Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

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.

“Qualified Immunity” Shields Police from Accountability

LAURA FINLEY – Ending police abuse is going to take continued vigilance and a multi-faceted approach. But one important way to hold police accountable is for citizens to be able to bring and win civil suits. Today, the playing field for doing so is so deeply tilted toward protecting police that there is no semblance of accountability in the legal realm

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).

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Youth Plaintiffs, Rejects Trump’s Attempt to Evade Constitutional Climate Trial

OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST and EARTH GUARDIANS – San Francisco. On March 7, Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, rejected the Trump administration’s “drastic and extraordinary” petition for writ of mandamus in the landmark climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, brought by 21 youth supported by Our Children’s Trust.

PGE Withdraws Plan to Expand Fracked Gas-Fired Power, But Asks to Increase Pollution by 800% At Existing Plant

DAN SERRES – On February 20, 2018, Portland General Electric (PGE) officially ended plans to expand the Carty Generating Station, a fracked gas-fired facility located near Boardman, Oregon. This is a huge victory for our climate and public health. But controversy remains: PGE wants to dramatically increase air pollution at the existing Carty gas plant.

Meet the Well-Funded Players Working Hard to Thwart Oregon’s Climate Progress

ERIC DE PLACE and PAELINA DESTEPHANO -Oregon is on the cusp of a climate protection breakthrough in 2018. The state legislature is weighing the Clean Energy Jobs bill, a remarkable opportunity to join its West Coast neighbors in lowering carbon pollution while raising money to invest in clean energy and transportation. The money raised would also provide assistance for low-income state residents. (Sightline’s Kristin Eberhard wrote an excellent summary of the legislation.) Nevertheless, Oregon’s climate proposal has garnered backlash from a range of shadowy conservative groups determined to halt the bill’s progress. Many of these organizations are linked to anti-tax and anti-union politics, and many seem specifically designed to obscure their backers and operations from public view. It’s a rogues’ gallery of climate-protection opponents in Oregon, and Sightline takes a hard look at who’s who in this movement and casts some light into the shadows.

Look Deeper Than the Latest Shooting

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – There’s a bigger problem embedded in the social order than our lack of effective gun laws, and I hope the movement that emerges out of the Parkland massacre makes the leap beyond anger and single-issue politics. The nation’s weak gun laws — the easy availability of AR-15 assault rifles — are, in fact, a symptom of the general cheapening of human life in American society, which is reflected in the nation’s ever-expanding obsession with war and a military budget the size of Godzilla. War always has a way of coming home.

Playing by the Rules? Nuclear Powers Could Learn from Olympic Athletes and Fans

MARILYN LANGLOIS – What if powerful nations like the US, Russia, China, Great Britain and France announced to the International Olympic Committee, “We reserve the right to give our athletes performance enhancing drugs and they will participate in the Olympic games anyway, no matter what you say,” adding soto voce, “Oh, and we’ll let Israel use them, too, but we just won’t talk about that.” Unthinkable, you may say? At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games now in progress in PyeongChang, South Korea, IOC President Thomas Bach, hinting at past doping scandals, admonished all the assembled athletes to play by the rules of Olympic sports. So how do the powerful nations, in particular the US, get away with playing by very different rules from others when it comes to one of the most life-threatening scourges of our time, namely nuclear weapons?

Re-imagining Russian-American Relations: A Pragmatic Business Perspective

P.N. LOUKIANOFF – 2017 represented the centennial of the communist takeover of Russia, which indelibly marked the transition from Tsarist Empire to the Soviet Union. The U.S.S.R. was a menace not only to the free world, but also to its own people. Despite its collapse and Russia’s independence over 25 years ago, many in Washington still cannot allow themselves to imagine, let alone manifest, a productive relationship with Russia. This article provides useful historical context for events and actions affecting U.S.-Russia relations to this day and argues why there’s hope for the future with the new generation of Russians – the kind the Center for Citizen Initiatives will be bringing to the U.S. as part of CCI’s Russians Meet Middle America (RMMA) program.

The Darkness and the Needle

EMILY JOHNSTON – It’s such an astonishing honor to live in this moment, knowing that we probably still have the power to set the world back onto a stable path, and thereby make life better, or at least possible, for countless people and other beings. I cannot imagine anything more meaningful. Uncertainty is possibility. In the uncertainty before us, in the sacrifices and joy of our connections with each other and every living thing, we have been given overwhelming abundance. In this darkness, we have begun our real journey.

Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?

MEL GURTOV – In the aftermath of the “Korean spring” at the Winter Games, some observers waxed euphoric over the potential for direct US-North Korea talks. The apparent breakthrough at the Games in North-South dialogue occasioned by Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yu-jong, and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in had put Vice President Mike Pence in an embarrassing position—odd man out as Moon and Ms. Kim discussed a summit meeting while Pence sat on his hands. Pence tried to recover by indicating as he left South Korea that talks with the North might actually be possible—a concession that gave the appearance of a US decision to fall in line with the South Korean view. But has the US position on how to deal with North Korea actually changed?

Trump’s Immigration Reform is Tone Deaf

JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – The US has always struggled with how to incorporate diverse peoples into a modern democracy. Philosopher Horace Kallen insists that part of this work has to be about our imagination and the way we talk and listen to one another across cultural differences. Trump’s plan would be like insisting that all voices of the choir have to sing baritone in order to make beautiful music. His plan is not innovative; it’s tone deaf to the current needs of our society.

The Other Superpower?

ROBERT KOEHLER – Is this moment in history empty of all hope and sanity, occupied as it is by the forces of empire and a militarized presidential ego? Or is there a global, evolutionary counterforce out there as well, equal to or greater than the corporate militarism that seems to have a stranglehold on the future?

Capitalize on the Olympic Truce, Formalize a Freeze for Freeze with North Korea

KEVIN MARTIN – Effective negotiators build on any points of agreement the parties to a dispute have at the outset. So why not ditch the “non-equivalency” argument and state the U.S.-South Korea war drills are on indefinite hiatus as long as North Korea continues to observe a moratorium on nuclear and missile testing? That would be solid footing on which to begin real diplomacy. South Korea isn’t afraid to talk to the North, why is the U.S.? If Rex Tillerson can’t do his job, the least he can do is support the North-South talks, and let Koreans make peace.

U.S. Weapons Threaten Beleaguered Civilians In Yemen Conflict

KATHY KELLY – U.S. foreign policy is foolishly reduced to the good guys,” the U.S. and its allies, versus “the bad guy,” – Iran. The “good guys” shaping and selling U.S. foreign policy and weapon sales exemplify the heartless indifference of the smugglers who gamble human life in exceedingly dangerous crossings. The nefarious actions of the US-supported Saudi military in the Middle East must arouse citizen opposition in the one country where democracy is still strong enough to make a difference, the US.

Let’s Stop Lying to Each Other

THOMAS LINZEY – While it’s certainly easier to blame the latest president for our state of affairs, the reality is much more troubling – that we have a system of law and government which poses as a working democracy while guaranteeing the destruction of the planet. In other words, it’s the hardware, not the software. It’s a faulty system.

Trump’s Assault on Solar Masks an Epic Crisis in the Nuclear Industry

HARVEY WASSERMAN – As Donald Trump launches his latest assault on renewable energy—imposing a 30 percent tariff on solar panels imported from China—a major crisis in the nuclear power industry is threatening to shut four high-profile reactors, with more shutdowns to come. These closures could pave the way for thousands of new jobs in wind and solar, offsetting at least some of the losses from Trump’s attack. Like nearly everything else Trump does, the hike in duties makes no rational sense. Bill McKibben summed it up, tweeting: “Trump imposes 30% tariff on imported solar panels—one more effort to try and slow renewable energy, one more favor for the status quo.”

Trump “Nuclear Posture” Approves New Warheads & Factories; Opens the Door to Testing

TRI-VALLEY CARES – On January 10th, the Huffington Post leaked a draft of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, a Pentagon document that dictates the overall strategy for United States nuclear forces. The leaked document, which is rumored to be the final draft, demonstrates an aggressive shift from the Obama posture review by mandating “more usable” low-yield nuclear weapons, doubling down on building new bomb plants, and lowering the threshold to resume nuclear weapons testing.

Why the Resistance Can’t Win without Vision

GEORGE LAKEY – We’ve had our first year of tweets and leaks from the White House, complete with reactions and outrage in the United States and abroad. The tsunami of words and feelings about Trump has dominated the media and is likely to continue. The question is: Will reactivity to Trump continue among activists, or are we ready to channel our passion into more focused movement-building for change?