Posted by Janet
We had an impromptu after- meeting discussion with the volunteers of the Whatcom Civil Rights Project the other day about documentaries and movies about real events we simply have to watch this winter. Below is a list we generated in about 30 seconds. Click on the link to watch the trailers!
Thin Blue Line
Kill the Messenger
The Most Dangerous Man in America
Disturbing the Universe
"Border Children -- Why Are They Fleeing? Human Rights and U.S. Policy in Honduras and Central America”
Dana Frank, Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz
October 22, 7:00pm
Fireplace Room at Garden Steet United Methodist Church
ADA accessible on Magnolia Street.
Media reports of unaccompanied, undocumented children arriving at the U.S. border from Central America have depicted their flight from gangs and violence. But silence largely reigns regarding the underlying economic and political roots of the crisis, in dangerous governments supported by the United States. Professor Frank looks at human rights and U.S. policy in post-coup Honduras, in particular, as well as dynamics within Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. She will also discuss grassroots efforts across the U.S. and in Congress to affect U.S. policy in Central America.
Sponsored by the World Issues Forum and Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
Would you do me the favor of reading the letter below to our Senators and Congresspersons and emailing back to me with any questions, comments, or suggestions for improvement.
The goals of this letter are: 1) to educate the average reader about just how morally corrupt and incomprehensible our government's behavior in Afghanistan has been; and 2) to try to force our Congresspeople to do what they should be doing.
I especially want to know if this letter is understandable to the average reader or does it need more explanation or context.
If you think this letter is good as it is, I encourage you to print some copies, have your friends and others sign it, and mail it (yes, through the U.S. postal service) to our Congressional representatives and Senators.
Mailing addresses for our representatives in DC are at the bottom of this letter.
They need to be shamed or otherwise motivated into speaking out about the waste of lives and money in Afghanistan.
The Afghan people have suffered through more than 35 years of war. Our government supplied the arms and money that led to much of that suffering. We need to take responsibility for what we've done and attempt to make it right.
Letter to Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell,
and Representatives Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene
October 20, 2014
CONCERNING Misuse of Our Reconstruction Funds in AFGHANISTAN
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (known as SIGAR, a position created by Congress) is responsible for overseeing the use of U.S. tax money for reconstruction in Afghanistan. SIGAR issues quarterly reports to Congress. These reports raise very serious questions that I hope you can respond to.
In the introduction to the July 2013 report, SIGAR writes: "...I would also like to reiterate the concerns I raised in our last report about the Army's refusal to act on SIGAR's recommendations to prevent supporters of the insurgency, including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda, from receiving government contracts. SIGAR referred 43 such cases to the Army recommending suspension and debarment...But the Army rejected all 43 cases."
In the introduction to the July 2014 report, SIGAR writes, "As I have pointed out in our last five quarterly reports, the Army's refusal to suspend or debar supporters of the insurgency from receiving government contracts because the information supporting these recommendations is classified is not only legally wrong , but contrary to sound policy and national-security goals."
The question is: Are you aware of this situation and what will you do to ensure that our aid reaches the people who need food and shelter for their families?
On page 73 of the July 2014 report, under "Status of Funds", SIGAR reports that $104.1 billion was spent on reconstruction from 2002 to the present. Of that, only $2.84 billion was spent on "humanitarian aid". That works out to about $8.50 per person, per year, over 12 years. According to SIGAR, most of the $104.1 billion was spent on building up the Afghan National Army and Police, supporting the government, and counternarcotics.
The question is: Can the Afghan people and security forces be expected to give their lives to defend an Afghan government that gives them nothing to fight for or believe in? If Congress does not insist on doing what's right for Afghans, isn't our policy there doomed to fail?
I am eagerly awaiting your reply,
Your humble employer,
P.S. While I'm waiting for your reply, I'm going to ask as many people as possible to sign and send this letter to you and ask for a reply.
To Signers: If you have questions about the information in the letter or about SIGAR, or if you want someone to talk to your group, please call Bill Distler, 224-3579. He will be glad to discuss it.
