Quick. What’s the U.S.’ largest export? Wheat? Cars? Gadgets? Maybe once, but not any more. It’s weapons ¾ war material. How can we resist the merchants of death who traffic in these commodities and how can we transform the system that encourages it? See pages ….
· “Gitmo and the ‘Enemy Combatants’ Trials: Abuses Committed in Your Name” explores the mistreatment your government has been meting out to hapless people who have done nothing to deserve it. P….
· “New OPW Program Confronts Global Warming and Oil Wars” introduces a new OPW program direction tying together two major issues through oil addiction. P…
· In “SMARTer Approach to the Iraq Situation Suggested,” Associate EditorTom Hastings shares his prescription for dealing with Iraq.
Iraqi Resolution May End Occupation
by Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland
Most observers are focused on the U.S. Congress as it continues to issue new rubber stamps legitimizing Bush’s permanent designs on Iraq. Meanwhile, however, nationalists in the Iraqi parliament — now representing a majority of that body — continue to make progress toward bringing an end to their country’s occupation.
The parliament passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq, when it comes up for renewal in December. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose cabinet is dominated by Iraqi separatists, may veto the measure.
The law requires the parliament’s approval of any future extensions of the mandate, which have previously been made by Iraq’s prime minister. It is an enormous development; lawmakers in Baghdad said that they do in fact plan on blocking the extension of the coalition’s mandate when it comes up for renewal six months from now.
Nassar al Rubaie, the head of the Al-Sadr bloc in Iraq’s Council of Representatives, said, “This new binding resolution will prevent the government from renewing the U.N. mandate without the parliament’s permission. They’ll need to come back to us by the end of the year, and we will definitely refuse to extend the U.N. mandate without conditions.” Rubaie added: “There will be no such a thing as a blank check for renewing the U.N. mandate anymore, any renewal will be attached to a timetable for a complete withdrawal.”
Resolution Would Remove Legal Cover
Without the cover of the U.N. mandate, the continued presence of coalition troops inIraq would become, in law as in fact, an armed occupation, at which point it would no longer be politically tenable to support it. While polls show that most Iraqis consider U.S. forces to be occupiers rather than liberators or peacekeepers — 92 percent of respondents said as much in a 2004 survey by the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies — the U.N. mandate confers an aura of legitimacy on the continuing presence of foreign troops on Iraq’s streets, even four years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The resolution was initiated when a majority of Iraqi lawmakers signed a nonbinding legislative petition last month that called on the Iraqi government to demand a withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country.
While the issue of the Multinational Force’s (MNF) mandate has been virtually ignored by the American media, it has been a point of fierce contention in Baghdad. Last fall, just after the midterm elections in the United States, a coalition of Iraqi
nationalists in the parliament tried to attach conditions to the mandate’s extension.
Iraqi lawmaker Jabir Habib (a Shia closely aligned with the al-Sadrist Movement) said in an interview last fall that the Iraqi Assembly had been poised to vote on the issue. “We spent the last months discussing the conditions we wanted to add to the mandate,” he said, “and the majority of the parliament decided on three major conditions. These conditions included pulling the coalition forces out of the cities and transferring responsibility for security to the Iraqi government, giving Iraqis the right to recruit, train, equip and command the Iraqi security forces, and requiring that the U.N. mandate expire and be reviewed every six months instead of every 12 months.”
Al-Maliki Disses Parliament: Parliament Smacks Back
Lawmakers said that while they likely had enough support to require a timetable for withdrawal as a condition of the mandate’s renewal last year, they were sidelined by al-Maliki when the prime minister sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council requesting an extension without consulting members of parliament. The move outraged lawmakers.
In a phone interview just after the extension, Hassan al-Shammari, a Shia parliamentarian representing the al-Fadila party, said: “We had a closed session two days ago, and we were supposed to vote on the mandate in 10 days. I can not believe the mandate was just approved without our knowledge or input.” Saleh al-Mutlaq, a secular Sunni lawmaker, was also shocked when we spoke with him last fall. “This is totally unexpected,” he said. “It is another example of the prime minister dismissing the views of the parliament and monopolizing all power.”
This resolution means that Maliki will not be able to make that claim this time around. Al-Mutlaq said: “The parliament is more powerful now — we can block the renewal of the U.N. mandate and demand to attach a timetable to it.”
Iraq’s government faces a crisis of legitimacy, in large part due to its refusal to demand the withdrawal of U.S. forces long favored by as many as four out of five Iraqis. According to a poll last year by the Project on International Policy Attitudes, 80 percent of Iraqis believe the U.S. plans to maintain permanent military bases in the country and three out of four believe that if their government were to demand a timetable for withdrawal, Washington would ignore it (according to the poll’s authors, that finding was a major driver of the significant support among all groups of Iraqis for attacking coalition troops).
It is possible, even probable, that the Maliki regime will veto the resolution. The White House’s separatist allies in Baghdad have consistently found ways to bypass the assembly. Al Mutlaq said that the nationalist bloc probably doesn’t have the two-thirds majority required to override a veto.
Suppressing Political Solutions Means Increasing Violence
He warned, however, that the more the al-Maliki regime does to sideline the Iraqi parliament, the more Iraqis will be compelled to turn to violent resistance to the occupation. He said: “It will lead to many groups withdrawing from the political process and could only make things even worse.”
The resolution is only one part of the nationalists’ effort to bring about a U.S.withdrawal. Nassar al Rubaie said of the measure’s passage: “All of this is just our backup plan, but our other and more specific resolution setting a timetable will come soon.” He promised that nationalists in parliament would force debate on a “clean” and binding resolution requiring occupation forces to withdrawal from the country in the immediate future. “We’ll start the deliberations next week,” he said. “We have enough signatures for that one already.” [
Raed Jarrar is Iraq consultant to the American Friends Service Committee. He blogs at Raed in the Middle. Joshua Holland is a senior writer at AlterNet.
Big Changes Coming to The PeaceWorker and OPW’s Programs
by Peter Bergel
There are BIG CHANGES going on at Oregon PeaceWorks and we hope you will support them! One set of changes concerns The PeaceWorker; the other concerns our action programs.
Recently, when we began looking at ways to reduce the cost of printing and distributing The PeaceWorker, (now in its 19th year of publication), we initiated an exciting new approach – one that is likely to serve everyone better.
New PeaceWorker Begins
Beginning with this July/August issue, all issues of The PeaceWorker will be published online (ten per year). In addition, we will continue to publish print versions once a quarter. Why is this a step forward?
1. Reduced costs of publishing The PeaceWorker means that more of OPW’s funds are available to pursue our other important program work (see OPW News[link]).
2. Online publishing allows us to follow our readers to the Web, where many of them have already gone. It also positions us where most younger readers are today.
3. Publishing this electronic version allows us to make live links of all Web references and advertisements. You can click on them to follow up on what you’re reading and to view our advertisers’ websites -- a definite benefit.
4. You can print and email PeaceWorker articles at will.
5. The quarterly printed version will still be available for those who prefer a hard copy version, and for distribution to coffee houses and other similar outlets, offering the best of both worlds. The printed version will be published in a new smaller stapled book format in September, December, March and June.
What Our Readers Told Us
We recently surveyed PeaceWorker readers and learned that of those responding:
1. Seventy percent ranked the Internet as their #1 or #2 source of news.
2. Ninety-four percent said they are “inclined to think positively” about businesses who advertise in The PeaceWorker.
3. Only 45.5% were PeaceWorker subscribers (one of the reasons for the cost cutting measures!).
4. Forty-three percent thought The PeaceWorker’s main emphasis should be on local and regional stories while 47% thought it should be on in-depth exploration of progressive issues.
You will be noticing changes in The PeaceWorker based on these and other survey findings. Many have already been incorporated. If you want to give us your opinions, please go to
The second set of changes concerns our programs. Like many Americans, we at OPW are disgusted with Congress’ recent sellout on Iraq. U.S. voters elected a Democratic Congress with a mandate to end the war, but the Democratic leadership betrayed us by caving in completely to President Bush. The bright spot for OPW in this dismal picture was that all Oregon Democrats voted against this sellout (although they all did agree to allow the vote to take place). This vote, on which the Democratic presidential candidates also abandoned the Democratic leadership, reveals that the Democrats understand what the voters want; they just didn’t give it to us.
This Congressional betrayal has sent peace strategists all over the country back to the drawing board to design more effective opposition to the war. We at OPW seek a project which:
1. Says YES more than it says NO.
2. Can be initiated locally, yet has the potential to go nationwide and even worldwide.
3. Can demonstrate that it’s really addressing the problem.
4. Is at least as pro-peace as it is anti-war.
There is no doubt that OPW will continue lobbying Congress to cut war funding. We will keep up our pressure on the five Democrats while redoubling our pressure on Republicans Sen. Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden. At the same time, however, we are crafting a project that ties together two of today’s largest movements, the movement to end the war and the movement to address global warming, since both are caused, at least in part, by our addiction to oil.
This project, tentatively titled the 5% Solution, will appeal first to Oregonians and later to all Americans to take personal responsibility for reducing global warming gas emissions, thereby also moving to overcome our oil addiction. We can make ourselves part of the solution both to global warming and to wars fought for oil, and in the process build the political power we need to make a real difference.
Please stay tuned to OPW’s online action alerts and The PeaceWorker, both online and in print, for details as this exciting 5% Solution [link to OPW News] program develops. As you know, any change in direction requires start-up costs so OPW needs your help as never before. We cannot take this bold new step without the backing of social change partners like you. [
The Silence of the Bombs
by Norman Solomon
Three years have passed since most Americans came to the conclusion that the Iraq war was a “mistake.” Reporting the results of a Gallup poll in June 2004, USA Today declared: “It is the first time since Vietnam that a majority of Americans has called a major deployment of U.S. forces a mistake.” Public opinion has continued to move in an antiwar direction. But such trends easily coexist with a war effort becoming even more horrific.
In Washington, over the past 25 years, top masters of war have preened themselves in the glow of victory after military triumphs in Grenada, Panama, the 1991 Gulf War, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. During that time, with the exception of the current war in Iraq, the Pentagon’s major aggressive ventures have been cast in a light of virtue rewarded ¾ in sync with the implicit belief that American might makes right.
“The problem after a war is with the victor,” longtime peace activist A. J. Muste observed several decades ago. “He thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay.”
Making Violence More “Effective”
The present situation has a different twist along the same lines. The Iraq war drags on, the United States is certainly not the victor — and the U.S. president, a fervent believer in war and violence, still has a lot to prove.
Faith that American might makes right is apt to be especially devout among those who command the world’s most powerful military — and have the option of trying to overcome wartime obstacles by unleashing even more lethal violence.
These days, there’s a lot of talk about seeking a political solution in Iraq — but the Bush administration and the military leaders who answer to the commander in chief are fundamentally engaged in a very different sort of project. Looking ahead, from the White House, the key goal is to seem to be winding down the U.S. war effort while actually reconfiguring massive violence to make it more effective.
Two sets of figures have paramount importance in mainline U.S. media and politics — the number of U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and the number of them dying there. Often taking cues from news media and many lawmakers on Capitol Hill, antiwar groups have tended to buy into the formula, emphasizing those numbers and denouncing them as intolerably high.
Meanwhile, the Iraqis killed by Americans don’t become much of an issue in the realms of U.S. media and politics. News coverage provides the latest tallies of Iraqis who die from “sectarian violence” and “terrorist attacks,” but the reportage rarely discusses how the U.S. occupation has been an ascending catalyst for that carnage. It’s even more rare for the coverage to focus on the magnitude of Iraqi deaths that are direct results of American firepower.
Killing Americans is Not All We’re Concerned About
In the United States, many advocates of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq have focused on what the war has been doing to Americans. This approach may seem like political pragmatism and tactical wisdom, but in the long run it’s likely to play into the hands of White House strategists who will try to regain domestic political ground by reducing American losses while boosting the use of high-tech weaponry against Iraqi people.
Every night, I receive an email bulletin that’s called “U.S. Air Force Print News.” It’s one of countless ways the Pentagon does continual outreach to journalists with messages that encourage favorable coverage of what the military is doing. Those messages are filled with stories about the bravery, compassion and towering stature of — in the words of retired Gen. Colin Powell a decade ago — “those wonderful men and women who do such a great job.”
But journalists receive just a trickle of limited information about the bombing runs undertaken by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. The official sources have very little to say about what happens to people at the other end of the bombs. And, overall, U.S. media outlets don’t add much information about the human consequences.
In late May, an important challenge to those media patterns appeared on the websiteTomDispatch.com (and, in shorter form, in The Nation magazine). The in-depth article — titled “Did the U.S. Lie about Cluster Bomb Use in Iraq?” — went beyond probing the Pentagon’s extensive use of barbaric cluster bombs in Iraq since the spring of 2003. The piece, by journalist Nick Turse, also shined a bright light on fundamental aspects of a U.S. air war that has seldom seen any light of day in big American media outlets.
Ignorance About the Air War
“Unfortunately, thanks to an utter lack of coverage by the mainstream media, what we don’t know about the air war in Iraq so far outweighs what we do know that anything but the most minimal picture of the nature of destruction from the air in that country simply can’t be painted,” Turse writes.
The article raises a key question: “Does the U.S. military keep the numbers of rockets and cannon rounds fired from its planes and helicopters secret because more Iraqi civilians have died due to their use than any other type of weaponry?”
Turse, an associate editor and research director of TomDispatch.com, has written for daily newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. His article pulls no punches about the press as he assesses huge gaps in media coverage of the Iraq air war funded by U.S. taxpayers.
Sadly, he observes, “media reports on the air war are so sparse, with reporting confined largely to reprinting U.S. military handouts and announcements of air strikes, that much of the air war in Iraq remains unknown — although the very fact of an occupying power regularly conducting air strikes in and near population centers should have raised a question or two.”
The available evidence is strong that the U.S. air war is escalating — with a surge of resulting casualties among Iraqi civilians. Their suffering and their deaths get very little coverage in the U.S. news media. “Since the Bush administration’s invasion, the American air war has been given remarkably short shrift in the media,” Turse writes. He also cites “indications that the air war has taken an especially grievous toll on Iraqi children.”
