Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hogan issues new smog-fighting rule with "flexibility" for coal plants

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-air-pollution-rule-20150417-story.html

News Maryland

Hogan issues new smog-fighting rule with "flexibility" for coal plants

Hogan praises bipartisan effort at bill signing

Gov. Larry Hogan praised the bipartisan efforts during the General Assembly. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

By Timothy B. Wheeler The Baltimore Sun contact the reporter

Gov. Hogan issues new smog-fighting rule that draws fire from environmentalists.

Maryland's new governor offers “flexibility” to coal plant operators, backs away from predecessor'

Gov. Larry Hogan is reconsidering his predecessor's attempt to make coal-fired power plants install costly new pollution controls, switch to cleaner-burning fuel or shut down.

Three months after yanking a clear-air rule issued by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration, the Republican governor on Friday unveiled his own smog-fighting plan. It retains a requirement that the state's coal plant operators minimize emissions during the upcoming summer smog season, which begins next month.

But in a concession to the operator of two power plants, the Maryland Department of the Environment agreed to take another look at what coal-burning facilities would be required to do over the next five years to reduce harmful emissions even more.

Environmentalists blasted the plan, calling it a step backward from regulations adopted after more than a year of negotiations with power plant operators.

"We are deeply troubled by the governor's use of emergency rulemaking authority to cripple crucial health protections that were already finalized and in place before he ever took office," said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club. Tulkin accused Hogan of siding with a "polluting energy company headquartered outside of Maryland rather than thousands of his own constituents."

George S. "Tad" Aburn, the state's chief air regulator, defended the new regulations, saying the initial clampdown would significantly reduce smog levels right away. And while the rule doesn't spell out what plants must do after that to reduce emissions more in future years, Aburn vowed that whatever was settled on would be of "equal or greater public health protection."
A decision on future control measures would be made by early fall, he said.

The emergency regulations must be reviewed by a joint legislative committee before it can take effect as early as May 2. The committee, dominated by Democrats, could delay implementation of the rule but not stop it.

In the waning days of the O'Malley administration, state regulators had proposed requiring four of the state's older coal plants to begin reducing smog-forming emissions immediately and achieve full compliance by 2020.

Environmentalists and public health advocates strongly backed the move, saying that curbing the facilities' nitrogen-oxide emissions would make Baltimore's and Washington's air healthier to breathe.

Byproducts of burning coal, nitrogen oxides help form ground-level ozone, an invisible gas commonly called smog when mixed with particulates. When inhaled at high enough levels, ozone can cause burning eyes and throats, coughing and wheezing, asthma attacks and even premature deaths.

Raven Power, which has two Baltimore-area plants that fall under the regulations — C.P. Crane in Middle River and H.A. Wagner in Pasadena, had agreed to the O'Malley rule after protracted negotiations.

But NRG, which owns two Washington-area plants, opposed the regulation. The New Jersey-based company warned that new pollution controls could cost up to $200 million per facility, and the rule would force it to shut down its plants, laying off hundreds of workers.

The outgoing O'Malley administration had gone ahead with the rule despite NRG's objections.

But Hogan moved within hours of taking office to block it from taking effect, saying he wanted his staff to review it further.

Legislation was introduced in Annapolis to mandate the proposed pollution reductions, but it failed to get out of committee despite an advertising campaign by environmental and health groups. NRG, its employees and labor officials appeared at a hearing to oppose the legislation, saying jobs were at risk.

NRG spokesman David Gaier commended Hogan, saying his plan "delivers immediate air quality improvements while protecting Maryland jobs." Its two plants affected by the rule — Chalk Point in Prince George's County and Dickerson in Montgomery County — have about 500 employees, he said.

"We look forward to the upcoming stakeholder process that MDE announced to consider options that will provide flexibility necessary to both address environmental issues and maintain hundreds of family-supporting jobs provided by our Maryland generating stations," Gaier said.

Company officials had asked regulators to consider a more "flexible" approach to curbing smog-forming pollution, in which plants would have to meet monthly rather than daily emission targets.
Aburn said regulators had refused to accept that approach because it would allow for higher emissions on hot summer days when ozone pollution could be at its worst — the very conditions the rule was meant to alleviate.

But Aburn said "one of the criticisms we got was we shut the door on new approaches, new technology." He said regulators would give plant operators another chance to propose an alternative, but he said regulators would insist on equivalent or better pollution reductions than O'Malley sought.

Maryland's air has gotten dramatically healthier to breathe in recent years, Aburn pointed out, partly because of cooler weather but also because of reduced pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently determined that for the past three years, ozone levels in the Baltimore area did not exceed the current limit. But the EPA is moving to lowering that safety threshold, pointing to research showing that many adults and children with respiratory problems still risk illness and even premature death from inhaling currently acceptable levels.

In Maryland, those at risk include nearly 159,000 children with asthma, and nearly 400,000 adults.

The state's decision to revisit its pollution-control requirements frustrates health advocates, who note that Maryland is already missing a deadline set by the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down on smog-forming emissions.

"We've already been through a 15-month stakeholder process, where all the stakeholders except NRG agreed to regulations," said Tim Whitehouse of the Chesapeake chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Maryland needs to modernize its pollution controls on its coal-fired power plants. This is an important health issue the governor needs to address."

Tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun

Donationss can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vatican unexpectedly ends crackdown of US nun group in major shift in tone under Francis

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/vatican-unexpectedly-ends-overhaul-us-nun-group-30359122

Vatican unexpectedly ends crackdown of US nun group in major shift in tone under Francis

By NICOLE WINFIELD

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

The Vatican has unexpectedly ended its controversial overhaul of the main umbrella group of U.S. nuns, cementing a shift in tone and treatment of the U.S. sisters under the social justice-minded Pope Francis.

The Vatican said Thursday it had accepted a final report on its investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and declared the "implementation of the mandate has been accomplished" nearly two years ahead of schedule. The umbrella group for women's religious orders had been accused of straying from church teaching.

The brief report stated the organization would have to ensure its publications have a "sound doctrinal foundation," and said steps were being taken for "safeguarding the theological integrity" of programs. But no major changes were announced and the direct Vatican oversight that the sisters considered a threat to their mission was over.

"I think there are still some questions about how this is going to play out, but that it concluded early was an overwhelming affirmation of what the sisters do," said??Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a religious studies professor at Manhattan College.

The report's tone stood in stark contrast to the 2012 Vatican reform mandate, which said the nuns' group was in a "grave" doctrinal crisis. Vatican officials said the Leadership Conference had over-emphasized social justice issues when they should have also been fighting abortion, had undermined church teaching on homosexuality and the priesthood, and had promoted "radical feminist" themes in their publications and choice of speakers. The nuns' group called the allegations "flawed." But Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle was appointed to conduct a top to bottom overhaul of the conference.

Just last year, the head of the Vatican's doctrine office, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, sharply rebuked the nuns' group for its "regrettable" attitude and behavior during the process. He accused the LCWR of being in "open provocation" with the Holy See and U.S. bishops because they planned to honor a theologian, Sister Elizabeth Johnson, whose work had drawn sharp criticism from the U.S. bishops.

But on Thursday, leaders of the umbrella organization and the Vatican officials in charge of the overhaul released statements of mutual respect, and the sisters met in Rome for nearly an hour with Pope Francis. The Vatican released a photo of the nuns sitting across a table from a warmly smiling Francis.

The turnabout suggested possible papal intervention to end the standoff on amicable grounds before Francis' high-profile trip to the United States in September. The investigation, and a separate but parallel review of all women's religious orders, prompted an outpouring of support from the public for the sisters, who oversee the lion's share of social service programs for the church.

The review of the Leadership Conference emerged from decades of tensions within the church over the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. Many religious sisters shed their habits and traditional roles, taking on higher-level professional work in hospitals and schools, with sisters increasingly focused on social justice issues. Theological conservatives grew concerned that the sisters were becoming too secular and too political, instead of focusing on traditional prayer life and faith. The tensions worsened as the number of American nuns dwindled from about 160,000 in 1970, to less than 50,000 today, and church leaders searched for a way to stem the losses.

Conservative-minded Catholics argued a return to tradition would help.

The investigation of the sisters' group began about seven years ago under Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, a German theologian who spent a quarter century as the Vatican's doctrine watchdog, after complaints from conservative U.S. bishops and influential Catholics about the organization's doctrinal soundness.

The first sign of a different outcome for the nuns' group came in December, when the Vatican's investigation of all women's religious orders ended with sweeping praise for the sisters for their selfless work caring for the poor.

On Thursday, Mueller said in a statement he was confident that the LCWR is now clear in its mission of showing its members a Christ-centered vision of religious life that is "rooted in the tradition of the church." Sister Sharon Holland, president of the nuns' group, said in a statement the process had been "long and challenging" but "we learned that what we hold in common is much greater than any of our differences."

The Vatican asked the sisters and church officials not to comment on the report for a month.

"Given the current moment in the church, with Francis emphasizing mercy and not judging and trying to see the best of what people are doing, they had to find a quiet way out of this," said Michele Dillon, a University of New Hampshire sociologist specializing in the Catholic Church. "What you'd love to hear directly from LCWR leaders is what exactly this oversight means. Who decides what's really the authentic doctrine?"

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Zoll reported from New York.

