Peace Action Conference in Boston Nov. 8 – Chomsky, Kinzer, Bennis, Fletcher, Le Blanc and you!

October 22, 2014

A Foreign Policy for All

Re-Thinking U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Saturday, November 8, 2014, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
MIT Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 

Confirmed Speakers
Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor, author,Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order Bill Fletcher, former president, Trans Africa Forum; author, They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 other Myths about Unions Phyllis Bennis, director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies Stephen KinzerBoston  columnist;  author,

Globe columnist;  author,The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

Judith Leblanc, Field Director, Peace Action; former co-chair, UFPJ; member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma

After over a decade of costly military engagements in overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains an interventionist, military-first foreign policy. Weary of this unsustainable status quo, growing numbers of Americans are engaging in a wide-ranging debate about the values and goals of U.S. foreign policy, the necessary levels of military spending, and the appropriate role for the U.S. in the world in the 21st century. As a result, there is now a unique window of opportunity for deep and critical reflection over the key priorities of U.S. foreign policy going forward.

In this one-day conference to be held immediately after the midterm election, we will both critique current foreign policy approaches that exacerbate global insecurity, and attempt to outline a more positive vision of U.S. global engagement. This vision is one that meets the actual security needs of people around the world, and is consistent with the principles of peace and justice for all. We will also explore the actions needed to make the changes we seek. The discussion will respond to a draft paper prepared by a working group. Read a summary of the Foreign Policy for All project.

Conference Schedule and List of Workshops will be posted soon at http://masspeaceaction.org/5872.

Conference fee: $25 before Oct. 29 for members of sponsoring organizations, $30 for others, $35 at the door, $10 for students and low income; free to MIT students.  Fee includes morning coffee and lunch.  Register at fp4a-conf.bpt.me/ or mail check to Massachusetts Peace Action, 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138; write “FP4A” on memo line.  Info: 617 354 2169

Host: MIT Technology and Culture Forum

Co-Sponsors: Massachusetts Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee, MIT Western Hemisphere Association, United for Justice with Peace, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston Branch, Massachusetts Global Action

Info: masspeaceaction.org/fp4a-conf


April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS: New Materials & Organizing Tips

March 25, 2014

+GDAMS-AdBy Judith Le Blanc, Field Director, Peace Action

April 15 Tax Day and the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is shaping up to be a great day of grassroots activity, education and pressure on the US Congress to Move the Money from the Pentagon to fund human needs and jobs. A day when all will be reminded that not all pay their fair share, as well! Be sure to list events here.

• NEW MATERIALS:

1. State Tax Receipts: 52 state tax receipts prepared by National Priorities Project are available. You can download the receipt and paste into the Tax Day/GDAMS templates to hand out at events or post to your website. Tip: print to scale is the setting needed to print out on 8 1/2″ x 11″paper.

2. The new Pie Chart: War Resisters League has prepared its annual “Pie Chart” on where our tax dollars go as well as a training curriculum.

3. Tools for local action: Ask your mayor to issue a Tax Day/ Global Day of Action proclamation. Mayors for Peace & Western States Legal Foundation have drafted a sample proclamation, tips and background materials from the US Conference of Mayors resolution on cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human needs.

Tax Day/GDAMS not just a single day of action: part of an ongoing effort to build a movement strong enough to move the money from the Pentagon to fund jobs and human needs. The 3 webinars/conference calls organized thus far have attracted a wide cross section of local organizers. Over 100 people joined the March 19 webinar from 23 states. Recording is here.

Next webinar: April 2 hosted by the New Priorities Network and conducted by the Pentagon Budget Campaign and Rethink Media on tips for local organizers: social media, LTE and getting earned media for your events. Peace Action will give an update on Tax Day/GDAMS organizing. A draft email announcement will be done later today or tomorrow.

US groups sponsoring Tax Day/GDAMS events: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators’

 


April 15 Tax Day: Global Day of Action on Military Spending!

February 20, 2014
VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013

VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director

The International Peace Bureau’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is April 15, US Tax Day. Peace Action is convening a cross section of peace and community, faith-based national groups who are supporting local actions across the country on Tax Day. Tax Day will be a day to shine a light on the Pentagon budget and how it drains the resources needed for our communities.

Not only does our government allocate a majority of the discretionary spending every year on the Pentagon at the expense of human needs and diplomacy, it also is one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.

The Tax Day actions are a call for changing national spending priorities, it is also a day of solidarity with all those who suffer from US wars past and present and the presence of over 1,000 bases around the world. The actions will call attention to the domestic impact of continuing to pour money into the Pentagon budget while community services are cut.