The combination of deceptive officials in the U.S. government and an evasive U.S.press has been a disaster for the flow of information to the American public. “With the military unwilling to tell the truth or say anything at all, in most cases — and unable to provide the stability necessary for [non-governmental organizations] to operate, it falls to the mainstream media, even at this late stage of the conflict, to begin ferreting out substantive information on the air war,” Turse points out. “It seems, however, that until reporters begin bypassing official U.S. military pronouncements and locating Iraqi sources, we will remain largely in the dark with little knowledge of what can only be described as the secret U.S. air war in Iraq.”
As the summer of 2007 gets underway, the demand to “bring the troops home” is necessary but insufficient. The numbers of Americans fighting and dying in Iraq are not a reliable measure of U.S. culpability in the continuing slaughter. [
The new documentary film “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” based on Norman Solomon’s book of the same title, is being released directly to DVD in mid-June. For information about the full-length movie, produced by the Media Education Foundation and narrated by Sean Penn, go to:www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.
Express Yourself: Be a Peace Professional
by Tom H. Hastings
Johan Galtung is one of the reigning global experts on conflict management. He founded the International Peace Research Association back in 1957. I heard him speak last summer at its biennial conference, held in Calgary. Galtung is also the person who coined the term peace journalism — on which foundations The PeaceWorker stands — and he is the person who has most consistently called upon peace professionals to become public intellectuals.
Not me, you say; I’m not a peace professional. I don’t teach at a university. I don’t hold government office.
Not so fast, my friend. Are you an officer in a peace group? Do you engage in critical thinking instead of party line politics? Do you seek justice through peace, and peace through justice, and both by peaceable means? You, dear reader, may well be a peace professional.
If you are, consider the new project of the Oregon Peace Institute, an organization that has been around for a couple of decades. PeaceVoice means to elicit the commentaries of peace professionals and place them in mainstream media. We are actually learning to do this and are making slow but sure progress toward our goal: to change the national discourse around peace and justice issues.
But isn’t our national discourse already a product of the free press? Doesn’t it already include options for peace?
Corporate Media Destroys Blood-Brain Barrier
Yes and no. While we have an amazing freedom of the press amendment to our Constitution, the unwarranted influence of the military industrial complex has polluted our media and has blown holes between the advertising-editorial blood-brain barrier. Editors are afraid of biting the hand that feeds them and that fear trickles down to reporters. In the end, most reporters self-censor. They graduate from journalism school full of ethics and competency and learn how to survive in the business of making a living as a journalist. Be careful. Turn to the sources that offer the official version, the patriotic version, the “credible” version. Get the believable quote from the credentialed source. Editors accept this, publishers accept this, and the American people who are exposed to corporate media and little else — the vast majority of us — believe that diversity of opinion has been sought, weighed professionally, included and presented responsibly to an electorate that continues to be informed.
This morning I went online to grade some virtual papers in one of my courses that is open to anyone, anywhere who can come up with computer access and tuition for PSU. After 10 weeks of class, one student still managed to fight her way past all the critical thinking I’ve tried to put in her path, past all the material that would advise her to avoid such statements based on ignorance, and said that the U.S. attacked Iraqto save face, since Iraq was in on 9.11.01. This student is America on Fox News. But doesn’t she consume much more media than Fox? Yes! We watch movies, we read the sports page or the celebrity gossip; People magazine is a major media source, as is normal network television, especially sitcoms and drama. It all complements Fox in that it offers zero alternatives.
Turn Up the Alternatives
Alternative peace media like The PeaceWorker is crucial. But we reach 15,000 monthly (roughly) and the network news reaches tens of millions 24-7. Alternative digests like Commondreams, Alternet, Truthout, Antiwar and other web-based services reach thousands; still, in this country, there is ultimately no substitute for reaching the audiences who consume mainstream media.
Hence PeaceVoice, the Oregon Peace Institute (OPI) project. We take the commentary pieces written by thoughtful, credentialed peace professionals and we are developing relationships with editors across the country to succeed in getting these new voices into the mainstream.
What if the 400 peace professionals in the Peace and Justice Studies Association had been able to enter the national debate in late 2002 and early 2003, debunking Colin Powell before he even spoke at the U.N.? What if we had been able to offer predictions of the costs of the occupation that showed the Bush regime was also lying about that? What if we were able to swat Cheney’s and Rice’s lies about Iraq’s involvement in September 11, 2001 terrorism? We knew all this; I remember listening to Powell, hopping on my bike, pedaling to PSU and putting out a response within an hour. I lacked the confidence to send it to mainstream media. I knew that they would likely reject it. I suspect many of my colleagues went through parallel processes.
But you, as a member of the larger peace community, probably knew that Powell was lying too. What if you could write a response and send it to PeaceVoice, knowing that they would distribute an invitation to hundreds of mainstream editors across the U.S.to consider publishing your piece? Suddenly, the chances of acceptance grow. Your time, which is worth a great deal, is now much more likely to have been well spent in crafting a commentary piece. You can write, fire, and forget (hey, the military steals language all day — I will steal back if I want).
PeaceVoice is an idea whose time has come. Wish us luck and look in the mirror. You just might be a peace professional and you might want to participate. [
If you do, write me: :
Open Letter to Dear George W. Bush
by Michele Darr and HOPE
We wish to acknowledge some of the truths you have presented about the war and the occupation of Iraq. When you told us that our troops are fighting to preserve the American way of life, you spoke the truth. You were also right on when you said that Americans are addicted to oil.
Inspired by heroes and heroines such as Brian Willson, double amputee from the Vietnam Veteran, and Cindy Sheehan, warrior and outspoken mother of fallen U.S. soldier Casey Sheehan, we are on a mission to help transform the cycle of oil dependency, so that U.S. soldiers won’t be compelled to fight or die any more for our voracious, out of control, oil consumptive habits. This is our tribute to the country we love; this is our sacred tour of duty.
The Catalysts of H.O.P.E. (Healing Our People and Earth) began riding our bicycles across the United States for Peace and Sustainability on March 17, 2007 in Portland,OR. As we traveled all the way down the west coast and across the south, Americans from all walks of life have supported our message and organization. We’ve had as many as 15 riders at one time, but our core has consisted of two adults, an 11-yr.-old, and 18-mo-old twins. We’re a traveling family, dedicated to recognizing and reconciling our complicity in perpetuating a system that allows the U.S. ¾ 1/16th of the world population ¾ to consume over 1/4 of the Earth’s resources, and to produce nearly 1/2 of the waste. Our wanton lifestyle choices and disregard for the repercussions that those choices will have on the futures of our children and generations to come are combining to create a state of perpetual war, terror, poverty, resource depletion, and ultimately threaten our very survival as a species. By being the change we wish to see in the world and encouraging others to do likewise in their own manner, we’re striving to reclaim the soul of our nation and heal the damaged ties with each other and with the world outside of our borders.
These past 2 months have been tremendously eye-opening for us. By trusting in and relying on the kindness and concern of our fellow citizens in this great country, again and again we’ve witnessed the genuine goodness and concern people innately have for one another, especially children. Through countless conversations with Americans of nearly every stripe, political affiliation and ethnicity, we have also found that our shared vulnerability as human beings on this fragile, endangered planet have left many of us overwhelmed and unsure of what part we have to play in the outcome of the course on which we travel. Many have bought into the notion that they are too insignificant to have any impact on the seemingly insurmountable problems we face as a country, and instead have lamentably invested precious resources, especially time, into fleeting, transient material gain. This further isolates them from the very networks of support that could make the shift to sustainable community possible -- family, friends, neighbors, and co-inhabitants of a small planet with limited resources. Therefore, the challenge before us is to take heart from successful people’s movements from around the world (e.g. :http://www.sarvodaya.org) and to restore the collective belief in the power of humanity to transcend our perceived differences and unite for the common good.
We are appealing to the very best in your human nature, Mr. Bush, as we absolutely do not accept that any human being is a lost cause or is beyond redemption. The movement towards reconciliation and peace is living, breathing proof that another world is possible. We expect to bicycle into Crawford, Texas, on the last weekend in June and would welcome the opportunity to discuss our experiences on this journey and on our past journeys throughout America, the Middle East, and Africa. We will also be in Washington, DC during the second half of September, further providing excellent opportunities to communicate with our elected officials. We’ve got a lot to talk about.
May there be Peace in Our Time, The Catalysts of HOPE (Michele, Tala, Grace,Willow, Vern) [
Supported by organizations such as Veterans for Peace, CODE PINK, Sarvodaya USA, Whitefeather Peace Community, Oregon PeaceWorks, and many others, The Catalysts of HOPE (Healing Our People & Earth) are continuing to trek across America and welcome any and all dreamers to join us in whatever capacity each determines appropriate. (:http://www.catalystsofhope.org/)
Dear Congressman Blumenauer,
Last year I had the opportunity to meet with you and Willie Smith to talk about the Declaration of Peace effort to encourage Congress to end the war legislatively. You told our delegation that while you supported the intent of the Declaration (and indeed, in the end you signed it), the timing was wrong to push for such legislation because rocking the boat too close to the mid-term election could hurt the Democratic Party’s chances of retaking control of the House and Senate. I suggested that while your view seemed politically reasonable, it was morally dubious because every day that the war goes on, more people die. You protested my characterization quite vigorously, asserting that Democratic majorities in the House and Senate would end the war more quickly, and ultimately cost fewer lives, than any other scenario. Can you explain to me, in light of this week’s House and Senate votes to continue the war indefinitely (by a margin of 280 to 142 in the House), how Democrats being “in control” is bringing an end to the war? [
When Will Cheney and Bush Go to Jail?
I have called both Representative Hooley’s and Senator Wyden’s offices to thank them for their votes on the supplemental “war” spending bill. It seems that both of them know that the United States is subject to International Law. International Law consists of treaties to which the U.S. is not only a signatory, but in many cases, the author. I am speaking of the Geneva Conventions, the United Nations Charter, and the Nuremburg rules.
Thomas Jefferson said “Treaties are the supreme law of the land.” Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney seem to have no sense of history, nor of International Law. The United Statesinvaded a sovereign country which had done us no harm, nor was it a threat, when we invaded Iraq. The war on Iraq was over in May, 2003. What we have now is a failed occupation. We had ourselves declared the occupying force by the U.N., so we can no longer call it a war. Our poor troops are caught in the middle of an insurgency and civil strife with no way out until the “Decider” decides to do the right thing. Our troops are targets today, and they are being killed at a faster rate now than ever before.
We must get the U.S. troops out of Iraq before any more families are filled with grief for the loss of their loved ones.
The people responsible for this illegal war and occupation must be brought before theWorld Court and tried for their crimes against humanity. Two million Iraqis exiled, over 500,000 killed, men, women and children, the country decimated, a puppet government unable to govern. The crimes are many on the part of the United States. [
--Judith M. Kemp
Pesticides Are Still Poisoning Us
May 27 was the 100th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s birth, and it reminds us of her monumental work. Silent Spring, is a book that alerted us to the fact that we are increasingly poisoning our environment through indiscriminate use of pesticides. The poison industry, in gratitude for Carson’s concern for the environment and its creatures, viciously attacked her with all manner of deceptive and self-serving propaganda.
Rachel Carson reported that 200 basic chemicals were created for killing pests, insects and weeds, sold under thousands of brand names. Today there are 500 pesticide ingredients, with some 10,480 products registered in Oregon alone. Testing of these poisons’ effects, used long term or used in combination, continues to be inadequate. [
Portland Writer Names Power Grabbers
Having documented and been the brunt of anti-abortion attacks and activities for 15 years, this statement makes a whole lot of sense: “The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of anti-abortion forces; what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want a share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities.” — Ursula K. LeGuin
Santa Monica, CA
What is War Like for the Children?
My childhood memories are clouded by the devastation caused by the war between my country, Iran, and our neighbor, Iraq, during the 1980s. The war was at its peak and civilians were getting bombarded several times a day. It was a painful experience for a child.
Even though child casualties are high during war, children do not get much media coverage. Since most people never hear children’s side of the story, I would like to share one of my most painful childhood memories during the war.
I was nine years old, living with my parents, grandfather, seven-year-old sister, and a newborn baby brother. We were living in Kermanshah — a city in the western part ofIran bordering Iraq. Kermanshah was constantly bombarded and a few neighborhoods were getting almost daily threats. Many people had no choice but to abandon their homes and move to safer locations. Some people were living in the tents in mountain camps, some moved to mountainside suburban neighborhoods, and some moved to safer cities. We moved in with my grandfather — my mother’s father — in his mountainside home. There was less bombing in that area.
On December 21, 1986, most of my family members were coming to my grandfather’s house to celebrate Shabe Yalda night, the longest night of the year. Celebration of Shabe Yalda is an old Iranian tradition. I was so happy. Our family gatherings were so much fun. Around noon, the sirens wailed several times and, as usual, we heard the bombings. We were using our basement as a shelter.
One of my aunts — my mother’s oldest sister — had a house really close to my grandfather’s house, but they did not have a basement. Because of the constant bombings that day, my parents thought it was safer for them to come earlier. But my uncle stayed behind. Apparently, he was tired and he wanted to rest a little before the family gathering at night. My 17-year-old cousin, Hamoon, had decided to stay and would come with his father later. It was around 5 p.m. that another bombing took place and this time the explosions sounded very close. Soon, almost everybody had arrived at my grandfather’s house. It was getting late and we were waiting for Hamoon and his father to arrive; but there was no sign of them. I could see everyone getting worried. My father, my other uncle, and my cousin’s husband decided to drive there and see what was going on. They left. We waited.
Time passed, but still there was no sign of any of them. I could see worry in the eyes of everyone. I do not know how much time passed, all I can remember is that the kids fell asleep and I was really sleepy too. But, I decided, I was going to wait for them. Finally, my father came back. He looked horrible. He told us that my aunt’s house had been bombed, and Hamoon and his father had been injured. They were in the hospital and he was going there. He could not contact us because the phones were dead. He went to the kitchen and talked privately with the adults. When they came out, all of the women were crying. My father sat right in front of me, but on the other side of the living room. He was silent. He covered his face with his hands and looked down. This is etched in my mind forever. When he raised his head, I saw my fathers’ tears for the first time in my life. There were only few tears but I traced every single one as they slid down his face. I knew that men do not cry unless they have experienced the happiest moment in their life or faced the saddest one. It was at this very moment I realized something really bad must have happened.
