Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

Time to End the Cuban Travel Ban

EPISCOPAL PUBLIC POLICY NETWORK — The Cuba travel ban has done nothing, over the past five decades, to weaken the Cuban government or to prompt reforms in political or human rights. Most importantly, the Cuban people have been harmed by the ban because they have been cut off from the friendship and support of the American people.

How Should Progressives Respond to the End of the Oil Age?

ERIK LINDBERG — The August issue of “The Progressive” featured a series of essays on “the Big Spill” in the Gulf of Mexico, with the intention, I believe, of bringing our oil addiction into the foreground of political dialogue. In his article, “Energy Extremism,” Michael Klare thus asks a vital question about the end of the oil age. It is a question that has been painfully absent from any sustained dialogue: “How, then, should progressives respond to the current [energy] crisis?”

Trade Offs Tool Shows the Magnitude of Federal Budget Spending

NATIONAL PRIORITIES PROJECT — With all eyes on our nation’s budget, National Priorities Project (NPP) has overhauled its Trade Offs Tool designed to clarify the magnitude and localized impact of federal spending programs. The tool estimates FY2011 spending for select federal programs for individual states, counties, congressional districts, and towns. It then represents these dollar amounts in terms of localized costs of alternative goods and services such as police, teachers, or care for military veterans.

How Many Attacks on our Liberty Can We Tolerate?

PETER BERGEL — Here’s another intrusion into the rights that most of us thought were sacrosanct in these United States: now government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This development is the result of a Portland case affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, which includes eight western states. Worse yet, the law draws a line of privilege between the rich and the poor. The rich have rights, the poor don’t.

Ocean Energy Generator Demonstrates Potential

SUZY KIST — Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), an industry leader in tidal, river and deep-water ocean current energy technology and projects, announced on August 18 that its Beta Power System, the largest ocean energy “power plant” ever installed in U.S. waters, has successfully generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents at its Cobscook Bay site in Eastport, Maine.

Nuclear Weapons and the Way We Think

WINSLOW MYERS — Two strategic goals of the U.S. are an apparent desire to control Middle East oil and the expressed commitment to help keep Israel safe. This requires the U.S. to refuse the laudable vision of the Middle East as a nuclear weapons-free zone, which would demand that Israel dismantle its nuclear arsenal. Instead, news reports indicate that Israel may be gearing up for a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Gen. Petraeus Goes to Media War

NORMAN SOLOMON — It’s already history. In mid-August 2010, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan launched a huge media campaign to prevent any substantial withdrawal of military forces the next summer. The morning after Gen. David Petraeus appeared in a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to promote the war effort, the New York Times front-paged news of its own interview with him — reporting that the general “suggested that he would resist any large-scale or rapid withdrawal of American forces.”

You Can Get It If You Really Want

PETER BERGEL — Two days ago, The PeaceWorker published an explanation by Rep Peter DeFazio of his recent votes on funding the war in Afghanistan. This article was encouraging in that it expressed the misgivings many of us have about the war and those prosecuting it. It also explained in a cogent way what the “best thinking” in liberal Congressional circles is these days concerning how to extricate ourselves from the Vietnam-like mess which the Afghanistan situation has become. At the same time, the article revealed why the peace “movement” needs so desperately to rethink its overall strategy.

DeFazio Explains His Opposition to Afghanistan War Funding

REP. PETER DEFAZIO — Given that the war in Afghanistan has entered its ninth year without clearly defined objectives or an exit strategy, I wanted to provide you an update of my continued opposition to our head-in-the-sand Afghanistan policies. We recently saw a major shakeup in military leadership in Afghanistan, but it is clear that this will not translate to a major change in strategy.

Drone Protesters Challenge Genocidal Policy

JASON WHITED —
Fourteen nonviolent direct actionists at Creech Air Force Base in Southern Nevada face charges for entering the base to protest the use of unmanned weapons which kill indiscriminately halfway around the world. These weapons are guided to their targets from air-conditioned trailers at Creech. Trial for the “Creech 14” is set for September 16, but their action has focused UN attention on the issue of drone warfare.

Time to Get Out of Afghanistan

RALPH NADER — The war in Afghanistan is nearly nine years old — the longest in American history. After the U.S. quickly toppled the Taliban regime in October 2001, the Taliban, by all accounts, came back stronger and harsher enough to control now at least 30 percent of the country. During this time, U.S. casualties, armaments and expenditures are at record levels.

Top 5 Social Security Myths

EDITOR– The “realities” listed in this article are correct as far as they go, but they do not go far enough. While it is strictly true that “there is no Social Security crisis” because the Social Security Trust Fund “is full of U.S. Treasury Bonds,” the implication is that everything is all right. This is emphatically not the case. Please read the MoveOn article and also the PeaceWorker editorial that follows it.

PeaceWorker Comments on Social Security Article

PETER BERGEL — For decades, beginning during the Vietnam War, our elected leaders have tried to mask the size of the national debt they have permitted to accumulate by “borrowing” the surplus from the Social Security Trust Fund. This was done without consulting the public in any way, and largely without public knowledge, even though this money was set aside from all workers’ paychecks in an insurance program guaranteed to provide funds for them in their old age. To be precise, the government purchased U.S. T-bonds with our insurance money.

Met Office Report: Global Warming Evidence Is ‘Unmistakable’

LOUISE GRAY — A new climate change report from the Met Office [meteorological and climate change forecasts for the UK and worldwide] and its U.S. equivalent has provided the “greatest evidence we have ever had” that the world is warming. It is the first time a report has brought together all the different ways of measuring changes in the climate. The report brings together the latest temperature readings from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean

We’re Not Ready for a Nuclear Power Plant Disaster

BOB HERBERT — We were told by oil industry executives and their acolytes and enablers in government that deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico would not cause the kind of catastrophe that we’ve been watching with an acute and painful sense of helplessness for the past three months. Advances in technology, they said, would ward off the worst-case scenarios. Fail-safe systems like the blowout preventer a mile below the surface at the Deepwater Horizon rig site would keep wildlife and the environment safe.

How Can We Identify and Utilize Best Practices for Problem Solving?

WINSLOW MYERS — When I was working as a teacher, I loved the phrase “best practices.” It suggested pooled wisdom, a collective weeding out of the more effective from the less effective, a distillation of the authentic out of a world of potential baloney. It implied disinterested cooperation to figure out what really does work when we’re trying to help children learn. Any collection of best practices would synergize with each other in a perfect storm of competency.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Bombing Myths Need Correction

RUSSELL VANDENBROUCKE — Every August, as the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approach, comments resume about American decisions at the end of World War II. Despite the passage of 65 years, heated opinions are repeated as fact and myths become immortalized as truths. Beyond distorting the historical record, wishful thinking about it leads us to repeat past mistakes in new ways against new enemies.

The War Supplemental Vote Was Not Even Close

JOE WALSH —
The vote was not even close and especially when you know that it took a 2/3 vote. The reason for the 2/3 vote to pass, was it was a rule change. We have been informed that all our delegation except that one republican voted against war funding, I want to jump for joy, but can’t — sorry.

Public-Private Venture to Make City an ‘Icon of Sustainability’

MICHAEL BURNHAM — Westward pioneers halted their wagons in Portland, OR 150 years ago, but today’s politicians and planners aim to make recession- battered Portland the starting point for green-economy trailblazers. Mayor Sam Adams and General Electric Co. executives are forging a first-of-its-kind partnership that will include retrofitting drafty buildings with energy-saving technologies and helping local startups sell their clean-technology products abroad.

The Impossible Contradictions of Modern War

WINSLOW MYERS — The article in Rolling Stone that ended the meteoric career of General McChrystal shines light on the thought-process not only of one military man, but also on the dysfunctional paradigm now failing in Afghanistan. It is a textbook demonstration of how the mind-set of war itself, the notion of annihilating an enemy and emerging victorious, has become obsolete.

Why We Must Reduce Military Spending

REPS. BARNEY FRANK AND RON PAUL — As members of opposing political parties, we disagree on a number of important issues. But we must not allow honest disagreement over some issues to interfere with our ability to work together when we do agree. By far the single most important of these is our current initiative to include substantial reductions in the projected level of American military spending as part of future deficit reduction efforts.

Teachable Moment: Anti- and Pro-War Supporters Lock Horns

WINSLOW MYERS — What an extraordinary civics lesson for the students, faculty, administration, town officials and parents connected with the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School on Cape Cod! Two teachers, Marybeth Verani and Carrie Koscher, stood up at an assembly recognizing six students who were joining the military and held a sign that said “End War.”

“Americans Don’t Flinch” ­ They Duck!

KATHY KELLY & DAN PEARSON — In accepting General McChrystal’s resignation, President Obama said that McChrystal’s departure represented a change in personnel, not a change in policy. “Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks.” he stated, “We persist and we persevere.” Yet, President Obama and the U.S. people don’t face up to the ugly truth that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. has routinely committed atrocities against innocent civilians.

Time for Oregon to Ban the Bag

NICOLE FORBES– From 500 miles off the Oregon Coast to Japan, the Pacific Ocean is a toxic soup of plastic. The amount of plastic in our oceans has tripled since the 1980s, and it is now six to 40 times more prevalent than plankton, the fundamental food source of our ocean. It’s time to ban plastic bags.

Elise Boulding Dead at 89

MARY LEE MORRISON — Elise Boulding died at 4:40 pm, June 24, 2010 in Needham, MA. Hailed as a “matriarch” of the twentieth century peace research movement, she was sociologist emeritus from Dartmouth College and from the University of Colorado and in on the ground floor in the movements of peace, women’s studies and futures and played pivotal roles in each.

Wikileaks Founder Fears for His Life

SIMON LAUDER — The man behind whistleblower website Wikileaks says he is not in a position to record an interview amid claims his life is in danger. Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of Wikileaks, is said to be under threat with reports that the site has hundreds of thousands of classified cables containing explosive revelations.

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.