PETER BERGEL – Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has the unenviable task to sentence the Kings Bay Plowshares actionists recently found guilty of conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation and trespassing for a 2018 anti-nuclear weapons protest at Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia. I write to her urging a very light punishment, for the very specific reason that issuing such a sentence is to act in the service of gratitude. I invite you to write your own letter.
DIANE RUSHCAMP – Organizing means bringing people together around an issue we all can relate. In this spirit, explain why an action is being requested, and when using acronyms, take the time to spell them out.
DAVID MCCANN – At a time when news of banking scandals is uncomfortably frequent, a new report says that last year only 17% of global banking organizations â€œclawed backâ€ compensation payments previously made to employees. The survey of financial-services institutions by the consulting firm Mercer was not expansive, with only 42 banks participating (in addition to 18 insurance companies and three other types of firms). Still, the results may suggest that regulators are not achieving the objectives of their persistent calls for banks to implement clawback policies.
NICKOLAS C. ARGUIMBAU – This is a response to Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article, “Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is,” Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math. Bill McKibben has once again put his heart and soul into an attempt to stop global warming. That’s more than most of us can say, and I’m afraid much more than I can say. Remember that. He is, like every living, breathing being on this earth, our friend. The stunningly well-written call to arms has apparently at this time already been read 450,000 times on-line and received 3105 written comments.
DAVID SWANSON – Dennis Trainor, Jr., has produced a full-length movie of the Occupy movement, and he’s done a hell of a great job. The Occupy movement was created, as are all movements in the United States, in large part by the corporate media…
CRAIG CLINE – The title of the book is true to the authorâ€™s intent: to explore both the historical and the psychological-social-spiritual events that took place in the 1960s. He makes this exploration personal; a memoir of his own journey and â€œhealingâ€ — from his old self to his new one.
ERIN E NIEMELA – As the NATO summit approaches in May, throngs of peace protestors are expected to descend on Chicago to pressure the U.S.-led, 28-nation military alliance for an end to the war in Afghanistan. But for some activists, it will be too late to protest the greatest threat to a peaceful Afghanistan: the signing of the U.S.-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement.
CRAIG CLINE – Former Vice President Dick Cheney is the fortunate beneficiary of a heart transplant. I hope his new heart has more compassion than his old one did.
CRAIG CLINE – Last summer, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, a law that requires the DoD to reduce its enormous â€œbudgetâ€ by close to $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
NY TIMES EDITORIAL – It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed â€” in some cases, orchestrated â€” by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.
MARK WIGG – Canada has a surplus of crude oil and the US is pretty much their only market. About 20% of our oil now comes from Canada. According to todayâ€™s Toronto Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/crude-glut-in-us-suppresses-canadian-oil-prices/article2330013/) , we are paying $30 less per barrel for tar sands oil because they have no place else to sell it. This is why oil companies want the Keystone XL Pipeline. They want to export oil from Texas.
NORMAN SOLOMON – On a recent day in Petaluma, two very different events spotlighted grim results of upside-down priorities from the federal government.
Upwards of 600 people gathered for an early breakfast at the Veterans Memorial Hall to raise money for the Committee on the Shelterless (COTS), a nonprofit organization that last year sheltered nearly 2,000 individuals, served more than 127,000 hearty meals and distributed 800,000 pounds of food to the needy.
JIM COOK – Many people have cell phones. Many of those love their phones, and some are so attached to them that they should seriously consider a surgical implant. I am not one of this crowd and, when I was working, only carried a cell phone under protest and rarely turned it on. I figured “why make myself available day and night to any fool who can dial a phone?”
DAVID BALL – I am writing to you today to pass on some information that I came upon recently that I thought you at Oregon PeaceWorks might be interested in. This is bipartisan in nature and is aimed at both Democrats and Republicans.
PATRICK T. HILLER – A new, citizen-driven nonviolent reality is emerging in the escalated war on drugs in Mexico.
NORMAN SOLOMON – In times of war, U.S. presidents have often talked about yearning for peace. But the last decade has brought a gradual shift in the rhetorical zeitgeist while a tacit assumption has taken hold — war must go on, one way or another.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The facts all point to this â€œinconvenient truthâ€ — the time has come to shut down Californiaâ€™s two nuclear power plants as part of a swift transition to an energy policy focused on clean and green renewable sources and conservation.
PETER BERGEL – I was among the 800 or so who turned out in Salem, OR on Feb. 26 to support preservation of Wisconsin public employeesâ€™ collective bargaining rights and protest the increasing domination by corporations of our political and economic system. It was one of those heady moments when ordinary people scent the distant fragrance of â€œthe power of the people.â€ With the rest of the crowd, I cheered the speakers, smiled at my fellow demonstrators and agreed with others that something seems to be happening at last.
RON LOWE – Let’s cut to the chase about the Tea Party. Do you want to spend another year listening to their hypocrisy and tomfoolery? Could it be that Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and Republicans, are getting away with their lies because their base and many Americans are simply dumber than they are?
