Berkeley's own irreplaceable stalwart in the justice movement, Hal Carlstad, has died. His July 15th memorial at St. Joseph the Worker Church was a "standing room only" event where teachers, ecologists, union activists, religious peaceniks jammed pews to honor this amazing man whose breadth of interest spanned from beekeeping to ecology, to halting nuclear proliferation and stopping the Iraq war.
After teaching science in Berkeley's junior highs, Hal established his homebase at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists. With his partner, Cynthia Johnson, he brought progressive groups and speakers to the Fellowship in public forums. These occasions educated many of us to the injustices and abuses of power not covered by the regular media. This info sparked protest from here to the Capitol. Hal traveled to at least 5 countries on solidarity missions and was arrested for civil disobedience at least 170 times.
Many of us at EPI worked closely with Hal while protesting the Gulf War. We were part of the Bay Area Religious Peace Action (BARPA), meeting in Fr Bill O'Donnell's living room to plot street theater actions in San Francisco or at the Concord Weapons Station (where we buried some children's coffins made by Hal). Many of us had the honor to share trips to the "pokey" with Hal. It was a time of intense inter-faith collaboration with Catholics, Buddhists, Unitarians, Lutherans, Methodists, Pagans and others continually crafting events which dramatized the human suffering caused by the Bush I administration. Behind us all was Hal, supporting with good enthusiasm.
Many of the BARPA leaders have died since that time in the early 90s Earl Johnson, Lutheran pastor; Fr. Bill; Maylie Scott of the Buddhist community; and Hal. We will never forget them.
With gratitude and some of the whimsy they all had, I think of them in heaven, picketing the chief angels for their unjust practices toward agnostics or perhaps Crypto-republicrats. A sit-down-strike on a cloud, holding one of Hal's signs, would be fun.
We will miss Hal a whole lot--and so will the hundreds of people whose lives he touched. Our warm wishes go out to his companion, Cynthia Johnson, to his children and grandchildren.
The Fellowship's social justice committee is fulfilling a long-time dream of Hal's buying a very good sound-system for large events. Contributions may be made by sending a check made out to the BFUU, 1606 Bonita, Berk. 94709 with "Hal's sound-system" on the memo line.
EPI Autumn Gathering
Sunday, October 28, 2007
@ 2951 Derby Street, Berkeley
Dr. Joseph Gerson, author of Empire and the
Bomb, How the U.S. Uses
Suggested donation $15-$35
by Sherry Al-Mufti
It will surprise nearly everyone in the U.S. to learn that the single greatest direct cause of Iraqi deaths are the foreign fighters of the United States military and their allies, known as the "coalition". That is what the authors of both of the Johns Hopkins/Al Mustansiriya mortality studies (aka the "Lancet report") found. It is also what the reality on the ground in Iraq demonstrates, though that information is not easily available if one is dependent on the U.S. government, their military, and the American mainstream media as sources.
U.S. Greatest Cause of Iraqi Deaths
The first "Lancet" study, published in October, 2004, found that the single greatest source of Iraqi deaths was the United States military, with aerial attacks as the greatest cause of death. The second "Lancet" study, published two years later, found that around one third of the estimated 655,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths were caused directly by the United States military aka the "coalition" occupation forces - once again making the "coalition" occupation forces the single greatest source of deaths. That was almost certainly a conservative figure since a death was not classified as caused by the "coalition" forces if there was any doubt at all on the part of the reporting household as to who was responsible for the death.
The number of deaths caused directly by "coalition" forces has risen steadily from March, 2003 to the present, as has the overall level of violence, and the overall number of deaths. There is no indication that this trend is going to change in the foreseeable future. In other words, the longer the U.S. stays, the more deaths they are likely to cause, and the worse the overall situation is likely to become.
Deaths caused directly by U.S. and "coalition" forces about one third of the total "excess" deaths - are only one part of the mortality directly attributable to the actions of the occupation forces. Another large proportion of Iraqi deaths directly attributable to the occupation forces actions are those caused by resistance fighters defending against raids and attacks by the U.S. Other deaths take place during resistance strikes against the occupation and its proxies, agents, and collaborators. If the U.S. is the killer, civilian deaths are first denied, then dismissed as "collateral damage" and/or blamed on "insurgents". If the resistance is responsible for civilian deaths it is labeled terrorism.
