11:30 this morning, on Dorothy Day’s birthday, about 90 people had gathered at the Isaiah Wall for a procession to the Saudi consulate. The mourning women led our march, garbed in large masks and veils, holding limp grey dolls that represent the thousands of children facing death in Yemen.  Jun Sun and a companion followed, their drumbeats guiding us. Six people carried placards describing the terrible attack on a children’s schoolbus in northern Yemen.The attack happened on August 9, 2018.

This week in Yemen, children who had survived were going back for the first time to their classes, carrying their blue U.N. backpacks from the day of the attack, splattered with their classmates’ blood.  So today in New York, people willing to risk arrest carried blue backpacks and signs naming the children who had been killed. Others followed with banners. Nick Mottern joined us with a drone replica, an apt reminder of U.S. aerial attacks and drone surveillance in Yemen.

Felton Davis and Ed Kinane held a banner and blocked the entrance to the U.S. Mission to the UN. They were later released without charge.

The procession continued past the Saudi Mission to the UN and over to the Saudi Consulate on Second Avenue.  Members of our group swiftly set up a presence in front of three entrances to the building, urging people not to enter because it is too dangerous: criminal activities have been going on and all who have cause to be in the building should be aware of the crucial importance of ending the murderous, tortuous activities carried out by the Saudi government. Brian Terrell points out that, just as you would be concerned if office workers in your building were involved in human trafficking or drug smuggling, people should be alarmed over the Saudi government’s murderous practices as it makes war on Yemen.  As Buddy Bell intoned the names of children killed on August 9 and raised a lament for Yemeni families, our response was “We Remember You.”

We sang and chanted for over two hours. At least two dozen police carrying plastic cuffs arrived, along with a NYPD Detective named Bogucki, who told us he recalled arresting some of us during the late ’90s and in the years leading up to the Shock and Awe bombing in Iraq. From 1996 to 2003, we had protested the sacrifice and slaughter of Iraqi children.  Detective Bogucki said we are preaching to the choir when we tell him about crimes happening inside the consulate, and other offices that prolong war in Yemen. Recognizing our complicity, we believe “the choir” must unite by resisting child sacrifice, child slaughter.

Word arrived from one of the blockade groups that the New York Police Department had decided not to arrest anyone in our group. We eventually formed a circle, confirmed our collective determination to continue outreach, witness and resistance, expressed many thank yous, and dispersed.

Our hearts remain with Yemeni families agonizing over the dire plight of loved ones in Yemen. We thank Yemenis who have stood up, in more precarious settings, to call for an end to the fighting. And we look forward to supporting their calls for peace in every way we can, until this dreadful war is over.

Kathy Kelly interviewed outside the Saudi Arabian Consulate:

November 8th 2018 – protest gathered outside of Saudi Arabian Consulate in Midtown Manhattan, East 47th street and 2nd Ave. Protest spoke of Yemen bombing, deaths, Jamal Khashoggi, Trump and other issues. Large police response with various specialized units, carrying multiple zip ties and hand cuffs for the arrests. Click image to watch video.  Full video and photos available oliya(at)scootercaster.com,  www.scootercaster.com

November 8th 2018 – protest gathered outside of Saudi Arabian Consulate in Midtown Manhattan, East 47th street and 2nd Ave. Protest spoke of Yemen bombing, deaths, Jamal Khashoggi, Trump and other issues. Large police response with various specialized units, carrying multiple zip ties and hand cuffs for the arrests.


Kathy Kelly is an American peace activist, pacifist and author, one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She has traveled to Iraq twenty-six times, notably remaining in combat zones during the early days of both US–Iraq wars.  Her recent travel has focused on Afghanistan and Gaza, along with domestic protests against US drone policy. She has been arrested more than sixty times at home and abroad, and written of her experiences among targets of US military bombardment and inmates of US prisons.




