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Protesting pot prohibition while black: Angered by Racist Prosecutions, Activist Makes Inflammatory Name Change Request
By Linn Washington Jr.
Ed Forchion, recognized as America’s foremost black marijuana legalization activist, freely admits that he “agitates” people – powerful people from prosecutors to politicians and even more mainstream anti-pot prohibition advocates who bristle at his antics.
The activism of Forchion, often outrageous like his March 2000 stunt of smoking a marijuana joint inside the New Jersey State Assembly chamber while dressed in bold black and white stripped jailhouse garb, has drawn praise and prison terms.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
In a major ruling that's flown under the radar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit - based in Denver, Colorado - decided not to grant the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Future Oklahoma a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of Transcanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.
The Court's decision hinged on an "injury" balancing test: Would Transcanada be hurt more financially from receiving an injunction? Had it lost, it would be stuck with one until Sierra Club, et al receive a U.S. District Court decision on the legality of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant Transcanada a Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for construction of what's now called the Gulf Coast Pipeline in February 2012.
Or would ecosystems suffer even greater and potentially incalculable damage from the 485-mile, 700,000 barrels per day pipeline crossing 2,227 streams?
In a 2-1 decision, the Court sided with Transcanada, and by extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Court ruled, "the threatened environmental injuries were outweighed by the financial harm that the injunction would cause Transcanada."
Commenting on the case brought by Sierra Club, et al, Judge Jerome A. Holmes and Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. - appointees of President George W. Bush and President George H.W. Bush, respectively - shot down the arguments sharply.
U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit Judge Jerome A. Holmes; Photo Credit: The White House
Holmes and Kelly ruled that Sierra Club, et al failed to show how the pipeline will have a significant environmental impact despite the fact it's been deemed a "fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet" by retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen.
Construction of Keystone XL's southern half - subject of significant grassroots activism by the Tar Sands Blockade and others - is now nearly complete. Tar sands dilbit is slated to begin to flow through it in early 2014.
NWP 12: "New Normal" for Tar Sands Pipeline Approval
After protestors succeeded initially in delaying Keystone XL, Big Oil has chosen a "new normal" stealth approval method: the non-transparent NWP 12.
This avoids the more strenuous National Environmental Protection Act permitting process overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires public hearings and public comments for major federal pipeline projects. NEPA compels the EPA to take comments into account in response throughout the Environmental Impact Statement phase, allowing robust public participation in the process.
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes explained in an interview with DeSmogBlog that NWP 12 is for utility projects with up to a half an acre of stream or wetland impacts, and has never been used for tar sands pipelines before Keystone XL's southern half.
The southern half of the pipeline was approved via Executive Order by President Barack Obama in March 2012, directly after Obama gave a speech in front of a Cushing, OK pipeyard.
President Barack Obama speaks in Cushing, OK in March 2013; Photo Credit: White House
"The Corps is abusing the nationwide permit program. Nationwide permits were intended to permit categories of projects with truly minimal impacts, not tar sands oil pipelines crossing several states," said Hayes.
Utilizing tricky legal loopholes, Transcanada used NWP 12 to push through Keystone XL's southern half in February 2012, calling each half acre segment of Keystone XL's southern half a "single and complete project." The Army Corps of Engineers agreed despite the fact that Transcanada refers to the pipeline at-large as the "Gulf Coast Pipeline project."
"What the Corps is doing is artificially dividing up these massive pipelines, treating them as thousands of individual projects to avoid environmental review," Hayes explained. "In this case, there were 2,227 crossings of federal waterways, so the Corps has treated the Gulf Coast Pipeline as 2,227 'single and complete projects,' each of which qualifies under NWP 12."
Sierra Club Staff Attorney Doug Hayes; Photo Credit: Sierra Club
Why, I asked Hayes?
"The Corps artificially treats these massive pipelines as thousands of individual projects so as to qualify under NWP 12 and avoid NEPA compliance."
NWP 12 has also been utilized by Enbridge for the Flanagan South Pipeline, a 600-mile, 600,000 barrels per day pipeline set to shuttle tar sands crude from Flanagan, IL to Cushing, OK, crossing over 2,000 streams. That pipeline is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2014, demonstrating how NWP 12 is the "new normal" way to fast-track domestic tar sands pipelines.
Dissent: Laws Violated, Economic Harm Transcanada's Fault
Perhaps the biggest irony of the Appeals Court decision is that Judges Holmes and Kelly barely grappled with the central issue of the legal challenge to begin with: using NWP 12 rather than going through the NEPA process.
"The majority opinion avoided addressing the legal questions that are central to this lawsuit - whether the Corps violated the law in permitting this pipeline - and instead it was based on how much money a delay in construction would cost TransCanada," said Hayes.
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly stayed mum about these issues, dissenting U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez - an Obama appointee - did not, pulling no punches in doing so.
U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado Judge William Martínez; Photo Credit: Judgepedia
"Given the totality of the circumstances...I believe the...Gulf Coast Pipeline required a comprehensive NEPA analysis," Martínez wrote.
"There are also no specific findings in support of the Corps' conclusion that the Gulf Coast Pipeline, as a whole, would have minimal cumulative impact. The failure to consider the cumulative effects of all of the water crossings involved in the Gulf Coast Pipeline violates the terms of NWP 12, and, therefore, the approval of the use of NWP 12 for construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline violated the law."
Though Judges Holmes and Kelly grappled with the issue of water crossings - belittling the amount of water Keystone XL's southern half would cross over - Martínez said it's about much more than just water.
There is "real and signifcant harm caused by the actual construction of the pipeline, including the clearing of trees and vegetation, removing topsoil, filling wetlands, building access roads, and clearing an eighty-five foot construction right-of-way for the length of the pipeline," he stated.
Hayes agreed with this assessment, pointing to examples of things the Judges simply ignored in their assessment.
"[T]he court's balancing test ignored the host of environmental impacts associated with this pipeline, including the risks of tar sands oil spills," said Hayes.
"Remember that the 2010 tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan is still being cleaned up, and so far has cost over a billion dollars. It's a bit of a Catch-22 to say that this is all just about a few acres of wetlands loss, when the whole point of this lawsuit is that the Corps avoided analyzing any of the pipeline's environmental impacts as required by NEPA."
Lastly, Martínez put the onus on Transcanada for its economic decision-making.
"Transcanada chose to incur its economic harm by entering into contracts for services before the Gulf Coast Pipeline was approved, even in light of the controversial nature of the Pipeline," said Martínez (emphasis his).
U.S. District Court Decision Forthcoming, Activism Persists
Sierra Club, et al now await a summary judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on whether Keystone XL failed the dictates of NEPA. It's a key decision, Hayes says, because "a ruling in our favor could prevent the Corps from doing this in the future."
While they await this lower court judgment, activists continue efforts to fend off these pipeline projects.
"This decision yet again demonstrates why direct action is necessary. The permitting process for Keystone XL's southern leg was illegal, yet regulators, inspectors, Obama, and the courts are failing to do what is necessary to protect the people and ecosystems threatened by this toxic pipeline," said Ron Seifert, a Tar Sands Blockade spokesman.
"If all the branches of government are so helplessly captured by industry that they will do nothing to stave off climate change, then the people must rise up and take the defense of the environment into their own hands."
Washington - With over 2,000 truckers estimated by organizers due to start arriving in the nation's capitol today, anti-NDAA activists have announced a call campaign to Congress to demand it enact one of the truckers' principle demands, repeal of the NDAA. The National Defense Authorization Act, or the NDAA as it has come to be known, authorizes the US military to detain US citizens without charge or trial, indefinitely, in secret, upon mere suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity.
The truckers are carrying the message "Restore the Constitution." They are gathering at a staging area in Virginia today and will be descending on Washington, DC tomorrow.
All those who defend students’ basic right to protest and oppose police brutality are encouraged to attend the public meeting calling to “Defend the CUNY Six – Drop the Charges Now!” Lending vocal support is crucial, as two of the CUNY 6 will have their first court appearance on October 17th. The public meeting will be held in Room 9.64 (9th floor).
SHUT DOWN RACISM, WAR, JOBLESSNESS & LOW WAGES
NOT GOVERNMENT WORKERS AND PEOPLES SERVICES!
Express your anger and outrage at the government shut down!
PROTEST THIS FRIDAY, OCT 11 – WASHINGTON D.C.
The Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly and the “We Deserve Better” Workers Assembly have voted and consented at our recent organizers meeting to endorse and attend a protest this Friday, Oct 11th called by Local 17 of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who initiated a rally and protest of the government shut down. They are inviting all community groups, other workers and unions, students and activists to bring signs and join the protest.
This Friday, will be the first Friday that government workers should have received their pay.·
When: Friday, October 11, 2013 from 12:00 Noon until 3:00 PM
Where: The West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, E. Capitol Street & First Street NW
(parking is available at Union Station, if you can not find street parking) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/166054733595564/?context=create
People from Baltimore will be car pooling this Friday. Leaving at 10:30 A.M. from 2011 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 – if you would like to reserve a seat please call 410-218-4835.
Those who would like to help make signs please meet at 2011 N. Charles Street, Thursday, Oct 10, from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M.
To sign up on face book: https://www.facebook.com/events/166054733595564/?context=create
By Alfredo Lopez
Recently, Richard Stallman published an article in Wired about Free and Open Source Software  and its alternative, "Proprietary Software". As he has for 30 years now, he vigorously called for the use and defense of FOSS and warned about the nefarious nature of Proprietary.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
On the first day of the federal government shut-down, as hundreds of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Liberty Bell and other fabled sites within the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia, Richard Dyost stood near the building housing the Bell and received a big laugh.
Here's one battle we can win: Help One Women's Rights Hero Defeat Anti-Abortionists Trying to Steal Her Family Farm
By Dave Lindorff
The family farm in America may be going the way of the dodo, thanks to the corrupt political influence of corporate agribusiness, but here's a chance for us all to concretely save at least one family's farm.
By John Grant
All we are saying is give peace a chance
- John Lennon
Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.
Here's the October 2013 War Criminals Appearances/Protests. Let us know if you are planning something in your area so we might assist you and publicize your event. You may download leaflets and posters at www.warcriminalswatch.com
10/2/13 Colorado Springs CO
ThisCantBeHappening! just into its fourth year of publication, has learned that we have won our fourth Project Censored Award, this time for Dave Lindorff's article Incidents raise suspicions on motive: Killing of Journalists by US Forces a Growing Problem, published in TCBH! on Nov. 22, 1012.
Nathan Schneider is an editor of the websites Waging Nonviolence and Killing the Buddah. He reported on / participated in Occupy Wall Street from before Day 1. He has now published Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
From Nick Mottern
Get these cards in a Word doc here.
David Swanson will answer questions about his new book War No More: The Case for Abolition in an online chat hosted by Medea Benjamin. To take part, just be at Firedoglake.com at 5:00pm ET / 2:00pm PT, Saturday, October 5th, for the FDL Book Salon discussion, which will run for 2 hours. To participate and comment, stop by a few minutes early to register and get a password. To just read along, no registration is required.
I recently recommended a great book about the now deceased Occupy Movement, long may it live. Just as important, I think, as contemplating the successes and missteps of such past actions is envisioning the next ones. Rivera Sun has done that in The Dandelion Insurrection. Imagining the game in such a book can inform our studying of the warm-ups we've seen or been part of.
The Dandelion Insurrection is an updated, more accurate, less fantastical Brave New World or 1984. But it's not a dystopian novel. It's a novel about overcoming abuses that now exist or easily might in the next few years. The author says that much of what she imagined has already happened in the time she's been writing the book.
The events of the book, however, -- the insurrection -- have not happened. I recommend experiencing them. It may give you chills or tears. There is not much suspension of disbelief required, quite the opposite. An ounce of belief that people can turn around a destructive course of events ought to open the door to this creative, strategic, and informed imagining of how we, ourselves, in the very near future might do so.
I don't like spoiling fiction, but I recommend reading this book in groups and then discussing it. I'd like to be part of such a discussion. There are ways in which I think a people's nonviolent insurrection are more likely than some of the details here. But I am not inclined to believe we'll be able to control all of the details. The essential ingredients, I think, are here accurately assembled. Two of them are in the book's subtitle: Love and Revolution.
Outside UN, US grandmothers take the protest to the streets
What: Photo Op – Drones Protest w/model Reaper drones coinciding with Pakistan UN Speech
When and Where: Friday Sept 27, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
(a) Fox News, 1211 6th Ave bet 47th & 48th St
(b) NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (49th St) between 5th & 6th Ave
(c) Times Square, 46th & 7th Avenue
Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his delegation will raise the issue of US drone strikes in its tribal regions at the UN Security Council debate on the Role of Small Arms in Conflict on Thursday, September 26, and in the speech of the Prime Minister to the General Assembly on Friday, September 27.
US peace and justice advocates will protest in midtown at the same time, displaying 1/5 scale models of Reaper drones to educate the US public and win support for Pakistani outrage against US drone killings.
"They won't let us get near the UN, but we will be out in the streets in other parts Manhattan to draw attention to the disgraceful conduct of the United States in Pakistan and other countries in the region," said Joan Pleune of the Granny Peace Brigade. "It is particularly important that we do this now, at this moment when the eyes of the world are on New York City during the UN General Assembly meeting and there is heightened attention to the Obama Administration's targeted killing by drone," she said.
The intensified focus by both the Pakistan government and US activists on US drone killings in Pakistan coincides with a growing controversy over the attempts by the US government to block the visit to the US of the leading legal advocate for victims of US drone strikes – Shahzad Akbar. "Representative Alan Grayson, D-FL 9th District, has invited the family of a 67-year-old female Pakistani drone victim to testify before Congress. However, the Department of State has blocked their lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, from appearing before a Congressional ad hoc hearing with the family. Without Mr. Akbar, Rafiq and his family will be unable to come to DC, and their story will never be heard," says filmmaker Robert Greenwald.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Granny Peace Brigade: http://www.grannypeacebrigade.
November 2013 Days of Action against Drones: http://nodronesnetwork. World Can’t Wait http://www.worldcantwait.net/
November 2013 Days of Action against Drones: http://nodronesnetwork.
World Can’t Wait http://www.worldcantwait.net/
September 2013 | stopwar.org.uk
1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester
2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror
3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele
4) International Anti-War Conference
1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester
This Sunday 29 September tens of thousands will join the TUC march on the Tory Party conference in Manchester to defend the NHS and challenge austerity. Stop the War is organising an anti-war block with CND on the demonstration.
We will be in block J on the demo which assembles at 11am, Sunday 29 September Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP.
Look for the 'cut war not welfare' placards!
2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror
7 October is the twelfth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Stop the War is organising a London public rally on the day to discuss the disarray of the War on Terror.
Speakers include Tariq Ali, Sami Ramadani, Lindsey German, and Mitra Quayoom.
3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele
A reminder about the celebratory fundraising dinner on Monday October 14th. Please come, we would love to see you at Ev Turkish restaurant near Southwark tube for 7pm.
Three delicious courses, a flash art auction, raffle prizes, plus after dinner speech by Jonathan Steele, foreign correspondent of the Guardian.
Tickets are going fast and we have a special price of £35 for members or £30 for Friends. If you can get a table of 8 or 10 together, it will be £35 for non members too.
- Book your ticket online or telephone 020 7561 4830
4) International Anti-War Conference
The killings in Nairobi - a product of Kenya's involvement of the western backed invasion of Somalia by Kenya and others - underline the way that the War on Terror continues to destabilise whole swathes of the world.
On the 30 November, Stop the War is hosting an international conference to discuss the state of the War on Terror and strategise for the global struggle against the West's wars.
Speakers include Jonathan Steele, Manik Mukherjee, Owen Jones, Kate Hudson, Tariq Ali, Lindsey German, Mitra Quayoom.
When the Pentagon ends an occupation, crawling home from Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan with its Tomahawk missile dragging between its legs, it declares victory every time. And, depending on how you define victory, it certainly leaves lasting effects. The cancer and birth defects and poisoned water supplies bear witness: there was an occupation here.
When the Occupy Movement lost its presence on television and therefore in real spaces that are never quite as real as television, it too left a lasting impact. But it was a positive lasting impact, difficult as yet to measure fully, but observable in many areas.
I've just read Nathan Schneider's new book, Thank You, Anarchy: Notes From the Occupy Apocalypse, with a foreword by Rebecca Solnit. I consider this book one of the lasting benefits of Occupy. We need a movement as badly as ever, but we now have great experimental lessons to draw on, and collective experience to benefit from.
Veterans of the Occupy encampments have added their strengths to the antiwar and environmental movements, and the growing movements against predatory home loans, foreclosures, student loan sharks, etc.
But primarily, Occupy has changed minds, some dramatically and some slightly -- the sum total impossible to discern. But there is no doubt that opposition against the war on Iraq, denounced as futile by many who took part in it, laid much of the groundwork for successful opposition to missile strikes on Syria. Occupy can be expected to bear similar fruit.
I recommend reading Schneider's story and considering yet further some of the strategic questions debated without end by General Assemblies -- those debates recounted in Schneider's book.
We're going to need to know how and why we are committed to nonviolence. We're going to need to consider how and whether we can build something national or international without the corporate media. We're going to need to develop further our ability to combine our disparate movements against the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism. We're going to have to be capable of engaging in big-picture political action while becoming service centers to the homeless or avoiding doing so. We're going to have to further refine our ability to have fun without becoming foolish. We're going to have to appreciate unpredictable chaos and learn to generate and steer it without ever knowing what it is. We're going to have to decide whether we grow by hating the police or by meeting their antagonism with our own jiu-jitsu. We're going to have to become more international, more non-national, and more local, all at once. We're going to have to create a movement that grows and grows and grows prior to winning and regardless of winning, while directing its energy toward the most likely winning path.
As I was writing this at Millers bar in Charlottesville, Va., the waiter saw my book, started talking to me about Occupy, and told me that Global Friend Bombs are the way to build connections and "organize the masses." I had never heard of global friend bombs, but I had had many previous experiences of the word "Occupy" opening up conversations about changing the world in place of "do you want fries with that?"
Newspapers are the first draft of an imperial eulogy. The first draft of history is our books. Read them. Debate them. Mic-check them. Expect the unexpected. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Main Street. Occupy Everything and Never Give It Back.
The beginning is near!
Petraeus was the main keynoter at a gala fundraiser at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College on Tuesday evening, September 17th. The other keynote speaker was Fareed Zakaria, a foreign policy adviser to Obama who previously worked with Paul Wolfowitz to pave the way for war under Bush, demanding 400,000 troops for the invasion of Iraq.
Students, faculty and others protested outside.
See video at: http://youtu.be/UJcfNII6J5g
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The long-awaited Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)-sponsored hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fugitive methane emissions study is finally out. Unfortunately, it's another case of "frackademia" or industry-funded 'science' dressed up to look like objective academic analysis.
We are in crunch time to stop Congress from granting Fast Track to the President. Fast Track would mean that he could sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement before Congress sees it and would prevent transparency and a democratic review of the TPP in Congress.
The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to negotiate trade. If Congress gives this responsibility up, then we will not know what is in the text of the TPP and will not have hearings or debate on it.
It is likely that Congress will vote on Fast Track in both the House and Senate in late September. We must move quickly to tell Congress to say “No!” to Fast Track and to demand transparency and a democratic process for the largest and most wide-reaching trade agreement in history.
As part of the Flush the TPP Coalition, the Green Shadow Cabinet has issued over a dozen detailed statements on the likely impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on education, jobs, nature, poverty, law, health care, and more (click here to read them).
And all of us can take part in a fun "thank or spank" action that will take place across the U.S.A. tomorrow, September 17: Constitution Day . . .
- Ask your member of Congress to make a commitment to vote “No” on Fast Track. Use House.gov or Senate
.govto find contact information for your member. Contact them via phone and email and social media. But even better, grab a couple friends and go to their local office!
- If your member promises to vote “No” on Fast Track, then thank them publicly (this must be a solid promise, remember that politicians are clever). Make it fun. Invite their staff to celebrate with you. Send out a press release or write letters to the editor in your local paper to let everyone know that your representative is standing with the people. See the toolkit for help with this.
- If your member waffles, won’t commit or supports Fast Track , then ‘spank’ them publicly for siding with the corporations. Here is a list of the corporations that support the TPP. And you can find out which corporations are controlling your member of Congress through the Sunlight Foundation. Use the search function in the Influence Explorer section. Be creative in your actions. Make them highly visible to have an effect.
- Then share your results - their responses, your photos, videos and write-ups - with your local media and with FlushTheTPP.org. Remember to be the media too and share on local blogs and social media outlets.
Speakers will include David Swanson (peace writer), Hector Black (advocate for peace and forgiveness), Paki Wieland (Gaza flotilla, Raging Grannies), Linnet Overton (Community Food Advocates), and Diane Wilson (Code Pink). Musical performances will include MD & Cobalt Blue, Danny Salazar, the Shelby Bottom String Band, and others. We're still looking for exhibitors and vendors; contact Eric Schechter (LeftyMathProf@gmail.com) regarding those, or regarding other aspects of the festival.
(There will also be a fundraiser dinner on the preceding evening, at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, to help pay for the festival.)
|noon - 1:00 Jam Bands|
|1:00 - 1:30 Diane Wilson|
|1:30 - 1:45 J. Karen Thomas & Colette Divine|
|1:45 - 2:00 Hector Black|
|2:00 - 2:45 Danny Salazar|
|2:45 - 3:00 Lynnet Overton|
|3:00 - 4:00 MD & Cobalt Blue|
|4:00 - 4:30 Paki Wieland|
|4:30 - 5:20 Shelby Bottom String Band|
|5:20 - 6:00 David Swanson|
Information for vendors / exhibitors: In most cases, vendors and exhibitors will need to supply their own tables, chairs, and (optional but strongly recommended) tents. All we're providing is a space, 10 feet by 10 feet. Spaces are reserved if you've notified us in advance that you're coming; anyone else takes a chance on space not being available. Fee, payable to Nashville Peace and Justice Center, is $20 for food vendors, $15 for other vendors, and free for nonprofits. Our audience will be arriving around 11am, so we hope you can unload your vehicle and remove it from the area by 10am.
© 2005-2011 Nashville Peace and Justice Center
PLEASE READ AND FILL OUT ENDORSEMENT COUPON BELOW
To be sent September 20, 2013
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association
Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union
James Hoffa, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Robert McEllrath, President, International Longshore and Warehouse Union
The undersigned union activists strongly oppose a U.S. air attack against Syria. We know that you have heard the numerous arguments advanced against such an attack. We emphasize only one here because we believe it has not been given the weight it deserves.
We refer to the multiple crises here at home — unemployment, loss of pensions, threatened cuts in safety net programs especially Social Security and Medicare, cuts in food stamps, voter suppression, immigrant rights, sequestration, foreclosures, tens of millions without health care coverage even if the troubled Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, more states adopting right-to-work laws, growing poverty, attacks on public education, growing inequalities in wealth, etc. Dealing with these problems must be our priority. It is clearly against the interests of the majority to divert our attention from these burning issues by launching a war against Syria, which is 6,000 miles away, with the loss of life and the loss of the billions of dollars that would be expended.
We are writing you now to urge you to speak out publicly against yet another Mideast war, this time against Syria. Despite the current “pause” and turn to diplomacy, the threat to bomb Syria has not been taken off the table. Proponents of military action are regrouping and searching for ways to get language approved by Congress and/or the UN, which could then be used to “justify” air strikes. We must stay alert and on the ready to take united action to prevent what could be a catastrophic war.
People around the world are looking to see who in the U.S. is working to avert the bombing. All polls taken in country after country show overwhelming opposition to a strike. A wide range of organizations has staked out positions in the historic debate that is unfolding. But what about the U.S. labor movement? Where do we stand?
We must not be silent. Silence is complicity.Labor’s opposition to the war could prove to be decisive. Being silent and watching events from the sidelines cannot be an option. We hope you agree and will help ensure that the U.S. government and the whole world gets the message: American labor is for peace and against bombing Syria.
(List of union activists gathered by Thursday, September 19)
[ ]You can add my name to the list of endorsers of Open Letter to U.S. Labor Leaders on Syria.
UNION / ORGANIZATION:_________________
TITLE: (list if for id. only)_________________________
Please fill out asap and return to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By John Grant
The media didn’t waste time lining up US leaders to trash Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. There was the expected outrage that such a “dictator” and “tyrant” had the gall to lecture the United States of America. Bill O’Reilly referred to Putin as “a criminal monster.” Charles Krauthammer kept it real and called Putin "a KGB thug.”
When something goes right
Oh, it's likely to lose me
It's apt to confuse me
It's such an unusual sight
Larry Summers has proven unacceptable to oversee the continued destruction of the U.S. economy. The U.S. public has successfully rejected proposed missile strikes on Syria. My Congressman was among the majority who listened. Today was beautiful. The Orioles won. The Cowboys lost. The University of Virginia avoided losing by not playing. My family is expecting a new baby. I've finished a new book, which Kathy Kelly has written a beautiful foreword for. I have a sense that if the universe were right now campaigning on "hope and change" I might seriously consider voting for it.
I'm also pretty sure that if everything in my personal life were going slightly to hell and Larry Summers were crowned king of Wall Street, and the Dallas Cowboys were to win (darn them!), my sense of this moment in the movement against U.S. militarism would remain essentially the same. A major victory has been won, and we need to claim it and celebrate it.
Imagine the euphoria -- or don't imagine it, just remember it -- when this country elects a new president whose main redeeming feature is that he isn't the previous president. For personality fanatics that's big stuff. And there are big parties. For policy fanatics -- for those of us interested in seeing policies change rather than personalities -- that kind of moment is right now. We need some parties, and if spontaneity is beyond us, perhaps we can use the International Day of Peace on September 21st for a combination celebration / discussion during which we explain to ourselves that it really is OK to celebrate.
Yes, many people in this country and around the world are suffering horrible tragedies in their personal lives and as a result of public events. Yes, the horrors in Syria, as in many other places, continue. Yes, the CIA is arming terrorists in Syria. Yes, the president whose missile strikes we prevented is taking credit for that restraint, just as he would have taken credit for the carnage had we not stopped him -- and he's threatening to bring the missile strikes back. Yes, if we let down our guard for a moment, the president and Congress and the CIA will do their worst. Yes, the danger for Iraq and Libya really loomed large after they had given up nuclear and chemical weapons, not before. Yes, lots of people opposed bombing Syria because they didn't think Syrians deserved such favors. (No, I'm not making that up.) Yes, the corporate media is pretending that the threat of war brought peace, ignoring the successful insistence on peace by the people of the world.
But that's why we have to celebrate what really happened. We have to announce it. The point is not to take credit. No one person or group did this. People espousing a variety of ideologies did it. And they did it over many years. Millions contributed. The point is that war was popularly rejected.
Why does this matter? It's not a case for optimism, or for pessimism. I continue to have very little use for either bit of self-indulgence. The forces that press for more wars have not gone away. Neither have they been empowered. The point is that those who nonsensically proclaim that stopping wars is impossible cannot get away with saying that anymore.
You know the types. They show up at meetings, wait for the question-and-answer period, and then give a speech on how everything is utterly hopeless. Those speeches should be laughed away within the first five seconds now. And the many, many people who had begun ever so slightly to take that defeatist nonsense seriously can now be relieved of that weight. The danger now is not of being a sucker who proclaimed good news just before a genocide. The danger is of joining in the foolish campaign of the war propagandists by pushing the lie of powerlessness on people just after they prevented a war.
Do we still have to prevent a war again this week? Of course, we do. Do we have to take on the larger task of organizing peace and preventing crises? We do. Do we need to build a movement for the abolition of war that reaches beyond opposition to each immediate war proposal? You'd better believe it. But this is what we wanted in 2001 and 2003. Well, some of us did -- that's the point. We're larger now, even if it's not made visible. As long as we went on failing to prevent wars, people could say we'd never prevent them. There's no science or logic behind such an assertion, but it still has power in it. Or it did, until now. Now we can claim with equal validity that we'll stop every single war proposed from here on out. Of course we might or we might not, but we know that it's up to us, that it depends on what we do, that little steps that appear useless at the time can help, and that changes to our culture can outweigh changes to the Pentagon budget, the global climate, crises in capitalism, or any other supposedly unstoppable force.
After World War I, people in the United States understood the need to eliminate war. Again, after Vietnam, many understood it almost that much. They developed the Vietnam Syndrome, a level of healthy resistance to more wars lamented as a disease by Washington. Now we're moving back in that direction. War resistance is the health of the people. We're not developing a syndrome. We're developing an immunity. We've been vaccinated against war. We're not as allergic to the propaganda as we once were. We're war resistant, and our task is to compel those in power not to lament our syndrome this time, but to share in our contagious good health.