Tag Archives: justice

Remember Afghan Drone Victims 11/29 at 3:30pm Outside Volk Field Gates

Please share the information, print  and hand out or share electronically.

drone murder handout Nov 2021

Dear Friends,
We acknowledge and mourn the Ahmadi family who were brutally killed by US drones in Afghanistan on August 29, 2021.
This family lost ten of their loved ones, including seven children, in what was called a “botched” attack by the US government.  This is a tragedy that happens all too often.  Over 90% of the people killed by US drones are not the ones who were targeted.  Hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost in these attacks, including so many children.
The international group, Ban Killer Drones, are calling for vigils and remembrences on November 29, marking the 3-month anniversary since the attack and murder of members of the Ahmadi family with the theme “Don’t Look Away”.
In Wisconsin, we will gather at Volk Field on Monday Nov. 29 at 3:30 for an hour vigil at the gates of the military base.  We will have signs that read “Don’t Look Away”, pictures of the Ahmadi children, and flyers to distribute (See attachment at top of page).
MAP  Volk Field from Google
We will NOT hold our usual Tuesday vigil in November.
 
If you cannot make it to Volk Field, please consider doing something in your community on November 29 or the two days preceding in the weekend before.  You could print out the flyer and distribute it (Attached below)..  If you let me know I can send you files with pictures of the children that you can print out and hold.  If nothing else, talking to friends and families about US drone warfare is important.
 

If you do something in your community, please take pictures and send to me along with a short narrative about what you did at joyfirst5@gmail.com 

 
We are all so caught up in so many things, but it is so important to remember that the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and other places, where the US continues to murder innocent  people with drones, have no voice and no power.  

WE MUST SPEAK OUT FOR THEM. 

 
Peace, Joy 

If you would ride along or follow me, please meet at Northport Mall [ 1865 Northport Dr] between 2 pm and 2:10 pm, area outside Willy St Co-Op – Brad Geyer 920.650.0052

 


 

Background

  1. NY Times: U.S. officials said a Reaper drone followed a car for hours and then fired based on evidence it was carrying explosives. But in-depth video analysis and interviews at the site cast doubt on that account.
  2. NPR: U.S. will provide condolence payments to families of Kabul drone strike victims
  3. Drones Group with Veterans for Peace
  4. Know Drones Website

Why Do Oligarchs Ignore United Nations Day? Victor Madeson

This newsletter, from Victor Madeson,  is based on United Nations Day.

 

The oligarchs didn’t want you to remember that today is the 73rd United Nations Day. They know that people united can never be defeated so their obvious strategy is to keep us divided. In 1945, after the horror of World War II, 50 governments gathered in San Francisco and began drafting the UN Charter, which was adopted 25 June and officially took effect on 24 October. In 1947 the UN General Assembly declared (UN Resolution 2782) 24 October as the anniversary date with the significant statement that UN Day “shall be devoted to making known to the people of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for its work”.

In 1971, the UN General Assembly recommended that it should be observed as a public holiday by UN member states to recall how countries came together to promote peace throughout the world after World War II.

Between 1988 and 2000, the number of UN Security Council peacekeeping efforts has more than doubled but a lack of U.S. support undermines its mission. For example, an 18 October 2021 Sanctions Review Report ordered by President Biden shows the US is intensifying its economic warfare despite the COVID Pandemic. This warfare is directed against 39 countries (a third of the world population) with secondary sanctions against more countries, some of which are US allies. Over half the UN members denounced this use of unilateral economic measures. Pope Francis appealed to “powerful countries to stop aggression, blockades and unilateral sanctions against any country anywhere on earth….” “No to neo-colonialism.”

The purpose of the UN is described in UN, UNDHR, Oligarchy (2021) 5p  with powerful illustrations to define the philosophy of oligarchy and its removal. The latter was made difficult by commencement of the Cold War but it’s not too late to start again. For example, changing the word “flag” to “Constitution” in the Pledge of Allegiance might be a good idea. That symbolic imposition was part of the same 1893 Chicago Exposition that honored the brutality of Columbus.


