Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pray for Burma

Just received this today via email from Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene:
The demonstrations inside Burma have escalated into a full-scale nonviolent Gandhian revolution.

Yesterday 200,000 monks, civilians, and students marched through the capital city of Rangoon, calling for human rights and democracy. The day before, they forced through barriers on the street outside Aung San Suu Kyi's house to go and visit her. She stepped outside for a brief conversation and it was the first time she can been seen in 4 years. Our colleagues inside Burma tell us that she looked fit and healthy. I am attaching a photo here of her -- you can see her in the middle with yellow shirt clasping her hands together.

When the monks approached her, she started crying as she was overwhelmed by their courage and bravery.

Yesterday, inspired by the strong support from Hollywood actors and actresses, several of Burma's most prominent actors joined the protests and offered alms to the marching monks, a highly symbolic and important show of support.

We have been briefing journalists virtually 24 hours a day as they cover the situation. Tonight we are going on CNN and BBC World. There are over 2,500 news articles on Burma right now -- the #1 story in the world.

Journalists are calling this the "Saffron Revolution", noting the color of the monks robes.

Ominous news is that the regime is shaving heads of some of its soldiers so they can pose as monks and these "monks" can incite military soldiers into a crackdown.

Just amazing to see the power of the human spirit.

Jack and Jeremy

Monday, September 24, 2007

Citizens Against War Crimes

Just received this via email...interesting that all the news coverage of the last sitting day of parliament was centred around the childish bickering of politicians, with no mention of this...
Media Release: (Thursday 20 September 2007; Canberra)

Iraqi deaths due to US invasion - 1,051,145 (Just Foreign Policy, & The Lancel - UK medical journal) "We had to destroy the country in order to save it."

Citizens Arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock, & Brendan Nelson as War Criminals.

"Point of order Mister Speaker: I have a Warrant for the arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock, & Brendan Nelson as War Criminals."

Yesterday in Federal Parliament at Question Time, an anti-war activist confronted the Government with a formal Citizens Arrest Warrant, charging them with various breaches of international law. (see Warrant below)

Peter McGregor, a retired academic from Newcastle, was himself then arrested, & charged with 'unlawful entry on inclosed lands' & taken into custody. McGregor was calling for the Speaker of the House of Representatives to have the police arrest the 4 Ministers. "Just the Howard Government's abandoning of Habeas Corpus should make it a social pariah, especially with those who believe in the rule of law & human rights. Instead of people like me, the Pine Gap 4, the Talisman Sabre Peace Convergence, Rising Tide, Greenpeace, etc. resorting to acts of civil disobedience, it would be preferable if groups like Amnesty, councils for civil liberties, university law faculties, etc. practiced what they preached, and brought formal legal charges against the Howard Government for its War Crimes." "In order for evil to triumph, it is enough for good people to do nothing."

No date has been set for the trial, but McGregor will be pleading not guilty.

Contact: Peter McGregor - mcgregorpeter@yahoo.com.au & 49293587
Warrant for the Citizens Arrest of John Howard, Alexander Downer, Philip Ruddock, & Brendan Nelson: John Howard, Prime Minister; Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Philip Ruddock, Attorney-General; & Brendan Nelson, Minister for Defence are hereby charged, to be trial by the International Criminal Court, with:

(1) Planning, preparing, initiation or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances - VI (i) Nuremburg Principles

(2) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for accomplishment of the above - V (ii) Nuremburg Principles

(3) Participating in the use of cluster bombs in contravention of the AUSTRALIAN MINES CONVENTION ACT, 1998

(4) Participating in the use of weapons of mass destruction in breach of the GENEVA Convention including Fuel Air Explosives which cause death by asphyxiation

(5) Conspiring to pervert the course of justice by
(i) abandoning habeas corpus both in the domestic 'anti-terror' laws & in international policy; &
(ii) covering up or defending the use of torture & over breaches of the GENEVA Convention, the International Covenant for Civil & Political Rights, & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, against Australian – and other - citizens, at Guantanamo Bay

(6) Failing in its duty to protect Australian citizens overseas, & conspiring to continue the illegal detention of Australian citizens without trial or changes for over 5 years

(7) Demonizing and incarcerating asylum seekers under the policies of mandatory detention and fortress Australia. Such policies contravene the legal principle of habeus corpus and have induced undue suffering and mental illness for detainees.

