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Protest Obama's War-Addiction at AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles This Weekend

There will be a protest when Obama speaks at the convention.

Los Angeles, CA

Monday, Sept 9th at 3 PM

Tell Pres. Obama – No War!

Convention Center at 1201 S. Figueroa St (Southwest corner of Figueroa & Pico Blvd)

Contact: 323-306-6240, iacenterla@peoplesmail.net

 Anyone in the area, please join.

Busted for Playing Banjo on Independence Mall: Park Rangers Brutally Arrest Iraq War Vet at Anti-Syria Bombing Demo

By Dave Lindorff


Independence Mall, Philadelphia -- The US has yet to launched President Obama’s latest war crime of massively bombing Syria -- a country that does not threaten this nation -- and already federal police thugs, in this case National Park Service Rangers, have brutally arrested an Iraq War Veteran who was peacefully playing her banjo in the shade on Independence Mall in Philadelphia following an anti-war protest and march.


September-October 2013 War Criminal Appearances

Here's our list of the September-October 2013 War Criminal Appearances/Protests. Please join or help organize a demonstration in a city near you. Reproducible posters and leaflets along with other information is available at the War Criminals Watch website. 

Public opposition halts march to war: Obama Backs Down, Seeks Congressional Okay for Syria Attack

By Dave Lindorff


The forces arrayed in Washington propelling the nation into a war against Syria, including the Pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the cabal of neo-conservative pundits and “think” tanks, whose ranks include President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, the arms industry, the oil industry and other groups, are very powerful, and it may well be that eventually sheer momentum will lead to a US bombing attack on Syria. But for the moment, a grass-roots anti-war campaign has triumphed. 


Charlottesville Forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria

A free, public, town-hall forum on Preventing a U.S. Attack on Syria: why and how.

Wednesday, September 4, 6:30 p.m.

Sign up to attend on FaceBook now
http://on.fb.me/15njYej

Friends Meeting House
1104 Forest Street
Charlottesville VA
(map http://mapq.st/15GOooV )

Speakers:
Helena Cobban
John Whitehead
Dave Norris
Roy Hange
David Swanson
and You

Helena Cobban is the founding owner of Just World Books, a Charlottesville-based book publisher. Previously, she had a long career as  a writer and researcher on world affairs, focusing on the Middle East. She speaks Arabic and has reported and written extensively about Syria for nearly 40 years. Her 2000 book on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks of 1992-96 was published by the U.S. Institute of Peace. From 2008 through 2011 she was a member of the U.S.-Syria Working Group of Search for Common Ground. She is a member of Charlottesville Friends Meeting (Quakers) and sits on the board of Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. He is president of the Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization.  He authors a widely syndicated column and hosts a national public service radio campaign.  His most recent book is A Government of Wolves.  See Rutherford.org.

Dave Norris has served as a Charlottesville City Council Member or Mayor since 2006. He's executive director of the Charlottesville Institute.  Norris has served as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Blue Ridge, Executive Director of PACEM, Associate Director of Madison House, and Interim Director of the Public Housing Association of Residents.  He is founder of the Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival.  He has been a leading advocate for anti-war resolutions on Charlottesville City Council and in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, spoke at the Military Industrial Complex at 50 conference and will be MCing the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice's 30th anniversary celebration on September 21st. See CvilleDave.Blogspot.com.

Roy Hange is a Mennonite pastor who has spent 30 years studying Western Asia (the Middle East).  He has lived for 3 years in Egypt, 6 in Syria, and 1 in Iran.  Hange has taught peace building at Eastern Mennonite University and the University of Virginia. See CharlottesvilleMennonite.org.

David Swanson is the author of books including War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.  He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. Swanson blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization RootsAction.org.  Swanson also works on the communications committee of Veterans For Peace, of which he is an associate (non-veteran) member. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

Sponsored by WarIsACrime.org, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Amnesty International Charlottesville, Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine.

Listen to Coy Barefoot Show on Syria.

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Critical Mass Ride Against Bombs in Syria!

5pm Dupont Circle - Bikes Not<br />
                Bombs

5pm Dupont Circle
Friday, August 30, 2013.

Si se puede y se hace!

"The bombs in Vietnam explode at home – they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

The drums of war have again intensified. In the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon, the press, the think tanks, the war-profiteers… but we, the people, are not silent. Fifty years after the historic March on Washington, we continue the dream - of a world based on justice, solidarity, mutual aid, dialogue, peace.The struggle did not end in '63, and the spirit remains alive. International and national outrage is growing in the face of new war, our solidarity is slowing the imperialists… let's not stop now!

