May 2009 PeaceWorker
During the last years of the Bush administration, the public cry for immigration reform rose from a murmur to a roar. Now President Obama seems poised to make good on his campaign promise to help deliver it.
In “Obama Boosters Co-Opt Peace Movement, Blogger Charges” a popular blogger suggests that President Obama and some of his progressive supporters have turned their backs on their peace constituency.
The War Resisters League analyzes Obama’s Afghanistan policy in its public statement of protest.
This year offers a great opportunity for the new administration to tackle the nuclear weapons program: something Obama has pledged to do. Some suggestions from a peace perspective.
Final Push for the Guard Home Campaign
By Peter Bergel
The effort to keep Oregon’s National Guard in Oregon needs a mighty shove to put it over the top. Supporters should hasten to contact their state representatives and state senators in support of HB 2556-1, HR 4 and SB 1.
Status of Campaign
Oregon PeaceWorks is cooperating in a statewide effort to keep the Oregon National Guard from being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. HB 2556-1 restates existing law that says troops can only be deployed to a war when a valid Authorization for the Use of Military Force is in place. Then identical House and Senate resolutions 4 and 1 respectively express the opinion of the House and Senate that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not meet that criterion.
After a spirited hearing before the House Rules Committee on two of our bills HB 2556-1 and HR 4, the Chair of the Rules Committee has told us that he will hold a work session on the bills (which is the next step) only if we can tell him that we have enough votes (31 in the House, 16 in the Senate) lined up to pass the bill.
In addition to visiting every legislator, the Campaign is asking supporters to send the following letter (or a similar one) to both their state representatives and their state senators. You can do this easily and quickly by following this link: :http://oregonprogressivenetwork.org/eletters/?eid=21.
There are only a few weeks left before about half of Oregon's National Guard force will be deployed to Iraq. 7,200 Oregonians signed a petition in support of legislation that would keep the Guard in service to Oregon when there is not a valid Congressional authorization for a federal call up. HB 2556-1, HR 4 and SR 1 have been introduced and now have significant bi-partisan support in the House and the Senate.
The Oregon National Guard should not be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan because:
1. Such a deployment may not be legal. I believe the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force currently in place are either expired or over-broad.
2. The deployment of 3,500 Oregon Guard troops would have a detrimental impact on our state's economy. Both the loss of their income and post-deployment medical support are direct costs to the state.
3. Deployment of Guard troops and their equipment undermines the Guard's ability to protect the people and property of Oregon. All 12 of our Blackhawk helicopters are already gone.
4. Oregon has already paid a steep price in lives and treasure for a conflict that was unnecessary. Post-deployment incidences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), spousal and child abuse, divorce, alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal offenses, homelessness and suicide are staggering, and increase alarmingly with multiple deployments. This will be the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th deployment for more than 40% of our Guardspersons.
HB 2556-1 simply reaffirms current law, which says that the Guard should serve the state unless called up by valid federal authorizations. HR 4 and SR 1 contend that the Congressional authorizations for war in Iraq and Afghanistan have now expired, and urge (but do not require) the Governor to withhold deployment for that reason.
We owe it to our troops to make sure that the Oregon Guard's deployment is lawful and required. As your constituent, I strongly urge your support of HB 2556-1 and HR 4 or SR 1.
This Campaign is being led by an informal steering committee comprised of Campaign Co-Coordinators Dan Handelman (Portland Peace and Justice Works) and Leah Bolger (Veterans for Peace), Curt Bell (PDX Peace), Barbara Glancy (PDX Peace), Peter Bergel (Oregon PeaceWorks) and Michael Carrigan (CALC). However, representatives of any of the 60+ groups which have endorsed the Campaign are welcome to participate. For more information, contact Dan Handelman at 503.236.3065. [
Peter Bergel is Executive Director of Oregon PeaceWorks.
Where’s the Revolution?
By Peter Bergel
We have been taken to war on false pretenses, watched our national prestige go through the floor, seen the most sacred of American liberties and values quietly repealed and lost a large percentage of our wealth to corporate theft. Yet where is the outrage?
Other peoples, including our American forebears, revolted under conditions like this. What’s wrong with us?
There’s a scene in The Night in Lisbon by Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, in which an SS man arrests a German Jew and marches him down the street at gunpoint. An undercover agent witnesses the event and, seeing the terror in the Jew’s eyes, sneaks up behind the SS man and knocks him out, shouting at the Jew to flee. The Jew, now completely terrified, fetches water to revive the SS man and excoriates the agent saying, “You shouldn’t have done that. Now, I’ll get into real trouble.”
Today many of us are reacting like that Jew. We don’t seem to understand that we are being betrayed by our government, even the government of Barack Obama.
So many of us worked so hard to get Obama elected, and rejoiced with such hope at his victory, that we seem unable to realize that Obama ¾ while infinitely better than Bush in so many ways ¾ is nevertheless continuing some of Bush’s betrayals. It is currently politically incorrect to criticize him and some of my friends react negatively when I do.
Yet it is our duty to notice and sound the alarm when people we think are on our side act in ways that are not in our best interests.
So what’s my beef? Hasn’t Obama said he would withdraw from Iraq? Hasn’t he said he would close Guantanamo? Hasn’t he said he would go after the corporate crooks? Yes, yes and yes.
Iraq and Gitmo
But he is also telling us that we can’t leave Iraq until 2011, yet he wants to send 21,000 additional troops in Afghanistan right now. If we thought Iraq was bad, my guess is that Afghanistan will be much worse. It certainly was for the Russians and the British and many other would-be conquerors of that land. Why are we doing this? Because al Quaeda may have been headquartered there in 2001? Aren’t we fed up with warring in the Middle East for reasons that don’t make sense? Do we really have to send tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of billions more scarce tax dollars to pursue this fool’s errand? This Afghan escalation isn’t something Bush got us into that we have to wind down “responsibly.” This is all Obama’s idea and it’s a betrayal of the millions who voted for peace.
And Gitmo? Yes, Obama signed an executive order to close it, but that may take as long as a year. Meanwhile, reports of increased abuse at the infamous military prison are filtering in. According to Al Jazeera’s Washington bureau, inmate Mohammad al-Qaraani claims that he has been beaten and tear-gassed in his cell. Attorney Ahmed Ghappour has filed 3 complaints since the beginning of the year, each calling for an investigation of alleged abuse, yet he says he has been ignored. Another ex-detainee reports that the staff has not changed since the Bush years. [:http://www.mujahideenryder.net/2009/04/15/guantanemo-abuse-increases-since-obama-announces-its-closing/.]
As far as bringing corporate crooks to justice, don’t hold your breath. According to John F. Miglio, writing for OpEd News (:www.opednews.com), “It should be noted that a lot of the money that helped Obama get elected came from … executives at Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs (his number one donor). Even worse, the individuals who are now running his recovery plan ¾ Summers, Geithner, Bernanke ¾ are all part of the same corporate-criminal complex, or what the Mafia used to call amici de amici (friends of friends).”
Even more shocking is a recent segment from Bill Moyers’ Journal (:http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/watch.html) in which Moyers interviews former S&L investigator Bill Black. Black says that after the S&L crisis a law called the Prompt Corrective Action Law was adopted requiring the closure of banks that engage in fraudulent practices, such as “liar’s loans.” (These are loans made without checking the employment and credit information submitted by prospective borrowers, thus encouraging lying.) This law, Black says, was ignored by Treasury Secretary Paulson and is now being ignored by Secretary Geithner. So not only are the crooks not being apprehended and punished, they are being permitted to continue their practices.
It gets worse: Moyers quotes Geithner as saying, “I’ve never been a regulator, for better or worse. I think you’re right to say that we have to be very skeptical that regulation can solve all of these problems. We have parts of our system that are overwhelmed by regulation.”
“Overwhelmed by regulation!” Moyers exclaims, “It wasn’t the absence of regulation that was the problem…”
Black replies, “Well, he may be right that he never regulated, but his job was to regulate.” Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which ¾ Black points out ¾ is responsible for regulating most of the largest bank holding companies in America.” So we see that a person who was deeply responsible for allowing the financial situation to crash now has the responsibility of running the fix. How likely is this to work? Who picked Geithner and then would not let him resign? You guessed it.
Can You Spare Any Change?
Much as I admire a lot of what Obama says and much as I appreciate his pledge to stop the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump and move our country toward nuclear disarmament, I am still feeling like that guy in the movie “Network.” He raised his window and shouted “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it any more,” thereby starting a movement.
We need an aroused citizenry in this country ¾ people willing to shake off the helpless inaction of the Bush years and demand accountability not only from the Bushies, but also from Obama and anyone else who represents us.
Please consider this an invitation to get mad and demand the change we were promised. We’ve waited eight years. How much longer are we going to wait? [
Top Democrats and many prominent supporters ¾ with vocal agreement, tactical quibbles or total silence ¾ are assisting the escalation of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The predictable results will include much more killing and destruction. Back home, on the political front, the escalation will drive deep wedges into the Democratic Party.
The party has a large anti-war base, and that base will grow wider and stronger among voters as the realities of the Obama war program become more evident. The current backing or acceptance of the escalation from liberal think tanks and some online activist groups will not be able to prevent the growth of opposition among key voting blocs.
In their eagerness to help the Obama presidency, many of its prominent liberal supporters — whatever their private views on the escalation — are willing to function as enablers of the expanded warfare. Many assume that opposition would undermine the administration and play into the hands of Republicans. But in the long run, going along with the escalation is not helping Obama; by putting off the days of reckoning, the acceptance of the escalation may actually help Obama destroy his own presidency.
Ideally, in 2009, Democratic lawmakers would see as role models the senators who opposed the Vietnam War — first Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening, and then (years later) others including Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. Earlier and stronger opposition from elected officials could have saved countless lives. The dreams of the Great Society might not have been crushed. And Richard Nixon might never have become president.
Say No to New War
Now, everyone has the potential to help challenge the escalation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan war — on a collision course with heightened disaster.
Last month the Sunday Times of London reported that U.S. drone attacks along the Afghan-Pakistani border killed “foreign militants” and “women and children” — while Pakistani officials asserted that “American drone attacks on the border . . . are causing a massive humanitarian emergency.” The newspaper said that “as many as one million people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army.”
This is standard catastrophic impact of a counterinsurgency war. In short, as former Kennedy administration official William Polk spells out in his recent book Violent Politics, the key elements are in place for the U.S. war in Afghanistan to fail on its own terms while heightening the death and misery on a large scale.
Citing U.N. poverty data, a recent essay :http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-hayden/progressive-think-tank-te_b_179174.html by Tom Hayden points out that in Afghanistan and Pakistan “the levels of suffering are among the most extreme in the world, and from suffering, from having nothing to live for, comes the will to die for a cause.” While the Washington spin machine touts development aid, the humanitarian effort adds up to a few pennies for each dollar going to the U.S. war effort.
