Rio+20 Earth Summit:
Leaked Draft Reveals Conflict among Countries John Vidal / The Guardian
READ:The Draft text of Rio+20 Summit documenthere.
(June 8, 2012) — The latest draft text that 180 governments are expected to sign up to at the end of the Rio+20 Earth summit has been leaked to the Guardian. According to the UN, only about 20% of the wording has been agreed, so with just three days formal negotiating time before world leaders arrive in Brazil on 20 June, and with the most contentious language still in, there is unlikely to be a strong agreement.
Sha Zukang, the Chinese diplomat who is head of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and will chair the Rio+20 summit, accepts that crucial issues remain unresolved.
According to Third World network, the only non-governmental group to publish daily reports on the progress of the negotiations, developed countries are still firmly opposed to proposals by developing countries calling for the provision of “new and additional financial resources”.
This has created serious tensions and frustrations with Pakistan, speaking for the G77 and China, saying there was no point in discussing further and no scope for further work and that it was better to “eliminate the entire finance chapter itself”, given the response of developed countries.
WWF director general, Jim Leape is deeply concerned that the talks could collapse under the pressure of having to negotiate so much in such a short time. Earlier this week he said: “Currently we are a long way from where we need to be in these negotiations. Heads of state still have a unique opportunity in Rio to set the world on a path to sustainable development — but they need to step up their game dramatically. As things currently stand, we are facing two likely scenarios — an agreement so weak it is meaningless, or complete collapse.”
The most recent text is a significant weakening of previous drafts, particularly in the areas of valuing natural wealth, energy and ocean protection, and even this draft was privately rejected by a number of delegations.
“When they gather in Rio, governments must restrain the flow of weasel words that is threatening to emasculate any agreement,” said Leape. “They are not helping their people or the planet by ‘noting’, ‘recognising’ or ’emphasising’. We need to see time-bound commitment and action words like ‘will’, ‘must’ and ‘deliver’,” he said.
To give some idea of the divisions and tensions in the negotiations, here is a much abridged extract from Third World network’s report of the negotiations about one single paragraph, number 50. Note how countries are arguing about the headings to sections as well as the order of words, and the meaning of the order of words:
“The division over the role of the ‘green economy’ concept was apparent in disagreement over the title of the section. The G77 asked the chair to retain the title previously proposed by the group which was, ‘Framing the context of green economy, challenges and opportunities, as well as other approaches, visions, and models of sustainable development and poverty eradication.’ This was rejected by the US, Switzerland, EU and Korea.
“Similarly, in negotiation on paragraph 50 of the co-chair’s proposed text, which attempts to define ‘green economy’ and give it context, there were deep differences between developed and developing countries with only a tentative agreement on phrasing of the subject of the section. That phrasing was: ‘policies for a green economy.’
“The EU then inserted words in paragraph 50 to make the primary subject of the paragraph, and therefore the section, ‘the transition towards a green economy’ and insisted, with a textual insertion, that it should be a ‘tool’ for ‘all countries.’
“The G77 introduced language to paragraph 50 to clarify that ‘green economy policies’ were to be ‘one of the tools’ and ‘should not be a rigid set of rules.’ In the splinter group, the G77 noted it could support the chair’s text in general but that the “feeling” of the group was that they were ‘not heard’ and the new iterations of the text did not include much of the G77 position. However, paragraph 50 was, in general, one of the few it was happy with and so asked for flexibility from other countries.
The EU said to the splinter group that the beginning of the section required some kind of message ‘our leaders’ would be comfortable with, and insisted it was about the ‘tone of the sentence’.
“The G77 said … the question was “how can we contextualise green economy” and it felt the co-chair’s text had a reasonable compromise. To raise “environmental protection” was unbalanced as, for the Group, to achieve sustainable development, reform of international financial institutions was needed; and so if environmental protection was mentioned then that issue should be mentioned too. Equally, it said, if states wanted flexibility, the word ‘transition’ did not help as it did not suggest green economy was just ‘one’ of the options.”
When the G77 asked what the difference was between “policies for a green economy” and “green economy policies”, the US replied that “green economy policies” was more explicit about the subject but if the objective was a green economy then you could have either formulation.
