Kathy Kelly / CommonDreams & Felicity Arbuthnot / Global Research – 2015-01-26 23:50:13
My Future in Prison
Kathy Kelly / CommonDreams
‘I will be free in three months, but our collective future is most assuredly shackled to a wrongheaded criminal justice system.’
— Anti-nuclear peace activist Kathy Kelly
(January 23, 2015) — The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number and a new address: for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow I’ll live at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s Federal Medical Center for Men.
Very early tomorrow morning, Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island, will travel with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the prison gates.
In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three months in federal prison after Georgia Walker and I had attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base, asking him to stop his troops from piloting lethal drone flights over Afghanistan from within the base.
Judge Whitworth allowed me over a month to surrender myself to prison; but whether you are a soldier or a civilian, a target or an unlucky bystander, you can’t surrender to a drone.
When I was imprisoned at Lexington prison in 1988, after a federal magistrate in Missouri sentenced me to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites, other women prisoners playfully nicknamed me “Missiles.” One of my sisters reliably made me laugh today, texting me to ask if I thought the women this time they would call me “Drones.”
“I hope this compulsively vengeful and diseased criminal justice system will change during my lifetime. And I hope that my short sojourn inside Lexington’s prison walls will help me better understand and perhaps help shed some small light on the systems that affect other people trapped there.”
It’s good to laugh and feel camaraderie before heading into prison. For someone like me — very nearly saturated in “white privilege” through much of this arrest, trial, and sentencing process — 90% (or more) of my experience will likely depend on attitude.
But, for many of the people I’ll meet in prison, an initial arrest very likely began with something like a “night raid” staged in Iraq or Afghanistan, complete with armed police surrounding and bursting into their home to remove them from children and families, often with helicopters overhead, sequestering them in a county jail, often with very little oversight to assure that guards and wardens treat them fairly.
Some prisoners will not have had a chance to see their children before being shipped clear across the country. Some will not have been given adequate medical care as they adjust to life in prison, possibly going without prescribed medicines and often traumatized by the sudden dissolution of ties with family and community. Some will not have had the means to hire a lawyer and may not have learned much about their case from an overworked public defender.
In the US, the criminal justice system disproportionately incarcerates people of color for petty offences. Many take plea bargains under threat of excessive, punitive sentences. If I were a young black male, the US penal system quite likely would not have allowed me to turn myself in to a federal prison camp.
I’ll be incarcerated in a satellite camp outside a medical facility where I expect the wards are crowded with geriatric patients. How bleak and unnecessary it is to confine people for decades. My friend Brian Terrell, who was incarcerated in Yankton, South Dakota for six months after crossing the line at Whiteman AFB, told me that while in prison he saw signs on the walls recruiting prisoners to train for medically assisting geriatric male prisoners. I shudder to think of our culture’s pervading callousness, pointlessly consigning so many aged people to languish in prison.
I will be free in three months, but our collective future is most assuredly shackled to a wrongheaded criminal justice system. I hope this compulsively vengeful and diseased criminal justice system will change during my lifetime. And I hope that my short sojourn inside Lexington’s prison walls will help me better understand and perhaps help shed some small light on the systems that affect other people trapped there.
During recent visits with concerned communities focused on drone warfare, many have helped me see a connection between the drone killings across Central Asia and the Middle East and the casual executions and incarceration of young black males in our own country.
In Afghanistan, where the noise of air strikes and civil war have faded to the buzz of drones and the silence of empty promises, our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APVs) continue their peace building efforts. Last week, eighty street children walked from the APV center to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission office to assert their right to education. Their signs expressed their determination to help create a school for street children. One sign said, “We don’t want your charity. We want dignity.”
Our young friends wish to provide a better life for the very children whose only other ways off the streets may well include joining the Taliban, criminal gangs, or some other militia. Meanwhile, the United States’ vengeful stance as a nation, concerned with protecting its wealth and status at all costs and its safety above all considerations of equity or reason, destroys the lives of the impoverished at home as it destroys those abroad.
The “Black Lives Matter” protests need our support, as do the March 4-6 protests to “Shut Down Creech” Air Force Base. Our friends in the Afghan Peace Volunteers will continue to do vital work for peace and solidarity, in Kabul, that needs our support. It’s encouraging to know that thousands upon thousands of committed people seek and find work to make our world less like a prison for our neighbors and ourselves.
