A new human rights initiative may be the stuff of which peace is made.

The Satellite Sentinel Project is an unprecedented effort led by Not on Our Watch (an advocacy group of leading Hollywood figures) and the anti-genocide Enough Project of the Center for American Progress.

For the first time in history, they intend to provide peace groups with the capacity to monitor potential war zones via commercial satellites. The goal is nothing less than to stop wars and war crimes in their bloody tracks.

A pilot project will try to help head off a potential civil war in Africa’s largest nation — Sudan.

The brainchild of actor and director George Clooney, the Satellite Sentinel Project is the subject of a major story in Time magazine.

The project will monitor the border area between north and south Sudan, which have been engaged in an intermittent civil war for 50 years. An uneasy truce has prevailed since 2005, but there is a potential for further war in the run-up to a Jan. 9 referendum, when the oil-rich south will decide whether to secede from the north.

Border villages in the south have already reportedly been bombed, though the north has denied responsibility.

This situation underscores the potential value of independent groups being able to provide pictures of the smoking guns.

The satellites will also be able to document such features of war as burned villages, masses of people fleeing and movements of troops and tanks.

“We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we’re watching, the world is watching,” Clooney said in a prepared statement. “War criminals thrive in the dark. It’s a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight.”

The Satellite Sentinel’s partners also include the United Nations, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Google and another Internet firm named Trellon.

“This is the first time satellites have been deployed to deter rather than merely document war crimes,” according to Jonathan Hutson, communications director of the Enough Project. “Prospective war criminals are on notice that we can, for example, detect fresh mass graves from 480 miles up and alert the world in a matter of hours.”

This may be a historic moment for peacemaking. And it could give peace a chance in Sudan.

That’s good news for the new year.

Frederick Clarkson is an independent journalist and editor, most recently, of “Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America.” He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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