This textual hard grind is enough to make a sane person mad. Whether it can produce a deal to save the planet, we will have to wait and see.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Tore Naerland / Bike for Peace Norway – 2012-06-19 14:02:10
Bondevik — A Peace Mediator in Myanmar
NORWAY (June 4, 2012) — Bike for Peace, Norway, have arranged four trips to Myanmar since 2008.
The former Prime Minister of Norway and the current head of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human rights, Kjell Magne Bondevik, participated in the last two trips in 2011 and 2012.
In June 2011 Mr. Bondevik managed to receive a visa to Myanmar with the help of the contacts which Bike for Peace have in the country and met Aung San Suu Kyi.
In May 2012 Bike for Peace went to Myanmar again together with the Oslo Centre and the Hippie Media. When the delegation arrived at the airport, it was registered in the computer that Mr. Bondevik was still unwelcomed. After we informed the police that we would meet the president of the country, Thein Sein, we all got the permission to enter Myanmar.
We met the President on 11 May, together with the six ministers. The president said at first that he was very happy that Norway and Myanmar had again taken up the dialogue. He thanked Norway for this, and he hoped that the relationship of the two countries would develop favorably.
We talked about a number of topics, and the Norwegian investments in the country were one of them. The president informed us that the democracy in the country is being under development and that they needed time to learn this process.
Mr. Bondevik told the President that he believed Myanmar had taken the important steps towards democracy, but there was still a long way to go. He also draw attention to the political prisoners, and urged the President to come to agreement with the NLD (the party of Aung San Suu Kyi) and to release all the political prisoners.
On 15 May we also had a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi where we discussed the political situation in Burma at the time, and about her visit to Norway.
On our tour in Burma we met also the other representatives from business, the student movement of 1988, the human rights organizations, the AIDS Center, the schools led by NLD, the leaders of minority groups, and so on.
In Bagan, one of the cities with the most temples and pagodas in the country, there was arranged a dinner for us from an international company which plan to do investments in small companies in Burma. Mr. Bondevik held a speech where he talked about how important it was to invest to achieve social development, peace and democracy.
People from Burma expressed a big wish for Mr. Bondevik to be a peace mediator for the country. Kjell Magne Bondevik is an accomplished international politician who has the ability to be a good listener and mediator for different groups with various interests.
Having traveled with him twice to Myanmar, I can see that he makes a great contribution into the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. I also think that various international organizations can engage him in leading positions
Will Potter / CommonDreams & GreenistheNewRed.com – 2012-06-19 13:51:18
Freedom of Information Request Reveals
FBI ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Training Material on Activists
(June 3, 2012) — Newly released FBI presentations show the flawed and misleading information the government is using to train agents to identify and investigate “domestic terrorist” groups such as “black separatists,” anarchists, animal rights activists, and environmentalists.
Among the more troubling portions of the training materials are warnings of activists using the Freedom of Information Act, engaging in non-violent civil disobedience, and gathering in coffee shops.
The domestic terrorism training materials were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU. They offer additional insight into a disturbing pattern of FBI activity misrepresenting political activists as “terrorists” and manufacturing “domestic terrorism threats” where none exist, akin to the notorious COINTELPRO program of J. Edgar Hoover.
Anarchists Are “Criminals Seeking an Ideology”
In presentations on “Anarchist Extremism,” the FBI warns:
â€“ Anarchists are “Criminals seeking an ideology to justify their activities”
â€“ Anarchists are “Not dedicated to a particular cause”
â€“ Green anarchists believe “individuals should ‘get back to nature'”
Their meeting locations include “college campuses, underground clubs, coffee houses/ internet cafes.” Their criminal activity includes “Sleeping Dragons” (a form of civil disobedience in which people lock arms in PVC pipes).
Anarchists are also “paranoid / security conscious,” according to the presentation. This is an interesting observation coming from the FBI, considering there have been two recent cases where the FBI played a key role in infiltrating anarchist groups in order to orchestrate alleged terrorist attacks. In the Cleveland May Day arrests, and in the Chicago NATO arrests, the FBI trumpeted the arrest of “terrorists” that agents themselves tried desperately to create.
However, not all anarchists are engaged in these types of plots, the FBI acknowledges. They use a “variety of tactics” including “civil disobedience” (such as resisting home foreclosures, creating community gardens, and many other activities not mentioned by the bureau).
The FBI also warns that anarchists may have “crossover ideologies” including animal rights extremism and environmental extremism.
Animal rights / environmental extremism
In the training presentation on these so-called “eco-terrorists,” the FBI lists lawful, First Amendment activity and low-level criminal activity (such as civil disobedience) as examples of domestic terrorism.
The FBI is particularly focused in these presentations on information gathering and what it calls a “public relations war” by activist groups. “Media is sometimes slanted in favor of activists,” the FBI says. “Activists spin the truth.”
Examples of information gathering listed by the FBI include requests for public documents under the Freedom of Information Act. In one presentation, FOIA requests are listed as examples of “University targeting.”
Elsewhere the FBI warns of “cold calls” and using “USDA Report [sic].”
The FBI also warns of activist attempts to use “false employment.” This is undoubtedly related to activists who seek employment at factory farms and vivisection labs in order to expose animal welfare abuses. As I have reported here previously, the FBI has considered terrorism charges for non-violent undercover investigators. And multiple states have been seeking to criminalize undercover investigations as well.
As I document in Green Is the New Red, there has been a slow and relentless expansion of “terrorism” rhetoric and investigations over the last 30 years. This type of language and FBI investigation was initially confined to property crimes by the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front (groups that have caused millions of dollars in economic loss, but have never harmed a human being).
Now this already-broad terrorism classification has been expanded even further. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was drafted to target anyone who causes the “loss of profits” of an animal enterprise. The FBI acknowledges this shift in “terrorism” investigations in a slide that says the new law “alleviates the use of force or violence criteria.”
Relentless Expansion of “Domestic Terrorism”
The ACLU’s Mike German has an excellent dissection of the FBI’s “black separatist” documents. German writes:
Who are “Black Separatists” and is there any evidence they pose a terrorist threat?
Internet searches of “Black Separatist terrorism,” “Black Separatist bombing,” and “Black Separatist shooting” fail to bring up any recent incidents that could be fairly described as terrorist violence. No “Black Separatist” terrorist incidents are included in the FBI’s list of “Major Terrorism Cases: Past and Present,” nor on the more comprehensive list of terrorist attacks going back to 1980, which are detailed in an FBI report entitled “Terrorism 2002-2005.” While Black nationalist groups like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army were certainly involved in political violence back in the 1970s, they no longer exist, and the last acts of violence attributed to either group were more than two decades ago.
So why are Atlanta FBI agents now searching for black separatist threats? Because the FBI appears to be training them to believe there is one using factually flawed materials.
The FBI is targeting “black separatists,” anarchists, animal rights activists, and environmentalists in nearly identical methodologies. And these new documents show just how little these tactics change over time and between movements.
The FBI is manufacturing these “terrorism threats” through what I would call a process of conflation. Disparate groups are being conflated, across ideological and tactical divides, and presented as a united “threat.” For instance, the FBI notes that “black separatists” are a movement that “consists of multiple groups” lacking a unified ideology, but they are lumped together because they “all share racial grievances against the U.S., most seek restitution, or governance base [sic] on religious identity or social principals [sic].”
Just as the FBI invented a new class of domestic terrorists in 2009 called “American Islamic Extremists,” the FBI long ago embraced a new class of domestic terrorists called “eco-terrorists.” A wide range of groups, from the Humane Society to the Animal Liberation Front, have been conflated into this catch-all term. This use of language is essential to the demonization of entire social movements because it aides in reshaping them as an “other.” They are not individuals with specific political grievances, they become a mass of unreasonable extremist threats.
At the same time, the FBI is conflating a wide range of tactics. People who support anarchists or “black separatists” in their words are conflated with the very small group of people who have engaged in illegal activity. That’s how the FBI is including FOIA requests and civil disobedience as example tactics in a domestic terrorism presentation. Juxtapose this with the tactics of militia extremists and white supremacists, who have murdered, lynched, bombed, assaulted government officials and created weapons of mass destruction.
To most reasonable people, such a stark disparity between these groups would raise questions about how the FBI is allocating its domestic terrorism resources. How did such misguided policies come about?
These presentations point to one possible answer to that question: The FBI creates terrorism threats by directly training agents to believe they exist.
(c) 2012 Will Potter. Will Potter is an award-winning independent journalist based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege.
AUSTRALIA (June 5, 2012) — “This song is dedicated to all soldiers who fight for their country and to their families, who continue to love them against all odds…” Don’t fight for the NWO! Don’t waste your precious life and seal the fate of your family.
