Daily Archives: October 18, 2017

Minnesota Judge to Allow “Necessity Defense” at Trial of Climate Activists


Oct 18, 2017

And in northern Minnesota, a district court judge in Hubbard County has ruled that he will allow activists to present a so-called necessity defense when they go to trial on charges for turning off valves to an oil pipeline in a direct action protest last year. The activists, who say their decision to break the law was necessitated by the clear and present danger posed by global warming, will be allowed to call expert witnesses on climate change. Among those who may be called are former top NASA climate scientist James Hansen and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who told the website Common Dreams, “The whole planet will be inside a single courtroom the day this trial begins. It’s a rare chance to explain precisely why we need to act, and act now.”

Newly Released Documents Reveal U.S. Approval of Indonesian Genocide

Oct 18, 2017

Newly declassified documents reveal diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, knew about—and supported—a mass extermination campaign by Indonesia’s government in the 1960s that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians—by some estimates, more than 1 million people. Beginning in 1965, Indonesian military and paramilitary forces slaughtered accused communists and dissidents after overthrowing the democratically elected government. That military was backed by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and led by General Suharto, who would go on to rule Indonesia for decades. In memos made public on Tuesday, U.S. Embassy officials cheered reports describing the “slaughter” and “indiscriminate killings” of Indonesians. One memo from late 1965 read, “Generally victims are taken out of populous areas before being killed and bodies are buried rather than thrown in river.” Historians have already established that the U.S. provided the Indonesian Army with financial, military and intelligence support at the time of the mass killings.

Freed Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera on U.S. Colonialism A fter Hurricane Maria

Democracy Now!

Published on Oct 18, 2017

https://democracynow.org – One month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we hear from longtime Puerto Rican independence activist Oscar López Rivera, who was released in May and is now in San Juan to visit with community members affected by Hurricane Maria. Until earlier this year, Rivera had been in federal prison for 35 years—much of the time in solitary confinement—after he was convicted on federal charges of opposing U.S. authority over the island by force. President Obama commuted his sentence in January.

The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin

TEDx Talks
Published on Dec 1, 2014

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. David Puttnam looks at Climate Change through different lenses, all of which reveal the unsustainable ways in which we are living. Climate Change is real, but throughout history humans have failed to set political and economic concerns aside for our greater good. Will we ignore this latest warning? Lord David Puttnam produced award-winning films including Chariots of Fire, Bugsy Malone, and The Mission. He now works at the intersection between education, media, and policy. In 2007 he was appointed Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Draft Climate Change Bill.

How Wall Street Bankers Committed Massive Fraud in Puerto Rico and Stayed out of Jail

RT America

Published on Jan 8, 2017

Mike Papantonio exposes Santander Bank for defrauding investors in Puerto Rico through a massive municipal bond scheme and speaks with attorney, Peter Mougey, about how Santander was able to pull off this scam and why no one was sent to prison as a result.

As Puerto Rico Faces $95 Billion Cleanup, Exposé Reveals Vulture Firms Who O wn Its $74 Billion Debt

Published on Oct 18, 2017 Democracy Now!

https://democracynow.org – One month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, a major new investigation examines the looming question of what will happen to the island’s $74 billion debt as it faces an estimated $95 billion in storm-related damage. We speak with reporters at the Center for Investigative Journalism and In These Times who spent five months digging through court filings and documents from financial firms and much more in order to put together the most up-to-date list of 10 of the largest financial firms that are now scrambling to get billions out of the bankrupt island as it tries to rebuild. Several of the funds were complicit in past financial crises in other parts of the world.

Fifty years on…What ever happened to the “Class of 1968?”

An “Open Letter” to the Class of 1968
(… and all those who have
come after.)


In 1968 Kingman Brewster, President of Yale University, opposed students who campaigned to abolish the military draft.  He argued that in practice a military draft operated as one of the last remaining levers for citizens in a democracy to oppose the arbitrary war-making powers of an imperial President.  In fact, successive Presidents since the abolition of the draft have committed mercenary armies of “volunteer” troops to massively unpopular wars with no effective civilian check on the abuse of an imperial Presidency.  The pursuit of the Iraq invasion with an increasingly “privatized” army under President George W. Bush (Yale Class of ’68) proved President Brewster’s arguments in 1968 to be correct.  While Brewster opposed the abolition of the draft, he staunchly and courageously defended The Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr. against critics who wanted him removed as Yale’s Chaplain in 1968.

Fifty years ago college seniors faced dire choices under conditions of stress and anxiety. For most of them their senior year in High School had been marked by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.  By the Spring of 1968 when they were scheduled to graduate they had further experienced the assassination of The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and, in June 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy.  Their “student status” came to an end abruptly as they graduated, and amidst war and assassinations they had to make dramatic life-determining decisions in very short order.

Some of the spirit of these times has been recalled through panel discussions with some of the principal figures at the time, including:

No doubt more of these panels of collective reflection and discussion will be forthcoming as the 50th Reunion Year comes to one campus after another in the coming Spring of 2018.

