Gaza-Israel Peace Events in DC this week, starting tonight

July 30, 2014

There is a lot of activity happening here in the nation’s capital calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, here is a summary with links for more information.

Washington Post op-ed by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN, “End the Gaza Blockade to Achieve Peace”

Candlelight vigil for Gaza, tonight at 7 pm at the White House, organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Palestine Voices Global FaceBook demonstration, Thursday, 8:00 pm 

Congressional Briefing this Friday, August 1 on Capitol Hill, 2103 Rayburn House Office Building , 2:00 pm , “Is Israel Complying with U.S. and International Laws” sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and four other organizations. Panelists will include Tariq Abu Khdeir, Palestinian-American teenager from Tampa, Fla. who was brutally beaten by Israeli security forces while restrained and unconscious

Gaza Update with special guest Tariq Abu Khdeir and other speakers, this Friday, August 1 at 7:00 pm, Busboys and Poets 5th and K Sts., NW, Washington, DC

National March on the White House: End the Massacre in Gaza, this Saturday, August 2, 1:00 pm, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, called by ANSWER

 


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.


Good News from KC anti-nuke protesters, and help needed for the Oak Ridge Three

January 6, 2014

One of the things we like to highlight at Peace Action is we use all the tools in the activist toolbox, from congressional lobbying to public education to community organizing to supporting pro-peace candidates for election to nonviolent direct action from time to time.

Below are two items related to inspiring nonviolent civil resistance actions against nuclear weapons from Kansas City (which included many of the leaders of our affiliate, PeaceWorks KC) and Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The first is an article from Common Dreams and the National Catholic Reporter on a surprise “sentence” from the judge in the trial of peace activists protesting the new bomb factory in Kansas City. The second is an action alert to the judge in Tennessee urging leniency for the Oak Ridge 3, who trespassed onto the nuclear weapons manufacturing facility there but posed no harm to anyone (as a matter of fact they did us all a favor, even the government!).

Every Time I Learn Something: Judge Gives Anti-Nuclear Activists A Break and Platform

by Abby Zimet

Evolution Happens Dept: An uplifting scene recently in a Kansas City courtroom, where a group of Catholic priests – two over 75 – and activists were being sentenced for a July protestat a National Nuclear Security Administration plant that produces nuclear weapon components. After allowing much rowdy evidence and listening intently to defendants’ impassioned arguments – Question: “Don’t you teach your parishioners to obey the rules?” Answer: “God’s rules….We each have our own conscience to follow” – Judge Ardie Bland, who two years before had sentenced other nuclear activists to jail, announced, “If you’re not getting to anyone else, you’re getting to me,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.Noting the activists’ mention of Rosa Parks and others whose actions changed the world – Bland is black – he found them guilty of trespassing, and sentenced each not to prison, fines or community service but to the writing of a one-page essay in response to a series of ethical and political questions, to be made part of the public record in order to “give you a chance to say what you want to say.” With moving, joyful, Louis-Armstrong flavored video of the July action.
Bland’s questions, as reported by National Catholic Reporter:

1. If North Korea, China or one of the Middle Eastern countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion about nuclear weapons?

2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, do you think that would have changed your opinion?

3. What would you say to those who say, “If we [the U.S.] do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Fr. [Carl] Kabat says that you should disobey ungodly laws. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for example, when Christians used God to justify slavery and the Crusades?

5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue that their religion is to crush others into dust?

6. Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of the USA and the world?

 

Alert from our friends at Roots Action on the Oak Ridge 3:

On January 28, 2014, three nonviolent protesters against nuclear weapons, Sr. Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Gregory Boertje-Obed, are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the supposed crime of sabotage.

They risked their lives, but threatened no one else, when they entered the free-fire zone of a supposedly top-security nuclear weapons facility called Y-2 in Tennessee. They spray painted messages of peace and exposed the lack of security.

Click here to tell the judge how such courageous activists should be sentenced.

In a separate case in Kansas City, nuclear weapons protesters were recently sentenced to write explanations of their concerns to be included in the court records. That seems far more appropriate than prison for people upholding the law and morality.

