INDEX (full text of stories follow Democracy Now headlines)
from Ted Rall’s Rallblog by Ted Rall
- NATO Bombs Libyan Home, Killing Nine Civilians, Including Two Babies
- Obama Rejects Senior Legal Advice to Continue Libya War Without Congressional Authorization
- Gates Acknowledges U.S. in Preliminary Talks with Taliban
- Iraq Claims U.S. Lost $18.7 Billion, Tripling Initial Reports
- U.S. Drilling Companies Stand to Earn Billions in Iraq Oil Deals
- U.S. Mayors Set to Approve Resolution Calling for End to Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
- Nebraska Nuclear Plants on Alert Following Missouri River Flooding
- Federal Regulators Work Closely with Nuclear Power Industry to Weaken Standards
- Spain: Tens of Thousands March to Protest Unemployment, Failing Economy
- Saudi Arabian Women Drive in Protest of Government Ban
- Syria President Vows Dialogue While Blaming Uprising on “Saboteurs”
- Pakistan: Drone Strike Kills Seven amid Protests
- Pakistani Journalist Beaten by Suspected Intelligence Officers
- Investigation Opens on Bush-Era Attempts to Discredit Iraq War Critic, Professor Juan Cole
- New York Man Killed by Toxic Debris Added to List of Official 9/11 Deaths
- Former Guatemala Military Official Arrested for Involvement in Hundreds of Mass Killings
- U.N. Passes Historic Resolution Endorsing Rights of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender People
- Southwest Wildfires Continue to Burn, John McCain Blames Undocumented Immigrants
- British Peace Activist Brian Haw Dies at 62
The New York Times recently broke the story that President Obama rejected the views of top administration lawyers when he decided he had the legal authority to continue U.S. military participation in the war in Libya without congressional authorization. Obama continues to face congressional opposition to the ongoing Libya attack. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has called on the White House to further clarify the legal basis for the war in Libya or face a cutoff of war funds. Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers filed a lawsuit accusing President Obama of violating the War Powers Act of 1973. To examine the legal dimensions of U.S. military intervention, we speak with Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com. “The idea that presidents can start wars on their own, without any congressional authorization, violates not just the law but the Constitution,” Greenwald said. “In theory, when the president violates the law and the Constitution, that’s an impeachable offense. At the same time, we’ve set a very low standard for our tolerance of rampant presidential law breaking.” [includes rush transcript]
Clarence is at it again, and by “it” I mean getting found out for taking decades-long money and gifts from the deeply conservative Texan, Harlan Crow. According to the New York Times headline:
Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics
As opposed to baseball, I suppose.
So let’s look. The Times (my emphasis):
Mr. Crow stepped in to finance the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the cannery [the dilapidated place where Thomas’s mother worked, in the town that calls itself the birthplace of Justice Clarence Thomas], featuring a museum about the culture and history of Pin Point that has become a pet project of Justice Thomas’s.
The project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation’s highest court.
The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas.
According to Think Progress:
[Harlan] Crow has donated nearly $5 million to Republican candidates and conservative organizations, including $100,000 to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth[.]
Think Progress then goes on to catalog the seemingly endless list of ethical lines that Thomas has crossed. These include:
- ■ Attending “
- intended to fund the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks and media outlets”, and ■ Numerous edits of his wife’s income statements from thank-god-for-forgetfulness claims of no income with claims of over
- (skip down to the timeline).
That’s not the end.
And to answer the question on your lips, Yes, Congress can impeach Supreme Court justices (my emphasis):
A Supreme Court Justice may be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office if convicted in a Senate trial, but only for the same types of offenses that would trigger impeachment proceedings for any other government official under Articles I and II of the Constitution.
Article III, Section 1 states that judges of Article III courts shall hold their offices “during good behavior.” “The phrase “good behavior” has been interpreted by the courts to equate to the same level of seriousness ‘high crimes and misdemeanors” encompasses.
In addition, any federal judge may prosecuted in the criminal courts for criminal activity.
In practice, only one Justice, Samuel Chase, has been impeached, and that in 1804 (the Senate acquitted him in 1805). From Answers.com and WikiAnswers (my emphasis):
Only one Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Chase (one of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence), has ever been impeached. The House of Representatives accused Chase of letting his Federalist political leanings affect his rulings, and served him with eight articles of impeachment in late 1804. The Senate acquitted him of all charges in 1805, establishing the right of the judiciary to independent opinion. Chase continued on the Court until his death in June 1811.