My father and a few of the adults went back to the hospital. Most of us stayed because the hospitals were overcrowded with the wounded and they were not allowing many visitors. We found out that Hamoon and some other wounded people had been sent to Tehran by helicopter because the hospital did not have the capacity to take care of them. Meanwhile, Hamoon’s dad had surgery on his leg. After the surgery, he was transferred to Tehran, too. My grandfather, Hamoon’s mother, his siblings, and my other aunt’s family went to Tehran the next day. My parents, my siblings, and I could not go right away because my father was one of the directors atKermanshah’s Dairy Factory, which was responsible for providing dairy products for soldiers. He would stay longer than most.
Costs of War to Civilians Multiply
In the last couple of days the air attacks increased significantly. The city was almost abandoned; it looked like a graveyard. My father had to take care of a few things before we could leave. Meanwhile, my parents decided to check out my aunt’s house. An abandoned city during war is a perfect target for larceny. In few minutes, we were parked in front of the house; it seemed fine to outward appearances. My father explained that the bomb did not go off. Apparently it came through one of the closets, exited from the kitchen, and stuck in the neighbor’s wall. I was told that Hamoon and his father were standing in the closet during the bombings; using it as a shelter. Although the house was safe — the bomb had been dismantled and removed — we stayed in the car and my father went in the house alone. My father came back very fast and he told my mother that he had locked the doors and windows, and nothing had been taken. His anxiety level was so obvious that my mother did not believe him. She went to check the house herself, when she came back, she was crying her eyes out. She had been crying since last night, but now she could not even talk. She was shaking; she looked at my father and she whispered, “How come nobody put it in ice and took it to the hospital? Maybe they could have put it back.” My dad went back to the house again. I asked mom what had happened. She said, “Nothing honey. A few cats got into the house through the broken windows and were messing up the house; your dad is going to take care of it.” Parents think that kids do not understand their subterfuges.
Finally, we went to Tehran. By the time we got there, my aunt had transferred Hamoon to a private hospital so he could get better treatment. We were all staying with one of our relatives in Tehran. The adults were constantly whispering with each other and they were so sad. I was worried for Hamoon; I had a feeling that his injuries were worse than what I had been told. So, I told my mother I wanted to know what had happened to Hamoon. She said that Hamoon was standing in the closet when the bomb went through it and the bomb had hit his right leg below his knee. But because the hospitals in Kermanshah were so crowded, his leg had become infected. By the time he got to the private hospital, they had no choice but to cut off his leg all the way to the upper thigh. As she was telling me that, I remembered the cats and I asked her, “Were those cats eating his leg?” She looked inside my eyes with her eyes full of tears, but she did not say anything. I took her silence for yes. I cried a lot.
My uncle — Hamoon’s father — had been transferred to another private hospital also. He did not lose his leg, but it was severe. The sewing machine in the closet was shattered into flying pieces by the bomb and those pieces had injured him. He was getting better after few surgeries. He told us when he got injured, he could not move. He said, “I called Hamoon to come and help me. Hamoon replied, ‘I can’t dad. I do not have a leg.’” My uncle said, “When I heard that, I dragged myself to the yard and I called for help.”
Finally came the day that I could visit Hamoon. I did not know what to say, nor how to behave. I told myself no matter how hard it would be I was not going to cry and make him sad. I thought he must have had enough of crying. I went to his room; he was lying down on the bed. I stood by him and really tried not to look at his leg that much. It was true, he did lose his leg. He was trying to cheer me up and was playing it cool. He always had been like a big brother to me and I always had cared for him. Not long ago he was taking me biking. It was so hard to see him in that condition. I really wanted to tell him how sorry I was for what had happened to him, but after all these years I have not yet found the right moment to tell him. I always thought it would hurt his feelings.
The war was over by the time I turned eleven, but those horrible memories left deep scars in my soul. I have witnessed the devastation caused by war; I know what it means to see your loved ones in a heartbreaking condition. Every time that I come across the images of wounded children in war, I cannot stop myself from shedding tears for their pain. Every time that I see a suffering of a child, every chord within me cries out. [
Pendar is Iranian and is studying in the U.S. She visits Iran and has many family members there. She is not a U.S. citizen. For all these reasons, she is using a nom de plume. Pendar means “thought” in Persian.
WOZA’s Williams and Mahlangu Free — For Now
by Tom H. Hastings
One of the most inspiring nonviolent struggles on Earth is the attempt by the women of Zimbabwe to gain basic rights and access to health care for the masses of poor people in that poor southern African country. The most active and fearless nonviolent movement is WOZA — Women of ZimbabweArising.
WOZA is comprised of more than 5,000 members and they are confronting the government forces wherever those forces are preventing them from reaching the Mugabe Government’s officials. Early this spring I was fortunate enough to attend anOxford conference on civil society mass movement power and I spent a fair bit of that time with Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu. These two WOZA leaders spent the conference convincing academics and NGO members from around the world that their movement was both serious and hopeful.
Both Heartening and Frightening
The news streaming out of Zimbabwe on a daily basis is both heartening and frightening.
From one WOZA report:
“When the activists arrived at the police station they were asked to line up, which they did. Two officers then came up and dragged Williams into the station by her hands. As Mahlangu was in front of Williams, she too was dragged in. As the two were being dragged in, riot police indiscriminately beat those peacefully lined up causing serious injuries to many. Police officers were observed taking video footage of these events, which can only corroborate the violence unleashed on the peaceful activists if it will be shown in court.”
Women across Zimbabwe were so upset by yet another arrest of Williams and Mahlangu that they came to police stations to volunteer to be arrested and jailed in solidarity with the two. At one station, in Filabusi, police first obliged and arrested 100 women and then reconsidered and released them. From early June, as women were being arrested in some towns and released piecemeal in others:
“The five members who were released today at lunchtime received medical treatment for their injuries, mostly soft tissue bruising. One member related how she was beaten with baton sticks by several police officers, including across the breasts. She is in severe pain and doctors are worried that some of the lesions may form into abscesses. Another member, who was not arrested, needed to receive specialist treatment this afternoon and will need to have an operation tomorrow. She was kicked in the groin by booted police officers on Wednesday and is bleeding heavily. With the release of the women, we have been able to learn much more about conditions in the cells. The women related how officers threw bucket loads of water into the cells every day, forcing them to spend the entire time on wet concrete. In the middle of a coldBulawayo winter, the group of seven was also only given two blankets in total. As a result, many of the women are suffering from cold symptoms. The group of seven was also kept in a cell segregated from the other women prisoners. It is suspected that this was to prevent the WOZA activists from teaching their fellow detainees about their rights and recruiting them to join the nonviolent struggle for social justice inZimbabwe.”
After an 11-month process, WOZA has issued a People’s Charter and launch demonstrations were held in Bulawayo, Harare, Masvingo, Gweru and Mutare. There is a copy on the website below.
For more information, please contact Jenni Williams at +263 912 898 110 or 011 213 885, Magodonga Mahlangu at +263 362 668, :
Gitmo and the ‘Enemy Combatants’ Trials: Abuses Committed in Your Name
by Marjorie Cohn
In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld famously called the detainees at Guant?namo “the worst of the worst.” General Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned they were “very dangerous people who would gnaw hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down.” These claims were designed to justify locking up hundreds of men and boys for years in small cages like animals.
Who Are We Really Talking About?
George W. Bush lost no time establishing military commissions to try the very “worst of the worst” for war crimes. But four and a half years later, the Supreme Court decided in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that those commissions violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions. So Bush dusted them off, made a few changes, and rammed his new improved military commissions through the Republican Congress last fall.
Only three detainees have been brought before the new commissions. One would expect the people Bush & Co. singled out for war crimes prosecutions would be high-level al-Qaeda leaders. But they weren’t. The first was David Hicks, who was evidently not so dangerous. The U.S. military made a deal that garnered Hicks a misdemeanor sentence and sent him back to Australia.
Salem Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who used to be Osama bin Laden’s chauffeur, was the second. Hamdan, whose case had been overturned by the Supreme Court, was finally brought before a military commission for arraignment on charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism.
The third defendant was Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, who appeared for arraignment the same day as Hamdan. Khadr was 15 years old when he arrived at Guant?namo. He faced charges of conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, spying, and supporting terrorism.
Much to Bush’s dismay, two different military judges dismissed both Hamdan’s and Khadr’s cases on procedural grounds.
The Military Commissions Act that Congress passed last year says the military commissions have jurisdiction to try offenses committed by alien unlawful enemy combatants. Unlawful enemy combatants are defined as
1. people who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its allies; or
2. people who have been determined to be unlawful enemy combatants by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) or another competent tribunal. The Act says that a determination of unlawful enemy combatant status by a CSRT or another competent tribunal is dispositive.
Who Is Lawfully Attacking Whom?
But there are no “unlawful” enemy combatants at Guant?namo. There are only men who have been determined to be “enemy combatants” by the CSRTs. The Act declares that military commissions “shall not have jurisdiction over lawful enemy combatants.” In its haste to launch post-Hamdan military commissions, Bush’s legal eagles didn’t notice this discrepancy. That is why the charges were dismissed.
The Bush administration may try to fix the procedural problem and retry Khadr and Hamdan. But regardless of whether Guant?namo detainees are lawful or unlawful enemy combatants, the Bush administration’s treatment of them violates the Geneva Conventions. Lawful enemy combatants are protected against inhumane treatment by the Third Geneva Convention on prisoners of war. Unlawful enemy combatants are protected against inhumane treatment by Common Article Three.
Omar Khadr was captured in Afghanistan and brought to Guant?namo when he was 15 years old. In both places, he has been repeatedly tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment. At Bagram Air Base, Khadr was denied pain medication for his serious head and eye shrapnel wounds. At Guant?namo, his hands and feet were shackled together, he was bolted to the floor and left there for hours at a time. After he urinated on himself and on the floor, U.S. military guards mopped the floor with his skinny little body. Khadr was beaten in the head, dogs lunged at him, and he was threatened with rape and the removal of his body parts.
Khadr cried frequently. He has nightmares, sweats and hyperventilates, and is hypervigilant, hearing sounds that he can’t identify. When Khadr’s lawyer saw him for the first time in 2004, he thought, “He’s just a little kid.”
Why was Khadr treated this way? He comes from a family allegedly active in al-Qaeda. His charges stem from an incident where the U.S. sent Afghans into a compound where Khadr and others were located. The people inside the compound killed the Afghans and began firing at the U.S. soldiers. The Americans dropped two 500-pound bombs on the compound, killing everyone inside except Khadr. After Khadr threw a hand grenade, which killed an American, the soldiers shot Khadr, blinding and seriously wounding him. Khadr begged them in English to finish him off. He was then taken to Baghram and later to Guant?namo.
According to Donald Rehkopf, Jr., co-chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Military Law Committee, “The government has steadfastly refused to allow hearings on this alleged [unlawful enemy combatant] status because there are so many prisoners at GTMO that were not even combatants, much less ‘unlawful’ ones. Khadr is in an unusual situation because he has a viable ‘self-defense’ claim — the U.S. attacked the compound that he and his family were living in, and the fact that he was only 15 at the time.”
If Khadr were a U.S. citizen, he would not even be subject to trial by court-martial because of his age. When the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that children under 18 at the time of their crimes could not be executed, it said that youths display a “lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility” that “often results in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions.” A juvenile, the Court found, is more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and his character is not as well-formed as that of an adult. “From a moral standpoint,” Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority, “it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s character deficiencies will be reformed.” The Bush administration’s treatment of Omar Khadr flies in the face of the Court’s reasoning.
The United States may be able to retry Khadr and Hamdan. They have a few days to file an appeal. But the Court of Military Commissions Review hasn’t even been established yet, so it’s unclear where the appeals would be brought.
The Military Commissions Act, which denies basic due process protections, including the right to habeas corpus, is a disgrace. But an even bigger disgrace is the concentration camp the United States maintains at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba. The Act should be repealed and the Guant?namo prison should be shut down immediately. [
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, will be published this month.
by Phil Carver
This is a new web format for the Beltway Bulletin. Each month I will search the web on selected topics and link to the best web pages on each subject.
Overview on Energy and Global Warming
There is a tremendous amount of activity on energy and global warming in this Congress. Most observers believe Congress will adopt something on these issues, but effective legislation will be difficult. Comprehensive action on global warming is unlikely with a disingenuous president and slim Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Global warming bills will be addressed in a future column.
UCS on Cool Cars and Clean Energy
In response to the public outcry over high energy prices, global warming pollution, and oil security issues, Congress is moving forward with a package of major energy, fuels, and transportation proposals that will be considered and voted upon over the next two months. These bills represent the best chance Americans have had in decades to make serious strides toward cleaner energy and transportation policies, and address global warming.
Whether this year’s energy bill will be a change for the better, business as usual, or a setback for consumers and the environment depends on the outcome of three major issues:
Cleaner Cars & Fuel Economy
THE GOOD: For the first time in decades, both the House and the Senate started this congressional session with bills that offered meaningful increases in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. In the House, H.R. 1506, The Fuel Economy Reform Act, which now has 135 co-sponsors, guarantees that new vehicles will average 35 miles per gallon by 2018 and requires a continuous four percent per year improvement in fuel economy beyond 2018, unless such improvements prove unfeasible.
In the Senate, the Ten-In-Ten Fuel Economy Act, S. 357, could increase the average fuel economy of our cars, pickups, minivans, and SUVs approximately 10 miles per gallon over 10 years (to 35 miles per gallon by 2020). Reaching a 35 miles per gallon fleet wide fuel economy standard by 2020 is both technically feasible and has multiple benefits for our oil, economic, and environmental security.
