GOP Convention Delayed a Day, But Let the Exposing of their Hypocrisy Begin!

August 27, 2012

Concerns over Hurricane Isaac have postponed the Republican convention by a day (and I hope the Gulf Coast gets lucky and receives nothing but some much needed rain for a parched landscape), but why wait to expose GOP hypocrisy over military spending and war? (Not that the Dems are all of the sudden the party of Gandhi of course! Presidential kill lists anyone?)

Politico got things started early with its report on Saturday that the GOP platform had been posted online, by mistake. It’s a doozy, with prominence given to “American Exceptionalism.” (Thanks to Stephen Schwartz, Editor of The Nonproliferation Review, for the heads up on this.)

Also over the weekend, Carol Giacomo’s New York Times editorial “How Mitt Romney Would Force-Feed the Pentagon” calls Romney and Paul Ryan to account for their alleged fiscal restraint, which of course doesn’t apply to our gargantuan Penatagon budget. Our own Larry Wittner, Peace Action national board member and Professor Emeritus at SUNY/Albany, writes in a similar vein in his article “The Republican Small Government Fraud” on the History News Network.

Finally, some videos from our colleagues at Brave New Films, in an ongoing series called War Costs. These first two bash at some low-hanging Pentagon budget fruit – NASCAR sponsorships and golf courses – but they’ll soon have films on more serious Pentagon boondoggles.

All of this is terrfici grist for our Move the Money mill! More soon on our Move the Money grassroots training program.

 


Not Again! Peace Action Agrees with Washington Post Editorial for Second Time in 5 Weeks!

August 20, 2012

Yep, hard to believe, but the Washington Post editorial board got it right again this morning with Exploding Costs, an editorial questioning the wisdom of devoting up to $10 billion of our tax dollars to “refurbish” the B-61 nuclear gravity bomb. It’s a dumb idea for a “dumb bomb” (i.e. not a “smart bomb” with all the precision guidance gizmos on it) for many reasons, not the least of which many or most of these bombs are deployed on U.S. bombers based in Europe, and there is a growing consensus, among Europeans but even some U.S. policymakers, that getting rid of the stupid things in a treaty with Russia to eliminate “tactical” nukes in Europe makes way more sense than “modernizing” them.

There are at least two concerns the the Post editorial didn’t raise. The first is that there are serious concerns among independent watchdogs of the nuclear weapons laboratories that “Life Extension Programs” could do more than “refurbish” existing nuclear warheads; they could result in new warhead designs, something the rest of the world would be very concerned about and would undercut our leadership in non-proliferation and arms reductions.

The second is the larger context, in which “refurbishment” or “Life Extension Programs” for U.S. nuclear warheads is part of a very expensive proposed scheme to spend close to $200 billion over the next decade “modernizing” the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex, our warhead designs and their delivery systems (bombers, submarines and missiles).

Is that a good idea? Can we effectively preach nuclear non-proliferation to the rest of the world while “modernizing” our entire nuclear arsenal and production capacity? How is that consistent with President Obama’s pledge to seek the security of a world without nuclear weapons?

Even if one can answer those questions, how in the world could we afford that sum, as all manner of social programs face the chopping block?

If you are so moved, write the Post (email letters@washpost.com or  comment on the webpage of the editorial) and give them an “attaboy!” for the editorial, but also feel free to bring in these or other points.


War! What is it Good For? A TV Show? Tell NBC to Cancel “Stars Earn Stripes”

August 16, 2012

Stupidest. Show. Ever. Tell NBC to cancel its asinine “Star Earns Stripes” “reality show” that is meant to “honor the troops.”

How does trivializing war honor the troops? Peace Action of New York State is on the case, helping lead protests at NBC headquarters in New York City (the next protest is on Monday, please join if you can, 5:00 pm at Rockefeller Center, 49th St. between 5th and 6th Aves.!). PANYS’s site also has a clip from the Colbert Report giving NBC the skewering it deserves.

