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Things that humans are probably stuck with: eating, drinking, breathing, sex, love, friendship, anger, fear, joy, death, hope and change.
Things that some humans used to commonly claim humanity was permanently and inevitably stuck with (but have stopped thinking about in those terms, even if the thing is still around): monarchy, slavery, blood feuds, dueling, human sacrifice, cannibalism, corporal punishment, second-class status for women, bigotry toward GLBT, feudalism, Eric Cantor.
Things that humans illogically, baselessly, shortsightedly, and absurdly assume must always be with us, as if nothing had ever changed before: environmental destruction, war, mass-incarceration, capital punishment, police forces, religion, carnivorianism, extreme materialism, nuclear energy and weaponry, racism, poverty, plutocracy, capitalism, nationalism, the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Senate, the CIA, guns, the NSA, Guantanamo prison, torture, Hillary Clinton.
The year 2014 will be remembered as yet another year in which we inched closer toward environmental and militarized catastrophe, but also perhaps as a year in which crisis and enlightenment combined to open a few more eyes to the full range of possibilities available.
How often have you heard things like "We can't end war, because there is evil in the world, but we can end unjust wars" or "Renewable energy is a nice idea but can't actually work (even though it works in other countries)" or "We need police -- we just need accountability when certain police officers perform badly" or "We could legalize drugs but we'd still need prisons or we'd all be raped and killed" or "If we don't kill murderers we'll have more murder (like all those countries that have abolished capital punishment and have less murder)" or "We need reforms but we can't survive without the CIA or something like it -- we can't just not spy on people" or "Ever-increasing environmental destruction is inevitable"?
That last one could be true if feedback loops have already taken the earth's climate to a point of no return. But it can't be true in terms of human behavior. Nor can any of the others. And I suspect a lot of people see my point and agree with me on it. But how many view all of the above sentences as ludicrous?
A serious argument could be made that a human utopia should be policed by a police force. But no serious argument can be made that a police force is an inevitable accompaniment of our species, a species that saw 99% of its existence unpoliced. Most people in the small number of places that are at war take no part in it. Nations go for centuries without war. Homo sapiens went most of our existence without war. Massive institutions cannot be inevitable. Hunger and love are the kind of things that are inevitable. We ought to start hearing assertions of inevitability for institutions as ridiculous nonsense. Doing so might be the most serious action we can take.
Of course reforming a criminal justice system a little bit is the proper first step whether you think another step can follow or not. But the direction of the step may vary if you have a different final destination in mind. There's a difference between ending a war in order to be better prepared for other wars, and ending a war because it kills people and exemplifies an institution that should be dismantled and eliminated. Both efforts can have the same short-term result, but only one has the potential to go further and help avoid the next war.
An argument -- I hesitate to call it serious -- could be made that pretty much everything is going well, and that nothing much should be altered. Not only can such an argument be made, but it is subtly and powerfully made by just about everything that is ever said on our televisions and in our newspapers. It does not, however, add up to any argument that everything must inevitably continue unchanged, that nothing can be slowly or rapidly made over into a different sort of world.
We need to resolve to realize that nothing has been resolved, history has not ended, questions of politics have not been settled -- and that they never will be, that the very idea is incoherent. And isn't that what makes life worth living?
Jonathan Newton is founder of the National Association Against Police Brutality ( http://naapb.org ). He discusses steps that can be taken to address the problem, including eliminating the conflict of interest involved in police investigations of themselves.
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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S. House of Representatives' 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.
Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot
The 1,648-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.
Buried on page 2,179 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled "Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing," the bill's passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, "In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”
Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry's application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air, groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process.
At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an "educational meeting" with Udall's staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S. environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.
IPAA's publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S. public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.
This weekend I participated in an interesting exercise. A group of activists staged a debate in which some of us argued that peace and environmental and economic justice are possible, while another group argued against us.
The latter group professed to not believe its own statements, to be dirtying itself with bad arguments for the sake of the exercise — in order to help us refine our arguments. But the case they made for the impossibility of peace or justice was one I hear often from people who at least partially believe it.
A core of the U.S. argument for the inevitability of war and injustice is a mysterious substance called “human nature.” I take belief in this substance to be an example of how thoroughly U.S. exceptionalism pervades the thinking of even those who oppose it. And I take exceptionalism to mean not superiority over but ignorance of everybody else.
Let me explain. In the United States we have 5 percent of humanity living in a society dedicated to war in an unprecedented manner, putting over $1 trillion every year into war and preparations for war. Going to the other extreme you have a country like Costa Rica that abolished its military and thus spends $0 on war. Most nations of the world are much closer to Costa Rica than to the United States. Most nations of the world spend a small fraction of what the United States spends on militarism (in real numbers or per capita). If the United States were to reduce its military spending to the global average or mean of all other countries, suddenly it would become difficult for people in the United States to talk about war as “human nature,” and going that last little bit to complete abolition wouldn’t look so hard.
But isn’t the other 95 percent of humanity human now?
In the United States we live a lifestyle that destroys the environment at a far greater pace than do most human beings. We flinch at the idea of radically reducing our destruction of the earth’s climate — or, in other words, living like Europeans. But we don’t think of it as living like Europeans. We don’t think of it as living like South Americans or Africans. We don’t think about the other 95 percent. We propagandize them through Hollywood and promote our destructive lifestyle through our financial institutions, but we don’t think about people who aren’t imitating us as humans.
In the United States we have a society with greater inequality of wealth and greater poverty than in any other wealthy nation. And activists who oppose this injustice can sit in a room and describe particular aspects of it as part of human nature. I’ve heard many do this who were not faking their beliefs.
But imagine if the people of Iceland or some other corner of the earth got together and discussed the pros and cons of their society as “human nature” while ignoring the rest of the world. We’d laugh at them, of course. We might also envy them if we listened long enough to catch on to what they supposed “human nature” to be.
10 December 2014. After many months of preparations, the IPB is delighted to announce the launch of the all-year-round Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS). Today is Human Rights Day, so the timing is very appropriate! Today's launch sees the unveiling of our new Campaign website - at the same address as the GDAMS one: www.demilitarize.org. Check it out! See the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) brochure for a full description.
The new campaign was announced today at the Future of Human Rights Forum event entitled 'Divest from War: Invest in Our Future' at the UN in Geneva. You may check out Global Day for specific information about the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS).
What you can do:
- Disseminate this info through your networks--website, newsletter, social media, e-groups
- Start planning your group's events/actions -- for the next Global Day (April 13, 2015) or at any other time.
- Consider longer-term plans for involvement in the GCOMS World Congress, to be held in BERLIN on 23-25 Sept 2016. You may wish to join the 'prepcomms' before that.
- Send us your news, proposals, pictures, videos, comments.... let's make this an ongoing festival-of-protest against the militarism of our times!
- Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In recent years, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has come under fire for disallowing scientists working for the Canadian government to speak directly to the press.
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
An article published in August by The New Republic said "Harper's antagonism toward climate-change experts in his government may sound familiar to Americans," pointing to similar deeds done by the George W. Bush Administration. That article also said that "Bush's replacement," President Barack Obama, "has reversed course" in this area.
Society for Professional Journalists, the largest trade association for professional journalists in the U.S., disagrees with this conclusion.
In a December 1 letter written to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the society chided the Obama administration for its methods of responding to journalists' queries to speak to EPA-associated scientists.
"We write to urge you again to clarify that members of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the twenty other EPA science advisory committees have the right and are encouraged to speak to the public and the press about any scientific issues, including those before these committees, in a personal capacity without prior authorization from the agency," said the letter.
"We urge you...to ensure that EPA advisory committee members are encouraged share their expertise and opinions with those who would benefit from it."
UNAC is the major national antiwar coalition in the U.S. today. The existence of a United National Antiwar Coalition is vital and we need your financial support to continue our work and to expand.
With U.S. wars today accelerating and expanding globally in various forms – from drone attacks on Yemen and Pakistan, never-ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, support to neo-fascists in Ukraine, and proliferating Africom forces to threats of war for regime change in Syria – we have an obligation to do whatever is possible to educate the public and to take action to stop the carnage.
The wars abroad are connected to global warming with most wars fought over energy resources with the U.S. war machine as the largest polluter.
At home, we see hugely growing income inequality, a militarized and racist police force, mass incarceration of Blacks and Latinos, and a massive police state apparatus that includes global surveillance and laws to quell dissent.
In spite of the trillions spent by the U.S. corporate war government and its controlled media propaganda machine to keep us in check, the people are fighting back. We’ve been inspired and strengthened by the hundreds of thousands of new activists taking to the streets of this country to stop police brutality, to build Occupy encampments, to fight for decent wages, to demand full rights for immigrants, to win marriage equality, to end global warming, to demonstrate solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza, and to protest unending U.S. wars.
UNAC has played an active, often leadership role, in all of the antiwar and social justice movements of our time. While most activists are focused on their particular issues, the most vital role we can play is to connect the issues to their source. All of the injustices and crimes we protest, stem from the imperialist insatiable drive for expanding profit and control – and the U.S. is the largest imperialist power militarily and economically. When there should be plenty for all, only the obscenely wealthy benefit while the rest of the 99% struggle just to survive.
Some of our recent major accomplishments:
· Initiated protest against NATO and 15,000 marched in Chicago in 2012.
· Called for immediate actions against threats of war and coups directed at Libya, Iran, No. Korea, Africa, Latin America, Ukraine, and maintaining the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
· Organized a national tour for Afghan leader Malalai Joya.
· Sent representatives to international NATO protests and conferences.
· Serve on the Board of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms to act against Islamophobia , racist attacks on Muslims, and attacks on our civil liberties.
· Participated in national efforts to organize anti-drone actions.
· Campaigned to defend victims of government repression who speak out and expose Washington’s crimes, including Rasmea Odeh, Mumia abu Jamal, Lynne Stewart, Chelsea Manning, and the Midwest activists targeted by the FBI.
· Produced national educational conference calls featuring experts on topics such as U.S. intervention in Africa, the destruction of Libya, the developing wars in Syria, and others.
· Built an antiwar contingent in the massive New York City Climate Change march and built Climate Change action in other cities around the country.
· Helped organize protests against Israel’s attack on Gaza
· Helped organize protests against the murder of Blacks by white police and the militarization of the police forces in the U.S.
UNAC has a history of bringing hundreds of activists together at large national conferences to learn about the issues of the day, to discuss the way forward and to vote on an Action Program for the coming period.
The UNAC conference next May will bring activists from all the movements in motion to cross-fertilize these struggles. We are particularly dedicated to bringing young activists together to support and learn from each other. For this, we need your help to offer subsidies to leaders from Ferguson, from the border wars in the southwest, from the Native Americans who are fighting against the pipelines ruining their lands, from the Students for Justice in Palestine, and many others.
Please give generously so that we can continue our work to bring harmony and justice to the peoples of this earth.
You can send a check to UNAC at PO Box 123, Delmar, NY 12054 or click the button below to contribute on-line with your credit or debit card.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Attorneys representing Denton, Texas, the first city to ban hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in state history, have issued rebuttals to the two lawsuits filed against Denton the day after the fracking ban was endorsed by voters on election day.
Responding to lawsuits brought by attorneys with intimate Bush family connections — with complaints coming from both the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association — the Denton attorneys have signaled the battle has only just begun in the city situated in the heart and soul of the Barnett Shale, the birthplace of fracking.
In its response to the Texas Oil and Gas Association, Denton's attorneys argued the Association did not provide sufficient legal evidence that the Texas constitution demarcates the Texas Railroad Commission or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as the only governmental bodies that can regulate or permit fracking.
"Nowhere in...the Petition as a whole, does Plaintiff identify what regulations have been passed by the Texas Railroad Commission or the Texas Commission or Environmental Quality that allegedly occupy the 'entire field' rendering the [ban] preempted and unconstitutional," wrote the attorneys. "City requests the Court to order Plaintiff to replead that claim with greater specificity to meet those fair notice requirements."
The Denton attorneys also argued that fracking is a "public nuisance" and "subversive of public order" in defense of the fracking ban.
What the world needs to see now!
A broad diverse and determined movement in this country to stop the crimes by our government committed in our name acting to:Stop the U.S. War Machine of Drones and Secret Operations; Close Guantanamo NOW and End Indefinite Detention; End Vast Surveillance of Whole Populations; Stop Mass Incarceration and Solitary Confinement; End The Global Destruction of Our Planet; Stand Up Against the Culture of Bigotry and Patriarchy
The biggest NEED is YOU.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
by Debra Sweet Years & thousands of miles apart, the same message sent to a government which brings death.
by Debra Sweet We Stand With Shaker is a new campaign calling for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, a legal British resident, with a British wife and 4 British children, who is still held at Guantánamo, even though he has twice been approved for release by the US authorities under President Bush in 2007 &
OUTRAGEOUS — the Grand Jury announces: no indictment on any of the possible charges against the cop who shot Michael Brown to death this summer. Protesters, we are with you! We need standards in our movement; no turning in or on protesters. We WILL defend your right to protest; and your just demands. We'll give you a platform to speak, and support your right to be on the scene of the state's crimes.
By Dave Lindorff
What’s wrong Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s killing of the unarmed 18-year-old black teenager, Michael Brown, and with a Grand Jury decision not to indict him for that outrageous slaying, is what is wrong with American law enforcement and American “justice” in general.
Both actions were permeated not only with racism, which clearly played a huge rule in both the verdict rendered by a Grand Jury composed of nine whites and only three blacks, and in this tragic police killing by a white cop of a black child, but also by a mentality on the part of police -- and apparently by at least a majority of the citizen jurors on a panel evaluating Wilson’s actions -- that cops are authorities who must be obeyed without question, on pain of death.
Here is audio (mp3) of Katherine Gun answering a question at a forum in London. She was asked what people should do. Of course, we love her answer. We also recommend listening to the entire forum which included some great friends and heroes:
- Matthew Hoh, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former US embassy representative in Afghanistan who became the highest-ranking U.S. official to publicly renounce policy in Afghanistan in 2009.
- Coleen Rowley, an attorney and former FBI special agent who was among the first to expose some of the agency’s pre-9/11 failures, and was one of three whistleblowers named as Time Magazine’s persons of the year in 2002.
- Norman Solomon is the coordinator of ExposeFacts.org and the author of a dozen books on media and public policy including *War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death*.
- J. Kirk Wiebe is a retired National Security Agency whistleblower who worked at the agency for 36 years until October 2001. Since then, he has made several key public disclosures regarding the NSA’s massive surveillance programmes.
- Katharine Gun is a former translator for the GCHQ who leaked a top secret memo in 2003 revealing NSA spying operations at the UN. Gun was subsequently charged under the Official Secrets Act but the case was dropped after the prosecution offered no evidence. Given the backdrop of impending war with Iraq at the time, Daniel Ellsberg called Gun’s leak “the most important and courageous” he had ever seen.
- World Peace is highly desirable.
- World Peace is possible.
- There’s a law against war.
- Everyone should know the law against war.
- The public is almost totally ignorant of the law against war.
- Ignorance of the law is unacceptable.
- I can do my part in educating the public.
- The pen is mightier than the sword.
- An informed public can demand accountability.
- I can write a peace essay.
If you are one of these 100 people please join the WSFPC Peace Essay Contest before the end of 2014. The Rules are attached. Winners will be given cash awards up to $1,000 and will be announced on August 27, 2015.
Also. PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW WEB ADDRESS: www.faithpeace.mennonite.net
West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition
$1,000 for First Place Peace Essay
The West Suburban Faith-Based Peace Coalition is once again sponsoring a Peace Essay Contest with a $1,000.00 award to the winner, $300 for the runner-up, and $100 for third place. As in the previous year’s contest, essays will have to be directed to a person who can help promote knowledge of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (KBP) and, from whom a response is expected. Essays will be judged not only on the quality of the essay but on the impact of the response. Everyone is eligible to participate; there are no restrictions regarding age or country of residence. Participants are required to take the following 3 steps:
1. To enter the contest send a Peace
Essay Request email to coordinator Frank
Goetz at email@example.com. Provide your Name, Mailing Address, Email Address, Phone Number, and, if under 19, Age. Also, provide the Name and Position of the person or persons to whom the Essay will be directed. Your application acceptance as a contest participant will be acknowledged in an email containing your assigned 4-digit Essay Number. [If information is missing or confusing you will be contacted by email or phone.]
2. In 800 words or less write your essay on: How Can We Obey the Law Against War? As soon as possible but at least by April 15, 2015 send the essay to the person named in your application and a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org with your Essay Number in the Subject line.
3. By May 15, 2015 send Essay Response documentation to email@example.com with your Essay Number in the Subject line.
Some examples of impact:
- The President agrees to explain the limitations placed on the government by KBP.
- A member of congress supports a resolution to make August 27 a Day of Reflection.
- The ACT or SAT administration agrees to include questions regarding KBP.
- A newspaper includes a KBP story.
- A school board revises its curriculum to expand KBP studies.
- A religious leader calls for nonviolent actions.
Act now: We may have to limit the number of contestants and it takes time to get responses. We will announce the Winners at a festive event honoring the 87th Anniversary of the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 2015.
Originally posted a AcronymTV
When President Barack Obama appointed venture capitalist and former Verizon and ATT lobbyist Tom Wheeler as chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), it sent shudders down the spines of anyone concerned with the concept of net neutrality.
Last spring, it may have seemed an impossible task for activists and the Internet itself to defend net neutrality, but to date, they have.
by Debra Sweet Vice, the youth-oriented news/culture site, has broken new ground this week in featuring a series on Guantanamo. Extradordinary, because it gives voice to prisoners and disaffected former guards. See "What Happens When I Try to Give My Guantánamo Guards Presents" by prisoner Enad Hassan, and My Time as a Guantanamo Bay Guard by Terry Holdbrooks.
by Debra Sweet After many years of protest from within the organization, the American Psychological Association says it will review the organization's role in facilitating “enhanced interrogation” by the CIA and the U.S. military.Or as the world knows it — torture.
It's becoming slightly more common in the Western industrialized world to propose radical cultural change away from consumerism and environmental destruction. It's not hard to find people making the case that in fact nothing else can save us.
But we should have one eye on what our governments and billionaires are doing to educate the rest of the world with the way of thinking that we are beginning to question.
What if the United States were to radically reform and abandon its role as leading destroyer of the environment and leading maker of war in the world, and we were to discover that U.S.- and Western-funded institutions had in the mean time created billions of teenagers around the globe intent on each becoming Bill Gates?
The remarkable film Schooling the World brings this warning. It is not an overly simplistic or dreamy argument. It is not a rejection of the accomplishments of Western medicine or a pitch for adopting polytheistic beliefs. But the film documents that the same practice that "educated" thousands of young Native Americans into second-class U.S. citizens through forced boarding schools is running its course in India and around the world.
Young people are being educated out of kindness and cooperation, and into greed and consumerism, out of connections to family and culture and history, and into a deep sense of inferiority of the sort created in the U.S. by the separate-but-equal educational system of Jim Crow. People whose families lived happily and sustainably are being taken away from their villages to struggle in cities, the majority of them labeled as failures by the schools created to "help" them -- many of them cruelly introduced to a modern invention called poverty.
Eliminated in the process are languages -- referred to in the film as ecosystems of the mind -- and all the wealth of knowledge they contain. Also eliminated: actual ecosystems, those that once included humans, and those simply damaged by heightened consumption rampaging around the globe. Young people are not taught to care for local resources as their parents and grandparents and great grandparents were.
And much of this is done with the best of intentions. Well-meaning Westerners, from philanthropic tourists to World Bank executives, believe that their culture -- that of industrial extraction, competition, and consumption -- is good and inevitable. Therefore they believe it helpful to impose an education in it on everyone on earth, most easily accomplished on young people.
But is a young person's removal from a sustainable healthy life rich in community and tradition, and their arrival in a sweatshop in a crowded slum, as good for them as it looks in the economic statistics that quantify it as an increase in wealth?
And can we see our way out of this trap while screaming hysterically about the glories of "American exceptionalism"? Will we have to lose that stupid arrogance first? And by the time we've done that, will every African nation have its own Fox News?
Sign up here:
Thursday, December 4, at 6:30 p.m.
Southern Hospitality, 1815 Adams Mill Road NW, Washington, DC 20009
Join us to celebrate the release of Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better! by Maya Schenwar.
Maya will read from her book and discuss the impacts of prison on families and communities -- and how people around the country are taking action to create a world beyond prison.
Event is cosponsored by Truthout and the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
What people are saying about Locked Down, Locked Out:
"This book has the power to transform hearts and minds, opening us to new ways of imagining what justice can mean for individuals, families, communities, and our nation as a whole. I turned the last page feeling nothing less than inspired."
--Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
"Maya Schenwar's stories about prisoners, their families (including her own), and the thoroughly broken punishment system are rescued from any pessimism such narratives might inspire by the author's brilliant juxtaposition of abolitionist imaginaries and radical political practices."
--Angela Davis, author of Are Prisons Obsolete?