Occupation Drives Resurgence of Taliban
A report from the Carnegie Endowment began this year with the stark conclusion that “the only meaningful way to halt the insurgency’s momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban.” Hayden made the same point when he wrote that “military occupation, particularly a surge of U.S. troops into the Pashtun region in southern Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the surest way to inflame nationalist resistance and greater support for the Taliban.”
In his pitch for more NATO support, President Obama tried to make the U.S. war goals seem circumscribed: “I want everybody to understand that our focus is to defeat Al Qaeda.” But there’s no evidence that Al Qaeda has a significant foothold in Afghanistan. That group long since decamped to Pakistan.
In any event, the claim that a massive war is necessary to fight terrorism is hardly new. Lest we forget: After George W. Bush could no longer cling to his claims about WMDs in Iraq, he settled on the anti-terrorist rationale for continuing the Iraq occupation.
Polite Brush-Off from Europe
Even among allies, the anti-terrorism rationale is not flying for a troop buildup in Afghanistan. After Obama’s latest appeal to the leaders of NATO countries, as the New York Times reported, “his calls for a more lasting European troop increase for Afghanistan were politely brushed aside.”
Europe will provide no more than 5,000 new troops, and most of them just for the Afghan pre-election period till late summer. In the words of the Times: “Mr. Obama is raising the number of American troops this year to about 68,000 from the current 38,000, which will significantly Americanize the war.”
Judge Obama by His Own Standards
For those already concerned about Obama’s re-election prospects, such war realities may seem faraway and relatively abstract. But escalation will fracture his base inside the Democratic Party. If the president insists on leading a party of war, then activists will educate, agitate and organize to transform it into a party for peace.
The mirage of wise counterinsurgency has been re-conjured by the Obama White House, echoing the “best and brightest” from Democratic administrations of the 1960s. But the party affiliation of the U.S. president will make no difference to people far away who mourn the loss of loved ones. Whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan or the United States, the president will be held to the astute standard that Barack Obama laid out as he addressed unfriendly foreign leaders in his inaugural speech: “People will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”
Norman Solomon is on the advisory board of Progressive Democrats of America and a national co-chair of the Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, which has been made into a documentary film of the same name. For information, go to: :www.normansolomon.com. [
[Ed. Note: Please sign a petition to Oregon’s congressional delegation asking them to oppose escalation in Afghanistan here: :http://oregonprogressivenetwork.org/petitions/sign.php?pid=82#form.]
Iraq by the Numbers
I pride myself in being a scientist and a researcher. I built my academic career on theories and numbers. As a teacher, I teach my students that everything is based in science ¾ everything has reason.
For this reason, I am always frustrated with myself when I find I am overwhelmed with feelings on specific topics. One such topic is the occupation of my country, Iraq. On this subject I find that I cannot always be dispassionate. I cannot be the researcher and observer and discuss it without feeling or emotion as I am sometimes expected to do.
I find myself doing research on the damage caused by the war and occupation, and my head buzzes with anger, my eyes burn with tears of desperation at the state of my country. Six years after the attack and the pain is as fresh and cutting as it was in March 2003.
Let the Numbers Speak
This year, I decided, I would view it as a scientist. I would not attack the subject with emotion. I would let the numbers speak for themselves. This year I will sit back and play the part of the analyst ¾ the researcher ¾ on this topic that is closest to my heart. Six years into the occupation.
* 72 months of destruction
* $607 billion spent on the war
* 2 million barrels of oil being sold per day
* 2 million displaced Iraqis inside of Iraq
* 3 million Iraqis forced to leave the country
* 2,615 professors, scientists, and doctors killed in cold blood
* 338 dead journalists
* $13 billion misplaced by the current Iraqi government
* $400 billion required to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure
* 3 hours, on average, of electricity daily
* 24 car bombs per month
* 7 major mafias running the country
* 4,260 Americans dead
* 10,000 cases of cholera per year
* 50 of my friends dead
* 22 of my relatives dead
* 15 abductions of close relatives and people I know and love
* at least 1.3 million Iraqis dead since 2003.
Rewards of American Occupation
Six years into the occupation and somehow, the numbers are not looking better. Year after dismal year, the numbers of dead and displaced grow as we continue to reap the rewards of an American occupation on our country. So the numbers speak for themselves. Six. Six months is what it took for most Iraqis to realize no good could come of this war and occupation. Six years is what it has taken the rest of the world. Six years, six million Iraqis displaced inside and outside of Iraq ¾ well over a million Iraqis dead or dying inside of the country.
As a scientist, as a researcher, it is a disaster that will never be sufficiently documented with numbers or words. As a researcher, the numbers are so astounding that we go back and recalculate to make sure they are real. As an Iraqi, it is enraging. The numbers and statistics fill me with a rage and shame that make my heart throb and my blood boil. It’s a rage towards all who are silent and uncaring, and a shame at the little we all are doing. [
Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, an Associate Professor in Baghdad, Iraq, is a member of the Brussels Tribunal Advisory Committee.
It’s Time to Do the Right Thing
Where do we begin as every day people living in extraordinary times? For those of us who found hope and solace in the election of President Obama and a senate majority, we are suddenly standing on our own, recalling history and Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, we were na?ve to think that change would come easily, if at all; though I prefer to call us idealistic, optimistic and hopeful.
Some of us have been out in the streets for eight years now, some of us much longer than that. I, for one, cannot remember a time in my lifetime when there was not the need to protest and protect the values of peace and freedom, racial equality, human rights and dignity, let alone justice.
I thought we might get a brief reprieve. No such luck.
The Sky Really IS Falling
Look up! The sky is falling. The economy is falling. The environment is falling. Healthcare has barely anyplace left to fall. Basic values of trust, truth and honesty have fallen. The flag flies high but what does it represent today? For me it represents a memory of what I expect from my country.
It is time to let the old fall and rebuild anew. It is time to let the banks crumble, fraudulent corporations collapse and cast criminal leaders out of the “system” that protected and paid them well to bring us to our knees. They can leave their pensions behind too.
It is time church and state separated once and for all. If you pay charitable dollars to sell your religious-political wares, it is time to surrender your tax deductions. If you believe your personal values are more important than the freedom of other individuals, fine, but that does not give you the power or the freedom to place limits on others choices. This is, after all, still America.
It is time for Monsanto to get out of the food business, for cloned beasties to go back into the lab and out of the food chain, for farmland to be restored to the family farmer who gives a damn about the quality of products raised and distributed. It is time for packing plants, whether they pack beef, chicken, nuts or spinach, to be shut down until they are cleaned up. It is time for industrial pollutants to be stopped in their tracks before one more child or adults gets MS or autism or Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or any of the other pollution-suspect diseases that are weakening human life.
It is time for us to stop the chase for cures and find the sources of human misery, while demanding the resources to find affordable treatments.
Rx for Our Future
Cesar Chavez led us to boycott grapes to bring safety to the fields. Now it is time for us to boycott every industry that is killing slowly and not so slowly ¾ be it banks, markets, or corporations. It is simply time to stop trying to outrun suffering and embrace it. It is time to go without now, so that we may have something of value to go to in the future. It is time to take our thumbs out of the dike and let the greedy drown in their own contempt.
We cannot negotiate the outcome. It is what it will be if we idly stand by and wait for whatever crumbs might trickle down to us. We cannot save ourselves from terrorism while we are the terrorists. We cannot raise Afghanistan to a place of peace and freedom, when our very presence encourages rape, murder, and revenge against their most vulnerable populations in retaliation for our self righteousness and military presence. How can we fight for human rights when we are disregarding them?
We cannot provide Israel with arms when they not only threaten but act upon their threat to destroy that which they do not agree with, including now, the threat of a pre-emptive strike on Iran.
We have been destroying the infrastructures that have survived thousands of years because we have allowed arrogant and stupid leaders to put their own interests above ours.
It is time for us to take to the streets bearing only our hearts and our will to overcome those that have for years warped every industry into some kind of tyrannical empire of self destruction.
It is time to say “no more” and put our bodies where our mouths have been, in the open, refusing to watch the media that deceives us, to buy the products that are killing us. It is time to support the small local businesses that will be our heart and soul if we are to survive this economy. It time for poor kids to stop enlisting in the military and for those who have enlisted to stop fighting, to sit down, to face the consequences of doing the right thing.
It is time for us to have the conversations about what we can do and must not do, to tell our leaders that they long ago stopped supporting us and we no longer support them.
It is simply time to find the personal courage to begin doing the right thing. [
We had eight years of Bush and Cheney and we finally at long last purged ourselves of that toxic mess. Now those we voted in to change it out are all for keeping some of the worst of it.
Obama has been in office for fewer than 70 days. By now we should still be getting rid of the horrific influences and cleaning up the old mistakes, such as invading Iraq, torturing people, cutting Old Growth forests, polluting, making the rich folks richer at the expense of everything else, and stealing our civil liberties.
Why, then, would one of Obama’s appointees advocate a Dick Cheney approach to your rights? Why would Obama’s new (recycled) FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III start advocating for a renewal of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, the most egregious violation of your civil liberties of the entire Bush and Cheney era? Why would Mueller do so even when all the historic groups organized solely to protect your rights disagree with him?
“If we were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”
—Rep. Tom Davis, R-VA, of the Republican ‘brand’
Freedom Is Not Very Convenient
If we imagine looking at the shelf labeled “American Instruments to Defend Freedom,” some would regard the Bill of Rights as top shelf, alongside the Constitution. In the mid-range, we hope, are Congress and the Justice Department. In the bargain bin are the warrantless wiretaps, waterboarding, and the snoopsters at the FBI, with their misnamed Patriot Act, which should indeed be recalled and shredded.
Mueller says some of the measures in the Patriot Act save “an awful lot of paperwork.”
Right. Why not eliminate all of it and just allow the federal government to read all your emails, follow all your financial transactions, monitor which books you buy or check out of the library, and peruse your telephone records? Oh, that’s right—the Patriot Act already does that. Just one whiff of dissent from Big Brother and you are fair game. Do you doubt that? Do you remember when it was revealed that three of the most spied-on groups were Greenpeace, CodePink and the Catholic Workers? All three of these “organizations” are nonviolent and transparent. We were fair game by the Patriot Act. No one knows how many reams have been “saved” on us (I live in a Catholic Worker peace community). Maybe if the FBI would stop spying on nonviolent peaceful people they could really save some paperwork.
No Need to Spy
My friend Kary is a lawyer. He told me not to write a single thing in any email that I wouldn’t want the FBI to read. OK, FBI, here is what I say: Get honest work. Quit spying on U.S. citizens. There are not, in fact, terrorists under every bed (except in the Cheney household), nor are you making any friends amongst regular folks who voted to get their country back.