As Syrians wait to see if they will join the long list of nations the US war-machine has bombed over the years, we say that no longer will we tolerate more racist, imperialist wars. We reject the notion that bombing Syrians will make them safer. History cannot repeat itself. President Obama must listen to the words of Martin Luther King, when he said that "the security we profess to seek in foreign adventures, we will lose in our decaying cities. The bombs in Vietnam explode at home – they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America."

As we fight war, we also reject the surveillance state that is being set up around us. As we work to dismantle the corporate war-machine, we also work to dismantle the New Jim Crow, the school-to-prison pipeline, the manufactured housing crisis, poverty, racism, materialism, militarism…

Join us on Friday, August 30, at 5pm in Dupont Circle as we take our message to the streets and on our bikes! Wear your helmets, signs, whistles, lights, and bring your affirmation for a new world. Ride with us. We seek to construct the "decent America" of which we dream. We are doing it!

Hands off Syria! A new world is being created!

Meet at DUPONT CIRCLE at 5pm, Friday August 30, 2013.



facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/529341947135767/



UK Peace Movement Stopped Cameron, Continues to Help Us Try to Stop Obama


Stop the War bulletin | August 2013 | stopwar.org.uk


We stopped Cameron, but Obama still plans war: demonstrate tomorrow

The defeat of Cameron's war plans last night was a historic moment.

It represented the victory of mass anti-war opinion over the interests of the UK elite that has been enthusiastically participating in US-led wars over the last decade and more.

There can be no doubt that the hundreds of demonstrations, protests, rallies and pickets of the last twelve years  have been central to bringing the war makers low and making it impossible for Cameron to join in another catastrophic attack.

Congratulations to every single person who has taken action against war over those years. Protest has been successful.  We have made a difference.


Obama and the US remaining allies are still committed to an attack on Syria. Britain was the key US ally. Forcing Cameron out of the war is a big blow to the west's war plans. Now we must redouble our efforts to stop any attack on Syria.

The world will be watching London tomorrow, we need the biggest possible turnout to send a message around the globe that the anti war majority is staying in the streets.

Please do everything to spread the word there is a facebook event here.

To keep the pressure up we are calling a picket of the US embassy on Tuesday 3 September at 5.30pm. More details to be announced shortly.

No to Bombs on Syria

by Debra Sweet      It's looking like the U.S. — notwithstanding President Obama's speech about "justice" and "freedom" today at theMarch on Washington 50th anniversary — will launch air strikes on Syria in the next few days.  It's essential that visible protest in advance of, and in reaction to, such attacks are as strong as possible.
Protest Thursday August 29:

President Obama Pardon Pvt. Manning

The sentence given in the Manning case is by far the longest given by the US government for anyone convicted of leaking information.  Supporters in at least 17 cities were out Wednesday to protest quickly.  There are demands for clemency, reduction of the sentence, and for a presidential pardon.

San Francisco Rallies for Chelsea Manning

By Cynthia Papermaster


To: Codepink, Bradley Manning Support Network, Courage to Resist, World Can't Wait, Answer, Veterans for Peace, friends working for justice and truth

From: Cynthia "Fasting Brain" Papermaster
Re: Report on Bradley Manning Sentencing Rally yesterday in San Francisco

About 150 folks gathered last night from 5-6:30pm in Bradley Manning Plaza (aka Justin Hermann Plaza), at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco, to thank Bradley, now Chelsea, for her courage and sacrifice, and to call for her pardon.

Immense thanks to Lisa Geduldig, one of the best organizers I have ever worked with.  Thanks to all who pulled this off so beautifully. Joey, thank you for being MC. Rainey, it was such an honor to meet you and I'm glad you like Doug Minkler's "Total Surveillance State Park" poster he asked me to give you. I'll be in touch about the invitation to speak at a showing of "Terms and Conditions May Apply" in Berkeley.

The rally saw a coalition come together very quickly: Codepink Women for Peace, Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace, Courage to Resist, World Can't Wait, Answer, Asian Americans for Peace, the Berkeley Fellowship. The way cool Bradley Manning Flash Mob performed twice, Vic Sadot sang "Courage to Resist" about Bradley and potential in all of us to resist, Francis Collins sang beautifully, Paul Matzner read his poem written for the occasion, "In Praise of Bradley Manning".

