Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Questioning “Winning The Drone War”.

In International, Interpretive Editorial, Military on May 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

“Is the US winning the drone war?”  Doyle McManus poses this question in his  April 30 Post-Standard syndicated column.  It’s a question every U.S. taxpayer and policy maker might ask.

But let’s first define the terms.

What do we mean by “war”? There was a time when war was declared, and mutually visible forces clashed. A time when war entailed risk, sacrifice, and courage. A time when war might entail ideals.

What does it mean to “win” a war? That we get the greater body count? That we demolish the most cities? That we terrorize more of their citizens? That we get to maintain or install their puppet government? That we grab precious resources (oil!) or control more markets, pipe lines, trade routes or cheap labor? That our war machine creates more – otherwise unnecessary and toxic — jobs? That our corporations pile up even more outlandish profit?

There was a time, not so long ago, when winning a war meant foiling the invader, the conqueror, the imperialist, the bully. It meant defending our shores. It meant winning hearts and minds and securing the peace. There was a time when war wasn’t so conveniently “global” or “perpetual.”

McManus tells us drones are “precise,” but fails to resolve the paradox of how it happens that drones incinerate and dismember so many civilians and non-combatants. And he fails to note the hundreds of thousands of tribal people in Afghanistan and Pakistan forced to flee their homes and villages, dreading sudden death from the skies.

McManus tells us that in this drone war, “There’s a lot to like about lethal drones….” But goes on, “as long as you’re the owner, not the target.” Exactly. Not so astutely he claims the lethal drones are “less costly than many of the alternatives including manned bombers and boots on the ground.” He ignores life-serving and more economical alternatives: humanitarian aid; negotiation; discontinuing arms sales – especially to war-torn regions; no longer propping up tyrants and rogue governments; respecting U.N. resolutions and treaties that would reduce hatred toward the U.S.  And embracing treaties to significantly reduce the climate change generating global disruption, migration and strife.

Perhaps McManus’s column is just part 1 of two parts. In part 2 he might define what he means by “terrorist.” This is so readers won’t be left thinking the word only refers to anyone opposing the U.S. war machine, whether foreign or domestic. And in part 2 McManus could tell us about the threat lethal — as well as non-weaponized surveillance — drones pose to civil liberties here in the United States.

Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY

Kinane is a co-founder of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition [].


Local Leaders Release Analysis Showing Central New York Losing Jobs under Free Trade Agreements; Small Businesses’ Exports Limited

In International, Trade on April 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Groups Call on Representatives Hanna, Katko, and Stefanik to Stand with Middle Class Families against Fast Tracking Trade Deals


Utica, NY –At a news conference today in Utica, a coalition of national, state, and local labor, environmental, and consumer groups called on Representatives Hanna, Katko, and Stefanik to stand with middle class families against Fast Tracking trade deals that will offshore more good-paying jobs, dampen state manufacturing and agricultural exports, and fuel the demise of New York’s middle class.  Advocates also raised concerns that this trade deal will weaken environmental protections such as New York’s fracking ban, threaten food safety, gut regulations to protect people from Wall Street banks, and raise prescription drug prices.

The TPP is currently being pushed by global corporations and negotiated in secret between the United States and 11 other countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam which make up 40 percent of the world economy.  Trade policies adopted under Fast Track have already resulted in one million American jobs lost and 60,000 factories closed. The rushed deals have jeopardized the safety of our food and overturned environmental protections.

The news conference was sponsored by the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., Central New York Labor Council, Sierra Club, of New York, Syracuse Peace Council, Citizen Action of New York, Food and Water Watch, and Mohawk Valley Climate Change and Political Action.

The group released an analysis that shows a growing trade deficit for the top ten New York exports to Korea since the 2011 trade pact.  The Korea trade pact serves as the template for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the deal for which President Obama is now seeking Fast Track. The data also shows jobs lost in New York under the past trade pacts, New York income inequality trends, and small business share of state exports.

