Monday, December 31, 2012

The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys




The above graphic is from the article in Mother Jones.  It shows the mass shootings for the past 30 years, and the number of fatalities and injuries in each of them.  2012 has been a record-smashing year in this regard.  This journalist covered 30 mass shootings in the US in the past 30 years (total was 62), and in 2012 there were 7 mass shootings – way above the yearly average.  Keep in mind that to be called a “mass shooting” at least four people have to be killed and it has to happen in a public place.  So, home shootings and the recent shootings on rural roads of Pennsylvania (which only killed three) do not count.

And not a single one of these mass shootings were stopped by a regular citizen who had a gun.  In the Tucson mass shooting, a citizen with a gun nearly shot at an innocent person – who had taken Jared Loughner’s gun away.


A closer look reveals that their case for arming Americans against mass shooters is nothing more than a cynical ideological talking point—one dressed up in appeals to heroism and the defense of constitutional freedom, and wholly reliant on misdirection and half truths. If only Sandy Hook's principal had been packing heat, the argument goes, she could've stopped the mass killer. There's just one little problem with this: Not a single one of the 62 mass shootings we studied in our investigation has been stopped this way—even as the nation has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of recent laws has made it easier than ever for ordinary citizens to carry them in public places, including bars, parks, and schools.

While the above article calls this a “myth” I believe what the NRA chief is peddling is LIES, FLAT OUT LIES.

And the NRA knows they are lies.  That is why they lobbied-up and shut down any research by the NIH or CDC on gun violence and gun injuries and gun deaths.  They don’t want the facts to interfere with their lies.  Here are some facts about gun research and guns in America (done before the research was shut down).


The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.


RESULTS: After adjustment, individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05).
CONCLUSIONS: On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures.


RESULTS: The adjusted relative risk of suicide was 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.4, 2.5) for persons with a history of family handgun purchase from a registered dealer. The adjusted relative risk for homicide, given a history of family handgun purchase, was 2.2 (95% CI = 1.3, 3.7). For both suicide and homicide, the elevated relative risks persisted for more than 5 years after the purchase.
CONCLUSIONS: Legal purchase of a handgun appears to be associated with a long-lasting increased risk of violent death.


RESULTS:  During the study period, 1860 homicides occurred in the three counties, 444 of them (23.9 percent) in the home of the victim. After excluding 24 cases for various reasons, we interviewed proxy respondents for 93 percent of the victims. Controls were identified for 99 percent of these, yielding 388 matched pairs. As compared with the controls, the victims more often lived alone or rented their residence. Also, case households more commonly contained an illicit-drug user, a person with prior arrests, or someone who had been hit or hurt in a fight in the home. After controlling for these characteristics, we found that keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.6 to 4.4). Virtually all of this risk involved homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.
CONCLUSIONS:  The use of illicit drugs and a history of physical fights in the home are important risk factors for homicide in the home. Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Upcoming events in the Asheville area



UPCOMING EVENTS

01/02/13 SIERRA CLUB MEETING
Wayne Coldwell and Steve Woody will discuss Cataloochee and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Program starts at 7:15 PM and location is Unitarian Church at Edwin Place and Charlotte Street.

01/03/13 VETERANS FOR PEACE MEETING
Time is 6:30 PM and location is VFP HQ at the Phil Mechanic Studios: 109 Roberts Street in Asheville. VFP Chapter 099: http://vfpchapter099wnc.blogspot.com/

01/05/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
This will be held at 3 PM at Pritchard Park.  General Assemblies are held on the first Saturday of the month.  Please note the change in time.  All are welcome.

01/05/13 GREEN PARTY MEETING
The Buncombe County GREEN Party's business meeting is open to the public. It will be held from 10 AM to noon, upstairs in the Fortune Building, 729 Haywood Rd., West Asheville. Contact Ronald @ 828-LUCK-180 or Larry @ 828-225-4347 for more information.

01/05/13 CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLANNING
Jim Barton is hosting his fifth annual meeting to address climate change on Saturday, January 5, from 10 -1 at the West Asheville library meeting room, and he has graciously offered to use this occasion to follow up from the NC WARN workshops and plan our local actions around Duke Energy, the IRP and the rate hikes, as well as organizing for people to go to Washington for the President's Day rally against Keystone Pipeline. Contact Laura at lsredoak@gmail.com for more information.

01/05/13 PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF NORTH CAROLINA ANNUAL MEETING
This will be in Winston-Salem from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.  http://www.progressivedemocratsnc.org/blog/node/1705

01/08/13 JUSTICE FRIENDS’ NIGHT
Kicking off a regular social event to be held at Firestorm Cafe. This is an informal gathering of Greens together with other folks in the Asheville community, people with an activist mindset who are interested in topics related to justice. This is a discussion group and a social event. Time is 7 PM.

01/18/12 WNC PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY MEETING
The next WNC PSR monthly meeting will be at a private home near the VA Hospital.  Brown Bag lunch at noon with meeting from 12:30 to 2 PM.  Everyone is welcome.  Please go to www.wncpsr.org  for more information, which includes how to get there and other details.

01/11/13 MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC AGAINST GUANTANAMO
Orange jumpsuits optional. http://www.witnesstorture.org
   They are artists of torture,
   They are artists of pain and fatigue,
   They are artists of insults and humiliation.
   Where is the world to save us from torture?
   Where is the world to save us from the fire and sadness?
   Where is the world to save the hunger strikers?
   -Adnan Latif (found dead in his cell at Guantanamo, Sept. 8, 2012)

01/12/13 PROTEST DRONE BOMBINGS
This will be held at CIA headquarters in Virginia.

01/17/12 YOUTH CELEBRATION, PEACE MARCH AND RALLY
This will also include a candlelight service.  The Youth Celebration begins at 4 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. This is hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.

01/19/13 MARTIN LUTHER KING PRAYER BREAKFAST
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County will hold its 32nd annual Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn on Saturday, January 19, 2013. The guest speaker is Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe. Tickets to the breakfast cost $25 for adults ($30 as of Jan. 1, 2013); $15 for children 12 and under; and $35 for patrons. The breakfast begins at 8:30 AM.  Tickets can be ordered by telephone at 828-335-6896 or 828-301-8968, or by email at editor@myowneditor.com.

01/20/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE PARTY AND FUNDRAISER
This will be a potluck at Rosetta’s Kitchen and will start at 5 PM. It is also a fundraiser for Ben Scales, Attorney, who has helped many of the Occupy people who were arrested. More details to come.

01/21/13 PEACE MARCH AND RALLY FOR JUSTICE IN HONOR OF MLK
The Peace March and Rally begin at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 – the official King holiday – with a brief service at St. James AME Church on Hildebrand Street at Martin Luther King Boulevard downtown. Participants march to City-County Plaza at noon, where speakers and musicians join in a Rally for Justice. Occupy Asheville will participate.