Dated this Wednesday 19th September, 2007.

Signature(s): Peter McGregor: (mcgregorpeter [at] yahoo.com.au)

Issued & authorized by Citizens against War Crimes

Friday, September 21, 2007


Skydiving in pictures...

The view from the sky over Torquay...magnificent day, about 20 degrees, no clouds and no wind.

This was the hardest part. Not because it was scary, it was just totally counterintuitive to get out of a moving plane. Plus when you're going at several hundred kilometres an hour there's a whole lot of wind going past.

Woo! Nothing but excitement!

Falling away from the plane as quickly as possible...

Freefalling at 220 kph...

Not the most attractive look, but hey, it's pretty hard to avoid.

The magnificent view - surprisingly enough, I was able to enjoy it while falling.

Under the parachute - had a go of steering. No wind meant the landing was very fast, and not particularly pretty.

Back safely on the ground.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Guilty! Of trying to see our Senator

So this is John's statement after his trial...
by Rev. John Dear

CommonDreams.org September 9, 2007

On Thursday, September 6th, 2007, six of us were found guilty in Federal court in Albuquerque, NM by a Federal judge for trying to visit the office of our senator. We will be sentenced in a few weeks. The message? It is a Federal crime to attempt to speak to an elected Republican about the U.S. war on Iraq. Don’t visit your senator. Don’t get involved. Don’t speak out. Don’t take a stand for peace–or you too may end up in jail.

It all started one year ago, on September 26, 2006, when nine of us entered the Federal Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and tried to take the elevator to the third floor to the office of Senator Pete Domenici to present him with a copy of the “Declaration of Peace,” a national petition campaign aimed at stopping the U.S. war on Iraq, bringing our troops home, and pursuing nonviolent alternatives and reparations. Over three hundred seventy five similar actions took place across the nation that week.

The Senator‘s office manager came downstairs, said she would only allow three of us upstairs, and after forty five minutes of waiting and negotiations, we nine just decided to go upstairs, figuring we had a right as group of constituents to deliver our petition to the Senator’s office.

As we stepped onto the elevator, a policeman put his foot in the door, and the next thing we knew, the power was turned off. So there we stayed–for some six hours. At one point, a police officer brought over a chair for one elderly member of our group who uses metal crutches. It seemed the officer was inviting us to make ourselves at home. He even said he supported our anti-war stand.

By the end of that memorable day, with over twenty police officers, SWAT teams, and FBI officials standing in the lobby, the Homeland Security director told us we had the choice to be arrested, jailed and tried, or cited and tried. He never gave us a warning, never told us to leave, never read us our rights. We took the citations, and for the past year, have been in and out of court, waiting to testify about our attempt to visit the Senator’s office.

The prosecution would hear none of it. As far as the prosecutor was concerned, we went there to disrupt the Federal Building and shut down the elevator. He seemed to think we liked being in an elevator. He, of course, had been a marine for decades, and now commands a national guard unit, and was just back two days before the trial from directing military operations in Colorado Springs. He called the police and the senator’s assistant to testify against us. They said we had plenty of warning, said we threatened to do a sit in, and said we disrupted the government’s office work.

Then it was our turn. One by one we took the stand–Philip, Michella, Sansi, Ellie, Bud and me. Our excellent pro bono lawyers, Todd Hotchkiss and Penni Adrian, asked us why we went to the Federal Building and what happened. We each testified that we intended to bring a copy of the “Declaration of Peace” statement to the senator’s office, in the hope that it could be faxed to him, that he would sign it, and that he would work to stop this evil war.

During my testimony, I was asked about the lists of names I brought with me that day. I had printed out the name of every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, and some ten thousand Iraqi civilians killed, and said I thought they would help remind us why we were there, that perhaps we might leave them with the Senator’s staff. The judge interrupted me and asked if I carried those names around with me all the time. While unfortunately it’s now all too common for many of us to spend our time at demonstrations reading the names of the dead, I held back from saying, “Yes, don’t you? Don’t you care about the U.S. soldiers who’ve been killed, and the countless, innocent Iraqi civilians killed?” Instead, I said I always carried with me information about the war and how to stop it.