“Despite promises that past controversial trade pacts would boost exports, government data show that New York’s exports to trade pact partners have actually lagged behind its exports to the rest of the world.  And in the first two years of the Korea trade pact used as the template for the TPP, U.S. exports to Korea have fallen in the top ten products that New York exports to Korea – from apples to transportation equipment – while the U.S. trade deficit with Korea in those products has grown 24 percent, displacing New York jobs. Now that the same broken promises are being trotted out for the TPP, New York’s workers have every reason to reject an expansion of the trade status quo,” said John Furman, president of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.

Mr. Furman also pointed out that under NAFTA and corporate globalization, between 1970 and 2000, the Utica-Rome area economy lost over 20,000 manufacturing jobs and 42,000 residents or 12 percent of its population.  Major local plants such as Oneida LTD, Chicago Pneumatic, and General Electric closed due to foreign competition and NAFTA.   Mr. Furman said that it is likely that manufacturing and many other jobs like call centers may be outsourced if Fast Track and TPP are approved.

The report also shows how the proposed trade deal will negatively affect the local economy, undermine local economic development efforts, and overturn laws protecting family farmers.  Mr. Furman continued:  “TPP will restrict local governments from reducing pollution and environmental protection, make it possible for corporations to undermine local and state fracking bans, and allow global corporations to challenge Buy American and Buy Local Laws.”

The groups are asking local residents to contact their members of Congress at 877-852-4710 and tell them vote NO to Fast Track authority for secret trade deals like the TPP.  Mr. Furman said:  “The TPP and Fast Track are a bad deal for the residents of Central New York and will cripple our community efforts to get back on track from the recent recession.  We must let our representatives know that they are accountable to us and must put our interests first before those of big corporations and other countries.”

A new original song – “Let’s Stop the TPP” – composed by local musician Albert Izzo – was debuted at the news conference.  This song will be made available to groups throughout the nation fighting for trade policies that protect workers, communities, and the environment.  The link to the song is:

Read the rest of this entry »

On Extending the Combat Mission in Afghanistan

In Anti-War, International, Interpretive Editorial, Veterans on February 11, 2015 at 11:38 am

Syracuse anti-war activists Barbara Humphrey and Dave Kashmer joined Veterans For Peace (VFP) to express extreme dismay upon learning that President Obama recently extended and expanded the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the timing of these two actions precluded the opportunity for meaningful public discourse. Shortly after the mid-term election, the President announced that the US would be sending an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq. The following week, the President signed a classified order giving US troops a direct role in combat in Afghanistan despite his promise to the contrary in May, 2014 that “American’s combat mission will be over by the end of the year.” This new Afghan mission, labeled “Resolute Support,” authorizes American troops to carry out missions against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network and other militants; allows US jets, bombers, and drones to bolster Afghan troops on combat missions; and permits US air strikes in support of Afghan military operations throughout the country. The classified order was signed on a Friday night and leaked to the New York Times, where it appeared on a Saturday shortly before the holidays.

We believe that the US wars in the Middle East, being played out as the “war on terror,” have been an utter failure. After spending billions of dollars to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, databases kept by the US government and University of Maryland document increased numbers of terrorist attacks in these countries and elsewhere in the world. Yet, the US continues to mislead themselves and the US public that we can win these wars if only we allowed one more “surge.” The Department of Defense has requested $58.3 billion for FY15 for the war in Afghanistan alone, and an additional $7.8 million to beef up airports in Kandahar and Kabul to support night raids (now being called night operations) and drone operations. Imagine if these funds could be directed to repairing deficient highway bridges and fully funding public education here at home!

But we know it isn’t just about the money wasted on military operations, corrupt leaders and defense contractors. The suffering caused by the US war on terror is horrific—civilian deaths at the hands of US forces, thousands displaced from their homes living in squalid refugee camps as winter hits, mothers who cannot feed their children. Afghanistan is devastated after four decades of war. In 2014, more than 8,000 Afghans have committed suicide through self immolation and ingestion of poison. In Kabul, Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence, reports that 6,000 children are in the streets as child laborers. The recent release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program” further documents the extreme brutality inflicted on others by the US war on terror.