VETERANS:You should know that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides veterans hospital and outpatient care with “needed” services intended to promote, preserve, or restore health. The VA system has grown extensively to achieve this. Over 400,000 full-time healthcare professionals and support staff handle this need. They are spread across 170 VA medical centers, including 1,240 healthcare facilities. The VA has three main subdivisions; each headed by an Undersecretary:
1. Veterans Health Administration (VHA): responsible for providing health care in all its forms, as well as for biomedical research, Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), Regional Medical Centers (VAMC), and Readjustment Counseling Services (RCS);
2. Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA): responsible for initial veteran registration, eligibility determination, and 5 entitlement or benefit lines: Vocational Rehab & Employment, Education, Compensation & Pension, Home Loan Guarantee, and Insurance.
3. National Cemetery Administration: responsible for burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and family members. Most Lehigh Valley veterans use Outpatient Clinics under Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center (570-824-3521). Others within 65 miles of Allentown: Coatesville, Crescenz, Lebanon, Lyons.
If you haven’t kept up with what the VA offers, please download a copy of the Veterans Welcome Kit(Nov.2020, 42p). As of late July, the hard copy did not reach some local clinics. The blue folder is in two parts. The second part has 13 “Quick start” guides to VA benefits and services (2 pages each, ~Oct.2020): Apply for VA Healthcare (p.17); Mental-Health Services (p.19); Community Care (p.21); Accessing Urgent Care (p.23); Caregiver Support Program (p.25); Women-Veterans-Health Services (p.27); Vet-Center-Services (p.29); Services for 65+-veterans (p.31); Apply for Disability Rating (p.33); If You Disagree with VA decision (p.35); Apply for Survivor Benefits (p.37); Apply for Education Benefits (p.39); and Apply for Burials & Memorials (p.41). More Guides are on VA.gov website: Modernized Decision Review Process; Understand Food & Nutrition Services; Veteran State benefits/services; and Whole Health Services (VA.gov). The two bold Guides are benefits for veteran family members. Most VA clerks don’t know how to explain such benefits to veterans.
Simple challenge: go to a Vet Center/Clinic as if for first time, will you get a complete written description of VA services. If you do, could you quickly get someone to verbally provide an accurate explanation of relevant items?
Also (1) A veteran over age 64 can be presumed disabled and may be entitled to a Veterans Pension, but must apply (means-tested and won’t do much for veterans with household wealth, but could be a big deal for someone in poverty or at a nursing home).
(2) Consider getting Planning Your Legacy: VA Survivors and Burial Benefits Kit at >www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/docs/VASurvivorsKit.pdf< (2020, 68p). Veterans & wives can access 135 national cemeteries.
(3) Service connected disability claims are best handled through Veterans Service Organizations (VSO); see Q&A at: >https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46412<.
(4) During medical/behavioral health emergency, VA encourages veterans to seek immediate attention without checking with VA before calling ambulance. See VA FS 20-43 (Apr.2021, 1p),
For now, please share as you feel appropriate. Feedback welcomed.
With liberty and justice for all, 
Victor Madeson (7PA/134)
(VFW, VVA, DAV, TPF)

Our Hearts are Weary ~ September 11 Madison Action

MOBILIZATION AGAINST MILITARISM

Sept. 11, 2021

Downtown Madison Farmer’s Market

On Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, our hearts are weary after at least 20 years of the “forever wars” and skyrocketing Pentagon budgets.  So many innocent children, women, and men have been killed, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, and so many other places in the Middle East and Africa.  And we are no closer to bringing peace.  War WAS NOT the answer!


End the ever-increasing military profiteering

End the violations of human rights, natural rights and legal rights


8:00 am – noon:  FLY KITES, NOT DRONES Join us at King St. corner of the square. The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice table will have kites, leaflets, buttons, and other information.

10:00 am:   ALL ARE WELCOME AS WE gather for a rally outside Senator Baldwin’s office at 30 West Mifflin St. (near the State St. corner of the square).

Speakers include: 

Bonnie Block activist and rebel with Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Vicki Berenson, human being for peace and justice, WNPJ, Friends, Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin Coalition 

Allen Ruff, historian, concerned citizen and activist 

 

Senator Baldwin, stop voting for the War Machine, fund human needs, and lead us to a peace economy!