UNAC joins “Stopp Ramstein!” Protests

by Phil Wilayto,  originally published on End the Wars at Home and Abroad, July 1, 2018

It’s a beautiful evening here in Kaisaerslauten, a city of some 100,000 in southwestern Germany. There’s a light breeze blowing, gently nudging the thousands of multi-colored flowers that seem to line every street. Couples, young families and older folks are strolling through this city whose beginnings go back to the time of the Roman Empire.

And tomorrow. thousands of people are expected to gather here and attempt to block the entrance to the U.S. Ramstein Air Force Base. I’ll be one of them.

Ramstein is one of the largest of the Pentagon’s 800 military bases established in more than 70 countries. South Korea has the largest number (could this be why North Korea is a little suspicious of U.S, intentions?). Japan is number two, and Germany comes in third.

Ramstein serves as headquarters for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa and also NATO Allied Air Command. The military base is really huge, with some 54,000 military personnel, plus their families, which means this U.S. base pretty much dominates this German town. In fact, German officials and politicians are not allowed to enter the base without permission from the U.S. commander.

But, just like with the Navy in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, the base is an important source of local employment, business contracts and trade, which is probably why the Catholic Church where around 40 protest organizers have been meeting this week came under heavy local pressure not to allow us to gather there. But the church stood its ground and there have been no problems – so far.

The reason the German peace movement has targeted Ramstein is not only because of its massive size, but because of the critical role it plays in the Pentagon’s strategy of fighting wars using pilotless drones. These expensive little machines can drop bombs on targets all over the world, with no threat to U.S. lives, and so no risk of stirring up unpleasant antiwar feelings back home.

It’s nice, clean warfare, in which the only people who die have brown skins. And if the intended target happens to be at a wedding, a funeral or praying in a mosque on Friday night, then there might be what the Pentagon quaintly calls “collateral damage” – a very sanitized word that seems obscene when applied to a lifeless child torn apart by a bomb we paid for with our taxes.

The drones do have human pilots, but they work in air-conditioned buildings back in the States. The pilots send instructions to Ramstein, where they are then routed to the many drone bases around the world. No Ramstein, no drones. And that is why there have been huge annual protests here.

When the base’s key role in drone warfare first came to light in 2015, the German government claimed it hadn’t been informed about this function of the U.S. base. The reports were later supported by data provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald from classified documents from inside the U.S. administration.

I’m here representing the United National Antiwar Coalition, which the Virginia Defenders helped found back in 2010. I’ve been meeting lots of German peace activists, as well as folks from Italy, Spain, South Korea, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and several from the U.S., including Ann Wright, the former U.S. Army colonel and State Department official now known worldwide for her antiwar activities. She’ll be a featured speaker at the main rally outside the base tomorrow.

Also here are Pat Elder, a longtime antiwar activist from Maryland who has done some incredible work countering military recruitment in our public schools. And Dave Webb from the United Kingdom, who works with the U.S.-based Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. And John Lannon, a professor at Ireland’s University of Limerick, who will be a key organizer of an international conference called to oppose U.S. and NATO foreign military bases that will take place this November in Dublin.

This week’s peace activities are being sponsored by the German organization “Stopp Air Base Ramstein.” Beginning on June 23, there have been discussions, workshops and a “peace camp” that reminds me of Occupy Richmond, with its many small tents and communal spirit. Today there was an all-day meeting at which Ann, Pat, John, Dave and I were among the many speakers. At the end of the meeting the organizers released a statement calling on the European Union to open all its borders to refugees, arguing that it has been the U.S. and NATO wars in North Africa and the Middle East that have caused the refugee crisis in the first place. The right-wing in Europe has seized on the refugee crisis to whip up hatred of immigrants, much like the Trump regime is doing in the U.S.

Tonight there’s a large public event held at the Reconciliation Church Kaiserslautern. And then the highlight of the week will be a large demonstration and rally tomorrow, followed by a mass blockade in front of the main entrance to the base, followed by a cultural event with a party in the peace camp. (See https://www.ramstein-kampagne.eu/…/stopp-airbase-rastein-2…/

So what am I doing her, thousands of miles from home, when I could be protesting any number of injustices back in Richmond? Well, it’s because all these things are related. Like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.” That saying is featured on the front page of the current issue of The Virginia Defender.