Veterans for Peace issued a statement dated 11/14/14, immediately following the President’s announcement of increased troop deployment to Iraq, comparing current military action to Vietnam 50+ years ago, “The US government claims that its current occupations are necessary and its objectives clear and winnable while lying about its progress.” Thus far, the achievements of the war on terror have been the strengthening of the Taliban in Afghanistan; creation of the fundamentalist army ISIL in Iraq and Syria; the eruption of bloody, sectarian civil wars in the Middle East that will persist for years to come; and increased terror attacks throughout the world.

Anti-war activists and VFP also take issue with the timing of the announcement of increased deployment of troops to Iraq and issue of the classified order expanding the role of the US military in Afghanistan. A 2013 CNN poll reported that 82% of the American public disapproved of the continued war in Afghanistan. Yet, neither the increased troop deployment nor the classified order were made public until after the election, precluding any meaningful discourse about military operations in the Middle East between the public and Congressional candidates.

It is time for a full public debate on the role of the US military in the Middle East and throughout the world followed by the implementation of policies that offer alternatives to military options that respect the sovereignty of other nations in their struggles to make peace. Perhaps a first step could be renaming the Department of Defense to the Department of Peace.

This statement is issued jointly by anti-war activists, Barbara Humphrey and Dave Kashmer, and Veterans for Peace striving to build a culture of peace in the United States. Veterans For Peace, founded in 1985, is a global organization of military veterans and allies dedicated to exposing the true costs of war and militarism and working to end all wars. Its mission is to inform the public of the true causes and enormous costs of war, with an obligation to heal wars’ wounds. More than 140 VFP chapters educate and advocate for a dismantling of the war economy and providing services to veterans and victims of war. More information about VFP can be found at

TPP Fast Track Daily Actions Calendar: #CNYvsTPP

In Corporations, Direct Action, Government, International on February 8, 2015 at 10:03 am

Indy Media CNY stands on the side of stopping the Fast Tracking of the TPP international free trade agreement in it’s tracks (Public Citizen has a great collection of information and data that explains the concerns about the TPP). As a service, we are compiling a list of daily actions that you can take to participate in this campaign.  Actions include educational opportunities such as curated videos and articles, social media storms, TPP Tuesday call-ins, taking pledges, writing letters, flyering, and more.  Each day we will select an action of merit and importance and share on our public calendar.  Just click on the action to learn all about it and how to participate.  The Fast Track vote is expected sometime in the next 1-2 months, so the time is now to learn, and communicate with each other and your elected officials.


Report Back: Alternatives to Exploitation and War

In Community, Corporations, International on October 2, 2014 at 10:27 am

Join the Central New York Cajibio Sister Community, a project of the CNY Chapter of the Colombian Support Network, as they report back on their 2014 trip to Colombia (celebrating 10 years of the sister-city relationship and the 6th delegation to visit Cajibio from CNY).

Speakers include: Jessica Maxwell, 3 time Delegate, who will introduce the community relationship history; Frank Cetera, 2014 delegate and Permaculture Activist, who will speak about the solidarity economy; Emily Bishop, 2014 delegate and Youth Climate Activist, who will speak about resource extraction and environmental impacts.

The Sister Community will also premiere a short documentary about struggles of families who have lost loved ones due to paramilitary violence in the Cauca region of Colombia, produced by 2014 Delegate and Film Maker Caroline Podraza.

Free to the Public

– See more at: or social RSVP at

Constitutional Rights Under Attack in Georgia Police Deny Street Permit for Annual Vigil at Ft. Benning

In Americas, Constitution, International, Media Advisory, Military on July 22, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Editor’s Note: Central New York has a long relationship with supporting the School of the America’s Annual Vigil through a local chapter of the School of the America’s Watch known as “The Central New York SOA Abolitionists”.#SOAWatch

Columbus, Georgia – The Columbus Police Department, continuing its history of antagonizing the movement to close the US military training camp known as the SOA/WHINSEC (School of the Americas, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), has this year placed unjust, unsafe and unconstitutional restrictions on the annual SOA Watch Vigil, essentially attempting to shut down the peaceful protest at the main gates of Fort Benning.

