Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

Cost-Benefit Analyses for Open and Closed Fists

TOM H. HASTINGS — Here comes the 4th of July and we are barely done with Memorial Day. The flags of nationalistic patriotic fervor sprout and resprout across the land, in the parks, on the lawns, on billboards, on the Internet, and generally everywhere. Military jets will fly in formation, anthems will fill the air, and military uniforms will be ubiquitous. Little children are getting used to this, and they never see the adults they trust question this, so they come to trust the guns, the songs about bombs, the valorization of violence, and the equation of killing with freedom.

Ten Suggestions for Effective Activism

PAUL ROGAT LOEB — Effective activism is a long-haul process, not “save the earth in 30 days, ask me how.” But there are some principles that seem to reoccur for people addressing every kind of challenge from the Gulf Oil spill to inadequate funding for urban schools to how to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq. When I was updating Soul of a Citizen, an activist rabbi who was teaching the book at Florida Gulf Coast University suggested I gather together the Ten Commandments for effective citizen engagement. Calling them Commandments seemed a bit presumptuous, but I did draw together ten suggestions that can make engagement more fruitful.

Join Independence from Oil Visual Demo

SARAH HODGEDON — There is no doubt that the human race must wean itself from dependence on oil if it is to survive and avoid the worst aspects of global warming. The Sierra Club has devised an imaginative way to bring this message to Congress as an Independence Day celebration. Read more…

Police State Tactics Take Another Step Forward

WENDY MCELROY — In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer. Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

Palestinian, Israeli Physicians Call for Inquiry on Attack on Ships

IPPNW — The following is a joint statement from the Palestinian and Israeli affiliates of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) on the recent violence at sea. This statement is the product of unique and powerful collaboration, with physicians transcending political and ideological divisions to speak out with a common voice for peace and humanity.

Replacing Offshore Oil Would Take 195 Californias or 74 Texases

CHRIS NELDER — As the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster continues to unfold, the peak oil community has a “teachable moment” in which it can illuminate the reality of our energy plight. The public has had a crash course in the challenges of offshore oil, and learned a whole new vocabulary. They are more aware than ever that the days of cheap and easy oil are gone. What they do not yet grasp are the challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables.

Can We Live With the Bomb?

LAWRENCE WITTNER — For some time now, it has been clear that nuclear weapons threaten the existence not only of humanity, but of all life on Earth. Thus, Barack Obama’s pledge to work for a nuclear weapons-free world—made during his 2008 presidential campaign and subsequently in public statements—has resonated nicely with supporters of nuclear disarmament and with the general public.

Harman Gives Cover to Gaza Aid Piracy

NORMAN SOLOMON — When Israel attacked the Gaza aid flotilla, Congresswoman Jane Harman was engaged in a parallel assault. Israel’s government relied on the efficacy of violence; Harman’s campaign was counting on the power of paid media. In both cases, the targets were advocates of human rights for Palestinian people.

OPW Lauches Online Peace Store

CARRIE ADAMS — If you have ever visited the Oregon PeaceWorks office in Salem, you have seen our display of peace merchandise. If you’ve never had that opportunity, you no longer need miss out. OPW has launched its online Peace Store which you can visit with a mere mouseclick.

The World After Abundance

JOHN MICHAEL GREER — It has been nearly four decades now since the limits to industrial civilization’s trajectory of limitless material growth on a limited planet have been clearly visible on the horizon of our future. Over that time, a remarkable paradox has unfolded. The closer we get to the limits to growth, the more those limits impact our daily lives, and the more clearly our current trajectory points toward the brick wall of a difficult future, the less most people in the industrial world seem to be able to imagine any alternative to driving the existing order of things ever onward until the wheels fall off.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Holds 50th Reunion

DAVID HARTSOUGH — I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in the 50th reunion of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), April 15-18, 2010, in Raleigh, NC. Over 800 SNCC workers, their families and friends came together for four days to remember, reflect, share stories, inspire a younger generation, and strategize about how to continue the important work that SNCC students started 50 years ago.

Brilliant Transportation Idea: Carsharing for All

SARA STROUD — Carsharing is on the rise, but it must be more scalable to have a real impact on easing traffic congestion and cutting carbon emissions, according to cleantech investor Sunil Paul. That’s the idea behind Spride Share, a San Francisco-based carsharing startup that came out of stealth in late April and is backed by Paul’s early-stage venture fund Spring Ventures, which has funded cleantech startups such as Nanosolar and algal fuel company Solazyme.

Environment Oregon Kicks Off Ban the Bag Campaign

ENVIRONMENT OREGON — An island of trash twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean is killing more than 1 million seabirds, 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals, and countless fish each year. Plastic makes up 90 percent of this toxic soup, and four-fifths of that plastic, much of which is plastic bags, floats into the ocean from our rivers and harbors.