01/21/13 SUPPORT THE ARC OF JUSTICE RALLY AND PARADE IN DC
http://www.stopthesewars.org/support-the-arc-of-justice-rally-and-parade/

01/23/13 MLK WEEK KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT UNCA
“Looking to the Future” by Gwendolyn Boyd. Time is 7 PM and location is Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. Gwendolyn Boyd illustrates the relevance of Dr. King’s work today by combining science, education and service to create concrete change in her community and the world. She became the first African-American woman to earn an M.S. in mechanical engineering at Yale University. In the spirit of Dr. King, Boyd inspires change appropriate to our times. She is a prominent advocate for women’s equality and the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. Boyd has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Important Blacks in Technology by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

01/21/13 to 01/25/13 MLK WEEK AT UNCA
Check http://msp.unca.edu/mlk2013 in January for a full list of activities.

01/25/12 HOMELESS PARADE IN ASHEVILLE
This event is in defense of the rights of our homeless brothers and sisters here in Asheville and a rejection of the criminalization of homelessness the City has overseen throughout the past three-four years. The Parade will begin at Pritchard Park at 2 PM and march to Vance Memorial where speakers from the homeless community will speak.

02/14/13 ONE BILLION RISING
Global protest against violence directed at women. http://www.onebillionrising.org/pages/about-one-billion-rising

02/17/13 CLIMATE ACTION DAY IN DC
Click here to RSVP to tell the President to join us: act.350.org/signup/presidentsday

02/22/13 THE PARCHMAN HOUR AT UNCA
“Remembering the Past:  Freedom Rider Vignettes” at 8 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. The Parchman Hour, a Mike Wiley production, brings to the stage powerful oral histories and conversations from the Freedom Riders including Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.


*******************************************
ONGOING EVENTS
*******************************************
TUESDAY
Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 4:30 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

WEDNESDAY
Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood Country Courthouse in Waynesville.

THURSDAY
Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 2 PM at Firestorm Cafe.
Anti-racism Group Discussion at 5:30 PM on the third Thursday of the month at Firestorm Cafe.

FRIDAY
Women in Black have a vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square (Asheville) on the first Friday of the month.
Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville

SATURDAY
Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard.
Occupy Asheville General Assembly on the first Saturday of the month. 4 PM at Pritchard Park.
Really, Really Free Market on the last Saturday of the month from 11 to 3 PM at Aston Park.

*******************************************
ACTIONS AND READINGS
*******************************************

DEMAND A PLAN TO END GUN VIOLENCE IN THE USA

http://www.demandaplan.org/

******************

We petition the Obama administration to:

Introduce legislation that mandates annual reporting on gun violence in America.

Currently the Tiahrt amendments severely restrict the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms from disclosing crime gun data to the public under the Freedom of Information Act and bar admissibility of such data in civil suits against the gun industry. Additionally, Congress annually inserts riders into the budgets of the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health barring grant money from being used “in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”

We therefore call upon the Obama Administration to introduce legislation that overrides the Tiahrt amendments, mandates annual AFT reporting on gun violence in America, and permits the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to perform and fund research on gun violence in America.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/introduce-legislation-mandates-annual-reporting-gun-violence-america/n1rcVKLq
[This is not gun control legislation, it is a call to resume research on gun violence in the US and to release AFT reports on gun violence. Research and reporting was shut down when the NRA lobbied-up and got Congress to pass these bad bills back in the 1990's. Every gun owner and anyone who supports gun ownership in the USA should support this. We don't know what we are dealing with if we don't have some solid RESEARCH. - dancewater]

******************

Saturday, December 29, 2012

An Inspiring Story

Return to Rutba. Front row: Weldon, Cliff, and Shane. Back row: Rutba General nurse Tarik Ali Marzouq; physician’s assistant Jassim Muhammad Jamil; and, fourth from left, Muslim Peacemaker Teams founder Sami Rasouli, an Iraqi-American who helped coordinate the reunion in Iraq. Photo by Jamie Moffett.



“You Are Safe With Us”: How Ordinary Iraqis Rescued U.S. Civilians in the Midst of War

Seven Years Later: A Return to Rutba

In 2010, the three peacemakers returned to Iraq. Ignoring kidnapping warnings from the embassies and militaries of Jordan and the United States, they traveled to Rutba to express their gratitude for the kindness that saved two of their lives, and to escort a journalist (myself) and a filmmaker into a story they hoped would seed reconciliation.

When we arrived at the director’s office of the rebuilt Rutba General Hospital, on January 15, 2010, I wasn’t sure if we’d parachuted into a meeting, or an interrogation. The office was crowded; men stood quietly in the corners, along the walls, in the doorway.

Cliff began to explain our presence; Sami Rasouli of the Muslim Peacemakers Team interpreted: “It is an honor to be back in the city of Rutba. We were here in March 2003.”

Seated at a desk at the head of the room was a 30-something Iraqi man, clean-cut with a goatee, blue jeans, and brown leather coat. As Cliff and Sami volleyed English and Arabic, he stared straight ahead or down at the desk, his jaw muscles clenching.

Cliff told the story of the accident and the care received at the makeshift clinic. Weldon said his life was probably saved in Rutba and that “ever since that day, I have looked forward to coming back to thank you.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vigil for peace on Christmas Day

 This was the last vigil for Peace for this year.  Next one is on January 1, 2013.  The huge sign was made by Coleman.  It took a while to get it up, but it is an excellent sign.  I am grateful to be an associate member of Veterans for Peace.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Upcoming events in the Asheville area this week

This is a picture of Lake Junaluska, taken by the folks at Lake Junaluska.  They sent it out in an email and I cropped it down a bit.



UPCOMING EVENTS

12/28/12 ASHEVILLE HOMELESS PARADE
This event is in defense of the rights of our homeless brothers and sisters here in Asheville and a rejection of the criminalization of homelessness the City has overseen throughout the past three-four years. The Parade will begin at Pritchard Park at 2 PM and march to Vance Memorial where speakers from the homeless community will speak.

12/30/12 to 01/01/13 ALTERNATIVE NEW YEARS
This is a gathering and vigil at the gates of Trident Nuclear Submarine base, with cabins at Crooked River State Park in Georgia. For more information, to reserve a space from Asheville and for carpool info, contact Clare at New South Network of War Resisters or call  828-242-5610.  

01/02/13 SIERRA CLUB MEETING
Wayne Coldwell and Steve Woody will discuss Cataloochee and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Program starts at 7:15 PM and location is Unitarian Church at Edwin Place and Charlotte Street.

01/03/13 VETERANS FOR PEACE MEETING
Time is 6:30 PM and location is VFP HQ at the Phil Mechanic Studios: 109 Roberts Street in Asheville. VFP Chapter 099: http://vfpchapter099wnc.blogspot.com/

01/05/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
This will be held at 3 PM at Pritchard Park.  General Assemblies are held on the first Saturday of the month.  Please note the change in time.  All are welcome.