And please sign and circulate the petition to NBC telling them to cancel this stupid show.


11th Annual Human Rights on the Hill! Schedule of events and speakers 8/15-17

August 14, 2012

I’m speaking Thursday at 1:30 but look at the whole terrific lineup of speakers on peace, justice, human rights and environmental issues below!

The Eleventh Annual University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law International Human & Peoples’ Rights Law Program – Human Rights on the Hill – in collaboration with the Hawaii Institute for Human Rights and the Four Freedoms Forum, will take place from August 13 – 18, 2012 at the UDC Law School Building, 4340 Connecticut Ave., NW Washington DC 20008 (Van Ness/UDC Metro)

August 15  Wednesday

*9:00 a.m.

Building Movements for the Just Transition to an Ecologically Sane Economy

Janet Redman

Co-Director Sustainable Energy & Economy Network

Institute for Policy Studies

*10:30 a.m.

Human Rights in Asia:

The Case of Uyghurs Campaign for Dignity & Self-Determination

Rebiya Kadeer

World Uyghur Congress

Uyghur Human Rights Project

*12:00 p.m.

8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival

Rio+20 Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Conversations with the Earth Indigenous Voices on Climate Change

WITNESS Testify! & Youth on Climate Change

*1:30 p.m.

The Universal Periodic Review in the United States of America

Kelly C. Landry

Foreign Affairs Officer

U.S. Department of State

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

*3:00 p.m.

Climate Change & Human Rights

Siobhan McInerney-Lankford

Senior Policy Officer, Institutions, Law and Partnerships for Human Rights

The World Bank

*4:00 p.m.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Potential for Ratification & Realization for Children’s Rights in America

Mark Engman

UNICEF USA

August 16  Thursday

*9:00 a.m.

The Right to Water at Rio+20 &

The Rights of Nature Movement in International Law

Darcey O’Callaghan

International Policy Director

Food and Water Watch

*10:30 a.m.

Local Human Rights Lawyering:

Bringing the Global Human Rights Movement

Home to Our Grassroots Community

Lauren Bartlett

Local Human Rights Lawyering Project Director

Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

American University Washington College of Law

12:00 p.m.

8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival

Rio+20 Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Miss South Pacific Beauty and the Sea

*1:30 p.m.

America’s Foreign Policy Rooted in Peace, Human Rights & Rule of Law:

A New Direction from End of Empire to Era of Multilateral Engagement for Democracy

Kevin Martin

Executive Director, Peace Action

*3:00 p.m.

Connecting with Disenfranchised Communities in the United States of America &

Around the World to Promote Human Rights:

The Role of a Peacemaker

Global Citizenship:

Roles & Responsibilities

Michael Beer

Executive Director, Nonviolence International

4:30 p.m.

A Conversation Across the Country of a Midterm Analysis

of the Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America

Joshua Cooper

Director, Four Freedoms Forum

August 17 Friday

*9:00 a.m.

The Organization of American States: Human Rights in the Americas

Luis Toro

Senior Legal Officer

Department of International Law

*10:30 a.m.

Nonviolence in a Time of War

Colman McCarthy

Director, Center for Teaching Peace

Columnist, The Washington Post

12:00 p.m.

8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival

Rio+20 Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Taking Root The Vision of Wangari Maathai

*1:30 p.m.

Oceans & Human Rights at Rio+20

Phil Kline

Greenpeace USA

*3:00 p.m.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities:

The Steps Toward Ratification of a UN Convention in Summer 2012

*4:30 p.m.

8th Annual Human Rights Film Festival

Rio+20 Global Perspectives on Sustainable Development

Special Feature on Local Visions of Self-Determination

August 18

Excursion of Empowerment

Around Washington D.C.