You may not have it. Cheney and Bush stole, we got it back fair and square, so let it go or face an America determined to be free. We should be able to do that because of you, not despite you. The Founders are on our side, not yours. Back off. [
Don’t Fix the System - Replace It
Forward-looking thinkers who are — for now — on the “prophetic” fringe of mainstream economics have been saying for some time that the shocking fragility of our fiscal system, and our economy generally, is an “opportunity” as well as a “crisis.” In the words of David Korten of the Positive Futures Network, what we should be doing is “not fixing the system, but replacing it.”
While they are not against short-term measures or protecting the vulnerable, they are urging us not to go back to sleep after we’ve done that and to realize that the present system is inherently fragile, unfair, and in the end an obstacle to real human progress. What we need instead is an economy that is locally based, simple, and closer to real human needs; and such a system could be built up from the innumerable experiments in barter, local currencies, and other imaginative “innovations” that are already happening (for the most part, they’re actually based on systems of yesteryear that worked fine until the craze for wealth, driven by the materialistic worldview and materialistic values of the modern age, sent them the way of the electric car).
Look at the REALLY Big Picture
I have a strange comment to make about this wildly ambitious scheme: it’s not enough. Our economic system is part of a whole culture. Even if we were to widen our mental horizon to embrace the Gross National Happiness that the kingdom of Bhutan goes by instead of the standard GNP criterion of economic success, we would find that other elements of the standard model, or “story” that we live by these days won’t match the new economy and even though it would be more stable, more realistic, it would not survive unless we can stop not only over-consuming but:
· Relying on overwhelming military force in situations that can only be resolved by human understanding — the very thing military force sweeps under the rug.
· Incarcerating millions in a failed system of “justice”.
· Allowing our schools and colleges to lose their compass — and their funding, thus feeding more young people who could otherwise be leading meaningful lives into that criminal justice system.
· Letting health care get into the hands of profit-makers (while unhealthy life styles turn more and more of us into patients), and
· Turning up the violence throughout society by powerful (and again, profit-driven) mass media.
All of these unwanted features hang together in an unspoken philosophical framework that runs something like this: we human beings are separate from each other and our environment, which is mainly a collection of “resources” we might as well exploit for our own benefit, and even — why not? — enter into fierce competition with one another, group against group, nation against nation, to do so. Happiness is scarce and if I’m going to get my share, I just might have to take away yours.
What Should We Do Instead?
We could be doing three things to fix the economy and the rest of the picture:
1. Be really clear about the prevailing story that’s gotten us into this mess;
2. Articulate the new story, which is no fairy tale but based on more and more scientific evidence, not to mention our own experience in life: we are all deeply interconnected: Our happiness does not come from consumption and never did once we took care of the basics. Our happiness comes from having a purpose in life, and that purpose nearly every time has something to do with being of service to one another. Which is why Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented civilization to a person-oriented civilization.”
3. Systematically redraft the institutions of healthcare, defense, security (and others) along the lines of this new story.
This may sound like a daunting challenge, but the fact is, every one of these areas has seen inspiring experiments akin to those we’ve been seeing in economics: Nonviolent Peaceforce is putting trained volunteers into conflict zones around the world, often stopping violence where military force would not be workable (or would make things worse); Restorative Justice experiments go forward in prisons and out, by non-governmental groups like the Quaker-based Alternatives to Violence Project and, slowly but surely, government agencies as well, all with great success; experimental schools and free clinics sometimes work much better than the mainstream versions — many of the millions of non-profit, or rather ‘social profit’ organizations listed by Paul Hawken in his book Blessed Unrest are quietly building the more stable institutions that the new story needs.
There are times when it’s easier in the long run to be more ambitious than less, and this is one of them. [
Obama Boosters Co-Opt Peace Movement, Blogger Charges
President Obama went on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” last month to make the case for his great big war in Afghanistan. The good news is that Obama says, “What I will not do is to simply assume that more troops always results in an improved situation.” The bad news is that Obama is dispatching more troops to a country that has never taken well to occupation.
MoveOn MIA, CAP AWOL
So where is the MoveOn.org blast condemning the ramping up of an undeclared war and the president’s refusal to rule out an even more dramatic expansion of that war to Pakistan? Where is the memo from the Center for American Progress outlining the case against giving the president “a blank check for endless war”?
Don’t hold your breath, says John Stauber, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and the co-author of Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq and The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq, two of the most scathing books on the Bush-Cheney administration and its war in Iraq.
In a no-holds-barred critique of groups that earned their reputations as critics of the rush to invade and occupy Iraq, Stauber argues that the Obama administration has effectively co-opted some of the nation’s most high-profile anti-war groups.
Here’s what Stauber writes in a piece titled: “How Obama Took Over the Peace Movement,” which appears on the CMD website:
John Podesta’s liberal think tank the Center for American Progress strongly supports Barack Obama’s escalation of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is best evidenced by Sustainable Security in Afghanistan, a CAP report by Lawrence J. Korb. Podesta served as the head of Obama’s transition team, and CAP’s support for Obama’s wars is the latest step in a successful co-option of the U.S. peace movement by Obama’s political aides and the Democratic Party.
CAP and the five million member liberal lobby group MoveOn were behind Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI), a coalition that spent tens of millions of dollars using Iraq as a political bludgeon against Republican politicians, while refusing to pressure the Democratic Congress to actually cut off funding for the war. AAEI was operated by two of Barack Obama’s top political aids, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, and by Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change and USAction.
Today Woodhouse is Obama’s Director of Communications and Research for the Democratic National Committee. He controls the massive email list called Obama for America composed of the many millions of people who gave money and love to the Democratic peace candidate and might be wondering what the heck he is up to in Afghanistan and Pakistan. MoveOn built its list by organizing vigils and ads for peace and by then supporting Obama for president; today it operates as a full-time cheerleader supporting Obama’s policy agenda. Some of us saw this unfolding years ago. Others are probably shocked watching their peace candidate escalating a war and sounding so much like the previous administration in his rationale for so doing.
Stauber’s piece has circulated widely, stirring the same sort of dialogue that his previous criticisms of MoveOn inspired.
Not Everyone is Fooled
The truth is that important players in the anti-war movement are speaking out against Obama’s Afghanistan buildup.
Peace Action is petitioning Congress to oppose Obama’s Afghanistan plan. Peace Action executive director Kevin Martin has compared the president’s moves with those of John Kennedy in Vietnam. “It’s a shame President Obama believes he can pursue the same militaristic strategy as his predecessors and produce a different result, While President Obama has made some good statements on increasing diplomacy and economic aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the emphasis is clearly on military operations. John F. Kennedy was in a comparable situation when he was elected. He chose to escalate then as well, and the consequences of his decision left our country mired in an unwinnable war.”
The Friends Committee on National Legislation, which maintains the largest peace lobby in Washington, says: “More troops won’t bring more peace in Afghanistan. Instead, the U.S. should invest in long-term diplomacy and development assistance.”
United for Peace and Justice, of which both Peace Action and FCNL are member groups, organized and coordinated local actions on April 6-9 to pressure Congress to oppose the Afghanistan escalation.
But Stauber’s broad point is an important one.
There is significant discomfort with the expansion of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and opposition has been expressed by political leaders abroad and at home (including Democrats and Republicans in Congress). This is a time when genuine anti-war groups could be expected to harness that discomfort and build a stronger movement to shift U.S. policy.
As such, it is a time of testing for organizations that came to prominence opposing not just George Bush and Dick Cheney, but the wrongheaded war-making of the White House ¾ no matter which party happened to occupy the Oval Office. That makes Stauber’s J’accuse a particularly stinging one. [
John Nichols blogs for The Nation. This article was posted at :http://www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/422250/print?rel=nofollow on 03/29/2009.
I am a veteran of Iraq who served two tours in the U.S. occupation of that country. I experienced firsthand the horrors of that war, and like many others, came to see it as nothing more than a chance for a very few to make vast profits in a short amount of time.
Now, because of those selfish and irresponsible actions, the citizens of not only the U.S., but of the entire world, are asked to pay for the fallout of war in blood, sacrifice and currency.
But this is old news.
Yet, even as we deplore the war in Iraq and the unconstitutional actions of the former administration, we are sucked back into the propaganda of the “first war,” the “good war,” as if the Bush administration was so unpatriotic that it had no interest in Afghanistan. Even as we acknowledge that Iraq is a war for oil and profit, we ignore the history of Afghanistan and the oil resources of the Caspian Sea that would be opened up through this conquest. Even as we sit on the brink of a depression we are willing to pour our money and resources into a so-called ‘ten year plan’ that will cost unknown sums of money that we will not get back. Exactly as it is happening in the Iraq war, the fruits of our labor will be siphoned off into the banks of contractors and industrialists, and for whose benefit? Certainly not ours, for we have only some false hope of revenge to attain.
For the rest of this article, which was posted at AlterNet on April 8, 2009, visit :http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/135492/iraq_veteran%3A_why_i%27m_against_obama%27s_afghanistan/. [
Beyond Afghanistan: Choosing Nonviolence
Having just passed the April 4 anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s great 1967 “Beyond Vietnam” speech in New York City’s Riverside Church, the War Resisters League (WRL) reiterates King’s urgent cry for nonviolence ¾ and nonviolent resistance. The parallels between the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. war against Vietnam fill us with foreboding. While we adamantly oppose continued U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we also call upon people of conscience to think beyond Afghanistan and challenge, as King did, “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”
Others have laid out reasons ¾ from Afghanistan’s topography to the U.S. economic crisis ¾ that would make an expanded war in Afghanistan “unwinnable.” But WRL does not base our opposition on such arguments. While they may be correct, we challenge the very idea of a “winnable” war and oppose this one as we oppose all war: not solely for practical and strategic reasons, but because of our, and King’s, decades-long commitment to nonviolence.
Purveyor of Violence
Much has changed in the 40-plus years since King made that speech, yet the United States remains, as he named it then, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” WRL stands, as he did, against that violence, which is not only wrong, but cures nothing and rebounds on its perpetrators.
King declared that the people of Vietnam “must see Americans as strange liberators.” The assessment applies today to the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has lost more than two million civilian lives to war in the last 30 years alone, and the toll is rising again, in a dreadful example of the ways in which violence boomerangs and warfare begets only devastation and more warfare (including attacks by groups like Al Quaeda). For centuries that battered land has been subject to imperial aggression and intervention. The Taliban rose to power with the support of the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services, intervening against the USSR’s invasion. Today, Afghanistan’s infrastructure is destroyed. Each year, pregnancy and childbirth kill 25,000 women, and diarrhea kills 85,000 children. Landmines planted in turn by troops of the Soviet Union, the Northern Alliance, and the Taliban kill 600 people per year and maim so many that manufacturing artificial limbs is a major industry. The infamous U.S. “detention center” at Bagram continues to hold more prisoners than Guantanamo. Rather than bombing and shelling Afghanistan ¾ and maintaining a prison there ¾ the United States could promote economic development, public health, education, food security, women’s empowerment, and de-mining efforts.