Iraqi deaths directly attributable to U.S. actions almost certainly constitute well over 50% of all deaths. It is reasonable to predict that if the United States withdrew, the death rate would immediately be reduced by at least the percentage of deaths directly attributable to U.S. actions. Even if deaths not directly attributable to U.S. actions were to increase, which is possible, but not known, the net result would still be an overall reduction in violent deaths, and a significant relief for Iraqis.
U.S. Presence Has Destabilized Iraq
The United States presence in Iraq has from the beginning destabilized the country, and led to increasingly intense and widespread "ancillary" violence and killing that is, violence that is not directly a result of U.S. actions, but is, nevertheless, a consequence of U.S. presence, its creation of chaos, and its failure to either establish or maintain order. The U.S. has not only failed to restore stability at any point, it has been the primary source of an escalating downward spiral into greater and greater and more and more widespread instability at every level.
Many of the U.S. policies and practices in Iraq have driven wedges between Iraqis, encouraged and enabled divisive and extremist elements, and helped lead to and exacerbate the current deepening and widening sectarian violence in a region that has never before in its centuries of history experienced serious, widespread, or protracted sectarian civil conflict.
U.S. failure to establish and maintain order have enabled criminal gangs to operate openly and at will, kidnapping, raping, murdering, robbing, and generally terrorizing Iraqis.
The United States has failed to effectively control the portion of the violence and killing that may not be directly attributable to United States actions, yet results from its policies and practices, and from the constantly increasing instability caused by its presence, policies, and actions. It is at least arguable that if the United States withdraws, it will remove the single greatest cause of the ongoing instability, which would at least slow the downward spiral.
U.S. Military Responsible for Massive Destruction
The U.S. military is also directly responsible for the overwhelming majority of the destruction in Iraq. This is not surprising, of course, considering its capacity for massive destructive force, not to mention its willingness to use such force on just about any pretext. Pretexts include collective punishment for all kinds of "offenses", including failing to provide on demand information about "insurgents" (the assumption is nearly always that the person being questioned is withholding information, not that he doesnt have it). For that failure your home, and if you are a farmer your trees or field crops may be destroyed, partially or completely. If an entire village refuses to "cooperate", then all or part of the village and its trees or crops may be destroyed.
Effects of Increasing U.S. Aerial Attacks
In recent months the United States has dramatically stepped up its use of aerial attacks on populated areas, and is currently rapidly increasing its aerial capability in Iraq. Aerial attacks are extremely indiscriminate and therefore result in high civilian casualties, and heavy destruction. Iraqis can expect to see more civilian deaths and destruction of homes and infrastructure as a result.
According to an important NGO report released last month by Global Policy Forum, the United States military has flattened or rendered uninhabitable large portions of twelve major Iraqi cities, Falluja, a city about the size of Cincinnati being the best known. This kind of deliberate destruction of homes and infrastructure makes the U.S. military directly responsible for at least one million permanently displaced Iraqis who have no more homes to go back to. These displaced, homeless Iraqis are now more vulnerable than ever to death from all causes, including violence by the United States military, so-called "insurgents", sectarian death squads, and criminal gangs.
Unlikely That Killing Would Increase if U.S. Withdraws
In order to justify the belief that the violence and killing will increase if the United States withdraws from Iraq, we must assume that in the absence of the U.S. the remaining violent elements would be capable of and have the will to commit more violence than the U.S. military and the resistance combined.
As you think about this bear in mind that the people who are expected to commit more violence than that caused directly by the U.S. military and the resistance combined do not have even a tiny fraction of the death-and-destruction-dealing equipment, technology, and firepower that the U.S. military possesses, and regularly uses. They do not have tanks or the weapons carried on tanks, they do not have humvees and apcs with mounted large-caliber automatic weapons, they do not have missiles, they do not have attack helicopters, they do not have bombers, they do not have any kind of aerial firepower at all. Therefore, the capability simply is not there to replace the amount and magnitude of deadly violence the U.S. is directly responsible for.