 

Great crowd, weather, banners, speakers, music, poem, flash mob, photographers and videographers, support team, heart, spirit, intention. We made a serious group comment on his harsh sentence and our conviction that Bradley is a true hero, a great patriot and truth-teller with the courage few have to take brave action and then face the consequences.
 
Bradley Manning is not alone....  we are not going to stop working for her freedom. 
 
Enjoy this slideshow of the rally:


10-minute video of the rally by Carol Harvey:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J253hSr4WSY

More media coverage is being gathered; will forward soon.

Cynthia Papermaster, Codepink Golden Gate, Berkeley No More Guantanamos

Now on day 69 of my hunger strike* in solidarity with prisoners at Guantanamo and Pelican Bay. PLEASE call the White House 202-456-1111 and tell Obama I'll end my hunger strike when he begins to free the 86 cleared-for-release Gitmo prisoners. Sign Codepink petition to Clifford Sloan, Guantanamo Envoy: http://codepink.salsalabs.com/o/424/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7145
Cynthia Papermaster,  510-333-6097, cynthia_papermaster@yahoo.com   www.closegitmo.net    www.codepink.org

London Telegraph: Is Manning's Sentence "Too Lenient?"

Ray McGovern: Initial Comment on 35-yr Sentence for Bradley Manning

My London Telegraph interview yesterday, Skyped/taped right after the sentence was announced, ended up being “sanitized” to cut out unwelcome material – a reminder of why live interviews are always better.  It’s only six minutes, though, and perhaps worth a quick look.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/10258142/Video-debate-Was-Bradley-Mannings-sentence-too-lenient.html

I figured the Telegraph might try to set me up; here’s how the interview started:

“As Bradley Manning is jailed for 35 years for the biggest leak of classified documents in American intelligence history, the Telegraph's Tim Stanley debates with a Manning supporter about whether the sentence is too lenient.”

James Marriott presents his new book: The Oil Road: Journeys From The Caspian Sea To The City Of London

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 7:00 p.m.

At C'ville Coffee
1301 Harris Street, Charlottesville, VA

Flyer: PDF.

Sign up at http://on.fb.me/151cYTY

★★★★★…The Oil Roadopens the lid on the often-shady energy economy, weaving absorbing travel reportage into powerful investigative journalism…. If you want to know why oil matters, read this book.” - Time Out (book of the week)

“An elegantly written travel book…will make you think the next time you fill the tank.”Financial Times

“As global powers scramble for the last of the world’s diminishing resources, comes this book – well researched and written with empathy, integrity and imagination. It is timely and much needed.”Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love

In a unique journey from the oil fields of the Caspian to the refineries and financial centres of Northern Europe, Platform tracks the concealed routes along which the lifeblood of our economy is pumped. The stupendous wealth of Azerbaijani crude has long inspired dreams of a world remade. From the revolutionary Futurism of Baku in the 1920s to the unblinking Capitalism of modern London, the drive to control oil reserves – and hence people and events – has shattered environments and shaped societies.

Sponsored by Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Charlottesville Sierra Club, WarIsACrime.org, and Charlottesville Amnesty International.

Because of Bradley Manning, We Know

by Debra Sweet         The judge's verdict in Bradley Manning's case, which was outrageous, came quickly after the guilt phase of the court martial. Bradley admitted breaking some laws in the service of greater good; exposing systemic, widespread abuse, murder, injustice and war crimes by the government, and faces most of his life in prison, while those who run the wars with impunity get called "humanitarians" and become Nobel Prize winners.

March on Washington Against War

United for Peace & Justice
Click here for a downloadable set of commemorative posters for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Please join United for Peace and Justice in commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on August 24th in our nation’s capital. We need a strong peace and anti-war contingent to echo King’s words about the inextricable links between racism, poverty and war.  Let’s make sure Dr. King’s message is loud and clear on this anniversary of the March on Washington and I Have A Dream speech.  Click here to read Michael McPhearson’s blog on the significance of this march.

UFPJ Plan of Action for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington: Shining a Light for Peace, Jobs, Justice and Freedom

We will gather together in Washington DC and in communities across the country to commemorate this great march and to renew our commitment to keep marching for a just future.  We are taking an action for peace in Washington DC on Friday night and we will be making our call for peace, jobs, justice and freedom visible throughout the day on Saturday.  We hope you can join us.  

Whether you're coming to DC or commemorating the event locally, click here to download posters.