Enemy of the Poor
War wreaks its devastation within our own country as well. In this period of increased global instability and recession, the world is undergoing a tectonic shift in its assumptions about the institutions of capitalism. That re-evaluation must include its assumptions about the institution of war.
“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube,” King said in 1967. Substitute “Iraq and Afghanistan” for Vietnam, and the sentence is equally, terribly true today.
Here as abroad, war remains, as King called it, the “enemy of the poor.” While the Pentagon pours billions of tax dollars into implements of destruction and rains down bombs on poor civilians in Afghanistan, our own infrastructure crumbles, and our own people are struggling without decent schools, healthcare, and employment. The funds that we need to provide housing and care at home end up diverted into killing people thousands of miles away, and people of color, immigrants, and lower-income whites are targeted by military recruiters to do the killing. Massive bailouts line the pockets of bankers, unemployment skyrockets, and military recruiters are having the easiest time meeting their quotas in years.
Nonviolence in Afghanistan and at Home
Despite the monumental obstacles they face, many in Afghanistan and Pakistan are working nonviolently for peace and to repair the ravages of war and war-making. In Afghanistan, Parliamentarian Malalai Joya ¾ despite illegal suspension from Parliament and assassination attempts ¾ has continued to denounce the warlords and call for human rights, women’s rights, and governmental accountability. Thousands of peace advocates in northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan have met in the assemblies called jirgas to imagine and formulate peace and reconstruction initiatives. The lawyers’ campaign in Pakistan has mobilized thousands, despite beatings and arrests, to reverse the military’s control over the courts. Others are building schools and countering the bitter legacy of violence against women. U.S. peace advocates should be promoting and publicizing these nonviolent actions to rebuild Afghan and Pakistani society in the midst of war, devastation, warlordism, and patriarchal control.
In our own country as well, there are increasingly loud voices against war and for a reordering of our priorities-for affordable housing, universal healthcare, gender justice, disability rights, clean energy, quality education, restorative justice, fair food, and an anti-racist society. Among these allies are newcomers to the United States, people who have survived and resisted wars and challenged immigration policies that facilitate the extraction of profits from cheap labor, even while being criminalized, imprisoned, deported, and denied citizenship. Some of those most forsaken by the U.S. government have continued to build organizations and networks for those with no safety net.
The War Resisters League urges everyone to join us in organizing, protesting, and demanding the closing of Bagram prison (and all such “detention centers”) and an end to military actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan and across the globe. Organize against military recruitment ¾ the military is preying on those most affected by the battered economy. Support the voices and actions of the survivors of war. Listen to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars; create space for their heartbreaking stories of remorse and harrowing accounts of the worst kinds of violence and dehumanization. Stop funding war ¾ become a war tax resister. Instead of paying to train men and women to kill, foster ways to help all of us rebuild our communities.
The so-called “war on terrorism,” with its occupations and detentions, its torture and carnage, has failed because military action can never lead to security. We don’t have easy answers, but we know that the cycle of violence has to end, and we have to help end it. While thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan are finding the courage to risk their lives to work for nonviolent solutions, we have a responsibility to lift our voices. We must reject the notions of good wars and bad wars, legal or illegal wars, winnable and unwinnable wars. We must decide whether our identity as a nation will be based on a culture of cultivating life or dealing death. As King declared, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. ... We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” Together, let’s choose the path of nonviolence. [
The War Resisters League (:http://www.warresisters.org/), “affirms that all war is a crime against humanity” and vows not to support any war, but to nonviolently work for “removal of the causes of war.”
Three Mile Island at 30: Reactors and Infant Health Compromised
March 28 marks 30 years since the partial meltdown and radiation disaster at Three Mile Island (TMI) near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. News accounts noted the reactor’s loss-of-coolant, fuel melting, multiple explosions, venting of radioactive gases, dumping of contaminated water and the buildup of explosive hydrogen inside the reactor vessel. The accident caused such a nationwide scare that the expansion of nuclear power ended in the United States.
The Untold Story
Yet the environmental and health consequences of the TMI disaster aren’t widely understood. Official cover-ups, industry propaganda, and ignorance of radiation-induced illnesses have led to present-day trivialization of TMI and a supposed revival of new reactor construction. Any such revival is totally dependent on billions in federal subsidies, because, as Forbes magazine once blazoned across its cover: “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.”
The nuclear industry’s attempt to raise nuclear power from the dead involves denying the damage resulting from TMI itself and flies in the face of 30 years of science regarding the effects of low-dose radiation. One Wisconsin legislator said on the record in 2007, “Three Mile Island was a success of containment.”
Things weren’t much different in 1979, when President Carter’s Kemeny Commission hurriedly finished its report on the disaster issuing it in October. The commission did not consider any data on the effects of wind-borne radiation, although the wind blew 6-to-9 mph toward upstate New York and western Pennsylvania.
Over 10 million curies of radioactive noble gases including 43,000 curies of krypton-85 ¾ which stays in the environment for 100 years ¾ as well as 15-to-24 curies of radioactive iodine-131, were vented from the “containment” building. (A curie ¾ 37 billion disintegrations per second ¾ is a huge amount of radiation.) As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) later noted, several “deliberate but uncontrolled releases” were used to vent radioactive gas. Official airborne release estimates are just guesses, because of the insufficient number of outside radiation monitors half weren’t working, and a large number of them went off-scale.
On the third day of the venting of these gases, half the population within 15 miles ¾ 144,000 people ¾ fled the area. By this time the bulk of the accident’s airborne radiation was already spewed and drifting on the wind.
In addition, approximately 400,000 gallons of radioactive cooling water that had leaked from the reactor were secretly dumped into the Susquehanna River, a source of drinking water for nearby communities. Later about 2.3 million gallons of radioactively contaminated cooling water were allowed to be “evaporated” into the atmosphere.
In 1980, Pennsylvania State Health Department authorities reported a sharp rise in hypothyroidism in newborn infants in the three counties downwind from the reactor. Late in 1979, four times as many infants as normal were born with the disease. The NRC said the increase was unrelated to radiation released by TMI. Upwind incidence of the disease had dropped to below the national average.
The same year, six workers entered the heavily contaminated reactor building. Five of the six later died of radiation-induced cancers. David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists reports that UCS opposed license renewal for the surviving TMI units and demanded health studies for neighbors. The NRC refused.
Disease Rates Increase
In the county where TMI is located infant deaths soared 53.7 percent in the first month after the accident; 27 percent in the first year. As originally published, the federal government’s own Monthly Vital Statistics Report shows a statistically significant rise in infant and over-all mortality rates shortly after the accident.
Studying ten counties closest to TMI, Jay M. Gould, in his meticulously documented 1990 book Deadly Deceit, found that childhood cancers, other infant diseases, and deaths from birth defects were 15% to 35% higher than before the accident, and those from breast cancer 7% higher. These increases far exceeded those found elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
Gould suggests that between 50,000 and 100,000 excess deaths occurred after the TMI accident. Joseph Mangano of the New York-based Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP) says, “The NRC allows reactors to emit a certain level of radiation, but it does not do follow-up studies to see if there are excessive infant deaths, birth defects or cancers.”
Leukemia deaths among kids fewer than 10 years of age (between 1980 and 1984) jumped almost 50 percent compared to the national rate.
Mangano reports that “between 1980 and 1984, death rates in the three nearest counties were considerably higher than 1970-74 (before the reactor opened) for leukemia, female breast, thyroid and bone and joint cancers.”
In the spring 2000 edition of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, Mangano and Ernest Sternglass reported that in counties adjacent to nuclear reactors, infant mortality fell dramatically after the reactors closed. The RPHP study found that in the first two years after the reactors were shuttered, infant death rates fell 15-to-20 percent. In communities near Big Rock Point in Michigan for example, the decrease in infant mortality rates was 54 percent; at Maine Yankee, the percentage decrease was 33.4 %.14
The evidence of cancers caused by reactor operations brings to mind the words of Roger Mattson, former Director of NRC Division of Systems Safety, who said during the TMI meltdown, “I’m not sure why you are not moving people. I don’t know what we are protecting at this point.” [
Military Public School Slated for Georgia
DeKalb County, GA school officials are forging ahead with plans to open a first-of-its-kind military-style public high school, despite a growing campaign by activists upset at the involvement of the U.S. Marines.
“It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened in Georgia education,” said Michael Burke, a DeKalb resident and spokesman for the Georgia Veterans Alliance, a group that aligns itself with the work of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, among others. “The whole thing is just a ploy” to help the Marines recruit, Burke said. “We expect to fight it tooth and nail.”. . .
“This is not a training ground to send kids into the military,” said DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis, whose system, with 99,700 students, is the state’s third-largest. “My job is not to look after a portion of children but all the children. One size does not fit all. For the mom who believes her child is capable of going to college but lacks discipline, this is a choice.”
A DeKalb school spokesman said Monday the system has hired a commandant for the school, which system officials hope to open in August. The commandant was selected from a list of three candidates from the Marines. . .
The DeKalb Marine Corps Institute will be the first of its kind in Georgia, and joins an expanding network of such schools nationwide. The first public military academy opened in Richmond, Va., in 1980, and more than a dozen now exist in places from New York to Wisconsin.
One proponent has been Arne Duncan, recently nominated as the nation’s education secretary after leading the Chicago public school system since 2001. Chicago opened the nation’s first public high school run by the Army’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and now features six full-site military academies, among other military-style programs.
DeKalb officials say their school will combine academics with a military-style regimen for as many as 650 ninth- through 12th-graders. The school’s commandant will handle anything not related to academic instruction. A principal will be hired to handle academics, which includes a focus on math and science.
According to Lewis, the Marines would share costs of operating the school, including paying for teacher salaries. DeKalb would pay for benefits. [
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For up-to date reports on many progressive issues, see the Center for American Progress at :www.americanprogressaction.org/ and the Gristmill at :http://www.grist.org/news/. For justice issues, see the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) at :www.aclu.org/. For the issues of peace, national defense and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, see the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) at :www.fcnl.org/. For the issues of energy and global warming, see the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) at :http://www.ucsusa.org/ and the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) at :www.nrdc.org.
EPA Begins to Regulate CO2 Emissions
On April 17, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed finding that greenhouse gases (GHG) are air pollutants that endanger public health or welfare. This continues a process that is likely to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other GHGs under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. This process began with a Supreme Court decision two years ago.
In April, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-to-4 in favor of 12 states and several cities, led by Massachusetts. Their suit was against the EPA. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court decided that CO2 was a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. As such, the EPA had to show why it was not adopting regulations to control CO2 emissions. See :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_v._Environmental_Protection_Agency.