01/05/13 GREEN PARTY MEETING
The Buncombe County GREEN Party's business meeting is open to the public. It will be held from 10 AM to noon, upstairs in the Fortune Building, 729 Haywood Rd., West Asheville. Contact Ronald @ 828-LUCK-180 or Larry @ 828-225-4347 for more information.

01/05/13 PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF NORTH CAROLINA ANNUAL MEETING
This will be in Winston-Salem from 9:30 to 5 PM.  http://www.progressivedemocratsnc.org/blog/node/1705

01/05/13 CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLANNING
Jim Barton is hosting his fifth annual meeting to address climate change on Saturday, January 5, from 10 -1 at the West Asheville library meeting room, and he has graciously offered to use this occasion to follow up from the NC WARN workshops and plan our local actions around Duke Energy, the IRP and the rate hikes, as well as organizing for people to go to Washington for the President's Day rally against Keystone Pipeline. Contact Laura at lsredoak@gmail.com for more information.

01/08/13 JUSTICE FRIENDS’ NIGHT
Kicking off a regular social event to be held at Firestorm Cafe. This is an informal gathering of Greens together with other folks in the Asheville community, people with an activist mindset who are interested in topics related to justice. This is a discussion group and a social event. Time is 7 PM.

01/11/13 MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC AGAINST GUANTANAMO
Orange jumpsuits optional.

01/12/13 PROTEST DRONE BOMBINGS
This will be held at CIA headquarters in Virginia.  

01/17/12 YOUTH CELEBRATION, PEACE MARCH AND RALLY
This will also include a candlelight service.  The Youth Celebration begins at 4 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. This is hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.

01/19/13 MARTIN LUTHER KING PRAYER BREAKFAST
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County will hold its 32nd annual Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn on Saturday, January 19, 2013. The guest speaker is Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe. Dr. Bledsoe is founder and Executive Director of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), a national organization that works on behalf of African American and Latino males in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. The former Vice President for Student Life and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Toledo, he has served at a guest lecturer at the Oxford University Roundtable Institute in Oxford, England. Tickets to the breakfast cost $25 for adults ($30 as of Jan. 1, 2013); $15 for children 12 and under; and $35 for patrons. The breakfast begins at 8:30 AM.  Tickets can be ordered by telephone at 828-335-6896 or 828-301-8968, or by email at editor@myowneditor.com.

01/20/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE PARTY AND FUNDRAISER
This will be a potluck at Rosetta’s Kitchen and will start at 5 PM. It is also a fundraiser for Ben Scales, Attorney, who has helped many of the Occupy people who were arrested. More details to come.

01/21/13 PEACE MARCH AND RALLY FOR JUSTICE IN HONOR OF MLK
The Peace March and Rally begin at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 – the official King holiday – with a brief service at St. James AME Church on Hildebrand Street at Martin Luther King Boulevard downtown. Participants march to City-County Plaza at noon, where speakers and musicians join in a Rally for Justice. Occupy Asheville will participate.

01/23/13 MLK WEEK KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT UNCA
“Looking to the Future” by Gwendolyn Boyd. Time is 7 PM and location is Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. Gwendolyn Boyd illustrates the relevance of Dr. King’s work today by combining science, education and service to create concrete change in her community and the world. She became the first African-American woman to earn an M.S. in mechanical engineering at Yale University. In the spirit of Dr. King, Boyd inspires change appropriate to our times. She is a prominent advocate for women’s equality and the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. Boyd has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Important Blacks in Technology by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

01/21/13 to 01/25/13 MLK WEEK AT UNCA
Check http://msp.unca.edu/mlk2013 in January for a full list of activities.

02/17/13 CLIMATE ACTION DAY IN DC
Click here to RSVP to tell the President to join us: act.350.org/signup/presidentsday

02/22/13 THE PARCHMAN HOUR AT UNCA
“Remembering the Past:  Freedom Rider Vignettes” at 8 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. In the fiery first months of America's Civil Rights movement, waves of college students rode buses into the heart of the Deep South. Many were brutally attacked, arrested and imprisoned in Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary. To help them endure, they invented "The Parchman Hour," a live variety show inspired by radio and TV programs. The Parchman Hour, a Mike Wiley production, brings to the stage powerful oral histories and conversations from the Freedom Riders including Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.


*******************************************
ONGOING EVENTS
*******************************************
TUESDAY
Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 4:30 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

WEDNESDAY
Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood Country Courthouse in Waynesville.

THURSDAY
Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 2 PM at Firestorm Cafe.
Anti-racism Group Discussion at 5:30 PM on the third Thursday of the month at Firestorm Cafe.

FRIDAY
Women in Black have a vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square (Asheville) on the first Friday of the month.
Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville

SATURDAY
Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard.
Occupy Asheville General Assembly on the first Saturday of the month. 4 PM at Pritchard Park.

*******************************************
ACTIONS AND READINGS
*******************************************

I just sent this letter to Senator Harry Reid after watching CODEPINK disrupt the NRA press conference Friday morning (http://bit.ly/XZneCs).

Please join me in standing with these brave activists. Follow this link to take action now: http://bit.ly/ZpBjzp

Thanks!

******************

Dear Friend of Veterans For Peace,

Please become a part of this movement to Rebuild our Country - Move our Tax Dollars from the Pentagon to Job Creation and Human Needs. We need a new set of priorities that place the needs of the people ahead of the profits of the privileged.

Peace and Justice Groups, Military Families, Veterans, Unions, Retirees, and the Unemployed are all supporting our Jobs Not Wars Petition demanding that Congress and our President Give Us Work Not War. If you have yet signed, simply click here to Sign the Petition.

If you have already signed, we Thank You!

Please continue to help Spread the Word by forwarding this Petition to all your friends and associates.  If you belong to an organization, no matter how big or small, who agrees with our Petition, ask them to Endorse the Campaign Here

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/302/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=11931

A Quick Summary of our Petition’s Demands:
End the War in Afghanistan Now
Make Substantial Cuts to the Over-bloated, Out-of- Control Pentagon budget
Create Good Paying Jobs
Let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2%
The wealthiest and corporations must do their fair share and pay a little more
Protect our social safety net including Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid
Rely on negotiation and determined diplomacy rather than military power  

Click here for a downloadable copy of the Petition and bring it to your church, union, parent teacher meeting, and ask them to Sign the Petition. Hungry American children, the children of the poor and unemployed, are becoming the new face of America. All Our Voices are needed to fight against the influence of the very powerful, money ladened Wall Street and Corporate CEOs and the Military Industrial Complex.

http://www.jobs-not-wars.org/

******************


Become one of two million friends for peace! 