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Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield , Rachel Zoll at www.twitter.com/rzollAP

© 2015 ABC News Internet Ventures. All rights reserved.

So TTIP Won’t Stop Public Services Being Run in the Interests of Ordinary People? Tell That to Argentina


commondreams.org/views/2015/04/17/so-ttip-wont-stop-public-services-being-run-interests-ordinary-people-tell

Friday, April 17, 2015

Global Justice Now

So TTIP Won’t Stop Public Services Being Run in the Interests of Ordinary People? Tell That to Argentina

Nick Dearden

On 18 April people across the world will be taking part in more than 550 actions to protest TTIP and other dangerous trade deals. (Photo: Global Justice Now)

Another week, another victory for big business over a government in a secret pseudo-court. This time it’s the turn of private water giant Suez, who successfully sued Argentina for reversing the privatisation of Buenos Aires's water supply.

No matter that the country was in a state of economic crisis when the nationalisation took place, and the government didn’t want water prices to rise by 60%. No matter that the company time and again failed to meet its performance targets. In the world of corporate courts, nothing matters except an investor’s ‘right’ to profit.

Yet it is exactly this system of so-called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that we will be signing up to if the US-EU trade deal known as TTIP goes ahead. Again and again government ministers tell us there’s nothing to fear. Nothing in TTIP will prevent us running public services in the way we choose.

Try telling that to Argentina, which now ‘owes’ $405 million, according to one such corporate court, this one based in the World Bank, which just happened to also be a shareholder in the Suez-run private water scheme.

The story began when a free market government in Argentina privatised Buenos Aires's water supply back in 1993, egged on by the World Bank. A 30-year concession was given to a group headed by Suez, which promised to make water access universal and improve the water quality to meet international standards, all while maintaining reasonable tariffs.

From the start, targets were repeatedly not met, while tariffs increased, and the performance indicators were renegotiated. By 2002, average residential tariffs had increased by 88%, while inflation had only increased by 7%. Investment was below what had been promised, debt ballooned, but the profits kept rolling in.

In 2001-2, Argentina went through a dramatic crisis, exacerbated by international lenders like the International Monetary Fund, which caused mass impoverishment. As the country was rebuilt, emergency laws were passed to save Argentina’s people from further deprivation. With the private water company threatening another massive price rise, the government of Nestor Kirchner passed an emergency law to bring the company into public ownership.

Argentina has been hounded by cases like this ever since its economic crisis. That’s because the Argentinian government at the time took serious action to place human rights before corporate interests, telling big business they couldn’t profit from misery. Some of these cases have seen Argentina paying out, others have been resisted, turning into odious debts which hedge funds (known as vultures) use to threaten the country to this day.

This particular case has been brought under a bilateral trade agreement between Argentina and France. But the central mechanism is the same as that which is being proposed under TTIP and a separate treaty which the EU is about to ratify with Canada (known as CETA). These agreements will allow tens of thousands of corporations access to these secret pseudo-courts to take exactly this type of action against European governments.

Argentina has at least 20 more cases like this pending, arising mostly from the government trying to regulate energy and water prices, which is exactly what the Labour Party is promising to do in the upcoming general election.

What’s more, the threat of these corporate courts is having a much wider impact on governments’ willingness to even try to represent their people. Senior barrister Toby Landau says “no state wants to be brought under a treaty to an international process. It has an impact upon diplomatic relations, it may have an impact upon a state’s credit standing... as a practitioner I can tell you that there are states who are now seeking advice from council in advance of promulgating particular policies in order to know whether or not there is a risk of an investor-state claim.” [emphasis added]

The European parliament has a vote on TTIP in June. This case should make absolutely clear to MEPs that the ISDS system must be a red line not to be crossed by any political party that cares about democracy.

On 18 April people across the world will be taking part in more than 550 actions to protest TTIP and other dangerous trade deals. You can find your local action here.

© 2015 Global Justice Now

Nick Dearden is the director of Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) and former director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to
http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

For Every 1,000 People Killed by Police, Only 1 Cop is Convicted of a Crime, New Study Finds

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org)

For Every 1,000 People Killed by Police, Only 1 Cop is Convicted of a Crime, New Study Finds

By Josie Wales [1] / The Free Thought Project [2]

April 16, 2015

A new study released by the Washington Post reveals that for every 1000 people killed at the hands of police, only one officer is convicted of a crime. Since 2005, although there have been thousands of fatal shootings by police officers, only 54 have been charged. Of those charged, most were cleared or acquitted.

This analysis is, to date, the most comprehensive of its kind. According to the Post [ http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/04/11/thousands-dead-few-prosecuted/]: [3]

“The 54 criminal prosecutions were identified by Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip M. Stinson and The Washington Post. Cases were culled from news reports, grand jury announcements and news releases from prosecutors. For individual cases, reporters obtained and reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports, grand jury indictments, witness testimony and video recordings. Dozens of prosecutors and defense attorneys in the cases were interviewed, along with legal experts, officers who were prosecuted and surviving relatives of the shooting victims.”

It stands to reason that if there are thousands of fatalities due to police shootings, the number of police charged would be much higher than it is. According to the analysis, in order for prosecutors to press charges, there had to be exceptional factors at play. These include “a video recording of the incident, a victim shot in the back, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup.”

According to Bowling Green criminologist Philip M. Stinson, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

On the rare occasion an officer is charged with a crime, the punishment on average is much lower than would be expected, some spending only weeks behind bars. The prosecutors and defense lawyers interviewed in the study attribute this to the fact that “Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order.”

The most alarming part about this study is that the number of people fatally shot by police could potentially be much higher because police departments are not required to keep the database of police shootings updated. This is terrifying, as it’s arguably one of the most important records a police department could keep.

The odds are most certainly stacked against the victims of police shootings due to a lack of accountability across the board. Police officers are afraid to speak out against coworkers in fear of crossing the “thin blue line.” They receive paid vacations for misconduct. Thuggish police unions protect the violent cops and courts are constantly ruling in favor of police officers after brutally murdering innocent people. The system is set up to either reward or ignore bad police behavior, and these killings will undoubtedly continue unless a drastic change in procedure is made.

Report typos and corrections to 'corrections@alternet.org'. [4]
[5]
________________________________________

Source URL: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/every-1000-people-killed-police-only-1-cop-convicted-crime-new-study-finds

Links:

[1] http://www.alternet.org/authors/josie-wales
[2] http://thefreethoughtproject.com/
[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/04/11/thousands-dead-few-prosecuted/
[4] mailto:corrections@alternet.org?Subject=Typo on For Every 1,000 People Killed by Police, Only 1 Cop is Convicted of a Crime, New Study Finds
[5] http://www.alternet.org/
[6] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert April 17 - 19, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert April 17 - 19, 2015

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center. Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com. If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski [at] verizon.net.

1] Books, buttons & stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists
4] Buy coffee through HoCoFoLa
5] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
6] Get your animal friend in the Maryland SPCA 2016 calendar – through May 15
7] Countering Pakistan's Extremists: Can the National Assembly Take the Lead? – Apr. 17
8] Peace vigil at White House – Apr. 17
9] Climate engineering technologies – Apr. 17
10] Ecumenical Advocacy Day’s Annual Conference – Apr. 17 - 20
11] Silent Peace Vigil – Apr. 17
12] Bike for Peace – Apr. 17 - 21
13] See the film “Al Manam” (The Dream) – Apr. 17
14] Ballroom Dancing – Apr. 17
15] The Hope of Easter and a Disarmed World – Apr. 18
16] "State of Black America" – Apr. 18
17] West Chester, PA demo -- Apr. 18
18] Crawl for the animals – Apr. 18
19] Women’s rights and sexual violence in Guatemala – Apr. 18
20] Film “Speciesism: The Movie” – Apr. 18
21] David Swanson speaks at CPSR dinner – Apr. 18
22] “Sentencing Children to Die In Prison.” -- Apr. 19
23] Gabriela Rivera will speak -- Apr. 19
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available. “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Donate your books to Max. Call him at 410-366-1637.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/. Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR]. It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed. It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq. To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email address to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net. Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe. It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing. To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to mobuszewski at Verizon dot net.

4] – You can help safeguard human rights and fragile ecosystems through your purchase of HOCOFOLA Café Quetzal. Bags of ground coffee or whole beans can be ordered by mailing in an order form. Also note organic cocoa and sugar are for sale. For more details and to download the order form, go to http://friendsoflatinamerica.typepad.com/hocofola/2010/02/hocofola-cafe-quetzal-order-form-2010.html. The coffee comes in one-pound bags.

Fill out the form and mail it with a check made out to HOCOFOLA on or before the second week of the month. Be sure you indicate ground or beans for each type of coffee ordered. Send it to Francine Sheppard at 5639B, Harpers Farm Rd., Columbia 21044. The coffee will arrive some time the following week and you will be notified where to pick it up. Contact Francine at 410-992-7679 or FrancineMSW@aol.com.

5] – Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore. Let Max know if you have any leads—410-366-1637 or mobuszewski@verizon.net.

6] – Enter a photo of your animal friend in the Maryland SPCA 2016 Calendar for $50. Each entry also includes one (1) free calendar! Participants can send photos after registration, so don't worry if you need a little extra time to find the purr-fect photo of Fluffy! To enter, go to www.mdspca.org/photo and use discount code "SPCAcalendar" during checkout, or contact Jennifer Mion at petcalendar@mdspca.org or 410-235-8826, ext. 133.