Since the 1963 limited test ban treaty, the United States has been committed to “the speediest possible achievement of an agreement on general and complete disarmament.”

The law and morality demand disarmament, but those calling attention to the ongoing evil of nuclear weapons production and maintenance stand convicted and face the risk of 30 years behind bars.

Please sign this petition, which we will deliver to the judge before the sentencing.

Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.

– The RootsAction.org team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox Piven, and many others.

P.P.S. This work is only possible with your financial support. Please donate.

Background:
Washington Post: The Prophets of Oak Ridge
Daily News: Elderly Nun, 2 Other Protestors Found Guilty of Sabotage
Transform Now Plowshares
National Catholic Register: Trial Ends With Unusual Sentence

www.RootsAction.org

 

 


Life Stories: Activist Bill Towe, a voice against war and for the poor

November 12, 2013

Our former Peace Action board of directors co-chair, Bill Towe, passed recently. Here is a wonderful remembrance of Bill in the Raleigh News and Observer including quotes from his children, Maria and Chris.

BY ELIZABETH SHESTAK

CorrespondentNovember 10, 2013

Bill Towe.

COURTESY OF MARIA TOWE

  • William H. Towe

    Born: March 27, 1933

    Family: An only child, Towe marries Betsy-Jean Robertson Towe and they raise two children together, Chris and Maria Towe, who give him two grandchildren. He lives all over the Triangle, as well as in Henderson, before settling in Cary. He is widowed in 2011.

    Education: Undergraduate degree from Davidson College, master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. Spends two years enlisted in the U.S. Army, deployed to Germany, in the late 1950s.

    Career: Leaves a position teaching history in Virginia to work full time for peace causes. His positions over the years include, but are not limited to, senior planner for the Soul City project, research director for the N.C. Voter Registration Project, the Office of Economic Opportunity under Gov. Jim Hunt, and national co-chairman of Peace Action.

    Dies: Oct. 18

     

Growing up in Wilson, Bill Towe often asked his parents why his nanny did not eat with them.

Though his parents demonstrated that everyone was equal in their rights, in the 1930s South they had a hard time explaining why their housekeeper and cook, an African-American woman, did not join them at the table.

In that instance, the distance kept during meal times had more to do with employment status than skin color, but it left a mark on Towe. As an adult, Towe dedicated his life to eradicating inequalities – and injustices – of any kind.

A key turning point came when Towe rejected the option to take over his father’s successful insurance company in Wilson. Following a brief stint in the military, he later left a career as a history teacher to work full time for nonprofits and state organizations seeking to bring peace where there was strife, justice where there were wrongs.

His career as an activist was often likened to that of a long-distance runner. Friends and family can now say he is finally able to rest after a lifetime of fighting for others. Towe died last month at the age of 80.

Towe’s early career had a slightly different direction – one that went straight up, as he was a tent raiser for the circus. Sometime near the end of high school, Towe, an only child, literally ran away with the circus, his children said. He was certainly running away from an unwanted career in Wilson, where a comfortable life selling insurance was ready for the taking.

“It was always assumed by my grandfather that that’s where my father would work. My dad had other plans,” said his daughter, Maria Towe.

From there he went to Davidson College, then enlisted in the military for two years and was stationed in Germany. Upon his return he earned a master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, and embarked on a teaching career.

He met his wife of 47 years, Betsy-Jean, while teaching in Hampton, Va. They shared the same values from the start. She was the first white teacher to work in a black school, his family said, and it wasn’t long before he resigned from teaching to work for $12 a week (plus gas money) as a civil rights organizer.

Together they helped organize the Virginia Civil Rights Committee. A cross was burned in their front lawn, but rather than react with hatred, they took the stance that Ku Klux Klan members were from “poor and downtrodden” white families, he once wrote.

When they moved to North Carolina, Towe worked on various peace projects, some at the state level, some for nonprofits. No cause was off-limits, though in the end, it was his work combating weapons proliferation that was the most public.