We call on the people of the world to help us find 2 Million Friends for peace in Afghanistan, & to ask for a ceasefire in Afghanistan.  

Please join me in this action:
    

Friday, December 21, 2012

I grieve for all the children killed by violence


The NRA is killing our children!


A Way to Stop the Violence

A Way to Stop the Violence - by David Swanson
http://warisacrime.org/content/way-stop-violence

The troubled souls (generally known in the media as "monsters" and
"lunatics") who keep shooting up schools and shopping centers, believe they
are solving deeper problems.  We all know, of course, that in reality they
are making things dramatically worse.

This is not an easy problem for us to solve.  We could make it harder to
obtain guns, and especially guns designed specifically for mass killings.
We could take on the problem with our entertainment: we have movies,
television shows, video games, books, and toys promoting killing as the way
to fix what ails us.  We could take on the problem of our news media: we
have newspapers and broadcast chatterers promoting killing as a necessary
tool of public policy.  We could reverse the past 40 years of rising
inequality, poverty, and plutocracy -- a trend that correlates with
violence in whatever country its found.

What we can't do is stop arming, training, funding, and supporting the mass
murderers in our towns and cities, because of course we haven't been
supporting them.  They aren't acting in our name as our representatives.
When our children run in horror from classrooms strewn with their
classmates' bloody corpses, they are running from killers never authorized
by us or elected by us.

This situation changes when we look abroad.

Picture a family in a house in Pakistan.  There's a little dot very high up
in the sky above.  It's making a buzzing noise.  The dot is an unmanned
airplane, a drone.  It's being flown from a desk in Nevada.  The family
knows what it is.  The children know what it is.  They know their lives may
be ended at any moment.  And they are traumatized.  They are in a constant
state of terror.  And then, one bright clear morning, they are torn limb
from limb, bleeding, screaming, groaning out their last breaths as their
home collapses into smoking rubble.

Picture a family in a house in Afghanistan.  They're asleep in their beds.
A door is kicked in. Incomprehensible words are shouted.  Bullets fly.
Loved ones are grabbed and dragged away, kicking and screaming with horror
-- never to be seen again.

The troubled souls (generally known in the media as "tax-payers") who keep
this far greater volume of violence going, believe they are solving deeper
problems.  But when we look closely, we see that in reality we are making
things dramatically worse.

That is the good news.  There is violence that we can much more easily
stop, because it is our violence.  The U.S. Army last week said that
targeting children in Afghanistan was perfectly acceptable.  The U.S.
President maintains a list of men, women, and children to be killed, and he
kills them -- but the vast majority of the people killed through that
program are people not on the list, people in the wrong place at the wrong
time (just like the people in our shopping malls and schools).

In fact, the vast majority of the people killed in our foreign wars are
simply bystanders.  And they are killed in their homes, their stores, their
schools, their weddings.  The violence that we can easily end looks very
much like the violence we find so difficult to address at home.  It doesn't
take place between a pair of armies on a battlefield.  It happens where its
victims live.

Were we to stop pouring $1.2 trillion each year into war preparations, we
would also be stopping the public funding of the manufacturers of the
weapons that rip open our loved ones and neighbors in our schools and
parking lots.  We would be altering dramatically the context in which we
generate public policy, public entertainment, and public myths about how
problems can be solved.  We would be saving lives every bit as precious as
any other lives, while learning how to go on to saving more.

One place to start, I believe, would be in withdrawing U.S. troops from
over 1,000 bases in other people's countries -- an imperial presence that
costs us $170 billion each year while building hostility and tensions, not
peace.  There's a reason why, at this time of year, we don't sing about
"Peace in My Backyard."  If we want peace on Earth, we must stop and
consider how to get it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Veterans for Peace Opposes Military Intervention in Syria

Veterans For Peace urgently calls on the United States and NATO to cease all military activity in Syria, halt all U.S. and NATO shipments of weapons, and abandon all threats to further escalate the violence under which the people of Syria are suffering. NATO troops and missiles should be withdrawn from Turkey and other surrounding nations. U.S. ships should exit the Mediterranean.

Veterans For Peace is an organization of veterans who draw upon their military experiences in working for the abolition of war. We have not entered into this work without consideration of many situations similar to the current one in Syria. Peace negotiations, while very difficult, will be easier now, and will do more good now, than after greater violence. Those negotiations must come, and delaying them will cost many men, women, and children their lives. No good can come from U.S. military intervention in Syria. The people of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and dozens of other nations in Latin America and around the world have not been made better off by U.S. military intervention.

While experts have great doubt that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons, while accounts of past use are dishonest, and while claims that such use is imminent are unsubstantiated and highly suspicious, the most likely way to provoke such use is the threat of an escalated foreign intervention. Required now by practicality, morality, and the law is de-escalation. The possession or use of one kind of weapon cannot justify the use of another. Were the Syrian government to use chemical weapons against Syrians, the United States would not be justified in using other kinds of weapons against Syrians. The United States possesses chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons, and possesses and uses cluster bombs, white phosphorus, depleted uranium weapons, mines, and weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles -- none of which justifies military attacks on the U.S. government.

The United States' own military actions kill far more civilians than combatants. The United States facilitates and tolerates governments' abuses of their own people in nations around the world and around Western Asia, notably in Bahrain -- not to mention in Syria, to which the United States has in recent years sent victims to have them tortured. The world does not believe U.S. motivations for intervention in Syria are humanitarian. The motivation has been too openly advertised as the overthrow of a government too friendly with the government of Iran and insufficiently subservient to NATO. Syria has been on a Pentagon list for regime change since at least 2001.

The threat of war, like the use of war, is a violation of the U.N. Charter, to which both the United States and Syria are parties. War without Congressional declaration is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Another U.S. war will not only breed hostility. It will directly arm and supply those already hostile to the U.S. government.How many times must we watch the same mistakes repeated?

The options are not limited to doing nothing or escalating warfare. Nonviolent resistance to tyranny has proven far more likely to succeed, and the successes far longer lasting. Nations and individuals outside of Syria should do what they can to facilitate the nonviolent pursuit of justice. But Syria's struggles should be controlled by the Syrian people without military intervention. The first step is a cease-fire and de-escalation. The U.S. military and NATO can assist only by departing.

Veterans For Peace is a national organization, founded in 1985 with approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans' organization calling for the abolishment of war.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The USA is on top of this graph



Kieran Healy, a sociologist at Duke University, made this graph of “deaths due to assault” in the United States and other developed countries. We are a clear outlier. As Healy writes, “The most striking features of the data are (1) how much more violent the U.S. is than other OECD countries (except possibly Estonia and Mexico, not shown here), and (2) the degree of change—and recently, decline—there has been in the U.S. time series considered by itself.”