As you can imagine, that’s a tough nut to crack. Maybe the criminal court is a better bet. Keep digging, folks.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) resigned Thursday after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others said the scandal he created by sending lewd photographs of himself over Twitter had caused a distraction to Democrats preparing for the 2012 election. “He was forced out of office over—it wasn’t even rising to the level of a sex scandal,” says our guest, Salon.com political blogger Glenn Greenwald. “The Democratic leadership … all acted to force him out of office. And yet, throughout the Bush years, when you had torture and illegal eavesdropping and the war in Iraq, that left hundreds of thousands dead, Nancy Pelosi said impeachment is off the table.” [includes rush transcript]
Notice the similarities between the attacks in the UK and the US. When these regulations are stripped, take a guess who wins? Surely not the general population. In both cases, they’re using the economic crisis as an excuse to scrap even more regulations. How about focusing on actual jobs creation? The Guardian:
The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, has attacked his Conservative colleagues in government as “rightwing ideologues” and “deregulation zealots” for placing environmental regulations on a list of red tape to be considered for scrapping.
In comments made at the weekend to a conference of social democrats in his party, Huhne made it clear he is opposed to environmental protection laws such as the Climate Change Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the National Parks Act being included in the government’s review of regulations in force in the UK.
His views are thought to reflect a range of opinion within Liberal Democrats in government. A source close to Huhne said he was supported by the business secretary, Vince Cable, and Lib Dem ministers were braced to do battle over hundreds of regulations they believe their Tory colleagues will be inclined to discard. The move is part of a Lib Dem strategy to fight their corner more aggressively that has been evident in the party leadership’s successful opposition to the NHS changes.
|Russ Feingold speaks (I was far away, the seats were actually packed)|
We’re back from the Netroots Nation progressive blog conference.
2,400 people attended this year, and there was a really good vibe to the conference. Last year folks were pretty dejected, at least it felt that way to many of us, but this year people were back in form. Not necessarily planning to bust their butts for the President’s reelection, but at least with a renewed vigor for politics, and that’s good. I’ll be writing more about the conference as I get my life back in order today – the dog was not pleased that I left her with the neighbors for 5 days (though she had a good time forcing them to play ball every 2 hours (apparently I didn’t tell them about that part)).
MinnPost on the conference, and the mood about the Obama re-elect:
Don Utter, a retiree from Columbus, Ohio, traveled to Minnesota to attend Netroots. But Utter, who is politically active in his community, said he won’t work for Obama because the president left his progressive ideals at the door as he walked into the White House.
When asked if he’ll help Obama 2012, Utter responded with an abrupt, “No.”
“I’m so disappointed with Obama,” he said. “He brought the same ‘Banksters’ in, he’s attacking civil liberties …”
Adam Green, a cofounder of the PCCC, agreed. He said his mother — who traveled to campaign for Obama in 2008 — won’t do so for 2012 because Obama hasn’t enacted many of the policies he ran on.
“I can’t in good faith lie to people again,” Green said she told him.
Earlier this month, the FBI served a subpoena on David House, one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped publicize the oppressive conditions of Manning’s solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Corps Base. U.S. Army Private Manning has been imprisoned without charges for his alleged role in releasing classified U.S. documents to the online whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. House testified before a grand jury last week investigating WikiLeaks and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com says if House and other witnesses are offered immunity, they will no longer be able to invoke this right and may refuse to cooperate with the grand jury, risking jail time rather than aid the investigation. [includes rush transcript]
from AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth by Joe Sudbay (DC)
This is just breaking. Not a surprise that this Supreme Court would side with Wal-Mart, but, surprised it was unanimous:
The Supreme Court has ruled for Wal-Mart in its fight to block a massive sex discrimination lawsuit on behalf of women who work there.
The court ruled unanimously Monday that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cannot proceed as a class action, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The lawsuit could have involved up to 1.6 million women, with Wal-Mart facing potentially billions of dollars in damages.
Who really needs facts when you’re busy smearing immigrants? Facts just get in the way.
A U.S. Forest Service official said today there is no evidence that illegal immigrants started some of the wildfires in Arizona, as Sen. John McCain had claimed.
Tom Berglund, spokesman for the federal group managing the Wallow fire that McCain toured Saturday, said the cause of the fire has been determined as “human,” specifically an “escaped campfire,” meaning the campfire sparked beyond the confines of the rocks containing it.