(June 19, 2012) — The next week is critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.
Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations taking place in Moscow right now.
But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like Mitt Romney adviser John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.
We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.
Tell President Obama: We support your calls for diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.
Many in power seem to have learned nothing from the catastrophic mistake and tremendous moral failure that was the war in Iraq.
There is already dangerous momentum to begin a war of choice with Iran. And should the Moscow negotiations break down or bear no fruit, the drumbeat for war will only grow more intense.
Tell President Obama: We support your calls for diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war.
To his credit, President Obama is clearly not rushing to start another war. But many members of Congress, including many Democrats, are pushing him to offer nothing meaningful to Iran until Iran gives the United States and its allies everything we want.
President Obama must know that there is full-throated support for diplomacy that can prevent an unnecessary war.
The 2012 Know Drones Tour
What Happens When You Talk to the Public About Drones
(June 16, 2012) — The purpose of the 2012 Know Drones Tour is to do sidewalk public education, working with other groups to help generate a citizens movement to stop US drone attacks and to stop further development and sale of killer drones and spy drones.
The first phase of the tour was conducted between April 12 and May 27, when the tour team visited the home districts of five members of Congress who are on the Congressional Unmanned Systems (Drone) Caucus.
Here are observations based on street corner conversations with hundreds of people over the last month and a half in Brooklyn, southern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore and northern Maryland as well as at a national convention of the Islamic Circle of North America held in Hartford last weekend.
1. In spite of the increasing press coverage of drone warfare, and drones coming to US airspace, most people with whom we spoke did not know in any meaningful way what drones are or how they are being used. Most were surprised to learn that the police can now use small drones, up to 25 pounds in weight, and that drones of any size will be permitted in US airspace by September, 2015.
2. Most people were very appreciative of being provided with information.
3. Most people absolutely object to the idea of police or the military using drones to monitor them, either by visual surveillance or through monitoring cell phone and text messaging. It was through conversation about this that people came to more fully sense how people overseas are reacting to drones and drone attacks. People do not want to be watched from the sky nor do they want flying robots carrying weapons. Most people think that drones of any kind in US airspace threatens them as air passengers.
4. All African-Americans with whom we spoke are opposed to US drone warfare and police use of drones in the United States. There is opposition to the drones not only because of the killing – and killing exclusively people of color — and further expansion of police power but because of the increasing billions going into drone development instead of dealing with devastated educational and human services systems.
5. Most people are offended when they find out that their member of Congress is getting money from drone makers and readily sign post cards urging their member to redirect their drone contributions to victims of drone attacks. At the same time, many people do not know who represents them in Congress.
6. Most people have no meaningful knowledge about the places and the wars in which the US is currently involved with drones — Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — or why the US is involved. Only a few had an awareness of the role of resources — oil, minerals, agricultural products, labor — in these conflicts.
7. Peace/anti-war organizations have few active members and even fewer who are interested in drones internationally or domestically. Most people who assisted with the tour are working on multiple tasks involving local survival, such as stop and frisk, police violence, fracking, coal-fired/gas-fired electric power generation and toxic pollution of water. These are all national problems from which the federal government has fled.
In southern New Jersey we were told that several people in the peace community did not want to be associated with opposition to drones for fear of not getting or losing work.
8. We are getting requests to go to additional places with the tour in 2012, and we are getting requests to supply more people with drone replicas.
In Phase Two, the tour will visit:
June 16 — 17 – The Clearwater Festival, Croton Point Park, Croton on Hudson, NY.
July 2 — 4 — Independence Mall, Philadelphia, PA.
July 12 — 18 — The Columbus — Dayton area in Ohio.
We will also be looking at the possibility of supplying drone replicas for use at the presidential conventions in August and September.
Phase three of the tour will take us to southern California in October, and there are requests for the tour to visit Virginia Beach, Virginia in October and possible western Massachusetts in November.
Drone replicas have been requested by people in Indiana, Albany, NY, Hawaii, Oregon and Wisconsin. We will be building five additional Reaper replicas in June and July, 2012 to meet these requests.
(June 1, 2012) — A fascinating theoretical question about the Obama administration’s retro policies toward Central and Latin America is simply this one: why?
Add them up: Endlessly blockading Cuba. Accepting the Honduran coup. Freezing Aristide in Haiti. Sending troops into Honduras. Expanding the secret drug wars. The list seems endless.
