You are hereNonviolent Resistance
By Mira Dabit
Sometimes when I ponder about being a Palestinian, my mind travels towards the direction of responsibility, a heavy load of existence, survival, humanity and freedom. A life where everything seems to be somehow a beautiful disaster.
When people ask me how I view myself, I answer that I'm a Palestinian woman – which in my mind equals a survivor, a human.
Twelve students at the University of Virginia on Saturday began a hunger strike for a living wage policy for university employees. They've taken this step after having exhausted just about every other possible approach over a period of 14 years. I was part of the campaign way back when it started. I can support the assertion made by hunger-striking student A.J. Chandra on Saturday, who said,
"We have not spent 14 years building up the case for a living wage. Rather, the campaign has made the case over and over again."
This is the latest in a long series of reports making the case.
Another striking student, David Flood, explained,
"We have researched long enough. We have campaigned long enough. We have protested long enough. The time for a living wage is now."
UVA was the first campus with a living wage campaign back in the late 1990s, but many campuses that started later finished sooner. UVA has seen partial successes. In 2000, the university raised wages to what was at the time a living wage. But those gains have been wiped out by inflation. Local businesses have voluntarily met the campaign's demands, and the City of Charllottesville has both implemented a living wage policy and called on UVA to do so.
When we started, no one dared to say the word "union," but by 2002 a union had formed. It lasted until 2008, and now a new organizing drive is underway.
Workers, however, still fear being fired for joining a union or for joining the living wage campaign. (Does anyone recall the Employee Free Choice Act from way back yonder in 2008? It would really come in handy.) With workers fearing retribution, students and faculty are the campaign's public face, and even some students (especially those with scholarships) and faculty are afraid to take on that role.
In 2006, UVA students tried a sit-in as a tactic to pressure the University's Board of Visitors. The students were arrested after four days, and wage policies unaltered. But now they are looking to the model of Georgetown University's successful hunger strike in 2005.
Since 2006, the campaign has been building support among workers, faculty, and the Charlottesville community whose economy is dominated by UVA and almost a quarter of whose population is below the federal poverty line. Here's a debate on the topic from 2011. A petition has been signed by 328 faculty members.
A rally was held on the steps of the Rotunda on Saturday to launch the hunger strike. Chandra told the gathered crowd that this 14-year campaign by an ever-changing cast of students who typically stay only 4 years has tried teach-ins, concerts, film showings, petitions, letter-writing, marches, seminars, reports, and community outreach of all sorts. Speaking privately, he told me that the university measures its success by its publications and many other quantities. "The well being of the lowest paid workers," he said, "has to be part of deciding whether this is a successful institution."
Without pressure for action, Chandra said, "the same passive acceptance of injustice that allowed blacks to be excluded from UVA until 1950 and women until 1970" will win out.
Hunter Link is another hunger-striking student, the only one of the 12 not currently enrolled. He graduated in December. He pointed out that UVA sends students abroad to do service projects with money it could have used to pay its own workers a living wage. Of course, it also builds giant sports arenas, raises its top salaries, and adds more buildings to its main campus all the time.
For most of the past 14 years, UVA had a president who gave no indication that I ever saw of caring in the least what happened to the people who scrubbed his toilets. Now, UVA has a new president, its first female president. Her name is Theresa Sullivan, and she has published books, including quite recently, advocating for a living wage. When it comes to actually paying one at UVA, where doing so would cost a fraction of a percent of the billions of dollars UVA is hoarding, Sullivan sings a different tune.
Hunter Link read to the crowd on Saturday a letter from an unnamed worker who complained that President Sullivan talks about "a caring community" but -- asks the worker -- "what good are values if you don't live them?"
It's popular in U.S. politics these days to prefer words to actions, but the UVA living wage campaign is taking the opposite approach, pointing out the deceptions in Sullivan's claims. "Contrary to President Sullivan's inexplicable claims," said hunger-striker David Flood, "real wages have declined in the past six years." Objecting to non-monetary compensation as an alternative to wages, Flood remarked to loud applause: "You cannot pay the rent with a course at UVA. You cannot buy medicine with a coupon good only at the UVA company store." Before UVA workers can take classes, Flood said, they must be able to buy housing, food, and medicine. They must be able to live in the community that they make possible. I would add that they must be able to quit their second or third jobs if they are to have time for taking classes.