Two “subjects of interest” have been spoken to, but as of now, no suspect has been named, Berglund said. When asked if there is substantial evidence that some fires were caused by illegal immigrants, as McCain said at a news conference Saturday, Berglund said: “Absolutely not, at this level.”
President Obama, who says he’s “evolving” on gay marriage, now reportedly won’t evolve quickly enough to come out in favor of marriage equality at this week’s big gay/trans (aka LGBT) fundraiser.
As Joe writes on AMERICAblog Gay: Evolve already.
As an aside, I’ve noticed a number of recent news reports failing to give Joe credit for being the person who asked Obama about gay marriage, and got the President to admit that his attitude towards the issue is evolving:
“I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine.
It might be nice to give credit where credit is due.”
This week, New York may become the sixth and most populous state to legalize gay marriage. Supporters of LGBT rights say the significance of such a large state joining Utah and four New England states could help turn the tide on the issue. “It would be a huge historic day for equality,” notes our guest, openly gay Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald. But he says it would not convince him to return to live in New York because the federal government will continue to deny benefits, even to legally married couples in these states, as a result of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which remains in effect. [includes rush transcript]
A statement from the National Organization for Women:
Supreme Court to Women of Wal-Mart: You’re on Your Own
June 20, 2011
Today, a Supreme Court majority ruled against women by siding with the country’s largest employment discriminator, saying Wal-Mart, essentially, is too big to sue. The brave women, led by Betty Dukes, who stood up to Wal-Mart at great personal sacrifice, are told simply they’re on their own.
“With this decision, the Supreme Court has assisted Wal-Mart in its efforts to systematically dole out promotions and pay raises on the basis of sex. The law calls that illegal discrimination, but this Court has turned its back on the more than million women who only sought simple justice,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “The women of Wal-Mart deserve respect and fair treatment, and we will continue to stand up for their rights.”
In 2002, NOW declared Wal-Mart a “Merchant of Shame” as part of its Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign. NOW chapters have led countless community demonstrations at Wal-Mart stores around the country to educate shoppers about Wal-Mart’s exploitation of its women employees.
Today, NOW demands an immediate legislative response to help the women of Wal-Mart. We call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide more effective remedies to victims of sex-based wage discrimination. This bill passed in the House in January 2009, but ultimately was defeated in the Senate.
“The gap between women’s and men’s pay is still sizeable, which is why it’s so important to get this legislation passed,” stated O’Neill. “We will continue supporting the efforts of Senators Mikulski, Cantwell, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Stabenow and others to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and hold accountable those who stand in the way of this sensible remedial bill.”
A legislative remedy is only part of the solution, however. NOW also calls on Wal-Mart to end its unconscionable resistance to employees’ efforts to form unions and bargain collectively over pay, benefits and other conditions of employment. Research demonstrates that unionized women workers earn better wages and have better benefits than their non-union counterparts. In fact, women in unions earn 11.2 percent more or $2.00 more per hour than non-union women workers. And the gender wage gap is smaller in unionized workplaces.
“The benefits of being unionized are significant,” said O’Neill. “Women workers can gain a voice through a union that they could never have individually, ultimately making Wal-Mart a better place to work for everyone.”
For Krugman we’re well beyone that point — we’ve blown way past Weinerville on the road to regular hookups (my phrasing, of course; the Professor is more professional).
What you see isn’t a recovering economy that may be stumbling; you see an economy that has stopped its free fall, but hasn’t really been recovering at all.
With “austerity” the word on every Beltway lip, we’ll be lucky if that lower line doesn’t fall further.
from World War 4 Report blogs by Bill Weinberg
We noted years ago when the Kyoto Protocol was pending that right-wing entities like the Competitive Enterprise Institute were pushing the line that climate change is inevitable and that the correct response it to “adapt to it.” Since then, a hubristic agenda for what its advocates call “geo-engineering” has emerged. Environmentalists have dismissed the notion as a “dangerous distraction” or even as counter-productive. Now it appears that this agenda may be winning some sympathy in high places From AFP, June 18 (links added):
Tim DeChristopher is scheduled to be sentenced in a Salt Lake City courtroom by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on July 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for fraudulently bidding in December 2008 on parcels of land, including areas around eastern Utah’s national parks, which were being sold off by the Bush administration to the oil and natural gas industry. As Bidder No. 70, he drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen other parcels for $1.8 million. The government is asking Judge Benson to send DeChristopher to prison for four and a half years.