THE BAD: Led by a new misinformation campaign by the automakers, several legislators have attempted to weaken or completely undermine efforts to improve fuel economy. The Senate Commerce Committee inserted a number of loopholes in the Ten-in-Ten bill that weakened it. If the automakers drag their feet and succeed in delaying the implementation of the target fuel economy increases, the bill could end up maintaining business as usual instead of effecting real change.
There is an effort now underway to close these loopholes and ensure that the 35 miles per gallon standard will be met. Unfortunately, additional draft proposals by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA) would reduce the CAFE target, replacing fuel economy requirements with vague promises of producing advanced technology vehicles. Worse still, this proposal would attempt to block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating global warming pollution from vehicles—even going so far as to prevent the EPA from granting a waiver to states who have already adopted clean car standards that go beyond the federal level.
THE FINAL VOTES: Any efforts to lower fuel economy improvements, insert additional loopholes for automakers, or undermine efforts to curb global warming pollution from vehicles must be rejected. Amendments to remove current CAFE loopholes and ensure progress toward cleaner vehicles are critical to lock in consumer and environmental benefits.
A Clean Renewable Future
THE GOOD: The composition of the new Congress offers us the brightest prospects we have seen in years for passing a strong federal renewable electricity standard(also known as a renewable portfolio standard or RPS). Senator Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM), renewable electricity standard has broad bi-partisan support. Fifty senators signed a “Dear Colleague” letter in support of a strong national standard. By requiring utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, the bill could be one of the first major global warming bills to pass in the new Congress. It would create a large and growing market for clean and truly renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass.
THE BAD: On June 5, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) announced his intention to introduce an amendment that would allow nuclear energy and so-called “clean coal” to be considered “renewable” energy sources. Such an amendment would undercut development of America’s largely untapped and genuinely clean and renewable energy resources—wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal—and reduce the consumer benefits and number of jobs created.
Despite growing support in all regions of the country for state renewable energy standards, some utilities are still opposing these proposals. With new standards passing this year in Oregon, Minnesota, and New Hampshire, 23 states now have renewable electricity standards in place, with other states on the way.
THE FINAL VOTES: The renewable electricity standard should be a base for bolstering the clean energy industry, not an additional subsidy for coal or nuclear power. The original intent of this program should move forward without substantial alteration. An amendment to include Senator Bingaman’s renewable electricity standard in the energy bill should be supported.
Smart Biofuels as Part of the Climate Solution
THE GOOD: While fuel economy remains the most effective step we can currently take to reduce our dependence on oil, biofuels—such as ethanol and biodiesel—have been increasingly touted as a cleaner transportation fuel alternative. In order to ensure that these fuels actually play a positive role in reducing America’s global warming pollution, a system must be put in place to track the carbon emissions of these fuels, and set standards to ensure that increased biofuel production and usage actually results in significantly decreased global warming pollution. California has made a first policy step in this direction with the creation of their Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
THE BAD: Currently, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) legislation in the Senate has no such carbon tracking mechanism, meaning that unsustainable growing and production practices could undermine any potential for biofuels to actually reduceAmerica’s global warming pollution. While the House version of this biofuels legislation does have some carbon tracking method included, both the House and the Senate versions include liquid coal as a renewable fuel. Liquid coal is exactly what it sounds like—coal that has been converted to a liquid fuel. Coal-derived fuels could produce almost twice as much global warming pollution as the fuels they’re designed to replace. Liquid coal also has serious safety, health, and environmental implications for coal mining communities. The inclusion of this dirty resource in any “clean energy” initiative threatens to set us back decades in our work to curb global warming pollution.
THE FINAL VOTES: Liquid coal should be kept out of any biofuels initiative—we should not attempt to end dependence on one kind of dangerous fossil fuel simply by replacing it with another dirty resource. Any amendment to introduce liquid coal in the energy package should be rejected. Biofuels policy should be focused on the development of crop and production choices that would produce the largest fuel yield with the smallest carbon footprint. Amendments to improve the biofuels package by ensuring protections for clean air, and sustainable land management practices and reducing global warming pollution, should be supported.
UCS will be tracking the progress on this legislation and will be asking for your help over the coming weeks to ensure that Congress knows that the public is wise to the difference between sound policy and political sound bites.
Carbon Capture and Storage from Coal Power Plants
Within the full portfolio of domestic and international approaches to manage carbon comprehensively, UCS views geologic carbon sequestration as one potentially viable option to achieve reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations. In no way, however, should geologic carbon sequestration be seen as a "silver bullet" to reducing emissions, nor should it be researched and developed at the expense of other environmentally sound, technologically feasible, and economically affordable solutions to climate change. UCS views technologies and policies that prevent emissions to the atmosphere in the first place -- such as improving energy efficiency in power generation, transportation and buildings, developing renewable energy, and protecting threatened forests - as the safest and highest priority.
UCS supports appropriate research into all aspects of geologic sequestration, especially the following:
currently largely unexplored environmental consequences, including those associated with extending fossil fuel extraction
capacity for safe, long-term underground storage of carbon
characteristics of the currently much less well understood saline formations
pre-combustion carbon capture (decarbonization) technologies
the risks to public safety
Such research should determine the realistic scale of using this approach within the larger portfolio of carbon management options.
Carbon Risk, Coal, and Higher Electricity Prices: Electric utilities continue to invest in conventional coal plants despite the fact that governments are moving to restrict the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions from such plants. The risks are both environmental and financial. A new UCS report, Gambling with Coal, shows how investment in conventional coal plants is a reckless financial gamble given coming climate regulation.
Carbon Risk and Big Stone II: Read about the proposed Big Stone II coal plant inSouth Dakota and what you can do to stop it.
Renewing America’s Economy: Many newly elected members of Congress have expressed a strong interest in supporting clean energy, providing the best opportunity to adopt a national renewable electricity standard in years. Learn about the national and state-level benefits of a federal 20 percent by 2020 standard from this UCS analysis.
From The Union of Concerned Scientists website at::http://ucsaction.org/campaign/06_07_07_energy_bill/explanation
New Guidance Removes Clean Water Act Protections from Many Streams and Wetlands
Washington, DC: The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers issued guidance today that threatens to reverse the nation’s progress in cleaning up its waters under the country’s fundamental clean water law. In response to last year’s Supreme Court decision in Rapanos, the agencies issued new complicated policy that leaves many small streams and wetlands without Clean Water Act protections from pollution.
The agencies’ guidance appears to allow unregulated pollution to be dumped into waters that have historically been protected under the Clean Water Act. While the administration claims to be in favor of protecting wetlands, this guidance leaves many of those wetlands at risk. Even the EPA and Army Corps have admitted that they have no knowledge of the extent of waters lost under this new guidance.
“This guidance will most certainly mean that there will be more unregulated pollution and filling of these important waters, leaving many communities to suffer the consequences,” said Navis Bermudez, Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign Washington Representative. “In addition, scarce agency resources will be wasted implementing this confusing guidance.”
As scientists have increasingly documented, small streams and wetlands perform essential roles in our environment, storing floodwater, filtering out and processing pollutants that would contaminate downstream waters, and providing critical habitat for many species of fish and other aquatic life. Safeguarding these waters from pollution is fundamentally important to keeping our drinking water sources clean and minimizing flood risks in our communities.
“The inadequacy of this long-awaited guidance is all the more reason that Congress must pass the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 now and reaffirm its original intent to broadly protect the nation’s waters from pollution and destruction,” said Bermudez.
Representatives James Oberstar (D-MN), John Dingell (D-MI) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) along with 158 co-sponsors have introduced this bi-partisan bill in the House. In the Senate, long-time clean water leader Russ Feingold (D-WI) has announced he will introduce similar legislation soon.
For Sierra Club alerts on energy, global warming and other topics see:
From : http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/releases/pr2007-06-05b.asp
Featured: Resisting the Merchants of Death
Top Export Is Deadliest
America — the World’s Arms Pusher
by Frida Berrigan
They don’t call us the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz may be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. power back when he was a mere Deputy Secretary of Defense — hyperpower — still fits the bill. For the record, consider some of the areas in which the United States is still No. 1:
Arms sales: (information from a May 21 article on U.S. weapons sales) It referred to Sparrow and AMRAAM missiles as surface-to-air missiles. They are air-to-air missiles. Also the article stated “the U.S. sent 10 ‘major surface combatants,’ such as aircraft carriers and destroyers, to developing nations.” Although aircraft carriers belong in that classification, the sales were of destroyers and frigates.)
First in weapons sales: Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have totaled $10 billion to $13 billion. That’s a lot of weapons, but in fiscal 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion.
First in sales of surface-to-air missiles: From 2001 to 2005, the U.S. delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles like the Sparrow and AMRAAM to nations in the developing world, 20 percent more than Russia, the next largest supplier.
First in sales of military ships: During that same period, the U.S. sent ten “major surface combatants,” such as aircraft carriers and destroyers, to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped 13.
First in military training: A thoughtful empire knows that it’s not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.
Rest assured, governments around the world, often at each others’ throats, will wantU.S. weapons long after their people have turned up their noses at a range of once dominant American consumer goods. The “trade” publication Defense News, for instance, recently reported that Turkey and the U.S. signed a $1.78-billion deal for Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous — Israel flies them; so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal, among others. Buying our weaponry is one of the few ways you can actually join the American imperial project.
In order to remain on top in the competitive jet field, Lockheed Martin, for example, does far more than just sell airplanes. TAI — Turkey’s aerospace corporation — will receive a boost with this sale because Lockheed Martin is handing over responsibility for portions of production, assembly and testing to Turkish workers.
Let’s Arm Turkey to Attack…Kurds (Again)? Iraq?
The Turkish air force already has 215 F-16 fighter planes and plans to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin’s new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well, in a deal estimated at $10.7 billion over the next 15 years. That’s $10.7 billion on fighter planes for a country that ranks 94th on the United Nations’ human development index, below Lebanon,Colombia and Grenada and far below all the European nations that Ankara is courting as it seeks to join the European Union. Now that’s a real American sales job for you.
Here’s the strange thing, though: This genuine, gold-medal manufacturing-and-sales job on weapons simply never gets the attention it deserves. As a result, most Americans have no idea how proud they should be of our weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon — essentially our global sales force. They make sure our weapons travel the planet and regularly demonstrate their value in small wars from Latin America to Central Asia.
There’s tons of data on the weapons trade, but who knows about any of it? I help produce one of a dozen or so sober annual (or semi-annual) reports quantifying the business of war-making, so I know that these reports get desultory, obligatory media attention. Only once in a blue moon do they get the sort of full-court-press treatment that befits our No. 1 product line.
Even when there is coverage, the inside-the-fold, fact-heavy, wonky news stories on the arms trade, however useful, can’t possibly convey the feel of a business that has always preferred the shadows to the sun. The connection between the factory that makes a weapons system and the community where that weapon “does its duty” is invariably missing in action, as are the relationships among the companies making the weapons and the generals (on-duty and retired) and politicians making the deals, or raking in their own cuts of the profits for themselves and/or their constituencies. In other words, our most successful (and most deadly) export remains our most invisible one.
Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons sales as a trade and the export of precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets. Maybe we need to start thinking about them in another language entirely — the language of drugs.
After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.
Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they’ll point out, haven’t you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines and tanks? Didn’t you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn’t that make you feel insecure? Why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we’ll get you suited up with the latest model military, even better than what we sold them — or you the last time around.
Why do officials in Turkey, which already has 215 fighter planes, need 100 extras in an even higher-tech version? They don’t. But Lockheed Martin, working with the Pentagon, made them think they did.
We don’t need stronger arms control laws, we need a global sobriety coach and some kind of 12-step program for the dealer-nation as well. [
Frida Berrigan is a senior research associate at the World Policy Institute’s ArmsTrade Resource Center.
Women of the World Unite: Fight the War Profiteers
by Carol Urner
The Portland Branch of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has worked to end war profiteering and the war economy since 1962-63. That was when Eleanor Davis and a group of determined Portland women first reactivated the dormant local branch. They began almost immediately lobbying for an Oregon study on the Economics of Disarmament, and were soon editing a national newsletter on conversion to a peace economy.
Howard Willets, a former Methodist missionary and Fellowship of Reconciliation member, led the effort in the Oregon legislature, and at least one WILPF member served on the citizen panel created by the legislature. The study actually advised against courting military industry. It counseled supporting more high tech industry, like the already successful homegrown Tektronix, in addition to relying on the traditional Oregon industries based on agriculture and the riches of Oregon forests and the Pacific Ocean. The study was the first of its kind in the nation, and was circulated to key leaders in the country.
It is hard to say now how much the WILPF efforts and the study itself had to do with the path Oregonians have generally taken since that time, but whatever the reasons, Oregon politicians and businessmen — Republican and Democrat alike — have never courted either military bases or military corporations with the same enthusiasm as their counterparts in California or Washington state. WILPF, of course, cannot, as an organization, campaign for candidates of any party, but stayed in close and positive relationship with Oregon legislators over the years. Republicans like Senators Morse and Hatfield, and Democrats like Congresswomen Green and Furse, actively resisted military adventures like the Vietnam War, promoted by many politicians in other states who sought the profits they thought a war economy could bring. Representative Furse worked diligently to cut the national military budget, and promoted a budget for peace, just as Representative DeFazio has done in more recent years.
WILPF has worked locally, nationally and internationally for a peace economy since its inception 92 years ago. WILPF women seek to put an end to war and to ensure human rights for all, and from their beginnings in 1915 they saw the need to restrain those corporations that sought profits from weapons and war.
DISARM!ing the Dirty Dozen Death Dealers
In 1999 U.S. WILPF launched its DISARM! Dismantle the War Economy Campaign, and international WILPF published a powerful series of fact sheets on corporations promoting and profiteering from the nuclear weapons industry. It was entitled “The Dirty Dozen: Partners in Mass Destruction” and revealed the ugly details on influence exerted by corporate giants like Lockheed, Boeing, Bechtel and Raytheon on U.S.militarized foreign policies. The Dirty Dozen also revealed similar shenanigans of British Nuclear Fuels and BAE (which actually own a large part of the U.S. nuclear industry), the German Siemens, Mitsubishi in Japan, and the University of California. WILPF members around the country joined in the campaign, investigating detrimental effects of local war industries on the community, and urging conversion to peaceful pursuits.