MAILING ADDRESSES FOR CONGRESS:
Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone (toll free): 1-866-481-9186
Senator Maria Cantwell
311 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Note: For Congresspeople, choose the one that represents your district.
Congressman Rick Larsen
2113 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene
318 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Posted by Matteo
Last night I went to see the movie "Kill the Messenger". Aside from being a great movie, it tells some important historical facts. In fact, i'm surprised the movie even exists - and that it's so good!
A little historical background, which the movie begins to hint at:
throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, our government supported the brutal Somoza family as the dictators of Nicaragua, who happily created a welcoming business environment for US corporations. Then, in 1979, the
Sandinista National Liberation Movement successfully overthrew the Somozas and began a serious program along social democratic lines that was less friendly towards US business interests.
The US government began to fund former members of Somoza's military (called "the contras") to overthrow the sandinistas. Their military campaign targeted civilians and carried out brutal atrocities.
However, due to incredible public pressure, Congress eventually banned military aid to the contras. There's a lesson here, for those who would pay attention, about the effectiveness our popular organizing in changing government policies.
The congressional ban on aid to the contras led Reagan to resort to cover means to fund them. Those illegal means certainly included the (secret) sale of weapons to Iran. (This is known in US popular culture as the "Iran-Contra scandal").
This brings us to the movie: California Journalist Gary Webb (who is the main character in the movie) began a journalistic investigation into allegations that another (secret and illegal) mechanism that the
US government used to fund the contras was to aid them in the sale of cocaine - large amounts of with wound up in Los Angeles, creating the birth of the "crack epidemic". (if the allegations are true, a serious
"war on drugs" would begin by bombing Washington DC).
Gary Webb wrote a book about this called "Dark Alliance", of which a couple of copies are available in the WPJC library.
The movie is well worth the price of admission, and is worthy of support - we need more movies like it! I always wonder why people read fiction, when the real world is filled with heroes like Gary Webb and villains like Ronald Reagan.
Gaza Humanitarian Fundraiser: Potluck and Information Sharing
Monday, August 11, 2014
6:00-8:00 at the YWCA, 1026 North Forest Street.
Bring a potluck dish, engage in understanding the situation and financially support the humanitarian needs of Palestinians (electricity, medical supplies, food & water, housing) that are being bombed in the current Israeli military assault of Gaza.
Elizabeth Murray, an expert on the Middle East, will provide context to the situation followed by dialogue and questions. Murray is an ex-CIA analyst and served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Hosted by Voices for Middle East Peace
Sponsors: Voices for Middle East Peace, Pax Christi, Islamic Society of Whatcom County, Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, Veterans For Peace Chapter 111 Inquiries--call and leave a message at 360-734-5176.
Is Comcast planning to censor the internet? Reports surfaced earlier this week a Comcast business partner ordered the editor of NewsOne to remove a story about Comcast funding Civil Rights groups that are lobbying the FCC to allow Comcast to restrict its customer’s access to some internet content. This move comes ahead of the FCC’s September 10 deadline and decision on whether to allow internet service providers to create so called “internet slow-lanes” for some content. Proponents of net neutrality believe that people should be allowed equal access to all internet information, regardless of whether it has been approved by the cable companies and internet service providers.
Democracy requires access to information. Some fear that without net neutrality, the five companies that control 70% of the U.S. market (AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Centurylink) will allow full access only to dumbed down cable news type content. Presently 65% of Americans have only two wired broadband providers to choose from and 39% have no choice at all. Adding to the concern is that Comcast is in the midst of acquiring Time Warner Cable, which will give Comcast control of 2 out of every 5 U.S. internet connections.