The recent Congressional budget deal delayed the next round of ”sequestration” or across the board budget cuts. Federal budget cuts were made but the Pentagon came out the big winner. In fact, the Overseas Contingency Operations account got bumped up while the war in Afghanistan is winding down creating a slush fund to blunt the impact of cuts!

Initial reports are that the Pentagon will announce their budget on February 24 and will include a $26-28 billion dollar “investment fund.” Yet another maneuver to add money to the budget and relieve the pressure to cut the Pentagon budget!

The April 15 Tax Day local actions will focus on Congress. In April, the Congress will be in the midst of working on the federal budget.

We will send a clear message to our Congressional representatives: ”Move the Money” from wars and weapons to human services and convert military industries into civilian use.

We have commitments from 10 Peace Action affiliates to work with their community allies to organize Congressional lobby visits, town hall meetings, and vigils, leafleting, banner drops or other visibility actions. Please post your event here.

Soon a US website will be up with materials, information and organizing tips. Find out more about what is going on around the world at http://demilitarize.org/

For more information email: JLeBlanc@peace-action.org.


Shutdown the Shutdown Talking Points and Resources

October 4, 2013

Compiled by Peace Action’s Move the Money Working GroupID-10055209

We need to find ways to connect the current Congressional crisis with the ongoing struggle to change national spending priorities: Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, human services and diplomacy.

Two immediate actions we can take:

1. Public education: Letters to the Editor (LTE), op-eds and using social media.

2. Join in solidarity with domestic needs, labor and others taking action in our communities to pressure Congress to end the shutdown and change national spending priorities. Although the bottom line is ending the shut down it is also true that the struggle over the passage of a budget and the debt ceiling are all connected.

Talking Points & Resources for LTE, op-eds and social media: some of theses points are the biggest demand we can make, others are shorter term points suited to appeal across the political spectrum. You are the best judge of which will be appropriate for your audience. Use National Priorities Project’s handy interactive online tools to get specific data on your state, city or town and the federal budget to make your LTE or op-ed hit home.  Read a brief history of how we got to the shutdown.

Immediate impact of shutdown: 800,000 workers are furloughed and may not get a paycheck while tens of billions will be wasted to implement the shutdown and restart services when it is over. Read what the National Priorities Project estimates. For the most up-to-date information on the shutdown including the impact on the state level can be found here: Center for Effective Government

• Democracy: The shutdown and failure to pass annual budgets and resorting to Continuing Resolutions are limiting the rightful role of constituents and the grassroots to dialogue and inform Congressional decision-making on federal budget priorities. The ball keeps getting kicked down the field with Continuing Resolutions. Time for Congress to pass a budget and decide on national spending priorities!

Role of government: Speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives say better to have less government and the shutdown proves that. We need effective government with a federal budget, which reflects the needs and aspirations for a better country and world. Not a government which spends 57% annually on wars and weapons while there is high unemployment and cuts to community services.

Government is not broke. We can’t let the norm for federal budget decisions become the Budget Control Act or what is called sequestration. The problem is that a federal budget has not been passed in years. It’s been replaced by stopgap Continuing Resolutions, which now lock in cuts, set by sequestration. We need, even with limited resources, a thoughtful prioritization for annual spending. We need to Move the Money!

In fact, there is growing support for cutting the Pentagon budget if the political will exists.

What can be cut in the Pentagon budget so we can have more funding of essential community programs?  Read 27 recommendations for budget cuts in the 2015 budget drafted by 17-member defense advisory committee, which includes two former vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, a former Air Force chief and a former chief of naval operations. Read entire Stimson Center report issued on 9/25/13

Use Peace Action’s website to send your Letter to the Editor.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Shutdown the Shutdown

October 2, 2013

10390807-words-related-to-a-possible-government-shutdownHow is it that the Radical Right can work itself into such a lather over Obamacare but seems content to allow the free-spending Pentagon to continue dispensing hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year without ever having to meet an audit?  They don’t have the faintest clue as to where all that money has gone or where all the money they are prepared to send after it will go.

They know they can’t win.  Plain and simple – they are in the minority.  They claim the public doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act, but I don’t see it.  It’s just the Tea Party making a lot of noise.  So, unable to get their way, they would rather burn the house down than have to live in it with the rest of their family if they can’t get what they want.  Is this how they think a representative democracy conducts its business?  They must have been sleeping during civics class.