His prosecution is evidence that our moral order has been turned upside down. The bankers and swindlers who trashed the global economy and wiped out some $40 trillion in wealth amass obscene amounts of money, much of it provided by taxpayers. They do not go to jail. Regulatory agencies, compliant to the demands of corporations, refuse to impede the destruction unleashed by the coal, oil and natural gas companies as they turn the planet into a hothouse of pollutants, poisoned water, fouled air and contaminated soil in the frenzied quest for greater and greater profits. Those who manage and make fortunes from pre-emptive wars, embrace torture, carry out extrajudicial assassinations, deny habeas corpus and run up the largest deficits in human history are feted as patriots. But when a courageous citizen such as DeChristopher peacefully derails the corporate and governmental destruction of the ecosystem, he is sent to jail.
“The rules are written by those who profit from the status quo,” DeChristopher said when I reached him by phone this weekend in Minneapolis. “If we want to change that status quo we have to step outside of those rules. We have to put pressure on those within the political system to choose one side or another.”
DeChristopher, whose defense is being assisted by the website Peaceful Uprising, knew the government would be auctioning off public land in a sale in Salt Lake City, where he had gone to college. He knew it was wrong. He knew he had to do something. But he did not know what. So he did what all of us should begin to do. He showed up.
“I went there with the intention of standing in the way of the auction,” he told me. “I had no idea what that would look like. I thought I might give a speech or yell something. It was right after the guy threw a shoe at Bush. That was on my mind. I went there and at the front desk they said, ‘Would you like to be a bidder?’ I said, ‘Yes, I would.’ I was still thinking when I signed up, ‘OK, I’ll sign up to be a bidder so I can get inside and make a speech.’ It wasn’t until I got inside the auction room that I saw I had a huge opportunity to stand in the way of the auction. I had been preparing myself over the course of 2008 in a general way to take that level of action. I had been building up that commitment. I was looking for the opportunity at that point. I was ready to capitalize on it. I had prepared myself for it.”
But what he had not prepared himself for was the way the justice system would be stacked against him. It became clear during the selection of the jury that he did not stand a chance. As the prospective jurors entered the court, activists handed them a pamphlet printed by the Fully Informed Jury Association. It said that jurors had a right to come to any decision based on the evidence and their consciences.
“When the judge and the prosecutor found that out, the prosecutor, especially, flipped his shit,” DeChristopher said. “He insisted that the judge tell the jurors that this information was not true. The judge pulled most of the jurors in[to] the chambers and questioned them one at a time. He talked about what was in the pamphlet. He said that regardless of what the pamphlet said it was not their job to decide if this is right or wrong, but to listen to what he said was the law and follow that even if they thought it was morally unjust. They were not allowed to use [their] conscience. They were told they would be violating their oath if they decided this on conscience rather than the evidence that he told them to listen to. I was sitting in that chamber and could see one person after another accept this notion. I could see it in their faces, that they had to do what they were told even if they thought it was morally unjust. That is a scary thing to witness in another human being. I saw it in one person after another brought in the courtroom, sitting at the end of a long table in front of the paternalistic figure of [the] judge with all the majesty around him. They accepted it. They did not question it. It gave me a really good understanding of how some of the great human atrocities happened with the consent of the population, that people can accept what is happening, that it is not their job to question whether any of this is right or wrong.”
As the trial began, the judge refused to let DeChristopher’s defense team inform the jury that the auction was later overturned and declared illegal. The judge also refused to let the defense team inform the jury that DeChristopher had raised the money for the initial payment and offered it to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which then refused to accept it.
“We weren’t able to tell the jury either of those things,” he said. “They never knew that the auction was overturned. They never knew I offered the BLM the money. They were told over and over by the judge they were not allowed to use their conscience. When the verdict came it was not a surprise.”
“When our Founding Fathers created the jury system they called it the best defense against legislative tyranny,” he said. “They expected that if the government was passing laws that were out of line with the values of the community, then people would break those laws and take their case before a jury of their peers who would decide whether or not that person’s actions were justified. That was the system our country was founded upon. That shifted radically as the role of the jury has been minimized in our criminal justice system. Juries are no longer given the opportunity to weigh all the factors of a case and are specifically told they are not allowed to use their conscience. It is not their job to decide if things are right or wrong. This is a drastic departure from the system that was originally created in this country.”
When I asked DeChristopher why he did not work within the system, perhaps by backing a progressive Democrat, he answered that “if there was such a thing I might consider it.”
