Foreign Policy Activism Opportunities

  • #SaveSusiya via Jewish Voice For Peace ( @jvplive ) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Save Susiya.

    Susiya is a Palestinian village in Hebron Hills — part of the Occupied West Bank. Over the summer it was marked for imminent demolition by the Israeli army, which would have displaced 340 people. A campaign by Rebuilding Alliance and other groups lead to protests in the European Union and lead to Israel lifting the demolition date, but with violence continuing — over 2000 Palestinians have been injured since the beginning of October, the village is hardly safe from destruction.

    Just since the beginning of October, over 2000 Palestinians have been injured and 77 have been killed. Illegal settlements in the West Bank fuel the clashes. Prime Minister Netanyahu attempted to downplay the size of the illegal settlements at the Center For American Progress this week, saying that settlement construction has made up a tiny fraction of built up land — around one-tenth of one percent. The reality is that settlements technically cover one percent of the West Bank, but with ten percent of the West Bank included in what’s called the “municipal area,” around 40% of the land is off-limits to Palestinians with hundreds of kilometers of roads that further divide and destroy Palestinian territory.

    Jewish Voice for Peace — who’s mission includes seeking an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East — has a petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking John Kerry to pressure the Israeli government to prevent the destruction of Susiya and recognize the right of the Palestinian families who live there to plan their futures on the land they rightfully own.

    A recent Mic.com photo essay — "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” — shows why Jewish Voice for Peace and others have left up their campaigns in support of Susiya despite the threat of demolition being downgraded from imminent to “on hold.” The terrain that very young school children must navigate is overshadowed only by the threat of harassment and violence.

    It isn’t enough that the demolition equipment isn’t currently stationed at Susiya’s edge. When our government regularly reminds the world that we are “a friend to Israel,” the violence and human rights atrocities committed in the West Bank have our name on them. Sign the petition at JewishVoiceForPeace.org asking Secretary Kerry to step in. You can also follow the #EndTheOccupation hashtag to keep up on the latest not reported by our corporate media.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: Tell John Kerry to Defend Susiya! via Jewish Voice for Peace

    FOLLOW: #EndTheOccupation & #IsraeliIncitement

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN: "Free Political Refugees Hisham Shaban Ghalia and Mounis Hammouda From ICE custody” via Not1More

    Sources/further reading:

    5 Questions Prime Minister Netanyahu Should be Asked Today via Amnesty International

    "Families from threatened Palestinian villages Susiya and Um al-Kheir bring their stories to the US” at Mondoweiss

    "Israel, Don’t Level My Village” — Nasser Nawaja at The New York Times

    "16 Eye-Opening Photos Show What It's Like Going Back to School in Palestine and Israel” at Mic.com

    "Mapping the dead in latest Israeli-Palestinian violence”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #968 "The continuing quagmire of an apartheid state (Israel/Palestine)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget via @VFPNational — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Move the Money" - Reducing the Pentagon Budget.

    This month, Congress spends a significant amount of time on the military budget for the following year. They debate the National Defense Authorization Act — or NDAA — and lay the groundwork for foreign policy based on how much money can be spent where and on what.

    The National Priorities Project explains the NDAA and military budget process is super simple terms at NationalPriorities.org:

    • The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction.
    • Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent.
    • The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. 
    • The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    The NDAA is an authorization, not an appropriation; it gives the government the authority to spend money and sets policy direction. Drafts of the NDAA are not open and transparent. The current draft has Congress ignoring its own budget caps, allotting some $90 billion off the books to fund the supposedly over Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The NDAA has billions allocated for equipment the military says it doesn’t need or want and protects military contractors.

    Veterans For Peace is taking this opportunity to lobby Congress and engage those of us who would rather see our money invested in people and peace than war and destruction to let our representatives know we support a shift in policy.

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to get your representatives’ phone, address, and social media handles and let them know you support the Veterans For Peace priorities listed under the “Legislative Update” section of “Take Action” at VeteransForPeace.org.

    Budget change demands include: moving money from the military to urgent domestic needs like health, education, environment, and infrastructure; closing bases from wars waged in previous generations; reining in profits of Pentagon contractors; and auditing the Pentagon to eliminate waste.

