The Whatcom Peace and Justice Center and Voices for Peace in the Middle East will sponsor a donation drive this summer to support refugees stranded in Europe. Goods collected will be traded for funds to support humanitarian and medical aid for people affected by conflict and natural disaster in the Middle East.
Since March 2011, an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes to escape war. Most are internally displaced within Syria, while over 4 million are in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. One million have applied for asylum in Europe. The United States has pledged to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of September; to date, 4,700 people have been approved by U.S. Homeland Security.
Refugees migrating to Europe from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan cross the Mediterranean Sea, arriving on beaches in the Greek isles. Locals scramble to provide them with food, water, and emergency supplies before they continue on to UN refugee camps. The Salaam Cultural Museum in Seattle is collecting and distributing aid to these areas in Greece.
Potluck on June 20th
Rita Zawaideh of the Salaam Cultural Museum will speak about the crisis and show photos of relief work happening in Greece at a Bellingham organizing meeting and potluck on June 20, 2016. This kickoff for the donation drive will be held at the Community Food Co-op Connections Classroom (405 East Holly Street) at 6 p.m.
Parking: Please park in the lot behind the Bakery building or along the street. Handicap parking spots are in the front of the building.
Donation drive: How it works
Items donated will be collected on a to-be-announced date and location in August and delivered to Value Village in Bellingham.
Value Village will pay 20 cents per pound of soft goods, which include clothing, shoes, hats, scarves, undergarments, jewelry, accessories, bags, wallets, bedding, towels, curtains, tablecloths and other cloth materials.
Value Village pays 5 cents a pound for hard goods, which are toys, small household goods and appliances, books, CD's and DVD's.
Items that will not be accepted are weapons, hazardous materials, construction materials, flammable products, automobile parts, damaged furniture, beds, bedding parts, televisions, computer monitors, infant car seats, cribs and other infant products restricted by law. Also, swing sets, food, pets, large appliances, marine vessels, swimming pools, vehicles, cash and intangible property are not accepted.
Value Village publishes this list here: https://www.valuevillage.com/donate/what-we-take
Bellingham – Whatcom Peace Vigil Started in 1966
By Jamie K. Donaldson, founding director of WPJC
For fifty years, the Bellingham - Whatcom Peace Vigil has held a space for peace on the corners of Magnolia and Cornwall in front of the old Federal Building in downtown Bellingham. It was started in December 1966 by local peace activist Colleen Dickinson and two Quakers, Rosemary and Howard Harris, in silent opposition to the Vietnam War. The first vigil was held in front of the city's Christmas tree. It then moved to its current location where the originators and their children vowed to witness for peace every Friday until the war ended.
Today, fifty years later, the intersection is lively with several dozen regular vigilers who stand for peace, nonviolence, and social justice every Friday afternoon from 4-5 p.m., rain or shine. Vigilers are individuals, members of local faith communities and of organizations such as Veterans for Peace, the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, and Occupy Bellingham. Most carry hand-made banners and signs with messages about peace and justice. “My favorite sign says ‘War is a Racket,’” says 100-year old Evelyn Freeman, currently the vigil’s oldest participant. “I should know, since I had several brothers who had to go to war,” she adds. The youngest current vigiler is eight years old, and even dogs on leash are frequent attendees, showing by their presence that they’re not war mongrels.
Participation has waxed and waned over the decades, but there has never been a break to speak of in the weekly peace vigil. On occasion, it draws huge crowds that overflow to all four corners of the intersection and down the block, such as during the lead-up to the Iraq war in the early 2000’s. Pro-war demonstrators showed up as well during that time, including a caravan of 220 semi-trucks from Whatcom County that blew their horns and exhaust at the peace vigilers. Now, it is common that people in passing cars respond to the “Honk for Peace” sign, give a thumbs up, or call out “Thank you!” to show their support for peacemakers.
While no one is in charge of the Bellingham-Whatcom Peace Vigil, Vietnam War veteran Kerry Johnson brings the signs, the colorful flags made by local artist Harold Niven, and the large portable scaffolding that displays the vigil’s large banner as well as Earth flags and an information board. Often the local “Food not Bombs” group offers a free vegan meal to anyone passing by while the vigil is underway. It makes for a colorful and positive “happening” for peace and social justice every Friday afternoon in downtown Bellingham. All people of peace are welcome to join us on the corner, especially during the vigil's special 50th anniversary year.