Friday Night, August 23: ACT FOR PEACE

Assemble at 8 PM at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for some commemorative words and wreath laying, followed by the Light Brigade visuals at the Reflecting Pool and candle light procession to the MLK Memorial where we will close with some more words and wreath laying ceremony

Saturday, August 24: SHINE A LIGHT

8am-10am: Meet-up at 14th and Constitution to pick up signs and information to distribute. Find a buddy and help get the peace message out!   To volunteer, email info.ufpj@gmail.com

11am: Assemble near the Vietnam Veteran Memorial near the paths north of the reflecting pool under the trees, between 21st and 22nd Street. There are not reserved spaces for the march, so it may be very crowded. We will look for each other and gather if we can, and if not we will all be out there making the message of peace visible for all to see.  The march will begin around 12:30pm.

For the full schedule of events for the weekend, click here

Waging Peace

By Leah Bolger

Pauling Lecture, Oregon State University,  Power Point

Good evening.  I want to thank the committee for inviting me to speak with you this evening—it is such a pleasure to be here. 

When I received the letter from Professor Clinton congratulating me on being nominated as the 30th person to receive the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Lectureship for World Peace, I was stunned!  After I went to the website and read the names of the 29 others who had given this lecture in years past, I became increasingly filled with a sense of honor, humility and gratitude that I had been chosen to follow in the footsteps of such notable intellectuals and activists as ***John Kenneth Galbraith, William Sloane Coffin, Noam Chomsky, Robert Kennedy Jr., and Grace Lee Boggs, not to mention the 8 Nobel Laureates:  ***Linus Pauling, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Mairead Maguire, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Jose Ramos-Horta, Betty Williams, Rigoberta Menchu, and Jody Williams.  And now my name was going to be added to this prestigious list.  I started feeling a strong sense of burden and responsibility to live up to the honor that had been given me.  What could I possibly tell an audience that would be worthy of this lectureship?  Even calling it a “lecture” gave me a sense of responsibility that I have not felt with any other speech or presentation that I have given.  Although I enjoy telling people that by serving 20 years on Active Duty in the Navy, I am now able to live off of my military pension and work as a full-time volunteer peace activist, I have only been an “activist” for the past 6 years or so—a relative novice compared to so many others who have dedicated their lives to peace and justice.  And so, I went very quickly from feeling elated that I had been chosen to give this lecture, to feeling a bit inadequate and unsure of what to say.

Briefly, on Bradley Manning & Changing the World

 There is, and should be, serious debate and discussion of how Bradley Manning affected our world by transferring a trove of classified US documents revealing war crimes to Wikileaks in 2010, and of his apology for doing so yesterday,

A New Holiday Is Being Created for Peace

When I wrote When the World Outlawed War, I was struck by the significance of a forgotten day, a day matching the description in the 1950 folk song that begins "Last night I had the strangest dream . . . "  On this day, August 27, 1928, the major nations of the world sent representatives to a room in Paris, France, in which they signed a treaty banning war and committing to the peaceful settlement of all disputes. 

The treaty they signed, which is still on the books, has been used over the decades to prevent wars, end wars, and prosecute war makers.  The Peace Pact is listed as in force on the U.S. State Department website (open the document, scroll to page 454). But, unlike a corporate trade agreement, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is, shall we say, less than strictly adhered to -- or even remembered.

Few people strolling down Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota, have any idea that it's named for Frank Kellogg or who he was. 

They're about to find out.

At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, a resolution will be introduced and voted on by the St. Paul City Council.  This resolution is being brought forward by Council member David Thune for the purpose of proclaiming August 27, 2013, to be "Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day" in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing.

Council member Dave Thune's ward includes Kellogg's former house.  Thune will be introducing the proclamation at the request of St. Paul residents, including members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of Veterans For Peace. The Kellogg-Briand Pact  "renounces war as an instrument of National Policy" which is the exact wording found in the (more recently created) Statement of Purpose of Veterans For Peace. 