The 2016 Pet Calendar will be a full-color wall calendar, released in the fall of 2015. Thirteen of the best photos will be selected for the cover and pet-of-the-month pages. Photographs must be of animals, no people, and must be in color. High-resolution horizontal photos are preferred. Small photos, especially those taken by phones, are difficult to enlarge. All entered photos will appear in the calendar. A maximum of 400 photos will be accepted through May 15, 2015. The calendar is an important fundraiser for the Maryland SPCA. Proceeds benefit the needy and homeless animals in our care!

7] – On Fri., Apr. 17 from 10 AM to noon, this question will be answered--Countering Pakistan's Extremists: Can the National Assembly Take the Lead?—at the U.S. Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave. NW, WDC 20037. Pakistan's government says it must urgently address the poor education, underemployment and alienation, particularly among youth, that is feeding violent extremism. Yet in a country ruled for nearly half of its history by its military, the National Assembly has often struggled to influence national policies.

The challenge of confronting violent extremism in Pakistan resonates beyond its borders. Pakistan's evolution is critical to the international effort to stabilize Afghanistan. It has implications for India and China, and indeed across South Asia and the Middle East, where other countries face the same extremist problem. This USIP panel discussion will include three National Assembly members-both from the governing coalition of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and from opposition parties. They are members of a Pakistani delegation of legislators that will have met with members and staffers of Congress, and with other US officials in the previous week: Awais Leghari -Member of the National Assembly (Pakistan Muslim League-N, Dera Ghazi Khan) and Chairman of its Foreign Affairs Committee; Co-Chair of the US-Pakistan Legislator's Forum Delegation; Shafqat Mahmood - Member of the National Assembly (Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Lahore); Aasiya Nasir - Member of the National Assembly (Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F, Quetta). Brian Joseph - Senior Director for Asia and Global Programs, National Endowment for Democracy. This legislative exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Washington-based non-profit group Convergence, and the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency. RSVP at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/countering-pakistans-extremists-can-the-national-assembly-take-the-lead-tickets-16499262739.

8] – On Fri., Apr. 17 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contact Art @ artlaffin@hotmail.com or at 202-360-6416.

9] –Go to American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave., SIS-300, WDC 20016 on Fri., Apr. 17 from 2 to 4 PM and express your concern for the environment. Sulfur particles in the stratosphere? Iron filings in the oceans? Mirrors in space? These and other ideas are being looked at as scientists and policy makers race to find new responses to climate change. Who, though, will get a say in whether and how these kinds of climate engineering technologies are developed? Dr. Simon Nicholson is Co-Executive Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment (FCEA), a scholarly initiative of the Global Environmental Politics program in the School of International Service. FCEA works to generate space for perspectives from civil society actors to produce a heightened level of engagement around issues of justice, agency, and inclusion. See https://www.facebook.com/events/784675774949678/.

10] – From Fri., Apr. 17 through Mon., Apr. 20 participate in Ecumenical Advocacy Day’s Annual Conference - Breaking the Chains: Mass Incarceration & Systems of Exploitation at the Doubletree Hotel – Crystal City, 300 Army-Navy Dr., Arlington 22202-2891. April 20 will be a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. On Fri., Apr. 17 from 3:30 to 5:30 PM, there will be a National Religious Campaign Against Torture Interfaith Gathering at the Doubletree Hotel. Hear from advocates from across the country on their local, state, and federal work. There will also be time to experience a replica solitary confinement cell. Register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/53YYY3H.

Contact T.C. Morrow at tmorrow@nrcat.org or 202-547-1920 with any questions. With support of interfaith colleagues in Wisconsin, NRCAT has constructed a replica of a solitary confinement cell. Virginia Classick, Vice President of the NRCAT Board, said this, “I am looking forward to being available at the mock SHU (security housing unit) to engage people in conversation about NRCAT's important work in ending prolonged solitary confinement.”

The conference includes excellent plenary speakers, workshops, worship, advocacy training, and a Monday lobby day. While this is a conference aimed at the Christian community, all are welcome. Register at www.advocacydays.org.

11] – There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St. The next vigil is on Apr. 17. On that Friday it will remind us that War Is Not the Answer and that there is the need to stop torture, and prosecute the torturers.

12] – Bike for Peace international activists will be biking from Washington, D.C. to New York City prior to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to draw attention to nuclear weapons and their devastating humanitarian impacts. They will be in the area from Fri., Apr. 17 through Tues., Apr. 21. Come to an event to kick-off this bike tour and cheer on these valiant Norwegian bicyclists! You will meet Thore Vestby, Vice President of Mayors for Peace, Tore Nærland, President of Bike for Peace, Catherine Thomasson, PSR’s Executive Director and bicycle commuter, and other local bicyclists, PSR and Student PSR members, politicians, and sports enthusiasts who support this common cause. On Sun., Apr. 19 from 5 to 7:30 PM at 12717 Greenbriar Road, Potomac, MD, the home of Dr. Mohammad Khalid, PSR's DC Metro Chapter President. RSVP, since light food and drinks will be served, at http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1898&ea.campaign.id=37492&ea.url.id=384435.

The Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) entered into force in 1970 and includes the only existing legal mandate for nuclear disarmament. NPT Article VI calls for all signatories including the USA to negotiate: "a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." Over 280 organizations--including PSR--have endorsed a series of events in New York City to show public support for disarmament. PSR and Student PSR members will participate in the April 24-25 Peace and Planet conference and the Sat., Apr. 26 rally, interfaith service, march and peace festival.

13] – On Fri., Apr. 17 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM at the Jerusalem Fund, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, WDC, the Cultural Programs of the Jerusalem Fund is showing “Al Manam” (The Dream). Shot in 1980-81, the film is composed of interviews with different Palestinian refugees including children, women, elders and militants from the refugee camps of Sabra, Shatila, Bourj el-Barajneh, Ain al-Hilweh, and Rashidieh in Lebanon. In the interviews Mohamad Malas questions his subjects about their dreams at night. The dreams always converge on Palestine: a woman recounts her dreams about winning the war; a fedai of bombardment and martyrdom; and one man tells of a dream where he meets and is ignored by Gulf emirs. During filming Malas lived in the camps and conducted interviews with more than 400 people. In 1982 the Sabra and Shatila massacres too place, taking the lives of several people he interviewed, and he stopped working on the project. He returned to it in 1986 and edited the many hours of footage gathered into this 45 minute film, released in 1987. Go to http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/EventDetails/i/50262. Call 202-338-1958 or email info@thejerusalemfund.org.

14] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Apr. 17. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

15] – On Sat., Apr. 18 from 9 AM to 3 PM attend the Philadelphia Catholic Peace Fellowship retreat at St. Malachy's School Hall, 1429 N. 11th St., Philadelphia 19122. The Hope of Easter and a Disarmed World will be led by Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, Washington, D.C. Call 215.952.0718.

16] – Be at Howard University, Ina Burns Lindsay Hall, 601 Howard Place NW, WDC on Sat., Apr. 18 from 11 AM to 2 PM for a conversation about the National Urban League's 2015 "State of Black America" report and the state of black life in the Greater Washington area with practitioners, policy experts and students in education, health, economics and housing. Together, they will identify issues, brainstorm solutions, and develop action plans to save our city. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/809936269091039/.

17] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com.

18] – On Sat., Apt. 18 from 2 to 7 PM, do a crawl through around historical Fell's Point and raise money for animals in Baltimore! ADMISSION is $40, which entitles you to a T-shirt, wristband for drink and food specials and rides on the Charm City Pedal Mill. Get your TICKETS at www.mdspca.org/bark.

19] – Come to the Doubletree Hotel, 300 Army Navy Dr., Arlington on Sat., Apr. 18 at 3:45 PM and meet human rights lawyer Gabriela Rivera who will share information about women’s rights and sexual violence in Guatemala. She works at the Association of Women Transforming the World (MTM), a part of the Alliance for Breaking the Silence and Ending Impunity. This Alliance was formed to pursue justice for Q'eqchi women who have suffered sexual violence, including acts of violence committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict.

Gabriela and the team at MTM are currently litigating a case of sexual slavery of Q'eqchi' women at a military outpost in Sepur Zarco in Izabal between 1982 and 1988. The human rights lawyer has a long history of working with women survivors of sexual violence, other forms of violence against women, and the deprivation of freedom for women. She will discuss the situation of women in Guatemala, cases of sexual violence, and how the international community can support these issues. Go to http://www.ghrc-usa.org/get-involved/events/spring-2015-speakers-tour/.

20] – At Bloombars, 3222 11th St. NW, WDC 20010, on Sat., Apr. 18 from 4 to 6 PM, join BloomBars and Compassion Over Killing to celebrate US VegWeek 2015 (April 20-26) with the presentation of “Speciesism: The Movie” (2013, 94 min), by Mark Devries. It takes viewers on a sometimes funny, sometimes frightening adventure across the country, to expose the biggest secrets about modern factory farms, and to ask the biggest questions about the belief that our species is more important than the rest. You'll never look at animals the same way again. Especially humans. See http://tinyurl.com/speci-movie-trailer.