In his letter to grassroots solidarity group SOA Watch, Police Chief Ricky Boren explained that the thousands expected at this year’s Vigil, the group’s 25th, would have to somehow limit themselves to no more than 200 and stay on sidewalks five feet back from the street. The permit for the stage and sound, which has for years lifted up the voices of those targeted by the infamous military training school, like Padre Melo from Honduras, who’s been threatened since speaking out against the SOA graduate-led coup in 2009, was also denied.

Nevertheless, SOA Watch pledges to return to Ft. Benning, hold the annual vigil, and continue its nonviolent tradition of protecting family-friendly, safe and legal protest. In response to police chief Boren, the human rights group writes, “we have responsibilities and freedoms under our constitution to peacefully assemble and to speak truth to power.”

“This year, more than any other, we are called to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Latin America, 25 years after SOA graduates committed the brutal massacre at the University of Central America,” said veteran and founder Father Roy Bourgeois. He continued, “When our military training continues to target communities, forcing the unaccompanied migration of thousands of refugee children, we must speak out. It is no surprise that when the stakes are this high, our movement is faced with political attacks on our constitutional rights.”

The Columbus Police Department has a history of active opposition to SOA Watch’s right to free speech, including harassment and intimidation by plainclothes officers, low-flying helicopters used to disrupt the solemn vigil, changing insurance requirements in a last-minute effort to target SOA Watch, and more. In 2001, the city tried to stop the protest in court; in 2002, police conducted mass warrantless searches of all participants, for which SOA Watch filed suit. In both cases, federal courts vindicated the movement’s constitutional right to free speech and assembly.

Thousands of human rights activists have gathered every November for the demonstration since the first anniversary of the 1989 SOA graduate-led massacre of 16-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests at the University of Central America in El Salvador. The November Vigil commemorates those who have been killed by SOA/WHINSEC graduates, and calls for the closure of the institute, which perpetuates coups, torture, extrajudicial killings, and human rights abuses in the face of social and political problems. The SOA/WHINSEC made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released SOA training manuals that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among its graduates are at least 11 dictators as well as leaders of infamous Central American death squads. Currently, SOA graduates are linked to the Honduran military coup and the repression campaign against social movements there, among other humanitarian crises.

Contact: Hendrik Voss, 202-425-5128,


Sign the petition to Police Chief Boren urging him to reconsider his unjust denial of the right to peaceably assemble at the main gates of Fort Benning.

CNY-Cajibio Delegation Makes Seed Contribution for Future of Colombian Campesin@s

In Corporations, Government, International, Media Advisory, Peace on July 7, 2014 at 9:40 pm

CAJIBIO, CAUCA, COLOMBIA – The 10th anniversary CNY-Cajibio sister-city delegation participated in a symbolic presentation of seeds at the Feria Campesina (Small Farmer’s Fair) in Cajibio on July 4, 2014. A card signed by all twelve delegates which read “The Future Is In The Seed”, accompanied the contribution. Open pollinated varieties of tomato, pepper, summer squash, and melons saved by Frosty Morning Farm in Truxton, and two heritage bean varieties of the Onondaga people were given to Marylén Serna Salinas of the Movimiento Campesinos de Cajibio (MCC) By delegate Colleen Kattau.

Kattau, said that “the seed donation symbolizes the right to save, share, and distribute seed autonomously which should be everyone’s right”.

This Feria is the second held by the MCC in support of the Campesin@’s campaign to be recognized as a distinct population with rights and responsibilities by the Colombian state government. The exchange of seeds, knowledge, flavors, and products that took place at the Feria was also a demonstration of the Campesin@’s quest for food and economic sovereignty.

