Category: What’s Happening In the Movement

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.

Corvallis Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuels

KRIS PAUL – The Corvallis, Oregon divest campaign which started last fall came to a successful conclusion with the Corvallis City Council voting to divest on June 15th, 2015. Excited supporters in the audience clapped as the council unanimously voted to pass the resolution and were gently reminded by Mayor Traber that clapping during council meetings is not expected behavior.

Seattle’s Raging Grannies Arrested After Blocking Shell Workers From Access to Arctic Drilling Rig

ALEX GARLAND – The Seattle Police Department (SPD) rose early Tuesday morning, wooed by a swarm of Raging Grannies and other protesters who had gathered at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 bridge and Chelan Avenue South. Protesters attempted to prevent workers from boarding Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer. For a few hours, they succeeded.

Costa Rica Abolished its Military, Never Regretted it

DAVID SWANSON – The forthcoming film, A Bold Peace: Costa Rica’s Path of Demilitarization, should be given every possible means of support and promotion. After all, it documents the blatant violation of laws of physics, human nature, and economics, as understood in the United States — and the violators seem positively gleeful about it. In 1948 Costa Rica abolished its military, something widely deemed impossible in the United States. This film documents how that was done and what the results have been. I don’t want to give away the ending but let me just say this: there has not been a hostile Muslim takeover of Costa Rica, the Costa Rican economy has not collapsed, and Costa Rican women still seem to find a certain attraction in Costa Rican men.

Courage Is Contagious: Manning, Snowden, Assange Stand Up for Freedom

ABBY ZIMET – May Day saw the Berlin unveiling of Anything To Say?, a public art project and “monument to courage” featuring life-size bronze statues of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, all of whom have “lost their freedom for the truth.” The installation in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, a project conceived by American journalist Charles Glass and created by Italian sculptor Davide Dormino, features the three whistleblowers upright on chairs, with a fourth empty chair inviting passersby to express their solidarity or their views, to “stand up, get a better view and share their courageous stance.” Says Dormino, “It is for you.”

Nuclear Weapons Protesters’ Sabotage Conviction Overturned — Court Says Jury Verdict Was Not Rational

JOHN LAFORGE – An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove — and that “no rational jury could find” — that the three had intended to damage “national defense.”

Arresting the Wrong Suspects

JOHN LAFORGE – Here at the United Nations, talk is focused on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (N-P.T.). At about 11 a.m. Apr. 28, I was handcuffed with 21 other nuclear realists after blocking an entrance to the US Mission. I say “realists” because US media won’t pay much attention to US violations of nuclear weapons treaties unless somebody is taken off to jail. Barrels of ink are used detailing Iran’s non-existent nuclear arsenal. The US has about 2,000 nuclear weapons ready to launch and used as ticking time bombs every day by presidents — the way gunslingers can get the dough without ever pulling the trigger. Deterrence it is not.

Leading Whistleblowers Call for Congressional Action

JOHN HANRAHAN – On Monday, April 27, seven prominent national security whistleblowers called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed 4th Amendment right to be free from government spying. Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.

Nuclear Legacy Calls for Action

RIVERA SUN – Nowhere is Hannah Arendt’s phrase the banality of evil more potent than at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The prosperous county -one of the nation’s richest – sits amongst the piñon pines and junipers in the high-altitude desert of northern New Mexico. It exists almost exclusively for the purpose of researching and developing nuclear weapons.

TV Ad Airing in Las Vegas Asks Drone Pilots to Refuse to Fly

DAVID SWANSON – This advertisement does a number of things in 15 seconds that U.S. television has not done before. It presents a moral case against drone murders (the U.S. government’s terminology, and strictly accurate). It opposes drone murders as illegal. It shows victims. It provides the name and website of an organization opposing drone murders. And it directly asks drone “pilots” to refuse to continue. It also makes the Nuremberg argument that an illegal order need not (in fact must not) be obeyed.

Reject Endless, Worldwide War

DAVID SWANSON – We strongly reject President Obama’s request for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) of the U.S.-led war on ISIS. We urge Congress to oppose the request for a war which is endless, not the last resort, illegal by national and international standards, geographically unlimited, and unwinnable. The resultant costs of endless wars are too high and will not lead to the expected outcome. We know that the use of military force in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen has been a failure and has increased violent extremism and recruited volunteers for Al Qaeda and ISIS. There is no reason to believe that further military action will have any different result.