In Cleveland, headquarters of TRC, the WILPF campaign ended when that giant weapons corporation closed its corporate headquarters, turned the buildings over the community and left town. Not all campaigns had such satisfactory endings, but in Palo Alto WILPF members researched the effects of toxic waste from Lockheed’s nuclear weapons related production, and took the information to their own Congresswoman and involved League of Women Voters and other community organizations in the continuing research. In the Bay Area, WILPF members continue to join in the struggle against nuclear weapons research — and now proposals to rebuild the entire nuclear arsenal — at the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore Labs. In Tucson WILPF members and their friends in the local peace movement demonstrate, expose and seek dialogue with Raytheon, a huge corporation involved in both the nuclear and space industries — and also, like Lockheed, profiting mightily from the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their demonstrations, like a citizens’ inspection in search of weapons of mass destruction just before theIraq war, have sometimes resulted in arrests, but juries and judges have generally not been harsh. One joy was the election of progressive Congressman Grijalva, a good friend, ¾ though WILPF could not campaign for him ¾ who is now among the leaders in efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, cut the military budget, and end theIraq war. It is a long struggle, but WILPF members rejoice at every positive step along the way.
Portland WILPF members did not have such giants with which to contend, but continued to monitor any Oregon flirtation with the war economy. They may have something to teach other states about “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In 2001 they sent two members back to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a meeting of the national DISARM committee, and soon one of their members became co-chairperson of the national Campaign.
Coast to Coast and Into the Heartland: Resistance to War Corporadoes
In 2006 WILPF and the War Resisters League (WRL) co-sponsored a national networking conference for NGOs committed to “stopping the merchants of death.” The conference was hosted by local organizations in Minneapolis-St Paul who were celebrating the 20th anniversary of their successful nonviolent campaign to drive weapons producer Honeywell out of the twin cities. Unfortunately a new war profiteering giant, Alliant Tech Systems, involved in everything from guns to cluster bombs to nuclear weapons and missile defense, has arisen in its place, so the struggle goes on. It was, however, a joyous occasion, and representatives of 34 organizations joined in establishing the new Bite the Bullet war profiteering research and action network.
International WILPF, for its contribution to the network, is working with the War Resisters League and the Arms Trade Resource Center to update the original Dirty Dozen manual. This time they are adding extensive information on corporations profiteering from aspects of the U.S. program of space militarization and domination, including missile defense, global surveillance, space weaponry, and establishing bases on the moon and Mars. You can access this material at:http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/corporate/dd/ddindex.html#aerospace. WILPF is planning to update its own manual for those pursuing research and action aimed at dismantling or converting to civilian projects any war industry in their own communities.
The Portland WILPF branch invites other individuals and organizations to join in this local, national and international effort. Oregonians have well expressed their own preference for an economy of peace. Oregon WILPFers believe our own economy (and that of the U.S. and the wider world) would benefit if many more federal tax dollars were spent on schools, health care, housing, infrastructure and positive foreign policy, and far fewer on lucrative contracts for the war profiteers. [
Carol Urner is a local WILPF member and also national co-chair of the WILPF DISARM: Dismantle the War Economy Project. She edited the Mil-Corp Manual, a WILPF handbook for those who seek to end war profiteering and to promote a peace economy. She can be reached at :
Blackwater Heavies Sue Families of Slain Employees for $10 Million in Brutal Attempt to Suppress Their Story
by Daniel J. Callahan and Marc P. Miles
The following article is by the lawyers representing the families of four American contractors who worked for Blackwater Security Consulting and were killed in Fallujah. After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet.
So Sue Me
The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals that went all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men’s estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court.
Following these gruesome deaths, which were broadcast on worldwide television, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and politically-connected Erik Prince.
Flexing Influential Muscle
Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of theCIA Counter-Terrorist Center.
After filing its suit against the dead men’s estates, Blackwater demanded that its claim and the families’ existing lawsuit be handled in a private arbitration. By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to move the examination of their wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public and away from a jury. This comes at the same time when Congress is investigating Blackwater.
Over 300 contractors have been killed in Iraq with very little inquiry into their deaths. The families claim that Blackwater is attempting to cover up its incompetence, its cutting of corners in favor of higher profits, and its over-billing to the government. Due to lack of accountability and oversight, Blackwater’s private army has been able to obtain huge profits from the government, utilizing contacts established through Erik Prince’s relationships with high-ranking government officials such as Cofer Black and Joseph Schmitz.
In addition to assembling its litigation troops, Blackwater also stonewalled the families concerning any information about how the men were killed. Over the past two and a half years, Blackwater has not responded to a single question or produced a single document. When the families’ attorneys, Callahan & Blaine, obtained a court order to take the deposition of a former Blackwater employee with critical information about the incident, Blackwater quickly re-hired him and sent him out of the country. When the witness returned to the United States more than a year later, the families obtained another court order for his deposition. Blackwater again prevented them from taking his deposition by seeking the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to block the deposition under the guise that he possibly possessed national secrets. Following an investigation, the U.S. Army reported that the witness had no secret information and that it had no objection to the deposition.
Best Defense against Justice Is a Blistering Unjust Offense
Blackwater has now lifted this atrocity to a whole new level by going on the offensive and suing the families for $10 million. The families now find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun, as Blackwater, armed with a large war chest and politically connected attorneys, aggressively litigates against them. Blackwater has also threatened to hold the administrator of the estates personally liable to scare him into abandoning his position, and has threatened the families’ attorneys as well.
The families are simply without the financial wherewithal to defend against Blackwater. By filing suit, Blackwater is trying to wipe out the families’ ability to discover the truth about Blackwater’s involvement in the deaths of these four Americans and to silence them from making any public comment. In February, the families testified before Congress.
However, Blackwater’s lawsuit now seeks to gag the family members from even speaking about the incident or about Blackwater’s involvement in the deaths. This is a direct attack to their free speech rights under the First Amendment. [
Daniel J. Callahan is a lawyer and Marc P. Miles writes for AlterNet.
USS Deathstar to Portland?
by Tom H Hastings
As our little Whitefeather Peace Community stood confronting the U.S. Navy’s occupation of downtown Portland during the Rose Festival, we were approached by another sort of recruiter, one who wanted to bring a mothballed aircraft carrier to berth permanently in Portland.
In the Willamette. Downtown. Always.
These scams are common. We had to deal with one of them in Duluth, Minnesota, when Vets for Peace, Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker community and other groups joined again and again to repel the invasion and permanent occupation of that town by the USS Des Moines, a heavy cruiser, 717 feet long, keel laid as WWII was winding down in late May, 1945, and which carried 1,799 crew during her duty years. No one wanted that symbol of imperial power projection when the Navy wanted it decommissioned and sent to naval warfare museum duty, but the Navy tried very hard to dump it on any town dumb enough to take it. It kicked around the Philadelphia Navy yard and, one year ago, they found that town. It now wallows in its berth in Brownsville, Texas. Perfect.
Lone Ranger Rides Again
What the rah-rah war boys want to bring to Portland is the USS Ranger, a monstrous 1,071-foot-long, 271-foot-wide aircraft carrier -- a Forrestal class behemoth. The promoter gave us the literature — glossy, four-color, of course. They no doubt have quite a promotional budget. It is a positively garish exhibit of war glorification and its natural stakeholders are the Navy vets who served on the ship, some 5,000 at a time, over the years. The Navy exploits this to foster apparent citizen support for inflicting these contaminated ships on us — often so hazardous that they must be towed to a Third World port for shipbreaking if no U.S. town will volunteer to take them. When I noted that detail, the USS Ranger promoter claims his ship is clean and that the EPA agrees. As the ship suffered several major fires during its active duty years, and as there were literally no environmental laws enforced on the U.S. Navy during the entire Cold War, that claim is dubious at best.
This history of this ship includes many periods serving as the launch platform for air strikes on the people and country of Vietnam. There is no doubt that the USS Ranger was thus the instrument of war crimes. Finally, one African American sailor literally threw a wrench in the machinery of death. In 1972, a sailor, who apparently enlisted in order to sabotage the U.S. illegal war on Vietnam, threw wrenches into the engines and put the ship out of commission for four months. He almost certainly saved many lives by this act, even though the Navy literature refers to him as a “terrorist.”
Eventually, this question will come to the Portland City Council. It is war education, war culture, militarism and brute power with kid gloves over the spiked fist; one of the many slick color photos shows a lush dining area “with the ability to seat 3,500 people for dinner.” Ugh. Culturally speaking, it would take the militarization of the Rose Festival and extend it from a week to 52 weeks every year.
The Navy pays but doesn’t say; in this mirage of mine, the Navy signs an ironclad contract that allows Portland to do anything with the ship that it wants and provides Portland with an annual maintenance and docking fee budget that would cover all costs of keeping the ship in town. Portland would turn the ship into a Swords into Plowshares educational center, focusing on what it would take to convert our nation to truly working for peace and justice by peaceable means at home and abroad. It would celebrate the brave act by the sailor who stopped the USS Ranger from serving as the deck for bombing runs that killed Vietnamese and helped wreck their infrastructure and environment. It would serve as classrooms where peace students could learn how negotiations and peaceable conflict resolution could avoid war, end war, and help build a society that doesn’t engage in war. The USS Ranger would host peace gatherings and memorials for all victims of war. It would hold concerts, plays and conferences that promote peace and nonviolent conflict management. The Navy would regard this as research into conflict management methods that could save American lives and build good will for the U.S. and would therefore provide a budget annually for these activities, though it would have zero control over the content and message of the civilians operating this peace platform.
This contract would make the U.S. Navy the environmentally responsible party in perpetuity, forcing the Navy to clean up any problems and to ultimately dismantle and recycle the ship if necessary.
We are all so tired of giving it all to war. Giving something back to peace is the best gift to the generations. When we begin recruiting toward that goal, we will be sailing toward the demilitarized future we need, we want, and we will have — if we work for it hard enough. [
Tom H Hastings is not a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was a Conscientious Objector to what they do and went to prison for dismantling a portion of one of their command facilities. He is proud of that.
Jailed for Upholding Law at Guant?namo
by Courage to Resist
On May 18, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz was sentenced to six months in a Navel brig and removal from the Navy for courageously upholding the Constitution of the United States. Apparently this is a very serious crime in America today. Lt. Cmdr. Diaz is actually counting himself lucky, as the 41-year-old officer with 19-years of service to the U.S. Navy faced a possible 14 years in prison.
Diaz was a military attorney assigned to investigate abuses of prisoners at Guant?namo, the legal black hole dungeon that operates outside of domestic and international law according to the Bush administration. Taking this assignment seriously not only, and somewhat predictably, ended his military career, it might have landed him in prison until the year 2021.
On orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. had refused to release the names of the prisoners that were being held at Guant?namo. The U.S. continued to stonewall all requests for this information even after a federal court ruled that the names must be turned over.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Diaz took action to uphold the law, knowing the risks involved. Concerned about this abuse of human rights, Diaz sent a Valentine’s Day card to the Center for Constitutional Rights in February 2005. A year earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in support of C.C.R.’s right to represent these prisoners. Included with Diaz’s card, printed in very small type, was a list of about 550 names of prisoners held at Guant?namo.
“My oath as a commissioned officer is to the Constitution of the United States,” Diaz told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m not a criminal. I had observed the stonewalling, the obstacles we continued to place in the way of the attorneys,’’ Diaz told the media before his sentencing. “I knew my time was limited.... I had to do something.’’
What is illegal, he said, is the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war on terror. He accused officials of violating international law, such as the Geneva Conventions on the humane treatment of war prisoners, and the Constitution’s guarantee of due process.
“I felt it was the right decision, the moral decision, the decision that was required by international law,” Diaz said. “No matter how the conflict was identified, we were to treat them in accordance with Geneva, and it just wasn’t being done.”
C.C.R.’s website agrees: “Since its opening Guant?namo was clearly illegal. Now, in 2007, Guant?namo has become an intelligence and national security failure, a moral stain on our nation, and a corrupt symbol that cannot continue.”
Post-trial media reports claim Diaz expressed regret for his actions during his court martial; however, it’s hard to blame him for doing so when faced with 14-years imprisonment. Diaz noted that he was “very happy” with the verdict.
Diaz is not the first member of the U.S. military legal system to face trouble for challenging conditions at Guant?namo. He recalled two prosecutors who “objected to the way the system was set up to guarantee a conviction. I don’t believe they lasted long... they didn’t make it to the first hearings,” Diaz told the Dallas Morning News.
The Bush administration has characterized the Guant?namo population as “the worst of the worst.” Based on what he has seen there, that is one of “two misstatements, or false statements, that occurred about Guant?namo,” Diaz said. “The other statement was ‘We do not torture.’”
International law attorney Scott Horton, writing for Harpers, points out, “A federal court subsequently ruled that the Navy’s decision to withhold the names was unlawful, and issued an order compelling their disclosure— so the Pentagon’s withholding of the names, and not Diaz’s action, was unlawful. In the words of one of the greatest Americans of the nineteenth century, Henry David Thoreau, ‘Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.’” [
Courage to Resist is the best clearinghouse for the military antiwar movement.:http://www.couragetoresist.org/x/.
Defund the War: Fund the Peace
by Kathleen Bushman
I would like to propose a means of funding a democratic revolution/evolution so that voters can begin to expect more accountability from politicians who are supposed to represent their interests. At this point in American history — because of some big changes in the political climate — I am convinced that Americans are currently presented with a unique opportunity to direct and effect political change.
We Americans have entirely too many corporate-sponsored candidates, and voters of both parties are riled. With every news broadcast, politicians seem to become less and less accountable. This blue lass is certainly one Democrat who is ready to buck down her stall.
I know many members of my different Yahoo groups have threatened to stop funding the Democratic Party because they are so disillusioned with the congressional Democrats’ vote on the supplemental funding of the Iraq War, the failure to move on impeachment and various other issues. While the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and Democratic campaign consultants may feel certain that they can depend upon Democrats who will continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, it is my firm conviction that their confidence is misplaced. I hear more and more of my fellow Americans refer to the two-headed corporatist party — one head is red and the other blue — but neither faithfully executes their party’s policy positions. The two-headed monster answers only to International Mega Corporations, not to American citizens.