In addition, the belief that the violence would increase if the U.S. were not there requires the clearly very questionable assumption that the U.S. is doing anything significant to quell the violence. The evidence points quite clearly in the opposite direction.
On-the-ground observation as well as studies have shown that an increase in violence tends to follow occupation forces arrival in an area. This can be due simply to fear and resentment over their presence. However, more commonly it is due to the conduct of the U.S. forces themselves. Their practice of trying to "pacify" an area by means of massive violence tends, not surprisingly, to consistently yield the opposite result. "House to house" actions in which they break down peoples doors and drag them out of bed at 3 AM do not make people feel more peaceful toward those who conduct the searches.
Falluja is a textbook example of how the U.S. occupation forces bring violence with them. That city, known not to be a strongly pro-Saddam area, was quiet and free of the violence, chaos, and looting seen in many other Iraqi cities until the Americans occupied it in late April, 2003 and, through their own actions, turned it into a "hotbed" of resistance.
What Do Iraqis Want?
Polls have consistently shown that Iraqis themselves understand very clearly that the U.S. does far more to cause and provoke violence and death than it does to prevent it, and that the overwhelming majority believe that the violence would lessen, not increase, if the U.S. left.
Add to the above the fact that it really is in the best interest of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis to go back to what they have done successfully for millennia - living together with at least a reasonable degree of normal relations and cooperation.
In the current atmosphere of ethnic (or rather sectarian) cleansing, Sunni and Shi`a families facing sectarian violence and threats of ethnic cleansing in their neighborhoods have devised a system whereby they can help one another by exchanging households temporarily in order to live, for the time being, in the "right" neighbourhood. This mutually beneficial practice has become common enough that there are now enterprising agents whose business it is to bring families together and coordinate the legal and practical arrangements. This kind of creative cooperation speaks loudly and clearly about the true nature of Iraqi society as well as its ability to repair itself if left to its own devices.
Certainly, Iraq would not suddenly turn into Shangri-la, or become the Switzerland of the Middle East as soon as the Americans left. It IS possible that the violence and killing not directly attributable to U.S. actions might increase somewhat in the beginning, but it is extremely unlikely that it could increase enough to replace the violence caused by the "coalition" forces and the resistance. The capacity simply is not there, nor very likely is the will. In addition, the primary stimulus for much if not most of the violence would have been removed.
There is simply no chance of any improvement as long as the U.S. is in Iraq. On the contrary, as the past four plus years have shown clearly, as long as the U.S. is there the violence will continue to escalate and broaden, and the overall situation will continue to deteriorate. Iraqis have been living together without serious conflict for millennia. They are the only ones who have the history, the ability, and the will to repair their society and their country.
The United States must give Iraq a chance. It must get out now, and get out completely, and leave Iraq for Iraqis.
Sherry Al-Mufti is a local Iraqi American. This article can be found at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/24/93131/0589
used by permission.
Ecumenical Peace Institute is working with other local peace and justice activists on the Iraq Moratorium. We hope you and your congregations will join in this new attempt to give voice to the 70% of the American people who want to see the Iraq War ended and our troops brought home. September 21 will be International Peace Day, established by the United Nations in 1981. On that Friday, people eager for a reign of peace in our world will dramatize their concerns in a nation-wide day of action.
The previous weekend, September 14-16, the leaders of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith communities across the nation will lead their congregations in praying for peace and preparing for the Sept 21 actions.
To see what is going on across the country, visit www.IraqMoratorium.org An extensive coalition of local peace groups is coordinating the actions here in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Faith Communities work group which so far includes representatives from Presbyterian, Unitarian, United Methodist, and Quaker congregations, is preparing materials for Christian, Jewish and Moslem faith leaders to use during services the week before Friday, September 21.
September 21 is only the first day of a monthly witness in which people across the country will DO SOMETHING on the third Friday of every month, such as wear black armbands, refuse to buy gas, or even shop.
The hope is that as the Iraq Moratorium picks up steam month by month, our numbers will reach the point where the impact of a boycott will actually show up in the daily numbers collected by Wall Street. That's power that scares the business executives and bankers who have a whole lot more political influence than the average citizen.