My address for the next three months is:
Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER
P.O. BOX 14525
LEXINGTON, KY 40512
Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and is presently a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. Kathy Kelly’s email is email@example.com
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Nuclear War: Three Minutes to Midnight<.big>
Felicity Arbuthnot / Global Research
(January 24, 2015) — “The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons. The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important dutyâ€”ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2015.)
When Barack Hussein Obama was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize on 10th December 2009, just eight months in to his Presidency, the motivation was: ” for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.”
The Nobel Committee: ” . . . attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons . . . as President he (had) created a new climate in international politics.”
“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”
In his presentation speech, Nobel Committee Chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland said that Obama had, from the first moments of his Presidency strived against confrontation and had already: “lowered the temperature in the world.”
In his acceptance speech the President Obama stated that: “Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.”
He was also committed to: “upholding the (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.) It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I’m working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.”
In conclusion, to applause, he appealed: “Let us reach for the world that ought to be — that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls.”
Since then the myriad mass graves of America’s victims have become silent witness to the hypocrisy and insincerity of his address at Oslo City Hall on the 113th Anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death in acceptance of an Award which Nobel’s will had specified should be presented: “. . . to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
Gulag Guantanamo remains open, much now militia-run Libya is in ruins, American troops are back in Iraq, where over 2,000 bombing raids have been carried out by American ‘planes. Obama’s Administration still endorses the illegal overthrow of President Assad of Syria, training the mass murdering, beheading, organ eating “moderate” opposition, and the much vaunted departure from Afghanistan, is not a full departure at all.
Ukraine bleeds daily from the US-boasted five-billion-dollar coup, Russia is blamed, sanctioned and resultantly feels threatened enough to rearm. The Cold War had been not only rekindled, the flames are visibly rising.
In March 2013 Stratfor noted: ‘”With the full support of a feckless policy, elite and an uncritical media establishment, Washington is slipping, if not plunging, into a new Cold War with Moscow.” Strong words from Professor Stephen Cohen in a January article published in The Nation, who is a lonely voice in the US academic establishment with an unpopular point of view. He has been warning for several years now that rapidly deteriorating relations between the US and Russia will lead to “a new period of sustained political and military tension between the two powers.”
Now, the annual setting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock (22nd January) has been re-set — forward two minutes to three minutes tomidnight, the first time since the end of the Cold War and thirty years on from the last such setting in 1984 under the presidency of Grenada invader, another Libya bomber, and Iran-Contra dealing Ronald Reagan.
In 1984, the Bulletin recorded: ” . . . relations between the United States and the Soviet Union reached an icy nadir. Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda.” Sound familiar?
Yesterday they noted:
“Today, more than twenty five years after the end of the Cold War, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board have looked closely at the world situation and found it highly threatening to humanity — so threatening that the hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at three minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe than in 2014.”
” . . . efforts to reduce world nuclear arsenals have stalled. The disarmament process has ground to a halt, with the United States and Russia embarking on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads — thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties — and other nuclear weapons holders joining in this expensive and extremely dangerous modernization craze.”
It is not alone the nuclear nightmare: “Insufficient action to slash worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases can produce global climatic catastrophe. Even a so-called “limited” nuclear weapons exchange will produce massive casualties and severe effects on the global environment.
We implore the political leaders of the world to take coordinated, quick action to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, and shrink nuclear weapons arsenals.”
The Bulletin‘s Science and Security Board whose Board of Sponsors include seventeen Nobel Laureates:
“. . . implore the citizens of the world to demand action from their leaders. The threat looms over all of humanity. Humanity needs to respond now, while there is still time.” (3)
The Clock, established in 1947, has become universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
The Board stresses that catastrophe can be avoided with urgent action. Time wasting is not an option. Essential priorities are:
â€¢ Actions [that] would cap greenhouse gas emissions at levels which would halt the average global temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
â€¢ Dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization programmes.
â€¢ Re-energize the disarmament process — with commitment to results.
â€¢ Deal urgently with nuclear waste problem.
If President Obama read the documents and consulted with the towering collective knowledge available at the Bulletin, applied that commitment for which they plea, built bridges globally rather than blowing them up, there is enough time in the final twenty two months of his Presidency to embark on the road to justifying that Nobel.
We can only fervently hope that as he stated in his acceptance speech his actions at last “can bend history in the direction of justice.”