For almost two years the Bush administration refused to respond to the Supreme Court. This year’s proposed endangerment finding is the Obama administration’s response. After a 60-day public comment period, it is likely the finding will become final. EPA staff will then begin to circulate draft GHG standards and regulations.
EPA noted that its proposed endangerment finding is based on: “a rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.
“Additional impacts of climate change include, but are not limited to:
· increased drought;
· more heavy downpours and flooding;
· more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires;
· greater sea level rise;
· more intense storms; and
· harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.”
If, as anticipated, EPA proposes GHG tailpipe standards for cars and trucks and regulations for CO2 from coal-fired power plants and factories, it will pressure Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to cap CO2 and other GHG emissions.
President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have indicated a clear preference for such legislation. This is not an idle threat. If Congress does not act, the Obama administration has the legal authority and political clout to create its own regulations for GHG emissions.
The Union of Concerned Scientists proposes the following principles for GHG legislation:
· “Reduce GHG emissions swiftly and deeply and ensure a rapid policy adjustment in response to emerging climate science;
· make emissions cuts affordable and achievable by investing in clean energy, energy efficiency, and programs to protect consumers and workers;
· fund programs that reduce global warming pollution caused by tropical deforestation, which accounts for 20 percent of global emissions; and
· exclude loopholes that would let polluters delay or avoid emissions reductions.”
EPA Administrator Jackson noted that the GHG “pollution problem has a solution ¾ one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.” For more information see: :http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html.
Global Warming Action
While Congress ponders how to respond, it is clear that catastrophic climate changes will be locked in if only modest measures are taken in the next decade or two.
Bill McKibben has noted: “In Copenhagen, for example, 40 percent of people commute on bikes. A survey of Japanese college students found that 50 percent of them have no desire to own a car in their lifetimes while the average European uses half the energy of their American counterpart. A sea change in American attitudes about transportation, infrastructure, and even wealth is needed to eventually equal these results.”
McKibben, author of End of Nature and Fight Global Warming Now, founded an organization (:http://www.350.org/) “to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis ¾ to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.”
The focus of “350.org” is on the number 350 ¾ as in parts per million (ppm) of CO2. This is the level (concentration) of CO2 in the atmosphere that several leading scientists, including James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, have identified as the safe upper limit for our atmosphere. We are currently at 386 ppm and rising about 2 ppm per year. In 1800 the level was 280.
If worldwide CO2 emissions were zero, it would take about 37 years for natural process to return the CO2 level to 350. Congress is debating whether the 20 percent reduction in U.S emissions by 2020 under the bill by Reps. Waxman (D-CA) and Markey (D-MA) is too difficult for businesses and consumers. The U.S. emits about 25 percent of the worldwide CO2.
2009 is a crucial year in the international effort to address climate change, culminating in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark Dec. 7 through Dec. 18. In 2007, in Bali, Indonesia, parties to the U.N Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to shape an ambitious and effective international response to climate change, to be agreed at Copenhagen.
The objective of the UNFCCC treaty is “to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a low enough level to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” No one in 1992 realized that we were already beyond that level. The CO2 concentration was already 356 ppm.
The principal update to the treaty is the Kyoto Protocol, which is better known than the treaty itself. President G. H.W. Bush signed the UNFCCC in 1992.
The “350.org” organization plans major actions on October 24.
Obama Calls for Global Nuclear Disarmament
On April 5, in Prague, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to pursue the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. This new policy will include requests for Senate ratification of key international treaties to control the spread of nuclear weapons. Below are portions of this historic speech:
“Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black markets trade in nuclear secrets and materials. The technology to build a bomb has spread. Terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one. Our efforts to contain these dangers are centered in a global non-proliferation regime, but as more people and nations break the rules, we could reach the point when the center cannot hold.
“This matters to all people, everywhere. One nuclear weapon exploded in one city ¾ be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague ¾ could kill hundreds of thousands of people. No matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences may be ¾ for our global safety, security, society, economy, and ultimately our survival.
“Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be checked ¾ that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. This fatalism is a deadly adversary. For if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.
“Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st. And as a nuclear power ¾ as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon ¾ the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it.
“So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. This goal will not be reached quickly ¾ perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change.
“First, the United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same. Make no mistake: as long as these weapons exist, we will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies ¾ including the Czech Republic. But we will begin the work of reducing our arsenal.
“To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia this year. President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding, and sufficiently bold. This will set the stage for further cuts, and we will seek to include all nuclear weapons states in this endeavor.
“To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.
“And to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb, the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons. If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons grade materials that create them.
“Second, together, we will strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a basis for cooperation.
“The basic bargain is sound: countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy. To strengthen the Treaty, we should embrace several principles. We need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the Treaty without cause. …
“I know that there are some who will question whether we can act on such a broad agenda. There are those who doubt whether true international cooperation is possible, given the inevitable differences among nations. There are those who hear talk of a world without nuclear weapons and doubt whether it is worth setting a goal that seems impossible to achieve.
“But make no mistake: we know where that road leads. When nations and peoples allow themselves to be defined by their differences, the gulf between them widens. When we fail to pursue peace, then it stays forever beyond our grasp. To denounce or shrug off a call for cooperation is an easy and cowardly thing. That is how wars begin. That is where human progress ends.” [
Phil Carver, a former OPW Board Chair, writes this column exclusively for each issue of The PeaceWorker.
Featured: Immigration: Change Really IS Coming
Signs on the Road to Legalization
We’ve identified twelve of them — and counting — in the first three months of the Obama era. Each one has added to our cautious optimism that millions of undocumented immigrants will finally have a path to legal status and citizenship.
Here’s our List
1. The inauguration of Barack Obama, a vocal supporter of comprehensive immigration reform including a just legalization;
2. Swearing in the 111th Congress, run by more workable Democratic majorities which include pro-immigration reform representatives who triumphed in 19 of the 20 competitive districts where rival candidates had prominently relied on anti-immigrant rhetoric;
3. Defeat in Congress of anti-immigrant amendments to the “SCHIP” bill on children’s health insurance;
4. Removal from the “stimulus” package of proposed requirements that all funding recipients must enroll in the “E-Verify” program — much criticized for flaws in the database of those legally employable;
5. President Obama’s commitment to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that he will make a major announcement on immigration on May 14th;
6. Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano’s suspension of raids as she works to change the focus of raids from workers to exploiters;
7. The high visibility of Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s (D-IL) nationwide community forum tour, reinforcing the notion that Obama’s standing with Latinos will be shaped by his action on immigration reform;
8. The April 13th announcement by the AFL-CIO and Change To Win that they’ve forged a united position on immigration reform;
9. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s conversion to “prompt action” advocacy, a far cry from his statement a year ago that immigration would be a “second term” issue;
10. The sharp rise in unemployment which has reduced business pressure for “temporary worker” programs — a major sticking point that contributed to de-railing the immigration reform debate in 2007;
11. Media fixation on gun-running south to drug cartels, rather than the “invasion” of Mexican workers; and
12. The Congressional Black Caucus support for moving forward on immigration reform, defusing the real or perceived “Black-Brown” tensions sometimes associated with the issue.
Changed Political Picture
Though anti-immigration zealots cannot ever be disregarded, key Democratic strategists like Emanuel have concluded that their bark is worse than their political bite. Wavering Democrats can no longer hide their opposition or evasion behind organized labor’s disagreements.
The economic crisis has re-ordered the popular notions about the hierarchy of threats to the “American way of life.” “Madoff” has eclipsed “MALDEF” (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund). It’s all “Goldman-Sachs,” not “Guzm?n” or “S?nchez” (among other pseudonyms the press assigns to the undocumented workers they profile). There is suddenly broad agreement that the toxicity of investment illegality is vastly graver than immigration “illegality.”
As the administration readies its announcement in mid-May, convenes the working group this summer and then rolls out legislation this fall, we must continue to press our case that we and the nation need an immigrant recovery which addresses the effects of fifteen years of repression and scapegoating. The concluding paragraph of Time magazine’s major report April 20th, spotlighting the Columbia County ordinance fight [see next article], summed it up this way: “As tempting as it is in places like St. Helens to try and send the ‘illegal’ immigrants packing … it would just increase the misery on Main Street. …‘Illegal’ America is simply too big to fail” (quotation marks added).
We’re encouraged by the signs we’ve discerned, but we recognize that backlash could once again hijack immigration politics which are just now emerging from the maze of maneuvers and dead-ends.
Like countless other big policy changes, immigration reform is important, necessary, and righteous. In the next twelve months, though, every initiative on the action agenda will be all that plus urgent. On May 1st, the thousands we’re mobilizing to the State Capitol will call out to President Obama: “Esc?chenos, Presidente: ?La Reforma es urgente!” [
This editorial is reprinted with permission from the April 2009 issue of PCUN Update (#61).
Court Rejects Columbia County Anti-Immigration Initiative
Do you know someone unemployed, under-employed, at risk of losing their house and relying on the food bank to keep their family fed? You probably do. They may even live next door or closer. These are among the growing majority of people vulnerable to wanting someone to blame. The Madoffs of the world are far away. So, who should we get mad at?
Solution Desperately Sought
Columbia County, Oregon, home of the Rural Organizing Project, is now significantly above the very high unemployment rate of 12.1% for the state. The April 20th edition of Time Magazine published a story that features St Helen’s, Oregon ¾ a Columbia County town filled with folks struggling to maintain their lives and willing to believe that if undocumented immigrants were gone maybe their house wouldn’t be foreclosed on and maybe Boise-Cascade would not have shut the mill.
So 57% of our community voted last November for the anti-immigrant ballot measure that would have fined employers $10,000 if they hired an undocumented worker. A lot of reasonable people did what seemed reasonable to them. If only life was so simple. On April 13th, the Columbia County court ruled that the measure is too flawed to become law. (For more on the Columbia County court case, visit: :www.rop.org.).
Let’s hear it for the courts and those checks and balances. But let’s also hear all the frustrated people that voted for some solution to their very dire woes.
The challenge for folks in Columbia County ¾ and communities throughout Oregon ¾ is to get beyond Lou Dobbs’ solutions for the world (division and more division, all fueled by fear). Can we bring folks together around worker’s rights? Can we agree that we do need enforcement at work sites, that we have those laws now (thank you, unions) but we need the will to fund the agencies charged with employment laws? That means taxes and yes, big corporations could pay those taxes. Can we stop writing laws that target mom and pop three-person shops, but ignore the real worker rights problem? Can we understand that our current immigration laws are so dated and flawed that there are no winners, only losers, and that now is a time to demand just and humane immigration reform?
