Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

Why Are the Poor Patriotic?

DAVID SWANSON – We should be very grateful to Francesco Duina for his new book, Broke and Patriotic: Why Poor Americans Love Their Country. He begins with the following dilemma. The poor in the United States are in many ways worse off than in other wealthy countries, but they are more patriotic than are the poor in those other countries and even more patriotic than are wealthier people in their own country. Their country is (among wealthy countries) tops in inequality, and bottoms in social support, and yet they overwhelmingly believe that the United States is “fundamentally better than other countries.” Why?

Is the U.S. Engaged in a “Great Waking Up?”

ROBERT KOEHLER – We’re stuck, at least here in the USA, with a pseudo-democracy partially but not completely controlled by certain special interests. We possess a fair amount of freedom of thought and action. Maybe it’s not enough to dislodge the entrenched, money-blessed military-industrialism that is our ruling god — but maybe it is, if we can foment a Great Waking Up and start undoing the harm we have been inflicting on ourselves for so long now. The collapse of the Republican Party may signal that change is underway. So is the message from a few millennia back: Love thy enemy as thyself.

Attacking the Roots of War: a True Peace Movement

DR. KENT D. SHIFFERD – We need to uproot the “tree of war.” That means to persuade people that the myths we hold about war are just that, that War makes us less secure, and that there are other ways to manage conflict that make us more secure. It means to stop saying “No” and to start saying “Yes.” It means to place before them a positive peace system. And that is a long-term project so the sooner we all focus on that, the sooner we end War.

Amid ‘Russiagate’ Hysteria, What Are the Facts?

JACK F. MATLOCK JR. – “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” That saying—often misattributed to Euripides—comes to mind most mornings when I pick up The New York Times and read the latest “Russiagate” headlines, which are frequently featured across two or three columns on the front page above the fold. This is an almost daily reminder of the hysteria that dominates our Congress and much of our media.

The End of Project Maven at Google Shows the Power of Tech Workers who Take a Stand

KHARI JOHNSON – We’re roughly halfway through 2018, and one of the most important AI stories to emerge so far is Project Maven and its fallout at Google. The program to use AI to analyze drone video footage began last year, and this week we learned of the Pentagon’s plans to expand Maven and establish a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. We also learned that Google believed it would make hundreds of millions of dollars from participating in the Maven project and that Maven was reportedly tied directly to a cloud computing contract worth billions of dollars. Today, news broke that Google will discontinue its Maven contract when it expires next year.

Big Government’s Focus on Fines and Fees Disparately Impacts Poor, Minority Communities

PROJECT 21 – Law enforcement agencies focus too much on revenue-generating activities that have a negative impact on poor and minority communities, further straining the relationship between police and the communities they serve, according to the black leadership network Project 21 . As part of its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America,” Project 21 recommends 10 criminal justice reforms.

Climate Change Movement Responds to Canada’s Plan to Nationalize the Trans Mountain Pipeline

PRESS RELEASE FROM STAND UP TO OIL COALITION AND PARTNERS – Despite widespread opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which would bring in 890,000 barrels of crude oil per day across Canada and out through the international Salish Sea waters in oil tankers, the Canadian government announced today that it will buy the pipeline in an attempt to guarantee its construction. By nationalizing this project, the Canadian government is taking on the risk of a massive construction project and pipeline that just this past weekend spilled oil.

True Patriotism Means Caring for Our Nation’s People

REV. DR. WILLIAM J. BARBER, II and REV. DR. LIZ THEOHARIS – As the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival prepares for our third week of direct action, the nation pauses for Memorial Day weekend. Listening to many, including veterans in this movement, we chose to focus this week on our challenge to militarism and the war economy as well as the proliferation of gun violence in the US. We believe the greatest patriotism for moral agents is insisting that America become a more perfect union.

In an internal memo, the White House considered whether to simply ‘ignore’ federal climate research

CHRIS MOONEY and JULIET EILPERIN – White House officials last year weighed whether to simply “ignore” climate studies produced by government scientists or to instead develop “a coherent, fact-based message about climate science,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post. The document, drafted Sept. 18 by Michael Catanzaro, President Trump’s special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy at the time, highlights the dilemma the administration has faced over climate change since Trump took office. Even as Trump’s deputies have worked methodically to uproot policies aimed at curbing the nation’s carbon output, the administration’s agencies continue to produce reports showing that climate change is happening, is human-driven and is a threat to the United States.

Putin Takes Ax to Military Spending

FRED WEIR – Amid the current worries in the West over Russia, the idea that Russia would be cutting its military spending seems counterintuitive to us. But that’s just what Vladimir Putin is doing with his new budget, in which plans for a major infrastructure boost are coming at the expense of some of the Kremlin’s more ambitious defense projects.

New Polls Show Anti-Trump Isn’t Enough to Beat GOP

NORMAN SOLOMON – With six months to go before the midterm election, new national polls are showing that the Democratic Party’s much-touted momentum to gain control of the House has stalled out. The latest numbers tell us a lot about the limits of denouncing Donald Trump without offering much more than a return to the old status quo.

Fear and Opportunity in Immigration Politics

ANDREW MOSS – Carving a path to citizenship for the Dreamers is important and necessary, but it’s only one step in a comprehensive reform that will, among other things, remove criminalization from all 11 million undocumented people in the country and abolish the iniquitous for-profit detention centers. Moving reform forward will require leaders with the vision and eloquence to show that protecting immigrants’ rights means protecting all our rights – and that the struggle for economic justice is inextricably bound up with the struggle for immigration justice. This is both the opportunity and the challenge.