In one view common on the Left, all this is evidence that the imperial Monroe Doctrine has never been ended, only revived. On the other hand, some who think in political terms say that these policies result from Obama keeping Clinton- (neoliberal) and Bush- era (neo-conservative) holdovers at State, DEA and CIA. Still others theorize that it’s all to prop up neo-liberal economics and prevent nationalist takeovers of resources.
All of these explanations carry elements of truth. It’s difficult to theorize systems behavior as whole. I would add another view, from my perspective in social movements. The military, corporate and political bureaucracies will remain on auto-pilot unless a massive crisis, combined with a powerful social movement, forces them to adjust in a progressive direction.
Take two historic cases of what I mean. First, the young Congressman Abraham Lincoln criticized the US war against Mexico in the 1840s. It was a time of crisis when slavery was expanding westward, and there was a strong anti-imperialist sentiment at home.
Years later, Lincoln again expressed strong support for Benito Juarez, the first indigenous Mexican president, battling against French imperial intervention. Whatever the combination of factors, Lincoln was enshrined as a hero in Mexico for opposing US intervention early on.
Second, during the 1930s Depression with World War 2 on the horizon, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the end of US unilateral military interventions in Latin America, and supported President Lazaro Cardenas’ nationalization of Mexico’s oil — over the fierce objections of the US oil industry.
It was a time when the Left in the United States was powerful in itself, and closely connected with the Mexican Left. The result was the Good Neighbor Policy. Any future progressive policy towards Latin America can and should be built from those historic roots that still resonate today.
What’s changed is the current absence of a strong movement against US intervention in Central and Latin America. The immigrant rights’ movement is properly fighting for legalization against deportation. In seeking US citizenship, perhaps it is problematic to defend Latin American nationalism at the same time.
In addition, the huge solidarity movements that arose during the US wars in Central America have faded away, leaving only smaller networks and policy think tanks. The vast 1990s movement against NAFTA, CAFTA, etcetera, has declined.
The Vatican has crushed the institutions of liberation theology as well, though its spirit still lives on. The Cubans and, to a lesser extent the Venezuelans, have managed to build allied networks of supporters, but not on the scale of the 1970s solidarity movements and their congressional allies.
Fundamentalist Cold War anti-communism has easily morphed into drug wars and multiple efforts to sabotage or contain the Venezuelans, the Bolivians, and even Brazil. It is simply astonishing that the US under both Bush and Obama has treated democratic elections in Central and Latin America as a contagion while undertaking “democracy promotion,” sometimes armed, in every other region of the world.
At some point, all this has to change, if only for a demographic reason: 50-60 million Latinos in the US constitute 20 percent of the population and decisive voting blocs in many states.
Despite a severe backlash and repression in states like Arizona, the tide is turning. Latinos and their allies are likely to become the political fulcrum of both US domestic and foreign policy. A progressive movement cannot ignore that fact and have a future. We live in the Americas, nowhere else.
For two examples of the durability of our retro policies, please read Saul Landau’s “Five Decades of Insanity and Still Going” and Dana Frank’s “Honduras: Which Side Is the US On?”
Article originally appeared on tomhayden.com (http://tomhayden.com/).
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Jacqueline Cabasso / Western States Legal Foundation – 2012-06-19 13:17:42
ORLANDO (June 17, 2012) — At the close of its 80th annual meeting in Orlando Florida, on June 16, 2012, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously adopted a strong, comprehensive, new Mayors for Peace resolution Calling for U.S. Leadership in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Nuclear Weapons Spending to Meet the Urgent Needs of Cities.
Noting that “more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons, over 95% of them in the arsenals of the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to cities and people everywhere,”
the USCM “reaffirms its call on the President of the United States to work with the leaders of the other nuclear armed states to implement the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament forthwith, so that a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a comparable framework of mutually reinforcing legal instruments can be agreed upon and implemented by 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace.”
Stressing that “the continuing economic crisis is forcing mayors and cities to make ever deeper cuts in critical public services,” the USCM resolution takes note that “in 2011, the United States spent $711 billion on its military, 41% of the world total and twice as much as the next 14 countries combined, including China, Russia, six NATO allies and three major non-NATO allies.”