In this month of May, when immigrants join U.S.-born workers in the streets on May 1st, International Workers’ Day, to celebrate the historic struggles of working people and renew the call for immigration reform, let us reclaim our past and work together, united, to shape a future where the work and inherent worth of all working people, regardless of immigration status, are respected and honored. [
Marcy Westerling directs the Rural Organizing Project, PO Box 1350, Scappoose, OR 97056; 503.543.8417; :www.rop.org.
Immigration Reform Can Stimulate the Economy
The United States African Chamber of Commerce (USACC) supports the Obama administration and its plans to begin tackling the long overdue subject of immigration reform, as early as May of this year.
Is This the Time?
The president has pressed for reforms that will reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the country by cracking down on border security, providing a means for the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to regularize their status, and removing incentives for illegal immigration. Many wonder, however, if now is the time to take on this troubling task that has divided the country for years.
The economic debate has taken precedence over the issue of immigration in the White House and across the nation. However, many immigration reformists suggest that the two issues are inseparable and that now, more than ever, we are in need of a new immigration policy which ¾ in and of itself ¾ will help fuel the dying economy.
As the millions of Americans who make up the Baby Boomer generation work their way into retirement, the U.S. is in need of a labor force to replenish the outgoing workforce and support retirement systems and the social security administration. Immigrant individuals, families and businesses have shown great potential to fill the gap left by these retiring Americans. However, immigration law can be crippling to families and the economy. Undocumented immigrant families are forced to live underground and are disadvantaged by not having the multitude of options and resources available to mainstream American families. As one expert stated, “[W]hat drives economic growth is economic development,” and undocumented immigration deprives whole communities of opportunities for economic growth.
Enormous Benefits Overlooked
Immigrant communities that have flourished in terms of economic development have proven themselves to be a vital component to economic growth. The buying and selling power of many ethnic groups within the U.S. is astronomical. A recent study on the Emerging African Market, commissioned by the ACC, reveals the $50 billion purchasing power of the 1.3 million African immigrants in the U.S. In addition, revenue generated by African-owned businesses in 2002 was in excess of $88 billion. While these figures seem large, they grow exponentially when one realizes that African immigrants make up only 5% of the total documented immigrant population in the U.S.
Immigrant groups also promise to have a positive impact on international trade and the competitiveness of the U.S. in global markets. Immigrants are often bilingual or multilingual and have knowledge of other cultures, having been raised in multicultural settings. As globalization becomes more of a reality, it is apparent that in order for the U.S. to compete in a globalized market, it needs to foster the development of skills and abilities like fluency in foreign languages and multiculturalism.
Risks of Inaction
There are also risks associated with continuing to operate with a faulty immigration system in place. The turn of the century saw a new phenomenon, never before seen on such a scale. In every corner of the planet, the doors to immigration and emigration were flung open, and people began traveling and relocating to a myriad of new and different places. As people grow more knowledgeable about immigration and new possibilities for relocation, it is evident that immigrants will begin to look to places other than the U.S. We run the risk of losing brilliant minds and the labor force needed to compete on an international level with countries like India and China.
The USACC urges Congress and President Obama to increase legal immigration from Africa and to take into consideration the important contributions of all immigrant groups, including immigrants from the 54 countries on the African continent.
The USACC is the leading advocacy organization for U.S.-African relations and emerging African markets. It is the umbrella organization for African chambers of commerce and professional trade and business associations throughout the United States and abroad. [
Martin Mohammed is President of the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, 202.465.0778; :www.usafricanchamber.com.
Border Fence: Full Speed Ahead Despite Objections
Adam Liptak wrote last year in the New York Times, “Securing the nation’s borders is so important, Congress says, that Michael Chertoff, the [then] homeland security secretary, must have the power to ignore any laws that stand in the way of building a border fence. Any laws at all.” :http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/us/08bar.html?ex=1365393600&en=e18b670e7ac0c252&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink.
In 2006, Congress authorized the Secure Fence Act ¾ a multi-billion dollar plan to build hundreds of miles of fencing along the southern border of the United States to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants and provide security from potential terrorism.
There were plenty of objections from the environmental and civil libertarian point of view, but Congress ignored those and gave the Department of Homeland Security extraordinary powers to drive its project through.
Chertoff responded by suspending more than 30 laws that might get in his way. These included laws protecting the environment, endangered species, migratory birds, the bald eagle, antiquities, farms, deserts, forests, Native American graves and religious freedom. Echoing the kind of reasoning that forced passage of the nefarious U.S.A. Patriot Act, Chertoff said, “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation.” In other words, this Bush administration official once again used his boss’s favorite political tool, fear, to leap over obstructions intend to protect civil liberties and human rights. [
Take Action for Immigration Reform
According to the Rights Working Group (:http://rightsworkinggroup.org/), conditions in immigration detention have deteriorated as the numbers of people being held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has ballooned from 95,000 people in detention in 2001 to more than 300,000 last year, and the number is set to grow again. More than 90 people have died in immigration detention since 2003, some from treatable diseases and conditions that were not tended to. People are transferred to far away detention centers without notice to their families or their lawyers, and often are placed in facilities that do not have working phones. Although the Department of Homeland Security has Performance Based Detention Standards meant to address these issues, the standards are not enforceable and no one can be held accountable if they are breached.
The “Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act,” H.R. 1215, introduced by Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), addresses many of these problems. The bill would:
· Create enforceable standards in the law to address medical care in immigration detention, transfers between facilities, telephone access, and sexual assault in custody;
· Enhance protections for vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied minors; and
· Require DHS to implement secure alternatives to detention.
· This bill would go a long way towards restoring basic due process and human rights protections in immigration enforcement.
Major Rally to Support Immigration Reform
There will be a Unity March on May 1st, 2009 from11 a.m.-3 p.m. supporting just immigration reform, drivers’ license restoration for everyone, jobs and just wages. It will be held at the Oregon State Capitol.
Everyone is welcome and your voices are needed as we tell our state representatives “Yes we can!”
For more information call: 503.984.6816. [
Government Rejects Nuclear Safety Claim
An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) established by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) March 24 ordered a judicial hearing on the licensing of UniStar Nuclear’s proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 nuclear reactor on the Chesapeake Bay. In doing so, the ASLB flatly rejected UniStar’s claim that its proposed reactor is so safe that no person could ever be harmed by an accident at the plant. Rather, the ASLB upheld the NRC’s precedent that people within 50 miles of the site have the right to challenge reactor license applications.
“The ASLB wisely rejected UniStar Nuclear’s preposterous claim that its reactor — which has never operated anywhere in the world and for which the design is not even complete — is so safe that nobody could ever challenge it. Nuclear power is an inherently dangerous technology, and UniStar’s cavalier attitude already demonstrates it is unfit to operate a nuclear reactor,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS, 301.270.6477). [
Global War on Terror is Over
It’s official. The Global War on Terror is over. What President George W. Bush called the “great ideological struggle of our time… a war with a brutal enemy… with coldblooded killers who despise freedom, reject tolerance, and kill the innocent in pursuit of their political vision” is no more.
It has not been won or lost, it has just been renamed.
Now, in the kinder, gentler lexicon of the Obama administration, this fight will be known as Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO.
The Washington Post reported last month that the Defense Department’s office of security review sent a memo to Pentagon employees saying, “this administration prefers to avoid using the term “Long War” or
“Global War on Terror” [GWOT.] Please use “Overseas Contingency Operation.” “ [
Army Not Diagnosing PTSD?
A secret recording reveals the Army may be pushing its medical staff not to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. The Army and Senate have ignored the implications.
Last June, during a medical appointment, a patient named “Sgt. X” recorded an Army psychologist at Fort Carson, Colo., saying that he was under pressure not to diagnose combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Article and a segment of this tape is at :http://www.salon.com/news/special/coming_home/2009/04/08/tape/index.html. [
Missile Defense Rises from Its Own Ashes
Ballistic missile defense as we know it is all but dead, one of the country’s top military has declared. But already, there are new anti-missile priorities taking shape.
General James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, relayed the message to the defense industry: “Ballistic missiles are about as passé as e-mail,” he said to an audience of missile-defense contractors. “Nobody does it anymore. It’s just gone...”
But, Cartwright said, missile defense funds would shift toward deterring more “realistic” threats.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is also picking up on a top complaint of the missile defense critics: namely, that missile defense testing isn’t real enough.
Article is at : http://blog.wired.com/defense/2009/03/what-will-obama.html. [
Economic Downturn Puts New Stresses on Libraries
The public library in Arlington Heights, IL had just closed its doors one evening in December when two homeless men who had been using the stacks as shelter from the cold got into a fight on the outside steps.
Like libraries across the country, Arlington Heights Memorial had strived to keep pace with the changing times, ensuring its relevance in the digital age by becoming something of an indoor town square, and emphasizing that its money-saving services catered to the community’s needs.
These days, however, community need reaches far beyond reference help — and in many libraries, it is turning a normally tranquil place into an emotional and stressful hotbed. [
To read the rest of this New York Times article, visit :http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/us/02library.html?th&emc=th
U.K. Launches Program to Archive Every Email
In a move over which even the most nonchalant of privacy advocates is crying foul, the U.K. has put into effect a European Union directive which mandates the archival of information regarding virtually all internet traffic for the next 12 months. The program formally went into effect April 6th.
The data retention rules require the archival of all email traffic (the identities of the sender and receiver, but not the contents of the messages), records of VOIP telephone calls (traditional phone calls are already monitored), and information about every website visited by any computer user in the country. The rules are being pushed down “across the board to even the smallest company,” as every ISP large or small will be required to collect and store the data. That data will then be accessible ¾ to fight “crime and terrorism,” of course ¾ by “hundreds of public bodies” to investigate whatever crimes they see fit.
Technically the new directive applies to all countries of the EU, but individual nations appear to be complying with the rules to various degrees. Privacy-obsessed Sweden is reportedly ignoring the rule completely, for example.
The privacy implications of the rule are enormous, as everything U.K. citizens do online will now be under the watchful eye of EU’s powerful Home Office. One privacy advocate, whose anger is clearly barely being held back, called it “the kind of technology that the Stasi would have dreamed of.”Naturally, the government counters that this kind of information has already proven invaluable in tracking down criminals, including the killer of an 11-year-old boy a couple of years ago.
Privacy concerns aside, another issue becomes how exactly to manage all this data. A report dating back to 2004 estimated that a single large ISP in the U.K. would need up to 40 million gigabytes of storage capacity to store the traffic data from a year of user activity. Even in 2009, that kind of storage doesn’t come cheap, nor does the challenge of managing it all come easy.
Posted at :http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/136610 on April 6, 2009.
China Vies to Be World’s Leader in Electric Cars
Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.
The goal, which radiates from the very top of the Chinese government, suggests that Detroit’s Big Three, already struggling to stay alive, will face even stiffer foreign competition on the next field of automotive technology than they do today.
