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Preventing Nuclear War: A National Campaign Emerges

The Free Press WV

A national collaborative grassroots coalition to abolish nuclear weapons is rapidly emerging in this country. The effort called “Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War” started last fall after the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 nations with the U.S. and other nuclear nations boycotting. The campaign endorses the Treaty and important protective policies such as ending the President’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack, renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first, taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, and canceling U.S. plans to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. This Call was crafted by dozens of organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Soka Gakkai International.

Nationally this effort is bringing together social, environmental and economic justice communities recognizing that their concerns are all connected and that there is no greater insult, impact or effect to each of these than nuclear war. Our families, children and communities have a right to exist in a world free of this threat.

The driving force for this movement has been the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons and the recognition that there is no meaningful medical or humanitarian response to nuclear war. It is fitting that in August, 73 years after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945 respectively that significant progress was made in the U.S toward the elimination of these weapons.

Following the U.S. Council of Mayors’ unanimous adoption of the Resolution at their annual June meeting in Boston where it was sponsored by Mayor Franklin Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, the Los Angeles and Baltimore City Councils unanimously adopted the Resolution. Eleven other cities around the nation as well as more than 150 faith organizations, civic groups, and thousands of individuals have done so as well.

Taking the national lead, the California Legislature passed Assemblywoman Monique Limón’s AJR 33  in the State Assembly on August 20th and Senate on August 28th. This measure from the nation’s largest state and 6th largest global economy, urges our federal leaders and our nation to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy, and to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. The Call itself empowers everyone from individual citizens to organizations, communities and states to take action in the international movement to abolish nuclear weapons.

The rest of the world is speaking out for nuclear disarmament as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is being ratified. Once ratified by 50 nation states, it will ban nuclear weapons, just as every other weapon of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons have been banned. Open for signature since last September, presently there are 60 nations that have signed the Treaty and 14 nations who have ratified it, the latest being New Zealand in July.

We the people of the U.S. must join this international effort. As the only nuclear nation to have used these immoral weapons and one who maintains 45 percent of the 14,400 global weapons, we have a moral and legal responsibility; as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) we promised to work for the complete abolition of these weapons.
Nuclear war must never be fought and cannot be won. The only way to prevent this is by the complete abolition of these weapons. The existence of these weapons and the threat they pose is a threat that does not have to be. This is a threat invented by man and is a threat that man can eliminate. It is not a threat that will magically go away or that “they” will take care of. It is a threat that we the people must demand be eliminated. In a functional democracy, it is imperative that all citizens make their voices heard.

Robert Dodge is a family physician practicing in Ventura, California, is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and is the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles. Physicians for Social Responsibility received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. Their international affiliate, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War launched the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2007. ICAN is the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jeanette Riffle: Fall is Coming On

The Free Press WV

The weather man is calling for rain this whole weekend and as I type this, the wind is bringing down a shower of leaves outside. We hope September will bring more comfortable temperatures. Autumn is my favorite season. The beautiful changing of the leaves to brilliant colors, fall color tours, and we were married in October. Our son was born in October and so was our granddaughter. We celebrate both their birthdays when we get together. When I was growing up, Dad took us on trips in the fall to the scenic places of West Virginia. Mom would spend one whole day fixing picnic food and the next day we would take off. We liked the State Game Farm. The name has been changed to West Virginia Wildlife Center. We went to Holly River State Park, Helvetia, went to see the fire tower in Elkins and many other places.  Dad liked to take trips to the mountains. He was always talking about a camping trip but we never did get a tent and go. Dad’s company picnic, the Hope Natural Gas one,  was held at Jackson’s Mill every year, but I remember a time after I was married that it was at Camden Park in Huntington.

My Grandpa Warner was always the first there and the first one to leave wherever he went.  One time when I was young and had spent the night with them,  I rode with Mamaw and Papaw Warner to Jackson’s Mill and the gate wasn’t unlocked yet.  Papaw started blowing his car horn and finally someone came and opened the gate. He saw everything he wanted to see, ate some picnic lunch that Mom had brought and was the first to leave that day. I stayed and went home with Mom and Dad. Mom said they open the gate at a certain time and Papaw just got there too early.

This time of year the canning is almost over and many a housewife is getting ready to start the fall cleaning after a long summer of gardening and then the big canning project. Serious cleaning gets laid aside until fall. The pressure washer sure helps with the outside cleaning jobs and there are handy cleaners and cleaning products to work with nowadays. I remember a time when it was vinegar mixed in a bucket of water and some crunched up newspaper to wash windows, a bucket of soapy water and a rag to wash down walls, the old wringer washer for laundering curtains, rugs and couch& chair covers. Mom had a bottle of furniture oil to clean the wooden things. It makes me tired to think of all that hard work and then in spring, you had to do it all over again.

Until next time take care and God bless!