You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know
I forecast high winds of political change. I think that the increasing economic pressure on the middle class has been greatly underestimated by both parties as well as the fact that American attitudes have moved progressively to the left. I am convinced that those factors have altered the political climate to an extent that too many politicians have failed to note, and that failure will endanger the political survival of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Economic pressures upon the middle class and increasing progressive attitudes together provide a powerful energy source that can and must be harnessed by bold progressive leadership or that frustrated energy will be left open to the negative influence of Lou Dobbs or even Rush Limbaugh of the right.
Though — largely through small donor contributions — the Democratic National Committee (DNC) did more to fund the anti-war candidates in the ‘06 election and those candidates were often more successful than Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) candidates, I think it is time to find a surer means of electing issue-committed candidates. I think it is time to formulate a means of funding candidates who will actually commit to: impeachment, antiwar measures, the need for health care reform, and other middle class issues. I am proposing a means to fund a democratic (small “d”) revolution. We activists could organize to raise funds on the Internet and by door-to-door canvassing. I propose that the money should be placed in a trust fund so that those funds can be used exclusively for issue-committed candidates. We frustrated voters could promote more accountability from every politician. Every politician would be notified that it would no longer be possible to rely upon blind party loyalty to win re-election. The “vote for the lesser of two evils” argument would fall on deaf ears.
I think that the present moment is a propitious moment for alternative funding for alternative candidates because I know that I am not the only Democratic voter who is thoroughly disillusioned with the “lesser of two evils” option. I am proposing that it is time for Democrats to raise money for an alternative candidate wherever Democrats are faced with re-electing a centrist candidate who has proved him or herself to be non-responsive to the very Democrats who elected him or her. With money on the table to fund an alternate candidate, perhaps the Greens or the Socialists would choose to field a candidate when they might not otherwise do so. I propose that we progressives promote a trust fund to distribute among progressive candidates whenever the Democratic Party fails to field a candidate worthy of our vote.
The election results of 2006 indicate that the candidates who took the clearest anti-war stance were most often the most successful candidates. When I propose funding a revolution in order to reestablish normal relations with our leadership, I am assuming, of course, that funding a Green Party member, an Independent or a Socialist would ensure a politician who would vote along with progressive Democrats to end the war, to promote health care and environmental issues — especially if their campaigns had been funded by a progressive group.
The Woman Who Outmaneuvered the Mandate for Peace
I am personally convinced that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, in particular, needs to be replaced. I understand that it was not only Pelosi’s idea to take impeachment off the table, it was her “strategy” to pass the supplemental funding of the Iraq occupation, she added her vote to the passage of the new bankruptcy bill and it was also her leadership which saw the Iran amendment removed that would have denied Bush the authority to engage in hostilities with Iran without specific congressional approval.
Expanding on this idea, I think we should compose a list of the most outrageous politicians of either party and go for their jugulars by funding an opponent who is progressively Green, Independent, or Socialist. On the other side of the aisle, Senator Gordon Smith is a Republican here in Oregon that I would love to send to an unemployment line. Even loyal Republican voters — no, especially loyal Republican voters — should be appalled to know that Gordon voted against oversight of the very corporations profiting so hugely from no-bid Iraq contracts funded by the taxpayer and thus enabled Halliburton, as well as Halliburton-like corporations, to commit repeated crimes of fraud.
Historians note there can be neither a successful democracy nor a successful revolution without the middle class. I am proposing my solution for two primary reasons: to prevent the further erosion of the middle class whose existence is necessary to a healthy democracy, and to prevent the growth of corporatist candidates whose only loyalty is to CEOs and not to ordinary voters.
I think the fear of job loss, the fear of illness without adequate medical coverage, the fear of economic recession/depression due to the deficit, and fear of the soaring cost of a higher education for our children have created a national fog of fear for the future. Those fears are much more immediate than the ever-receding fear of the terrorist threat. Without reference to the steeply rising costs of gasoline, higher education, and health care, these facts alone are alarming: In a recent article, Greg Palast reported that “average income in the U.S has fallen $2,000 per household since the last days of Bill Clinton.” That’s in just seven years! The number of homeowners who spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing has jumped to 35 percent, up from 27 percent in 2000, leaving little or nothing left to save.
In 2003, 92 percent of the record 1.6 million filers were middle class, according to a Harvard University study. Now even that safety valve to relieve the increasing pressure upon the middle class has been severely limited by the new bankruptcy law. Time for a nonviolent revolution. [
Kathleen Bushman is a Portland peace and justice activist.
A Military Mom in a Mother of a March
by Sara Rich
I left the CodePink house with my Impeach Bush and Cheney T-Shirt, my peace dog tags and a large strip of pink duct tape on my chest with the number 3,396 written in big black numbers on my chest.
I arrived at Lafayette Park with my friend Cindy K., who is also a military mom. We came little early to be there to meet people and get something to eat before the march, We talked about the possibility of using civil disobedience and what we wanted to convey in our message when we took the stage for the rally part of the event. Cindy’s soldier is in Iraq right now and we have all been on edge waiting to hear news of him. It was her first Mother’s Day without a call from her son. It added a somber note to our day.
We talked about what kind of group we can start as military mothers to support and advocate for our children in service and how we can take action on their behalf. We started coming up with terms to explain what we go through as military moms. The one we decided on was “deployment depression.” How it feels to be a mom knowing your child is far away in a combat zone and not knowing when or even if you will ever hear from them again. It is a miserable existence and we do our best to put on a good face, but inside I remember feeling dark and always in crisis mode. We joined three more military moms that day. Marty, whose child is also deployed to Iraq, Tina, whose son is now a veteran with severe post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Cindy S., who’s living our worst nightmare, her child was killed in Iraq. The sense of energy and support we generate with our hearts open and our mother bear instincts on red alert was extremely energizing and increased my resolve to be fully present for the actions planned for the day. As we listened to people talking and repeating the message of how the United States issues are not just the war, but the torture, the abuse of veterans, the oppression of the poor, the lack of healthcare, the shameful and detrimental foreign policies that this administration has shoved down the throat of the world.
Only one solution came to light for me. Impeachment of all of the criminals in the White House and their accomplices in the House and Senate. This administration and its minions are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide and the extermination and genocide just continues.
The White House or the Blood Red House?
With this is mind I took the stage. The image of my hands drenched in blood leaving handprints on every Congressional representative and Senator’s door that voted for this illegal and immoral war flashed in my mind. The White House no longer white but covered in the bright red and dark and crusted black red of new and old blood. When is it going to be enough for the American people? I talked about our troops and how we love them and just want them to come home safe and sound. We want them to be a part of the solution at home by helping rebuild New Orleans and healing our nation as part of positive social programs. The rate of PTSD would go down if they were doing their real job to protect and serve, not being forced to participate as innocent civilians and children are killed needlessly.
Then I also talked about our own mental health and the state of our own hearts, realizing that it is crucial that we keep our hearts open to the good and the love that we know we all generate in this movement. If you find yourself jaded or full of hatred, take a step back, take a breath and come back when you feel better. We have to stay strong, healthy and remember to take a breath. As I spoke I gazed at the crowd and saw my daughter there watching me. Our mutual admiration took my attention for a moment. How far we have come in such a short time. Here I was speaking with powerful peace activists in front of the “white” house and she was standing there with her IVAW friends looking clear and strong in the moment. How blessed we are to be traveling this life together.
As we prepare for the “Mother of a March” we are asked that military moms lead the way holding the banner that says, “Not one more mother’s child” and we chanted as we departed, “Stop the funding, stop the war! Mothers say, Not One More!” We chanted this as we marched our way through the streets of Washington DC, finally ending up walking up Pennsylvania Avenue right past the tourists with cameras, students with wide eyes and cautious security guards wondering what these radical peaceful activists will do to them. We took a brief stop in front of the Justice department where we chanted, “Shame Shame Shame” and Cindy Sheehan took up the bullhorn and talked about the severe and deadly injustices in which this U.S. “justice” department has been complicit.
We continued up the Avenue and wound our way through the Capitol of our nation. At the point where we were almost to the Capitol, a former officer in the military who was leading us in prayer and chanting made an announcement saying that from the time we left Lafayette park to then our number of dead military in Iraq increased by two more of our brave children in the military. Tears began to flow and our grief was overwhelming. We held each other with tears and our chanting volume and intensity increased dramatically as we marched on.
We Ask for No Permission to Protest This Regime
We had no permit for this so we were stopping traffic and a few police cars actually charged us at times. Guess they did not get the memo that we were coming to town. We reached the intersection where the members of Congress cross the street from their offices to the Capitol. My voice was hoarse from chanting, Dede had put a little microphone with my own speaker around my neck, but my voice was still raw. The energy was increasing and I was totally caught up with my sisters in the call for Congress to impeach and arrest the war criminals. I noticed that the police officers were gathering forces as the vans, bicycles, black Suburbans and uniformed officers filed out of the buildings around us. My heartbeat increased again. Cameras were everywhere and we were oblivious to them knowing that we were reaching our destination and our decision was almost upon us.
As we reached the intersection, our fearless organizer was checking in with us, asking if we were going to go through and be arrested. I was so furiously and emotionally charged I started to look for my daughter to hand her my stuff as the mothers with the banner walked in a circle inside a circle of people making the choice to be arrested. In the middle of it all was the American flag, flying high and proud. I was marching and feeling the thrill of breaking the law. All I wanted to do is stay with my sisters, the other military moms. My friend Tina screamed, “We have to show them we are serious!” I found my daughters eyes and motioned her to come get my stuff. She shook her head and she and our dear friend Geoff both screamed at me to get out of there fast. I shook my head no, I can’t leave my sisters, they persisted and I saw the urgency in my daughters eyes, her own traumatic arrest still fresh in our hearts, and I wrenched myself away from the circle and ran to my daughter with a sob. As I was heading out, a man asked me to take his video camera as he was going to be arrested and I agreed. I ran to my daughter and hung my head in shame and grief, my emotions overwhelming me.
Once I got myself under control I stood witness as my friends and sisters stood their ground in the middle and were one by one arrested. We continued to chant and remind the police officers to be gentle. For the most part I saw them trying to be careful after they were reminded that these women are mothers and grandmothers. I turned my microphone back on and yelled at them how brave they are and thanking them for standing up. We told the police that they should be arresting the real criminals: Bush and his administration. I was still shaking with emotion as they led people to the vans and drove them away. I am so blessed that Suzanne and Geoff were there with me explaining what was going on and helping me calm down. The last van pulled away and we waved and told them we loved them.
Even though I did the rational thing for my family, I longed to be with them in the vans.
Later that evening as Suzanne and I made our way back to the CodePink house I talked about my sense of guilt and shame for having not followed through with the civil disobedience fire that was so consuming. She told me that being arrested was not glamorous and does not make me more patriotic. She reminded me that I have been working against this war and for peace consistently for years and even sent my beloved child to war.
She looked at me and smiled. At that moment, everything was all right.
3,398. We will continue. We will not be silent. [
Sara Rich of Eugene is the proud mother of Suzanne Swift.
Pine Gap Tests Faith, Commitment, Noncooperation with Evil: Judge Refuses to Jail Resisters
by Christians Against All Terrorism
Four Australians have been found guilty of their nonviolent actions on a U.S. military base in Australia. The base, Pine Gap, has been the target of protest for years by the Australian peace movement. The judge sentenced them to fines, although the maximum sentence was seven years in prison.
Four Christian pacifists are celebrating after being spared prison sentences in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.
The Pine Gap Four, found guilty of breaching the Defense (Special Undertakings) Act of 1952, have been handed minor fines. The public gallery erupted into song, applause, cheers and hugs and the feeling of victory and vindication was in the air. The Act has not been used previously.
Justice Sally Thomas noted their good behavior and cooperation in the sentencing decision.
“All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse,” said Justice Thomas, “however their actions — no matter for what cause — cannot justify the breaking of the law.”
Jim Dowling has been fined $1250, Bryan Law fined $1000, Donna Mulhearn fined $450 and Adele Goldie fined $550. They have also been asked to contribute $2500 each towards cost of fence repair.
Justice Thomas noted that Pine Gap has a significant history of protest and trespass, with past trespassers being fined. “It’s a big step up to talk about a jail sentence,” she said in court. “A prison sentence is one of last resort.”
Pine Gap is a military spy base for the United States located 20 km outside Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Pine Gap gathers military intelligence and uses a satellite tracking system to pinpoint targets in U.S. bombing raids on Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also the command centre for the “Missile Defense System”, an integral part of the U.S. ‘Star Wars’ system enabling the U.S. to dominate and control space.
“Certainly in relation to identifying specific targets, Pine Gap is important. The Pine Gap contribution (to the Iraq war) is much more significant than any sending of Australian soldiers,” says Dr. Michael McKinley, Strategic analyst at the ANU Canberra.
Christians Against All Terrorism — Pine Gap Six
Christians Against All Terrorism (CAAT) condemns terrorism in all its forms including the state terrorism behind the U.S and Australia’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. In order to be morally consistent, we cannot distinguish between the terrorist acts of a suicide bomber in Baghdad, or of a U.S jet bomber in Fallujah. In both cases innocents are murdered and maimed for a political objective.
We believe in a better way. Christ told us to love our enemies, to seek justice and taught us how to live nonviolently.
The Citizen’s Inspection
At dawn on December 9, 2005 a “Citizen’s Inspection” took place causing Pine Gap to shut down for five hours. Six hundred employees were denied access into the base and the employee’s cars queued up for several kilometers outside.
Two members of Christians Against All Terrorism — Jim Dowling from Daybora and Adele Goldie from Brisbane — had entered the Pine Gap military base undetected and photographed themselves on the roof of a building before being arrested. Two other members of the group — Donna Mulhearn from Sydney and Bryan Law from Cairns — went undetected for an hour before being arrested cutting through the last inner fence.