Delegates also displayed and provided tastings of Finger Lakes agricultural and artistic products such as honey, maple syrup, cards designed by local artists, soap, beeswax candles and more (all donated by artists and small farmers from Central New York). Emily Bishop and Anthony Zaun-Lokos also made a statement representing the youth contingent of this delegation as to how the seed contribution represents the next generation of the sister-city relationship and the building of relationships with people abroad who share common goals and challenges.

Patricia Rodriguez, Associate Professor at Ithaca College, stated that “providing international solidarity and support for the MCC is now more important than ever as peace talks in Colombia continue after the re-election of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Campesin@’s fight for recognition, and representation at the negotiations.”

The delegates plan to organize community events in their respective communities in Central New York upon their return to share about the organizational processes and the united efforts that the MCC and other groups have engaged in at the local, regional, and national levels, to bring about social change.

Contact: Patricia Rodriguez at or Frank Cetera at



In Drones, History, International on June 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Written by Ed Kinane, and Distributed by the Upstate Drone Action Network:


The campaign to expose Hancock’s MQ9 Reaper began in 2009 as President Obama, the Pentagon and the CIA/JSOC ratcheted up the flights of these hunter/killer drones over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.

The Reaper perpetrates maimings, killings (including extra-judicial executions and assassinations), and home demolitions – i.e. perpetrates war crime and terrorism in the ironically labeled “war on terrorism.” Violating international law, the Reaper frequently attacks non-combatants outside of war zones.

The local campaign was soon expanded by folks from all over New York State and beyond. (In 2009, Veterans for Peace held a four-day anti-drone fast in downtown Syracuse over the Thanksgiving holiday.) We coalesced into a group calling ourselves Upstate Drone Action (also known as the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars).  See

    If we had a mission statement, it might read something like this:

  Upstate Drone Action is a decentralized, informally-organized, grassroots network of activists mostly from upstate New York.

We seek to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel re the war   crime perpetrated upon Afghanistan with the MQ9 Reaper. This unmanned aircraft is remotely piloted via satellite from Hancock, home of the 174th Attack Wing of the NYS Air National Guard located just north of Syracuse in the Town of DeWitt

  We also seek to educate the public re the risks of drone proliferation and blowback as well as the surveillance and civil liberties threat the Reaper and other robotic planes pose domestically.

  Legitimized by international law and by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Upstate Drone Action members heed our consciences and the  Nuremburg mandate to expose and impede our nation’s war crime.

  Committed to nonviolent direct action and civil resistance, members periodically undergo arrest, trial, fines, Orders of Protection and incarceration.###

In 2009 the Syracuse Post-Standard began a series of lengthy front page articles publicizing – some might sayhyping — the Reaper at Hancock. These articles revealed that:

~ Hancock was piloting Reapers over Afghanistan;

~ Hancock was the national center for training technicians to maintain Reapers;

~ then commander Col. Kevin Bradley was looking forward to having drones used for domestic police work.

Ignoring Reaper war crime, those P-S articles generally sidestepped the moral, legal and even strategic issues. [Author’s note: weaponized drones are tactically clever, but due to proliferation and blowback, strategically stupid – a threat to the ultimate security of the U.S.


To educate ourselves and the public, Upstate Drone Action has organized drone-oriented talks in Syracuse by prominent national anti-war activists. These have included Col. Ann Wright; Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence); Brian Terrell (Iowa Catholic Worker); Elliott Adams (Veterans for Peace); Debra Sweet (World Can’t Wait), Leila Zand (Fellowship of Reconciliation); Medea Benjamin (CodePink); Bruce Gagnon  (Global Network); David Swanson (World Beyond War)….

In turn, our speakers have helped expose the Reaper at campuses, community groups and congregations (including several panels in the Catholic diocese of Syracuse) in Cortland, Binghamton, Utica, Albany, Oswego, Rome, Rochester, Buffalo, Saratoga Springs, New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts,  Maryland, Georgia….