Roundezvous at National Museum of the American Indian


Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Declarations by UN Sec-Gen and the two cities’ mayors

August 14, 2012

I have had the privilege of attending the August 6th and 9th Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations three times as a guest of our sister organization Gensuikin, and our Organizing and Policy Director, Paul Kawika Martin, was just there for the third time as well. The occasions never fail to inspire and amaze, as the two cities come alive with an infectious spirit of peace-building, even as the commemorations are appropriately somber in recalling the horror of the U.S. atomic bombings of those two cities, now 67 years ago.

Here are links to the remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue. The last has a cool feature, you can click to indicate your support for the Nagasaki Peace Declaration.


Honor Nuclear Weapons Treaty

August 13, 2012

Salt Lake City Tribune

By Christine Meecham And Deb Sawyer

Published August 9, 2012 1:01 am

 

For much of this year, the prospect of Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state has been a major international concern. As members of the Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, we have a perspective we’d like to share concerning the potential proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We both grew up in Utah during the Cold War, when the threat of mass annihilation was very real. As young adults we were hopeful when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was put into force in 1970. The grand bargain of the NPT was simple: Nations that did not have nuclear weapons agreed never to acquire them, while the five nuclear states, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, agreed to share the peaceful benefits of nuclear technology as they pursued the elimination of their nuclear arsenal. Making sure that both ends of this agreement are honored is essential to the long-term viability of the NPT.

Now the countries with nuclear weapons also include Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Unlike the Cold War, today our greatest national security threats come from the breakdown of the non-proliferation regime and nuclear terrorism. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there are at least 40 other nations with the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, which brings us back to the current conflict with Iran.

Despite the censures, sanctions and embargoes, Iran continues its nuclear program claiming that it is within its rights to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and threatening to withdraw, as did North Korea, from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Iran withdraws from the NPT, efforts to ensure that its enriched uranium not be diverted to develop nuclear weapons would no longer be subject to oversight by the UN nuclear agency. In addition, it would bring us one step closer to another war in the Middle East.

We believe it is time to take another tack. Many of the NPT non-nuclear states believe that the nuclear-weapon states have not complied with their side of the bargain. In an attempt to reassure the non-proliferation regime, President Obama, in his Prague speech in April 2009, outlined a series of initiatives that would honor our disarmament commitment and lead to a nuclear-weapons free world. One of the first steps toward this end is putting a permanent ban on nuclear weapons testing.

Twenty years ago in 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed a moratorium on nuclear testing and other states followed. In 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed, but the Senate failed to ratify it in 1999.

What if the United States surprised the world and ratified the test ban treaty? Since our experts maintain that we don’t need to test nuclear weapons to keep them viable, doesn’t it make sense to make this moratorium permanent? Wouldn’t it go a long way in affirming our commitment to nuclear disarmament?

One thing is certain, if we continue to bolster our nuclear capabilities, no amount of persuasion or sanctions will keep non-nuclear states, particularly our political foes, from eventually acquiring these weapons of mass destruction. In contrast, if we honor our commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we will be leading the global community towards a greater security for all.

Christine Meecham and Deb Sawyer are members of the Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Both live in Salt Lake City.

(Note – the Utah Campaign is an organizational member of Peace Action.)


Ban the Bomb, Don’t Bank on It!

August 6, 2012

Published on Monday, August 6, 2012 by Common Dreams

Ban the Bomb, Don’t Bank on It!

by Jennifer Nordstrom and Kevin Martin

August 6th and 9th mark the 67th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Close to 200,000 people were killed in mere moments in these attacks by the United States, in some of the most gruesome and horrific ways possible. Each year, people around the world reflect on this solemn occasion, and peace activists rededicate themselves to abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide.

We owe it to the Hibakusha (a-bomb survivors) to analyze how well we are doing in this quest. While substantial reductions in sheer numbers of nuclear weapons have been made, particularly in the giant arsenals of the U.S. and Russia, we are not moving nearly fast enough toward a nuclear weapons-free world. This is largely due to a combination of public indifference, lack of political courage and will in elected officials and the vested interests and power of the Dr. Strangeloves in the nuclear weapons establishment. An honest assessment of the global nuclear disarmament movement calls for new strategies to “Ban the Bomb.”