The screening will be followed by audience discussion and Q&A with Katie Legomsky, DC Volunteer with Compassion Over Killing. She’ll talk about the film, her organization and the benefits of a Vegan lifestyle. The suggested donation is $10. Proceeds support BloomBars. Savor free organic popcorn. BloomScreen Indie Film Night is a weekly series of independent and foreign films, accompanied by discussions with filmmakers, experts and other guests. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1419718185009758/.

21] – Attend Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Annual Chapter Dinner on Sat., Apr. 18 from 6 to 9 PM at The Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles Street, Baltimore 21210. Our featured guest speaker is author, activist and radio host David Swanson. David will speak on trends that are driving change in our society. His talk will encompass three areas of great interest and concern to Chesapeake PSR -- peace, environment and democracy. The cost for dinner is $40. Limited financial assistance is available. RSVP to twhitehouse@psr.org or 240-246-4492.

22] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon. On Apr. 19, hear an address “Sentencing Children to Die in Prison.” Nikola Nable-Juris will speak about the use of life-without-parole sentences for youth under 18, both nationally and in Maryland. These sentences condemn a child to a lifetime in prison despite scientific evidence that adolescents are less culpable for their actions and more likely to be rehabilitated. The United States is the only country that sentences children under 18 to life in prison without parole and a growing number of states are revising their criminal laws to give children an opportunity to show they can grow and change. Nikola will share about reform efforts occurring around the country and the work in Maryland to end this practice, including ways to be involved in advocacy efforts.

Nikola Nable-Juris serves as policy counsel for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. After working with pregnant and parenting teenagers in Alaska and survivors of domestic violence in Virginia, she was inspired to advocate for systemic change. While at the University of Maryland School of Law, she interned with Juvenile Division of the Office of the Public Defender and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland. Her work at CFSY includes a blend of policy advocacy, community organizing, and support for local advocates around the country. Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

23] – Come to the Chapina Bakery, International Mall, 1401 University Blvd. E, Hyattsville on Sun. Apr. 19 at 1 PM to hear from Gabriela Rivera, as part of its Spring 2015 Speaker's Tour. She is to speak about the legacy of sexual violence in Guatemala. Gabriela works at the Association of Women Transforming the World (MTM), a part of the Alliance for Breaking the Silence and Ending Impunity. This Alliance was formed to pursue justice for Q'eqchi women who have suffered sexual violence, including acts of violence committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. The human rights lawyer and the team at MTM are currently litigating a case of sexual slavery of Q'eqchi' women at a military outpost in Sepur Zarco in Izabal between 1982 and 1988.Gabriela has a long history of working with women survivors of sexual violence, other forms of violence against women, and the deprivation of freedom for women. She will discuss the situation of women in Guatemala, cases of sexual violence, and how the international community can support these issues. See http://www.ghrc-usa.org/get-involved/events/spring-2015-speakers-tour/.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Liberal Allies of Obama: 'Hell, No' to TPP Trade Deal

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/29649-liberal-allies-of-obama-hell-no-to-tpp-trade-deal

Khan writes: "Liberal lawmakers, labor leaders and environmental groups took their insurgency against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to Congress on Wednesday, staging a protest against the secretive pact on the Capitol Hill lawn and spending the day lobbying lawmakers to derail fast-track authority for the deal."

Union members and community activists demonstrate against the Trans-Pacific Partnership outside Miami Dade College. (photo: Raedle/Getty Images)

Liberal Allies of Obama: 'Hell, No' to TPP Trade Deal

By Naureen Khan, Al Jazeera America
16 April 15

Labor leaders, environmental groups and lawmakers rally against fast-track authority for secretive trade pact

Liberal lawmakers, labor leaders and environmental groups took their insurgency against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal to Congress on Wednesday, staging a protest against the secretive pact on the Capitol Hill lawn and spending the day lobbying lawmakers to derail fast-track authority for the deal.
Congress is debating this week whether to give Barack Obama’s administration the power to submit the agreement to the House and Senate for a simple up-or-down vote — a special authority it has asked for — without giving members the chance to add amendments.

The sweeping trade deal, in the making since the early days of Obama’s presidency, touches on a number of policy areas, setting international standards for everything from food safety to environmental regulations to intellectual property to corporate governance, and would cover 12 countries on the Pacific Rim. It has been negotiated entirely in secret, with the U.S. public barred from seeing a copy of a draft, aside from what has been leaked.

The pact has caused a public and relatively rare rift among Democrats, pitting traditional allies of the White House against the administration, which has made finalizing the deal a top priority of Obama’s second-term economic agenda. Even more unusual, congressional Republican leaders have sided with the president.

“Do I look like a rubber stamp?” asked Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. “We’re not going to accept a deal that sells away our jobs, that damages our food and that keeps our workers from succeeding in the 21st century. Hell, no.”

Those opposed to the agreement railed against both the secrecy of the pact and the attempts to speed it through Congress, in addition to its content.

“We can’t raise the minimum wage in this country to $10.10 because it takes 60 votes. We can’t get a responsible way to insure the long-term unemployed because it takes 60 votes,” said Tefere Gebre, the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. trade federation. “But they are saying with a simple vote, with a simple majority, they want to pass the largest trade agreement this country has ever seen or this world has ever seen? Are we going to settle for that?”

The AFL-CIO, one the deal’s most vocal opponents and one of the Democrats’ biggest political contributors, has been so adamant about defeating the TPP that it has frozen its political contributions to federal candidates to pressure more members to oppose the pact.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said he wasn’t opposed to all trade agreements but that provisions should be vetted among lawmakers and in the public to make sure the deal was sound.
“When it’s done right, trade can help American workers and communities, but it’s got to be done right, and it can’t just be about other countries being able to dump their imports in the United States,” he said. “We will not stand for an agreement that doesn’t have protections for the environment, that doesn’t make sure that other countries aren’t manipulating their currencies and that aren’t enforceable, because then they’re worthless.”

Others were convinced that the pact would lead to job losses and depressed wages, as they believe previous trade agreements — particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement, among the U.S., Canada and Mexico — have done.

“Over the past 25 years, our country has signed trade deal after trade deal after trade deal, and each time, each and every time, we have been promised more jobs, increased wages, but the reality has been very different,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. “What is insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result. We are headed to the madhouse with this agreement.”

She added, “I did not come to Congress to give up my constitutional authority to any administration — Democratic or Republican.”

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said the TPP undermined deeply held principles of the Democratic Party. “You cannot talk about inequality and push a bad trade deal,” he said. “You cannot talk about raising the wages while you offshore our jobs everywhere around the world, including Vietnam, where it is illegal to have a labor union and the minimum wage is $0.50.”

For others, the frustration was personal. Danny Venters, a member of United Steelworkers, said he watched two paper mills close in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, as the jobs migrated overseas.

“We’re just tired of it,” he said. “We’re taking names of who’s not voting the right way and taking our jobs, and we’re not going to support them next time.”

© 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Storm Is Over

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

The Storm Is Over

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-Storm-Is-Over-20150414-0001.html

Kathy Kelly

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
teleSUR

Lightning flashed across Kentucky skies a few nights ago. "I love storms," said my roommate, Gypsi, her eyes bright with excitement. Thunder boomed over the Kentucky hills and Atwood Hall, here in Lexington, KY's federal prison. I fell asleep thinking of the gentle, haunting song our gospel choir sings: "It's over now, It's over now. I think that I can make it. The storm is over now."
I awoke the next morning feeling confused and bewildered. Why had the guards counted us so many times? "That was lightning," Gypsi said, giggling. The guards shine flashlight in our rooms three times a night, to count us, and I generally wake up each time; that night the storm was also a culprit.

As the day continued we saw large pools of water had collected at each entrance to Atwood Hall. Prisoners from drought-ridden areas wish they could collect the rainwater and send it home. Fanciful notions, but of the kind, at least, that can help us remember priorities. I suppose it's wise, though, to focus on what can be fixed. The elevator here, for instance.

The Department of Justice Budget for Fiscal Year 2015 [1] provides US$27.4 billion in discretionary funding. In state prisons alone, it's estimated that taxpayers spend an average of US$31,286.00 per inmate per year. (The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, p. 9 [2]). But, for most of the 2.5 months that I've lived here in Atwood Hall, the elevator from the basement to the 3rd floor, which should serve close to 300 women, has been out of order. According to "inmate.com" our in-house rumor mill, a decision was made, last month, not to fix it. In the past several weeks, two women arrived in wheelchairs and another new prisoner is blind.

I like moving from the basement to the third floor on the staircase. It's easy exercise. But traveling up and down the stairs can be life-threatening for many prisoners here.

Ms. P. seems to be in her seventies. Wiry white hair, fixed in a braid that reaches down her neck, surrounds her golden brown face. I like to imagine a framed oil painting of her gracing the first floor entrance.

A few nights ago, I watched her toil to haul herself, hanging on to the handrail, from the basement to the first floor. She needed to rest on the landing, winded, her heart pounding, barely able to speak. But Ms. P. made the best of it. "Ms. P.," said another prisoner comfortingly, "maybe they'll get this elevator fixed this week." "I'd contribute my entire month's salary if it would help repair the elevator!" Ms. P. said with a chuckle. She very likely earns $6.72 cents per month, at 12 cents an hour. Three of us readily agreed to match her donation, which would amount to about $28.00.

