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. )
(This item originally published on the daily blog of Veterans for Peace Chapter 111 - Bellingham by Gene Marx)
"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."
Morpheus to Neo, The Matrix (1999)
By Gene Marx, July 8, 2014
While Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants rip through western and northern Iraq, a centuries-old notion of a pan-Islamic caliphate metastasizes in their wake of violence. To counter this advance Western protagonists, along with a cast of regional actors, are naturally spooling up for the only fix to unrest in Mesopotamia that they know, military intervention, or more accurately, blowing stuff up, regardless of global consequences.
Without a hint of Wonderland expectations, a collective sigh of relief from everyone but John McCain capped an Obama proclamation last month that there would be no US boots on the ground to jumpstart an Iraq War 3.0, despite entreaties from Baghdad, and also that the US could not "solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq."
If he had stopped there the rest of us could have taken a breath, but Obama continued:
We're developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL, and going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.
After Progressives exhaled, a brief surge of long sought optimism gave way to grizzled cynicism. Where exactly did this contingency leave our costliest foreign policy misadventure in Iraq should our "targeted" military precision be unleased, ironically to quell a protracted civil war spawned by the Bush cabal and four decades of misguided American hubris? While we wondered, Secretary of State John Kerry even upped the ante in Baghdad, promising Prime Minister al-Maliki "intense and sustained" support to counter the ISIL advance. After all, such sustained intensity worked so well the first time.
No boots on the ground, really? Unless Apache gunship pilots and embedded Special Forces units are excluded from this mix of double-speak. Intense and sustained? Or just another White House warrior flirting with the queen mother of all foreign policy blunders, mission creep, reminiscent of Lyndon Johnson's descent down a similar rabbit hole in Vietnam.
Fifty years after Congress went all the way with LBJ and his Gulf of Tonkin machinations, another false flag is on the verge of being planted squarely in the middle of another civil war, engendering wet dreams for new arm-chair warriors, and threatening an escalation in the new Islamic State on a scale unmatched since the Great War. Russia has even spotted Iraq 12 new warplanes, US and Iranian drones are sharing Iraqi airspace, Iran's Quds Force are defending Baghdad, and the beat goes on.
But history and lessons-learned have never stood in the way of a US overreach. Obama continues to play off the same sheet of music that led to a dozen year slog in Southeast Asia, only this incremental path to catastrophe is threatening to redefine quagmire. All the signs are there, from authorizing covert lethal aid to the Syrian rebels last January, to openly requesting $500 million to train and arm the same "moderates" this month; from Kerry remarking in 2013 that there was absolutely no military solution in Syria, to the US jump-starting escalation by arming rebels and a " military-lite " commitment. And increasing the US military signature in Iraq with Special Forces embeds and F16s has WWI or Vietnam sequel written all over it.
Incredibly, a mission creep stupor seems to be contagious back home with US polls showing a split on US air attacks against ISIL. Even the catastrophic bloodletting in Syria is barely an afterthought. But sending an additional 300 so-called military advisors this week, then the next to help an unpopular Shia majority repel Sunni fundamentalists in a deadly sectarian war is just another bad idea. And how soon before the next drone pilot targets, with precision, then shreds the next Muslim family in Baghdad?
Why not set our military hammer down, gently. The West, especially the US, along with Russia and a reality based coalition of the willing in the Middle East, must finally recognize that peace negotiations have been on the very same table , along with military force, since long before Archduke Ferdinand's assassination in 1914 sparked catastrophe. The major powers then chose hammers over diplomacy, setting in motion one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.
It's said that destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice, and a century and countless mass graves later another diplomatic option is still within the grasp of new adversaries. Still, where are the leaders, the diplomats, the voices for a peaceful resolution over jihad and retribution, for summits over assassination lists, when a regional diplomatic surge focusing on de-escalation and humanitarian relief throughout the Levant is the only viable alternative to another century of sectarian violence?
Admittedly, ceding our knee jerk armed interventionism to diplomacy and reconciliation will only be halting first steps, and even failing at crucial rounds of negotiations might be worse than not trying at all. But without a genuine attempt at a peaceful resolution, and soon, this rabbit hole could turn out to be an abyss, with no amount of blue pills ending the fall.
Some very good news today.
BPD Chief Cook listened to the privacy concerns of the majority of City Council, and the community comments at large and committed to not pursuing a Data Collection software program with BPD grant money. He deserves a thank you from the community because technically he didn't have to follow council's recommendation. A+ for privacy and thanks to those who stayed late to speak!
Thanks due as well to those Council members who concern themselves with privacy, potential abuse and corporate data collection.
(Submitted by Janet M.)
(Submitted by Karen Weill & Larry Hildes)
We're asking people who are concerned about the increase in spying in our society to please come to the City Council meeting this Monday, July 7th, at 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. to sign up to speak), in order to speak out against the City buying this new software that they claim will simply make officers and the community safer, but that is so wide open for abuse as to drive a truck through the opening.
City Council meeting
7 p.m. Monday, July 7th
City Council chambers, 201 Lottie St. (behind the downtown library)
Intrado is a software that was developed in partnership with the same company that provides the software for 9-1-1 calls. What it does is search the internet based on a series of parameters that have been given for the search, and pops up with any kind of information for a particular person or location where you request information. So, if anyone in that particular house has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime that information will come up. (BPD states they will only ask for crimes of violence, such as assault or homicide.)
BPD can give us the parameters they intend to ask to limit the searches for. But in a meeting with a representative today, they could not give us the parameters that the company, Entrado itself, uses in developing the so-called "threat score." Deputy Chief Doll said that was proprietary information.
Given that this is a private company, they are not subject to the same Public Records Act (state equivalent to Freedom of Information Act requests) that government agencies are subject to, so unless the company is forced to give this information to the City Council as part of the buying process now being considered, we may never know how these threat scores are developed.
As part of the concern: We do know that Intrado's threat score is partially based on social media statements. If someone has made any threatening statements on the internet, that goes into the score. But who knows how much weight is given to this? So someone who rails against the government or against police abuse, can they expect that if they call 9-1-1 or someone calls 9-1-1 about them, that they will be facing guns drawn because of the Intrado score?
Just because the department has assured us they can set up strict guidelines for its use currently, doesn't mean it will stay that way. When we asked Dep. Chief Doll how the department will maintain those safeguards after he leaves, he simply said that once an ethical culture has been set up in an organization, it tends to continue.
We also don't know what the company does with the information that gets gathered. The company maintains records on all searches done by BPD -- but Dep. Chief Doll did not know if Intrado, again a private company not subject to FOIA or PRAs, maintains the information resulting from a search in its own servers.
While there are many good police officers in the BPD, there are also officers who have shown they cannot be trusted. BPD overall has a good record with us, but I would be shocked if there aren't officers who would misuse this information. The search engine can establish next of kin and associates, which invites targeting of whole groups of people in ways they cannot do now.
There are so many ways this is set up for abuse, no matter the best intentions of the department. We believe that this is first step on a slippery slope to further eroding the last of the civil liberties, particularly our privacy, that we have left. It isn't just happening at the federal level folks -- now they want to develop this at the local level, too.
The times that this may help in an occasional situation doesn't justify the loss of privacy and civil liberties that the rest of us will experience.
Please come to the City Council meeting this Monday, July 7th, at 7 p.m., to hear the staff report and express your opinion about this software.
Karen (Weill) and Larry (Hildes)
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