++++++++++++++++
There have been several speculations as to why violent deaths have gone down in the USA since 1990. We do have more people in jail, but the vast majority of them are there for non-violent petty drug crimes. Abortions were legalized in the 1970's, thereby reducing the number of children who grew up unwanted, uncared for and unloved.  There has been speculation that the reduction of lead in our young adults bodies is the responsible factor. No one knows for sure.  But the increase in guns did not cause this, since the increase in guns did not take off until the 2000s, and did not REALLY take off until 2008.  This graph only covers up to 2010.  It does not cover 2011. My suspicion is that violent deaths are again on the rise in the USA, at least in the big cities.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Afghanistan, A Call for Peace

We call upon the United Nations to negotiate an immediate cease-fire to the war in Afghanistan, and to start talks aimed at ending the war and beginning the long road to healing and recovery. That's what the Afghan youth said on Tuesday afternoon in Kabul, along with Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire of Ireland, as they launched their "Two Million Friends for Afghanistan" campaign and presented their petition to a senior United Nations official.

For me, it was the climax of a heart-breaking, astonishing eight days in one of the poorest, most violent, most war-torn, most corrupt, and most polluted places on the planet -- and because of the amazing "Afghan Peace Volunteers," the 25 Afghan youth who live and work together in a community of peace and nonviolence -- one of the most hopeful.

All these Afghan youth have suffered from war and poverty, but as they point out, two million people have been killed in war in Afghanistan over the past four decades. After 10 years of Soviet war and occupation in the 1980s, then the Civil War in the early 1990s led by the corrupt warlords, then the years of oppression under the Taliban, and now 11 years of American war and occupation, they are sick of war. Their message is the same message we heard everywhere -- from a woman's cooperative, a children's school, a refugee camp, and even in Parliament -- "Stop the Killings. End the war. We want peace."

Here is what they said on Tuesday afternoon in Kabul:
We strongly urge the United Nations to broker a ceasefire in Afghanistan. We ask the United Nations to call on all the parties in the conflict, including competing warlords and the Taliban, the Karzai government, regional players and NATO, to lay down their weapons.

Each day the violence continues means a continuing humanitarian disaster for the people of Afghanistan. It is time for the parties in conflict to seek non-military alternatives and to work cooperatively to allocate the funds and resources necessary for a full reconstruction campaign in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan, especially Afghan mothers, cry out for the wars to cease and for their children to be fed and educated. We ask for their cries to be heard.

We believe that a negotiated ceasefire initiated by the United Nations will greatly assist Afghans in their wish to end the war. A ceasefire will pave the way for negotiations, reconciliation and the important responsibility to meet the humanitarian and socio-economic needs of 30 million Afghans.
[See: www.2millionfriends.org]

Mairead Maguire spoke from her experience of 30 years of warfare and division in Northern Ireland to call for an end to the killings and U.S. drone attacks and the start of dialogue and reconstruction, for a nonviolent solution to the horrific wars and divisions that have destroyed the country, and new, urgent work to relieve the terrible suffering among tens of millions of impoverished, starving, hopeless Afghans, especially the women and children.

This call for a ceasefire and peace talks was the best response to the pain and suffering we heard from the hundreds of people we met throughout our visit.

"Who will hear the voice of the suffering people?" one woman from a sewing cooperative asked us through her tears. "We have so much pain in our hearts because no one will hear us, no one will end this war."

"Afghanistan is a big hospital," another woman told us. "We see death every day and we're becoming numb to it. The U.S. is running a slaughterhouse, an abattoir where sheep are being slaughtered. When will this war end?"

"Finish this war," the leader of one of the refugee camps said to us as we sat on the ground under a United Nations' tent. "We don't want anyone else killed. No one in this camp wants this war to continue. After three decades of war, nothing has been gained. Nothing is being built. Everything is being destroyed. We are sick of war."

"This war has been a disaster for us, but also for the American people," parliamentarian and presidential candidate Dr. Bashardost told us. "It's a tragedy. Your own country is losing money and the lives of soldiers through it. You're only providing security for our warlords, the war criminals of Afghanistan. You are not with the Afghan people. You are with the enemy of the Afghan people. It's time to stop the killing, to stop supporting the killers." We need schools, homes, food and basic resources to clean up and rebuild our country, he said.

"We are all the same, all human beings, all living under the same blue sky," 15-year-old Ghulami of the Afghan Peace Volunteers says. "We should all be friends and learn to live in peace together."
"We want to be friends with the people of the world, with the youth of America," 16-year-old Abdulhai, who lost his father in the war, told me. "Tell everyone, if you don't know about us, or think we are terrorists, come meet us. Learn about us. We don't want war. We want to be at peace with everyone."
I urge people everywhere to join with the Afghan Peace Volunteers by signing their petition at www.2millionfriends.org; watching their videos at www.ourjourneytosmile.com; and pushing for an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan don't want to wait any longer, they told us. They want peace now.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Says it all


From FCNL - Holiday Conversation Guide about Iran

Nuclear Program

The Myth:

Iran has nuclear weapons, and the U.S. has to act militarily because Iran is threatening the U.S. and Israel.

The Facts:

Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and the assessment of U.S. intelligence in 2012 is that Iran has not made the decision to build them. Iran does have a nuclear energy program that provides electricity for homes and schools and a program for medical research using uranium. International inspectors who regularly monitor Iran’s uranium enrichment program with visits and surveillance cameras have expressed “serious concern” about Iran’s failure to be fully transparent about details of this program.

Israel

The Myth:

The US has to attack Iran to protect Israel.

The Facts:

Many former Israeli military and intelligence officials have stated publically that U.S. attack on Iran would increase violence in the Middle East and could ignite a regional war. This would make Israel less, rather than more, secure. Iran has not yet made the decision to develop a nuclear weapon, but some experts believe a military attack would push Iran into building a bomb.

Diplomacy

The Myth:

Diplomacy is impossible because Iran is bent on U.S. destruction.

The Facts:

Diplomacy isn’t easy, but it is the single most effective way to prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran. Iran and the U.S. have a long history of miscommunication and conflict. Political statements in Iran and the U.S. often make negotiations difficult. Right now, many members of Congress want Iran to make concessions before talks even happen – if diplomacy was going to be that easy, we wouldn’t need talks in the first place! But many U.S. officials believe diplomacy is the only way to solve the conflict with Iran.

Sanctions

The Myth:

Economic sanctions are the best way to “defeat” Iran.

The Facts:

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Iran for more than 30 years -- yet during that time, conflict has only increased between our two countries. In the last few years, the U.S. has dramatically escalated sanctions on Iran in ways that are having a devastating impact on ordinary Iranians and have gravely undermined diplomatic efforts. Many experts believe more sanctions will pave the path to war. A new report signed by 36 former U.S. military officers and national security experts warns of the severe costs of escalating sanctions against Iran.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Upcoming events in the Asheville area this week



Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, Jolly Yule, Happy New Years, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Boxing Day (for Canadians and Brits).

UPCOMING EVENTS

12/17/12 ABCRC 2012 HOLIDAY CELEBRATION LUNCH
Come and join us in celebration, as we honor the past, and usher in an exciting future!
Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council will soon be hosting its 2012 Holiday Celebration Lunch, and you are invited. Join us for fellowship, fun and our forward movement! Time is Noon to 2 PM and location is the ABCRC offices at 50 S. French Broad Avenue, Suite 204. Please RSVP at 828-252-4713.

12/17/12 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE WEEKLY MEETING
This meeting will be at 6:30 PM at First Congregational Church of Christ. Please enter by the back door. This is the last meeting for Occupy Asheville for this year. All are welcome.

12/20/12 BINDING FORCE OF RACIAL IDEALS ON WHITE BEHAVIOR AND BELIEFS
Join Professor Matthew Hughey, author of White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists, and the Shared Meanings of Race, to discuss how dominant racial stereotypes structure the actions and beliefs of white people across the political spectrum, from progressives to racists. Firestorm Café and Books at 6 PM.

12/22/12 WESTERN CAROLINIANS FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE VIGIL
Western Carolinians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East is launching its boycott campaign against products produced in illegal Israeli settlements with a vigil on December 22nd from 12 – 2 p.m. at the entrance to Best Buy near Asheville Mall. We are targeting SodaStream, a home seltzer maker; made in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim (West Bank occupied Palestine). All are welcome. Contact Suchi at 669-2073 or Elizabeth at 669-3616 for more information.

12/28/12 ASHEVILLE HOMELESS PARADE
This event is in defense of the rights of our homeless brothers and sisters here in Asheville and a rejection of the criminalization of homelessness the City has overseen throughout the past three-four years. The Parade will begin at Pritchard Park at 2 PM and march to Vance Memorial where speakers from the homeless community will speak.

12/30/12 to 01/01/13 ALTERNATIVE NEW YEARS
This is a gathering and vigil at the gates of Trident Nuclear Submarine base, with cabins at Crooked River State Park in Georgia. For more information, to reserve a space from Asheville and for carpool info, contact Clare with New South Network of War Resisters at newsouthnetwork@gmail.com or call  828-242-5610.  

01/02/13 SIERRA CLUB MEETING
Wayne Coldwell and Steve Woody will discuss Cataloochee and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Program starts at 7:15 PM and location is Unitarian Church at Edwin Place and Charlotte Street.

01/03/13 VETERANS FOR PEACE MEETING
Time is 6:30 PM and location is VFP HQ at the Phil Mechanic Studios: 109 Roberts Street in Asheville. VFP Chapter 099: http://vfpchapter099wnc.blogspot.com/

01/05/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
This meeting will be held at 3 PM at Pritchard Park.  General Assemblies are held on the first Saturday of the month.  Please note the change in time.  All are welcome.

01/05/13 GREEN PARTY MEETING
The Buncombe County GREEN Party's business meeting is open to the public. It will be held from 10 AM to noon, upstairs in the Fortune Building, 729 Haywood Rd., West Asheville. Contact Ronald @ 828-LUCK-180 or Larry @ 828-225-4347 for more information.

01/08/13 JUSTICE FRIENDS’ NIGHT
Kicking off a regular social event to be held at Firestorm Cafe. This is an informal gathering of Greens together with other folks in the Asheville community, people with an activist mindset who are interested in topics related to justice. This is a discussion group and a social event. Time is 7 PM.

01/11/13 MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC AGAINST GUANTANAMO
Orange jumpsuits optional.

01/12/13 PROTEST DRONE BOMBINGS
This will be held at CIA headquarters in Virginia.  

01/05/13 PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF NORTH CAROLINA ANNUAL MEETING
This will be in Winston-Salem from 9:30 to 5 PM.  http://www.progressivedemocratsnc.org/blog/node/1705

01/17/12 YOUTH CELEBRATION, PEACE MARCH AND RALLY
This will also include a candlelight service.  The Youth Celebration begins at 4 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. This is hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County.

01/19/13 MARTIN LUTHER KING PRAYER BREAKFAST
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County will hold its 32nd annual Prayer Breakfast at the Grove Park Inn on Saturday, January 19, 2013. The guest speaker is Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe. Dr. Bledsoe is founder and Executive Director of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB), a national organization that works on behalf of African American and Latino males in middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. The former Vice President for Student Life and Special Assistant to the President at the University of Toledo, he has served at a guest lecturer at the Oxford University Roundtable Institute in Oxford, England. Tickets to the breakfast cost $25 for adults ($30 as of Jan. 1, 2013); $15 for children 12 and under; and $35 for patrons. The breakfast begins at 8:30 AM.  Tickets can be ordered by telephone at 828-335-6896 or 828-301-8968, or by email at editor@myowneditor.com.

01/20/13 OCCUPY ASHEVILLE PARTY AND FUNDRAISER
This will be a potluck at Rosetta’s Kitchen and will start at 5 PM. It is also a fundraiser for Ben Scales, Attorney, who has helped many of the Occupy people who were arrested. More details to come.

01/21/13 PEACE MARCH AND RALLY FOR JUSTICE IN HONOR OF MLK
The Peace March and Rally begin at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 – the official King holiday – with a brief service at St. James AME Church on Hildebrand Street at Martin Luther King Boulevard downtown. Participants march to City-County Plaza at noon, where speakers and musicians join in a Rally for Justice. Occupy Asheville will participate.

01/23/13 MLK WEEK KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT UNCA
“Looking to the Future” by Gwendolyn Boyd. Time is 7 PM and location is Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. Gwendolyn Boyd illustrates the relevance of Dr. King’s work today by combining science, education and service to create concrete change in her community and the world. She became the first African-American woman to earn an M.S. in mechanical engineering at Yale University. In the spirit of Dr. King, Boyd inspires change appropriate to our times. She is a prominent advocate for women’s equality and the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. Boyd has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Important Blacks in Technology by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards.

01/21/13 to 01/25/13 MLK WEEK AT UNCA
Check http://msp.unca.edu/mlk2013 in January for a full list of activities.

02/17/13 CLIMATE ACTION DAY IN DC
Click here to RSVP to tell the President to join us: act.350.org/signup/presidentsday

02/22/13 THE PARCHMAN HOUR AT UNCA
“Remembering the Past:  Freedom Rider Vignettes” at 8 PM at Lipinsky Auditorium. Free. In the fiery first months of America's Civil Rights movement, waves of college students rode buses into the heart of the Deep South. Many were brutally attacked, arrested and imprisoned in Mississippi's notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary. To help them endure, they invented "The Parchman Hour," a live variety show inspired by radio and TV programs. The Parchman Hour, a Mike Wiley production, brings to the stage powerful oral histories and conversations from the Freedom Riders including Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

*******************************************
ONGOING EVENTS
*******************************************
TUESDAY
Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 4:30 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

WEDNESDAY
Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood Country Courthouse in Waynesville.

THURSDAY
Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 2 PM at Firestorm Cafe.
Anti-racism Group Discussion at 5:30 PM on the third Thursday of the month at Firestorm Cafe.

FRIDAY
Women in Black have a vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square (Asheville) on the first Friday of the month.
Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville

SATURDAY
Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard.
Occupy Asheville General Assembly on the first Saturday of the month. 4 PM at Pritchard Park.

*******************************************
ACTIONS AND READINGS
*******************************************

Leah Bolger, President of Veterans for Peace talked about her trip to Pakistan to investigate drone bombings.

This was a phone/internet meeting on 12-12-12.

Pakistani Opinion & Politics
*75% say US is the enemy
*Pakistanis do see the difference between Americans and their government, and Leah’s group was always treated warmly

Information on drones from Stanford and Investigative Bureau of Journalists.

She showed short film from Brave New Films (no sound though).

Pashtun Culture – covers Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they do not recognize the border.  They follow communal living and believe in hospitality (will defend guests with own lives) and revenge. Women are very private and did not talk to this delegation. Problems solved by jergas (sp?)– a group meeting.

Obama targets based on “signature strikes” meaning that the act or dress or live in the area of what they consider a “proper target” which means a military aged male for the most part.  GPS chips are used to target specific people.  US will name a terrorist killed, sometimes multiple times, with no verification.

She talked about how the drone strikes impacted the people on the ground.  They are under threat of drone attacks 24/7.  It is making people suicidal.  Children are afraid to go to school. Changed cultural norms – weddings used to be large, but now they are afraid of large gatherings. Same for funerals, since they are targeted by drones. People are afraid to meet in groups. People are relocating, or sending their children to live elsewhere.

There is no compensation for injuries, loss of income, or property damage.  Often times, there is no medical care available.

They had 3 meetings with tribal leaders and victims of the drone bombings. There are in rural areas and communication is difficult.  Pakistani army is complicit in keeping things secret. They do not even release the names of the women who were injured or killed, because of cultural norms and privacy issues.  There is no record keeping of births, deaths, etc. No pictures of women either.  One man showed a scrap of dress to show his wife was killed.

Leah had a video on their journey in Pakistan, but did not sho it.  She will post to V4P website. The Pakistani politician they traveled with was very popular and people greeted them everywhere. Then she talked about legal issues, like UN Charter, Geneva Conventions and US Constitution. The drone strikes violate sovereignty.  There is no transparency or accountability since it is CIA and classified. No evidence or charges are presented; there is no positive identification and no chance to surrender.  “Double tap” means they go after first responders – a flagrant violation of international law.

These are extrajudicial assassinations.

They had 2 meetings with Ambassador Hoagland for Pakistan. In first meeting, he guaranteed the convoy would not be a target of a drone strike. Leah suggested that they would position Americans around Pakistan to stop the drone strikes, to protect the Pakistanis.  He claimed that civilian casualties are in “two digits”. Leah said they are over 3,000.  They discussed “double tap” and compensation for injuries or damage.  Ambassador thought compensation would be good, but is not possible.  Also told him about Stanford Report, but he did not read it before second meeting (after the convoy into Warzirastan).  He has not met with any victims and denies applicability of international laws on drones at this time. He denied that visibility or audibility of drones and denied the veracity of photos and stories. He seemed to be indifferent to their reports. Leah found the indifference to be very upsetting. He took no notes and asked few questions. Hoagland claimed that there are no strikes when women and children are present. He was offended to their talk about Obama’s “kill list”.

What we can do:  educate yourself and others
Join anti-drone organization
Get a drone replica – wheel into farmer’s market and have a die-in (a participant said they took their drone replica to a UN meeting and in front of capital building in Madison WI)
Protest outside of drone bases or drone manufacturers
Host a speaker in your town – the whole team of folks
Lobby and pressure Congress

Some websites:
www.dronewatch.org
www.livingunderdrones.org
www.thebureauinvestigates.com
www.rightsadvocacy.org
www.reprieve.org.uk

Code Pink is hiring a full time person to keep on top of drones.

April 6 – National No Drones Day
San Diego Chapter of VFP is hosting DroneDiego and they hope to make this a series of international days of actions from April 4 to 7.  Dave Patterson is heading this action. There is also a VFP drone working group.

Same presentation on Wednesday, December 19, 2012!

******************
Last year, RootsAction.org was born.

Now, close to 200,000 RootsAction activists have signed up for our email activism alerts. We're already a political force to be reckoned with -- and we're just getting started!

RootsAction is an independent force committed to economic fairness, equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection -- and defunding endless wars.

That’s why so many great progressives were glad to endorse RootsAction from the outset. Barbara Ehrenreich. Daniel Ellsberg. Naomi Klein. Cornel West. Jim Hightower. Laura Flanders. Coleen Rowley. Glenn Greenwald. Bill Fletcher Jr. Former U.S. Senator James Abourezk.

In the next few days -- with your help -- RootsAction's membership can zoom over the 200,000 mark. Please take 15 seconds to join up!

http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6503/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=6528&tag=SRC[[supporter_KEY

******************

Dear Friend of Veterans For Peace,

Please become a part of this movement to Rebuild our Country - Move our Tax Dollars from the Pentagon to Job Creation and Human Needs. We need a new set of priorities that place the needs of the people ahead of the profits of the privileged.

Peace and Justice Groups, Military Families, Veterans, Unions, Retirees, and the Unemployed are all supporting our Jobs Not Wars Petition demanding that Congress and our President Give Us Work Not War. If you have yet signed, simply click here to Sign the Petition.

If you have already signed, we Thank You!

Please continue to help Spread the Word by forwarding this Petition to all your friends and associates.  If you belong to an organization, no matter how big or small, who agrees with our Petition, ask them to Endorse the Campaign Here

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/302/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=11931

A Quick Summary of our Petition’s Demands:
End the War in Afghanistan Now
Make Substantial Cuts to the Over-bloated, Out-of- Control Pentagon budget
Create Good Paying Jobs
Let the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2%
The wealthiest and corporations must do their fair share and pay a little more
Protect our social safety net including Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid
Rely on negotiation and determined diplomacy rather than military power  

Click here for a downloadable copy of the Petition and bring it to your church, union, parent teacher meeting, and ask them to Sign the Petition. Hungry American children, the children of the poor and unemployed, are becoming the new face of America. All Our Voices are needed to fight against the influence of the very powerful, money ladened Wall Street and Corporate CEOs and the Military Industrial Complex.

http://www.jobs-not-wars.org/

******************

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Phone meeting on Pakistan and drones





Leah Bolger, President of Veterans for Peace talked about her trip to Pakistan to investigate drone bombings.

This phone/internet meeting was on 12-12-12.
 
Pakistani Opinion & Politics
*75% say US is the enemy
*Pakistanis do see the difference between Americans and their government, and Leah’s group was always treated warmly

Information on drones from Stanford and Investigative Bureau of Journalists.

She showed short film from Brave New Films (no sound though). I believe it is the film above, but I am not certain.

Pashtun Culture – covers Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they do not recognize the border.  They follow communal living and believe in hospitality (will defend guests with own lives) and revenge. Women are very private and did not talk to this delegation. Problems solved by jergas (sp?)– a group meeting.

Obama targets based on “signature strikes” meaning that the act or dress or live in the area of what they consider a “proper target” which means a military aged male for the most part.  GPS chips are used to target specific people.  US will name a terrorist killed, sometimes multiple times, with no verification. 

She talked about how the drone strikes impacted the people on the ground.  They are under threat of drone attacks 24/7.  It is making people suicidal.  Children are afraid to go to school. Changed cultural norms – weddings used to be large, but now they are afraid of large gatherings. Same for funerals, since they are targeted by drones. People are afraid to meet in groups. People are relocating, or sending their children to live elsewhere. 

There is no compensation for injuries, loss of income, or property damage.  Often times, there is no medical care available.

They had 3 meetings with tribal leaders and victims of the drone bombings. There are in rural areas and communication is difficult.  Pakistani army is complicit in keeping things secret. They do not even release the names of the women who were injured or killed, because of cultural norms and privacy issues.  There is no record keeping of births, deaths, etc. No pictures of women either.  One man showed a scrap of dress to show his wife was killed. 

Leah had a video on their journey in Pakistan, but did not sho it.  She will post to V4P website. The Pakistani politician they traveled with was very popular and people greeted them everywhere. Then she talked about legal issues, like UN Charter, Geneva Conventions and US Constitution. The drone strikes violate sovereignty.  There is no transparency or accountability since it is CIA and classified. No evidence or charges are presented; there is no positive identification and no chance to surrender.  “Double tap” means they go after first responders – a flagrant violation of international law. 

These are extrajudicial assassinations.

They had 2 meetings with Ambassador Hoagland for Pakistan. In first meeting, he guaranteed the convoy would not be a target of a drone strike. Leah suggested that they would position Americans around Pakistan to stop the drone strikes, to protect the Pakistanis.  He claimed that civilian casualties are in “two digits”. Leah said they are over 3,000.  They discussed “double tap” and compensation for injuries or damage.  Ambassador thought compensation would be good, but is not possible.  Also told him about Stanford Report, but he did not read it before second meeting (after the convoy into Warzirastan).  He has not met with any victims and denies applicability of international laws on drones at this time. He denied that visibility or audibility of drones and denied the veracity of photos and stories. He seemed to be indifferent to their reports. Leah found the indifference to be very upsetting. He took no notes and asked few questions. Hoagland claimed that there are no strikes when women and children are present. He was offended to their talk about Obama’s “kill list”. 

What we can do:  educate yourself and others
Join anti-drone organization
Get a drone replica – wheel into farmer’s market and have a die-in (a participant said they took their drone replica to a UN meeting and in front of capital building in Madison WI)
Protest outside of drone bases or drone manufacturers
Host a speaker in your town – the whole team of folks are available
Lobby and pressure Congress

Some websites:

Code Pink is hiring a full time person to keep on top of drones. 

April 6 – National No Drones Day
San Diego Chapter of VFP is hosting DroneDiego and they hope to make this a series of international days of actions from April 4 to 7.  Dave Patterson is heading this action. There is also a VFP drone working group. 

Same presentation next Wednesday evening!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Firing someone for speaking back to racism



Former KTBS-TV meteorologist Rhonda Lee (above).

This was a Facebook post:

“The black lady that does the news is a very nice lady.the only thing is she needs to wear a wig or grow some more hair. im not sure if she is a cancer patient. but still its not something myself that i think looks good on tv. what about letting someone a male have waist long hair do the news.what about that (cq).”  – Viewer Emmitt Vascocu, addressing Shreveport, La. ABC affiliate KTBS-TV’s meteorologist Rhonda Lee‘s hairstyle, a short natural afro.

This was the response from Ms. Rhonda Lee:

Hello Emmitt–I am the ‘black lady’ to which you are referring. I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer. I’m a non-smoking, 5’3, 121 lbs, 25 mile a week running, 37.5 year old woman, and I’m in perfectly healthy physical condition.

I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward. Many Black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more European grade of hair and that is their choice. However in my case I don’t find it necessary. I’m very proud of who I am and the standard of beauty I display. Women come in all shapes, sizes, nationalities, and levels of beauty. Showing little girls that being comfortable in the skin and HAIR God gave me is my contribution to society. Little girls (and boys for that matter) need to see that what you look like isn’t a reason to not achieve their goals. Conforming to one standard isn’t what being American is about and I hope you can embrace that. Thank you for your comment and have a great weekend and thank for watching.”

Vascocu replied that Lee was right to be proud of who she is and that he is not a racist, but ". . . this world has . . . certain standerd (cq). if youve come from a world of being poor are you going to dress in rags?..."

Story here.

I looked up the TV website and the email address to contact there.  I sent this email to gsirven@KTBS.com:

“Ms. Rhonda Lee's response to the racist Facebook posting was graceful beyond belief.  She must be an outstanding human being to be so gracious and kind in the face of such racism. The GM and ND of KTBS need to be fired for firing such a wonderful person.  They are either racist or just plain old idiots, but clearly KTBS needs to get rid of the BS that these two people have sprouted on such a wonderful person as Ms. Lee. And make no mistake:  this is not about hair, and it is not about responses on social media.  THIS IS ABOUT RACISM. And racism is always about vast stupidity.”

And this is the response I got back:

Typically this station does not comment on personnel matters, but due to the publicity and interest about this issue, the station has included the following statement.  

On November 28, 2012, KTBS dismissed two employees for repeated violation of the station’s written procedure. We can confirm that Rhonda Lee was one of the employees. Another employee was a white male reporter who was an eight year veteran of the station. The policy they violated provided a specific procedure for responding to viewer comments on the official KTBS Facebook page. Included is an email that was sent to all new department employees informing them of this procedure. This procedure is based on advice from national experts and commonly used by national broadcast and cable networks and local television stations across the country. 

Unfortunately, television personalities have long been subject to harsh criticism and negative viewer comments about their appearance and performance. If harsh viewer comments are posted on the station’s official website, there is a specific procedure to follow.

Ms. Rhonda Lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. Rhonda Lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance.  She was fired for continuing to violate company procedure.

And here was a copy of the email they included, that has this policy:



I still think it is racism behind all this.  It is shameful enough when they don't stand up for their employee when racist comments are directed at her, but then to fire her for her very gracious response is beyond the pale.