The U.S. government spends more on the military than the next top eleven countries combined.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program, one of the biggest boondoggles in military history, are looking to come to Madison.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

As we move closer and closer to ecocide, the military remains the biggest source of pollution on earth.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

Suicide, PTSD, and moral injury is a huge problem for our veterans who have been emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually damaged from our wars.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

Senator Tammy Baldwin, along with so many other Democrats and Republicans, does not represent our desire to bring an end to the “forever wars”.  We have no party for peace.  We only have a War Party!  Sen. Baldwin actively worked to bring the F-35s to Madison, she does not provide strong support for policies to make the world green, she backs economic policies that support militarism, and she continues to vote for the obscene military budget.

 

We have had enough of these crimes and injustice.   Senator Baldwin needs to be a strong leader for the people.  She needs to stand up to the War Party!

There will be a nonviolent civil resistance action in front of Baldwin’s office.  If you are interested or want more information, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

 

Sponsored by:  Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

If you would like your group to co-sponsor, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

Highlighting US government Drone Murder means trial for seven.

Update from Bob Graff (Nov 18, 2020)

Today Phi Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist and I were convicted of trespassing on the Volk field military base in Juneau County, Wisconsin on November 12, 2019.  The court procedure reminded me of the military training of soldiers, to kill reflexively without the use of conscience.

Volk Field is a training base for the RQ-7 shadow drones base.  These are small drones that set up the operation of Killer Drones and the killing by Apache Helicopters in the eight wars that the US is engaged in presently.    A statement we gave at the time when we entered the base is attached.

Five of the seven of us who entered the base, due to serious Covid 19 concerns were not present for the trial at Juneau County Courthouse.   Those not present had sent the judge statements of why they were not there and why they entered the base that day.  The Judge quickly dismissed their concerns and order them convicted of trespassing and they were fined.

The district attorney then presented the case against Phil and me.  He had two defense witnesses, a security chief for the base and a Sheriff’s deputy who had issued the trespassing citations.  He also showed on a large screen a body cam the deputy had taken of our arrest.

When it came to our testimony we were warned by the Judge that he would show some leeway but that he should stick to the issue of trespass as he narrowly defined it.  Both our testimonies were based on religious convictions of conscience.  Phil tried to bring in international law and testimony of others, including Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general of the USA.  Our testimonies were constantly interrupted by the Judge and considered not relevant.  We both got about ½ to ¾ of our testimony (attached below)

During our testimonies and after the Judge kept saying how he agreed with some of our values and convictions but they were not relevant to the trial.  This reminded me of my research on “reflexive killing” the practice of training a soldier to kill on instinct or, command orders without consideration for conscience.  Now I know why a panel of military command officers refused to consider a Catholic West Point’s ethic teacher’s plea to have them state that “reflexive killing was justified.  Despite the terrible toll this type of killing played on the minds of returning veterans they could not admit of the harm this practice played.  They just ignored it as we largely ignore the killing by drones in the eight US wars of today.  When Phil tried to state that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State” he was cut off.  The Judge said over and over again that he understood and sympathized with our views but that they had nothing to do, like reflexive killing with our trial.  Society, politicians and media ask us, like the Judge to separate our conscience from our action of killing on reflex or by drone.  We had just witnessed the court version of reflexive killing, Justice without conscience.  I pray for all drone operators, their victims and all of us who are silent to drone killing.

originally posted at WI Network for Peace and Justice

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Donate if you can to the “Support Food not Killer Drones” campaign – in care of the Juneau County Peace Committee.   

Support Food not Killer Drones – Juneau County

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 WISCONSIN JUDGE REFUSES TO DELAY NOVEMBER 16 TRIAL DUE TO COVID-19

November 10, 2020

In a letter dated November 2, 2020, Judge Stacey Smith of the Juneau County District Court in Mauston, Wisconsin, denied the motions made by seven antiwar activists to adjourn their trial scheduled for November 16.

The seven, Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, all of Wisconsin and Brian Terrell, of Iowa, had been arrested for trespass on November 12, 2019, in a protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone. 

Brian Terrell Interviewed by Rodger Routh – Nov 13, 2020

Bonnie Block Interviewed by Jonathan Zarov

Footage of the incident.

Since, the opposition to the atrocities of the Vietnam war crimes, the US government does its best to stop Americans from seeing the bodies of our dead victims.

Representing themselves in separate motions, the activists called Judge Smith’s attention to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that “COVID-19 is still spreading across our Wisconsin communities. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state,” and asked that the trial be postponed “until such a time as travel is considered safe.”