Net neutrality is in danger. The FCC is presently considering rules that may allow ISPs to put content providers that do not pay a toll, or partner with the ISP, into a “slow lane.” The deadline for submitting your comment on the issue to the FCC is September 10. The email address for comments is firstname.lastname@example.org. I recently submitted this comment:
Subject: Slow Lanes are Censorship
Dear FCC Commission Considering Proposed Rules to Protect an Open Internet,
I am very concerned that internet slow lanes will be used to censor content that is not friendly to ISPs and the interests of their shareholders and partners. You may believe that allowing slow lanes, while prohibiting censorship of specific content will prevent censorship by the 4 to 5 ISP companies that control wired broadband access to the internet. I strongly disagree. 6 companies control American’s access to news through cable, and they do not provide access to the news that I currently get on the internet. To the extent that the same stories are covered, I routinely see that critical details are omitted, and important stories minimized and drowned out by fluff and opinion. I also see a parroting effect on cable news, where the statements of government officials and industry “experts” are reported uncritically in the place of what is now called “investigative journalism” (I just call it “real news”). I see no reason to believe that the 4 to 5 ISP companies that control access to information through internet fiber will treat the internet any differently than the 6 companies that control access to information through Cable TV. I recently read that one of Comcast’s partners ordered its internet news provider to remove a story about Comcast’s FCC lobbying efforts regarding net neutrality. Alarmingly, I have recently learned that 5 states have (and more are on the way to having) laws preventing cities from laying internet fiber that would compete with the big 5. Please do not allow internet service providers to slow or restrict access to information on the internet. Please protect net neutrality.
Edward S. Alexander, U.S. Citizen
The news in Gaza is not good. The civilian death toll is rising with nowhere for trapped Palestinians to go to escape the violence. This is by no means a comprehensive list of news sources or organizations, but we wanted to make sure that those of you who write, blog, tweet or engage in community conversation on this topic have access to news other than the American media narrative of unconditional support for Israel's violence.
I know this topic is challenging for some people, but we are keeping the focus on human rights, International law, and US Military Aid. We will actively promote both Israeli and Palestinian peace activist communities.
Please see links to the left for sources that I use when trying to piece together an accurate narrative of what is happening in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank. From the sheer volume of social media reporting on Gaza, I feel that the tide is changing. It is important that we keep speaking truth, keep sharing resources to educate our friends and family. We may yet see a day were Occupation, either by the US Government, or the Israeli Government is recognized as illegal. Maybe we'll see a day when the world recognizes that collective punishment is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the very least, perhaps we'll see the day when the US taxpayer is no longer funding the Israeli occupation to the tune of $8.5 million dollars per day.
I have received emails from many of you expressing frustration with Congresspersons DelBene and Larsen for their form-letter response to your concerns on this topic. Please do not let up! Demand an appropriate response and not their talking points on "Standing with Israel." The American response to this is completely out of sync with much of the rest of the world. Tell them that.
Click on the Rep to email.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Rick Larsen: 360-733-4500
Suzan DelBene: 425-485-0085
WA STATE SENATORS
Maria Cantwell: 888-648-7328
Patty Murray: 866-481-9186
THE WHITE HOUSE
Thank you all for making me proud of our community. Thank you VFP Chapter 111 for taking a resolution on the matter before Bellingham City Council for consideration last night. I know time was of the essence.
Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
Middle East Monitor
Jewish Voice for Peace
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Tikkun Daily - Rabbi Lerner
Breaking the Silence
Churches for Middle East Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace
Alternative Information Center
Ali Abuminah (Editor of EI)
(Submitted by Ray Engle)
I am personally concerned about the power of the one percent vs. the power of the people and the invasion of privacy that has crept into our society under the guise of National Security. We need to change the composition of the Supreme Court in order to guarantee our Constitutional rights.
I started a petition to Governor Jay Inslee, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama.
SCOTUS has consistently ruled to put corporate rights before citizen rights. These rulings have subverted the very principles of our democracy: one person, one vote. We must change the consistency of the court to defend our constitutional rights, not subvert them.
( Janet's note - A fantastic legal resource on how SCOTUS rulings impact the long term - SCOTUS blog,
For instance, thorough coverage of the Hobby Lobby ruling. )
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