PETER BERGEL – Former U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford wrote in his journal on March 20, 1990, â€œArtists and peace workers are in it for the long haul and not to be judged by immediate results. Redemption comes with care.â€ Seeing the results of last monthâ€™s election, it would be easy to get discouraged. Thatâ€™s why Staffordâ€™s words are important. It reminds us that to deserve the name â€œpeace worker,â€ we must take a long view, dedicating ourselves to a lifelong challenge.
CRAIG AND CHERIE CLINE — We have given our personal support to a great many â€œanimal issuesâ€ organizations over the past 40 years. We think it would be highly beneficial for all of the organizations (and at least indirectly beneficial for all the animals) if they were to better engage and network with each other. Their â€œcommon causeâ€ is, of course, various kinds of animals and the effects of human actions, or inactions, on those animals.
CRAIG CLINE — I want to recommend a “must read” book for anyone who wonders why our country is still at war after nine years. We wage war – -despite the deep wounds and dreadful deaths that it imposes not only on our so-called enemies, but also on ourselves.
PETER BERGEL — Hereâ€™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 donâ€™t.
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 â€œbest thinkingâ€ 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 â€œmovementâ€ needs so desperately to rethink its overall strategy.
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 â€œborrowingâ€ 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 workersâ€™ 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.
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 canâ€™t — sorry.
I have been thinking about a verse from Leonard Cohenâ€™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 â€“ a sure sign that it speaks to many kinds of people.
BARRY-LEE COYNE: Whether you are a conservative or liberal or lie somewhere in between, I have a challenging question to pose: Do you really want to suffer from the pitfalls of Government-on-the-Cheap?
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: The Golden Rule is in danger. No, not the famed ethical code — though proponents of selfishness certainly have ignored it — but a thirty-foot sailing ship of the same name that rose to prominence about half a century ago.
BECKEY SUKOVATY: When desperate Haitian earthquake victims tried to save themselves or rescue others by looking for resources needed to survive in the collapsed buildings of Port-au-Prince, they were often branded â€œlooters.â€ New Orleans residents in dire need after Hurricane Katrina were similarly condemned.
NORMAN SOLOMON: The new budget from the White House will push U.S. military spending well above $2 billion a day. This isnâ€™t â€œdefense.â€ Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.
PETER BERGEL: In an enormously provocative article entitled â€œAre Americans a Broken People? Why We’ve Stopped Fighting Back Against the Forces of Oppressionâ€ psychologist Bruce E. Levine divines what ails the American body politic.
TOM H. HASTINGS: Howard Zinn has crossed over. He was a mensch, a historian and a peace and justice activist. He was not convinced that nonviolence was always the answer, but he often provided expert testimony for nonviolent resisters seeking help in conducting a robust defense of their actions in opposition to militarism and injustice.
NORMAN SOLOMON: When the U.S. military began a major offensive in southern Afghanistan over the Presidentsâ€™ Day weekend, the killing of children and other civilians was predictable. Lofty rhetoric aside, such deaths come with the territory of war and occupation.
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.
WINSLOW MYERS: There is big money in polarization, as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other media kingpins understand all too well. But one of the many tragic by-products of our polarized political culture is the demonization of conservatives by progressives.
NORMAN SOLOMON: In his triumphant speech on election night, the next senator from Massachusetts should have thanked top Democrats in Washington for all they did to make his victory possible.
PETER BERGEL: The government and the Pentagon are right. Our national security is definitely at risk. Afghanistan? Iraq? Al Qaeda? Small potatoes. Yemen? Iran? Even smaller. Nope, the big threats are not military. Nor can they be addressed by the military.
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: The recent furor over an unsuccessful terrorist attempt to blow up an airliner is distracting us from considering the possibility of a vastly more destructive terrorist act: exploding a nuclear weapon in a heavily-populated area.
CRAIG CLINE: On January 4th, the Statesman Journal ran an Associated Press article entitled: â€œMost state budgets on path to even leaner times.â€ The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that state budgets are likely to fall $180 billion short for the new fiscal year. According to the Pew Center on the States, our own Oregon is ninth among the ten â€œworstâ€ states, and 30th among all states, with a 14.5 percent budget gap for 2009-10 (as of July 2009).
LETTERS: 1) “Lack of Draft Leads to Apathy” from Carla Mikkelson; and 2) A poetic letter, “Where Does the President Go?” from Virginia Bailey or Portland, OR.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER: Thereâ€™s no armor, it turns out, for conscience. So our men and women are coming home from the killing fields wounded in their heads, used up, greeted only by the militaryâ€™s own meat grinder of inadequate health care and intolerance for â€œweakness.â€
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER: Thus far, most of the supporters and opponents of escalating the U.S. war in Afghanistan have focused on whether or not it is possible to secure a military victory in that conflict. But they neglect to consider that, in war, even a winner can be a loser.
RANDALL AMSTER: What if they held a war and no one came? No one was out in the streets, no one paid the “big speech” much mind, no one asked for permission to protest, no one wrote an open letter to the President. No one enlisted for it, no one paid for it, and no one watched it on television.