“I don’t see anyone in our political system advocating for significant change,” he said. “I haven’t ignored the political system. I paid attention when the Waxman-Markey[cap and trade] bill was being debated. I saw that there was a Republican amendment that if energy prices in any region of the country ever go up by more than 10 percent the whole bill is null and void. In other words, if the survival of our children ever costs more than about $300 a year per household, we are going to stop and give up. Both sides debated for over an hour whether it would or not ever cost $300. But there was no one who ever stood up and said maybe the cost was worth it, maybe that was too low a price to put on the heads of your children, maybe it was immoral to put any price on the heads of our children. There was no one standing up and addressing the severity of climate change.”
DeChristopher helped organize a grass-roots campaign in an unsuccessful effort to unseat five-term U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah.
“I saw after the experience with the Waxman-Markey bill that our Blue Dog Democratsin Utah had to go,” he said. He worked for candidate Claudia Wright in a campaign that split the delegate vote and forced a runoff primary.
“There is value in working within the democratic system, but first we need to create a democratic system,” he said. “When we ran Claudia Wright it started with a Craig’s List ‘help wanted’ ad for a ‘Courageous Congressperson.’ We pulled together a panel of longtime activists who were well respected in Utah representing various issues, from environmental issues to peace and justice to LGBT rights, labor, immigration rights and health care. That panel held public interviews at the Salt Lake City Library with all the people who had applied to the Craig’s List ad. Everybody from the district was invited and got to vote in instant runoff voting. That is how we came up with that candidate. We started from scratch.”
“If we were going to have a democracy, what would it look like? That was one experiment,” he said. “Craig’s List is probably not the ultimate answer. But we started from the acknowledgement that if we want to work within the democratic process we had to build it first.”
DeChristopher, who is 29, admits he was “cautiously optimistic” during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“I saw that nothing Obama was saying was actually good enough in terms of the climate crisis,” he said. “There was a faint hope in me that perhaps he was saying what he needed to say to get elected and then he would turn out to actually be a progressive.”
He heard Naomi Klein give a talk shortly before the election. She told her listeners that if Barack Obama was a centrist and the center was not good enough to defend our survival then our job was to move the center.
“That resonated with me,” DeChristopher said. “That was where my thinking at the time was. We as a movement had to move the center. That is another reason I turned to civil disobedience. I was looking to do something beyond what was considered acceptable to shift those boundaries, to create more space where people could be more aggressive without being on the radical edge.”
“The chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said what we do in the next two or three years will determine our future, and he said that in 2007 and we didn’t do anything,” he said. “A lot of folks like Jim Hansenadmit it off the record, but won’t say it publicly, that it is actually too late for any amount of emission reductions to prevent some sort of collapse of our industrial civilization. That certainly doesn’t mean all is lost. It means we are in a position where we are definitely going to be navigating the most intense period of change humanity has ever seen. What that means for us is that it really matters who is in charge during that intense period of change. It means that things are going to be desperate.”
“Generally in desperate times those in power do desperate things to hold on to their power in the name of order and security,” he went on. “That is when things have gotten really ugly in the localized examples of collapse that we have in history, whether they were economically induced as in Germany in the 1930s or environmentally induced as in Darfur. Rather than an opportunity for mass reflection, which it could be, where we could say we had this coming because of fundamental flaws in the way we structured our society, that maybe greed and competition were not the best values to base everything off of, rather than doing that, it is much more common in those historical examples to say, ‘Oh, it was because of those people.’ A class of people was scapegoated. The powerful said, ‘Those are the people who are causing our problems and if we take it out on them we can maintain order and security for the rest of us.’ That is when things get really ugly and dehumanizing.”
“We are starting to see hints of that already with the rather minor ripples that we have been having in the past few years with the economic situation,” he said. “Rather than admit the fundamental flaws, many of those in power have said, ‘Oh, it is because of those immigrants that are taking people’s jobs, or those Arabs, or those unions, whoever the scapegoat is, to try and vilify someone. What we are on track for are much larger ripples than we have had in the past couple years with the economic problems. If we go into that collapse with our current power structure and a world run by corporations, where we have ignorant and apathetic people who are afraid of their own government and think their job is to do what they are told, even if they think it is immoral, that is when things can get really ugly. If we go into that collapse with an awakened and educated population that views it as their role to create the society they want and hold their government accountable then we have the opportunity, whatever hardships we might face, to actually build a better world on the ashes of this one.”