It was a grueling, exhausting eight hour day. At the end, the judge returned with his verdict but then launched into a speech explaining why he believed the police and the senator’s staff person, and not us, particularly, not me. He said the fact that I carried with me the names of every U.S. soldier killed and some ten thousand Iraqi civilians killed proved I intended to be there a long time, and shut down business in the Federal Building. He basically called us all liars, and defended the government’s evil war.

I’m not so sure that on the day one year ago I did intend to shut the Federal Building down, as noble a nonviolent act that might be in such times. Only a few months before, I brought a group to meet with Governor Bill Richardson, and he received us warmly, and let me speak for twenty minutes about why he should work to end the war on Iraq, disarm Los Alamos and abolish our nuclear weapons, and end the death penalty in New Mexico. I didn’t rule out the possibility that in fact Domenici’s staff might be willing to hear us. In the end, however, the police themselves disrupted business as usual. They turned off the elevator. They shut down the Federal Building. They prevented us from visiting our elected representative’s office.

So what do we learn from this experience? What is the message from Federal Court in New Mexico? I suppose it’s this: Anyone who dares visit their Republican senator to speak against this evil war is liable of a Federal crime. Don’t presume you have any rights in this so-called democracy. Those days are over.

The judge said he would sentence us within thirty days, so there’s more to come. He asked each of us to submit a statement to him. We face 30 days in jail and a $5000 fine, which I certainly won’t pay.

Meanwhile, the real crime continues, and the real criminals get away with mass murder, with the crucial, full backing of our courts. The war goes on, the killings go on, and the lives of our sisters and brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere are shattered. Our government, in its race to become a global empire, has sunk to all new levels of corruption, lying, repression, and old fashioned hubris. Our task is permanent nonviolent resistance against the culture of war, nonviolence as a way of life, full-time non-cooperation with violence, war, and empire.

All things considered, then, it’s a great blessing to be found guilty of speaking out against this evil war. I hope more and more people will write their senators and congress people, especially Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and demand that they end this war; that more and more people will sign up at www.declarationofpeace.org and keep building the movement against this war; that more and more people will march for peace, vigil for peace, organize for peace, agitate for peace, speak out for peace, fast for peace, cross the line for peace, pray for peace, and find themselves guilty of pursuing a new world without war.

In such times as these, there may be no greater blessing.

articulate graffiti

hmm...yes, indeed

Thursday, September 06, 2007

JD faces court...again

Thinking of my good friend John Dear as he faces court on September 6 in New Mexico for a nonviolent action he did last year with 8 others, when along with about 380 other groups around the US, they went to visit their local member. They brought a letter requesting that he agree to work to end the Iraq war, and were stopped in the elevator by security, who held them there for 7 hours. They spent the time reading the names of the Iraqi dead. Because of John's record, he faces one or two months in prison - for going to visit his local member! It's unbelievable what they won't allow in the US now in terms of dissent, and all this APEC stuff is making me realise it's happening here too. It's a kairos time in terms of political dissent in the West - we must hold our own, supporting one another, or we risk losing further civil liberties and freedoms we've previously taken for granted.

So uphold John in your thoughts and prayers, please. He's a remarkable man of peace.

More info here.

The wisdom of Peter Maurin

"The world would be better off
if people tried to become better,
and people would become better
if they stopped trying to become better off.
For when everyone tries to become better off
nobody is better off.
But when everyone tries to become better
everyone is better off."

- Co-founder of Catholic Worker movement

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Check this out...

This video shows three police in Montreal pretending to be 'black block' anarchists at a nonviolent action and how they are uncovered and exposed (with rock in hand!).

Great response and excellent leadership as a union leader stands up to them and defuses the situation, isolating them from the rest of the group and clearly marking them out until they become exposed as agents provocateur. It's blown up on the national news in Canada.

It's been talked about for years that police do this to incite riots - and everyone knows it happens all the time, but it's incredibly hard to prove unless you can isolate them like this and get some kind of proof.

Samuel Hill 5

No, it's not the latest boy band, it's that group otherwise known as the 'Shoalwater' or 'Frisbee 5'. I've just created a website for our little group, so we can all put our musings and news in one central place to direct people to, so head on over there and check it out...there's not much there now but we're all going to add our stuff as things happen.