Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nashville Smashing Pumpkins

17th Annual Smashing Pumpkins Contest and Leaf Lift Begins In Nashville

Nashville, TN. The team at EarthMatters Tennessee, is pleased to announce the kick off of the 17th annual Leaf Lift contest. Volunteers meet throughout the week at the group’s central composting site and community garden know as the George W. Carver Food Park. It’s located at 10th Ave. South (Lealand Ave.) and Gale Lane, at the I-440 overpass, one block south of Sevier Park.

At this location a giant composting land sculpture has been created about 360 feet in diameter. A flight study from Metro Airport Authority suggests that over 500 visitors to and from Nashville can see this impressive earthwork from the sky on each clear day. On Saturday, November 3rd, from 10-4pm, several hundred pumpkins and spent vegetables will be on hand to pulverize for the earth. "It’s great outdoor fun, gets you moving and teaches everyone about the cycles of the earth" says William Young, a long time volunteer for the organization. "It’s fun and we teach alot about gardening, composting, and recycling." Thousands of youth and families have learned about eco-friendlier lifestyles annually at the garden.

Several groups have committed to helping volunteer at the site this year and people from all walks of life come out each Saturday from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm to tend to, pick up, accept and help with people dropping off their leaves. The site also houses an impressive rose garden named in memory of famous African American country music icon DeFord Bailey. EarthMatters provides affordable backyard pallet compost bins and custom raised flower, herb and vegetable garden beds.

Volunteer Leaf Thieves are available for curbside pickup of leaves for a minimum donation of $2.00 per bag with a 10 bag minimum. The rescued leaves are then emptied at one of the neighborhood compost/garden sites in the EarthMatters network. Approximately 30,000 pounds of 100% organic compost generated by the non-profit is freely distributed and used to fertilize and provide soil sup-plement for several community gardens and beautification projects throughout Nashville. The non-profits 24 hour hotline number is (615) 252-6953 and website:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Road to Freedom Rolls Into Memphis

Nationwide Bus Tour Urges Full Realization of the Promise of the ADA

The Road to Freedom National Bus Tour celebrating the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act will make a stop in Memphis this Monday, Oct. 29, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the National Civil Rights Museum and will feature a poster exhibits from local Memphis disability agencies, as well as photo displays and other exhibits about the Disability Rights Movement and the history of the ADA. There will be free BBQ offered to the public at NOON. The exhibit is free to the public.

The October 29 stop is being coordinated by the Tennessee Disability Coalition, along with the Memphis Center for Independent Living, Mid South Arc, the Paralyzed Veterans of America: Mid South Chapter, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the University of Tennessee Boiling Center, and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.

A press conference will be held at 2pm at the Civil Rights Museum, to honor local leaders and lawmakers who have championed the ADA in Tennessee and within their local community. Press is encouraged to attend. For questions please contact the Tennessee Disability Coalition at 615-383-9442.

Jonesborough Justice

By David Swanson
Of the eleven major peace rallies organized around the country by United for Peace and Justice last Saturday the smallest and most unusual took place in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Jonesborough is a town of about 4,000 people in the northeast corner of Tennessee, within a couple of dozen miles of both Virginia and North Carolina. The people of Jonesborough can imagine the number of U.S. Troops who have died in Iraq by imagining their entire local population dead.

Rallying for peace and justice in Jonesborough is something of an act of reclamation, and it's about time it happened. Jonesborough is the oldest town in Tennessee and was a center of the abolition movement. But, as if to offer a perfect illustration of the wisdom of the nation's founding fathers' distaste for political parties, the people of eastern Tennessee have largely stood by the Republican Party as it has mutated into the party of racism and militarism. Our rally of about 400 peace activists on Saturday was greeted by about 50 pro-war activists revving their Harleys, honking their horns, and screaming their vicious messages of hate with the utmost vein-popping fury.

Also in attendance were a couple of hundred representatives of local, county, and state law enforcement, police vans, trailers, and a circling helicopter. While the pro-death contingent was left more or less in peace, the nonviolent peace demonstrators were each fully searched and metal-detectored as they entered a downtown park for a rally. (I discussed the fourth amendment with a few different police officers to no avail, and the local organizers supported the police policy).

As photos of the event show, when we left the rally to march through town, the state troopers guided us away from Main Street, and down a back road. A total of two town residents were observed observing our march. The troopers marched with us at 10 foot intervals, and kept everyone to one half of the empty road. (When some of us took up the whole width of the road, we were admonished by local activists who believed it their duty to obey state trooper orders, no matter how absurd).

So, there was an attitude of subservience just beginning to crack in Jonesborough, but following the march we drove out to a factory that produced Depleted Uranium weapons. This was an important place to protest, and it helped to put a new issue into the Tennessee news, even if the local paper's reporting was THIS lousy:

The pro-death contingent shouted from the closest possible fence when I and others were speaking at the rally. The organizers, rightly I think, chose not to engage them, and their moronic chants served to enliven rather than drown out the event. My speech may read as pretty ordinary but I think the video is livelier as a result of the conflict. The video of my speech is already up, and I hope all the others will be up soon at

I hope Tyler Westbrook posts a video of the entire rally, because the combination of speakers (and musicians) was - I thought - outstanding. George Friday of UFPJ served as the MC. Caren Neile, director of the South Florida storytelling project, spoke in the tradition of Jonesborough's storytelling culture and told the story of Lysistrata. Tim Pluta, a victim of Depleted Uranium poisoning and an Airforce Specialist who was discharged as a Conscientious Objector, recited a poem told from the point of view of a D.U. Molecule - absolutely brilliant! Russell Kincaid, a nuclear physicist, explained to us what the danger of Depleted Uranium is. Leila al-Imad, a professor of middle eastern history, put our government's current actions in context. Chris Lugo of the Nashville Peace Coalition, and a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee, spoke about local activism. And Herbert Reed, an Iraq Vet and D.U. Victim who has suffered terribly from the poisoning and led efforts to hold the military accountable, told his tale. A good AP article about what happened to him is here and should be more widely known:

The people of Jonesborough deserve a full reawakening of their culture of justice activism, and a better representative in Washington than Congressman David Davis. Let's hope that United for Peace and Justice has lit a spark.

Photos from event:
Authors Website:

Authors Bio: DAVID SWANSON is a co-founder of After Downing Street, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of Democrats.Com. He is a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and serves on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997.

Nurses on Strike in Kentucky

Nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia have been on strike for nearly a month. Please take action by contacting the President/CEO of the Appalachian Regional Health Systems and telling him to negotiate a fair contract with the nurses.

More than 630 nurses in Kentucky and West Virginia had their pay
cut by 10% by the Appalachian Regional Health system in December
2005. A case was arbitrated and nurses were upheld in their
grievance but the company refused to adhere to the arbitrator's
ruling and appealed to federal court.

The Kentucky Nurses Association, which has represented nine
Appalachian Regional Hospitals since the 1970s after purchasing
them from the United Mine Workers, is on strike because of the
negative treatment of nurses by ARH management and allowing and
promoting unsafe staffing for patients.

The UMW built the hospitals to care for their own in their local
communities and to support unionism. Those who pay benefits need
to know that there are not sufficient nurses to care for their
members and that the ARH is trying to force the nurses to

- nurses have been on strike for almost a month
- hospital administrators refuse to address pay raises,
mandatory overtime, and staffing ratios with the nurses
- replacement nurses have already been hired by the hospital

You can take action on this via the web at:

Environmental Public Hearing Draws 140

Knoxville, TN: Over 140 people attended the public hearing hosted by the Office of Surface Mining concerning the elimination of stream buffers which would benefit Tennessee's coal mining companies and significantly damage the environment. The vast majority of those in attendance at the hearing were organized by Save Our Cumberland Mountains. For a screening of the video shot by SOCM of the hearing click on the YouTube link at the end of this story.