We need Ms. P.'s lightheartedness. But I've seen flashes of fury, followed by sad resignation, like lightning giving way to rain, in the faces of guards and prison administrators witnessing these scenes occurring on their watch, but as powerless to stop them as to call off those storms the other night. It's not a morale booster.

A ray of brilliant sun fell for me last weekend with a visit from an old friend, parent to a lovely child I was especially delighted to see. Once again, I am luckier than so many whose loved ones lack the means for regular and intensive travel. Through our conversation in the prison visiting room, I learned the story of Thompson FCI, a freshly-constructed but never-occupied federal prison near Clinton, Iowa. My friend's folks, who live near the town, have speculated for years, as have all the town's residents, about when or whether the empty prison would ever open. Right now, my friend said, there's only one full time employee in the prison, the warden, and his job is to mow the lawn.

Apparently, local people have been pining for the Bureau of Prisons to act. "The BOP's positive impact on rural communities is significant," says a 2015 paper [3]issued by the Department of Justice. "By bringing in new federal jobs, stimulation of local businesses and housing, contracting with hospitals and other local vendors, and coordinating with local law enforcement, the BOP improves the economy of the town and the entire region where these rural facilities are located."

Yet government's promises to aid small towns with "prison money" often ring false. In an article entitled "The American Prison, Open for Business?" [4] (Peace Review, vol. 20, issue 3), Stephen Gallagher notes that although prisons may bring with them high-paying jobs, "most employees of the prison industry do not live in the host communities." "In a joint WSU/MSU study, it was found that 68 percent of the corrective jobs were held by people who did not even live in the county that housed the prison where they worked. In another study in California, it was found that less than 20 percent of the jobs went to residents of the host community." And most people living in poor rural communities aren't eligible for the better-paying jobs in the prison system.

Communities desperate to host a new prison should also consider the wages that will be paid to the prisoners. What company would choose to hire local non-inmate workers when the BOP can forcibly hire inmates to work for 12 cents an hour, right in their homes, with no need to consider employee benefits, pay raises, vacation pay or insurance. Prison labor creates a labor pool that is always available and can be maintained in a manner similar to the cost of maintaining slaves. If neighboring people lose their jobs, if they have to steal to try to get by, they can always wind up living in the prison.

I'm hard-pressed to see how this can possibly benefit an area's economy, that is if its "economy" is understood to include all the area's people, and not just the wealthiest who can influence prison placement.

When prisons are constructed in rural, southern areas, the political elites can count the entire prison population as part of their census, bringing federal funds into their jurisdictions, but without much pressure to share funds with their new 'constituents,' since the prisoners by and large can't vote. Blighted urban areas lose funds desperately needed for education, housing, health care and infrastructure, while rural people compete to be hired as jailers.

One morning last week, a neighbor across the hall told us she feared she would choke on her own sobs as she cried herself to sleep. I wondered how many times the flashlights would re-awaken her during the night. She had been counting on a sentence reduction and her lawyer had told her, just the previous day, that her case is complicated and she most likely wouldn't qualify. "I can't do 3 1/2 more years here," she said, completely distraught. "I just can't!" "Yes, you can," insisted one of the friends gathering to console her. I watched appreciatively, two people caught in the storm and guiding each other through it.

We hear about the droughts, and the temperature records, and we recognize that more storms are coming. The recent, and for many never-ended, financial crisis was a storm, and I notice that politicians and pundits are in full swing demanding a new regional war overseas with the arguments we'd hoped the nation had learned to reject twelve years ago. We can expect these threats, with ecological scarcity underlying them all, to build into each other: the perfect storm. We remember that storms can build quickly. "I can't do 3 more years" might well be a statement truer, and truer for many, many more people, than my suffering fellow inmate ever imagined. We could be working together preparing shelter.

Many people of Clinton, Iowa will clamor for the prison to open, but not for more direct government help, communal help to foster employment and development in the area. For many, a "free market" will mean the choice to lose our homes or find a home behind bars, or else to make a living keeping other people there; but without the choice, in an increasingly undemocratic nation, to pool our resources as a community and help each other to stay free; compassionately, or even sanely, to shelter each other from this storm. The jobs will come when strangers file in, in chains – that's freedom. I look around me at "freedom," and at how Ms. P. is getting a step up in the world.

We could awake into the world, build affinities between the suffering people locked in Atwood Hall and its managers, between the struggling rural community of Clinton and the urban desperate they wait to see bused in. Just about everyone longs to raise their children in a world where drought, storms, and brutal want won't loom as insoluble, inevitable catastrophes. Working together we could reclaim misspent resources and correct misguided policies. Our fear and isolation from each other, aiming to get a step up above our neighbors, our reluctance to live in a shared world, may be worse than the other storms we face.

The other storms will come, and we will have to see how we weather them, but what if our terrible fear of each other could pass us by? What if, for those of us doing the easiest time, "I can't do 3 more years" became "I won't make you do 3 more years" – became our part in a chorused "we won't do 3 more years!" ringing through our society. How miraculous it would be to hold our children and grand-children and sing, "I think that we can make it. The storm is over now."

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence [5]is nearing the end of a term in federal prison incurred for participation in an anti-drone protest. She can receive mail at: KATHY KELLY 04971-045; FMC LEXINGTON; FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER; SATELLITE CAMP; P.O. BOX 14525; LEXINGTON, KY 40512.

This content was originally published by teleSUR [6].

Source URL: https://portside.org/2015-04-15/storm-over

Links:

[1] https://immigrationforum.org/blog/the-presidents-fiscal-year-2015-budget-department-of-justice/
[2] http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/price-of-prisons-updated-version-021914.pdf
[3] http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/jmd/legacy/2014/03/22/fy13-bop-bf-justification.pdf
[4] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10402650802330287#.VSXDv9w73Ng
[5] http://www.vcnv.org/
[6] http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-Storm-Is-Over-20150414-0001.html

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Flaw in the Search for Humane Execution: There Is No Such Thing

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/29604-flaw-in-the-search-for-humane-execution-there-is-no-such-thing

Silverstein writes: "Oklahoma is but the governor's signature away from becoming the first state to approve the use of nitrogen gas in executions - another step in the doomed search for a humane execution."

A gurney used for executions. (photo: AP)

Flaw in the Search for Humane Execution: There Is No Such Thing

By Jason Silverstein, Guardian UK
13 April 15

The real logic of modern executions is that if the prisoner is quiet enough, then we can forget that there is a person in there

Oklahoma is but the governor’s signature away from becoming the first state to approve the use of nitrogen gas in executions – another step in the doomed search for a humane execution. The state began to study alternatives after botching the execution of Clayton Lockett on 29 April 2014; it took 43 minutes for him to die from a lethal injection attempt.
But as we have seen with lethal injection, less gruesome doesn’t mean painless. The unfortunate logic of modern execution is that if the body is still enough, and quiet enough, then we can forget that there is a person in there.

Mike Christian, the state representative who co-wrote the nitrogen legislation, argues that nitrogen gas is scientifically proven to cause a quick and painless death. Though he once told Der Spiegel that he didn’t care if they used “lethal injection, the guillotine or if we feed them to lions”; he now claims that “we have come up with a fool-proof way for a humane execution.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that modern science has found a brand-new way to make the barbaric humane. Proponents of executions from the guillotine to the electric chair to lethal injection claimed that science had advanced enough to create the painless execution; they were all wrong. At their most efficient, these methods don’t eliminate pain. They simply hide the pain from observers.

The state wasn’t always ostensibly concerned with the pain of those it had decided to eliminate. The breaking wheel, for example, involved strapping a prisoner to a cartwheel, breaking his limbs and, if he were lucky, a coup de grâce – if not, executionees suffered slow deaths from dehydration. But on 3 August 1788, a furious Versailles crowd rescued Jean Louschart from the breaking wheel and threatened his would-be executioner that “you must kill your customers without making them suffer.” King Louis XVI pardoned Louschart – and knew he needed to abolish the wheel.

In 1789, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French physician who wanted to reform the practice of beheading (which often required two or more hacks with a sword or axe), told the National Assembly that a decapitation machine “will take off a head in a twinkling and the victim will feel nothing but a slight sense of refreshing coolness on the neck.” Three years later, the National Assembly asked Antoine Louis, the permanent secretary to the Academy of Surgeons, to build the machine that “should only involve the deprivation of life.” On 21 January 1793, Louis XVI was killed with the National Razor; it was last used in France in 1977.

New York Governor David Hill also turned to modern science for a humane form of execution in 1885: “The present mode of executing criminals by hanging has come down to us from the dark ages,” he complained. On 13 May 1886, a bill established “A Commission to Investigate and Report the Most Humane and Practical Method of Carrying into Effect the Sentence of Death in Capital Cases”; the commission recommended, promising that it would be “absolute in its working and will effect the instantaneous and painless death of the convicted criminal.”

On 6 August 1890, in the state’s very first electrocution, officials had to send two waves of electricity through William Kemmler’s body, causing his fingers to curl into themselves, his mouth to foam, and his flesh to smoke. And, just since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, there have been at least 10 more botched electrocutions; even when electrocutions worked as advertised, death penalty supporters described terrifying scenes of blood and burned flesh.

