It is Your Duty to Refuse: Former Army Rangers Write to U.S. Troops

Central Americans seeking asylum status

To All Active Duty Soldiers:

Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern US border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the US are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country’s elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Unless your ancestors are native to this land, your family members came to the US to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

US is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America’s wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.

By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to “defend” the US from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.

In solidarity,

Rory Fanning
Former US Army Ranger, War-Resister

Spenser Rapone
Former US Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister

 

Published in The Nation, November 2, 20018
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RORY FANNING AND SPENSER RAPONE

 

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Driving the Narcos out

 MINT PRESS NEWS

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CHERAN, MEXICO (Report) — On the road leading into this hardscrabble town in Mexico’s southwest corner, there stands a checkpoint staffed by heavily-armed guards, clad ominously in balaclavas, or ski masks. This scene is not particularly unusual for this violence-plagued country, but Cheran is no ordinary place: seven years ago this month, the mostly indigenous townspeople here grew tired of watching the loggers illegally cut down their trees, and frustrated with the extortion rackets run by the organized-crime cartels, and angry at the politicians who did nothing to protect them or the forest that is central to the local timber economy.

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And so the denizens of this community tucked away in the state of Michoacán evicted the bootleg loggers and the mobsters who hired them; they kicked out the police department and the mayor and the city council and the prosecutors and the judges and they decided to do it all themselves.

The gendarmes patrolling the city’s borders are, in fact, civilians.

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Cheran is no utopia, but virtually everyone here says they feel happier and safer with the new autonomous arrangement that is reminiscent of the Paris Commune, the radical workers’ movement that governed the City of Lights for two months in the spring of 1871 before authorities and industrialists managed to regain control.

“Little by little, people have realized that this new system is the most suitable for us … now we take care of each other,” David Ramos Guerrero, a local resident, told MintPress News.

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Easy pickings for the cartels, until . . 

Surrounded by lush forests, Cheran is about 200 miles west of Mexico City. Its population of roughly 16,000 is predominantly from the indigenous Purepecha community, who squeeze out a meager living from agriculture — corn, oats, beans, wheat, potatoes, apples, apricots, pears and plums — and timber. The Mexican cartels typically associated with the illicit drug trade want a cut of any lucrative commercial enterprise, and for years the talamontes, or illegal loggers working on behalf of the ruthless La Familia mob, had toppled the trees — by one estimate, they had destroyed half of the 59,000 acres of forest — surrounding the community, hauling them off with impunity, and ultimately jeopardizing Cheran’s water supply.

 

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The townspeople’s complaints to their representatives at City Hall repeatedly fell on deaf ears until finally, the women hatched a plan. On the morning of April 15, 2011, dozens of women gathered at the Roman Catholic Chapel of the Calvary at the town’s edge and waited. As the trucks passed hauling their illegal bounty, the signal was given, and the women, armed only with fireworks and rocks and white-hot indignation, attacked, driving out the loggers armed with AK-47s.

 

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On Sunday, April 15, thousands turned out for a ceremony to celebrate the insurrection set in motion on that day in 2011. “That was the moment that the community, tired of the pilfering of our forest, tired of being manipulated by organized crime and the government, decided to rise up in struggle,” David Ramos Guerrero told MintPress News.

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Beloved of Allah: the Most Beautiful Man

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When Ali refused the draft, I felt something greater than pride: I felt as though my honor as a black boy had been defended, my honor as a human being… The day he refused, I cried in my room. I cried for him and for myself, for my future and for his, for all our black possibilities.

Gerald Early

 

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With the Nation of Islam, listening to the Prophet Elijah Muhammed

 

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With his friend, Minister Malcolm X

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.… If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”   April, 1967

 

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“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”   March 30 1967

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“In your struggle for freedom, justice and equality I am with you. I came back to Louisville because I could not remain silent while my own people, many I grew up with, many I went to school with, many my blood relatives, were being beaten, stomped and kicked in the streets simply because they want freedom, and justice and equality in housing.”

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“Here was the heavyweight champion, a magic man, taking his fight out of the ring into the arena of politics and standing firm. The message was sent.”

Sonia Sanchez

 

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“I’m king of the world! I’m pretty! I’m a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!”

 

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He shook up the world.

!Berta Caceres Vive!

“ In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water, and from corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet… Let us wake up! We’re out of time. WE must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. Our Mother Earth – militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated – demands that we take action.” 

Berta Caceres

 

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Berta Cáceres, a prominent leader in the Indigenous movement in Honduras against one of Central America’s largest hydropower projects, four enormous dams known as “Agua Zarca” in the Gualcarque river basin, was murdered in her sleep last week.

Gunmen burst through her door and shot her to death in an internationally-recognized political assassination.

 

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The Indigenous group Cáceres founded, Civil Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has so far been successful in preventing the project from moving forward.

Throughout Honduras,  deep grief and outrage have driven thousands to the streets, and numerous nations have called upon the Honduran government and the United States for justice.

Hondurans vow that Berta’s death will not be in vain.

!Que nuestros corazones ser lo más valerosa como el suyo! Nunca le olvidaremos, Berta!

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“After the military /U.S./CIA/ coup, Berta Caceres knew they could kill her at any time- and would. Nobody would have blamed her if she went into exile – but nobody then, or now can 
imagine Berta leaving a fight, and she dug in her heels and stayed and fought for her people and justice and the planet.”
 
 
Paul Seimering

 

WHEN EVERYONE’S A FASCIST, NO ONE’S A FASCIST

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BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

Social media in recent years has been increasingly punctuated by accusations of “fascist!” and “Nazi!”, hurled back and forth with remarkable recklessness. Considering that we can’t define Republicanism (big R) or “middle-class”, its clear that as a nation, we’ve never had much of a political vocabulary to begin with.

Americans also don’t have a clear sense of history, and this lack becomes frighteningly important the more we toss historically vital connections around as if they are up for grabs. This is particularly true of Russia.

Neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union were/are fascist states, although the USSR came close under Stalin. The USSR’s most historically significant connection to facism is the 50 million lives it lost defending the Eastern Front (by itself) against real fascists during World War Two.

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Above: Real Nazis

The other Allies began planning to betray the Russians well before the victory that would not have possible without them – and every agreement made with the USSR was broken soon after the war’s end.

Trump is not a fascist either. He is an unfettered capitalist, representing an economic system directly responsible for many of the world’s bloodiest, most repressive dictatorships. Let’s not obscure the nature of capitalism by labeling it’s crimes and champions fascist.

Fascism is a specific political ideology with its own history and body of theory. It has maintained itself as such since its development in 1920s Italy, periodically emerging during periods of crisis. Because the current global crisis represents an ideal climate for fascism’s development, it’s crucial that we stop throwing the word around. If every oppressive voice/interest is fascist, the term will lose its meaning – just when the need to recognize real fascism is more acute than it has been since the only real Nazis were defeated in 1945.

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  Mussolini reviewing troops

 

The Beautiful Struggle: Cuba’s Other Revolution

 

Those who received news of the beginning

galaxies, the vast emptiness,

today are fossil light. beautiful paradoxes.

Severo Sarduy

 

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The moon that traveled with Cyrano de Bergerac;

the moon Quevedo clapped within a fine and bloody epitaph;

Lorca’s moon with its bustle of tuberoses, sinking into the forge; the haiku moon, unable to compete with a river rock’s

false gleaming. These moons are dearer and more familiar
than that lone moon hanging, solitary and perfect, like some invention of the night.

Carlos Pintado

 

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vive Gay

I wish to leave the world by its natural door;

In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.

Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.

Jose Marti

       

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One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes –
some days guessing at the weather of our lives,

Some days giving thanks for a love that loves you back.

We head home: through the plum blush of dusk, but always—home, always under one sky.

And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop.
At every window, all of us facing  stars.
Hope: a new constellation, waiting for us to map it,

Ricardo Blanco

 

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Let us leave that heraldry,

water and thirst, tender and light, body and shroud.

Severo Sarduy

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Looks like you can teach an old …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A teacher writes about Harriet Tubman

BY Paul Siemering, Cambridge, Massachusetts

 Harriet Tubman launched her spectacular career when she was only thirteen years old. A fellow slave was tied to a post and getting whipped. As was the custom in those days, the other enslaved people were forced to watch this torture. But Harriet, young as she was, could not tolerate such cruelty. She ran to the victim and quickly untied him. The overseer who had been doing the whipping was furious. He picked up the first projectile he could find and threw it at the slave. But he hit Harriet on the head. She dropped to the ground, and her mother took her back to the cabin.

Harriet was in a coma for 3 days. Her recovery was slow but she did regain her strength. However she was left with a brain trauma that caused her at any time, without warning, to fall unconscious.  This problem lasted the rest of her life. When these episodes happened, there was nothing anyone could do but wait until she came to.
A few years later, Harriet decided to make a run for freedom on the Underground Railway with two brothers. The boys became frightened and turned back, but Harriet continued on until she reached the North.
It wasn’t long, though, before Harriet returned to the South to free other enslaved people. Freedom was considered an unforgivable crime by the slave owners. Bounty hunters with blood hounds made a profitable living catching freedom fighters, so any escape attempt was fraught with great danger. Because Harriet was a superhero though, she had to keep going back to free more slaves. You may see pictures of her carrying a gun. She always told every group she took that if they wanted their freedom, she would guide them North. But once they joined her, she explained, they must remain or she would shoot them: anyone who tried to run back endangered the whole group.
 
Harriet Tubman made many trips as a conductor on the Underground Railway and never lost a passenger. After awhile She developed quite a reputation among the slave “owners”. They raised $40,000 of reward money for anyone who could catch her.
Nobody could!
Making all those trips, risking her own life over and over again – all this knowing that at any given moment of these journeys she could pass out- is more than enough to qualify as a superhero by any standards.
You can look through anybody’s history, anytime, anywhere.
But you’ll never find anyone as brave and tenacious as Harriet Tubman.
Paul Siemering taught in the Boston public schools for 30 years, then volunteered for 20 years longer. Now in his 80s and living in what may well be the last commune left in Cambridge, Paul’s posts are written for people of all ages. I met him when I was 12, going on 13, and he has been my friend ever since.
Follow him on Facebook if you want a good online friend.

Vowing ‘Merciless Response’ France Bombs Raqqa

A French fighter jet prepares to launch from an airbase in the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

As the French government launches a major retaliatory bombing campaign against the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa, observers warn that President François Hollande is taking a page from the widely discredited playbook of former American President George W. Bush.

“France is at war,” Hollande declared Monday in an address to Parliament, in which he called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the series of attacks Friday in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

The statement came just hours after France—assisted by the United States—launched its largest-yet bombing campaign against Raqqa, which is home to an estimated 200,000 people. The French Defense Ministry said its aircraft dropped 20 bombs on what it described as military targets. However, the Syrian organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which documents the brutality of ISIS, reported that France has also bombed a soccer stadium, hospital, museum, and government building.

“The French air strikes are targeting a crowded, large city,” said Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams. “The fact that ISIS has claimed it as its capital does not change the fact that this is a city of ordinary people. It is hard to imagine that there can be this kind of heavy duty bombing and not have significant casualties and destruction of the city.”

Raqqa residents have already endured bombings by the U.S., Russian, Syrian, and French air forces, as well as the brutality of the Islamic State. Khaled al-Homsi, a Palmyra-based activist and nephew of the Syrian archaeologist Khalid al-Asaad who was beheaded by ISIS in August, turned to social media to call for the protection of civilians.

Hollande’s government has been bombing territories in Iraq since September 2014, and over the past two months has launched a handful of airstrikes in Syria, including a smaller attack in Raqqa on October. But Sunday night’s bombing appears to be France’s most extensive yet since it joined the U.S.-led coalition.