“China is well positioned to lead in this,” said David Tulauskas, director of China government policy at General Motors.
You can find the rest of this New York Times article at :http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/business/global/02electric.html?_r=2&th&emc=th.
Watershed Moment on Nuclear Arms ¾ Renew START
During the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised to deal with one of the world’s great scourges ¾ thousands of nuclear weapons still in the American and Russian arsenals. He said he would resume arms-control negotiations ¾ the sort that former President George W. Bush disdained ¾ and seek deep cuts in pursuit of an eventual nuclear-free world. There is no time to waste.
START I to Expire Soon
In less than nine months, the 1991 Start I treaty expires. It contains the basic rules of verification that give both Moscow and Washington the confidence that they know the size and location of the other’s nuclear forces.
The Bush administration made little effort to work out a replacement deal. So we are encouraged that American and Russian officials seem to want a new agreement. Given the many strains in the relationship, it will take a strong commitment from both sides, and persistent diplomacy, to get one in time.
President Obama met Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in London on April 1. They began talks, but to finish before December 5, the Senate must quickly confirm Mr. Obama’s negotiator, Rose Gottemoeller, so she can start work.
Mr. Bush and then-President Vladimir Putin signed only one arms-control agreement in eight years. It allowed both sides to keep between 1,700 and 2,200 deployed warheads. Further cuts ¾ 1,000 each makes sense for the next phase ¾ would send a clear message to Iran, North Korea and other nuclear wannabes that the world’s two main nuclear powers are placing less value on nuclear weapons.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev’s negotiations are just a down payment on a more ambitious effort to reduce their arsenals and rid the world of nuclear weapons. The next round should aim to bring Britain, France and China into the discussions. In time, they will have to cajole and wrestle India, Pakistan and Israel to the table as well.
What Obama Can Do Alone
There is a lot President Obama can do right now to create momentum for serious change.
He can start by unilaterally taking all of this country’s nuclear weapons off of hair-trigger alert. He should also commit to eliminating the 200 to 300 short-range nuclear weapons this country still has deployed in Europe. That would make it much easier to challenge Russia to reduce its stockpile of at least 3,000 short-range weapons. These arms are unregulated by any treaty and are far too vulnerable to theft.
Mr. Obama must also declare his commitment to include all nuclear weapons in negotiated reductions ¾ including thousands of warheads that are now held in reserve and excluded from cuts. He must make good on promises to press the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (opponents are already quietly organizing) and the international community to adopt a pact ending production of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.
Mr. Obama must reaffirm his campaign pledge to transform American nuclear policy that is still mired in cold war thinking. His administration’s nuclear review is due by year’s end. It must make clear that this country has nuclear weapons solely to deter a nuclear attack ¾ and that this administration’s goal is to keep as few as possible as safely as possible. The review must also state clearly that the country has no need for a new nuclear weapon and will not build any.
Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia and the United States together still have more than 20,000 nuclear weapons. It is time to focus on the 21st-century threats: states like Iran building nuclear weapons and terrorists plotting to acquire their own. Until this country convincingly redraws its own nuclear strategy and reduces its arsenal, it will not have the credibility and political weight to confront those threats. [
Danny Hosein works on nuclear weapons issues for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, 245 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002. . You can reach him at 202.547.6000 x2560.
[Ed.’s Note: see Pres. Obama’s remarks on reducing nuclear weapons in this month’s Beltway Bulletin]
Biden to Seek Passage of Test Ban Treaty
President Obama is planning to put Vice President Biden in charge of what is expected to be the difficult job of getting the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
In 1999, as ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden led the Clinton administration’s unsuccessful attempt at ratification. At that time, the treaty fell 19 votes short of the 67 needed for approval by the Republican-controlled Senate.
The administration will have to overcome two main concerns that helped defeat the treaty last time: the ability to verify that no underground nuclear tests are taking place and that the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons will remain reliable without further testing.
“A lot of these issues have more clear answers than they had in 1999,” according to an anonymous administration source who also noted that among the reasons the pact lost last time was that the vote was rushed by the Republican leadership before public support could be developed.
Source: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703719_pf.html. [
Kerry to Lead CTBT Ratification Effort in Senate
By Susan Cornwell
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D- Mass.) said Friday that a campaign is under way to persuade lawmakers to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, according to the Reuters news service.
President Barack Obama has expressed his support for U.S. ratification of the treaty banning nuclear test explosions, which would require affirmative votes from two-thirds of the Senate.
“We are very close. ... We don’t have that many votes to win over to win,” Kerry said during an event in Washington. “But they are serious folks and we are going to have to persuade them.”
The United States voluntarily suspended nuclear tests in 1992, but treaty proponents say that ratification could help draw other holdout nations into the fold. The pact cannot enter into force before being ratified by 44 nations that had nuclear power programs at the time the treaty was opened for signature. Nine nations have yet to sign on ¾ China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea and the United States.
The Senate rejected ratification in 1999. Critics question whether verification measures were adequate to catch potential violators, while some say testing is a necessary option to ensure the viability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
“We’re going to look at this clinically, realistically, as dispassionately as possible,” Kerry said. “We are going to do our best to get this passed.” [
Susan Cornwell writes for Reuters and the Washington Post.
15 to Fast for 25-40 Days or More
“Fast for Our Future” Began April 20th
On the day that Congress returned to Capitol Hill from its spring recess, over 200 people from 30 states and six countries began fasting, eating no solid food. Their action is intended to urge the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the House of Representatives, to develop strong legislation addressing the climate crisis and to drive a rapid shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
Hearings on draft climate legislation are being held in a key House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, and the plan is to send a final bill to the full House by Memorial Day weekend.
Fifteen of those fasting, plan to do so for 25-40 days or more. Approximately 1/3 of those who began the fast on April 20 will continue fasting beyond April 20th for some period of time.
The Fast For Our Future is making three main demands of Congress:
1. Legislation that mandates a definite 25-40% (1990 baseline) or more decrease in greenhouse gas emissions;
2. A moratorium on the building of any new coal plants; and
3. No giveaways to polluters: 100% of permits to pollute under a cap must be auctioned, as President Obama supports, or a substantial carbon fee must be enacted
Jere Locke, Director of the Texas Climate Emergency Campaign and planning to fast 25-40 days, explained that, “we want to call attention to the need for the United States to give leadership to the world by committing to the kind of carbon emissions reductions called for by the world’s scientists and many governments. The 25-40% target was adopted by climate negotiators from the nations of the world at United Nations conference in Bali, Indonesia in December, 2007. It is a target that, if reached, would give the world some chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”
Desperately Seeking Action
Diane Wilson, fourth generation fisherwoman on the Gulf Coast and author of “An Unreasonable Woman,” explained why she plans to fast for 40 days or more: “We are bringing the roof down over our heads ¾ but yet, what do we do? In my county we bring in two coal burning power plants, a nuclear power plant, and a liquid natural gas terminal the size of three footballs fields that will require dredging up the bay where there are hundreds of thousands of pounds of mercury that were lost by a malfunctioning Alcoa plant. That is the reality of my home. So I will fast forty days. Maybe more.”
Ted Glick, coordinator of the Fast For Our Future, noted the wide support for clean energy. “A Zogby poll taken in November, 2008 reported that 96% of Democrats, 77% of independents and 58% of Republicans view clean energy investment as a key means to boost the U.S. economy. Yet too many of those on Capitol Hill are either controlled by the coal and oil companies, are afraid of taking them on or just don’t appreciate the depth of the climate crisis and the positive economic impacts of a shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency. We are calling upon people all over the country to flood the House of Representatives this week and in the next few weeks to demand that they do what the American people want and need. It’s time to stand up to King Coal and Big Oil.”
Further information can be found at :http://www.fastingforourfuture.org or contact Ted Glick, 973.460.1458, or Jere Locke, 512.964.1134. [
Monument to COs Considered in Columbia Gorge
On Tuesday, March 24 2009 representatives of the Forest Service met with Linda Short and Tomi Owens of the Columbia River Fellowship for Peace at the Wyeth Campground to discuss the possibility of erecting a monument commemorating the conscientious objectors interned there during World War II.
Elizabeth Kennedy, Supervisory Park Ranger of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA), and Edan Lira, Recreation and Trails Coordinator CRGNSA, were positive about the project and made suggestions as to the type of monument that would best suite the site and provide the most information to visitors to the campground. In addition, Stan Hinatsu, Recreation Program Manager CRGNSA also suggested to Linda by telephone that Wyeth Campground would be an excellent place for the Peace Fellowship to conduct “fireside lectures” on the subject of the Wyeth Camp and conscientious objectors in general.
The Forest Service has no ideological oppositions to a historical monument of this nature being placed at the site. Concerns are of a purely stylistic and financial nature. The Forest Service must sign off on any project to assure that it is in keeping with look and feel of other historical markers in the CRGNSA. The Forest Service will not fund this endeavor internally. However, they did suggest that they would be willing to help with any installation costs.
Appearance: a flat-topped, interpretative/educational sign, incorporating photos and text, similar to those along the Mark O. Hatfield Historic Highway.
Cost: approximately $6000.
Next Steps: Because the Wyeth project is both a historical memorial and an educational outreach opportunity to enlighten the our community and visitors to the CRGNSA about a peaceful, nonviolent political action — our next steps will be dual in nature:
Trish Leighton is a leading member of the Columbia River Peace Fellowship.
Lane Peace Center to Sponsor Peace Conference
The Lane Peace Center’s second annual Peace conference: “Peace & Collective Action: Connecting Hope to Change” will be held on May 29-30, 2009. Keynote speakers are David Solnit, direct action organizer and editor of Globalize Liberation; and Joel Magnuson, author of Mindful Economics.
The conference will bring together educators, students, community members and activists dedicated to building a peaceful society and nation. Reflecting the Lane Peace Center’s recognition that peace is rooted in social, economic, political, racial and environmental justice, presenters will offer an engaging variety of perspectives including:
· Good Sista, Bad Sista, Walidah Imarisha & Turiya Autry, a dynamic poetry performance duo from Portland, on the connection between culture, art, and mass movement politics;
· Democracy Unlimited with David Cobb, 2004 Green Party nominee for U.S. President, and Megan Wade, Co-Coordinator for the Humboldt Exchange Community Currency Project;
· David West, Director, Native American Studies Program at Southern Oregon University on “Native American Peace Prophesies;
· Benji Lewis, honorably discharged Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, on why he intends to refuse reactivation;
· Sasha Crow and Mary Madsen of the Collateral Repair Project, a grass roots organization based in Oregon and Jordan that works directly with Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan;
· Chicora Martin, Director of the University of Oregon Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Education and Support Services Program, on ‘LGBTQ Social Justice-The Hope for Equality in Peace’;
· Greg Evans, educator & civil rights activist on ‘Post Racial America: What is the Status of the Dialogue over Race?’
· Arbrella Luvert, Eugene 4J School District Special Assistant to the Superintendent on Diversity & Human Rights and Beth Aydelott Ph.D., Professor of English at Northwest Christian College on ‘Undoing Privilege and Racism’;
· Stacy Vyenne of the Climate Leadership Initiative on “Climate Change in the Willamette Valley;”
· Will Newman, Co-founder of Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT) on “Protecting rural and urban agricultural lands from encroachment.”
Friday, May 29 events take place at the Lane Community College, Center for Meeting and Learning. Saturday, May 30 events take place at Cozmic Pizza in downtown Eugene. Visit :www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter for a complete program and registration information.
Keynote speaker David Solnit is a nonviolent direct action organizer for global justice and peace, who utilizes art and culture as an organizing tool. He was a key organizer in the WTO shutdown in Seattle in 1999 and in the shutdown of San Francisco the day after Iraq was invaded in 2003. He helped coordinate the Coalition of Immokalee Workers cross country “truth tour” to pressure Taco Bell to improve working conditions for tomato pickers in the ‘sweatshops in the fields’. He is editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World (City Lights Publishers, 2003) and co-author with Aimee Allison of Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. His essays and interviews have appeared in YES! Magazine, Common Dreams, and AlterNet.
Keynote speaker Joel Magnuson, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized economist specializing in non-orthodox approaches to political economy. He is currently a professor of economics in Portland, Oregon; a visiting fellow at the Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, England. He is an active member of an international research group based in Europe that is working toward new philosophical foundations for economic theory and practice. His book, Mindful Economics, demonstrates how the need for endless growth has intensified environmental destruction, resource depletion, instability, social and political inequality, and even global warming. He proposes democratic, community based economics as a key solution.
For more information, contact: Stan Taylor, Lane Peace Center: 541.463.5820. [
PSR to Sponsor Peace Essay Contest
By Rachel Larson
In light of the work ahead of us all, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is proud to honor the legacy of former PSR Executive Director Del Greenfield and her loving husband, Lou, by celebrating the inaugural year of the Greenfield Peace Essay Scholarship Contest.
The contest, which will distribute $8,000 among the ten winning high school juniors and seniors, culminates on April eighteenth with a dinner and awards ceremony at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland from 6-9 p.m.
Our wish is that this contest will become an annual boon to the peace community, one in which we inspire one another, celebrating the gifts of youth and purpose while renewing our commitment to protect our public health and rid our world of violence and destruction, especially from our own government.
We are immensely pleased to begin this event with keynote speaker Sarah van Gelder, co-founder and editor of YES! Magazine, the quarterly journal devoted to building a more just, sustainable world.
Oregon PSR has worked for twenty-nine years to stop nuclear weapons, clean up our WWII Hanford legacy, and end wars. We recognize the direct link of diverting national resources to destructive military efforts and strive to promote everyday discussion on these matters.
At this point in time, when our government spends almost $3 billion each week to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, Oregon PSR’s task is to connect the inexcusable direct loss of this financial support to our communities in the forms of health care, education, adequate housing, safe, sustainable energy and a protected environment. Our task remains as strong as ever: to empower our members to voice a better, socially responsible way of living.
The DoubleTree Hotel is in Lloyd Center at 1000 NE Multnomah, Portland, OR 97232. Tickets are $50 by check or through our website at :www.oregonpsr.org. Tickets for the keynote speaker without the dinner are available for $10. For more info, call 503.274.2720. [
Rachel Larson is Executive Director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility; office: 503.274.2720; cell 971.533.5380.
We’d also like to publicly thank Dino and Leslie Venti, John and Colleen VanDreal, Jo Dodge, Maryjean Rose, Patrick Ireland, Sean Ireland and Winter Pope for their over and above assistance; Gail Ryder for her beautiful promotional materials; Cascade Sound for the good deal on equipment; Dancing Oaks and Midway Farms for all the flowers and plants; John Matthews and Judy Skinner for always striving to make GPAD a Zero Waste event; Linda Hornbuckle, Kate Sullivan, Jenna Summer Smith and their bands and the Dr. Atomic's performer for sharing their musical talents; all the other tireless volunteers who helped bring the evening together; and a special shout out to Jerry Crane of That Food Guy Catering for his amazing work feeding the party goers and making it all look so easy.
Oregon PeaceWorks is a member of Oregon Progressive Network (OPN) and has taken most of the following information from its web calendar at :www.oregonprogressivenetwork.org. Readers are urged to visit this calendar for additional information, new postings and contact information for sponsoring groups, if that is not given in the calendar item. Also, groups are encouraged to post their calendar items on this site as it is has replaced OPW’s weekly emailed calendars.
May 1: Salem, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Unity March supporting just immigration reform, drivers’ license restoration for everyone, jobs and just wages. It will be held at the Oregon State Capitol. Everyone is welcome and your voices are needed as we tell our state representatives “Yes we can!” For more information call: 503.984.6816.
May 2: Newport, 11 a.m. Loyalty Days Parade. Bring your favorite pro-Peace and pro-Human Rights signs and costumes and walk (or bicycle) with some of the region's Veterans For Peace members and our Squadron13 Peace bus. Two years ago our bus was ejected from this parade and told by city representatives that our message of peace “didn't reflect the spirit of the community.” A year later, when we were reluctantly allowed to participate, the community of Newport welcomed us with enthusiasm. It seems we did reflect the spirit of the people, if not of their elected leaders. A few seats on the bus may be available, please ask. Carpooling encouraged. Stage at WalMart parking lot. Contact: Gordon Sturrock, cell 541.729.7760.
May 3: Eugene, 7 p.m. Gaza War Crimes Investigator Speaks. Presentation on Israel's attack on Gaza and the rule of law by Gaza War Crimes Investigator, attorney Tom Nelson, of the National Lawyers Guild and specialist in International Human Rights. Harris Hall, 125 E Oak St (8th and Oak). Sponsored by Al-Nakba Awareness Project.
May 4: Portland, 6:30 p.m. Bishop Desmond Tutu: “Transformative Power of Reconciliation in Society.” Archbishop Tutu has led a formidable campaign in support of justice and racial conciliation in South Africa. His tireless work was recognized in 1984, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Following a short stint as the Bishop of Johannesburg, Tutu was elected Archbishop of Cape Town in 1986 — an office he held until his retirement in 1996. Tickets $20, available at :www.TicketMaster.com, or the Chiles Center box office.
The Chiles Center, University of Portland 5000 N. Willamette Blvd.
May 6: Salem, 7 p.m. STIR (Salem Transition Initiative for Relocalization) Meeting. Meeting room above Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, corner of Liberty St. SE and Ferry. More information: :http://groups.google.com/group/Salem-Transition.
May 6-8: Salem. "Shared Wisdom: Uniting for Change in the Mental Health System" ¾ Oregon Consumer/Survivor Coalition Conference. Red Lion Inn. For more information, contact Élan Lambert, Conference Coordinator, 541.515.0560; :
May 7: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
May 9: Portland, 6 p.m. Veterans for Peace General Meeting. 1st Unitarian Universalist Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave, B202. For more information: :http://www.vfpchapter72.org. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter #72.
May 12: Portland, 6 p.m. Veterans For Peace General Meeting. For more information: :http://www.vfpchapter72.org. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter #72. 1st Unitarian Universalist Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave, B202.
May 14: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
May 16: Salem. Workshop on Psychic Development and After-death Communication. Details at :http://www.afterlifeawareness.com/WorkshopOverview.htm or contact Terri Daniel, Afterlife Awareness Educator, :
; 541.549.4004; :www.DanielDirect.net.
May 16: Albany, 9 a.m. Albany Peace Seekers Meeting. Albany Peace Seekers monthly meeting is held on the third Saturday of each month at 9 A.M. Coffee, tea and an assortment of pastries are available for $3.00/person. All seekers of peace and justice are welcome. Lakeside Center at Albany Mennonite Home (use 54th Avenue Entrance off Columbus Street for easiest access).
May 18: Corvallis 12 p.m. Benji Lewis Resists War-Press Conference. Benji Lewis was honorably discharged from the Marines Corps after 4 years of active duty, including 2 combat tours in Iraq. In October 2008, he received notification that he was being involuntarily reactivated to be sent back again. Instead of reporting for duty on May 18, 2009, Benji will be holding a press conference to publicly refuse activation. The public is invited to come and show solidarity with Benji as he ‘just says no’' to war. Corvallis Public Library, 645 NW Monroe Ave
More information: :www.couragetoresist.org. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter # 132.
May 20: Salem, 7 p.m. STIR (Salem Transition Initiative for Relocalization) Meeting. Meeting room above Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, corner of Liberty St. SE and Ferry. More information: :http://groups.google.com/group/Salem-Transition.
May 21: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
May 28: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
May 29-30: Eugene. Peace conference: “Peace & Collective Action: Connecting Hope to Change” features keynote speakers David Solnit, direct action organizer and editor of Globalize Liberation; and Joel Magnuson, author of Mindful Economics. The conference will bring together educators, students, community members, and activists dedicated to building a peaceful society and nation. The Lane Peace Center is the organizer. Vist :www.lanecc.edu/peacecenter for complete program and registration information. Contact: Stan Taylor, Lane Peace Center: 541.463.5820.
June 3: Salem, 7 p.m. STIR (Salem Transition Initiative for Relocalization) Meeting. Meeting room above Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, corner of Liberty St. SE and Ferry. More information: :http://groups.google.com/group/Salem-Transition.
June 4: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
June 9: Portland, 6 p.m. Veterans For Peace General Meeting. For more information: :http://www.vfpchapter72.org. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter #72. 1st Unitarian Universalist Church, 1011 SW 12th Ave, B202.
June 11: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
June 17: Salem, 7 p.m. STIR (Salem Transition Initiative for Relocalization) Meeting. Meeting room above Tea Party Bookshop in Salem, corner of Liberty St. SE and Ferry. More information: :http://groups.google.com/group/Salem-Transition.
June 18: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building.
June 20: Albany 9 a.m. Albany Peace Seekers Meeting. Albany Peace Seekers monthly meeting is held on the third Saturday of each month at 9 A.M. Coffee, tea and an assortment of pastries is available for $3/person. All seekers of peace and justice are welcome. Lakeside Center at Albany Mennonite Home (use 54th Avenue Entrance off Columbus Street for easiest access).
June 25: Portland, 12 Noon-2 p.m. Justice for War Crimes Rally. Rally for accountability and prosecution for war crimes 12-2 p.m. every Thursday. Sponsored by Individuals for Justice. Terry Schrunk Plaza, 3d and Madison, downtown across from the Federal Building. [
Last Updated ( Monday, 08 February 2010 01:21 )