“Our strategies must be to not only change our energy system and food system, but to change our power structures,” he said. “We shouldn’t be looking for the big corporations running the show to become a little greener and cleaner. We should be overthrowing those corporations running our government. Our job as a movement is not just to reduce emissions; while we still need to do that, we also have this other challenge of maintaining our humanity through whatever challenges lie ahead. This is much more abstract and foreign to this movement.”
“Civil disobedience puts us in a vulnerable position,” DeChristopher said. “It puts us in a position where we are refusing to be obedient to injustice. Civil disobedience puts us in a position where we are making a risk and possibly making a sacrifice to stand up against that injustice. It also puts us in a position where with that vulnerability we see how much we need other people. This is something I have experienced over the past few years as people have come out of nowhere to support me, to make actions more powerful and to help me personally get through this experience and grow from it. Appreciating these connections is one of the most important parts of resiliency. A lot of the unwillingness to take bold action is coming from a disempowerment that comes from a lack of connection. When we view ourselves as isolated individuals it does not make sense to stand up to a big powerful institution like a big corporation or big government. It is not until we gain the understanding that we are part of something much bigger that we feel empowered to take those necessary actions. This is a self-reinforcing cycle. The more we stick our neck out the more connected we become and the more empowered we become to do it again.”
DeChristopher, who attends a Unitarian church in Salt Lake City, comes out of the religious left. This left, defined by Christian anarchists such as Dorothy Day, Philip Berrigan and his brother Father Daniel Berrigan, as well as Dr. Martin Luther King, takes a moral stance not because it is always effective but because it is right, because to live the moral life means that there is no alternative. This life demands a commitment to justice no matter how bleak the future appears. And what sustains DeChristopher is what sustained the religious radicals who went before him—faith.
“The connection to a religious community for me is a big part of the empowerment,” he said. “From talking with a lot of the old Freedom Riders and other folks in the civil rights movement, it was in the church community that people found the strength and the faith that, no matter what happened to them when they sat at that lunch counter or got on that bus, there would be another wave of people coming behind them to take their place and another wave behind that and behind that. And that is part of what is missing from the progressive community today. Part of my belief system is an appreciation of our connectedness to the natural world, the interconnected web of life of which I am a part. I am not an isolated individual, and this understanding is what empowers me, but also in a more direct way in that I am connected to the church community who I knew would support me. Sitting in that auction when I was deciding to do this I was thinking about whether anyone would support me. The people I knew would have my back were in the church. That helped drive me to action.”
And because of that he understands that any resistance can never succumb to the temptation of violence.
“Violence is the realm our current power structure is really good at,” he said. “They are eager to play that game. Any opportunity we give them [to use violence], they will win. That is the game they win at. The history of social movements in this country shows that we are far more powerful with nonviolent civil disobedience than we are with what our audience considers to be violence.”
“Once our actions are deemed to be violent then that justifies repressive tactics on the part of the government,” he said. “With a nonviolent movement we are still inviting a strong reaction from the government or ruling authorities. We are inviting a powerful reaction against ourselves. But it undermines the moral legitimacy of our current government. That is the path we need to pursue. Rather than reinforcing their legitimacy we need to undermine their legitimacy.”
Chris Hedges is a weekly Truthdig columnist and a fellow at The Nation Institute. His newest book is “The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.”
Illustration by Mr. Fish
In general, if someone is trying to sell you something worthy, it’s worth substituting the word ‘bollocks’ for the word ’sustainable’. This is particularly true when it comes to tourism. In South Africa, for instance, sustainable tourism is the experience of driving across land that once used to belong to black people, on which they are now less welcome than the giraffes you’re there to see. When activists try to step out of this kind of ugliness by putting ourselves at the disposal of local social movements when travelling, we invariably cause more harm than good, diverting scarce resources to the tasks of babysitting, and chaperoning while shopping.
Which is why I like call for attendance from the comrades at the Bangladesh Krishok Federation. They’re a movement of farmers whose livelihoods, whose very lives, are under threat from climate change. So when they ask you to jump on a plane to visit, they’ve likely got a good reason. And they’re inviting all and sundry to join their 20 day “Climate, gender, food sovereignty caravan” in Bangladesh in November. Not only do they want you to return filled with outrage, but your participation will fund the attendance two other regional participants. Find out more here. It promises to be three weeks from which you’ll return transformed. And, for $75 more, they’ll even take you shopping.
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.
Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.
The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the United States.