The four had walked for several hours through desert terrain. Jessica Morrison from Melbourne and Sean O’Reilly from Brisbane held a peaceful vigil outside the front gates around six that morning. During the vigil Sean O’Reilly was arrested for hindering police. Sean was found not guilty in the Alice Springs Magistrates court.
In November 2005, Australia’s Parliament passed “anti-terror” legislation sending Australia further down the path of becoming a militaristic police state.
At the same time, a group of citizens, alert and alarmed at the terrorism of war, wrote to then-Defense Minister Senator Robert Hill seeking permission to do a Citizens’ Inspection of Pine Gap for suspected terrorist activity.
The six Christian pacifists wanted to bring some moral and intellectual consistency into the debate on terrorism.
Christ taught nonviolence, to love our enemies and our neighbors, forgive sinners and seek justice. Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
Senator Hill did not give permission for the inspection and threatened the group with seven years in prison. CAAT informed the government and media of its intention to go ahead with the inspection. Despite this publicity and Pine Gap being one of the most significant U.S spy bases in the world, four members of CAAT managed to breach the Pine Gap security to enter the facility on December 9, 2005.
The Nuremberg Principles specify the responsibilities of the ordinary citizen/soldier when a state wants to commit crimes against peace. Every citizen’s responsibility is to obstruct the commission of such crimes, using whatever moral means are available to us, whenever we have the opportunity. It is in this context that we intend to inspect the Pine Gape Joint Defense Facility for evidence of terrorist activity.
On December 9, 2005, Christians Against All Terrorism prayed for a miracle as they exercised their moral responsibility to witness for the transformation of evil into love, of hatred into peace, and of despair into joy. [
To learn more: pinegap6.org/.
Who Are Christians Against All Terrorism?
Jim Dowling, a Catholic Worker from Mt Mee. Jim was arrested at the October 2002 actions at Pine Gap, organized by the Australian Anti-Bases Coalition. Jim had a vision of returning to Pine Gap to carry out a Citizen’s Inspection of the facility.
“In 1991 Pope John Paul 11 called the first Gulf war ‘The seed of death’,” Jim said. “Since then and even more so since September 11, 2001, that seed has borne much fruit as our nation has more and more embraced the belief that violence and killing are the only things that will save us from our ‘enemies.’
“In an act of demonic madness, at the same time as we have denounced violence and killing of one kind as terrorism, we have helped unleash massive terrorism on the poor people of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Sean O’Reilly, a registered nurse and Catholic Worker from Redcliffe. Sean recently took part in the Peace Convergence actions at Shoalwater Bay, where Australian and U.S. military forces practiced invading foreign countries together.
Sean says, “The Australian government’s complicity in the implementation of U.S. foreign policy reaches new heights of evil and moral cowardice. To do nothing in opposition to this is also unthinkable. The facility at Pine Gap is instrumental in this ongoing suppression of the Iraqi people. Its surveillance capacity allows the U.S. military to continue its destruction of Iraq and suppression of the Iraqi people. From my roots in the Catholic Worker tradition, I believe it is important go to these places, hidden from the public view. I travel there with others to witness against the terror that is being perpetrated in our own country against a people in another land.”
Donna Mulhearn, from Sydney. Donna was a human shield during the war in Iraq in 2003. She later returned to Iraq under occupation as a humanitarian aid worker to set up a shelter for street kids in Baghdad and support refugee families. She is a former journalist and political adviser who is now an independent writer and speaker on nonviolence, spirituality and politics. Her latest Middle East trip included her third visit to Iraq as well as four months in the West Bank of Palestine
Donna’s inspiration to join the human shields was the Prayer of St Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me bring love...”
Donna joined the action to inspect Pine Gap with first-hand experience of the damage the facility has done to innocent people. “While staff at Pine Gap pin-pointed missiles in Iraq, I experienced the impact of them,” she said. “They call it a military strike. I saw it as murder of civilians.”
Bryan Law, nonviolence practitioner from Cairns. Bryan, a Pagan with Catholic tendencies, believes in taking responsibility for creating the conditions of peace and social justice. Bryan has been involved in creating and supporting social justice campaigns for some 25 years and marvels at the capacity of human beings for inspired creative action.
Bryan says, “War is obscenity. By depriving present and future humans of a full measure of life and health, war is a sin. Any government, which launches an illegal invasion based on a lie, is not legitimate. Nor are its policies or its legislation. Under the Nuremberg Principles the duty of the ordinary citizen now is to interfere with the prosecution of the war, and bring those responsible for it to account. Pine Gap is the biggest terrorist base in Australia, protected by secrecy and lies. I’m looking forward to taking strong action with my friends in this affinity group. Let the sun shine in.”
Jessica Morrison, based in Melbourne. Jessica Morrison has been involved in church based social justice initiatives for some years. From a social work background, Jessica has become increasingly passionate about the way power works in our communities to keep people poor and powerless. Inspired by notions of community development and how we can work together to challenge injustice she has been involved in opposing increases in poker machines, and seeking justice for Indigenous Australians.
Jessica says, “A recent trip with a Peace Convergence to Rockhampton earlier this year, to protest the Talisman Sabre war games with 10,000 U.S. troops, inspired me to think about the centrality of Australian land to the U.S.’s continued illegal war and aggressive worldwide tactics. Pine Gap is an opportunity to directly challenge the use of Australia’s land and airspace to facilitate the bombing of Iraq and others to come.”
Adele Goldie, based in Brisbane. Adele Goldie is an artist who also works in a cooperative organic nursery, and was arrested last year at Yeppoon while taking part in the Bi-annual Peace Convergence. Adele works on peace, anti-nuclear and refugee issues.
Adele says, “Pine Gap is controlled by a terrorist organization called the U.S. Government. Pine Gap has played a major role in two illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is an illegal organization and a terrorist organization. It is illegal under International law and the Geneva Convention, and the Nuremberg charter.”
Others from around Australia helped to organize, plan, and support the witness at Pine Gap. [
And the Winner in Iraq v U.S.: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The New York Times reports that Iran has now surged into its nuclear weapons development by constructing more than 1,300 new centrifuges, because the Cheney hardliners on Iran and the Bush invasion of Iraq have made it easy for Iranian hardliners to justify a full-scale race toward building a nuke. While U.S. intelligence says it will be 8-10 years before Iran manages to build one, an internal debate between Cheney and Rice over the U.S. posture is raging in the White House, with Rice noting the obvious weakness in making bombastic military threats against a nation that has some extreme hardliners who can then prevail internally. [
New Worldwatch Report Analyzes ‘Natural’ Disasters
In Beyond Disasters, Michael Renner and Zo? Chafe examine the recent experiences of Indonesia’s Aceh province, Sri Lanka, and Kashmir, among others, and suggest ways to better integrate global and local responses to disasters and conflict. The report notes that the human toll taken by natural disasters is increasing — adding to the list of deadly challenges faced by poor communities and countries worldwide.
Recorded disasters nearly doubled between 1987 and 2006, while the number of people affected by these disasters increased more than 10 percent. Women, children, and the elderly are among those most vulnerable. There is growing recognition that disasters are caused by human impacts on the natural environment as well as by shortsighted and inappropriate development patterns, settlements in increasingly vulnerable areas, and socioeconomic divides and inequities. [
Wally World Is Their World
Take Wal-Mart, our largest private employer and premier exploiter of the working class: Every year, 4 or 5 of the people on Forbes magazine’s list of the ten richest Americans carry the surname Walton, meaning they are the children, nieces, and nephews of Wal-Mart’s founder. You think it’s a coincidence that this union-busting low-wage retail empire happens to have generated a $200 billion family fortune? [
Excerpt from Barbara Ehrenreich, The Nation.
Red Flags All over the Judicial Field as Rats Jump
Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors. Elston was accused of threatening at least four of the eight fired U.S. attorneys to keep quiet about their ousters. The firings have led to congressional investigations, an internal Justice Department inquiry and calls on Capitol Hill for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. [
Excerpt from an Associated Press report.
Brit to Republicans: Wake up and Smell the Defeat
“Although leading Republican candidates such as John McCain will not accept this, the American people have basically decided that the Iraq war is over and the mission has not been accomplished. It’s not a matter of when but how the U.S. withdraws militarily, even if that withdrawal is, in the first instance, only to a few fortified camps and a fortress embassy in the green zone in Baghdad while the carnage and ethnic cleansing continues all around. The lesson that most Americans seem to have drawn is that the U.S. should have less of these foreign entanglements in future, and look to its own.” — Timothy Garton Ash, British scholar and commentator
Right Wing Savage
We need “a conservative candidate all the way who would say to a gay woman: ‘You know what? I’m very sorry for your children. I think it’s child abuse for you to raise children.’” [
Excerpt from the Michael Savage Show, the rightwing bigot’s darling.
Volunteers Needed for OPW’s Art Fair Burrito Booth
Volunteers are now being signed up for two and a half hour shifts staffing OPW’s Burrito Booth at the Salem Art Fair, Salem’s largest community event. “No special skills are needed,” said Burrito Booth Coordinator John Roy Wilson. “We offer on-the-job training, and what a resume-builder!”
You can sign up by calling 503-585-2767 or emailing Wilson at :
The Burrito Booth offers healthy black bean burritos to hungry fairgoers, netting a tidy chunk of change for OPW in the process. In a recent year, the Statesman Journal rated OPW’s burritos the “best food at the fair.”
Volunteers take orders, pour lemonade, build the burritos, cook the beans and make change. Volunteers from past years are enthusiastic about the good organization, the good cause and the opportunity to work with other like-minded folks.
Call or email to volunteer now. [
New OPW Program Confronts Global Warming and Oil Wars
by Peter Bergel
Oil. Our society is addicted to it. Not only does it fuel our cars and every other item that uses an internal combustion engine, but we use it to formulate plastics, fertilizers, lubricants and a host of other products. Moreover, none of these products can get from where they are manufactured to where they are purchased and used without transportation that is mostly dependent upon oil. As things stand, we can’t get along without it.
The problems with oil are threefold:
1. It poisons our air by creating smog.
2. Its use releases global warming gases, which cause planetary temperatures to rise.
3. It won’t last forever, which means that one way or another, our addiction will end. Meanwhile, oil will become ever more valuable.
The tendency toward greed in humans means that some will always want to control access to scarce resources. In the case of the oil in the Middle East, the estimated value of the remaining supply is $21 trillion ¾ probably the largest jackpot ever found on this planet.
Rhetoric about democracy, terrorism and WMDs notwithstanding, we all know why U.S. military forces have occupied Iraq: desire to control access to all that oil. We Americans have become like heroin addicts ¾ desperate to control what we musthave. When George Bush says we are fighting for our way of life in Iraq, he is telling us the simple truth ¾ not the way he means it, of course, but the truth all the same.
Caught in a Dilemma
As peace activists, we demand that Bush, et al, leave Iraq and cease their attempt to control all that oil, but we are caught in a dilemma. Why? Because we all also want to make sure we have the oil we need to maintain our current lifestyles. Meanwhile, we are making our planet less and less livable.
Global warming trends are now not scientifically in doubt. Neither is the conclusion that the current warming is, in significant part, the result of human activities. Our automobile use, our airplane trips, our desire to have commodities of all kinds shipped to us from distant places, our agribusiness and a long list of other activities all release carbon into the atmosphere and thus contribute to global warming. The total of the carbon released by one person’s share of all these activities is called that person’s “carbon footprint.”
Our carbon footprints are the link between global warming and oil wars.
In recognition of this reality, OPW is designing a new program: the 5% Solution.This program will recruit members of the public one by one to commit to reducing their carbon footprints by 5% each year. That is, we will be challenging ourselves, our members and others to break our addiction to oil.
This is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change – one we’ll eventually have to make anyway – that can simultaneously protect our atmosphere and undermine the motivation to fight oil wars.
Of course, OPW will continue to struggle for a more peaceful foreign policy and to implement environmental protections through our government, but in addition, we will be adding what Gandhi would have called a “constructive program.” A program to enable us to “be the change we want to see in the world.”
Watch The PeaceWorker and OPW’s website (:www.oregonpeaceworks.org) for details as we roll them out. [
Peter Bergel is OPW’s Executive Director.
Constitutional Rights on Trial in Portland Court
Oregon PeaceWorks Executive Director Peter Bergel and co-defendant Bob Projansky went to trial in Portland last month to defend their Constitutional right to “instruct” their U.S. Senator.
On March 16 Bergel, Projansky and a third person, perennial OPW volunteer Michael Glaze, were met at the door of the World Trade Center, which houses the Portland offices of Sen. Gordon Smith. They were on their way to the Senator’s office when PGE security personnel refused them admittance and ordered them to leave under threat of arrest. The three refused to leave and were arrested for trespassing.
“It’s outrageous that a security guard refused us permission to visit our senator’s office,” Bergel fumed. “It was an unlawful order to leave and that’s why we didn’t obey it.” The Oregon Constitution (article 26) guarantees the right to instruct one’s representatives. “That’s exactly what we intended to do,” Projansky said, “Senator Smith needs a lot of instructing.”
Representing themselves, Projansky and Bergel cross-examined PGE personnel and mounted a spirited defense. At press time, the judge’s decision had not yet been announced.
According to Bergel, at issue is whether citizens’ Constitutional rights trump property owners’ property rights or the other way around. “The case has implications for anyone who wants to visit a public office housed in a private building. We say that accepting a public tenant, whose space is paid for by the taxpayers, makes the building semi-public and private guards can not deny access to citizens going to visit such a public office,” Bergel insisted.
The trial’s results will be posted at OPW’s website (:www.oregonpeaceworks.org) when they are known. [
Please help us build our network of peace by mailing your group’s 100-500 word updates to :
by the 12th. Tell us what you’ve been doing and what you’re going to do.
Eugene Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration
by Michael Carrigan
The Eugene peace community is hosting a Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration on August 6th at Alton Baker Park’s small shelter, located near the park entrance and the Duck Pond.
The event will start at 6:30 pm with a community potluck. People are urged to bring their own plates, cups and utensils.
At 7:30 p.m. there will be a program with speakers and music. The keynote speaker will be Lt. Ehren Watada’s father, Bob Watada.