    If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with Veterans for Peace, registration is open for their annual convention August 5-9 in San Diego, CA. You can’t miss the tab at VeteransForPeace.org.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Use ContactingTheCongress.org to tell your representatives to follow the Veterans For Peach plan to “Move the Money” & “Audit the Pentagon”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Register for the Veterans For Peace 30th Annual Convention, August 5-9

    Sources/further reading:

    "Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?” via CounterPunch<?p>

    "National Defense Authorization Act: Five Things You Should Know” via the National Priorities Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #931 "From rewriting wars to waging peace (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly via @KnowDrones - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Drone Pilots, Please Refuse to Fly.

    Drone news has been focused on domestic surveillance and potential delivery service methods for the past couple of years. Perhaps people are desensitized or unable to garner interest in violence against those overseas, or perhaps stopping a now routine military practice seems impossible.

    But drones are deadly and still in use under the Obama administration. According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, about 6,000 people have been killed by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Of that 6,000, 230 are estimated to be children.

    Since John McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee is busying itself trying to keep the 122 remaining prisoners at Guantanamo from being released and the Commander in Chief seems unwilling to curb the use of drones, military veterans have teamed up with the organization Know Drones to appeal directly to the pilots who fly them.

    Graphic 15-second ads depicting the drone operations video screen, an explosion, civilians searching through rubble after the drone attack, and images of children killed were produced and paid for by KnowDrones.com and members of Veterans For Peace, Sacramento. The voice over says, "Drone pilots, please refuse to fly.”

    Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones, explained the purpose of the ads and why they are calling for help to continue airing them: "We produced this spot to make the point as powerfully as possible that drone killing is horrifying, illegal and immoral. The President and the Congress refuse to respect law and morality and stop US drone attacks, so we are asking the people who are bear the burden of doing the actual killing to put a stop to it.”

    You can support the KnowDrones effort by visiting their website — KnowDrones.com — and donating and/or sharing the ads on your networks. Their campaign is being distributed to local cable companies and networks through coordination with activist social justice ad agency Information in the Public Interest, so a $25 donation can buy a spot on CNN and as little as $50 a spot on MSNBC.

    It’s time the public engaged with this issue as drone killings are done in our name by our government with our tax dollars. If more veterans and enlisted military can be encouraged to speak out and supported as they do, drawing in people across political parties and affiliations will be easier and could help make this a campaign issue next year.

    Support "Show the Real Truth to United States TV Audiences" via KnowDrones and Veterans For Peace, Sacramento

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign: "Guantanamo Forever? Tell John McCain: No.” via Amnesty International

    Sources/further reading:

    "Military Veterans Sponsor TV Commercials in California Condemning U.S. Drone Attacks” via DailyKosM

    "Pakistan Is Investigating a CIA Official Accused of Murder After a US Drone Strike” by Jason Leopold at Vice News

    "John McCain: The Most Hypocritical, Opportunistic and Untrustworthy Senator” by Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #918 "War is a racket (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Prosecute #Torture via @ACLU - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prosecute Torture.

    I know. It seems like this topic wouldn’t require any activism. Why would we ever need to demand that the Department of Justice seek…well…justice? Apparently, for all the reasons covered in today’s show and all the reasons you already knew and all the reasons that don’t even surprise us now that more than a decade has gone by since our government lied to our faces to obtain support for an illegal war.

    We already knew about the torture; but now the government has spent three years and $40 million, finally proving the thing we knew — that the CIA understood torture isn’t an effective information gathering tool, but encouraged its use anyway. And it doesn’t appear it took much for our elected officials at the time to be convinced. The report also makes clear once and for all that the illegal and torturous actions carried out in the name of patriotism did not help locate Osama bin Laden or thwart any terrorist plots. They were, in fact, counterproductive. Just don’t tell that to Dick Cheney — his robot heart might not be able to take it.

    Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept and Marcy Wheeler at EmptyWheel.com do solid break downs of the report, how it came about, the worst things in it and other details to stoke your rage should you be into digging deeper.

    The ACLU told the following to The Intercept:

    “Even though we previously knew many details about the torture program, the brutality this landmark report documents is breathtaking...The release of this report is a call to action for the Justice Department, Congress, and the White House. We cannot make a clean break from this nation’s history of state-sanctioned torture without accountability for the terrible human rights violations committed in our name.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Visit ACLU.org and click on the impossible to miss "No Free Pass For Torture” action to sign the petition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor — as is not only his right, but his duty as the highest law enforcement official in the country. As the petition states: "Accountability for torture today is critical for stopping it tomorrow” — and, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have any of this happen again.