Both U.S. and French officials said that American forces backed Sunday’s attack by helping them identify alleged targets, in what are euphemistically referred to as “strike packages.” Meanwhile, President Barack Obama appears to be encouraging France to take military action, vowing cooperation and calling the Paris massacre an “attack on the civilized world.”

ISIS is claiming responsibility for Friday’s attacks in Paris, as well as for another deadly bombing of a Beirut neighborhood that killed at least 43 people. And in Baghdad on Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least 18 people at a funeral, with no immediate claim of responsibility.

In the wake of the Paris attack, Hollande vowed to be “merciless” in going after those responsible. “What happened last night in Paris, and in Saint Denis by the Stade de France, is an act of war,” he said on Saturday. “France, because it was attacked cowardly, shamelessly, violently, France will be merciless against the barbarians of Daesh.”

However, numerous experts, including Vijay Prashad, a professor of international studies at Trinity College, say this kind of rhetoric—and the escalation it threatens—is incredibly dangerous.

“There is a call to do ‘something’ and there is a need to be ‘strong’—otherwise one will lose electoral support,” Prashad told Common Dreams. “But this something and this strong are clichés—in that, the same action is taken each time, namely bombing runs against some part of the world.”

“We all know that these bombing runs, over the past fifteen years, have not been able to undermine the forces of al-Qaeda and later ISIS, but they have created instability which advantages ISIS, and—because of civilian casualties—given ISIS the kind of propaganda coup it requires to attract new recruits,” Prashad continued.

Bennis agreed, warning: “The French seem to be channeling George W. Bush in how to respond to terrorists, taking the position that this is an act of war, and we will have ‘merciless’ war. But terrorism survives wars.”

Many within French civil society are sounding the alarm, including the social movement organization Attac.

“‘France is at war,’ we are told,” the group declared in a statement released Sunday. “But this is not our war: after the American disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current French interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mali, Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, contribute to destabilizing these regions and trigger the departure of migrants who face Fortress Europe and whose bodies are washed up on our beaches.”

Living like a warrior: Aztec boy defends the Earth

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Xiuhtezcatl is mobilizing youth in 25 countries to demand greener policies from our world’s leaders.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s father raised him in the Aztec tradition. From an early age he learned that throwing a water bottle in a river will impact your community, those downstream and eventually have a global impact. He is fighting for people to think twice about how they interact with the world.

At 14, Xiuhtezcatl is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a non-profit environmental organization that is committed to protecting the water, air, Earth and atmosphere. To reach young people, Xiuhtezcatl and his younger brother Itzcuauhtli started an eco-hip-hop duo in the namesake of their non-profit, “Earth Guardians.”

“The earth has been here long before us, and it will continue to be here long after we’ve been wiped out”, said Xiuhtezcatl. “The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet. The planet doesn’t need saving. We do.”

Xiuhtezcatl has spoken twice at major United Nation’s forums. President Obama awarded him the Youth Change Maker of the Year Award and he is a member of the Presidential Youth Council to advise the president on youth views and policy.

You can find him in Showtime’s “Year of Living Dangerously” series, and HBO produced a music video for his song “Be The Change.”

Xiuhtezcatl summer schedule includes an Arctic expedition with National Geographic to study glacial recession and a meeting with the former prime minister of the Netherlands.

He is mobilizing youth in 25 countries to demand greener policies from our world’s leaders. He was able to convince the city of Boulder to remove pesticides from its parks, institute a fee for plastic bags and contain coal ash. He is also working to ban fracking in his home state, which includes lawsuits against the state of Colorado.

Xiuhtezcatl and his army of teenagers are pushing for policy change around the world. He believes that just because kids can’t vote does not mean they can’t make a difference in the world.

Establishing a sense of civic engagement in pre-voters breeds empowerment. If kids behind the Earth Guardian movement can push massive change before the legal voting age of 18, imagine the possibilities for society at large.

Alhough Xiuhtezcatl  hasn’t even begun to think about college, the future of his grandchildren is in the forefront of his mind.

You can sign his brother Itzcuauhtli’s pledge to be a climate leader, which the boys plan to deliver with a million signatures to world leaders at the Climate Paris Talks in December.