For more information, contact Jamie K. Donaldson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos of the vigil are available upon request.
By Matteo Tamburini, Board president
Janet Marino has done some sterling work in our community as Executive Director of the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center from May 2011 to now, keeping the spotlight on issues that are no less pressing for being far from the public eye. One step towards moving the issues closer to the street has been to move the WPJC office out of the Bellingham Herald Building to its current location on Bay Street, where we are proud that it has been used by a variety of community organizations and initiatives such as Amnesty International, the first steps of the recently formed Racial Justice Coalition, the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, and more.
She has helped coordinate and promote many speaking events by activists such as Brian Willson, Cindy and Craig Corrie, Michael McPhearson, as some of the young Palestinian writers involved in the Gaza Writes Back book project, and most recently David Swanson. It is in part through events like these that the conversation about militarism is kept alive in our community. Janet has also been the steward of the Alternatives to Military Service program, helping to coordinate volunteers as part of this ongoing work.
Janet also worked to help coordinate local mobilizations such as the protest against US bombing in Syria in 2013, part of an international movement that effectively stalled President Obama’s push to bomb that country (the only time in history that combined pressure has prevented military action by our government) and allowed Secretary of State John Kerry to stumble onto a peaceful way to rid Syria of chemical weapons.
Recently, Janet has also joined the efforts of the Friends Committee on National Legislation to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force that granted President Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and which President Obama relies on to continue drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan, as well as waging a counterproductive bombing campaign against ISIS.
This has been and continues to be the bread and butter of the work of the WPJC.
However, Janet has also presided over some pretty major changes to the organization. The main change has certainly been that the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center has become the home of the Whatcom Civil Rights Project and the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force, which means that she took on the responsibility of being the one of the main organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Human Rights conference at Whatcom Community College.
We are grateful for all her work, wish her the best of luck with her new job, and look forward to all the work she will do to create a better, more just society in the future!
Bottom Line: We have until THIS SUNDAY NIGHT's Special Session
to convince our Senators to let the Patriot Act Expire.
Best case: We drop in their offices in Everett.
If not please call and/or email:
WA STATE SENATORS
Maria Cantwell: 888-648-7328
Patty Murray: 866-481-9186
Learn More Here
Whatcom County Charter Review Commission wants to vote to eliminate all funding to organizations that fund low income seniors, needy families and more.
Whatcom peeps, please act TODAY! Our lhyper-conservatively stacked Charter Review Board is poised to eliminate ALL county funding for local nonprofits serving the needs of low-income seniors, hungry families and others. Send an email before 5 p.m. to email@example.com.This is enough: "I oppose Charter Amendment 7. Please vote no. Thanks." And include your address so they know you're from Whatcom.
Read about the whole mess with the County Charter Review Commission, here, here and a fresh one today here
By now you have probably heard from a number of individuals on the topic of the 'Failure to Respond Ordinance' and the expansion of the 'Sitting and Lying Ordinance.' Without question, there are a lot of people who find the proposed ordinances troubling. I find myself among them.
I recognize that there is a small population of individuals in the downtown area that are creating a logistical and aesthetic problem for downtown businesses and overall city image. I understand that the convening of this workgroup is an attempt to give local law enforcement more tools with which to curb these behaviors.
I am extremely concerned about those individuals who could be caught in the crossfire with these ordinances. I am concerned about those individuals who do not or will not have the capacity because of extreme mental illness, extreme poverty, developmental delay or other reasoning, to navigate further into the court system than they already are.
I am concerned about debt, jail space, mental health facility beds, bench warrants, increased barriers to housing. I am concerned about increased cost to taxpayers as individuals sit in jail and wait for a rare bed in crisis triage to become available even if they have the wherewithal to choose a diversion program. I am concerned about individuals who have been banned from the Lighthouse Mission (which can happen arbitrarily) and who are sleeping out unsheltered. Shelter is a basic human right. I find it bad enough that tickets may be issued for this, let alone misdemeanor charges.
I am concerned that coercive treatment is ineffectual. I am concerned that we don’t appear to have any data on the efficacy of this program in other cities. I am concerned it pushes a problem further to the margins of town and out of sight of individuals who would like to continue pretending it doesn’t exist. It appears to me that we’ve flushed homeless individuals out of the dark corners of our city and now we’re surprised that they are visible.