Each August since 2010 the “SPC Players” (from the Syracuse Peace Council) perform a series of tableaux at the main entrance to the NY State Fair. These involve a costumed cast of about seven who stay silent and motionless for about 20 minutes. The tableaux feature a five foot-long scale-model Reaper, a pilot at a computer, an Islamic mother and dead infant, two or three corpses covered by  bloody shrouds, an “al Qaeda” recruiter, and a young recruit.

The backdrop is either rubble or a banner depicting rubble. There’s signage identifying the tableau elements and one by the corpses and mother saying, “How would you feel if this were your family?”  We do several performances every other day of the ten-day Fair while leafleters distribute thousands of our flyers to the crowds streaming in and out of the Fair.


Beginning in September 2009 from 4:15 to 5 pm on Tuesdays we’ve been holding ongoing weekly, monthly or twice-monthly (depending on the season) anti-war/anti-Reaper drone demonstrations outside Hancock’s main gate on East Molloy Rd. and elsewhere in Onondaga County. We now have a legal permit for our demonstrations across the road from the base. And every Saturday we demonstrate in Syracuse across Park Street from the regional farmers’ market from 9 to 10 am (no permit required).

November 2009 saw the first of several rallies at Hancock drawing 200 to 300 folks from across the state and beyond. These events have sometimes been preceded by long lines of folks with signs and banners walking to the base from Ithaca, downtown Syracuse or from the nearby village of Mattydale.


Since the spring of 2011 Upstate Drone Action has repeatedly engaged in scrupulously nonviolent direct actions attempting to deliver letters or citizens’ war crime indictments to the base command. (We recite a Pledge of Nonviolence before each action.) As these attempts are rebuffed, we have sometimes blocked Hancock’s main entrance with banners and our presence.  So far NYS troopers, Onondaga County sheriffs & Town of DeWitt police have made over 150 arrests (including recidivists). So far there’s been no rough stuff.

We think of the Hancock civil resistance as part of a “Gandhian Wave,” a persistent recurrence of actions meant to protest the persistent recurrence of drone war crime. Our Wave is in the Gandhian tradition embodied by the U.S. civil rights movement, and the School of the Americas Watch campaign ongoing since the early ‘90s at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Here’s a chronology:

Read the rest of this entry »

CNY’s 10th Anniversary Sister City Delegation with Cajibio, Colombia Taking Place in July

In Fundraising, Government, International, Peace on June 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

10329962_10101640180746486_7756845882952327429_oSYRACUSE, NY – Twelve regional residents from Syracuse, Cortland, and Ithaca will travel to Cajibio, Colombia from July 1st-9th marking the 10th year of this sister city relationship, one of the longest currently active in CNY.

The Cajibio relationship centers around supporting the Movimiento Campesino De Cajibio (MCC), or the Small Farmers Movement in English, a small farmers’ organization with the goal of ‘buen vivir’ (good living), rooted in sustainable local communities, free of exploitation, militarization, and dependent economic relationships.

Sister cities advance peace and prosperity through cultural, educational, humanitarian, and economic development exchanges; and serve as hubs for institutional knowledge and best practices in the field of citizen diplomacy.  Delegates on this 10th Anniversary trip will be engaging in the following activities:

1. Participation in a Feria Campesina (small farmer’s exchange fair)
2. Meetings w/ grassroots community leaders and advocacy meetings with local & national Colombian government officials.
3. Meeting with women leaders of MCC and other organizations, centered on learning of women’s rights struggles in Colombia.
4. Cultural exchange with artists’ collective & social movement working group at University of Cauca.
5. Work on the MCC’s cooperative farm for one or two days.

A fundraising campaign is currently underway to support the delegation – More general details about the delegation and the history of the sister city relationship can also be found at this link, including a curated collection of articles, blog posts, and other information curated by Syracuse delegates Frank Cetera and Emily Bishop that provide you with ongoing insight and education over the course of the next month.


Frank Cetera,, 315-308-1372