Here is the resolution that is being introduced:

Whereas Frank Billings Kellogg has rightly been honored around the world, including with a Nobel Peace Prize presented to him in 1930,

Whereas Frank Kellogg is honored in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where his ashes lie, and where the Kellogg window in the Kellogg Bay bears these words: "In grateful memory of Frank Billings Kellogg, LL.D., 1856-1937, Senator of the United States from Minnesota, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Secretary of State, a Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Joint Author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in Fidelity to American Ideals he served his nation with conspicuous ability and sought equity and peace among the nations of the world, his body rests in this cathedral,"

Whereas Frank Kellogg's family moved to Minnesota in 1865 and Kellogg moved to St. Paul in 1886, and Kellogg's home from 1899 to 1937 was the house at 633 Fairmont Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is now a National Historic Landmark,

Whereas Frank Kellogg's name is remembered in St. Paul as the name of Kellogg Boulevard, but memory of what Kellogg did to merit such honors is fading,

Whereas Frank Kellogg as U.S. Secretary of State heeded the passionate and almost universal desire of the people of this and other nations for peace, and in particular the proposal of the Outlawry Movement to legally ban war,

Whereas Frank Kellogg surprised his State Department staff and many others in 1927 by working carefully and diligently to bring many of the world's nations together to ban war,

Whereas war had not previously been a crime, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact made it one, resulting in a nearly complete end to the legal recognition of territorial gains made through war, and resulting in the prosecution following World War II of the new crime of making war,

Whereas the wealthy well-armed nations of the world have not gone to war with each other since those prosecutions -- the elimination of war upon and among the world's poorer nations remaining an important goal toward which greater recognition of the Kellogg-Briand Pact might contribute,

Whereas the Kellogg-Briand Pact is recognized as in force by the U.S. State Department with 84 nations currently parties to it, and the pact open to any other nations that choose to join,

Whereas the Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads in full, "The High Contracting Parties solemly [sic] declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.  The High Contracting Parties agree that settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means,"

Whereas compliance with the law is more likely to occur if we remember what the law is,

Whereas then French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand remarked at the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 1928: "For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations.  Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end. . . . [S]elfish and willful war which has been regarded from of old as springing from divine right, and has remained in international ethics as an attribute of sovereignty, has been at last deprived by law of what constituted its most serious danger, its legitimacy.  For the future, branded with illegality, it is by mutual accord truly and regularly outlawed so that a culprit must indur the unconditional condemnation and probably the hostility of all his co-signatories,"

Therefore, in hopes of encouraging awareness of the work of Frank Kellogg and of the peace movement of the 1920s that moved him to action, the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, proclaims August 27th to be Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day.

On August 27th a celebration is planned at the Kellogg house.  Meanwhile, in Illinois, an award ceremony is planned for the winners of the first annual essay contest dedicated to the question "How Can We Obey the Law Against War?"  But why shouldn't there be celebrations everywhere?  Why not recognition for Salmon Oliver Levinson of Chicago, whose movement persuaded Kellogg to act?  Why not remembrance of Kellogg in Washington, D.C., where he's buried?  Why not celebration of the activists of the 1920s who made up the Outlawry Movement, and who were from every part of the United States and many other nations?  Why not a day of celebrating peace and advancing the cause of the abolition of war, including by collectively urging new nations to sign onto the Peace Pact?

Here's a petition that can be signed, and the signatures from any town or state printed out to be used in local lobbying.  St. Paul is leading the way, but it need not do so alone.  The petition reads:

"We support local, state, national, and international legislation that would make August 27th a holiday in honor of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Peace Pact, that was signed on this date in 1928. The International Pact which renounced war as an instrument of national policy and committed nations to settling disputes exclusively by peaceful means was passed into U.S. law in 1929 with only one Senator in opposition. The co-authors were Republican Secretary of State Frank Kellogg from Minnesota and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. Kellogg won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Pact is still U.S. and International Law."

The Noah Principle: Put Up or Shut Up

The Moral Imperative of Activism -- Like Now

August 12, 2013

Editor Note:  Today’s crises – endless war, environmental catastrophe, desperate poverty and more – can seem so daunting that they paralyze action rather than inspire activism. But the imperative to do something in the face of injustice defines one’s moral place in the universe.  (With apologies for failing to find a recent photo of Aquinas)

By Ray McGovern

That America is in deep moral and legal trouble was pretty much obvious to everyone before Edward Snowden released official documents showing the extent to which the U.S. government has been playing fast and loose with the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures.

War Criminals Appearances / Protests August - September 2013

Here is the August-September 2013 list war criminals appearances in the US.   Check out a demonstration in you areas or plan one yourselves. We're here to assist if you need it.  