So by the late 1970s, states turned to lethal injection; Oklahoma called on Dr Jay Chapman, the state’s chief medical examiner, to design a protocol that would appear humane. Soon, Chapman’s three-drug regimen became the gold standard across the nation. Ronald Reagan, drawing on his experience as a farmer, compared the method to a veterinarian who gives an injured horse a shot and “the horse goes to sleep.”

But this experiment in humane execution hasn’t delivered on its promise either. According to Austin Sarat, seven per cent of lethal injections are botched, higher than any other method. One reason is that medical professionals cannot participate, or else they might lose their board certification. Even Jay Chapman had a change of heart about his creation in practice: “The simplest thing I know of is the guillotine,” he said in 2007, adding “And I’m not at all opposed to bringing it back. The person’s head is cut off and that’s the end of it.”

Gruesome? Perhaps. But the only real thing distinguishing nitrogen executions from firing squads from lethal injections from electrocutions from hangings from beheadings is our own comfort as witnesses; for those condemned to death by the state, there is no going gently into that good night. There is only pain.

© 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Obama Caves to Congress on Iran Deal

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/29633-obama-caves-to-congress-on-iran-deal

Excerpt: "Bowing to pressure from Republicans and his own party, President Barack Obama on Tuesday relented to a compromise empowering Congress to reject his emerging nuclear pact with Iran."

Protestors sit in the audience during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee business meeting to debate and vote on S.615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo: Andrew Harni/AP)

Obama Caves to Congress on Iran Deal

By Deb Richmann and Laurie Kellman, The Associated Press
15 April 15

Bowing to pressure from Republicans and his own party, President Barack Obama on Tuesday relented to a compromise empowering Congress to reject his emerging nuclear pact with Iran.
The rare and reluctant agreement between the president and the Republican-led Congress came after the White House maintained for weeks that congressional interference could jeopardize sensitive negotiations with Tehran. But lawmakers refused to back down from their insistence that Congress have a formal role in what could be a historic deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the compromise bill shortly after White House spokesman Josh Earnest conveyed the president's decision to sign it.
"Maybe they saw the handwriting on the wall," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the White House dropped its opposition.

Both houses of Congress are now likely to pass the bill, which cleared the committee 19-0. It's expected to come before the full Senate as soon as next week.

A vote on an actual agreement to lift economic sanctions in exchange for Iranian nuclear concessions would come later, if negotiations between the Obama administration, Iran and five other nations come to fruition.

Obama retains his right to veto any attempt by Congress to scuttle such a pact if the time comes. To override a veto would require a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate, meaning some Democrats would have to oppose their president to sink a deal.

The White House's announcement came after an intensive administration effort to prevent Democrats from signing on to legislation requiring Obama to submit any pact with Iran to Congress.
International negotiators are trying to reach a deal blocking Iran's path toward nuclear weapons in exchange for relief from economic sanctions that are crippling its economy.

"We believe it is our role to ensure that any deal with Iran makes them accountable, is transparent and is enforceable," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of Foreign Relations Committee.
Corker said Secretary of State John Kerry was lobbying against the legislation on Capitol Hill a few hours before the vote. The Republican said the White House's sudden support was dictated by the number of senators — Republicans and Democrats — backing the measure.

"I supported today's compromise after the administration assured me that the reworked bill would preserve our negotiators' ability to do their jobs," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.
Obama, whose foreign policy legacy would be burnished by a deal with Iran, has been in a standoff for months with lawmakers who said Congress should have a chance to weigh in and remain skeptical that Iran will honor an agreement.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China reached a preliminary agreement with Iran on April 2 to curb its nuclear program and hope to finalize a pact by June 30.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who opposed the original bill as "harmful to the negotiations," sent a letter to colleagues late Tuesday expressing support for the compromise worked out by Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Earnest said the White House would withhold final judgment on the bill while it works its way through Congress, wary that potential changes could be made in committee that would render it unpalatable. But he said the White House could support the compromise in its current form.

"Despite the things about it that we don't like, enough substantial changes have been made that the president would be willing to sign it," Earnest said.

An earlier version of the bill sought to put any plan by Obama to lift sanctions on Iran on hold for up to 60 days while Congress reviewed the deal. The compromise approved by the committee shortened the review period to 30 days. During that time, Obama would be able to lift sanctions imposed through presidential action, but would be blocked from easing sanctions levied by Congress.

Under the terms of the compromise, if a nuclear deal is submitted after July 9 — a short time after the final agreement is to be reached — the review period would revert to 60 days. The president would be required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with terms of the agreement.

The compromise also struck a provision in the initial bill that would have required the president to certify that Iran is not supporting terrorism and substituted weaker language.

The original provision's author, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., tried Tuesday to add the requirement back in. But Corker and others said the amendment would be a deal-killer, and the panel rejected it.

Other GOP senators backed off their anti-Iran amendments.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who announced his candidacy for president Monday, had proposed an amendment that would require Iran's leaders to accept Israel's right to exist. Rubio said his amendment probably could have passed in the committee, but ultimately "could imperil the entire arrangement."

Rubio said the new version has language on Israel that "is better than not having it at all" and said his original amendment might still come up during a debate by the full Senate.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said he felt confident the compromises will hold, but said Democrats would withdraw their support if Republicans successfully push amendments that would pull the bill "sharply to the right." He was referring to amendments proposed by Republicans to make the administration certify that Iran is not supporting terrorism and had publicly renounced its threat to destroy Israel — two obstacles that would be nearly impossible to scale.

© 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Beyond Blackwater Massacre, Renewed Concern Over Rise of Mercenary Armies

commondreams.org/news/2015/04/15/beyond-blackwater-massacre-renewed-concern-over-rise-mercenary-armies

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Beyond Blackwater Massacre, Renewed Concern Over Rise of Mercenary Armies

"The outsourcing of national security to private firms creates risks for human rights and accountability," warns UN

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Blackwater security guards in Iraq. (Photo: Heath Powell/cc/flickr)

Following the sentencing of four private security guards convicted in the notorious 2007 massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians, attention has shifted to the growing role such private mercenaries are having on battlefields throughout the world.

On Monday, three former employees of Blackwater Worldwide were given thirty-year prison sentences while one guard, Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shot, was sentenced to life in prison for a shooting spree which resulted in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians in Nissour Square. The accused say they will appeal.

In a statement on Tuesday, human rights expert Elzbieta Karska, chair of the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries, said that while the group welcomed the sentencing, such examples of accountability are the "exception rather than the rule."

"The outsourcing of national security to private firms creates risks for human rights and accountability," Karska said. The UN is calling for an international treaty to "address the increasingly significant role that private military companies play in transnational conflicts."

Critics of the military industrial complex have long-warned about the difficulties of holding private security firms accountable for rights violations in foreign war zones. As Karska notes, these four Blackwater security guards are merely the tip of the iceberg for an industry that has expanded exponentially since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan first broke out.

On Tuesday, New York Times reporters James Risen and Matthew Rosenberg published a story highlighting what they say is the real legacy of Blackwater.

The private security industry, they write, "has fallen from public view since the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the two conflicts sped the maturation of security firms from bit players on the edge of global conflicts to multinational companies that guard oil fields in Libya, analyze intelligence for United States forces in Afghanistan, help fight insurgents in parts of Africa and train American-backed militaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

Though solid numbers are hard to come by, Risen and Rosenberg note that "estimates of industry revenues range from a few billion dollars to $100 billion."
While the State Department refused to divulge to the Times how many private security contractors they hire, in January, U.S. Central Command (Centcom) reported having 54,700 private guards under its jurisdiction. According to the Centcom report, 40,000 of those contractors are in Afghanistan alone, more than a third of which are American—giving new perspective to the U.S. footprint in that country when President Barack Obama says that less than 10,000 troops are deployed there.

In response to the outcry after the Nissour Square shooting, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who has been left virtually unscathed, renamed the company Xe Services before selling it in 2010. It now operates under the name Academi and has received more than $300 million in Pentagon funding for drug war efforts in Afghanistan.

Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, who created a short film about the atrocity, noted this fact after the sentencing:
Blackwater--under a new name--still works for the US government. If corporations are people, they should have been given the death penalty.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) April 14, 2015

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Have you signed on to the letter to Rep. John Sarbanes?/Writer Eduardo Galeano, Voice of Latin America's Left, Dead at 74

Friends,

Have you signed on to the letter to Rep. John Sarbanes? Can you help deliver it at 4:30 PM to the Towson office?

Kagiso, Max

commondreams.org/news/2015/04/13/writer-eduardo-galeano-voice-latin-americas-left-dead-74

Monday, April 13, 2015

Writer Eduardo Galeano, Voice of Latin America's Left, Dead at 74

"This world is not democratic at all," Galeano said in 2013. "The world is organized by the war economy and the war culture."
Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

"We have a memory cut in pieces," Galeano told Democracy Now! "And I write trying to recover our real memory, the memory of humankind, what I call the human rainbow, which is much more colorful and beautiful than the other one, the other rainbow. But the human rainbow had been mutilated by machismo, racism, militarism and a lot of other isms, who have been terribly killing our greatness, our possible greatness, our possible beauty." (Photo: gndolfo/flickr/cc)

Award-winning Uruguayan writer and thinker Eduardo Galeano, considered a leading voice of Latin America's left, has died at 74.

The world-renowned author, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, died in Montevideo on Monday.