The Abusive Incarceration Of Sister Megan Rice

LINDA STASI – Sister Megan Rice and two other activists broke into the facility outside Knoxville, Tenn., in 2012 to bring attention to the dangers of unimpeded nuclear proliferation. They also exposed gaps in national security by showing how easy it was to get in. Now, Sister Megan lives in horrifying conditions in a single room with 111 other women in the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Militarism in the Air We Breathe

DAVID SWANSON – If there is a group of Americans to whom Iraqis struggling with the health effects of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and all the various poisons of war can relate, it might be the mostly black and largely poor residents of Gibsland, in northern Louisiana.

Inside the Uniform, Under the Hood, Longing for Change

KATHY KELLY – From January 4-12, 2015, Witness Against Torture (WAT) activists assembled in Washington D.C. for an annual time of fasting and public witness to end the United States’ use of torture and indefinite detention and to demand the closure, with immediate freedom for those long cleared for release, of the illegal U.S. prison at Guantanamo.

Celebrate 2014’s Disarmament Success Stories

MINES ACTION CANADA – The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots had a pretty good 2014 but many people view 2014 as a terrible year full of death, war and disease around the world. Fortunately, things are not as bleak as the news makes them look. The humanitarian disarmament world has seen a lot of successes this year and each of these successes is a win for humanity. So let’s recap the good news stories of 2014 in the humanitarian disarmament world.

Nuclear Harbinger: Vermont Yankee Plant Shuttered

JOHN LAFORGE – On December 29, the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor was shut down for good, cancelled 18 years before its license expired. The shutdown comes after thousands of protest actions; widespread uncontrolled leaks of radioactive tritium; the shocking collapse of a cooling tower; operator mismanagement; lying and cover-ups; and the state legislature’s 2010 passage of a “shut-down by 2012” law, a statute later voided by a federal court. Entergy Corp.’s surrender announcement mentioned only “economic concerns.”

Resisting the Unspeakable in Afghanistan

PAT KENNELLY – 2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Yet, there is another possibility, that the old way has not worked, and it is time for change; that nonviolence may resolve some of the challenges facing the country.

Ten Things to Know About the Climate Deal

BILL MCKIBBEN – November 12: Last night, just weeks after the largest climate mobilization ever, the world’s two biggest polluters — the United States and China — announced their most ambitious climate action yet. That is not a coincidence: it’s a sign that our pressure is working, and that we need to apply much more.

Why Don’t We Build a Movement?

KAZU HAGA – What if all organizations in Oakland who work for social justice put down their egos and worked to create a COLLECTIVE work-plan for the next 10 years? Not just deciding to work together on 1 campaign for a year. Actually built integrated workplans that allow us to still do what each of us do best, but with a grand strategy of how we’re all contributing to the same change? What if nonprofits stopped their turf wars? What if nonprofits stopped feeding into the capitalist, individualistic mentality of this culture and took the idea of movements and collaborations seriously? What if we told all of our funders that after spending down our current grant, we’re all gonna change directions slightly and start to work together for real? What if . . .

Massive Protests Lead Guatemala to Reject ‘Monsanto Law’ in Court

TEX DWORKIN – In a landmark decision on September 4, following intense pressure by indigenous people, trade unions, farmer’s organizations and others, the Guatemalan judiciary ruled to suspend the controversial Plant Variety Protection Law, commonly referred to as the ‘Monsanto Law’ because of the multinational biotech company’s involvement in it.

Paying Respects, Pentagon Revives Vietnam, and War Over Truth

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG – It has been nearly half a century since a young antiwar protester named Tom Hayden traveled to Hanoi to investigate President Lyndon B. Johnson’s claims that the United States was not bombing civilians in Vietnam. Mr. Hayden saw destroyed villages and came away, he says, “pretty wounded by the pattern of deception.” Now the Pentagon — run by a Vietnam veteran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — is planning a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War. The effort, which is expected to cost taxpayers nearly $15 million by the end of this fiscal year, is intended to honor veterans and, its website says, “provide the American public with historically accurate materials” suitable for use in schools. But the extensive website, which has been up for months, largely describes a war of valor and honor that would be unrecognizable to many of the Americans who fought in and against it.

Building the Movement to End the Latest Expanded U.S. War in the Middle East

JIM LAFFERTY – If the U.S. public gained a fuller and more honest understanding of what U.S. and U.S. backed Arab states have done that has led to the creation of ISIS, what the true nature of the threat is from ISIS, and the futility and negative blow-back from waging such a war, antiwar sentiment would develop much more quickly and deeply than otherwise. And those who already oppose this new war would be more articulate opponents of it if they, too, had a better understanding of the root problem, its origins, why the U.S. has entered the fray, and why this war is not in the best interests of the people of this nation.

Oregon and Washington Continue to Fund Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

ONWARD OREGON – Although Governors Kitzhaber and Inslee are publicly concerned about fossil fuel exports, other branches of our state governments are investing in infrastructure supporting these activities. Thanks to our friends at Sightline Institute, we see that Oregon and Washington have made substantial investments in enhancing fossil fuel export facilities.

Peace is Breaking Out All Over the World

STEVEN YOUNGBLOOD – A friend and colleague recently wrote me and asked if I, an advocate for peace, was discouraged by the avalanche of violence that seems to be engulfing mankind. It’s certainly easy to get discouraged, or even to abandon the notion that peace is possible, given the new status quo in Ukraine, the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, Ferguson, Missouri, Mexico, Syria, Gaza, Somalia and so on. Against this backdrop, the annual commemoration of the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 seemed futile—like holding a storm awareness seminar in the middle of a category five hurricane. Yes, the big picture seems awful. But it’s not the only picture. That’s why I choose to look instead at a number of other pictures that show peace breaking out all around the globe.

The New War, the Forever War, and a World Beyond War

WORLD BEYOND WAR ISIS STATEMENT – The following is an assessment of the current ISIS crisis. The statement examines: (1) the social context of the destructive violence in Syria and Iraq — where we are; (2) viable nonviolent alternatives — what should be done; and (3) opportunities for civil society to advocate and push for those alternatives — how we can make it happen. The alternatives and pathways toward achieving those are not only preferable from a perspective of humanity, but proven to be more effective.

Guerilla Woolfare: Against the Madness of Mutually Assured Destruction

JAINE ROSE and REBECCA JOHNSON – Editor’s Note: “While Nagasaki Day has come and gone, this innovative project richly deserves to be known by people all around the world, so ‘Ask me what I’m knitting.’” On 9th August – the 69th anniversary of the incineration of Nagasaki by a plutonium bomb code-named “Fat Man” – thousands of people will join the Wool against Weapons demonstration in Berkshire to link up a 7-mile pink knitted ‘peace scarf’ between the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) complexes at Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming!

APPEAL TO THE PEACE AND CLIMATE MOVEMENTS – The developing climate emergency does not exist in isolation. . . . We must understand and confront the social and economic context that produced and accompanies it: war and unlimited military expenditures, corporate globalization, vast social inequality and racism.

Recalling the Lessons of Wisconsin

DAVID SWANSON – A new film called Wisconsin Rising is screening around the country, the subject, of course, being the activism surrounding the mass occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011. I recommend attending a planned screening or setting up a new one, and discussing the film collectively upon its conclusion. For all the flaws in Wisconsin’s activism in 2011 and since, other states haven’t even come close — most have a great deal to learn.

Borderfree Community: Volunteers for Peace in Afghanistan

KATHY KELLY – The Borderfree Center is named for Prof. Noam Chomsky’s call, in a 2013 American University of Beirut commencement speech, for participation in “a worldwide struggle to preserve the global commons” so as to secure “decent human survival in a world that has no borders.” The symbol of their participation is the blue scarf they distribute to friends and supporters, symbolizing the blue expanse of sky upon which national boundary lines will never be drawn.

Apathy or Genocide for Gaza? Citizens Say, ‘Enough!’

ERIN NIEMELA – Israeli, Palestinian and American citizens, between Israelis and Palestinians, we don’t need a “humanitarian pause.” We need actual humanitarians – everyday citizens who work together, rise up and shout “Enough!” to the gunrunning, bloodshed, enmification and apathy. We can end the violence for good and build peace forever – but we have to work together to control those fat, grey leathery legs of war.

Turning Up the Heat on Climate

REGISTER-GUARD EDITORIAL – Eugene city councilors can find plenty of excuses Monday to walk away from an ordinance committing the city to an aggressive strategy for reducing local contributions to climate change. Amid the hubbub over a proposed paid sick leave law, an abdication of leadership on climate change might be little noticed. But the council should reject all excuses and approve the ordinance.