 

George W. Bush

9-9-13 Denver CO

Dick Cheney

The Bradley Manning Trial: A Charade

by Terri Suess           Under the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles, a soldier's responsibility is to do exactly what Bradley Manning did – expose any and all war crimes. NurembergPrinciple VII states, "Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

Watch the video of "Collateral Murder" – the Army's own videotape of soldiers shooting unarmed reporters and civilians and laughing about it. Then tell me if Bradley Manning –who released this information to the public – is the war criminal.

Now Two States Pursue Truly Affordable Education

Maryland may soon join Oregon in exploring solutions to the crisis of student debt and unaffordable education.

Education is supposed to be a human right.  But the United States puts people into deep debt to pay for it.  Short of taxing billionaires or dismantling bombers (both of which we're all, I hope, working on), what's the solution?

The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  See Katrina vanden Heuvel: An Oregon Trail to End Student Debt.

This is not a plan to make education truly free, and that would probably be ideal.  But this is not, I think, a step that would move us away from that goal -- in the way that strengthening but tweaking the private health insurance system arguably moves us away from a single-payer solution.

This is, however, a plan that makes college tuition at state universities initially free.  Students would pay nothing up-front and borrow nothing from loan sharks.  Then they would pay the state back 3% of their income for some number of years, possibly 20.  The graduate who brings in $100 million per year would hand over $3 million.  The graduate who brings in $10,000 would pay $300.  While the purpose of an education for many students may not be related to money, in terms of money one is paying for what one gets.  If you buy an unmarketable skill, you pay nothing for it.  Some have responded by calling this perfect capitalism, while others have noted its correspondence with the ideal of "from each according to his/her means."  This system also seems fair to those not interested in college: they pay nothing.

There are shortcomings, of course.  Wealthy users of private universities contribute nothing to public universities under this scheme.  Pursuers of high-paying careers might drift in greater numbers toward private universities, if they can afford to.  A big investment is need to start this up, and then long-term trust in the public system is needed to keep it going in the face of inevitable pretenses that it's collapsing like Social Security (which -- breaking news! -- is not collapsing).  Most importantly, perhaps, the Oregon model covers only tuition. Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

But this is a creative possible step forward that could someday spread to every state and to private institutions as well, which might discover it is needed for them to compete. 

RootsAction.org members in every state and Washington, D.C., recently emailed their state legislators by the thousands asking them to set up commissions similar to Oregon's and to seriously pursue solutions to unaffordable education.  You can do the same.

Here's the email that's being sent (you can edit it): 

"As a constituent, I urge you to consider:

"The state of Oregon has passed a law creating a commission to study a plan called "Pay it forward. Pay it back."  Under this plan, tuition at state universities will not be paid upfront or borrowed from loan sharks.  Graduates will pay the state back by handing over 3% of their income for some number of years.

"The Oregon model could be improved.  As proposed it covers only tuition.  Room and board and books should be included as well, or the problem of student debt won't be solved.

"Getting such a program started will take serious investment and political will.

"For our children and our grandchildren, please exercise the sort of leadership needed and move our state toward treating education as a right, not a privilege."
 

Almost immediately, RootsAction heard from Maryland State Delegate Kirill Reznik who said he had been considering this idea and wanted to move on it now.  He sent out this announcement:

"DELEGATE KIRILL REZNIK TO INTRODUCE “PAY IT FORWARD, PAY IT BACK” INITIATIVE IN 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

"(ANNAPOLIS, MD) August 2, 2013 Following the recent passage of the 'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back' bill that overwhelmingly passed the Oregon State Legislature in July, Delegate Kirill Reznik (D- Germantown) plans to introduce a similar bill in Maryland. If passed, Maryland would become the second state to explore alternative options to the mounting student loan debt epidemic.

"'Pay It Forward, Pay It Back,' is an idea that originated out of a Capstone Seminar on student debt out of Portland State University, generating an innovative solution to student loan debt. Whereby students would go to college tuition free and then give back a small percentage of their gross annual income over the next 20-25 years until their tuition was paid in full. Ironically, Oregon passed the “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” bill on the same day that Congress voted to double student loan rates.

"Delegate Reznik will be introducing legislation to authorize a study to determine whether or not such an idea will work and how best to roll it out.

"'Receiving a higher education is the most effective way to promote economic mobility. Unfortunately, the cost of education shuts out those opportunities for too many Marylanders. As the State with the best public education system in the country, we should also be on the forefront of expanding higher education. The economic opportunities that will come along with this innovative approach will make Maryland a top destination for business and industry,' said Delegate Reznik.