Denying the motions, Judge Smith dismissed the COVID -19 concerns of the defendants, all of whom are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, assuring them that the court’s response is “proactive,” and encourages washing of hands, mask wearing and social distancing.

Judge Smith took special exception to Brian Terrell’s request that he consider the fact that for him to come to court from his home in Iowa “would require two days of interstate travel” and so his “presence in the court on November 16 would put court personnel and my co-defendants, several of whom are at high risk on multiple factors, at increased danger of exposure to COVID-19.” “I don’t understand how it is relevant that Mr. Terrell lives in Iowa or any other state in the union,” wrote Judge Smith, “I treat everyone in a reasonable and fair manner, no matter where they live.” In a letter to Judge Smith, Terrell clarified that his concern is not about being treated unfairly. “For me to travel to Mauston, Wisconsin, from my home in Maloy, Iowa, I would be on trains and busses for over ten hours in close proximity to other passengers, strangers traveling from all points. I would be waiting in stations from up to a few hours to overnight, depending on unreliable connections before getting a bus to Madison,” he wrote.

A further request to have the trial via Zoom was also denied, and the different circumstances of each defendant has made their original intention of a unified trial impossible.

Defendant Bonnie Block, a retired attorney of Madison filed a motion on November 9 to dismiss her case, citing that on that day the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, the most of any day. “It appears clear the current methods of dealing with the virus in the Juneau County Courts (and elsewhere) are not sufficient. Rather appearing in person on 11/16 carries a great deal of risk for everyone.  And since I’m 79 years old, I am at even greater risk both of contracting COVID-19 and of it being fatal. Thus the refusal to postpone the trial until this pandemic is over, gives me an untenable and unconscionable choice to appear at the risk of possible death or to give up my constitutional right to a day in court… Because I have a responsibility to my husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as extended family, friends, and fellow citizens to do my bit to prevent further spread of this deadly virus; I cannot appear in Court on November 16, 2020.  And since the Court denied a postponement, I believe the only just solution is for the Court dismiss this matter.”

Joyce Ellwanger, of Milwaukee, does not intend to appear in court but is concerned that she would be barred from volunteering in Wisconsin prisons if she has outstanding court fees or a warrant. She is asking the judge to accept a written statement in hopes that it will be accepted in lieu of appearing and will pay a fine if found guilty. Brian Terrell has informed the judge “as a courtesy,” that he will not appear (“for me to appear in your court as ordered on November 16 would be an irresponsible act of reckless disregard for the public safety”) or make any motions. Joy First of Madison, Jim Murphy of Highland along with Bob Graf and Phil Runkel of Milwaukee intend to go to trial on November 16, as scheduled.

Citing the crowded court calendar and the fact that the case had already been postponed once, Judge Smith’s letter said, “I understand the times in which we live and you might be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’” He justified his refusal to delay the case any longer because “Justice that is untimely is no justice at all.” The defendants do not disagree that untimely justice is no justice at all, but they wonder when there will be justice for the many victims of drone wars, and that question draws them back to Volk Field.

Far from thinking “what’s the big deal?” the seven take their actions and the consequences with deadly seriousness. Catholic pastor Jim Murphy recognizes protests at other drone sites, “we need to carry our weight in Wisconsin and speak up-we have tried other options letters to three commanders, letters to US Senators with no response.” Bob Graf cites Martin Luther King, Jr, “Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation…” A statement from the group delivered to Volk Field on November 12, 2019, reads “We come because we mourn the children who have died from attacks by U.S. military drones. We remember these children, whose lives have been cut short while also remembering their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who continue to mourn the deaths of these beautiful children” and “We come because the personnel working with and training with the RQ-7 Shadow Drones at Volk Field are an integral part of and are complicit in the whole US drone warfare program.”

Judge Smith’s unreasonable dismissal of the COVID-19 health and safety concerns of the seven defendants along with the court’s blind eye to the crimes perpetrated at sites like Volk Field, are clearly occasions where acting with responsibility and with regard for the wellbeing of others comes into conflict with the law, when it is too narrowly understood.

 

The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars 

For more information contact:

Joy First  (608) 239-4327

Brian Terrell  (773) 853-1886  

 

“What difference does it make to the dead,

the orphans and the homeless,

whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism

or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

― Mahatma Gandhi 

More on Drone Warfare – National Bird

Drone documentary