In a city that finally seems to be taking progressive strides to address chronic homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse, these ordinances seem regressive. We are only now building our capacity to serve unhoused people in need. We don’t even have our fledgling ‘housing first’ facility off the ground yet, and our Homeless Street Outreach program has barely been in place for one month. These are models that are proving successful in other municipalities and I suggest we give them a chance to make an impact before we set the bar back a few decades. As for sleeping out, a lower-barrier shelter may be in order, or other innovative solutions.
How do we deal with this small percentage of people exhibiting undesirable behavior, particularly public drunkenness, right on Holly Street? I’m not entirely sure. I feel that there must be models available from other cities to address it. What you are proposing is too sweeping and general, and to the public appears to criminalize extreme poverty rather than address a tiny subset of the population and their behaviors. We can do better. The city is full of visionary thinkers. I hope you’ll take this back to the drawing board with a big red editing marker, or at the very least postpone it until we actually have the capacity to offer the diversion programs we want people to access.
Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
View the proposed ordinances below
Posted by Matteo Tamburini
It was a great and pleasant surprise to land in Italy and find out that President Obama was going to take executive action to lift the blockade against Cuba.
In these reflections, I will look at some of the context in which this decision was taken: my particular concern is to challenge the idea that President Obama’s actions occurred in a vacuum. Instead, popular, organized action plays a role, which means that we (as the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center) can also play our role in influencing otheraspects of US foreign policy.
First, however,, I think it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the following line from President Obama’s speech: “Proudly, the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba through these
five decades.” This is an astounding statement. The fact that the President can utter such a transparent lie – and that no-one in the press thinks to challenge it – is a true testament to the amount of work that remains to be done before we can have a just foreign policy.
Let’s start from the assumption that the government of the United States is concerned with human rights anywhere in the world, now or in the past. If we were TRULY concerned with human rights, why would we have continuously fomented and supported right-wing military dictatorships throughout the Americas, like Pinochet in Chile, the Somozas in Nicaragua, or the genocidal policies of the military rulers in Guatemala? Why would we have stood in support of the apartheid regime in South Africa, or the Indonesian invasion of East Timor?
There is another example from the past that has recently come to light and is of particular interest to me. If the United States was genuinely concerned about ‘human rights’, why would US President Jimmy Carter have sent Steve Pieczenik to Italy, to ensure that the Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, who had been kidnapped by the Red Brigades, to make sure that Moro's murder was the only "necessary and inescapable" option left available to his abductors (in the words of Italian judges who are investigating his role)? In Pieczenik’s words, Moro was "sacrificed" for the stability of Italy, adding that up to the last day of Moro's captivity he was "afraid they would free him". In another interview with France 5 television channel he claimed that the decision to force the kidnappers' hand was made four weeks after the abduction, "when Moro's letters became desperate and he was about to reveal state secrets" – particularly the role played by the United States government in supporting right wing extremists who had conducted several bloody acts of terrorism in Italy. Coming back to the present: given Obama’s ongoing campaign of drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, his alignment with the despotic Saudi monarchy, and his ongoing support for Israel’s criminal actions in Gaza and the West Bank?
Let us turn now to our government’s support of ‘democracy and human rights’ in Cuba. On October 6th, 1976, Cubana Flight 455, a Cuban flight from Barbados to Jamaica, was blown up by a bomb attack. All 73
people on board were killed. Two CIA operatives, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch have been widely implicated in the bombing, and have admitted to conducting several other acts of terrorism against Cuba. Both of them currently live in the United States, where they have lived free from criminal prosecution. Is this what President Obama means when he says that our government has been supporting ‘democracy and human rights’ in Cuba? Mind you, this is only a single example. There are many more. Setting the President’s transparently false claim aside, let’s now turn to the context in which this decision is being made.
First: since 1999, there has been a consistent and strong support among the public in the United States for normalizing relations with Cuba. Second: it is certain that there are many elements in the business community in the United States who also support ending the embargo – the pharmaceutical industry and agricultural conglomerates, two name just two. Third, and most importantly: it cannot be a coincidence that this move comes at a time in history in which many Central and Latin America countries are finally asserting themselves. For part of the last decade, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua all have governments that are taking steps to reduce the grotesque income inequality that exists within them – itself an unprecedented historical situation. In the past, any move in this direction was met with a US-sponsored military coup, if not an outright US invasion.