    Also — as it is the holidays — we’re bringing you a positive torture related action via the ACLU. Not everyone who was commanded to use the “enhanced interrogation techniques” followed orders. There were dissenters among our public officials and our military rank and file. Some prosecutors resigned rather than bring cases founded on coerced evidence. Others, like the Navy’s general counsel Alberto J. Mora, stayed and led an effort to end the practices which he argued to his superiors were ineffective and unlawful.

    Still others endured ridicule and bullying by their bosses for daring to question what they were told was their job and patriotic duty. Lt. Col. Darrel Vandevelde was placed under house arrest for refusing to participate in torture. Please sign the ACLU petition titled "Honor Those Who Said No To Torture” asking the president to “formally honor the members of the military, the CIA and other public servants who — when our nation went off course — stayed true to our most fundamental ideals.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    Write, email, and call (202-353-1555) the Department of Justice to demand the prosecution of those who ordered and orchestrated torture

    SIGN the ACLU petition: No Free Pass For Torture

    Additional Activism:

    SIGN the ACLU petition demanding the president Honor Those Who Said No To Torture

    Sources/further reading:

    "Why a Criminal Investigation is Necessary” — The ACLU statement on the Senate Torture Report

    "Civil Rights Groups Call for Prosecution of Torture Architects” by Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept

    "SSCI Torture Report Key: They Knew It was Torture, Knew It Was Illegal” via empty wheel

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #884 "One of our Blackest Marks (The Torture Report)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones via @KnowDrones and @VFPNational

    The United States is at war. Again. Still. Always? At this point, no matter what our elected officials are calling the insurgent groups, the rhetoric certainly sounds familiar. Even FoxNews has stated more than once that President Obama is sounding a lot like George W. Bush.

    With Congress off campaigning for the midterms, there’s no direct action linked to funding or supporting military action in Iraq and Syria — other than the always encouraged action of calling your reps to tell them you’ll be considering their position on continuing intervention on November 4th.

    You can, however, stand united with a world community in opposition to the president’s primary tool for intervention in the “war on terror” which now includes ISIS/ISIL. October 4th is the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance & Killing, organized by “Know Drones” and supported by Veterans for Peace and Code Pink.

    Actions are planned in the US, England, South Korea, Germany, India, and Canada just to name a few. You can find the event in your area at KnowDrones.com and if you are planning one where you live, you can submit it to the calendar by email via Anastasia@CodePink.org.

    If you glaze over at the use of the word “drone” because it’s part of punchlines about Amazon, the Olympics and our overreaching surveillance state, I urge you to read the story of Brandon Bryant as told to GQ a year ago. The article “Confessions of a Drone Warrior” is candid, emotional and cuts through the clinical rhetoric used by news outlets and on the floor of Congress.

    The article itself describes why Bryant’s bravery in coming forward is so important:

    "Since its inception, the drone program has been largely hidden, its operational details gathered piecemeal from heavily redacted classified reports or stage-managed media tours by military public-affairs flacks. Bryant is one of very few people with firsthand experience as an operator who has been willing to talk openly, to describe his experience from the inside.”

    Bryant’s description of the moments after his first fired shot is chilling:

    "The smoke clears, and there’s pieces of the two guys around the crater. And there’s this guy over here, and he’s missing his right leg above his knee. He’s holding it, and he’s rolling around, and the blood is squirting out of his leg, and it’s hitting the ground, and it’s hot. His blood is hot. But when it hits the ground, it starts to cool off; the pool cools fast. It took him a long time to die. I just watched him. I watched him become the same color as the ground he was lying on.”

    Drones kill. That’s their purpose. The rhetoric out of the White House and Congress that we “aren’t sending troops” or that we're “just providing tactical air support" shouldn’t comfort those concerned about ending war and supporting peace. Get involved. Make your voice heard. Stand with Veterans For Peace and Know Drones.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Find the event near you: Global Action Day Calendar

    Submit your event to Anastasia of CODEPINK via anastasia@codepink.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "Veterans Group in Response to President Obama’s Plan to Confront ISIL Says They are Disappointed But Not Surprised” via Veterans For Peace

    ”Veterans For Peace: Six Steps Short of War to Confront ISIL”

    ""Ban Weaponized Drones!": Anti-Drone Movement Spreads in Europe” via Truthout

    "Confessions of a Drone Warrior” by Matthew Power at GQ

    "Race is on to perfect solar-powered drones” by Hiawatha Bray at The Boston Globe

    "Domestic Drones” via ACLU National

    "Warrant for Drones Veto Was the Wrong Decision” via ACLU of Northern California

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #864 "The definition of insanity (Foreign Policy)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich