Category: What’s Happening In the Movement

Walkers Expose Prison Industrial Complex

KATHY KELLY – Along with Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) companions, I’m part of a 150 mile walk from Chicago to Thomson, IL, a small town in Northwest IL where the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is setting up an Administrative Maximum prison, also known as a Supermax. Prison laborers from U.S. minimum security prisons now labor to turn what once was an Illinois state prison into a federal supermax detention facility with 1900 cells that will confine prisoners for 23 hours of every day. Drivers seeing us with our signs often wave or honk approval as they whiz past us on the road. “Education not Incarceration” says one sign; “Build hospitals, not Prisons,” says another.

How Nonviolence is Building Trust in Afghanistan

KATHY KELLY – Here in Kabul, I read a recent BBC op-ed by Ahmed Rashid, urging a “diplomatic offensive” to build or repair relationships with the varied groups representing armed extremism in Afghanistan. Rashid has insisted, for years, that severe mistrust makes it almost impossible for such groups to negotiate an end to Afghanistan’s nightmare of war. U.S. people should earnestly ask how the U.S. could help build trust here in Afghanistan, and, as a first step, begin transferring funds from the coffers of weapon companies to the UN accounts trying to meet humanitarian needs. The “giant” could be seen stooping, humbly, to help plant seeds, hoping for a humane harvest.

Remembering Argentina’s Mothers of the Disappeared

RIVERA SUN – Campaign Nonviolence is a movement to build a culture of active nonviolence. We share the stories of nonviolent action, drawing lessons, strength, and strategy from the global grassroots movements for change. Throughout the year, we look at historic struggles. The last week of April commemorated the 39th anniversary of the first protest of the Argentina’s Mothers of the Disappeared.

How We Won on Net Neutrality

RAY MORRIS – We won something big last week and we want to make sure you know just how important it was. For over a decade, CREDO fought ferociously to protect Net Neutrality. Last week a federal court handed us a huge and game-changing win for the future of an open and equal internet when it rejected the lawsuit to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) historic Net Neutrality rules.

New Tool for Communities on How to Promote Peace

THE COMMUNITY TOOLBOX – Promoting Peace is a free online resource offering detailed guidance and links to resources for students and those working as advocates. Focused on concrete steps that can be taken as an individual, a family, a community, and global society it showcases evidence-based approaches shown to be effective in preventing and stemming violence and fostering more compassionate communities.

Global Peace Index: Peace Gap is Widening

INSTITUTE FOR ECONOMICS AND PEACE – In the 12 months since the last Global Peace Index, increased conflict, terrorism and the refugee crisis suggests a less peaceful world. However, despite the increasingly unequal gap between peaceful and less peaceful nations, there are positive trends where the data tells a different story.

Former OPW Director on Peace Mission to Russia

PETER BERGEL – As some of you know, I’ll leave on June 15 to join a citizen diplomacy peace delegation to Russia for two weeks. I will take with me a peace message from the mayor and mayor-elect of Salem, OR and will, I hope, bring back peace messages from Russian citizens, decision-makers, academicians and journalists. I will also listen carefully to the Russians’ concerns, especially those that concern our own country.

DAVID SWANSON – In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn’t let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves. She got a group of friends together and asked the Russian consulate for permission to visit Russia, make friends, and learn.

Rethinking Criminal Justice

ROBERT C. KOEHLER – “For over forty years our criminal justice system has over-relied on punishment, policing, incarceration and detention. This has ushered in an age of mass incarceration. This era is marked by sentencing policies that lead to racially disproportionate incarceration rates and a variety of ‘collateral consequences’ that have harmed our communities and schools. . . .”

On June 2nd Remember the Mother’s Day Peace Proclamation

RIVERA SUN – Every year in May, peace activists circulate Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Peace Proclamation. But, Howe did not commemorate Mother’s Day in May . . . for 30 years Americans celebrated Mother’s Day for Peace on June 2nd. It was Julia Ward Howe’s contemporary, Anna Jarvis, who established the May celebration of mothers, and even then, Mother’s Day was not a brunch and flowers affair. Both Howe and Ward commemorated the day with marches, demonstrations, rallies, and events honoring the role of women in public activism and organizing for social justice.

Direct Action Taken to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

ANNE MILLHOLLEN – On May 7, members of Beyond War NW were able to join the Mother’s Day Gathering and Action sponsored by the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington (www.gzcenter.org). The back fence to their lovely, forested Center, is part of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Located 20 miles from Seattle, the Trident submarine base at Bangor has the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. The base is the last active nuclear weapons depot on the West Coast.

The Blue Revolution – How Kuwaiti Women Used Nonviolence to Gain Suffrage

RIVERA SUN – This week in nonviolent history commemorates the successful conclusion of Kuwait’s Blue Revolution. On May 17th, 2005, Kuwaiti women gained suffrage after more than 40 years of struggle. The women used a wide variety of approaches to achieve their goals, including lobbying, introducing repeated legislation, protests and demonstration, marches, rallies, and mock elections.

Youth > Fossil Fuels

KATIE MCCHESNEY – Something big is unfolding on campuses across the country this spring. In early April, twenty students from Swarthmore College launched a creative theatre action outside their administrator’s office in Philadelphia to call out her shady ties to the fossil fuel industry — including to oil giant Exxon — that are clouding her judgment on divestment. This marks the beginning of a national wave of campus action students are calling Youth > Fossil Fuels. Students are demanding that universities divest from fossil fuels once and for all, and reinvest in just solutions to the climate crisis.

Pennsylvania Township Legalizes Civil Disobedience

COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND – Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

Did the Vatican Just Throw Out Its Just War Doctrine?

ERICA CHENOWETH – Last week, the Vatican hosted a conference on the theme of “Nonviolence and Just Peace: Contributing to the Catholic Understanding of and Commitment to Nonviolence,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace along with the global Catholic peace network Pax Christi International. In their concluding appeal to Pope Francis, the 80 conference participants recommended that he reject Just War Doctrine as a viable or productive Catholic tradition. They also recommended that he write a new encyclical laying out the Catholic Church’s commitment to nonviolence in all of its manifestations—including nonviolent action as a means of engaging in conflict, nonviolent conflict resolution as a way of resolving conflict, and nonviolence as the principle doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Tax Day Actions Include Protests and Refusal to Pay

PRESS RELEASE – From traditional Tax Day, April 15, 2016, through the final day to file in Maine and Massachusetts on April 19, hundreds of people in communities across the United States will take public action to call for a change federal budget priorities away from military spending and to human and environmental needs. Individually and in groups, many of these concerned activists will divest from the Pentagon by refusing to pay some or all of their federal income taxes, which help to pay for war.

How to Counter Recruitment and De-Militarize Schools

DAVID SWANSON – U.S. military recruiters are teaching in public school classrooms, making presentations at school career days, coordinating with JROTC units in high schools and middle schools, volunteering as sports coaches and tutors and lunch buddies in high, middle, and elementary schools, showing up in humvees with $9,000 stereos, bringing fifth-graders to military bases for hands-on science instruction, and generally pursuing what they call “total market penetration” and “school ownership.” But counter-recruiters all over the United States are making their own presentations in schools, distributing their own information, picketing recruiting stations, and working through courts and legislatures to reduce military access to students and to prevent military testing or the sharing of test results with the military without students’ permission. This struggle for hearts and minds has had major successes and could spread if more follow the counter-recruiters’ example.

Residents Demand No New Offshore Oil Leases in Gulf of Mexico

KATE COLWELL – For the first time ever, hundreds of Gulf Coast residents are joining forces with local and national environmental and social justice groups to oppose a federal offshore fossil fuel lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The proposed lease of 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to develop as much as 965 million barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is the largest single offering by the Obama administration. Today, the coalition sent a letter to President Obama requesting the sale’s cancellation as it [prepared] for an unprecedented March 23 demonstration at the Superdome, where the bids will be announced.

#NuclearIsDirty Campaign Kicks Off

MICHAEL MARRIOTTE – Last week we launched a new campaign to put an end to the myth of “clean nuclear power,” and we are off to a great start. We are rolling out the #NuclearIsDirty campaign with a series of online and social media events over 12 weeks. During that time, we will take you through the entire nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining all the way to the impossible problems of radioactive waste and contamination.

Open Request to Secretary Kerry Regarding the Murder of Berta Cáceres

The tragic assassination of Berta Cáceres, a leading voice for Honduran Indigenous rights and tireless advocate for justice, has resulted from the inability of governments to provide security to environmentalists and makes it increasingly dangerous and difficult for communities to protect their rights and environments. The letter clarifies the details.

Huge Victory! FERC Denies Jordan Cove Project

ROGUE RIVERKEEPERS – Today – March 11 – we received amazing news that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has denied the Jordan Cove LNG Terminal in Coos Bay and its associated Pacific Connector Pipeline! This is a huge victory for our Rogue Basin and all who would have been impacted by this project.

Oregon Legislature Passes Historic Coal Transition Bill

HEALTHY CLIMATE PARTNERSHIP – The Oregon Legislative Assembly yesterday approved a landmark bill that will commit the state to eliminate its use of coal power by 2035 and double the amount of clean, renewable energy serving Oregonians to 50 percent by 2040. Otherwise known as the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition plan, Senate Bill 1547-B received final approval on the Senate floor today after the Oregon House approved the bill in a 38-20 bipartisan vote on Tuesday.

Salem’s Pringle Creek Community is now a B Corp

PRINGLE CREEK COMMUNITY – Pringle Creek Community is now a B Corporation, part of the global business community inspiring businesses to compete not only to be the best in the world but to also be the best FOR the world, a community that is working to use the power of commerce as a force for good vs just for profit.

How the World is Proving Martin Luther King Right about Nonviolence

ERICA CHENOWITH and DR. MARIA J. STEPHAN – Since 2011, the world has been a deeply contentious place. Although armed insurgencies rage across the Middle East, the Sahel and Southern Asia, violent civil conflicts are no longer the primary way that people seek to redress their grievances. Instead, from Tunis to Tahrir Square, from Zuccotti Park to Ferguson, from Burkina Faso to Hong Kong, movements worldwide have drawn on the lessons of Gandhi, King and everyday activists at home and abroad to push for change.

Healthy Climate Bill Would Protect Health, Businesses and Jobs

NEIL SMITH and TONIA MORO – The great majority of Oregonians want to see smart, practical action to slow climate change. We know the effects of climate disruption ― heat waves, drought, wildfires, unrecognizably extreme weather ― will be too destructive to delay action. Further, we have the opportunity to animate our economy by transitioning to energy-efficient practices. We can take advantage of this transition if we insist that our state government provide a legislative framework to support businesses in this emerging economy.

If We Want to Save the Earth….

ALLIANCE FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE – The same imperialism that has caused so much damage to the Global South today continues expanding and threatening the whole planet. Consequently, the struggle for climate justice has converted into a struggle for the liberation of all workers, peasants, indigenous and ecosystems. The struggle against Empire is a struggle to save life on Earth.

Pledging to Resist Fear and Hatred

RIVERA SUN – At this time, it has become imperative for citizens to speak up and stand up against the rise of Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, and the politics of hatred. When this pledge from Showing Up For Racial Justice came to my attention, I did not hesitate to sign it.

Democratic Socialism Has Deep Roots in American Life

LAWRENCE WITTNER – The shock and disbelief with which many political pundits have responded to Bernie Sanders’ description of himself as a “democratic socialist”—a supporter of democratic control of the economy—provide a clear indication of how little they know about the popularity and influence of democratic socialism over the course of American history.

Send in the White Helmets

STEPHANIE VAN HOOK – We’ve all heard of the Blue Helmets — the United Nations armed peacekeeping wing. But have you heard about the White Helmets, the unarmed peacekeeping and first responders in Syria? Seeing organized nonviolence in the midst of violent conflict is not expected and not often found, but it’s on the increase. There are Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Muslim Peacemaker Teams, and the White Helmets in Syria.

Pope Francis and the Shift Toward Nonviolence

KEN BUTIGAN – It’s synchronistic that, the same week Pope Francis brought his message of peace, people and the planet to the United States, thousands of activists were dramatizing many of these same themes by taking to the streets in hundreds of cities for a culture of peace and nonviolence. It was a coincidence that Campaign Nonviolence’s second annual week of nonviolent actions took place during the pope’s visit. But the fact that both happened at the same time underscores the importance of two critical elements of nonviolent change: vision and action.

U.S. Bows Out After Plowshares Conviction is Vacated: Appeals Court Ill-Informed on Nuclear Overkill

JOHN LAFORGE – Finally, after three years of legal wrangling and 24 months in jail and prison, a successful appeal decision has hinted at what a kangaroo Kabuki dance the trial was. Last May, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, voting two-to-one, threw out the “sabotage” convictions, declaring, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent [sabotage] when they cut the fences… Nor could a rational jury find that the defendants had that intent when they engaged in the protest activities outside.” U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, writing for the majority said, “It takes more than bad publicity to injure the national defense.” The Appeals Court decision could have been challenged by the Justice Department with an appeal to all 23 judges of the 6th Circuit, but on June 22 the government threw in the towel.

Breaking the Cycle: How to Build Sustainable Peace Using Contact Theory

THOMAS B. ETZEL – Contact Theory, a central tenet of peace building, was first developed in the 1950s by renowned researcher Gordon Allport, and is based on the belief that separation and unfamiliarity between conflicting groups can, and often does, breed negative attitudes such as stereotypes and prejudices which can potentially escalate into hostility and violence.

More than 325 Actions for Peace and Justice across the U.S. this Week

REV. JOHN DEAR – Starting Sept. 20, more than 350 demonstrations, marches, vigils and other public events will be held all across the U.S., covering every state, as part of the second annual “Campaign Nonviolence” week of actions. Tens of thousands of people will be gathering and taking to the streets to speak out against all the issues of violence, including poverty, war, racism, police brutality, gun violence, nuclear weapons and environmental destruction, and call for a new culture of peace and nonviolence as Dr. King envisioned.

Campaign Nonviolence Lights a Spark of Peace

RIVERA SUN – Once a year, Campaign Nonviolence invites thousands of people to light a spark of active nonviolence in communities nationwide. This spark is then nurtured and fed year-round to build a light of nonviolence that shines brightly in our world. Through classes, films, speakers, actions, and campaigns for change, this fire of nonviolence can be tended into a central hearth for a whole community, growing a life-changing force that helps humanity evolve.

Maine Sail Freight Revives Salty History of Revolution, Independence

RIVERA SUN – In this new millennium marked by the looming threat of transnational trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), one unusual trade adventure, Maine Sail Freight, will embark on a creative and bold journey as an act of defiance against what has become a poor standard of business-as-usual. When Maine Sail Freight launches its maiden voyage at the end of August carrying 11 tons of local, Maine-made cargo, the Greenhorns – a plucky band of young farmers – and the sailing crew of a historic wooden schooner are declaring their independence from corporate tyranny and re-invigorating sail freight as a wind-powered transportation agent of the booming local food economy. And, interestingly, they will be carrying one freight item that has a long history of revolutionary potential: salt. Yes, salt.

Fracking Fight Heats Up in Ohio

TISH O’DELL [Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund] – With the oil and gas industry already reveling in a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision stripping local control on fracking and other extraction activities away from communities, the Secretary of State has now handed the industry another victory, opening the door for fracking infrastructure projects to spread even faster across Ohio.

Stop Committing the Sin of Nuclear Weapons

REV. JOHN DEAR – Los Alamos sits above the second poorest county in the U.S. and is located in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country. The land was originally stolen from indigenous peoples by the U.S. government. Radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory was routinely dumped into the canyons below and has poisoned the water, the land, the animals, and the indigenous people. Annually, Los Alamos Labs spends $2 billion for the sole purpose of preparing the weapons that have the potential to kill millions of people. That’s why I call Los Alamos “the world’s greatest terrorist training camp.”

Tell Your Senator to Oppose War on Iran

DAVID SWANSON – If both proponents and opponents of the nuclear agreement with Iran depict Iran falsely as a nuclear threat, the danger of a U.S. war on Iran is going to continue, with or without the deal. The deal could end with the election of a new president or Congress. Ending the agreement could be the first act of a Republican president or a Schumerian Democratic Leader. So, don’t just urge the right vote while pushing the propaganda. Oppose the propaganda as well.

Resist the Pro-Violence Conspiracy

DAVID SOLEIL – As thoughtful, caring parents, we would never want to teach our kids that violence is the answer to any or every problem. We want our children to learn to get along with others, share, be kind, say “excuse me,” and try their best at an empathetic, “I’m sorry.” I thought I was attuned to the violence that surrounds us in American culture. However, a trip to our local department store with my kids yesterday was shocking. We stepped into the toy aisles. Here is a quick rundown of the toys and action figures, in order…

Historic Peace Ship Is Re-Launched

ARNOLD OLIVER – Along the rugged coast of northern California’s Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20th marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. As we shall see, the Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

Eyewitness Reports on Life in Afghanistan

MARTHA HENNESSY – Despite uncertainties over the future, the APV community pursues small but significant efforts at the Borderfree Center. They give a fine example of how a community can cooperate toward reaching shared goals, rather than compete. Roses keep blooming in Kabul amid the chaos and dust, and a tiny light of joyful collaboration remains graciously alive.