Write a Letter to the Editor and remind your neighbors that Obamacare isn’t the issue here – its budget priorities.  We need a budget that mirrors our values.  We are not lobbyists or corporations.  We are people who live in communities that have real needs, not ideological concerns or special interests.

A shut down, even for a few days, generates anxiety for people who depend on essential government services. Forced furloughs put the burden on government workers and their families.

The night before the shutdown, the Pentagon scrambled to award $5 Billion in contracts to military corporations while 800,000 government employees were locked out the next morning. Wrong priorities!

Letters to the Editor is the contemporary Town Square, the place where you can forward your opinion and invite your neighbors to stand with you.  It is one of the most read sections of the newspaper.   It’s simple, just follow the links andsee for yourself.

Now, let’s be clear. Whether the government shutdown lasts a few days, or a few weeks, running around as if your hair is on fire isn’t how the matter will be resolved.  In the end, I suspect poll numbers will speak loud and clear and this gaggle of overheated loud mouths will be forced to give way once the other members of their party see the writing on the wall.  They will not slink away meekly having been schooled in Democracy 101, but perhaps they will lose enough juice so the rest of the Congress can get down to the business of passing a budget and increasing the debt limit.

And when they finally get down to business, we need to make sure Congress passes a budget that reflects our values.

Writing a Letter to the Editor is a simple and powerful way to get our jobs not war, budget priorities message to thousands of people in your community.  And, that’s the debate we have to win.

Your letter will validate what many of your neighbors already suspect, that the Tea Party war on Obamacare is a smokescreen covering subsidies and tax forgiveness for large corporations and the super rich and all the money being wasted on endless war and gold-plated weapons.


September 26, 2013

Tuesday, Oct. 8th
National Teach-In on Syria & US Policy in the Region
6:30 to 7:30 pm EST

Live Streaming at http://www.busboysandpoets.com/videos/live-streaming

With developments unfolding rapidly, it is still uncertain how things will play out in Syria.

A few weeks ago our nation was on the brink of yet another deadly military mistake. At the last moment, a threat of a U.S. missile attack against Syria was averted as the justifiable concern about chemical weapons moved away from a military incursion into a diplomatic process. The raging civil war has not yet stopped, but the massive outpouring of anti-war sentiment from people in every corner of the country and around the world prevented this new attack, and is helping to slow the flow of arms into Syria.

Our victory was clear, but our work is far from over.
Will there be a negotiated resolution to the armed conflict inside Syria, or will the fighting escalate into an even broader regional war?
How did the peace movement in the U.S. and world-wide stop Washington from proceeding with military action in Syria, and how can we build on our success to change U.S. policy in the region?
What’s happening now, on the ground in Syria and on the diplomatic front? What is the U.S. interest in Syria and how does this connect to U.S. policy in the Middle East more generally?
These are some of the important issues that a dynamic panel of people will address in the National Teach-In on Syria. You are invited to watch the teach-in on line as we dig deeper into the issues and learn the lessons.

We are happy to join with other national groups to sponsor this live streamed panel on Tuesday, October 8th:


Phyllis Bennis – Director, New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
Stephen Miles – Coordinator, Win Without War
Nick Berning – Communications Director, MoveOn.org
Rep. Barbara Lee (invited) – 13th Cong. District, CA
moderated by Judith LeBlanc – Field Director, Peace Action

Watch this important discussion with others! This is a moment to bring people together, to take our organizing to a new level.
– Invite people to your home to watch the teach-in together.
– If you are at a school or college get a room and organize a screening.
– Ask your local library or religious institution to set up a public viewing.
– Ask you local community cable station to run the program live or taped.
– Use this teach-in as an opportunity to talk with others about how to strengthen the work of the anti-war movement.

We realize the time of this event might make it hard for some folks on the West Coast to see the broadcast, but we’ll be sending out information about how you can access this event after October 8th.

This teach-in is organized and sponsored by the following groups that have been working together on Syria:
Peace Action
Win Without War
Institute for Policy Studies
CodePink
Just Foreign Policy
Progressive Democrats of America
American Friends Service Committee
Peace and Justice Resource Center
U.S. Labor Against the War
United for Peace and Justice
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Women’s Action for New Directions


WAPO Faith Blog: 10 Things we can do right now about Syria besides bombing

September 6, 2013

The Washington Post On Faith Blog entry By Susan Thisthlethwaite using the practices of Just Peace to offer alternatives to military strikes:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/09/06/10-things-we-can-do-right-now-about-syria-instead-of-bombing/


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