As a part of the ongoing antiwar effort, you are invited to come to the monthly Living Graveyard at the Oakland Federal Building, each third Tuesday, noon to one, to lie on the city sidewalk covered with a white sheet in a legal street theater manifestation of the dead of the Iraq War, as we read the names of the dead.
Some three hundred people gathered in the early morning at the corner of the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, for the annual Good Friday gathering for worship and witness. A number of the folks were new to this gathering. This year we focused closely on the impact of U.S. empire upon the peoples of the earth. The U.S. empire was well developed before the advent of the nuclear weapons program that has for many years been a critical factor in maintaining it.
Rev. Michael Yoshii began his presentation with his own family history. His parents' families were interned during World War II. His wife's family were survivors of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He reflected on the many instances of darkness over the land and the ways in which darkness is cast aside:
In the text from Luke we notice that between the sixth hour and the ninth hour, there was "darkness over the whole land ." We recognize this as a cosmic darkness --- the reality of demonic forces which invade human life from time to time, but sometimes more than othersand in some places more than others. It says that in this time of darkness, the suns light failed and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. And it was in this context, that Jesus breathed his last breath, and committed his spirit to God. It was also in this context that the centurion recognized the innocence of Jesus, and the presence of a spiritual truth embodied in him, even as he was dying. And what we know from the continuation of the story is that while the demonic forces killed the body, the spirit of truth could not be destroyed.
Rev. Yoshii spoke of hearing in 1981 the testimony of Japanese Americans about the dark chapter of their history "where we had been caught in the middle of two nations at war". It was out of that experience that after the events of 9/11 Japanese Americans came swiftly to defend Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities who were immediately targeted and put under a microscope.
Rev. Yoshii brought before us the illegality and immorality of the Iraq War and and the courage of Lt. Ehren Watada who has refused to deploy to Iraq, after studying the events and rationale leading us into Iraq. In his court martial, the truth about the war was not allowed to be discussed. But those who hear the testimony of Watada see in him the light of truth and the bearer of wisdom about the War in Iraq. And behind him now are numbers of veterans who have been to Iraq, and vow not to return --- who have seen enough of the darkness, and want to shed light for the American people to see the truth behind this war.
Rev. Yoshii reported on his recent United Methodist-sponsored fact finding mission to the Philippines to interview families of victims of the extra-judicial killings which have escalated since 2001. Farmers, labor organizers, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and religious leaders are being targeted for political killings carried out by military related assassins:
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines [NCCP], which hosted our trip, has clearly analzyed the relationship between the policies and politics of the United States and the current situation in the Philippines. The darkness of the U.S. Empire casts a huge shadow over the Philippine islands ----
Spirituality and the Culture of Peace
In a new initiative established in 2004, called "Peace for Life" facilitated by the NCCP, and now staffed by Carmencita Karagdag they speak of drawing upon the resources of faith to give life-giving strength to defend and protect life against the evil forces that seek to annihilate it. Today it is spoken of as the challenge to resist an empire that negates the very essence of life. They describe the empire in this way:
"By empire we mean the combined economic, military, political and cultural domination by a powerful state, assisted by satellite states and aided by local elites of dominated countries, to advance its own interests on a global scale. US dominance of $400+ billion in military spending per year and bases in over 150 countries --- conjointly with transnational corporate power makes up the heart of todays empire."
In an article entitled "Nourishing A Spirituality of Resistance in an era of Empire" United Methodist Deaconess, Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana suggests that through the resources of faith, the Filipino people can embody a spirituality that resists the forces of destruction in our midst while creating a new culture of peace which distinguishes itself from the alliances of Empire building that much of the religious world is part of. I witnessed those resources of faith in the Filipino people we met on our trip. The resiliency, the strength, the willingness to stand in the face of darkness, and like Jesus commit their lives to God even in the face of death. Bishop Alberto Ramento, with the Filipino Independent Church, before being killed in his home last October, knowing that he was on a hit list, proclaimed that he would continue to do the work of God, even if his life was at risk.
Rev. Yoshii gave us a call to action, closing with the words of Marquez-Caramanzana as she paraphrases the scripture from Joel 3:9-11:
"People of faith, prepare to resist with the peoples of the world!
Turn your churches into sanctuaries of peace and refuge to the victims of the empire;
Turn your theologies into reverberating sounds of the peoples deep longings, protests, and hopes;
Turn your rituals into songs of liberation, echoing the message of peace, justice, life and liberation;
Bring an end to the breathing of the Empire!
Onward with our journey towards the Promised Land!"
May the God of Justice and Peace lead us through. Amen.
Following the service we walked to the gates, stopping to reflect along the way at the Stations of the Cross of Empire at which U.S. history was briefly sketched.
I Trail of Tears Native American Genocide & Ethnocide
II The Middle Passage Slave Trade & a History of Violence and Exploitation
III Manifest Destiny Imperial Military Actions against Independent Countries and Territories
IV Web of Control Bases, Military Testing Grounds, Sweatshops around the World.
V Killing Hope Undermining and Destroying Democratic Government
VI Acquisition of Hawaii in 1893 with the Overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani
At the gates of the lab the grief of this overthrow was presented in dance by Colleen Tani Nakamoto.
Sixty-four people were arrested at the gates of the Livermore Labs this year. Among them were two young people who came to Livermore with their parents and were arrested with their father. Their story follows.
Michael Ring-Martinez is 13 years old and entering into 8th grade at Harriet Eddy Middle School in Elk Grove, CA. Cori Ring-Martinez is 15 years old and entering into her junior year at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, CA. Along with 62 other people, in April, they were arrested at Lawrence-Livermore Laboratory in Livermore CA to protest the Iraq War and the ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction at the lab. The following are their reflections regarding the arrests and subsequent required participation in an Alameda County, CA "Aggressive Offenders" Class.
"April 4th, 2007 was the day my sister and I, along with 62 adults were arrested for obstructing a public roadway during a protest at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. It was Good Friday, and the protest was a mix of religious understanding and outrage at the use of nuclear weaponry. We were taken by the police one by one, then walked away from the entrance into a line of people in which they made us take out everything from our pockets and put handcuffs around our wrists. We then were loaded onto different buses and driven over to a set of cages which they led us in to. Before the bus loading, my father asked if all three of us could be kept together and the police obliged. Finally, they led us out of the cages, got our information, took our picture, drove us back and let everyone go.
About six weeks after this powerful experience, we got a letter in the mail notifying my parents that my sister, Cori, and I were to attend an Aggressive Offenders class on a Saturday from 9am to 3pm for kids 18 and under for breaking the law. After contacting many of the other participants in the protest, it became clear that out of the 64 people who had been arrested, Cori and I were the only two who had been given any type of sentence or punishment for the protest. So, on May 19 we both attended the Aggressive Offenders class. It turned out to be very easy and laid back, but still a huge time waster in which the only interesting thing in the class was hearing the stories of other students. I found myself thinking what a great contradiction it was that we were stuck in the class. We were trying to stop this horrible war and bring some more peace, and where do we end up? In an Aggressive Offenders class. That is my account of what happened in these odd turn of events."
"I recently stumbled across a stub of a newspaper article that left me reeling and shaky. Despite the daily reports of death and disaster occurring overseas and at home, it struck a nerve. Perhaps it was because it was Memorial Day weekend, perhaps because the youngest man who died that day was only a year out of high school, or perhaps because the oldest of them died in the prime of his life.
Most days, I would have glanced at the item and, deciding it was too depressing to start the morning off, have moved on to the next page. I found myself instead staring at the names of eight young men no longer in this world who gave their lives to defend and protect something they believed in, and were even willing to fight to the death against the Iraqi people who felt the same way. And as I was staring at those names of the recently dead, their names, age, rank and hometown listed with such cold precision, I remembered why I care so much. I care because those young men were a piece of the future that was taken from us, and for what? More death and more lies.
A precious gift is being stolen from us. The most valuable thing we have to offer: our lives and the potential and hope that they hold. All of this is being thrown away without care for the consequences and without end in sight.
It is imperative that this catastrophe ends, because we are losing the best and the brightest, the young and the foolish, our future, all the things that make our lives beautiful in this increasingly ugly world of greed and war. We are losing them and it seems we are letting them go without a fight.
Our world is dying and the hope seems to be dimming. Relatively speaking, human lives are but a blip in the vast universe, less than a speck in comparison to the stars. But that speck is what appreciates that the stars shine so bright. We have a beautiful gift, and what we do with it is our choice. I dont know yet what to do with my own gift, but I know I cant waste it while Im trying to figure it out.
Thats why I decided to go a step further than our familys usual ongoing activism and participate in a nonviolent, illegal direct action the war. Along with 63 other people, including my father and younger brother, I was arrested in front of the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory on Good Friday, April 2007.
I am 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, and a member of the human race. And as a member of this species, I cannot in good conscience allow the slaughter of my fellow human beings. I see carnage and I see war and I see greed. My happiness is being taken from me, and while it pales in comparison to the deaths of the innocent, it deserves its own mourning in a way. Without happiness, our lives become empty of all that makes them worth having in the first place.
I needed to do something, as much for peace of mind as for some way of stimulating a society that is falling at our feet while we look at each other, dazed, confused and pointing fingers. I felt a sense of duty not unlike, Im sure, those young men felt when they signed their lives away in the belief they were defending and protecting their country. In a way, I feel I am defending and protecting life. This war is worse than a drain, it is a parasite, sucking the country dry of all that it has to offer, with only the few who control the war benefiting from it, as our children, both Iraqi and US, die around us.
It was a moral sense of duty and a sense of adventure, I must admit, that propelled me to undergo this rather unusual pursuit, at least for a 15-year-old living in Elk Grove, California. When I first considered participating in the event, I didnt immediately think of the legal consequences. In fact, it wasnt really much of a concern for me until my father brought it up as one of his. Living in a mostly suburban middle class environment, I havent had much opportunity to have run-ins with the law. The truth is the prospect wasnt daunting as much as exciting. I admit I relished the experience. Anyway, from what the others who had participated in the event in previous years told us, the police had always been polite and the protest went peacefully and without much commotion. The consequences were said to be light and quick. My fathers concern was more that my brother and I would be separated from him during the proceedings and sent to juvenile hall. Well, it turned out that we stayed together throughout the action, arrest and detainment, and were released while it was still quite early in the morning.
Throughout the entire proceedings, we were under the impression that the consequences would be fair and probably minimal. We would receive notice through the mail if we were being prosecuted and had a court date, or if there was a fine to pay. We were surprised one day to receive a letter from the Alameda County Probation Department summoning my brother and me to a course for youthful "Aggressive Offenders." (This in spite of the fact that we officially were arrested for jaywalking, an infraction that, as we learned in the Aggressive Offenders class, should have been punishable by a fine of up to 250 dollars.) Even our instructor was unable to explain to us why we were in the class. To me, the irony of youth peace activists being sent to an Aggressive Offender class just points to the obvious cracks, holes and inconsistencies in our judicial system. The class did provide a window into the state of our country as seen through the faces of those other youth who were summoned to the class. What I saw saddened me: the loss of hope and a room full of heart-breaking masks shielding us from the pain of disappointment. I dont regret going to the class, or getting arrested, for that matter. It only made clearer how our society is failing so many people in so many ways.
Our meaning is being sucked away from us and our life force drained away. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are being ignored, while thousands rot in prison cells and thousands more are killed on the battlefield. My deepest fear is that it is too late, that we cannot be saved. But, somewhere I know that perhaps because I am only 15, perhaps because I have some remnants of that childs soul I miss so deeply, I know I have not lost all hope for this world to be the bright and happy place I imagine it can be. And it is precisely because of this hope that I can keep my head high and my heart clear, and continue the struggle for peace and justice alongside my sister and brother human beings."
by Edgar Ayala
900 mostly young Guatemalan cross the border into Mexico every day. About 700 Salvadorans cross the border into Guatemala and an equal number of Hondurans do the same on a daily basis. They all are fleeing a country that has become ever so more violent and a harsh place to make a living or sustain a family. The increased exodus of its people has become a convenient escape valve for failing states throughout Central America, that cant assure the basics of human rights for the majority of their citizens.
Central Americans and others traveling through Mexico in pursuit of the "American Dream" literally have to endure the Mexican nightmare. And those already in the US have to live their economically productive lives under all sorts of prejudice and political discrimination. Even when as a work force/consumers we have been key to US economical growth historically.
So the US Congress has taken action. The result? So far they have only produced the worst types of legislation since the inscription at the feet of the Statue of Liberty was carved. Criminalizing bills that dont appreciate their contributions. These so-called "Laws" dump billions of dollars at the border through private building contractors and on border patrol agents, but fail to cut the problem at the root. For the most part S.1639, was economically unrealistic and politically stupid. While failing to address the root causes of immigration, including the US role in the debacle of most Central American "democracies" in recent years, the so-called Immigration Reform bill crashed in the US Senate in the middle of a polarized debate last month.
Even as many governments continue to implement migration policies that penalize and criminalize immigrants, immigrant leaders from all over the hemisphere and beyond sought positive solutions to the challenges presented by the migration phenomenon at the First Latin American Migrant Community Summit. The Summit held on May 10-13, 2007, opened a space to exchange information through workshops, round tables, panels and cultural activities offering innovative proposals that reflect the transnational perspective of immigrant communities.
The event brought together more than a thousand individuals and organizations representing approximately 30 countries. Rich conversations and exchanges among participants and various migrant organizations allowed for important discussions around local economic development, migration policy, and organizing strategies in migrant communities. The summit addressed a diverse range of themes related to the causes of migration, including panels on development and trade agreements, strategies for strengthening workers rights across borders; responses to political unrest and violence; environmental problems and migration; and rural economies and local development.
The Latin American Migrant Summit dealt with the so-called "family remittances," or monetary transfers set by migrant workers to their families around the world. Latin Americaaccording to the International Development Bankis the region in the world that receives the highest amount. 4.5 billions Euros and 6 billions Dollars in 2006. The bottom line? Latin America cant do without the US and the US wont do without Latin America. Globalization is here whether we like it or not. Our lives are interconnected and our societies are interdependent, culturally and economically.
Please do your part. Call your Congressperson or Senator today! Were all in this together. Whats good for immigrants is good for the rest of society, as it always has been.
Ecumenical Peace Institute hopes to assist congregations trying to help their young people learn more about the history of conscientious objection in their own tradition and other religious traditions. We want to put together a taskforce to define the need and help direct the work of a volunteer to gather material and develop curriculum.
It is our experience that all too often good materials available at the national level of many faith communities do not filter down to the congregational level where adults and young people could use them to develop their own thoughts and beliefs on this vital issue. For example, I was shocked to learn that Gulf War I conscientious objector Aimee Allison was raised in a local United Methodist church and had never heard of conscientious objection at church. Similarly, Eric Larsen, a Lutheran, came to Mustardseed Affinity Group for help in his discernment process. He got good help and support from us in his reflections, although it didn't cut any ice with the Marines. I think it likely that he would never have joined up if he had had this study as a young person in his church. During the Vietnam War a friend of mine went to jail rather than be drafted because his draft board claimed the Jews were not conscientious objectors.
EPI is in the process of gathering materials and statements regarding conscientious objection from various religious groups. We will, of course be working in cooperation with other groups working on conscientious objection and counter recruitment.
If this is something you want to work on either as a part of a task force or with your own congregation, please call the office, (510) 655-1162, and leave us a message.
Local journalist Christopher Brown is asking our help to tell the story of the Lebanese survivors of the 2006 war with Israel.
By the conclusion of this 34 day war more than 1000 Lebanese civilians, 119 Israeli soldiers and 43 Israeli civilians lost their lives. The Lebanese infrastructure was in shambles and remains so, with more than 800,000 Lebanese displaced.
The corporate media coverage of this war was skewed toward the suffering of Israelis and gave scant attention to the extreme terror and devastation experienced by the Lebanese. As the UN ceasefire was about to go into effect, the Israeli army littered the south of Lebanon with millions of cluster munitions for three days. These booby traps are estimated to kill or injure as many as 13 people a day up to this time.
Chris brings a unique background and skills to help these people document their lives after the war. Raised in South Africa, he was the son of a freedom fighter during the apartheid days. He has spent three years living in Palestine and working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams there. In 2004 he was attacked by settler youth as he escorted Palestinian children to school. As a result, he suffered a collapsed lung and spent 5 days in hospital.
Chris plans to visit Lebanon this December to interview Lebanese impacted by last year's war. He will primarily be visiting people who live in refugee camps, as they are forbidden to work at a large share of the jobs and thus must rely primarily on aid from the United Nations and other aid agencies to survive. Our help is needed to enable him to complete this mission. He must raise money for transportation, a professional quality camera, and living expenses for two weeks.
To receive income tax credit for your donations, write a check to the Ecumenical Peace Institute with "C. Brown trip" on the memo line. Mail to Chris Brown, Martin DePores, 1311 Alabama St., San Francisco, CA 94110. (EPI contributes financial management.)
Please think of your friends or organizations who would like to make
a donation. Tell them about this important effort. Contact: Esther_Ho@sbcglobal.net
Tuesday, September 18, noon - one, Living Graveyard, Oakland Federal Building
Friday, September 21, first Iraq Moratorium day. see p. 3
Sunday, October 7, 2 - 4 p.m. Report back of Haiti Action trips to Haiti this summer. Intro of EBSC fund for education programs in Haiti. Epworth United Methodist Church, Berkeley. Contact: Sandy: 510-524-7989
Saturday, October 27, peace march in San Francisco, United for Peace and Justice. Keep alert for details as time approaches.
Sunday, October 28, EPI Annual Gathering see page 1
Sunday, November 2, EBSC Jubilee Dinner, 6 p.m. St. John Presbyterian Church, Berkeley
Each first Thursday at 1:00 at the San Francisco Federal Building a "die-in" to pressure Nancy Pelosi to take real steps to end the war of occupation in Iraq. The only real way to end the war is to stop paying for it.
Each third Tuesday, 12:00 - 1:00, at the Oakland Federal Building the weekly anti-war vigil is transformed into a "Living Graveyard." Covered with white sheets, participants lie on the city sidewalk, far enough apart to allow for pedestrian and wheelchair traffic. This is legal street theater to make visible the reality of the deaths caused by the war.
Readers are encouraged to support the GI Resisters, such as Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing heavy charges for his outspoken refusal to fight in the illegal war in Iraq. Other GI resisters are also facing harsh treatment. See Courage to Resist http://www.couragetoresist.org/
& the Lt. Watada support site http://www.thankyoult.org/
Sundays, 3:00 p.m. peace walk around Lake Merritt.
Tuesdays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. Oakland Federal Building, 1301 Clay Street, oppose the continued war on Iraq, informational material given out.
Wednesdays, 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Castro Valley Peace & Justice Vigils, Castro Valley Blvd. & Redwood Rd.
Thursdays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. San Francisco Federal Building.
Thursdays, 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Jackson, Mission, Foothill triangle, Hayward, Palestine focus.
Wednesdays, noon in front of Boalt Hall on Bancroft Ave. on UC Berkeley campus. Teach-in against Torture.
Fridays, Noon - 1:00 p.m. Women in Black Vigil, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph.
Fridays, 5:30 - 7 p.m. corner of Mowry & Fremont, Fremont.
Fridays, from 3:30 to 4:30 corner of Tiburon Blvd. and San Rafael Avenue, Tiburon. Rain cancels.
Fridays - 4 to 5 pm corner of Miller Avenue and Camino Alto in Mill Valley.
Fridays at 3pm -5pm at Camino Alto and E. Blithdale, Mill Valley.
There is an envelope included in each issue of Planted by the Waters. If each person who received Planted put a check into the envelope and mailed it to EPI/CALC, it would greatly improve our ability to do the work for justice and peace which we are called to do together.
It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit counts.
The envelope in the printed version of Planted is addressed to
Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity
People reading this newsletter online are invited to send a check made out to EPI to the above address to help us in our work for justice and peace.
I/We want to help by being part of
the Peace and Justice
Enclosed is my tax-deductible contribution of:
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($10 for low-income subscribers)
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