Today the U.S. is openly at war in at least seven countries in the Middle East and Africa: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Libya and Somalia. It’s conducting covert wars in other countries, from the Philippines in Asia to Mali and Niger in West Africa. It carries out provocative military exercises on the very borders of Russia. All this is in the name if “national security,” although there are no Russian bases in Canada, no Chinese ships off the coast of San Francisco, no joint North Korean-Mexican maneuvers in the Gulf of Mexico.

And man, are these wars expensive! The U.S. military budget is larger than that of the next seven or eight countries combined, and that includes both China and Russia. Military spending sucks up half our federal tax dollars. (They tell us it’s only 25 percent, but the Defense Department budget doesn’t include nuclear weapons, which come under the Department of Energy; or care for the hundreds of thousands of veterans, which comes under the Veterans Administration; or interest payments on the national debt – largely the result of borrowing money to pay for past wars. Those payments are now nearly equal to the Defense Department budget.

So when they tell you there’s no money to fix Richmond’s decaying public schools, no money for more bus routes, no money to create public jobs at living wages and that we’re running out of money for Social Security and Medicare, please remember where half your federal tax dollars are going. For war.

I’ll be on the road here in Europe for the next couple of weeks, trying to learn as much as I can about the progressive movement here and how activists are addressing poverty, racism and war. I’ll post my reports here as often as I can.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to help support this work, please think about kicking in a little something for travel expenses.

You can do this at: unacpeace.org.

Until next time,

Phil Wilayto
Editor, The Virginia Defender
Member, UNAC Administrative Committee




The Wars Abroad Meet the War at Home

by Felton Davis of NYC Catholic Worker

Below is the announcement sent out by Isaac at Action Corps NYC, and a couple of the photo sets from Monday’s demonstration across from the United Nations.  It was a long twenty hours “in the system,” as the process from the precinct through the labyrinth of basement holding cells, to the courtroom at 100 Centre Street is known.  My vest photo of Nora Al-Awlaki was taken by the officers of the Strategic Response Group at the US Mission, and put into an envelope with my house keys, belt and shoelaces, then returned to me outside the courtroom.  The officers told me that unless someone showed up at court with my real ID, I would not be released or get any property back.

August 20, 2013

The guys in the holding cell, most from a drug sweep in Washington Heights, were among the rowdiest group of arrestees that I have ever had the privilege of doing time with.  Jumping up and down to stay warm, calling out to the correctional officers for toilet paper, smacking each other around, slamming down the pay phone trying to get through to friends and family, and last but not least, going around the cell to figure out who in their circle was going to get charged with what.  They assured me that the DA would not ask for bail in my case, whether or not I identified myself, but in fact, when we were all brought upstairs and into the courtroom, the DA did ask for $1000 bail, given my numerous open cases, and “extensive interstate contacts.”

A much more thorough discussion of the issues involved in present-day antiwar efforts took place in the holding cell than will ever take place in the courtroom, as I tried to explain the context for our demonstration for the suffering people of Yemen.  We’ve been at war — undeclared, unauthorized, whatever — for so many years, with so many countries, none of whom are a threat to us, that it has become a permanent condition, and takes a special effort to bring into awareness.  The guys had no disagreement with that, and as far as war constituting theft from urgent social needs, they cited numerous examples in their personal lives.

“You know how many of my neighbors I have had to rob on the street just so my kid will eat?”

I refrained from attempting to answer that question, instead offering the opinion that on the international scene, this robbery is having a devastating effect all throughout the Middle East, as nation after nation is targeted.  “People are going to hate us…

They already hate us!  You don’t know that?”  They shook their heads in bewilderment.

“Everything we got in this country is because it was stolen, and stolen by force!  Where the FUCK have you been?”

Twenty hours was not enough time for me to go through all the demonstrations over the years that have concluded with a trip to Central Booking, but I did explain to the guys that in the 1980’s, before some of them were born, there was no toilet in the men’s cell, and arrestees would have to pee on the floor in the corner.  Then I accidentally compared that little bit of progress with the abolition of slavery, and received another instantaneous verdict from the jury.

“Fuckin bullshit!  You think slavery was abolished?  You’re crazy!  Slavery was not abolished, it was just…”

The discussion continued in Spanish as the guys searched for the most accurate word for what happened to the institution of slavery.  And slowly (very slowly without caffeine), the day dawned and we were moved along through the labyrinth.  I told the legal aid attorney who I was, and the DA already seemed to know — probably from my fingerprints — and so there was no need to inquire whose “extensive interstate contacts” were under review, mine or John Does. The judge would not order bail, and so I was released on ROR, and scheduled for trial on Wednesday, January 17th.

#LetYemenLive Emergency Protests Break Out Across US

Monday the NYPD arrested 15 people for blocking entry to the US Mission to the United Nations, while others protested at the Saudi mission, the Saudi office in Los Angeles, and at the Hart Senate Offices in DC, all under the #LetYemenLive protest name. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, reported there was a demonstration in Houston, too. The demonstration in New York included approximately 50 people, while the one in DC included 15, and the one in LA 10. Those in DC sang Christmas carols with original lyrics to US Senators.

Friday the White House reiterated its call for humanitarian access in Yemen. As the world’s worst famine approaches, 19 organizations participated in the emergency protest at the UN Monday. Participants performed civil disobedience against the US-backed Saudi war, visually representing Yemeni children killed and orphaned from the war. They called for an end to humanitarian and commercial blockade against Yemen, and for a cease fire by all sides.

The Catholic Worker organized the NYC demonstration. Speakers included two-time presidential candidate David McReynolds, Kate Alexander from Peace Action New York State, and Carmen Trotta, of the Catholic Worker. Dr. Debbie Almontaser provided a statement that was read by a representative of Action Corps NYC. Supporting organizations include: Voices for Creative Nonviolence, World Beyond War, Code Pink, Pax Christi Metro NY, Peace Action New York State, NYC Raging Grannies, Kairos Community, KnowDrones.com, Action Corps NYC, Granny Peace Brigade, Uptown Progressive Action, Sander Hicks for Congress, Rise and Resist NY, Veterans For Peace – NYC Chapter 034, NYC War Resisters League, Women in Black Union Square, 15th Street Quakers Peace & Social Justice Committee, and World Can’t Wait.

Statement from Action Corps NYC:

“Time is running out for the people of Yemen, who are experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. With seven million people on the brink of starvation, the country will face the largest famine since WWII if Saudi Arabia continues the war and blockade. This blockade cuts access to much-needed medical supplies. Over half of healthcare facilities in the country are nonfunctional, worsening Yemen’s cholera outbreak with total cases possibly reaching one million by the end of this month. The US must use its influence to stop the blockade and must ultimately stop supporting the war.”




Gallery of Images from Hancock Resistance, 9/25/2017

Here is a gallery of images from “Rich Man’s War, Poor People’s Blood“, a civil resistance action by Upstate Drone Action at Hancock Air National Guard Base that resulted in 7 arrests on September 25, 2017.

Click on an image to see it enlarged in a frame.   The photographer’s name is highlighted on hover.   Right click on an image to see it full sized for download.   You can click through the framed images as a slideshow.




PR: Rich Man’s War; Poor People’s Blood (Update with Video)

UpstateDroneAction.org
Livestream on Youtube by Other Voices, Other Choices

Rich Man’s War; Poor People’s Blood

7 Arrested at Hancock Reaper Drone Base with Giant Bloody Dollars

Monday, 25 September 2017 at 9 AM, 7 members of the grassroots group Upstate Drone Action once again were arrested as they delivered a citizen’s war crime indictment to the chain of command at Hancock Air Force Base. Upstate Drone Action also placed a huge dollar sign [$] dripping with “blood” in the main entrance way to the base. The six-foot high dollar sign dramatizes what the group believes determines the many overseas wars the Pentagon/CIA engages in: corporate greed.

Hancock AFB — on East Molloy Rd, town of DeWitt, County of Onondaga, State of New York, just north of Syracuse – hosts the 174th Attack [sic] Wing of the NY National Guard. The 174th is one of two Reaper drone Attack Wings in New York State. Piloted from Hancock, the MQ9 Reaper drone is an unmanned, satellite-directed assassin flown over Afghanistan. CIA also uses such airborne robots for its clandestine, illegal, lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan and other majority-Islamic nations and oil lands.

According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to civilians from US Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, in that region.


Short review of events with interviews by John Amidon

According to Julienne Oldfield,

The Hancock Reaper terrorizes whole communities, generating desperate refugees.

Mark Scibilia-Carver adds that

U.S. taxpayers fund this terrorism keeping the pot boiling and creating enormous ill will toward the United States – instead of funding health, education and infrastructure here.”

Today’s action at Hancock’s main gate is simply one episode in Upstate Drone Action’s persistent nonviolent campaign to expose Reaper drone war crime. Since 2010 there have been some 200 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock in about a dozen such street theater actions. These have resulted in extreme bails, maximum fines, Orders of Protection, and incarcerations…as well as some acquittals.

Those arrested: Ann Tiffany, Syracuse …. Dan Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY …. Ed Kinane, Syracuse …. Harry Murray, Rochester …. Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse …. Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg, NY …. Rae Kramer, Syracuse ….

They were charged with Disorderly Conduct and Trespass, and released with Arraignment tickets.

###




Hancock Drones and Grass Roots Street Heat

Why Street Heat?

Back in the eighties when the U.S. anti-apartheid movement was at a boil, “Doonesbury” had a sequence satirizing the “activists” who spent all their time at their computers. At the time I thought those geeks were a pretty odd bunch.

Though I’ve yet to succumb to Facebook, etc., now as an activist I too have become computer-domesticated. I spend lots of time generating or responding to email or chasing after links. For better or worse, on-line is now one of my comfort zones. Maybe too comfortable.

Historically and currently, here and abroad, much, maybe most, necessary grassroots change only really begins when people join in solidarity and indignation in the “street.”

What is this thing we here in Central New York call “street heat”?

It’s a way of making it easy to start getting out into the street. It’s a way to get off our duffs, to break out of our cocoons — overcoming that seemingly deep hesitation about going public.

Since 2010 at 4:15 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of the month a handful of us have been going out to the main entrance of Hancock Air Base, the hunter/killer Reaper drone hub in our back yard, on East Molloy Road in the Syracuse suburb of DeWitt. There for 45 minutes we stand facing the traffic with our anti-militarism signs. This time slot is the civilian rush hour on East Molloy and shift change at the base.

From early November through the end of March, our cold and dark season, we’re only out there on first Tuesdays. That day has its macabre significance:  each Tuesday Mr. Obama and his advisors choose the targets for the next six months for drone assassination in the Islamic oil lands – assassinations which are immoral, illegal and, while tactically clever, are probably strategically stupid.

We place ourselves across the road from those Reaper drone robots remotely operated over Afghanistan by 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard based at Hancock.

We seek to prick the conscience of the Hancock personnel, cogs in Hancock’s criminal role in the war machine. We also seek to reach the public driving by. Our signs declare variously,

“DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE”

and

“BAN WEAPONIZED DRONES” and “STOP DRONE TERRORISM”

and

“U.S. OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST,”

etc.

Without our persistent presence week in, week out, year in, year out, it’s all too easy, given U.S. mainstream media, for folks to forget that the U.S. is engaged in perpetual war – a war not “on” terrorism, but “of” terrorism.  And it’s all too easy for airbase personnel, leading their classified, insulated, indoctrinated lives to forget they are part of a war machine.