No More Forgotten Wars: End US Support for Saudi Coalition War Crimes in Yemen

The Free Press WV

If the US were to follow the rules of warfare written into US military law and treaties to which the US is a party, the US must immediately end its support for the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen. We should also marshal all of its diplomatic tools to end the conflict. Since 2015, Saudi Arabia, and allies such as the United Arab Emirates, have been waging a devastating war in support of the Government of Yemen against a Houthi insurgency. Amnesty International has called the conflict a “forgotten war” because its deadly consequences have failed to rise to the level of international crisis in media or government agendas. However, under former President Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, the US has been complicit in war crimes and the creation of a completely preventable humanitarian nightmare for the people of Yemen.

On August 28, 2018, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report detailing the brutal conduct of the war. As of June 2018, at least 6,475 civilians had been killed and more than 10,000 injured in the conflict. The report notes the “real figure is likely to be significantly higher.” While evidence “strongly suggests” that all parties to the conflict have violated international law, the report is clear that Saudi-led coalition airstrikes are responsible for the largest numbers of civilian deaths and injuries. Moreover, there is significant evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has repeatedly bombed civilian neighborhoods, medical facilities, markets, weddings, funerals, and even a school bus full of children. Intentionally attacking civilians is a war crime.

The United States has provided targeting support, intelligence, and mid-air refueling to Saudi fighter jets, enabling its continued bombardment. The US has also sold billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia, including cluster bombs, a weapon banned by UN treaty and outlawed by the majority of countries in the world. America’s actions have been lethal for Yemeni civilians. In the most recent example, news outlets reported in August 2018 that US-manufactured bombs killed 40 children, and others, in a single Saudi strike on a school bus. No matter how it is portrayed in media or by government representatives, aerial warfare is not clean and it is not precise.

On the ground, the situation is dire. The UN reports that arbitrary detention and torture in prisons controlled by UAE-affiliated forces is widespread, and government security forces have made a “common practice” of abduction and rape of women in order to extort money from victims’ families. In the careful language of human rights reporting, the UN states that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the government of Yemen have committed war crimes including rape and torture. Saudi Arabia and its allies have also blockaded Yemen by air and sea, preventing food and lifesaving medical supplies from entering the country. As a result, 8.4 million Yemenis were on the brink of famine as of April 2018. The collapse of healthcare infrastructure caused by the blockade has led to the largest series of cholera epidemics in modern history, affecting more than one million people.

The conditions in Yemen are unbearable and entirely man-made. Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United States, are causing massive suffering for millions of civilians. In March, US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) introduced a bill that would have ended US support for the war. The bill was defeated 55-44 with 10 Democrats joining the Republican majority. Before the vote, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that withdrawing US support would increase the risk to civilians. This argument strains credulity given that it is Saudi Arabia and its allies that are causing the majority of casualties. Furthermore, if McConnell were concerned about civilian safety, he would push congress and the Trump Administration to bring conflicting parties to a negotiating table.

Pursuing peaceful negotiations to end the conflict is an important diplomatic effort the United States should take immediately. It must also end its support for states and groups committing war crimes. The preponderance of evidence suggests Saudi Arabia is regularly violating the laws of war, and the US is complicit as long as it continues to enable Saudi actions. It must stop refueling Saudi jets and providing targeting intelligence. Crucially, the United States should initiate, and pressure other governments to support, an arms embargo on warring parties. At minimum, it must immediately suspend all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Finally, if US leaders claim to care about civilians in Yemen, they should drastically increase humanitarian aid for Yemenis whose suffering they have caused and the United States must reopen its refugee resettlement program to displaced Yemenis.

From 2015 to late 2016, the Obama Administration did not push for this moderate set of diplomatic initiatives and Trump is even less likely to take these actions. It is therefore incumbent upon Americans to call and write to their elected representatives to pressure them to end our support for the decimation of Yemen. If Americans care about human rights and international law, the bare minimum we can do is stop abetting war crimes against the people of Yemen.

Jared Keyel, is a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs, researching refugee resettlement in the United States.

4 Possible Culprits Behind Trump Op-Ed

The Free Press WV

Tucker Carlson of Fox News think he has a “pretty good idea” who wrote the anti-Trump op-ed now in wide circulation, but he’s awaiting confirmation before going public, reports the Hill. At the Weekly Standard, Michael Warren has narrowed it down to four likely suspects:

  • Larry Kudlow, chair of the National Economic Council, whose free-market views don’t always go over well in the White House.
  • Kevin Hassett, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, whose views on issues from tax reform to the military generally line up with those of the op-ed writer.
  • Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, who’s near the end of his political career and would have little to lose from the fallout.
  • Mike Pompeo, secretary of state and former CIA chief. “As someone fond of, and thought fondly of, by CIA agents, Pompeo could be particularly irked by the suggestion by Trump and his supporters that a ‘deep state’ is at work against the president,“ Warren writes.
Slate rounds up those who’ve issued denials, including Coats, Pompeo, Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, Treasury chief Steve Mnuchin, and VP Mike Pence, whose fondness for the term “lodestar,“ used in the op-ed, has raised eyebrows.

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