The event will close at 8:30 p.m. with the floating of candle lanterns on the Duck Pond. The lantern ceremony is based on an ancient Japanese ritual where paper lanterns are released on rivers to honor the dead and guide their spirits home. There’ll be traditional Japanese music played by Koto master Mitsuki Dazai during the ceremony
The event is sponsored by the Justice Not War Coalition, Oregon WAND, CALC’s Progressive Responses, and Eugene PeaceWorks. [
For more information, contact Michael Carrigan of CALC at 503.485.1755 or:
Peace Viewing, Discussing, Marching and Music in Corvallis
by Roberta Hall
Alternatives to War and Veterans for Peace chapter 132 will be busy this July. VFP began a 4-part series at the Corvallis-Benton County Library on nonviolent action for peace. Using the film series, “A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Actions,” viewing programs (usually 2 30-minute segments), with discussion, the VFP series runs consecutive Tuesday evenings, 7-9 p.m. from June 19-July 10. Tuesday, July 3rd features Poland and Chile, and July 10th features Yugoslavia, 2000.
On July 4th Corvallis stages a parade, usually starting around 11 a.m., very informal but well attended by adults and families. Groups who wish to march simply show up on Madison, near the Art Center — so far, no registration has been needed. For the past several years, the Benton County Defense of the Bill of Rights Committee, using volunteers from Alternatives to War, VFP, and the general community, carry signs and distribute rolled up copies of the Bill of Rights. The two years, the group has presented serial, Burma-shave type messages on four boards — one is “What Bill helps you sleep at nights? That’s our Bill — the Bill of Rights!” Others are more didactic but still fun and useful. It’s a celebration as well as a lesson, and so far our entry has been well received by young and old. It’s a great way to reach out and participate in our community traditions at the same time.
Second Saturdays began the second Saturday of January as a fund-raiser for Ehren Watada’s defense, in a local coffee shop, SunnySide-Up. Since then, there have been concerts in March, April, May, and June — the last one featuring a lone guitarist for the first set, and Critical Mass, a band composed of six OSU students for the main act. The program runs from 6-8, and by 7:30, people were dancing everywhere in the coffee shop — all as a benefit for our local Counter Recruitment Committee, which has offered classes to volunteers, worked with the school district and with principals and high school staff, achieved bilingual opt out forms for parents and students in the last two years of high school so their names will not be sent to military recruiters, and organized training programs for several rural areas nearby. Second Saturdays will suspend for July and August; we’ll send a notice to OPW of the program for September. In September, the beneficiary will be the Rural Organizing Project, and we’re just now inviting musicians. [
Roberta Hall is a Corvallis peaceworker.
U.S. Navy Invades, Occupies Portland
by Rhoda Moore
The people of the warships thought they were doing us a favor by staying awhile on our river. Some of the visitors who were there to tour the ships told us the warships would keep us safe; that a terrorist might show up at any minute to shoot us, and these rifle-toting tour guards would protect us. I cringed. How long have these people had these fear-struck notions, and how long have we been answering the trumped up fear with such a sickening military display? Too long — even one day of this is too long.
Worshipping the Warships
Eight large warships — five U.S. Navy, three Canadian — berthed between the Steel and Burnside bridges for the Rose Festival. Military personnel swarmed the city and the U.S. ships were surrounded by chain link fencing that kept Portlanders off the walkway, away from the river, and armed guards with large assault rifles patrolled the occupied stretch of the west bank of the Willamette.
While the Grand Floral Parade was going on, we stood quietly at the warships’ tour entrance with our signs showing the horrors in Iraq and that we need peace now. I’m new to this, and nothing prepared me for some of the comments of passersby: “Damn Iraqis,” “What you are doing is ridiculous” and “That is entirely inappropriate” were some that startled me. Linda, a mom from Military Families Speak Out stopped for a while to express her support, and a young man from Lake Oswego asked us to tell our story and then took our picture. There were a few staccato expressions of support. But the experience strongly renewed my commitment to remove this aggressive military presence from our world. Somehow I need to help other people see the light, as I did, about what America is really doing to us and to too many others in this world.
I’m not a big parade fan, admittedly, and the last time I was down to see the ships on the river in Portland was maybe 20 years ago. I went on the tour then. All you had to do was walk up to the side of the ship, and if there was a spare tour guide nearby and a group of maybe six or so assembled, you got to go on board for a full tour. Shockeroo for me this time. It reminded me of a trip to Ground Zero last fall: the same cyclone fences keeping people far from what they wanted to see. These cyclone fences totally blocked the previously pleasant waterfront walkway for several hundred feet. Here there were not only men and women in dress military uniform, but a number of guys in camouflage toting what were to me scary-looking rifles. There were two of them right next to the now standard-issue electronic security archway that we all get to pass through before entering any “important” anything.
The capper was that before you could even walk into the tent that covered the all-important archway, you had to get in line to show photo ID and have your name, and the names of any children with you, entered into a large logbook. The whole thing was sickening.
We passed over the river later, riding the Max, and looked out at the large warships moored together right in the heart of our city, filling almost half the width of the Willamette River and bristling with all their communication, command and aggression equipment. A mother called out to her child, “Look at the big ships!” and I cringed again. Please, let us turn our children away from the sight of war or the makings of war. I wish to show my children a scene of a beautiful, peaceful river with quiet, small sailboats and diverse people enjoying each other’s company — what the Rose Festival should be.
These warships feed the fear of those who do not understand how wrong our country’s actions are. They feed the bank accounts of those who see only economic opportunity — not the damage being done to humanity. I hope I never see them again. [
Rhoda Moore is a member of Whitefeather Peace Community.
SMARTer Approach to the Iraq Situation Suggested
by Tom H Hastings
Writing for the Washington Post, Thomas E. Ricks notes that U.S. generals are rethinking long term plans for Iraq and that, “One of the guiding principles, according to two officials here, is that the United States should leave Iraq more intelligently than it entered.” That, dear officials, is a fait accompli. Entering was consummately foolish; leaving will be, by definition, more intelligent.
Still, the generals are struggling downward from their happy-face notions of the past few years. They began, for godssakes, with the notion of Mission Accomplished. Whoops. Then came Clear, Hold, Build. Then was a mushy Steady Progress. Now it’s Cut and Stay. True. The generals want to cut troops severely by mid-2008 to show the average Iraqi and the average American and the average citizen of planet Earth that they are hearing what these three little populations are saying Get Out!. But they will stay, they say, with just enough troops to assure the Iraqi leadership (and, incidentally, Exxon) they haven’t abandoned them.
File all this, I suppose, under “Military Intelligence,” or “Full Oxymoron Alert.” So, SMARTypants, what is the alternative?
The peace movement is trying to get the American people to demand what they know is right:
w Announce an immediate end to U.S. troops in Iraq outside the U.S. bases.
w Bring 100 percent of U.S. troops into U.S. bases in one day.
w Announce an end to any U.S. military operations except protection of all troops scheduled to leave as soon as transport is available.
w Begin transport of all troops and equipment out of Iraq except unarmed equipment, which ought to be donated to the Iraqi people. Continue transport until 100 percent of U.S. troops — overt and covert — are out of Iraq.
w Announce a 20-year moratorium on any U.S. involvement in any dealings with any Iraq oil. This includes all corporations that are based in the U.S. or do substantial business with the U.S., its corporations, or any state.
w Announce an end to all U.S. arms transfers to the region.
w Announce a 15-year program of assisting Iraq with donations of funds and the goods of life, to be given as reparations and administered by the U.N.
The goodwill generated by these actions would begin the long repair process that is needed between the U.S. and the rest of the world. There is no other plan that, in its broad concepts is more just and more appropriate for the enlightened self-interest of the U.S. and all of us who live here. [
Send your thoughts: :
In Review: Faith, Social Change, and the Arts
Pete Seeger and the U2charist
by Becky Garrison
During the Tribeca Film Festival, I happened to catch the world premiere of the documentary Pete Seeger: The Power of Song. I have vague recollections of attending the Newport Folk Festival as a toddler, long before it became commercialized as the Dunkin’ Donuts Newport Folk Festival. So, I was curious to learn more about the man that taught me to sing such songs as “Little Boxes,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Also, through my brief interactions with the nonprofit organization Clearwater, I heard how he lent his voice to a grassroots movement to clean up the Hudson River, thus enabling me to sail, fish, and even kayak in what was once deemed a toxic waste dump.
In this only authorized biography of Pete Seeger, director Jim Brown documents the life of this popular folk singer/songwriter who was picketed, protested, and even blacklisted. In his quest to “make a difference,” Seeger saw himself as a New Testament planter of seeds (See Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15), who used his banjo as his tool to sow the seeds of music. While some seeds fell on rocky ground and other seeds blew away like dust in the wind, Seeger observed how some seeds flourished and grew into movements to address issues such as civil rights, the Vietnam War, and the environment.
In today’s cynical world, can we enact positive social change through artistic self-expression or is this notion simply a relic of a bygone era?
The recent success of the U2charists as a means to educate congregations about the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals seems to indicate that this spirit is still alive and thriving. Yes, I’m aware of the criticism surrounding a service that has even been parodied by The Daily Show, not to mention the slew of sappy Bono books penned by those who seem to be capitalizing on the U2 buzz.
Before discounting this as yet another celeb fest, ask Seattle area residents who were able to check out Church of the Apostles’ citywide U2charist worship service, held May 27 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. There was a MDG fair before the service, and offerings went to Episcopal Relief and Development for Darfur. I know Karen and her crew there well enough to know that this was a spirit-filled adventure that rocked the house.
As I explore a bit further the topic of artistic expression as a force for positive change, let me draw your attention to a few other movies that also had their world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Chops follows several multiracial high school jazz bands as they bond through this uniquely American art form while preparing to compete in the 2006 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. Anyone thinking about cutting music and art from their local high school curriculums should see this flick first. Simply put, I wonder about the fate of some of those kids had music not entered their lives. Also of note is Shame, which played on Showtime. Directed by Mohammed Ali Naqvi, this documentary follows the story of Mukhtaran Mai, who spoke out against her community and government after she was brutally gang-raped. She uses the reparations money granted to her by the Pakistani government to set up the first school for girls in her hometown of Meerwala, hoping to empower the next generation of women. On a side note to those who blame religion for the world’s woes, this film explores how this tribal system allowed Mukhtaran to be raped and how she found solace in the mosque. If this illiterate woman can find her voice and in her quest for justice transform her community, what prevents us from doing likewise? [
Becky Garrison is senior contributing editor of The Wittenburg Door and author ofRed and Blue God, Black and Blue Church.
The Last Laugh
Retired Gen. George Washington Criticizes Bush’s Handling of Iraq War
by The Onion
Breaking a 211-year media silence, retired Army Gen. George Washington appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to speak out against many aspects of the way the Iraq war has been waged.
Washington likens Vice President Cheney to controversial British Chancellor of the Exchequer and Stamp Act architect George Greenville.
Washington, whose appearance marked the first time the military leader and statesman had spoken publicly since his 1796 farewell address in Philadelphia, is the latest in a string of retired generals stepping forward to criticize the Iraq war.
“This entire military venture has been foolhardy and of ill design,” said Washington, dressed in his customary breeches and frilly cravat. “The manifold mistakes committed by this president in Iraq carry grave consequences, and he who holds the position of commander in chief has the responsibility to right those wrongs.”
Washington noted that while Saddam Hussein was an indefensible tyrant, which alone did not justify a “conflict that seems without design or end.”
“The Iraqi people did suffer greatly under unjust rule,” Washington said. “But in truth, it is the duty of any people that wishes to be free to fight for its own independence. Had France meddled in our revolution beyond the guidance and material assistance they provided, I should think similar unrest would have darkened our nation’s earliest hours.”
Washington made the cable news rounds, telling Wolf Blitzer that the war was a “tragic mistake for our nation.”
The Virginia-born Revolutionary War veteran and national-capital namesake also expressed his worry over the state of the American militia, the unchecked powers of the executive branch, and the lack of a congressional declaration of war.
“The very genius of the American presidency is that it is an office held by an elected representative of the people, not by a monarch who can rule by fiat and enact policy at will,” Washington said.
The retired general asserted that wiser civilian leadership could easily have predicted many of the current problems in Iraq.
“I can say from personal experience that even a malnourished force with feet clad in rags should not be underestimated, even by a far superior power,” added Washington, who has disavowed further comparison between the Iraqi insurgency and the American colonists. “There is nothing a committed fighting force cannot accomplish if bolstered by the strength of its convictions.”
Who Gave Him the Right to Speak Freely?
Washington’s critical comments echo those of other retired generals, including Maj. Gen. John Batiste and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, who attacked Bush’s Iraq policy in a series of television ads run by political action committee VoteVets.org during the 2006 midterm elections.
“We’re very happy that someone of General Washington’s stature is speaking out,” said Jon Soltz, cofounder and chairman of VoteVets.org. “He has impeccable conservative credentials, extensive foreign policy experience, is a true citizen-soldier with a proven commitment to his country, and, if that’s not enough to get Bush to listen, he’s the face on the dollar bill.”
However, White House response to the former general’s criticism was swift and sharp. Spokesman Tony Fratto dismissed Washington as “increasingly irrelevant” and “a relic” who “made some embarrassing gaffes” during his own military career, such as the Continental Army’s near destruction in the Battle of Long Island in 1776.
“The general’s reckless and irresponsible comments show that he clearly does not understand the realities of 21st-century warfare,” Fratto said.
Conservative pundits moved quickly to discredit the decorated general.
“I don’t care who you are — or if you cannot tell a lie — it’s un-American to question the president in a time of war,” Sean Hannity said on his radio program Monday. “Plus, I find it very interesting that a man who owned slaves and sold hemp thinks he’s entitled to give our Commander in Chief lessons on how to run a war.”
Toward the end of his Meet the Press interview, Washington expressed fears for the future of Iraq, Middle East policy, and America itself.
“These convoluted foreign adventures were not what I envisaged for my young nation,” Washington said. “Certainly the citizens of the republic deserve better than this. Had I but known this was the fated course of my country, I might not have found the strength to liberate Her from the mantle of King George.” [
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