It would be naïve to suppose that this is due to a fundamental change in the preferences of the people in power, specifically some specific difference between the Obama administration and all preceding US administrations. After all, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed at best to be dragging her feet in condemning the 2009 coup in Honduras against President Manuel Zelaya, and the United States took no real action to punish the illegitimate government that replaced him. Similarly, the Obama administration continued to exert pressure to keep former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide from returning to Haiti after he was ousted in a US-sponsored coup in 2004. Aristide only returned to Haiti in 2011, in defiance of all the pressures exerted by the United States.
The important conclusion is this: if the countries of Latin America are finally free to pursue an independent path, it must be at least in part because of the domestic resistance in the United States against US aggression. This resistance appears “invisible” – because the corporate media do not report on it. But is real, and the WPJC is a part of it In conclusion, we should be pleased to hear that step forward has been made in improving reations with Cuba – and we should remember that those of us who struggle for peace and justice have played a role in bringing it about.
(reposted from Veterans For Peace Chapter 111 Gene Marx)
In case you missed this report from Dahr Jamail on Truthout, Navy Plans Electromagnetic War Games Over National Park and Forest in Washington State:
According to Jamail, the US Navy plans to conduct its Northwest Electromagnetic Radiation Warfare training program, wherein "it will fly 36 of its EA-18G "Growler" supersonic jet warplanes down to 1,200 feet above the ground in some areas in order to conduct war games with 14 mobile towers. Enough electromagnetic radiation will be emitted so as to be capable of melting human eye tissue, and causing breast cancer, childhood leukemia and damage to human fetuses, let alone impacting wildlife in the area."
The area in question is the Olympic Peninsula, including the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest, as well as cities and communities, for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day. The damage to flora and fauna in Washington State could be monumental and precedent setting.
I am not an alarmist, and I don't subscribe to fear mongering, but I was trained as an airborne electronic warfare officer in 1970 and was familiar then with the potential environmental damage these training routes could cause.
To document your concern, contact the Forest Service to protest this electronic warfare on US civilians and wildlife now planned to start in September 2015. The public comment period has been extended until November 28. Examples of letters already sent to the USFS website are available at
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/ReadingRoom?List-size=25&project=42759&List-page=1. Of course, letters to the editors of local media would also be helpful to spark interest locally. Also don't hesitate to call your Congressional representatives. They should at least sound somewhat concerned.
(Dianne Foster, TPP Researcher)
As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Battle in Seattle against WTO expansion, the scariest zombie is yet to come: 20 years after Nafta, and with public polling overwhelmingly against ”free trade” agreements, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is raising its ugly head in the Congressional Lame Duck session. “Fast-Track Authority” will be introduced, possibly camouflaged as “Smart Track”. That gives the Executive sweeping powers to pass it without debate or amendment by our representatives. Both Congresspersons Larsen and DelBene are ambivalent, clinging to the hope that labor and environmental standards will mitigate the damage of otherwise unchecked power to international corporate giants.
Don’t kid yourself: this trade agreement is being negotiated in secret by 600 corporations, including Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Phillip Morris, Wall-Mart, and Chevron, to name a few. As Wikileaks documents and previous “free trade” agreements demonstrate, this is not about trade; it is about global governance, and privatization of everything is the goal. Any participating business can sue any government through a WTO tribunal in Brussels to nullify our food and tobacco safety laws, banking regulation, Buy America programs. They can sue to protect their drug patents, defy local environmental and labor laws. (Hint: they always win). This is the race to the bottom for the cheapest labor in places like Brunei, where a citizen can be shot for their sexual orientation.
Historic income inequality is a result of decades of deregulation, deunionization, privatization and free trade agreements.
Attend a rally by Occupy Bellingham and friends, On Saturday November 8th, 2-6pm, corner of Holly and Railroad Ave.
Call your Congressperson to vote no on Fast Track in any form. Don’t put up with outsourcing jobs and displacing indigenous peoples, join us and find out more. “Free trade” is not fair trade.
Public Citizen http://www.citizen.org/trade/
Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Gillian Locascio director http://washingtonfairtrade.org/
Expose the TPP Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ExposeTheTPP
Sierra Club http://vault.sierraclub.org/trade/trans-pacific-partnership-agreement.aspx
Tobacco-Free Kids http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press_releases/post/2013_08_19_trade
Doctors without Borders http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/support-us/campaigns/trans-pacific-partnership
Klein, Naomi: Shock Doctrine.
We invite the WPJC community to contribute fact-checked submissions on local, national and global current events. Linking to original sources and articles is required. Submissions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for review.