In retrospect, with the benefit of historical perspective it is possible to identify some sad mistakes.  Ironically, in 1968 many of the students who were strongly opposed to the America’s war in Vietnam actually got it tragically wrong on one key issue at the time and ever since.   In effect, their analysis was not deep enough.  Their elders knew better, yet they could not see that or admit that to themselves.  Specifically, in their anti-war at the time Kingman Brewster, President of Yale, opposed them on this important point.  Sadly, however, the students were so blinded by the virtue of their anti-war stance that they did not really hear what President Brewster had to say.  In fact, he was very insightful and has been proved to be correct in the decades since that time.

Brewster argued in 1968 that there were only two restraints in a democracy on the power of a President to engage in reckless military exploits.  One was through elected representatives who could restrain a President by refusing to pass the military budget.  The other way was, oddly enough, through the draft itself.  With the draft, all citizens were potentially affected by the conduct of senseless wars.  Brewster argued that citizens would ultimately oppose any senseless war that cost the lives of too many of their sons and daughters.  By contrast a fully “volunteer” army – with no drafted participants – would give any President a “free hand” in pursuing warfare at will — with mercenary troops.  Brewster argued against abolishing the draft because it was needed to restrain an imperial Presidency.

President Brewster proved absolutely correct.  Tragically, there is no longer any effective citizen restraint on the arbitrary conduct of warfare by a militarist President in league with profiteering industrialists and an ever-profit-seeking investor class.  We can now only pray that we are not jolted by a blinding flash that madmen in North Korea and North America are threatening to use on nothing more than their own personal whim.  As Hamlet observed so many years ago as he encountered the arbitrary usurpation of power in his day: “It is not, nor can it come to good.”

As it turns out, generals have warned about this in the recent past as well:




What will we be able to learn from the Yale ’68 50th Reunion Class Book?  Will it contain reflections on these matters or on the impact illegal American wars and American supported conflicts have had on the tens of millions of people these wars have killed, maimed or driven from their homes at gunpoint, shelled with depleted uranium or white phosphorus munitions or attacked from the sky with drones?  Will members of the class of 1968 reflect on the tragic, futile, and ecologically devastating behavior of their country since the Vietnam war?  That war was so vigorously opposed by so many in the class of 1968.  Are they equally outraged today?

Or, now that there is no draft and their children and grandchildren are not — for the most part — obliged to fight in these horrific wars, have the members of the class of 1968 simply forgotten the the glaring contradictions of imperial democracy, substituting a new kind of collective amnesia and blindness for their earlier myopia in abolishing the draft?   No doubt, their “50th Reunion Class Book” will be a key historical document, revealing, perhaps, more than they realize to the world.  In any case, we will have to wait and see.


In fact, this particular “Class Book” is likely to be one of the most impressive compilations of reflections ever assembled, since it is making full use of digital and internet technology to amass an exceptional collection of information that is intended to be shared with classmates.  It is all being masterfully assembled by one of the country’s most skillful editors — a very distinguished career news professional.   It is unlikely, however, that this impressive online collection will ever be published  as a “hardcopy” book.  It will probably prove to be too massive and cumbersome for that.    Nevertheless, in whatever form it takes, it promises to be an important “primary document” for those trying to answer the question:

 “What ever happened to the
Class of 1968?” 


It can go a long way toward providing some clues about a few of the people on one campus in turbulent times and ever since.   Well beyond the Vietnam war itself, the Class of 1968 and those in its generation have had a massive influence upon the evolution of our current global circumstance as a human community.  Consider, for example, its impact in the evolution of humanity’s greatest challenge yet:

As other colleges assemble their 50th Reunion ruminations around the country, we may well get a more nuanced understanding of the history we have all endured and labored to shape.


[Some ongoing thoughts …fifty years on … Transition-Studies.TV ]

Tim Weiskel
Berkeley College
Yale ’68

See related:

Faith and Activism: The Legacy of the ’60s Generation

Yale Divinity School
Published on Feb 13, 2013
The Public Witness and Ministry of William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

Panel Discussion 1

Event Speaker(s):

Scotty McLennan ’70 BA, moderator
Bliss Williams Browne ’71 BA
Kai T. Erikson ’85 MAH
Harold Koh ’90 MAH
Charlie Pillsbury ’70BA, ’90 Div
James Ponet ’68 BA
Timothy Weiskel ’69 BA

Recorded: Thursday, April 28, 2005 – 5:00pm

A personal reflection:

“What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, love kindness,
and walk humbly with Thy God?”

Micah 6:8


and related:



William Sloane Coffin – Grace

Published on Jul 12, 2011

A gambler teaches William Sloane Coffin the meaning of grace.

William Sloane Coffin Chautauqua 2003

Published on Nov 24, 2009

Rev. William Sloane Coffin gave his last sermon at Chautauqua Institution on July 20, 2003. Here are some highlights.