Stating that “President Obama submitted a plan to Congress in 2010 projecting investments of well over $185 billion by 2020 to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear weapons systems, including construction of new nuclear warhead production facilities and an array of new delivery systems, and subsequent annual budgets have provided for funding at this level,”
and noting that, “cuts to federal programs such as Community Block Development Grants (CDBGs) and the Home Investment Partnership program (HOME) have forced cities, local agencies and non-profits to lay off staff, reduce or eliminate services, delay infrastructure projects and reduce program benefits to low and moderate income families,”
the USCM also “calls on Congress to terminate funding for modernization of nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and production facilities, to slash spending on nuclear weapons well below Cold War levels, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”
The new resolution recalls that “the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted resolutions in 2004, 2006 and each year since, expressing strong support for Mayors for Peace, its 2020 Vision Campaign and its Cities Are Not Targets project, and the 2010 and 2011 resolutions called for deep cuts in nuclear weapons spending and redirection of those funds to meet the needs of cities,” and also takes note that “the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a second resolution at its 2011 annual meeting, â€˜Calling on Congress to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Needs’.”
In its resolution, the USCM “calls on its members to raise public awareness about the ongoing dangers and costs of nuclear weapons by organizing public displays of the â€˜5000 Member Milestone’ Hiroshima — Nagasaki poster exhibitions in their City Halls, and encourages its members to join Mayors for Peace Executive City Montreal’s “Minute of Silence — Moment of Peace” global initiative by observing a minute of silence at 12 noon on September 21, 2012, the UN International Day of Peace, and posting photos and videos of events in their cities to a dedicated internet platform.” The USCM also “expresses its continuing support for Mayors for Peace.”
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the national association of cities with populations over 30,000. Resolutions adopted at its annual meetings become official USCM policy.
Many thanks to the 18 sponsoring Mayors:
Donald Plusquellic, Akron, Ohio;
Matthew Ryan, Binghamton New York;
Satyendra Huja, Charlottesville, Virginia;
Frank Cownie, Des Moines, Iowa;
Kitty Piercy, Eugene, Oregon;
William Gluba, Davenport, Iowa;
Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach, Florida;
Mark Stodola, Little Rock, Arkansas;
Paul Soglin, Madison, Wisconsin;
Andre Pierre, North Miami, Florida;
Jean Quan, Oakland, California;
Jennifer Hosterman, Pleasanton, California;
Michael Brennan, Portland, Maine;
Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond, California;
Ardell Brede, Rochester, Minnesota;
Stephen Cassidy, San Leandro, California;
Jeffrey Prang, West Hollywood, California; and
James Baker, Wilmington, Delaware.
It’s astonishing, but even after wars of choice cost us dearly and ravaged the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the warmongers want more. They’re running ads calling for more war. More destruction. More wasted lives and wasted resources. It’s up to us to stand up for peace and diplomacy!
We understand that President Obama is reluctant to use military force against Iran. The same can’t be said for many in Congress–Democrats and Republicans alike–who are agitating for a counterproductive, aggressive posture. Diplomacy must have the full support of our government as well as sufficient time to resolve the complex issues involved. The alternative–another rush to war–is unwise and unacceptable.
Remind your elected officials that Iran is at the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear program. The next stage of these negotiations will take place in Moscow early next week. Warmongers know this, but want the peace talks to fall apart. They are trying to pressure the Administration and Congress to rush headlong into another war.
Oppose War with Iran! Stand up for Peace against the Drumbeat for War
Tell the President, your Senators and your Representative we want diplomacy, not war with Iran! Remind your elected officials that Iran is at the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear program. Negotiations are taking place in Moscow this week. Warmongers know this, but want the peace talks to fall apart. They are trying to pressure the Administration and Congress to rush headlong into another war.
Tell your Senators to sponsor and support legislation calling for diplomacy with Iran, not another rush to war. Tell your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 4173, the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act” which would “direct the President of the United States to appoint a high-level United States representative or special envoy for Iran for the purpose of ensuring that the United States pursues all diplomatic avenues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to avoid a war with Iran, and for other purposes.”
Take action and share this alert with your friends and contacts!
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressive Democrats of America was founded in 2004 to transform the Democratic Party and our country. We seek to build a party and government controlled by citizens, not corporate elites-with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests.
As a grassroots PAC operating inside the Democratic Party, and outside in movements for peace and justice, PDA played a key role in the stunning electoral victories of November 2006 and 2008. Our inside/outside strategy is guided by the belief that a lasting majority will require a revitalized Democratic Party built on firm progressive principles.