And the most noticeable.

He designed and wore a bright blue spandex suit, of superhero design, donning a gigantic boomerang atop his head under the moniker “Captain Boomerang.”

This getup often made an appearance at the state fair, where, as he manned the N.C. Peace Action booth (he was national co-chairman of this Washington-based nonprofit) he talked about the ways the United States sold weapons to other nations, only to have those same weapons later used against American soldiers. He felt those funds would be much better spent on schools and other peace measures.

But for as overt – and brightly hued – as his political presence might have been in the public, at home he was just the opposite.

“He never really wanted to engage in political discussions. He definitely had his beliefs, but he never got up on his soap box,” said his son, Chris Towe.

Towe met Cyrus B. King, a longtime Raleigh activist, after he moved to the area in the 1980s. In recognizing Towe’s impact to fellow activists years ago, King reminded folks of Towe’s tireless dedication – and financial contributions. Many feel he personally kept Peace Action afloat.

“Anytime there was a peace demonstration like the ones at Fort Bragg on the anniversaries of the war in Iraq, Bill and Betsy-Jean were always present,” King said.

“If you have email and you were foolish enough to give your address to Bill, you have received reminders of events that you should participate in and you have received more action alerts than you can possibly respond to.

“But if you complained, as I sometimes did, you should be reminded that not only was Bill sending out those emails, he was participating in all those demonstrations, going to all those events, writing all those letters that he was asking you to write but he was at the same time keeping N.C. Peace Action alive and making a significant contribution to national Peace Action.”

His message lives on with his friends and family.

“His main thing was that everybody is human. And everybody deserves the same human rights,” Chris Towe said.

 


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.


9 bases in Afghanistan, 1 outside Philadelphia

May 13, 2013

According to an Associated Press article from last Thursday, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai says the United States wants to keep nine military bases in the country, which Karzai has said could be agreed, with certain conditions (namely the U.S. continuing to provide military training and economic development aid).

We’ll need to press Congress and the Obama Administration on this issue, as zero is the correct number of U.S. bases that should remain. Significantly, the U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Kabul took pains to say the U.S. doesn’t want permanent bases in Afghanistan. Cost and mission will of course be the focus, with cost likely to be the determining factor. Also, a “strategic partnership agreement” should not be the formal document between the two countries, as this avoids the issue of direct Congressional oversight, unlike a treaty, which needs a 2/3 Senate ratification vote. Oh yeah, and tens of thousands of our troops are still there, not all coming home until the end of next year. They should all come home sooner, with no troops remaining. (Another AP article from Saturday covered the negotiations between the two countries on some of these issues.)

Then there are the drone strikes, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Yemen and other countries. So far, the drone bases, as far as we know, have been at U.S. Air Force bases, like Creech in Nevada and Hancock near Syracuse, New York. Comes now a plan to use an Air National Guard Station in Horsham, PA, just north of Philadelphia, as a drone warfare command center.

Not surprisingly, peace activists in the Philadelphia area loathe this idea, as they should (as we all should). Our friends at the Brandywine Peace Community, who have long protested war and the biggest war profiteer, Lockheed Martin (which has a major facility near Philly) and the American Friends Service Committee have called a protest at the Horsham base for Saturday, May 25 at Noon, and then the last Saturday of each month leading up to the proposed opening of the drone command center in October. Here is some info from our friends at Brandywine:

 

 “Extra-judicial assassinations,” “targeted killings,” the “global war on terror,” U.S. Drones (UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) — armed with Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles — are remotely controlled through space-based satellites(also produced by Lockheed Martin) from command centers in the continental United States,
such as the one planned for the Horsham Air Guard Station outside of Philadelphia.

 

STOP-IT BEFORE IT-STARTS

Drone War Command Center at Horsham Air Guard Station

Sat., May 25, 12Noon  – Protest Demonstrations begin at Horsham Air Guard Station, Easton & County Line Roads, in Horsham, PA , continuing on the last Saturday of each month through September.

For more information: Events at  www.brandywinepeace.com 

 


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