If I Had a Trillion Dollars: Youth Video Contest Announced

NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT — The money that is being spent on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1 trillion within the next five months. This money could be spent in our communities on many things that now face cuts, like after school programs, art and music programs, and summer jobs. You can spread the word. The American Friends Service Committee and National Priorities Project are sponsoring a youth video project to help young people (high school and college age) enter the cost-of-war discussion. Share your ideas about what you would do – for yourself, your family and your community – with $1 trillion.

Troubling Questions About Nominee Elena Kagan

GUY-URIEL CHARLES — Elena Kagan, currently the Solicitor General of the United States, is widely rumored to be President Obama’s top choice to succeed Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. The most compelling and least compelling aspect of a Kagan nomination is that we do not know where she stands on many of the issues that would come before the Court. For those of us who would prefer a strong left-of-center nominee, the basic message is that we should trust that Kagan will not be the left’s version of David Souter. I understand why Kagan is politically attractive as a nominee, but I am nevertheless left with some questions.

2009 Was Record Year for Wind Power

J. MATTHEW RONEY: Even in the face of a worldwide economic downturn, the global wind industry posted another record year in 2009 as cumulative installed wind power capacity grew to 158,000 megawatts. With this 31 percent jump, the global wind fleet is now large enough to satisfy the residential electricity needs of 250 million people. Wind provides electricity in over 70 countries, 17 of which now have at least 1,000 megawatts installed.

Give Peace a Dance 2010 Rocked

PETER BERGEL: Measured by the satisfaction expressed by attendees during the event and afterwards, Give Peace a Dance 2010 – which took place on April 17 — was a grand success. It also raised well over four thousand dollars to keep Oregon PeaceWorks’ projects moving forward.

Why Not Ask for More?

I have been thinking about a verse from Leonard Cohen’s oft-recorded country song Bird on a Wire, a lot recently. Written in 1968, this simple, if depressing, song has been covered by artists as varied as Cohen himself, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, The Bobs, Dave Van Ronk, k.d. laing and the Neville Brothers, to name a few – a sure sign that it speaks to many kinds of people.

Lying About Nuclear Weapons

One of the most popular muckraking American journalists of the late twentieth century, I.F. Stone, once remarked: “All governments lie.” Even a prominent government official — Andrei Gromyko, the veteran Soviet diplomat — once admitted, in a weak moment: “Governments are never sincere.” This gloomy assessment appears all too true when it comes to national security policy, and particularly so with respect to nuclear weapons.

What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing About It

Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, New York, is sick and tired of watching people in local communities “squabble over crumbs,” as he puts it, while so much local money pours into the Pentagon’s coffers and into America’s wars. He’s so sick and tired of it, in fact, that, urged on by local residents, he’s decided to do something about it.

Americans Troubled by Recent Anti-Government Activity

MARIO CANSECO: Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, many adults in the United States believe a terrorist attack carried out by Americans is likely to happen over the next 12 months, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found. Most respondents think the Hutaree plot is real and serious, and more than a third believe the Guardians of the Free Republics are a security threat.

Tax Day Penny Polls Reveal Desire for Lower Military Budget

EUGENE’S PENNY POLL: Peace Activists gathered at the Eugene downtown Post Office on Tax Day, April 15th, to call for the re-ordering of federal spending priorities from supporting war to meeting human and environmental needs. One hundred sixteen people took the opportunity of voicing how they would spend their tax dollars when they participated in Eugene’s “Penny Poll.”

Is START Really a Beginning?

LAWRENCE WITTNER: Does the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), signed by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on April 8, really provide a beginning toward a nuclear-free world? That’s what Obama implied in a statement two weeks earlier. Speaking to reporters at the White House, he described the treaty as an historic step toward “a world without nuclear weapons.”

New USDA Rules Establish Strong Organic Standards for Pasture and Livestock

MARK KASTEL: After over 10 years of lobbying, family farmers across the country, who produce organic milk, are celebrating the release of strict new USDA regulations that establish distinct benchmarks requiring the grazing and pasturing of dairy cows and other livestock. Many hope that the new rule will put an end to the abuses that have flooded the organic market with suspect milk from a handful of mega-dairies generally confining thousands of animals in feed lots and barns.

U.N. Chief to Visit Hiroshima on August 6

KYODO NEWS: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has decided to visit Hiroshima on August 6 as the Japanese city marks the 65th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombing, according to a senior U.N. official. The plan, expected to be formalized around July, would make Ban the first U.N. chief to attend an annual commemorative ceremony at the city’s Peace Memorial Park.

Nuclear Industry Wants to Relaunch with Public Guarantees

RALPH NADER: A generation of Americans has grown up without a single nuclear power plant being brought on line since before the near meltdown of the Three Mile Island structure in 1979. They have not been exposed to the enormous costs, risks and national security dangers associated with their operations and the large amount of radioactive wastes still without a safe, permanent storage place for tens of thousands of years.

Active Nonviolence Persists in Palestine and Israel

DAVID HARTSOUGH: When people think of Palestine and Israel, they often picture Palestinians as suicide bombers and terrorists while the Israeli military are seen as bombing whole neighborhoods in Palestine. The violence and counter-violence and endless war has created a hopelessness about any peaceful future for the Holy Land.