The novelist and journalist—whose work transcended genre and who once said "all written work constitutes literature, even graffiti"—was the prolific author of books including Memory of Fire, a three-volume narrative of the history of North and South America; The Book of Embraces, described by Library Journal as a "literary scrapbook, mixing memoir, documentary, essay, and prose poem"; and The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, which analyses five centuries of economic and political exploitation in the region, perpetrated first by Europe and later by the United States.

The last book brought Galeano into the spotlight 36 years after its original publication, when in 2009 the late Hugo Chavez, then president of Venezuela, gave President Barack Obama a paperback copy.

Galeano, a regular contributor to The Progressive and the New Internationalist, was a powerful critic of both capitalism and imperialism in every form.

"This world is not democratic at all," Galeano told the Guardian in 2013. "The most powerful institutions, the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank belong to three or four countries. The others are watching. The world is organized by the war economy and the war culture."

According to Reuters:

Galeano started out as a journalist in the 1960s, writing 'Open Veins' at a time when he said his cattle-producing country "produced more violence than meat or wool."

Following a coup in 1973 and the banning of the book, he fled to neighboring Argentina. When that country's military dictatorship began its 'dirty war' against leftists in 1976, he went into exile again, this time in Spain.

He returned to Montevideo in 1985.

Galeano's most recent book, published in 2012, was Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History. Reviewer Ian Sansom wrote that Children of the Days was "the ne plus ultra of the Galeano style and form, a triumph of his mosaic art—365 sad and strange and shiny little fragments, placed adjacent to one another to form a vast and seemingly coherent whole. All of Galeano's usual obsessions are vividly represented here: U.S. imperialism, the pharmaceutical industry, western governments, the military, the church, advertising, business, Hollywood."
Describing that book, as well as Galeano's overall career, Greg Grandin wrote in the New York Times: "Think of Pablo Neruda crossed with Howard Zinn."

In the wake of Galeano's passing, progressive writer and editor Tom Engelhardt, who served as American editor for the Memory of Fire trilogy (Pantheon Books) and Upside Down (Metropolitan Books), mused on the author's legacy:
Eduardo Galeano ended his history of everything, Mirrors, with these lines, "In my childhood, I was convinced that everything that went astray on earth ended up on the moon. But the astronauts found no sign of dangerous dreams or broken promises or hopes betrayed. If not on the moon, where might they be? Perhaps they were never misplaced. Perhaps they are in hiding here on earth. Waiting."

I hope that, like the betrayed dreams he spent his lifetime recording and the voices of the oppressed and the bold that he retrieved so movingly from the discard pile of mainstream history to inspire the rest of us, Galeano, who just died, is still in hiding somewhere on earth, or even on the moon, waiting.

In this 2009 GritTV interview with Laura Flanders, Galeano reads from and discusses The Open Veins of Latin America:

Others commemorated Galeano's death on Twitter:

Tweets about #eduardogaleano lang:en

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Baltimore Activist Alert - April 15 - May 2, 2015


54] Fight for Fifteen – Apr. 15
55] Energy security challenges faced in the Eastern Mediterranean – Apr. 15
56] The impact of “free” trade on the climate – Apr. 15
57] Bring workers' message to the National Restaurant Association! – Apr. 15
58] "Russia and the West: A New Cold War?" – Apr. 15
59] Lobby visit at Rep. John Sarbanes’ office – Apr. 15
60] Call for $15 & a Union – Apr. 15
61] Vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial – Apr. 15
62] "Bridging the Gap: between Africans at home and abroad" -- Apr. 15
63] Film “Doctors of the Dark Side” – Apr. 15
64] Yemen Panel Discussion – Apr. 15
65] "More Than a Score" – Apr. 15
66] D.C. Emancipation Day Parade – Apr. 16
67] "The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Critical Issues” – Apr. 16
68] "Operation Protective Edge" -- Apr. 16
69] No “free trade” agreement – Apr. 16
70] Marion Barry’s role as a D.C. emancipator -- Apr. 16
71] D.C.'s Emancipation Day -- Apr. 16
72] D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act -- Apr. 16
73] Annual Reception to raise funds to support LGBTI asylum seekers – Apr. 16
74] Baltimore Science Cafe -- Apr. 16
75] Human Trafficking -- Apr. 16
76] David Swanson speaks at CPSR dinner – Apr. 18
77] MUPJ conference – May 1 & 2
78] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
79] Join Fund Our Communities
80] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
81] Do you need any book shelves?
82] Join Global Zero campaign
83] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
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54] – Gather at the McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, College Park 20742 on Wed., Apr. 15 at 11:45 AM and join SLAP for the national day of action for the Fight for Fifteen! They are demanding a campus-wide wage increase of $15/hour and an unprecedented expansion of collective bargaining rights.

55] – American Security Project, 1100 New York Ave. NW, 7th Floor West Tower, WDC on Wed., Apr. 15 from noon to 5 PM, will host a half day conference to examine the energy security challenges faced in the Eastern Mediterranean. Over the course of three panel discussions, the event will first examine the geopolitical importance of the region, focusing on the recent discovery of major natural gas fields in Israel. The next panel will look at the challenges of promoting energy cooperation throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, and will attempt to offer prescriptions for increasing energy security. The final panel will discuss the potential role that the US can play in the region in terms of investment opportunities and regional cooperation. Refreshments will be served from noon to 12:30 PM. Go to http://www.americansecurityproject.org/event/conference-geopolitics-of-energy-security-in-the-eastern-mediterranean/.

56] – Be at American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Kay Spiritual Center, WDC 20016 on Wed., Apr. 15 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM as several speakers will discuss the impact of “free” trade on the climate during Earth Justice Week. Contact EPGA Coordinator Lauren Reese at epga@american.edu. Visit www.american.edu/ocl/kay.

57] – Be at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. on Wed., Apr. 15 at 2 PM and join ROC DC and other organizations for an action to bring workers' message to the National Restaurant Association! Workers around the nation will take action to improve the restaurant industry, calling for higher wages and an increased voice for workers to shape the future of the sector. From fast-food to fine-dining, people are tired of poverty wages and a corporate restaurant industry that puts profit over people -- not just in the workplace, but throughout the food system -- in a way that affects our health, our environment, and our economy.

The Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, together with a coalition of organizations working together to Stop The Other NRA, is headed to DC to take action during the National Restaurant Association’s annual Public Affairs Conference. ROC believes in principles of respect and dignity in the restaurant and food industry that include good jobs for all, food-sourcing transparency, a sustainable food system, and an inclusive democracy.

While hundreds of restaurant-industry lobbyists descend on Capitol Hill to lobby on everything from taxes, to nutrition, to the minimum wage, their top “front burner” legislative agenda that includes health care and union organizing, the coalition is planning to broadcast a loud and clear statement of our own about the future of the restaurant and food industry. The PRESS CONFERENCE will be with RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment), an alternative national restaurant association of high road employers. RAISE employers and elected officials will be expressing their support for One Fair Wage to eliminate the separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers -- which has been stuck at $2.13/hr since 1991 -- by raising it to match the regular minimum wage. We need you to stand with them. Then, attend a hearing on support for high road businesses and fair wages for workers, room to be confirmed, in the Longworth House Building, 9 Independence Ave. SE. Stay afterwards in Room 1324, Longworth at 2:30 PM to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, ROC, and Change to Win for a hearing on support for high road businesses and fair wages for workers. RSVP to Ariel at ariel@rocunited.org.

58] – On Wed., Apr. 15 from 3 to 4 PM Matthew Kroenig, Georgetown University, Jeremy Shapiro, Center on the United States and Europe, and Dana Allin, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, will target "Russia and the West: A New Cold War?" at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2121 K St. NW, WDC. RSVP at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/russia-and-the-west-a-new-cold-war-tickets-16418857244?aff=es2.

59] – As part of the national "Educate Congress" Campaign Letter Drops, on Wed., Mar. 18 at 4:30 PM, the Pledge of Resistance will go to Rep. John Sarbanes’ office, 600 Baltimore Ave., Suite 303, Towson, MD 21204, to deliver a letter. The letter urges him to oppose “Fast Track,” more warmongering and killer drone strikes. Let Max know if you can sign on to the letter and go to Sarbanes’ office--410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net. Are you a constituent?

60] – On Wed., Apr. 15 from 5 to 6 PM join the call for $15 & a Union; Stopping Water Shut-offs; and Know Your Rights/Cop Watch campaign organized by the Peoples Power Assembly. Call 443-221-3775. Gather in McKeldin Square, Light & Pratt Sts., downtown Baltimore. Tens of thousands of low wage workers and their supporters will be marching, striking and taking part in actions both on and off the job across the country.

Workers in fast food stores like McDonalds will be joining hands with Walmart and retail workers. Those in the community fighting against police terror and racism will be linking up with students who are planning walk outs in a number of major cities. The Peoples Power Assembly and its sister group, We Deserve Better Workers Assembly, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are calling for a major protest. The Baltimore Metropolitan AFL-CIO Labor Council has endorsed and is putting the word out to their affiliates. APWU postal workers are coming out along with students and youth. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/462707213885677/. Go to www.PeoplesPowerAssemblies.org.

61] – Vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave. SW, WDC on Wed., Apr. 15 at 6 PM. Individuals will stand up, speak out, and fight for fair pay at the rallies around the globe for the Fight for $15. It's time for McDonald's and billionaire corporations to pay workers enough to support their families. It's time for $15 an hour and union rights. See http://april15.org/find-actions/?gmw_post=tribe_events&gmw_address[]=Washington%2C+DC+20037%2C+United+States&gmw_distance=100&gmw_units=imperial&gmw_form=1&gmw_per_page=1&gmw_lat=38.9042365&gmw_lng=-77.05212890000001&gmw_px=pt&action=gmw_post&source=.

62] – Gather at the ECAC, 733 Euclid St. NW, WDC, across from Howard University, on Wed., Apr, 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for the Pan-African Community Talk series "Bridging the Gap: between Africans at home and abroad." Email aaprpmd@gmail.com or call 202-294-5593. See http://www.aaprp-intl.org.

63] – Beyond the Classroom: University of Maryland, 1104 South Campus Commons, Building 1, 4230 Knox Road, College Park 20742, on Wed., Apr. 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, see “Doctors of the Dark Side” which exposes the scandal behind the torture scandal — how psychologists and physicians implemented and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S. controlled military prisons. The stories of four detainees and the doctors involved in their abuse show how essential doctors have been to the torture program. Dr. Martha Davis is a psychologist and expert in the video study of interview behavior. After four years researching how physicians and psychologists became involved in detainee torture, she led a team of film professionals to make the film. RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/1553336128270601/.

64] – Catch a Yemen Panel Discussion on Wed., Apr. 15 from 7 to 9 PM at Busboys and Poets Brookland, 625 Monroe St. NE, WDC. Experts on the situation will express their opinions, offer viable solutions, and answer your questions. Two weeks ago a US-backed Saudi led war began with unannounced bombing of Yemen which only worsened a deep humanitarian crisis and security. The Yemeni people are trapped in between a foreign military intervention and internal conflicts in the south. People are suffering daily destructive and murderous airstrikes. In addition to the fear and anxiety they cause, people have no idea how long these will last or who/where will be hit next. Hospitals, IDP centers, dairy and wheat factories, schools, farms and airports have all been hit. According to the UN, more than 500 people have been killed to date and over 1,800 wounded. Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK will moderate. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1566119520323170/.

65] – As students, teachers, and administrators across the country are taking an active stand against high stakes, standardized testing, hear Jesse Hagopian talk about "More Than a Score: The New Uprising against High-Stakes Testing" which he helped launch this national movement. For too long so-called education reformers, mostly billionaires, politicians, and others with little or no background in teaching, have gotten away with using standardized testing to punish our nation's youth and educators. This event is at Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, on Wed., Apr. 15 at 7:30 PM, and will be a discussion between teachers, students and parents of the new uprising against high-stakes testing. The featured speakers are Hagopian, Jessica Shiller, a parent of two public school children and a professor of education at Towson University, Jerry McNutt, member of the Baltimore Algebra Project, and Matthew Prestbury, a parent of Baltimore City Public Schools students. Hagopian teaches history and is the Black Student Union adviser at Garfield High School, the site of the historic boycott of the MAP test in 2013. He is an associate editor of Rethinking Schools, a founding member of Social Equality Educators, and winner of the 2013 “Secondary School Teacher of Year” award from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. The evening is co-sponsored by Maryland R.E.F.U.S.E., Baltimore Algebra Project, as well as Haymarket Books and Rethinking Schools. Call 443-602-7585. Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

66] – March with Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC) in the 2015 DC Emancipation Day Parade! Go to 4th and Pennsylvania Aves. NW, WDC on Thurs., Apr. 16 from 10 AM to 1 PM. The day celebrates and commemorates 4/16/1862 when more than 3,100 enslaved people were freed. They say "We are Still Not Free Until We Free DC!" Wear your Freedom Clothes! March for DC Statehood! Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/443349482506652/.

67] – On Thurs., Apr. 16 from noon to 1 PM, Fred Fleitz, Center for Security Policy, Greg Jones, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, and Henry Sokolski, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, will explore "The Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Critical Issues" at the Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE, WDC. You can watch a webcast on the Heritage website. RSVP at http://www.heritage.org/events/2015/04/iran-nuclear?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRoju6zMZKXonjHpfsX56%2B4qXKe0lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4HRcdnI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFQrLBMa1ozrgOWxU%3D.

68] – On Thurs., Apr. 16 from 1 to 2 PM, the Jerusalem Fund, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, WDC hear about ongoing domestic and international efforts to achieve accountability for "Operation Protective Edge," the massive Israeli military offensive on Gaza in the summer of 2014 that killed over 2,000 Palestinians, including over 500 children. The discussion will bring together human rights defenders from Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Defense for Children International Palestine to share key updates from the ground and provide insight into their engagement with international mechanisms. Nadia Ben-Youssef and Brad Parker will discuss their legal work on behalf of victims in Gaza, highlight failures of domestic accountability in Israel, and share international advocacy strategies.

Ben-Youssef is a lawyer and human rights advocate who aims to raise awareness of the institutional discrimination against Palestine citizens. Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is a legal center and an independent human rights organization based in Israel. Established in 1996, Adalah uses Israeli legal channels to protect and promote the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel. Visit www.adalah.org/eng.

Parker is a staff attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International Palestine. He specializes in issues of juvenile justice and grave violations against children during armed conflict, and leads DCI-Palestine's legal advocacy efforts on Palestinian children's rights. See http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/d/RegisterForEvent/i/51315. Call 202-338-1958 or email info@thejerusalemfund.org.

69] – Be at American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Kay Spiritual Center, WDC 20016 on Thurs., Apr. 16 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM and hear from Karen Hansen, director of International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and William Warren, Trade Policy Analyst at Friends of the Earth. Visit www.american.edu/ocl/kay. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/646501275480328/.

70] – Go to the Carnegie Library, Mt. Vernon Square, 801 K St. NW, WDC on Thurs., Apr. 16 at 2 PM to observe D.C. Emancipation Day - the freeing of 3,100 enslaved persons in D.C. on 4/16/1862. Catch the panel discussion of Marion Barry’s role as a D.C. emancipator, looking at his work to achieve economic inclusion and home rule specifically for the African American residents of the District of Columbia. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1612503852318648/.

71] – Come to the Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC on Thurs., Apr. 16 from 6 to 8 PM and join ONE DC in celebrating DC's Emancipation Day. Explore the history of the day and the role of economic emancipation through worker cooperatives. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/449689861856182/NE.

72] – At the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, 1925 Vermont Ave. NW, WDC on Thurs., Apr. 16 at 6:30 PM, commemorate the anniversary of the DC Compensated Emancipation Act (DC Emancipation). Engage in a Candle Light Vigil and reading of the names of freed slaves. RSVP at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/dc-emancipation-wreath-candle-light-vigil-tickets-16238584042?aff=eac2.

73] – Come to Cobalt, 1639 R St. NW, WDC on Thurs., Apr. 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM and join Center Global for the Annual Reception to raise funds to support LGBTI asylum seekers in the D.C. area. Honor two LGBTI activists, including one asylum seeker/asylee, for their work as human rights defenders. The suggested donation is $15 at the door. To purchase tickets in advance, join the host committee or sponsor the event, visit http://thedccenter.org/supporters_centerglobal.html.

74] – On Thurs., Apr. 16 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201 and join in the Baltimore Science Cafe featuring Dr. Nicoline Schiess, MD MPH, assistant professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins. She will discuss Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a debilitating, degenerative disease of the nervous system that affects young people in the prime of their lives. Dr. Schiess will share her experiences treating MS both at the Johns Hopkins MS Center as well as abroad. Call 443-602-7585. Go to http://www.redemmas.org.

75] – On Thurs., Apr. 16 at 7:30 PM attend a talk HUMAN TRAFFICKING - a Scourge on Society. Learn more about the human trafficking problem in this country. Presentations will be made by Maryknoll Sisters Mary Ann Smith and Veronica Schweyen. Learn what you can do about this problem in your own back yard at St. Francis of Assisi Church Parish Center (church basement), 6701 Muncaster Mill Road, Derwood 20855. The talk is sponsored by the St. Francis of Assisi Pax Christi group.

76] – Join us for Chesapeake PSR’s Annual Chapter Dinner on Sat., Apr. 18 from 6 to 9 PM at The Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles Street, Baltimore 21210. Our featured guest speaker is author, activist and radio host David Swanson. David will speak on trends that are driving change in our society. His talk will encompass three areas of great interest and concern to Chesapeake PSR -- peace, environment and democracy. The cost for dinner is $40. Limited financial assistance available. Please RSVP to twitehouse@psr.org or 240-246-4492.

77] – Hold the Dates for the 30th Annual Peace, Justice, & Environment Conference, sponsored by Maryland United for Peace and Justice/Institute For Positive Action. Coordination and Cooperation for Action to Achieve Peace and Social Justice is happening Fri., May 1 and Sat., May 2 at Salem Lutheran Church, Catonsville, MD. Email phamm001@earthlink.net or call 443-418-5479 (c-Paulette). Go to www.mupj.org.

78] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email: info@washingtonpeacecenter.org.

79] -- Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget. Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures. Go to www.OurFunds.org.

80] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

81] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

82] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: http://www.globalzero.org/sign-declaration. A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees. This is an historic window of opportunity. With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

83] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to http://prop1.org; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan