Category: What’s Happening In the Movement

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.

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.