Police Violence isn’t the Cause of Injustice—it’s the Outcome

ANOOP MIRPURI – The problems of police violence and mass incarceration are about much more than criminal justice. For this reason, efforts to resolve the current crisis solely at the level of criminal justice are more likely to wind up justifying police violence than ending it. For those who benefit from the way society is currently organized, peace and quiet for some may be more important than peace and justice for everyone. But if we’re really interested in justice, we have to listen to the people our society dismisses as “criminals” and the millions more vulnerable to being criminalized. We have to acknowledge that police violence isn’t the cause of injustice; it’s the outcome of injustice. Justice can’t be achieved simply by reforming the police. It can be achieved only through the long-term effort of transforming a society that produces such extreme inequalities that the police are seen as necessary.

Blatant Ignorance on Iran Nuclear Deal a Dangerous Course

PATRICK HILLER – The May 8, 2018 announcement by U.S. President Trump to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal is a disastrous decision, shredding successful diplomacy into pieces and paving the path toward destructive conflict and war. In his announcement, the President continued to display his utter ignorance of the nature and functioning of the deal.

Difficult Positions: The Death Penalty and Nikolas Cruz

LAURA FINLEY – Despite the horrors that Nicholas Cruz levied, in the terrible killing and wounding at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High SchooI in Parkland, Florida, I still do not want to see him executed. I universally oppose the death penalty. That is not a particularly easy position to hold right now, in this case, but I believe it is the right one. It is for me, at least.

Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street

NORMAN SOLOMON – Willingness to challenge Wall Street would certainly alienate some of the Democratic Party’s big donors. And such moves would likely curb the future earning power of high-ranking party officials, who can now look forward to upward spikes in incomes from consultant deals and cushy positions at well-heeled firms. With eyes on the prizes from corporate largesse, DNC officials don’t see downsides to whacking at WikiLeaks and undermining press freedom in the process.

In Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Court Finds That Approval of Dakota Access Pipeline Violated the Law

EL – The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline. A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.

Which Nations Are the Happiest?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – It appears that the pursuit of ever-greater wealth and military power by national governments doesn’t necessarily create happiness for their people. By contrast, governments that seek to improve everyone’s lives―or, in the words of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, “promote the general welfare”―do a much better job of it.

Towards a New Activism to Effectively Support a Transition to a Post-Growth Economy

MICHA NARBERHAUS – To this day, few civil society organisations are promoting the much-needed transition to a new economic system based on the principles of ecological limits, solidarity, human well-being, and intergenerational justice, nor are many organisations embracing the complexity of systemic change in their strategies, campaigns, and projects.

Seven Kings Bay Plowshares Activists Arrested inside Trident Nuclear Submarine Base

THE NUCLEAR RESISTER (a posting) – Seven Catholic plowshares activists were detained early Thursday morning, April 5, at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. They entered on Wednesday night, April 4. Calling themselves Kings Bay Plowshares, they went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command: “beat swords into plowshares.”

Russia Madness on the Eve of Destruction: Hegemony Trumps Survival

PAUL STREET – Given the current state and rate of environmental destruction, the continuing advance in the destructive power of nuclear weapons systems, and the likelihood of pandemics in a warmer and more globalized world, there are good reasons to wonder if a human civilization with historians will exist a century from today. We may well be standing near the “end of history,” and not the glorious bourgeois-democratic one that Francis Fukuyama imagined with the end of the Cold War.

A Russian View of Re-Igniting the Cold War

SERGEI KARAGANOV – The problem between Russia and the West is really a problem among Westerners themselves. If there is a new cold war, it is only because established elites have not come to terms with reality: the balance of military, political, economic, and moral power has shifted too far away from the West to be reversed.

Think Outside the Protest Box

RIVERA SUN – We have more power than we think. But we’ve got to go beyond the “protest-petition-call officials-vote” routine. Think outside that box, and you’ll find a world of creative solutions and strategies to tap into. The time has come to double down on strategy and make great strides toward change.

How to Build a Progressive Movement in a Polarized Country

GEORGE LAKEY – Many assume that polarization is a barrier to making change. They observe more shouting and less listening, more drama and less reflection, and an escalation at the extremes. They note that mass media journalists have less time to cover the range of activist initiatives, which are therefore drowned out by the shouting. From coast to coast activists asked me: Does this condition leave us stuck? My answer included both good news and bad news. Most people wanted the latter first.

‘Corporations Are People’ Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie

ADAM WINKLER – A farcical series of events in the 1880s produced an enduring and controversial legal precedent. Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day.

Federal Judge’s Unprecedented Order on Climate Science ‘Could Open Floodgates’ for Big Oil Lawsuits

JESSICA CORBETT – With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a “public nuisance” lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when.

Although Two Out of Three Americans Oppose Increasing U.S. Military Spending, the U.S. Government Is Boosting It to Record Levels

LAWRENCE WITTNER – Early this February, the Republican-controlled Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed new federal budget legislation that increased U.S. military spending by $165 billion over the next two years. Remarkably, though, a Gallup public opinion poll, conducted only days before, found that only 33 percent of Americans favored increasing U.S. military spending, while 65 percent opposed it, either backing reductions (34 percent) or maintenance of the status quo (31 percent).