For over two decades, the party declined as its leadership listened more to the voices of corporations than those of Americans. PDA strives to rebuild the Democratic Party from the bottom up-from every congressional district to statewide party structures to the corridors of power in Washington, where we work arm in arm with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
In just five years, PDA and its allies have shaken up the political status quo-on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Medicare for all, voter rights, accountability, and economic and environmental justice.
Excerpts from Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize Speech in Oslo City Hall, Norway, on Saturday
OSLO (June 16, 2012) — “Often during my days of house arrest it felt as though I were no longer a part of the real world. There was the house which was my world, there was the world of others who also were not free but who were together in prison as a community, and there was the world of the free. Each was a different planet pursuing its own separate course in an indifferent universe.
“What the Nobel Peace Prize did was to draw me once again into the world of other human beings outside the isolated area in which I lived, to restore a sense of reality to me. This did not happen instantly, of course, but as the days and months went by and news of reactions to the award came over the airwaves, I began to understand the significance of the Nobel Prize.
“It had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community. And what was more important, the Nobel Prize had drawn the attention of the world to the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma. We were not going to be forgotten.
“The French say that to part is to die a little. To be forgotten too is to die a little. It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity. When I met Burmese migrant workers and refugees during my recent visit to Thailand, many cried out: ‘Don’t forget us!’ They meant: ‘Don’t forget our plight. Don’t forget to do what you can to help us. Don’t forget we also belong to your world.’
“When the Nobel Committee awarded the peace prize to me they were recognizing that the oppressed and the isolated in Burma were also a part of the world. They were recognizing the oneness of humanity. So for me receiving the Nobel Peace Prize means personally extending my concerns for democracy and human rights beyond national borders. The Nobel Peace Prize opened up a door in my heart.”
“The First World War represented a terrifying waste of youth and potential, a cruel squandering of the positive forces of our planet. … And for what? Nearly a century on, we have yet to find a satisfactory answer. Are we not still guilty, if to a less violent degree, of recklessness, of improvidence with regard to our future and our humanity? War is not the only arena where peace is done to death. Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.
“We are fortunate to be living in an age when social welfare and humanitarian assistance are recognized not only as desirable but necessary. I am fortunate to be living in an age when the fate of prisoners of conscience anywhere has become the concern of peoples everywhere, an age when democracy and human rights are widely, if not universally, accepted as the birthright of all. … If I am asked why I am fighting for democracy in Burma, it is because I believe that democratic institutions and practices are necessary for the guarantee of human rights.”
“Over the past year there have been signs that the endeavors of those who believe in democracy and human rights are beginning to bear fruit in Burma. … Steps towards democratization have been taken. If I advocate cautious optimism it is not because I do not have faith in the future but because I do not want to encourage blind faith. …
“Burma is a country of many ethnic nationalities and faith in its future can be founded only on a true spirit of union. Since we achieved independence in 1948, there never has been a time when we could claim the whole country was at peace. We have not been able to develop the trust and understanding necessary to remove causes of conflict. …
“We hope that cease-fire agreements will lead to political settlements founded on the aspirations of the peoples, and the spirit of union. My party, the National League for Democracy, and I stand ready and willing to play any role in the process of national reconciliation.”
“The peace of our world is indivisible. As long as negative forces are getting the better of positive forces anywhere, we are all at risk. It may be questioned whether all negative forces could ever be removed. The simple answer is no. It is in human nature to contain both the positive and the negative.
“However, it is also within human capability to work to reinforce the positive and to minimize or neutralize the negative. Absolute peace in our world is an unattainable goal. But it is one towards which we must continue to journey, our eyes fixed on it as a traveler in a desert fixes his eyes on the one guiding star that will lead him to salvation.
“Even if we do not achieve perfect peace on earth, because perfect peace is not of this earth, common endeavors to gain peace will unite individuals and nations in trust and friendship and help to make our human community safer and kinder.”
“Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that they are not numerous, I have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in our world.
“To be kind is to respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others. Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can change the lives of people.”
“Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to live in peace.
“Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in happiness.”
“When I joined the democracy movement in Burma, it never occurred to me that I might ever be the recipient of any prize or honor. The prize we were working for was a free, secure and just society where our people might be able to realize their full potential. The honor lay in our endeavor. History had given us the opportunity to give of our best for a cause in which we believed.