Our movement needs new energy, new activists, and new strategies to revitalize the vital work for nuclear abolition. It is time to learn from other vibrant and creative new movements targeting the corporate powers that undermine the will and interests of the people. Our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) have produced a powerful tool to help us do exactly that. Don’t Bank on the Bomb is a comprehensive study of the largest nuclear weapons corporations worldwide and the companies with whom they do business. The report outlines ideas for boycott and divestment campaigns targeting the corporations that make or help fund nuclear weapons.

Most of the large nuclear weapons producers – Babcock and Wilcox, Bechtel, Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, to name a few – are hard to boycott, as they don’t make much in the way of consumer products one can choose not to buy. (One nuclear weapons company that may be a surprise is Rolls-Royce, but the cost of their cars means they are under a de facto boycott by all but the top 1%!).

However, a veritable Who’s Who (or perhaps a rogues’ gallery) of U.S. and international corporations invest in or help finance the corporations making nuclear weapons – JP Morgan Chase, Key Bank, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, MetLife, Allstate, Mass Mutual, Travelers Insurance, TIAA-CREF (a large mutual fund that is supposedly “socially screened”) and Nuveen Investments are among the hundreds of firms involved in the Bomb-making business. They are all ripe for targeting in boycott and/or divestment campaigns to pressure them to stop banking on the Bomb.

Pull out your wallet – look at your ATM and credit or debit cards – you are most likely doing business with companies who finance nuclear weapons. The companies holding your mortgage, providing your life insurance and holding your mutual funds or other investments may well help finance nuclear weapons. So you have the opportunity to have a direct and immediate impact on the production of nuclear weapons: you can stop doing business with the corporations that profit from making nuclear weapons.

This also presents an opportunity for peace and disarmament supporters to link with activists boycotting or divesting from corporations for other good reasons, over their banking, environmental, labor, trade or policy practices (the Move our Money campaign, which encourages consumers to take their deposits out of big banks and put them instead in community banks and credit unions, being a great example).

Boycott and divestment campaigns have been successful tools for social change around the world and are a needed companion (and for some, a necessary alternative) to the painstakingly slow (and some would argue unresponsive and undemocratic) legislative process, especially on military and foreign policy. This kind of campaign gives us an opportunity to build our movement with an achievable strategy and short-term winnable goals, which will energize old and new activists alike while it moves us a step closer to a nuclear-weapons-free world.

Public opinion polls consistently show strong public support for ending the war in Afghanistan, serious cuts in military spending, and the global abolition of nuclear weapons, to name just a few peace movement priorities, yet progress on those issues is glacial, with one key reason being the economic and political clout of the war machine.

Divestment organizing is a different ball of wax from consumer boycotts, as it seeks to put pressure from institutional investors on corporations in order to change their behavior. The largest churches or mutual funds divesting from companies over their support for the nuclear weapons industry would send a powerful message, and we hope to help catalyze campaigns in this vein.

Whether engaging in boycott or divestment campaigns, or both, people taking action, together, that reflects their values and aspirations for a more peaceful and just society, is empowering, and it’s what is needed to change the world. A-bomb survivors determined that the horror they experienced 67 years ago never happen again is one of the most inspiring examples of activism we know.

As our Hibakusha friends teach us:

No More Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis! No more Hibakusha! No More War!
May we add: No More Nuclear Weapons Profiteering!

Jennifer Nordstrom

Jennifer Nordstrom serves on the board of directors of the Peace Action Education Fund.

Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin is Executive Director of Peace Action, the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with 100,000 members and over 70,000 on-line supporters. Please contact him at kmartin@peace-action.org if you are interested in being involved or supporting a new boycott/divestment campaign targeting nuclear weapons makers and their investors.


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