The living wage campaign is demanding a minumum wage for direct, contracted, and subcontracted employees of no less that $13, and that wages be adjusted each year to comply with the Economic Policy Institute's regionally sourced cost-of-living and inflation calculations. This must be implemented without reducing other benefits, including healthcare, without under-staffing, without reducing hours worked, and without demanding increased productivity. We started out demanding $8, and if the University had met that demand and indexed it to the cost of living, this campaign would have ended. Professor Susan Fraiman, who has been part of the campaign from the start, remarked on Saturday that she very much hoped she was speaking at the last living wage rally that would be needed. That will depend on the impact of the hunger strike.
The strikers have set up a permanent vigil between the Rotunda and the UVA Chapel. The strikers are informed, articulate, dedicated, and deadly serious. They've had physicals and will consume only liquids. One of them, Hallie Clark, pointed out that the Black Student Alliance rallied for higher wages at UVA in 1969. This has been a long struggle indeed. And the majority of the lowest paid workers at this slave-built campus are still black. The honor code still forbids cheating on tests or treating students as if they would cheat on tests. But it does not at the moment require presidents who have publicly articulated the moral demand for a living wage to actually pay one.
President Sullivan must work with UVA's Board of Visitors. The board members are almost all from out of town. Most students and workers have no contact with them. They are not a part of the Charlottesville community. Some of them are graduates of UVA's Darden Business School, which of course teaches the benefits of low pay for workers other than oneself and erases from consideration the question of whether a worker must hold a second job, or must use only emergency rooms for healthcare, or must leave his or her children unsupervised. When I was a graduate student in philosophy at UVA, I took a course at Darden that was jointly listed as business and philosophy. The course sought to apply ethics to the view of business regularly promoted at Darden, which felt a bit like applying a stick of lipstick to a large and fast-moving pig.
Here's a list of the members of the Board of Visitors along with their phone numbers. You can also click their names to email them. Or click HERE to email them all at once. Hunter Link told me the campaign had been in touch with Mark Kington of the Finance Committee and found him less than supportive. Here's what the various members do for their day jobs. Other than the student member and the ex-officio member, if you can find a connection between any of the other members and education please let me know. They seem to be almost all bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and . . . well, the sort of gang that ought to be the Board of Visitors for Darden Business School, not UVA; except they wouldn't have to visit as Darden has its own supply of these types.
President Sullivan is going to have to take the lead here. It is her students refusing to eat, across the street from her house. Her office phone is 434-924-3337. During the next week, she and the board members need to hear from every single one of us who cares. The Board of Visitors will be meeting next week. There will be rallies every day this week, leading up to that meeting. To get involved, go to livingwageatuva.org
When: Thursday, Feb. 16, 5:00 PM
Where: Masonic Auditorium, San Francisco
1111 California Street
[NOTE: This Obama campaign event at the Masonic begins at 6 PM. Protesters will be present to greet the "war party" as they arrive from their private $35,800 per person dinner party at the home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife Nicola Miner.]
A San Francisco campaign fundraising visit by Barack Obama will encounter a protest demonstration tonight at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill. Protest organizers include World Can’t Wait, Code Pink, supporters of accused whistleblower Pvt. Bradley Manning, and activists from the Occupy movement.
See World Can't Wait protest at April 2011 Obama fundraiser at the Masonic: http://youtu.be/5x-741hA1wI
“We can’t and won’t accept illegitimate wars, illegal torture, and other criminal programs as if Obama and the Democrats are a supposed antidote to Republican lunatics in the White House,” said Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait. “Obama’s false promises to protect civil liberties, the environment, and women’s basic human rights are no excuse for his actions -- which go entirely the opposite way. This government is committing crimes against the people and the planet, so it’s our obligation to stand up and speak out.”
Federal Judge Strips Vermont of Power to Terminate Nuke: State Government Diddles but Vermonters Take Matters into Own Hands
By Dan DeWalt
Entergy Nuclear of Louisiana, which operates the Vermont Yankee (VY) nuclear reactor in Vernon Vermont has launched an attack on the state of Vermont with the help of the federal courts.