###

"Delegate Kirill Reznik is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing the 39th District in Montgomery County. His district includes the areas of Gaithersburg, Germantown, Montgomery Village, Washington Grove, North Potomac and segments of Darnestown, and Derwood. He began serving in the House of Delegates in October 2007, and sits on the Health Government Operations committee. He was currently appointed to serve as the Chair of the County Affairs Committee within the Montgomery County House Delegation."

Now, the question arises: What about your state?!

Remaking the World from Madison Wisconsin

I'm on my way to Madison, Wisconsin, and I hope you are too, and not just for the beer and (veggie) bratwursts.  Here are seven other good reasons:

·      The Student Power Convergence, Aug. 1-5 (ending now, but folks sticking around).

·      The Democracy Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      The Veterans For Peace Convention, Aug. 7-11.

·      Marking the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki together with opponents of war.

·      The opening of Dirty Wars with after-screening talks with Jeremy Scahill.

·      The daily singing and protesting in the state capitol!

·      And the big town hall meeting, Aug. 7, on "Illegal Wars, Torture & Spying: Millions Demanded Bush's Impeachment; Should Obama be Impeached for Continuing Bush's Crimes?"

Activists are converging on Madison, allowing for cross-fertilization and creative planning of future actions for peace and justice in the United States.  I recently invited Roshan Bliss of the Student Power Convergence, Ben Manski of Democracy Convention, and Doug Rawlings of Veterans For Peace to discuss these events on my radio show, Talk Nation Radio.  Click and take a listen.

The town hall on impeachment is, I think, the first of its kind I will speak at since Obama moved into the White House and began continuing the crimes for which a majority of Americans in various polls favored Bush's impeachment.  It's not that I've turned down other invitations.  It's not that I haven't been invited.  This is the first Impeach Obama (for sane reasons) meeting I've heard of.  Check it out.  Also speaking: Coleen Rowley, Debra Sweet, Buzz Davis, Don McKeating, Joe Elder -- and you if you can make it.

The VFP Convention is the 28th such event.  Veterans For Peace, a leading antiwar organization with members in every U.S. state and several other countries, will hold its 28th national convention at the Concourse Hotel at 1 Dayton Street.  The convention, open to veterans and non-veterans, will feature speakers, entertainers, and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to the advancement of peace and the abolition of war.

Free public events include:

Lanterns for Peace,commemorating Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aug. 6, 7-9:30 p.m. Tenney Park Shelter
Poetry Night, Aug. 7, 8-10:30 p.m. Room of One's Own Bookstore, 315 W Gorham Street
Activist Night with national and local speakers, open mic, music, Aug. 8, 7-10 p.m., Concourse Hotel Ballroom
Rally and Peace Parade, families invited, bring peace banners, Aug. 10, 4 p.m., State Street and Capitol Square
Tribute to Lincoln Grahlfs, Aug. 11, 9-11 a.m., Capitol Lakes Retirement Center, 333 West Main Street
Iraq Veterans Against the War Art Exhibit, Aug 7-11, Rainbow Bookstore, 426 W. Gilman Street

Speakers at the VFP convention include:

Elliott Adams, former VFP president, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Carlos Arredondo, Costa Rican-American peace activist and American Red Cross volunteer.
Leah Bolger,former VFP president, Drones Quilt Project.
Paul Chappell,
Iraq War veteran, author, peace leadership director at Nuclear Age Peace Fdtn.
Ben Griffin, UK war resister.
Tarak Kauff, Vietnam War veteran, VFP board member, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders.
Sister Maureen McDonnell, OP, Dominican sister of Sinsinawa and a spiritual guide.
Michael McPhearson, Gulf War veteran, national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice.
Patrick McCann,
Vietnam War resister, president of Veterans For Peace.
David Newby,
founder of U.S. Labor Against the War and former President of WI AFL-CIO.
Scott Olsen, Iraq War veteran, shot in the head at Occupy Oakland.
John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders.
Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine.
Paul Soglin, mayor of Madison.
Margaret Stevens, VFP board member and Director of the Urban Issues Institute at Essex County College.
Nick Turse, journalist, historian, and author.
Mike Wiggins Jr., tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.
S. Brian Willson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Diane Wilson, Vietnam veteran, author, activist, fisherwoman, hungerstriker to close U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
Col. Ann Wright (ret.), recently returned from meeting with families of drone victims in Pakistan.
James Yee, former U.S. Army chaplain at Guantanamo, falsely accused of "aiding the enemy."