“When the Nobel Committee chose to honor me, the road I had chosen of my own free will became a less lonely path to follow. For this I thank the committee, the people of Norway and peoples all over the world whose support has strengthened my faith in the common quest for peace.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
SAN FRANCISCO (June 17, 2012) — If Sabrina Masangcay could speak for herself, she might express horror about the repeated mishandling of her money by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
The agency designated a dishonest uncle to receive her VA benefit checks despite a red flag, his bankruptcy filing back in 1997. For years under the noses of VA bureaucrats in Oakland, Ruben Yumang Masangcay deceived family members and stole Sabrina’s money, records show.
When the agency realized it, after six years of theft, the uncle was prosecuted and jailed, although that also took years. A judge ordered him to pay the money back starting in 2005, at a rate of $500 a month, and to curb his gambling habit.
Restitution Funds Lost
But Sabrina’s $15,000 in restitution got lost in an “unclaimed fund” at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It was discovered in January and released to her family. Not the fault of the court, said court clerk Richard Wieking. Once again it was the VA’s fault, records show.
Sabrina, 51, lives in a group home in Castro Valley. She can’t speak for herself because of “chronic schizophrenia and mental retardation,” court records show.
California has almost 11,000 mentally disabled veterans and family members who, like Sabrina, are assigned VA fiduciaries to handle their finances. But a Hearst examination of criminal court records nationwide shows California may be a dead zone for VA oversight of the money.
The only other California prosecutions that Hearst could find in VA inspector general records and the courts were not the result of agency auditing. A thieving lawyer and VA fiduciary were exposed during a newspaper investigation into state court-appointed guardians in the Los Angeles area.
In San Francisco in 2004, accounting coordinator Jennifer K. Bustos and friend Cheryll Del Rosario were exposed by a private auditor after they skimmed money from at least one veteran at Walden House, a group home in the Haight, said Vitka Eisen, chief executive officer of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and Walden House.
But the Sabrina Masangcay case is perhaps the state’s most egregious because she was victimized twice.
After the uncle was removed as fiduciary, Sabrina’s financial affairs were shuffled from a kindly sister to a brother and then to an aunt because of deaths. The VA is by law supposed to visit the new fiduciaries and regularly examine the accountings.
Sabrina has been the VA’s financial ward since she was 10, when her Air Force father and her mother were killed in a service-related car crash in Germany. VA and Social Security benefits were granted to her. The uncle became her guardian.
As an adult, Sabrina was deemed a “helpless adult child.” The uncle continued to receive the VA benefits, and between 1995 and 2001 he got the VA to deposit the money electronically into his savings account.
Social Security was handled differently. As an adult, Sabrina’s Social Security benefits went to a responsible sister, Valerie Masangcay, not to the uncle, records show.
Court records show the uncle hoodwinked the VA into giving him Sabrina’s checks even when she was in the physical custody of her sister Valerie. The sister was unaware that Sabrina was eligible for VA benefits, court records say.
The uncle was tripped up in 2001 when the VA in Oakland did a long-overdue review of its “adult child” program. Bottom line: The uncle was never properly appointed as Sabrina’s fiduciary, and he didn’t even have contact with her. Yet $49,000 disappeared.
The VA scrambled for months trying to visit the uncle for the first time, according to a VA investigator’s report. Sabrina finally started receiving her VA checks.
But then the restitution money got “lost.”
Valerie Masangcay died in 2002 – a “huge loss,” said Shelly Luchini, who has worked with Sabrina for years as program coordinator for a recreation center in Hayward.
Sabrina’s brother, Chet Masangcay, became fiduciary. He had been receiving the court-ordered restitution money since 2005, but he died in April 2007. The uncle kept paying the court until he died in December 2010.
Last year, Sabrina’s aunt, Cora Masangcay Taylor, who succeeded the dead brother as fiduciary, discovered uncashed restitution checks in his belongings, according to court records. She hired an attorney who in January discovered the unclaimed stash in federal court and retrieved it by court order in March. Attorney Carlo Rolando said family members don’t want to comment.
“Maybe Sabrina can now get some new shoes,” Luchini said.
To view an interactive map with details and locations of more incidents nationwide, go here.
Eric Nalder is an investigative reporter for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(c) 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.