Vermont state law gives the state the power to decide whether to allow further operation of the reactor past March 21, 2012 (the expiration date for VY). When Entergy bought VY, they agreed to this law and swore that they would not try to abrogate it. This was an outright lie on Entergy's part, and they sued the state as soon as it was decided that further operation of this crumbling, leaking and led-by-liars reactor would NOT be in the interests of the state and they were not given permission to continue operation past March 21.
This reply to Hedges and defense of violence completely fails to persuade.
The primary argument seems to be that if you are not in Oakland and familiar with every detail you shalt not offer your advice. But knowing whether the person who smashed a window was wearing a mask or not hardly eliminates the possibility of usefully commenting on whether it helped or hurt to smash that window. The defense article describes violent clashes with police and concludes "No one can agree on who attacked first." So, even being there results in important ignorance. But in a movement publicly and convincingly committed to nonviolence we would all know who attacked first. It would have to have been the police. In fact, there would be no "attacked first" but simply "attacked." In a movement hollowed out by acceptance of "diversity of tactics" (as euphemism for violence) nobody could ever be sure, even if we had witnesses and videos. Quoting MLK in arguing against what he so persuasively denounced every day for years is a new low.
While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.
Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”
Neither country is a utopia, as readers of the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbro will know. Critical left-wing authors such as these try to push Sweden and Norway to continue on the path toward more fully just societies. However, as an American activist who first encountered Norway as a student in 1959 and learned some of its language and culture, the achievements I found amazed me. I remember, for example, bicycling for hours through a small industrial city, looking in vain for substandard housing. Sometimes resisting the evidence of my eyes, I made up stories that “accounted for” the differences I saw: “small country,” “homogeneous,” “a value consensus.” I finally gave up imposing my frameworks on these countries and learned the real reason: their own histories.
Stephen Zunes Thinks It's Not Too Late for Nonviolence to Dominate the Process and Win Peace and Justice in Syria
Unarmed Resistance Still Syria’s Best Hope
By Stephen Zunes, Nation of Change
The Syrian pro-democracy struggle has been both an enormous tragedy and a powerful inspiration. Indeed, as someone who has studied mass nonviolent civil insurrections in dozens of countries in recent decades, I know of no people who have demonstrated such courage and tenacity in the face of such savage repression as have the people of Syria these past 10 months.
The resulting decline in the legitimacy of Bashar al-Assad's government gives hope that the opposition will eventually win. The question is how many more lives will be lost until then.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’
For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.
Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.
Park Police to Try to Remove All Tents From Both DC Occupations at Noon on Monday January 30th -- BE THERE!
Be nonviolent. Be determined. Be relentless.
Rise like Lions after slumber: In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew: Which in sleep had fallen on you
Ye are many — they are few
Video of a Guantanamo Guard Who Won Conscientious Objector Status on Grounds That He'd Been Told to Torture People
On January 14, 2012 activists from a local peace group blocked entry to the main gate at the Navy’s West coast Trident nuclear submarine base for nearly a half hour in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.
GroundZero Center for Nonviolent Action held a peaceful vigil and nonviolent direct action at the main gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington. Thegroup protested the U.S. government’s continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Its continued reliance on nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy is in contravention of both U.S. and international laws.
This is where I can't go because I spoke.
And three of my friends got the same deal.
And in the next courtroom over our other friends were convicted by a jury of opposing torture.
And right across the hall our other friend completed her probation for having interrupted Netanyahu even though he thanked her and bragged about how she'd be treated worse in Iran, even though the assault she suffered in the US Capitol put her in a neck brace.
It was a great day for the First Amendment in Washington today.
Now, we're only banned for 6 months, and we can get invitations in writing from Congress or the Supreme Court to come and protest them as a way around the ban (I wonder how that's going to work).
We did happen to be in a Senate committee hearing when we spoke, but they were speaking quite endlessly about corporate trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea. They said they'd try to help some of the people they threw out of work. I asked why they didn't just leave them their jobs. I was arrested. Then they spoke a lot about Korean tariffs vs US tariffs on beef, and one of us criminals asked why we really needed to ship beef back and forth across the Pacific. Handcuffs on her. This was in October. Here we are in January finding out what is to be done to us to protect the Homeland.
It turns out we're not a threat to the Homeland at all, just to one little hill.
Dear Friends, We write to you this evening with the report that the jury found Brian Hynes, Mike Levinson, and Carmen Trotta guilty on all charges, but were “truly deadlocked” by the end of the day concerning Judith Kelly. The jury was sent home and will resume in the morning. With the close of the trial tomorrow, we will be shifting our efforts to be a presence on the street throughout the city. As we do so, we are ever mindful, as Matt Daloisio said tonight, that “there is a difficulty in choosing how to act and be in solidarity with those who have very little choice.” When we gathered tonight, instead of expressing in full our own reactions and questions of today’s court proceeding (we shared a single word each, which you will find below!), we read twice over the poetry of Abdul al Baddah, so that the most words shared in our circle would come from a man detained at Guantánamo.
Every time our court proceedings reconvene (and this happens several times a day because of the various breaks), these words are announced: “Now hearing the United States VS. Shakir Ami….” This statement never fails to surprise us. Mr. Aamer (as his name is correctly spelled) has been detained at Guantánamo since Febuary of 2002 and has spent much of his time there in solitary confinement. But Shaker Aamer’s name is spoken in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia today because two years ago on January 11th, Brian Hynes was arrested on the steps of the Capital Building and gave Mr. Aamer’s name as his own. Since then, within the District of Columbia, this name is legally (and bureaucratically) tied to Brian’s fingerprints. And beginning with an “A”, it has become the official title of our court case.
If you watch the above pitch for Oxytocin as the hormone of morality, it will quickly become clear that this guy and the rest of us actually know very little about how our brains and blood and bodies work. In fact, another guy claims that oxytocin is the hormone of ethnocentrism, not of universal love. Of course it's being marketed as a spray that can make people trust you. And a little reflection can make you realize that there is an enormous gap between personal relations and war making. If you trust your boss at the Pentagon more will you work for war less? Would we really want the peace movement purged of everyone in it who isn't terribly nice or trusting?
There is, however, in the above video something I find particularly interesting. It's the part where he says that testosterone may be an opponent of oxytocin but it also makes people (or at least men) more eager to punish immoral actions by others. Now, I have no idea if that is true or as simple as described. I would be willing to bet that description will change soon if it hasn't already. What interests me is the possibility of thinking of the punishment of war as sharing a motivation with war — whether or not that motivation is tied to testosterone.
Of course, I want war makers punished if it will prevent and deter war making, but I want them punished with prison and rehab. I don't want them punished with war. The idea behind the United Nations, and the League of Nations before it, not to mention NATO, is to use war to punish war. This results, of course, in lots of wars that merely pretend to punish war. And that would not be the case if we were not considering war an available option. Europe has stopped thinking of war as an option internally, but not abroad. The United States thinks of little other than war in foreign relations, and is beginning to train domestic police to make war on their own. What we need is not so much the right hormone as the right way of thinking. That way of thinking will of course exist in a complex physical event within brains, but "complex" is the key word. If peace can be sprayed up somebody's nose, today's scientists are nowhere near knowing how, and a general inclination to trust or love does not begin to approach it.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 is only the most widely known impromptu truce. But anecdotal accounts abound of other truces, trades and temporary accommodations.
This from Walter Lord's account of the sinking of the light cruiser USS Helena contained in Lonely Vigil: Coastwatchers of the Solomons.
Soon more planes arrived-but this time they were Zeros. Watching them approach, Major Kelly recalled the recent Bismarck Sea affair, where Allied aircraft strafed the Japanese life rafts after sinking their transports. This was no gentleman's war, and he steeled himself for the worst.
But the Zeros didn't shoot. The nearest pilot simply pulled back his canopy and looked at them closely. Circling, the planes made a second run, and again held their fire. As they circled for a third run, they got off a few short bursts, and Kelly felt sure that this time would be "it". As they roared by, practically touching the water, the lead pilot grinned, waved, waggled his wings…and then they were gone.
The Zero pilots could have machine gunned the survivors, but didn't. Perhaps they thought "Why waste ammunition?" But, then why wave and waggle?
The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World was launched simultaneously on 11 November 2011 at several locations around the world.
The aim of this Charter is to create a worldwide movement to end violence in all its forms. The People’s Charter will give voice to the millions of ordinary people around the world who want an end to war, oppression, environmental destruction and violence of all kinds. We hope that this Charter will support and unite the courageous nonviolent struggles of ordinary people all over the world.
As you will see, The People’s Charter describes very thoroughly the major forms of violence in the world. It also presents a strategy to end this violence.
We can each play a part in stopping violence and in creating a peaceful and just world. Some of us will focus on reducing our consumption, some of us will parent our children in a way that fosters children’s safety and empowerment, some of us will use nonviolent resistance in the face of military violence. Everyone’s contribution is important and needed. We hope this Charter will be a springboard for us all to take steps to create a peaceful and just world, however small and humble these steps may be. By listening to the deep truth of ourselves, each other and the Earth, each one of us can find our own unique way to help create this nonviolent world.
Why did we choose 11 November as the date to launch The People’s Charter?
‘When I was a boy … all the people of all the nations which fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was at that minute in nineteen-hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields at that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.’
(Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an atheist humanist, in his novel Breakfast of Champions.)
So far, the organising groups in various locations have organised launch events in their localities around the world. Some groups are organising follow-up events so that other people have the chance to become involved in local, personal networks.
See ‘Future Events’ for information about the next public event nearest you.
Signing the Charter
The People’s Charter can be read and signed online: click on ‘Read Charter’ or ‘Sign Charter’ in the sidebar.
‘A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.’ Mohandas K. Gandhi
By Dan DeWalt
Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill [Carl Levin's S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being detained by our own military. If the government decides that you are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you're being held.
This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."
Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, who was sentenced to two years' imprisonment by a military court on 14 December 2011 following a re-trial, escalated his hunger strike on 18 December after more than 115 days. Previously, he had been drinking fruit juice with dairy, but since 18 December, he is only drinking water. With his hunger strike, he is demanding his release from prison.
By John Grant
Ft. Meade -- Saturday, December 17th was Bradley Manning’s 24th birthday, and at least 300 supporters gathered outside Fort Meade, Maryland, where the military was in its second day of a preliminary hearing process that’s expected to take about a week. Manning worked in military intelligence and is alleged to have released military secrets to WikiLeaks, which released the material publicly.
Local Newspaper The Hook Makes Me Runner Up Person of Year for Chasing Dick Cheney Away - Gotta Love Charlottesville
When conservatives hear progressive political activist David Swanson coming, they might want to run away. But sometimes, they do so quite literally. After Vice President Dick Cheney announced plans to speak at the Miller Center on November 16, Swanson publicly called for Cheney's arrest for conspiracy to commit torture. "Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," Swanson wrote in a November 14 letter emailed to Charlottesville and Albemarle law enforcement and posted on his website, warisacrime.org. Mere hours later, the Miller Center announced that Cheney's visit would be postponed for "personal reasons" and that he'd reschedule for early next year. Coincidence? Perhaps. But either way, Swanson will undoubtedly lead the welcome parade if the former Veep appears.
Occupy Washington, DC Occupies Senator Levin's Office to Protest Defense Authorization
Focus of Protest is the Use of the Military Against U.S. Citizens Within the United States
Protesters from OccupyWashingtonDC.org will sit-in Sen. Carl Levin's Office (269 Russell Office Building) at 2:00 today.
The protest is against provisions of the Defense Authorization that allow the use of the military inside the United States. The provisions allow military detention without any finding of guilt, without a hearing in civil court, and apply to U.S. citizens and legal residents.
By David Lindorff Sr.
"We Are Many" shows how mobilization in 2003 set stage for Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street
Dec 8, 2011 - On Feb. 15, 2003, the planet experienced the greatest single non-military mobilization of humanity in the history of the world. People in 800 cities (and Antarctica) marched to voice their opposition as George Bush’s countdown clock ticked away the days toward the threatened U.S. invasion of Iraq. Estimates of the total numbers of protesters vary widely but it seems plausible that 15 million took to the streets.