Entertainers at the convention will include Lem Genovese, Ryan Harvey, Solidarity singalong, Forward Marching Band, Madison Raging Grannies, Watermelon Slim, Honor Among Thieves, Jim Walktendonk. Also Regis Tremblay will be screening his new film The Ghosts of Jeju. A drones quilt will be displayed during the convention.

Workshops at the VFP convention will include such topics as: Veterans farming, Creating a culture of peace, Educating the community, Agent Orange, Nonviolent bioregional revolutionary strategies, Debt and death: making clear the costs of war, Labor's role, Environmental disaster, the United Nations, Helping homeless veterans, Palestine, Veteran suicide, Military sexual trauma and suicides, Voices of Iraq: resolution, reconciliation, reparation, The written word for peace and reconciliation, Bradley Manning and G.I. resisters, The perversion of just war reasoning, U.S. policy in the Middle East, The long war for central Asia, Building peace in Vietnam, and Abolishing war as an instrument of national policy.  The full program is available at http://VFPNationalConvention.org

Democracy Convention - register nowGar Alperovitz who authored an important book on the decision to drop the nuclear bombs on Japan will be in town, but he'll be speaking at the Democracy Convention on the topic of worker ownership and how people can create enough power to fix our broken democracy. He recently discussed his new book on Talk Nation Radio. Take a listen.  Peter Kuznick, another great writer on the nuclear decision, currently in Japan with Oliver Stone, was also a recent guest. Listen here.

The Democracy Convention is a real movement and coalition building project pulling together activists from a wide variety of sectors to find strength and inspiration in numbers.  Several conferences will overlap and interact, including:

The Race and Democracy Conference.

The Earth Democracy Conference.

The Democratizing Defense Conference.

The Constitutional Reform Conference.

The Education for Democracy Conference.

The Economic Democracy Conference.

The Media Democracy Conference.

The Representative Democracy Conference.

The Local Democracy Conference.

Think for a minute about who you'd most like to see leading conferences on those topics.  Then click the links, and in most cases I think you'll find that they are doing so! We hope you can join us!

The Democracy Convention website describes Madison thus:

"You've seen the images and reports of the mass protests in Madison. The Wisconsin uprising was the first wave of the global anti-austerity protests to arrive in the United States. But it should be no surprise that Madison, Wisconsin, is at the center of the national movement against corporate power and economic austerity.

"Since Wisconsin statehood, in the revolutionary year of 1848, Madisonians have led the way, co-founding and leading the National Organization for Women (NOW), United States Student Association (USSA), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), Sierra Club, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and four national political parties: the early, radical Republican Party, and then later, the Progressive Party of the 1920-30s, and the New Party and Green Party. Madison, Wisconsin, has long served as the capital city of the heartland of the progressive movement.

"Today, the Madison Common Council and Dane County Board are populated with progressive alders and supervisors, and a newly returned mayor, Paul Soglin, famous for his progressive leadership as mayor in the 1970s. Madison is a labor city with a very high density of union membership, as well as a center of the cooperative and credit union movements; nearly half the population of Madison belongs to some form of cooperatively owned and operated economic enterprise.

"If you've ever visited Madison in late August, you know you're in for great weather in a wonderful city. Join us this August 7-11 in downtown Madison, near the now world-famous Wisconsin State Capitol, easily one of the most stunning buildings in North America. In visiting, you will have the opportunity to take part in our downtown farmers market, one the world's largest, and the nation's oldest. You can also take some time off on the shores of one of Madison's four (or five, depending on how you count them) major lakes. If you've been wanting to return to Madison and Wisconsin, or to visit for the first time, August 7-11 will be the time to do that."

Celebration of the Life of Quaker Bayard Rustin, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Friends Meeting of Washington
2111 Florida Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Sunday, August 25, 2013

2:00pm -- Quaker-style worship

3:00pm -- Light refreshments

3:30pm -- “Brother Outsider” film & panel discussion with filmmaker Bennett Singer (schedule permitting), Mandy Carter (National Coordinator Bayard Rustin 2013 Commemoration Project National Black Justice Coalition), David McReynolds (War Resisters League)

http://quakersdc.org/directions

Sponsored by Friends Meeting of Washington Peace & Social Concerns Committee and endorsed by American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation

Friends Meeting of Washington is just north of Dupont Circle Metro (Red Line)

For more information, contact Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee:

smcneil@afsc.org or 415-350-9305

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