Tennessee's Streams in Danger

KNOX, TN: After three years of agency review, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), under Bush Administration directives, submitted a proposal for a new regulation that would allow companies to dump hazardous fill material directly into waterways and streams, permanently destroying them.

David Beauty, SOCM coalfield resident of Fentress County says, “it is because of the current stream buffer zone rule that our family still has a home. Without it, our livelihoods would be threatened”.

The proposed regulation, "Excess Spoil, Coal Mine Waste, and Buffers for Waters of the United States," 72 Fed. Reg. 48890 would repeal a 1983 regulation, adopted by the Reagan Administration, which protects streams from coal mining activities by creating a 100-foot buffer zone around them.

At 6pm EDT, On October 4th, the Office of Surface Mining notified Tennesseans and citizens throughout the nation that only four public hearings would be held on this matter. These hearings are set for the same time and date, 6pm EDT, Wednesday October 24th. In Knoxville citizens will issue a press statement a 5:30pm EDT, the OSM public hearing begins at 6 pm EDT, both events will be hosted in the Goins Auditorium at Pellisssippi State Community College on Hardin Valley Rd.

According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) the new rule would “revise the current stream buffer zone regulation to ‘clarify’ the kinds of coal mining activities that are subject to that rule. Stream crossings, sedimentation ponds (i.e. coal slurry impoundments), permanent excess spoil (i.e. mining waste) and coal waste disposal facilities would no longer be subject to this ‘clarified’ stream buffer rule change”.

Longtime coalfield leader and SOCM member, Landon Medley, stated “In Tennessee, the rule is anticipated to impact 22 coalfield TN counties and approximately 1 million Tennesseans and 17 TN State Park watersheds. We our asking the Administration to pull this rule and save our streams”.

Reagan Richmond, SOCM youth member and student climate organizer for TN Alumni & Students for Sustainable Campuses commented, “in my opinion this is the administration’s attempt enshrine mountaintop removal coal mining. OSM is proposing a rule that would greatly increase our nation's reliance on mountaintop removal coal. Yet, coal is the country's largest, dirtiest source of electricity and climate-changing greenhouse gases. Ultimately, this rule is a step backwards in establishing sound energy policy, it would legalize and expand the worst abuses of mountaintop removal”.

The agency announced the public hearings with less then 14 working days notice for the public. Considering the Department of Interior and Office of Surface Mining has been compiling this information for over three years, many citizens feel 14 days working notice for public hearings to be inadequate for citizens to comment on both the proposed rule change and accompanying draft environmental impact statement.

“The magnitude of the documents that must be reviewed, the diversity and severity of impacts this proposed rule
would have on different communities in many states and the need for citizens living in affected communities to understand those impacts and develop comments based on sound legal and scientific analysis, all make OSM’s decision to allow only fourteen working days notice questionable in terms of the agency’s intent in allowing a authentic avenue for legitimate public process on this rule change proposal”, stated Cathie Bird, Chair SOCM Stripmine Issues Committee.

According to SOCM Vice-President, Ann League, “Already, nearly 2000 miles of mountain streams in Appalachia have been buried by mountaintop removal waste, wiping out these streams and causing flooding and destruction in the surrounding communities. The Bush administration’s failure to enforce the buffer zone law led to an additional 535 miles of stream impacts nationwide during between 2001 and 2005”.

League concluded, “The repeal of the buffer zone rule would allow more than 1,000 miles of streams to be permanently destroyed each decade into the future”.

Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Kentuckians for the Common Wealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal River Mountain Watch, Sierra Environmental Justice, Appalachian Voices, Southern Energy Network, The Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, TN Alumni & Students for Sustainable Campuses and many more are all asserting that the administration immediately “pull the stream buffer zone rule proposal and enforce the existing law”.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Report on October 27th Jonesborough Protest

Today my wife and I went a few miles up the road to show support for the ant-war and anti DU protest in Jonesboro, Tn. When we got their one of the people running the event, Chris Lugo who is a candidate for the Senate asked me to give a opening invocation as a Native American. I also asked to speak for a minute or two later in the program. It was a great event, even getting people participating to chant USA with the hecklers outside the police lines. Chris spoke with words of wisdom which echoed what he said last election. Thanks Chris, hope you get elected on your peace platform. A couple of people spoke about DU and it's effects. One was a PhD. In Nuclear physics. The other was a Iraq veteran with DU related illness. We were treated to music from a folk singer/songwriter and a Celtic singer. The I was allowed to speak for a couple if minutes.

My small speech went something like this.

I stand before you as a retired Navy man, Seneca, US and World citizen. I can tell you about the Great Law of Peace which was the model for your Constitution for we gave that to you. I am sorrowful that this great form of government which well not perfect was a great beginning. I now stand before you and ask your help in restoring the Constitution. Bush, Chaney, Rice and many others have either actively torn it down and assumed powers it did not give them or stood by and said nothing allowing it to happen. The Constitution with it's guarantees is no more today I am sorry to say,

Replace those who stand between us and the Document called The Constitution of the United States. Then I asked everyone to take a stand. IMPECH Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Rice and whoever helped them overthrow the government or who allowed them to do so. Impeach all of them for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and Treason.

I was followed by many other people who spoke out against the war or for impeachment. Probably the best was a woman from the National Storytellers Association who told the story of how the women of Athens ended the war with Troy. Basically standing in front of the treasury and not allowing the men to draw money to keep the war going and denying the men the company of women until they quit fighting. That brought the war to a quick close. Laura Bush are you listening?

She was followed by more music and then the closing prayer. Jean and I did not participate in the march to Aero-Jets plant because she is recovering from a broken hip and can't walk five miles yet. I did not march because I am recovering from open heart surgery and inplanting of a pacemaker/defibrillator. However our prayers went with those who marched.

Robert N Smith USN Ret
FOAVC of TN State Director

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Report from Sheila Carpenter on Jonesborough

Like to talk to ya’ll about this day in East Tennessee. We had ourselves a protest. Yes, right here in Jonesboro. A heckler was so sure that it couldn’t be anyone from area that the lone man carrying a flag keep saying go home , leave Jonesboro. Now it looked like he thought none from here would dare question the government or any action that they where told needed to be done. After they tried in every way they could to drown out the speakers, even the music a few more showed up. What does that say for a free thinking people?

These upstanding people called in a death threat. I thought that American men and women had fought and died for my right to question. Even this minute fighting because these people we are fighting hate our freedom. Was I wrong? What is free speech if not to protect us from harm when we dare disagree. These people that they were telling to get out of town were there to protect them. You may disagree but you have to know their heart. Even after they were treated so bad they still stood up for these rude people.

Have we come to a place in this world were we are afraid of anyone who thinks different? Why do we feel that it is all right to treat people this way and in our own home.

Then I watched the news, what , no pictures of the 100 (- or +) a few. Why? Do they have something to hide? They dug through my purse like he was looking for a pen, telling me it was for my good that we had a threat. A threat from someone that thought it was alright to KILL an AMERICAN because we disagree. Anger as we all know is really fear. Why would anyone be afraid of a bunch of hippies that don’t have their facts right anyway, right? I mean we are crazy and who would pay attention anyway? Could it be that they knew how it would look? And if so why would they be soo careful not to show it? We have free press don’t we?

They interviewed a woman that had a son in Iraq. I would like to thank her. I can’t even begin to know how she must feel. Freedom isn’t free. And the ones on the line pay in many ways. I want to make sure that price isn’t payed without just cause. And a big AND that they get any help they need returning home.
I would like to thank all that came to Jonesboro to protect my family on both sides by standing brave and strong . Not all Tennesseans feel the same. This is what domocracy looks like.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Smithfield Sues Jobs with Justice

Smithfield Foods has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Jobs With Justice, the Change To Win (CTW) labor federation, and the union organizing its employees in Tar Heel, NC, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The suit is being filed under the RICO statute designed to fight organized crime. The baseless suit is in response to the growing national campaign to support workers' rights at Smithfield.

The company's RICO suit is ironic given the well documented
violations of state and federal law that the company has been
found in violation of. It seeks to stop all such campaigns in
the future and is a clear violation of the constitutional rights
of all supporters of workers' rights.

Jobs with Justice is proud to stand with the workers of Tar
Heel, their union the UFCW, Change To Win and the many other
religious, community and labor organizations supporting this
important fight. We pledge to redouble our efforts to achieve
justice at Smithfield. We call on all people of good will to
join us in demanding that Smithfield drop this suit and begin
negotiations with the union to ensure that the voices of their
employees are heard and that their right to form a union is

The workers in Tar Heel are organizing and growing stronger.
Jobs with Justice and all of our allies will continue to support
those workers until they have a voice at work and justice on the

Read more about what Jobs with Justice has been doing to support
the campaign for Justice at Smithfield in our newsletters from
September, July , and April newsletters. Read a statement from
the UFCW at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Memphis Gears Up for Peace Conference

On October 27, 2007 Memphis will be hosting the annual Ghandi King Peace conference. The conference, entitled, 'Building the Beloved Community', the conference will explore nonviolent means to achieve lasting peace within ourselves, our communities, and our world. In these times of escalating violence, this exploration of our own ideas and actions is more important than ever. The Conference will consist of acclaimed speakers and presenters from a multitude of peace-related backgrounds.

Workshops, paper presentations, and panel discussions based on Gandhi and Dr. King’s principles, ideas, and practices will be offered during the two-day conference. With the conviction that peace and active nonviolence can help improve conditions in our times for the benefit of all humankind, the Conference joins the insights of academics with the experience of activists in exploring how we can bring these ideas together in creating a viable and sustainable community for all.

Workshop, paper and panel discussion topics include: Analysis of Theory and Practices of Gandhi and Dr. King, Peace Education, Nonviolence Training, Mindful Communication Training, Women and Peacemaking, Community Building, Yoga, and Meditation. Additional proposals will be accepted until August 1st.Youth ComponentThe Gandhi-King Conference is teaming up with BRIDGES PeaceJam to bring local high school youth an innovative and interactive youth component which will occur on Friday of the conference weekend.

Friday morning will begin with a plenary address by Rosa Clemente, followed by a selection of workshops specifically designed for youth. Workshop topics include: Influences of Mass Media, Being Creators Not Consumers, Fair Trade, Alternatives to the Military, Voting, Global Citizenship, and Creating Our Communities.The youth component continues Friday evening with a community performance event to be held at BRIDGES, during which artists will be sharing their messages of peace and visions of beloved community through music, spoken word, visual art, and dance. Youth sessions and Friday evening performance are open to all conference participants.

Keynote and Plenary Speakers

Nontombi Naomi Tutu
Naomi Tutu speaks on The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa and led Naomi Tutu to her present role as an activist for human rights. Ms Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She was born in South Africa and has also lived in Lesotho, the United Kingdom and the United States. Her professional experience ranges from being a development consultant in West Africa, to being program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons
Simmons is currently an Assistant Professor of Religion and affiliated faculty in the Women Studies Department at the University of Florida. Simmons has a long history in the area of civil rights, human rights and peace work. She was on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee for twenty-three years. In the 1960’s she was active with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and spent seven years working full time on Voter Registration and desegregation activities in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Simmons was a disciple in Sufism (the mystical stream in Islam) for seventeen years. She remains an active member of the Bawa Muhaiyadeen Fellowship and Mosque and student of this great Saint’s teachings.

Barry Gan
Barry L. Gan is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University. He is co-editor with Robert L. Holmes of a leading anthology on nonviolence, Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, 2nd edition; editor of The Acorn: Journal of the Gandhi-King Society; co-editor of Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research, Journal of the Peace History Society and the Peace and Justice Studies Association; and for two years he served as program committee chair of the oldest and largest interfaith peace group in the United States, the Fellowship of Reconciliation.G. Simon Harak, S. J. Father Harak entered the Society of Jesus in 1970, and has served as a missionary in Jamaica and the Philippines. He has been active in the peace movement, and helped found Voices in the Wilderness, which was nominated in 2000, 2002. and 2003 for the Nobel Peace Prize. He has traveled to Iraq three times with VOICES, where he openly and publicly violated US/UN sanctions to bring medicine and toys to Iraqi hospitals. In January 2007 he joined Marquette University in Milwaukee as a professor of theology and as the Director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.

Rosa Clemente
Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, journalist and Hip-Hop activist. Born and raised in the South Bronx she is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. A much sought after commentator, political activist, community organizer and independent reporter, Rosa has been delivering workshops, presentations and commentary for over ten years on topics such as; African-American and Latino/a Intercultural Relations, Hip-Hop Activism, The History of the Young Lords Party, and Women, Feminism and Hip Hop. In 2003 Rosa helped form and coordinate the first ever National Hip Hop Political Convention that drew over 3000 activists who came together to create and implement a national political agenda for the Hip-Hop generation.“Nonviolence is the means; truth is the end.”- M.K. Gandhi“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and enables the person who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”- Martin Luther King Jr. To find out more or to register:

Jonesborough Prepares for Regional Protest

On October 27th First Tennessee Progressives is hosting one of ten regional peace rallies around the United States being supported by the nation's largest national peace coalition, United for Peace and Justice. UFPJ is sponsoring Oct. 27 events in southeastern United States and is fully committed to supporting the Jonesborough, TN, anti-depleted uranium munitions action, according to Georgette Friday, UFPJ national staff person helping coordinate the southern strategies.

The UFPJ support helps put an additional national spotlight on what many consider the Agent Orange of this generation of wars, with depleted uranium munitions used in Iraq and the Gulf region, in the Balkans during the Clinton administration, likely in Afghanistan, and possibly in Lebanon. The munitions have been widely tested throughout the U.S. mainland, in Hawaii, and in the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as well, leaving radioactive and toxic contamination in all testing and manufacturing regions, with little cleanup effort underway except in a couple of areas identified as Superfund sites.

Linda Modica, lead Tennessee coordinator, Angela Helwig of Georgia Peace & Justice and I outlined what plans have been put in place thus far, including a rally in downtown Jonesborough, a march to and musical presence at Aerojet Ordnance - remaining U.S.producer of DU weapons cores, music and speakers in Jonesborough itself, and efforts to mobilize support.

Major Doug Rokke, military whistleblower who headed up Gulf War 1 attempts to cleanup DU munitions in Iraq and later demanded their use be terminated, will be a key speaker. Also addressing the rally will be a representative from Vieques. I’d been in contact with Rokke and the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques to help secure their presence in Jonesborough and am hoping others contacted will respond.

Angela Helwig will be contacting the Iraq Veterans Against the War chapter in Atlanta for a speaker while UFPJ and Linda Modica will be contacting the Gulf War Veterans Against the War and the NAACP as well. Linda is a NAACP member and will be making that contact during the upcoming Tennessee state NAACP convention in Jonesborough. All of us, including co-coordinator Chris Lugo of the Nashville Peace Coalition, will also be inviting musicians to take part, including Animal Nation, the group present at the Chattanooga Iraq war anniversary rally two years ago. We are also seeking contact with the Buddhist peace marchers and would like a contact to reach that group.

Meanwhile, Christian Peacemaker Teams will have its third stop DU delegation in Jonesborough, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 4, in its continued campaign against DU munitions, which will include team members from the U.S., Canada, Ghana and Nepal. Their presence overlaps the Oct. 27 event.

As a sidenote, Cliff Kindy, who has been key organizer for the CPT Jonesborough delegations, will be returning to Iraq in October with three other CPT members to restore the CPT presence there, suspended after four CPT members were kidnapped and Tom Fox was killed in Iraq while another team member died in a vehicle accident there.

For more information on depleted uranium munitions, visit:
Wes * Eileen Rehberg, Ph.Ds.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Iraqi War Deaths: Week of Oct 14th-20th

Those who died in Iraq from Oct 14 to 20:

Spc Jason Koutroubas 21 Dunnellon FL
Sgt Justin Monschke 28 Krum TX
Pvt Kenneth Iwasinski 22 W Springfield MA
Ltn Thomas Martin 27 Ward AR
Cpl Sarah Holmes 26 Wantage UK
Spc Michael Brown 20 Williamsburg KS
Spc Vincent Madero 22 Port Hueneme CA
Sgt Jared Fontenot 35 Fontenot LA
Spc Wayne Geiger 23 Lone Pine CA
Cpl Erik Garoutte 22 Santee CA

50 were seriously wounded and maimed.
55 were returned to kill fields.

249 Iraqi brothers and sisters were killed.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Priest Sentenced for Protesting Torture

October 17, 2007 -- Pace e Bene co-founder Fr. Louie Vitale, O.F.M. and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. were sentenced today by Magistrate Hector Estrada to five months in federal prison for nonviolent action they took at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona, a facility where Army training in torture techniques is carried out.

Major General Antonio M. Tacuba, who served in Iraq and wrote a report critical of torture carried out at Abu Ghirab prison, phoned the Franciscan and Jesuit priests the night before to convey his support and to express his belief that "history will honor your actions." Their lawyer, Bill Quigley, shared General Tacuba's words of support with the court.

The judge, who confessed that the case had put him in "an uncomfortable position," meted out to both men three months in prison for trespass and two months for disobeying an office. They will be incarcerated at a federal prison in Florence, Arizona.

Before the sentencing, Vitale and Kelly read a statement to the 50 people who had gathered to support them. As part of their declaration, they said: "We will keep trying to stop the teaching and practice of torture whether we are sent to jail or out. We have done our part. Now it is up to every woman and man of conscience to do their part to stop the injustice of torture."

Click her for more information.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Memphis Activists Plan Bush Protest

On Monday, October 15th between 2pm and 4pm activists in Memphis will gather to say "Trillions for War; for Our Children Not a Dollar More." President Bush is in Memphis attending a $1,000 a plate fundraiser for the Re-election of Senator Alexander (R-TN.) In the four hours that they will be wining and dining we will have spent $12,000,000 on the war in Iraq. The activists plan to hold a sidewalk protest on the sidewalks immediately East and West of Central and Goodwyn and encourage people to gather in front of the Pink Palace, 3050 Central Ave. Parking available on the residential streets to the north of Central. For more information contact Jacob Flowers at 901.517.8689 or

Sunday, October 14, 2007

UNIFEM World Poverty Day October 17th

UNIFEM has a joint initiative with the Women’s Funding Network (an umbrella for some 120 women’s funds worldwide) for World Poverty Day on October 17th. JoAnne Sandler, Executive Director, ai, has asked us to reach out to our networks to mobilize as many people as possible and help raise awareness on the fact that women are not only deeply affected by poverty, but also hold enormous potential to help overcome it. To channel the call to overcome women’s poverty into the campaign, UNIFEM and WFN have developed a small website through which we will encourage people to stand up online and get informed on the issue of women and poverty. The site has just been launched in English, French and Spanish at:

On the site, you will find UNIFEM's key messages and arguments, along with pertinent statistics to inform on the issue of women and poverty. The web site also alerts visitors to the United Nations’ Millennium Campaign “Stand Up Campaign” against poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals, and will on 16/17 October provide the opportunity to join the campaign online. Joining the Stand Up campaign through this web site with a specific call to overcome women’s poverty is at the heart of UNIFEM's activities and I would like to encourage you once again to mobilize your networks and show that there is an extensive worldwide movement in support of eradicating women’s poverty. Last year, Stand Up set a Guinness Book record with almost 24 million people participating worldwide; the aim is to set a new world record this year, and we all hope that in support of the call by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon we will actively contribute. Please note that there is a strict 24 hour timeframe to be counted for the record, between 16 October 9 pm GMT - 17 October 9 pm GMT.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

REEL KNOX: LGBT Film Festival

REEL KNOX a LGBT Film Festival
October 19-20-21

REEL KNOX LGBT Film Festival is back for it's second year! This year the festival moves to it's new home, The Fairbanks, located at 315 Mohican Street in Old Bearden. The festival will be asking for a one time $5 donation to benefit the Hope Center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. While not required for admission to any screening, it is greatly appreciated.

This year's festival features some fine films--the documentary Small
Town Gay Bar, executive produced by comic book genius Kevin Smith, a
lesbian detective mystery movie, and the documentary We're All Angels
that chronicles the careers of gay Christian pop duo Jason and demarco.
There are several shorts that will be screened prior to the features.
There is literally something for everyone--gays, lesbians,
transgendered, bisexual, people of color, space aliens and the last
character role of the late Charles Nelson Reilly.
REEL KNOX is also pleased to announce the formation of the monthly LGBT
film screening. More details to follow.

Reel Knox a LGBT Film Festival

Friday October 19, 2007
6:30 pm:
Sigmund Freud: Psychoanalyst
GayDar (last role of Charles Nelson Reilly)
7:00 pm:
small town gay bar
Saturday October 20, 2007
6:00 pm:
His Name is Cosmo
On My Skin / En Mi Piel
The Incredible Dyke
Shady Bi
7:00 pm:
2 Minutes Later

Sunday October 21, 2007
3:00 pm:
Nibbles and Bytes
Corndog of Tolerance
4:00 pm:
We're All Angels*
Musical duo Jason and deMarco will appear for a Q&A following the
screening of "We're All Angels."

Commentary: Economic Conversion

The Nobel Prize for Al Gore is well deserved, but to think that the frightening melt of the polar ice caps in a remote part of the globe is caused by global warming, not by underwater nuclear testing, does not factor in all possible data. America's choice today is between nuclear war and economic conversion - especially the closing of overseas bases stationed to control what are called "pro-Democracy" governments, governments which hand over their national resources to American corporations - even to the privatizing of public water supplies. We have been a nation committed to civilized democracy. With economic conversion, we can assure that every member of society has a way to earn a living. We need public discussion of these issues. We need a free news media and free elections.

-Jean Braun

Frente de Defensa Activists Murdered

Two Mexican environmentalists, members of the Frente de Defensa del Agua, a water rights organization based in the state of Morelos, Mexico were killed when their car was driven off the road while being persecuted. At the time of the violent crash, the activists were on their cell phones denouncing the persecution. The three activists were leading advocates for water rights in the state and had just testified at the International Water Tribunal held in Guadalajara. The three had denounced the building of PEMEX Gas stations over a water stream in the City of Cuautla that serves over one hundred fifty thousand residents. For years and through mass militant pressure, the citizens and organizations of Cuautla have successfully stopped the opening gas stations above the Los Manantiales de Cuautla and in doing so they have confronted the Mexican government authorities, PEMEX administrators and unscrupulous private businesses.

Noe Neri is in serious condion and was incarcerated for two days before being released and taken to a hospital.

Gonzalez, an attorney in Mexico is brother to activist Ruben Gonzalez, and both are members of the Los Angeles March 25 Coalition.

La Jornada de Morelos

Aclarar percance en el que perdieron la vida defensores de manantiales

Activistas sociales pidieron a las autoridades de Morelos y Jalisco que se aclare el accidente en el que perdieron la vida Silvia Espinoza de Jesús y Jonathan González González, ambientalistas en defensa del agua, de la ciudad de Cuautla. Tras el percance automovilístico ocurrido en Amatitlán, Tequila, estado de Jalisco la tarde del pasado martes, activistas sociales, ecologistas e integrantes de organizaciones no gubernamentales exigieron que las autoridades de Jalisco lleven a cabo una investigación seria y responsable de los lamentables acontecimientos, posteriores a la participación de ambos ambientalistas fallecidos en una audiencia del Tribunal Internacional del Agua, en el que ratificaron su rechazo a la instalación de una gasolinera sobre un manantial de la la ciudad de Cuautla. José Martínez Cruz, de la Comisión Independiente de Derechos Humanos, fue quien habló a nombre de los defensores de las causas sociales y ambientales, y demandó que las autoridades de Jalisco y Morelos vayan a fondo de las causas del accidente. Señaló que el movimiento en defensa del manantial en Cuautla surgió a raíz de que gasolineros intentaron instalar una estación exactamente arriba de un manantial, sin importarles la grave contaminación y envenenamiento a los mantos freáticos que ello ocasionaría a miles de familias que consumen esa agua. “Hace cinco años, el movimiento ha presentado recursos legales ante instancias municipales, estatales, federales e internacionales”. Destacó que la comisión integrada por Silvia Espinoza y Jonathan González había entregado al Tribunal Latinoamericano del Agua –que sesiona en Guadalajara- las pruebas del atentado cometido por los gasolineros en Los Manantiales de Cuautla, y esperaban la resolución del organismo. En tanto, al cumplirse las primeras 24 horas del accidente automovilístico en el que perdieran la vida Silvia Espinoza y Jonathan González, miembros del Frente de Defensa del Agua (FDA), Noe Neri Gutiérrez, conductor del vehículo accidentado, sigue detenido por las autoridades de Jalisco. Al respecto, la vocera del FDA, Mariana Barreda, informó que los infortunados compañeros venían de regreso de haber presentado las pruebas y alegatos sobre el caso de la Gasolinera Milenium 3000, “para demostrar que este negocio no debería estar instalado sobre los manantiales de agua que dotan del vital líquido a más de 150 mil habitantes de la ciudad de Cuautla, por no tener permiso de uso de suelo, ni licencia de construcción, entre otras irregularidades”. Señaló que ambos “dejaron de lado sus intereses personales para dedicarlos a la defensa del agua de Cuautla, de Morelos y de México (...) dedicando mucho tiempo de sus vidas para demostrar que el poder político y la corrupción no pueden tapar las luchas sociales; que la justicia a pesar de todo sí puede ser ganadora, que las mujeres y los hombres organizados sí podemos lograr resultados a favor del pueblo. Esta lucha no acaba aquí, Silvia mujer inquebrantable, fuerte, de gran corazón y a la vez tan frágil pero totalmente decidida; Jonathan hombre de convicciones muy fuertes, solidario y comprometido, amoroso padre, por todo este amor que nos dieron y compartieron, por ustedes y por todos los que seguimos aquí esta lucha continuaremos y por que es la vida de todos los estamos y estaremos. La lucha sigue, y sigue. Y ningún empresario corrupto o político vendido podrá detenernos”.

Military Police Confiscate Camera

U.S. Army Military Police Seized Camera at Global Network Protest in Darmstadt, Germany

Today, at a protest in front of a US satellite spy base in Darmstadt, Germany, a member of the US Army Military Police seized the camera of Regina Hagen, who is a member of the Darmstädter Friedensforum and on the Board of the Global Network.

The Darmstädter Friedensforum (Darmstadt Peace Forum), who had organized the Global Network annual conference in Darmstadt in March this year, and the German section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom staged the protest at the spy station which onsists of five "golf balls". 16 people met to hear information about the role of the station in the wars led globally by the US military, about the US/UK Echelon system to which the Darmstadt base belongs, and about the increasing move towards the weaponization of space, as well as to listen to political songs from GN member Holly Gwinn Graham.

Before concluding the protest, Regina grouped all rally participants at the gate for a group photo in spite of an announcement by a member of the US Army Military Police that no photos are allowed (which is a bit absurd: hundreds of pictures were taken at the protest in March, and dozens today before the MP arrived at the site). While Regina made the first picture, the US MP harshly grabbed the camera from her hand.

Regina made it clear that she would not tolerate this behaviour. There is no law, she said, that prohibits German citizens standing on German territory to take photos - and she called German police to get her camera back. German policemen showed up, and after lengthy negotiations with the US Military police as well as the German security guards of the US base they let the US Army members know that they would soon receive information about their rights as well as those of protesters in Germany - and brought the camera back. Regina asked German police to stay while
taking some more pictures.

The US spy station - dubbed ICEbox by the local population - had been built in 2004 to replace older technology withdrawn from Bad Aibling, also in Germany. At that time, along with the "golf balls", an old US grammar school building was upgraded to a high-tech and high security computer and processing center for the downlinked data streams, reaching five levels below earth and housing the US Military Intelligence 66 group.

In June 2007 it became known that the US military will withdraw all personnel from various locations in Darmstadt by the end of 2008 and that all sites will then be handed back to German authorities. A year earlier, by the end of 2007, the MI 66 group is said to be relocated to Wiesbaden, 50 km from Darmstadt. According to media information, the golf balls in Darmstadt will also be dismantled, while it has not yet become known whether the station will be moved to another town.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (Blog) (MySpace profile)

Friday, October 12, 2007

New Push To Ban Gay Adoption In Tennessee

by Newscenter Staff

(Nashville, Tennessee) Socially conservative groups behind Tennessee's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage are looking at launching a new push to bar gays and lesbians from adopting children. The move follows a legal opinion issued Thursday by Attorney General Bob Cooper that there is nothing in the Tennessee constitution or in state law to prevent same-sex couples from becoming adoptive parents. Cooper had been asked for the legal assessment by Wilson County Circuit Judge Clara Byrd.

Although Byrd has not said why she asked for the opinion it has been generally assumed she is presiding over an adoption application by either a gay person or a same-sex couple. Adoption cases are sealed to protect the rights of children. Cooper in his legal opinion said that under current state law anyone 18 years of age or older may adopt, assuming the adoption is found to be in the best interest of the child."

"There is no prohibition in Tennessee statutes against adoption by a same sex couple,"he said. He also noted that before a judge grants an adoption there must be a
finding that the adoptive parents "are fit persons to have the care and custody of the child." An attempt to pass legislation banning gays from adopting failed in
2005. The legislation would have barred gays and lesbians from adopting or becoming foster parents to the thousands of children in state orphanages and foster care.
Supporters of the measure said the children would be better off remaining in orphanages than being with a gay parent. The bill was later amended to say only that married couples should be given priority in adoptions. It died in committee.
There were more than nine-thousand in state custody as of Jan. 31. Last year slightly over one-thousand children in state custody were adopted.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How to End the War: Vote Green


It's time to face the truth: voting for Democrats is not going to end the war or change the direction of the US.

• Democratic Party leaders supported the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. In October 2002, they voted with Republicans to surrender Congress's constitutional war power over to the Bush White House.

• Democrats won't use their power in Congress to stall on Bush's requests for more war funding, which would result in a quick withdrawal of US troops. According to an Associated Press news report on October 10, congressional Democrats have put troop withdrawals "on the back burner."

• Democratic Party leaders will only support vague and delayed timetables for bringing home US troops. Clinton and Obama won't promise that all US combat troops will be out of Iraq by 2013.

• Democrats have rejected impeachment and won't hold Bush & Cheney responsible for criminal abuses of power: deceiving the American people about why we invaded Iraq, torture, surveillance of US citizens without warrant, detention without trial, violation of international laws, inaction and racist response to environmental emergencies (Hurricanes Katrina & Rita), tampering with scientific research on global warming.

• Top Democrats limit their criticism to Bush's strategic military mistakes in Iraq. They won't talk about how the war itself is a crime -- an invasion of a country that posed no threat to the US, based on manipulated intelligence and lies to the American people.

• Democrats want to plunder Iraqi oil: Democratic leaders have endorsed the Iraqi hydrocarbon law "benchmark" that would place 2/3 of Iraq's oil resources under the control of major US and UK energy companies. This would require continued US military presence in Iraq to protect the investments of corporations like ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and BP. The same oil companies that contribute to Republicans also give campaign checks to Democratic candidates.

• Top Democrats also take money and orders from the pro-Israeli-government lobby (AIPAC), which demanded the invasion of Iraq and now demands an attack on Iran.

• Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have signed on to Bush's threat of a US attack on Iran -- which could touch off World War III.

* * *

Whether we elect a Democrat or Republican to the White House in 2008, the war will continue. Our only hope for bringing home US troops safe and sound is to elect Green Party candidates to Congress, support a Green presidential campaign, and help the growth of the Green Party!

• Greens are committed to an immediate withdrawal of all US troops and to impeachment of Bush & Cheney for their crimes.

• If Greens win seats in Congress, it'll shock Democrats (and some Republicans) into stronger action to end the Iraq War. Democrats and Republicans will no longer be each others' sole competition for votes.

• The few genuine anti-war Democrats and Republicans in Congress aren't getting help from their own parties. They need Greens in Congress to create the political bloc necessary to end the war.

• Thanks to the two-party monopoly on elections, America has moved toward more war, greater corporate power, and less democracy. This direction will continue... until new political voices get elected.

• Green candidates take no money from powerful corporations. Democrats and Republicans take big campaign checks from oil companies, arms makers, credit card companies, media conglomerates, HMOs, insurance firms, pharmaceutical manufacturers, Wall Street, K Street, and other corporate lobbies.

• There is no hope for rehabilitating the Democratic Party. Progressive and anti-war Dems like Dennis Kucinich stand very little chance of getting the nomination or influencing the Democratic Party platform. The party's powerful leaders won't allow it, just as they blocked Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown, Al Sharpton, and other progressives in previous presidential races. Past efforts to turn Democrats into "the people's party" have all failed.

• The only solution is a new, independent party. The Green Party is as urgent for America now as the anti-slavery Republican Party was in the 1850s, when it emerged as a third party competing against Democrats and Whigs.

• If you oppose the Iraq War and you vote for a pro-war candidate, you're throwing away your vote. Vote for the real Peace Party -- the Green Party!

Do we really want a future that's limited to Democrats & Republicans and the narrow points of view that they represent? We The People deserve a party and candidates to speak for our own ideals, interests, and needs. Help us build America's party of the 21st century -- the Green Party!

* * *

Bring US Troops Home Now
Cancel War Funding
Impeach Bush & Cheney
Save Our Democracy
Save America's Future

Support America's PEACE PARTY
Support the GREEN PARTY
Vote for Green candidates in 2008
Register Green
Donate to the Green Party

CODEPINK Stopped at Canadian Border

Canada used to be a haven for peace activists during the Vietnam era, a place where Americans could go to escape the madness of war. No longer. On October 4, 2007, CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin and Retired Colonel/ diplomat Ann Wright were denied entry to Canada because they have engaged in acts of non-violent civil disobedience against the war in Iraq. The Canadian border officials said the women's names appeared on the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, and anyone convicted of a criminal offense, including a minor misdemeanor for peace and social justice, was "inadmissible." This, to us, is unacceptable. We can't sit back and watch our civil liberties erode, one by one. We can't sit back and let peace activists be treated like dangerous criminals.

We have crafted a petition urging the FBI to stop including minor non-violent offenses on a database meant for serious crimes, and the Canadian government to reverse its policy and extend a warm welcome to U.S. peacemakers and other social activists who use the time-honored tradition of engaging in civil disobedience as a way to change unjust policies.

Please join Alice Walker, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and 100 US and Canadian leaders by signing our petition here and sending the link to your friends and family. We will deliver all of your signatures directly to the Canadian Parliament; where Medea and Ann have been invited to speak--if they can get into the country!

Update On United ENDA Campaign

The work on behalf of a fully inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA, HR2015) is growing steadily. Today, members of P-FLAG and students from across the country who attend D.C. area colleges, are holding a joint Lobby Day to meet with members of the House on behalf of the fully inclusive ENDA.

The coalition of groups who have signed onto the United ENDA campaign also continues to grow. There are now 282 groups, representing at least 2 million people. The state groups alone, including the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, have combined for nearly 160,000 Action Alerts which have produced at least 15,000 e-mails to Members of Congress. This represents a true outpouring of grass roots support.

The United ENDA coalition has also been joined recently by several labor unions which support equal access to the workplace for all Americans. There is a lot of amazing work being done by people across this country on behalf of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition also wishes to reiterate our special thanks to Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin). She is an original sponsor of HR2015 and is standing strong with the United ENDA campaign on behalf of transgender people.

Marisa Richmond

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact:

Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(610353-1834 fax

UCC Ministers Arrested

Pace e Bene board member Rev. Linda Jaramillo and United Church of Christ general minister and president Rev. John Thomas were arrested delivering petition with 60,000 signatures to the White House on Wednesday, October 10. After ignoring three warnings from police, the Rev. John H. Thomas and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo were arrested at 12:58 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, Oct. 10, for refusing to leave a no protest zone near the White House gate.

The two national UCC officers were attempting to deliver a Pastoral Letter on the Iraq War, along with 60,000 endorsing signatures.

Both faced the White House and held up thick stacks of the petitions, before being asked by police to step back from the White House fence. After refusing to do so, Thomas and Jaramillo were handcuffed and led to a police van.

Thomas, the UCC’s general minister and president, and Jaramillo, executive minister for Justice and Witness Ministries, had earlier sought a meeting with the White House’s public liaison office, in order to hand-deliver the petitions, but their requests were not granted.

Before the arrest, Thomas and Jaramillo spoke to a group of about 50 clergy andl laypersons who had gathered from the D.C. area to support them.

Thomas reminded the crowd of martyred theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, “The church has been a silent partner in evil deeds.” To which Thomas added, “We are breaking that silence today.”

“This is a difficult time for people of faith who are opposed to the war,” said Thomas, who named “an apparant lack of will to change course” as an immobilizing frustration for both the American and Iraqi people. The UCC’s summer anti-war petition drive, he said, was about “claiming hope and action again.”

“This, for us, is a very meaningful witness of the whole church,” said Thomas, who indicated that their peaceful demonstation at the White House gate was about “more than two officers of the church, but representing many, many across our denomination.”

Jaramillo said, “As a church, we can no longer be silent.”

After the two church leaders were arrested, supporters of the action joined in singing “Let there be peace on earth.” The Rev. Bentley deBardelaben, communications minister for Justice and Witness Ministries, led the group in prayer.

Thomas and Jaramillo were expected to be taken a District of Columbia police station for processing. Details of when they will be released are not yet known.

Earlier, during morning meetings, Thomas and Jaramillo successfully delivered boxes of petitions to representatives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner.

Written by J. Bennett Guess

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Protesting the Space War

Local activists in Omaha made a huge shopping cart yesterday and stuffed it with mock missiles and boxes labeled as depleted uranium and other weapons now being produced by the weapons corporations gathering inside the Quest Convention Center.

The convention, called Strategic Space and Defense 2007, is billed as The Global Security Conference for Space and Defense Professionals. Translated that means several thousand uniformed military brass and weapons contractors filed into the convention center yesterday while our group held banners outside. The truck pictured above, with the shopping cart mounted on top drove up and down the street in front of the convention center and pulled a small trailer with hay bales on it. Seated on the hay bales were several activists singing songs calling on the conventioneers to "stop shopping" for war in space.

One full {bird} Colonel stopped by our vigil for some time and talked, and debated, with several of our folks. In the end he told them that it was true that StratCom is in charge of preparing the attack on Iran and that in order to stop others {like Iran} from having nasty nuclear weapons we have to hit them first and if necessary to suspend civil liberties in the U.S. to ensure full compliance at home. We later heard that as the conference inside began the master of ceremonies began his talk by thanking Nebraskans for Peace for holding their demonstration outside - just once more proving that the military guaranteed our precious right to assemble.

Next time any of you run into trouble getting a permit to protest please just call your local military installation and they will come right over and take care of the situation. Their job, after all, is to make it possible for us peaceniks to protest!

No media showed up which appears to be normal these days for such events as the corporate dominated mainstream media runs cover for the new arms race in space. It is a subject that is not to be publicly discussed, especially the fact that there are people standing outside the convention holding signs and banners. It would be a danger if the tax payers found out that the new arms race was going to be "the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth" necessitating the destruction of social progress in order to pay for it.

More protests were planned today but I had to stay in the home of my host to do a 40-minute radio interview with a station in California's Mendocino County. I got a very nice response from the people who called into the show and the host proved to be well studied with excellent questions to lead the discussion. It's always encouraging to see a progressive radio host make an effort to really familiarize themselves with the issue. All the callers were interested and supportive. They just need to learn more about the issue and help others learn about it as well. I suggested they check the Global Network website and turn people onto the Space Video section of our menu.

At 4:30 pm today we do another vigil on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha which has a StratCom facility on campus. I'm told the facility, built largely with public funds, is top-secret and is one more example how our academic institutions across the country are being militarized as is the rest of our culture.

This is the way fascism lives and grows. Secrecy, fear, flag-waving, and aggressive military interventions. The resistance to this growing fascism must grow as well or we will in the end find ourselves in even deeper trouble than we are today.

We have to stop being sheep that are being led to slaughter.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502 (Our blog)

Nashville Urban Harvest Festival

Nashville Urban Harvest would like to invite you all to our farm fest at five on Sunday oct 21st, to thank all our friends for a great year and invite you all to see how we are growing! Thanks for all your support this season with the West Nashville Community Farm, the Public Square Farmers' Market, our Nashville Buy Local Guide (to be released at the party!), and the Veggie Project. Hope to see y'all sometime soon.

Join Nashville Urban Harvest for our First Annual Fall Harvest Party and see how we've been growing! Bring your instruments and get ready for some down-home pickin' (musical and horticultural). Kindly forward to other interested friends. Check out for a map to the farm or call 615.306.3154 day of. Click the flier attached below for more details. Please feel free to forward this on to your friends, or put up a copy at your favorite local shop :) The West Nashville Community Farm is at 57th n Tennessee Ave in the Nations neighborhood off Charlotte ave.

You can rsvp here:
so we dont run out of beer :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Congress Signs on to Protect Tennessee

WASHINGTON, DC and APPALACHIA — The Congressional effort to end mountaintop removal coal mining cleared a major landmark today, with over 100 Members of Congress signed on as co-sponsors to the Clean Water Protection Act ( H.R. 2169). The milestone comes as the Bush Administration is accepting comments on a rulemaking to expand and enshrine the highly destructive practice.

Advocates for the mountains and coalfield residents charge that mountaintop removal coal mining tears apart communities, poisons water supplies, pollutes the air and destroys our nation's natural heritage – while only making the climate crisis worse.

"There is momentum growing to end mountaintop removal once and for all, and today's record show of support from Congress should change the debate," said Mary Anne Hitt, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices, which brings people together to solve the environmental problems facing the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. "For too long politicians have been able to write off mountaintop removal as a regional issue – but we see today that it's a national disgrace. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) have shown extraordinary leadership on this issue, and we thank them."

"I'm excited to hear that we already have over 100 co-sponsors signed onto the Clean Water Protection Act," said Carl Shoupe, a retired coal miner from Harlan County, Kentucky, and a member of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth. "Thank God people from across the country are learning about mountaintop removal and care enough to help us here in the mountains. Where I live at the foot of Black Mountain, we still have some of the best water in the country, but we're having to fight to protect it from being destroyed by coal mining. If we can't protect
our water, we'll all have to leave our homes." said Shoupe.

"Headwater streams are the lifeblood of our mountains and the people who live in generations old communities along those streams. Millions of tons of waste rock from coal mining have already buried hundreds of miles of those precious waters, literally choking to death untold numbers of once thriving communities," said Cindy Rank, Mining Committee Chair, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. "We are ever grateful for the support of the far-sighted members of Congress who are reaffirming the goals of the Clean Water Act by their support of the Clean Water Protection Act."

"We are encouraged by the willingness of members of Congress to exercise the public trust over the waters of the United States," said Landon Medley, coalfield resident and member of Tennessee-based Save Our Cumberland Mountains. "A current threat that flies in the face of this encouraging news, however, is the Bush Administration's recent attempt to weaken federal water quality standards and enshrine mountaintop removal through a 'stream buffer' rule proposal. As a citizen of the coalfields who understands the value of our mountains and watersheds, I thank these courageous members of congress for supporting the Clean Water Protection Act, and call upon these members to oppose the administration's stream buffer rule proposal."

"We are so glad that Congress is responding to the people's demand for an end to this brutal and illegal form of coal mining," said Vivian Stockman, of the Huntington, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. The group organizes community members who are directly impacted by mountaintop removal. "The co-sponsors are obviously as upset as the majority of American people about the Bush administration's intent to let the coal industry do whatever it wants to Appalachia."
"We are very pleased that these members of Congress recognize Appalachian communities' value and the need to protect them with the Clean Water Protection Act," said Vernon Haltom of Whitesville, W.Va.-based Coal River Mountain Watch, which works to protect communities from mountaintop removal and to improve the area's quality of life. "Regulatory and permitting agencies have been sacrificing Appalachia in their reckless extraction of a non-renewable, polluting resource while eliminating the valuable resources necessary for long-term sustainability. This Act helps prevent American streams from becoming waste dumps."
"Our sincere thanks go to Rep. Pallone and Rep. Shays for their visionary leadership in recognizing that the protection of our watersheds knows no geographic nor political boundaries," said Kathy Selvage, Vice President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, a community organization in the Virginia coalfields. "Our water is a national resource to be treasured by all and we must all protect it. I am most proud of the more than 100 members of Congress who recognize that. Now their courage will be tested again by the Bush Administration's attempt to facilitate even more destruction in the Appalachian region's watersheds by the new proposed buffer zone rule change."

The effort to end mountaintop removal has been gaining steam over the past year. In May, the Second Annual Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington brought over 100 volunteers from 19 states to D.C. They met with more than 100 congressional offices and had 20 face-to-face meetings with Members of Congress – and in the week following 16 new co-sponsors signed onto the Clean Water Protection Act ( H.R. 2169). Last year, the 109th Congress ended with 77 co-sponsors, a then-record. This year, the 100 co-sponsor milestone comes with over a year to go in the 110th Congress.

The RIAA vs. The World

by David Rovics

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), representing massive multinational corporations with tentacles in every corner of the global economy including the music business, has just won a lawsuit against a mother of two who refused to be pushed around. Jamie Thomas’ pockets were not nearly deep enough to mount the kind of legal defense for the occasion, but she rightly thought that paying an out-of-court settlement of several thousand dollars for the “crime” of sharing music online was ridiculous. So she told the RIAA they’d have to take her to court. They did, and they won.

The fact that one of these cases actually went to trial, the amount of money involved, and the fact that the defendant could have been your neighbor, a middle-aged single mother of two who was not selling anything, but was just engaging in commonplace song-swapping via Kazaa’s peer-to-peer network, has made this case newsworthy. But what lies beneath it are the ever-growing tens of thousands of people who have been spied upon, harassed and threatened with lawsuits if they didn’t pay the RIAA thousands of dollars for sharing copywritten music in a way the RIAA, the US government, the World Trade Organization, etc., deem inappropriate.

In spite of the RIAA’s campaign to staunch the profit losses of it’s corporate members by waging a campaign of fear and intimidation against your average everyday music fan, the numbers of legal and “illegal” downloads continue to rise rapidly. However, the industry’s campaign is not just about robbing working class American music fans of hundreds of millions of their hard-earned dollars. The music industry is waging a war for the hearts and minds of the people of the US and the world, spending tremendous amounts of money on advertising campaigns to convince us of the rightness of their cause and the wrongness of our actions.

The RIAA is both powerful and desperate. They are a multibillion-dollar industry that has been “suffering” financially for years, and they are up against the very nature of the internet – that being peer-to-peer sharing of information in whatever form (stories, songs, videos, etc.). The internet has given rise to unprecedented levels of global cultural cross-pollination, and it has led to a democratization of where our news, information, music, etc., comes from that has not been seen since the days of the wandering troubadors who went from town to town spreading the news of the day.

The RIAA is trying to use a combination of the law, financial largesse, and encryption and other technologies to try to reassert their dominance over global culture. But perhaps most importantly, they are trying to reassert the moral virtue of their position, the rightness of their positions vis-a-vis the concept of intellectual property and the notion that the fear campaign they’re engaged in somehow benefits society overall and artists in particular.

The success of their campaign to convince us that the average person is essentially part of a massive band of thieves can be easily seen. Look at the comments section following an article about the recent lawsuit, for example, and you will find people generally saying they thought Ms. Thomas was wrong but that the amount of money involved with the lawsuit is outrageous. You will find people admitting that they also download music illegally, and they feel bad about it, but it’s just too easy and the music in the stores is too expensive.

Obviously the idea of anyone being financially bankrupted for the rest of their lives because they shared some songs online is preposterous, and very few people fail to see that. But the idea that Ms. Thomas did something wrong is prevalent, even among her fellow “thieves,” and I think it needs to be challenged on various fronts.

“We’re doing this for artists”
The RIAA represents artists about as effectively as the big pharmaceutical companies represent sick people. I’ll explain. The vast majority of innovation in medicine comes from university campuses. The usual pattern is Big Pharma then comes in and uses the research that’s already been done to then patent it and turn it into an obscenely profitable drug (especially if it’s good for treating a disease common among people in rich countries). Then they say anybody else who makes cheap or free versions of the drug is stealing, and by doing so we’re stifling innovation and acting immorally.

Similarly, the vast majority of musical innovation happens on the streets by people who are not being paid by anyone. The machine that is the music industry then snatches a bit of that popular culture, sanitizes it, and then sells it back to us at a premium. They create a superstar or two out of cultural traditions of their choosing and to hell with the rest of them. Sometimes the musicians they promote are really good, but that’s not the point. The point is that if the RIAA were truly interested in promoting good artists, they’d be doing lots of smaller record contracts with a wide variety of artists representing a broad cross-section of musical traditions. But as it is, if it were up to the RIAA we’d be listening to the music of a small handful of multimillionaire pop stars and the other 99.9% of musicians would starve.

The overwhelming majority of great music in the US (and most certainly in the rest of the world) is not supported by the RIAA. Rather, it is marginalized as much as possible. “Payola” is alive and well. The commercial radio stations are paid to play RIAA artists and paid not to play anyone else. A strategic, financial decision is made to promote a few styles of formulaic anti-music, each style represented by a few antiseptic pop stars, the lowest common denominator that can be created by the corporations behind the curtain. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of great writers, recording artists and performers are ignored, denied record contracts, promotion, airplay, distribution, etc.

In short, the RIAA does their best to stifle art, at the expense of money. They represent some artists, no doubt – a few very well-off ones, the few (occasionally very talented) beneficiaries of their money-making schemes. In the US, even the system through which royalties are distributed ends up benefitting only the industry and a few pop stars. The comparatively little airplay independent artists receive is measured by organizations like ASCAP in such a way that it is largely ignored, and royalties we should be receiving end up in the pockets of the industry.

“Downloads hurt CD sales of our artists”
OK, so the RIAA’s claims to represent artists in general may be laughable, but surely they have a point when they complain about the annually decreasing CD sales of Coldplay and the Rolling Stones? Even if they are just a cartel representing the interests of the few and trying to prevent access or representation by the many, surely suing average music listeners is at least some kind of response to their artists losing sales to these free downloads?

The kind of logic that sees loss of CD sales for major label artists as a direct response to being able to download their music online for free is flawed. It assumes that people would be buying the CD’s of these artists were it not available for free. The reality, I’d suggest, is very different and also hard to measure with any degree of accuracy.

With the rise of the worldwide web has come an explosion of interest in an ever-broadening array of music. People are downloading for free and paying for new music from all over. When bigtime artists get loads of conventional publicity and everybody can’t avoid knowing that Janet Jackson has a new CD out because this news is covering the sides of every bus in the city, many people will go ahead and download tracks from her new CD if they can find them on the web for free. But would they bother buying the CD in the current, rich musical environment of the internet otherwise? Or would they just move on and download other stuff from the independent artists they’re constantly discovering out there on the web instead?

I’d suggest the latter, and I’d further suggest that there is no reliable way of knowing whether or not I’m correct. If the major artists are losing sales because of the availability of their songs for free on the web, I couldn’t care less. However, I think what is more the case is they are losing sales to the internet itself, as a result of the blossoming of grassroots musical culture that the internet is fostering.

“Giving away music hurts small artists”
This is an argument the RIAA is fond of putting forward. Sadly, many of my colleagues, many other independent recording artists, believe it. They seem to think that if the major artists are losing sales to the internet, it must be happening to us, too. Either deliberately or through inaction, they don’t put their music up on the web for free download. Fans of theirs, it often seems, respect this and don’t put up the music either (sometimes). I’m convinced this is all born out of confusion, and these artists are shooting themselves in the foot.

What’s good for GM is definitely not what’s good for the guy in Iowa City making electric cars out of his garage. I constantly run into people who assume that I must be losing CD sales and suffering financially as a result of the fact that I put up all of my music on the web for free download. Sometimes they are artists who think I’m something of a scab. Other times they’re fans who appreciate the free music but are concerned for my financial well-being.

Principles aside for the moment, on a purely practical level, the reality is that many independent artists, most definitely including myself, have benefitted from the phenomenon of the free MP3. Like others, the fact that I’m making a living at all at music -- unlike the overwhelming majority of musicians – is largely attributable to the internet, and specifically to free downloads.

It’s not simple, and it’s fairly easy to hypothesize one thing or another and back it up with selective information. But overall, my experience has been that I sold a few thousand CD’s a year before the internet, and have continued to sell a few thousand CD’s a year after the internet. Gig offers and fans in far-off places have multiplied, however, and in so many of these cases it’s clear that they first heard my music on the internet, usually because someone they knew guided them to my website.

Every year, over 100,000 songs are downloaded for free from my website, and many more from many other websites where they are hosted in one form or another. This represents many times what CD sales could possibly have been for me without a major record contract, previous to the internet. My conclusion is that the free download phenomenon behaves more like radio airplay that I never would have had otherwise. And it’s international airplay that has led me to tours in countries around the world and gigs in remote corners of the US that resulted directly from someone telling someone else about songs of mine they could find online for free.

The reality, pop stars aside, is that the overwhelming majority of musicians who are able to make a living from their music make it from performing. For DIY musicians who are not having their tours booked by Sony BMG’s booking agencies, the most valuable resource are fans, especially the ones who are well-organized and enthusiastic enough that they want to organize a gig for us somewhere. Through fans like this, we can cobble together another tour. This process has been helped immensely by the “viral marketing,” the buzz that can happen when music people like is freely available on the web.

I’m sure that there are many people who would have bought my latest CD if they weren’t able to download it for free. Of this there is no doubt. But to think that this is therefore how the free download phenomenon works in general is extremely simplistic. For every person who downloads the songs instead of buying the CD, I’d guess there are 100 who hear the music on the web for the first time, who would probably never have heard it otherwise. For every 100 people who hear the music for free, say one of them will buy a CD to support the artist. For every 1,000, maybe one will organize a paying gig. This may not cause a big rise in CD sales, but ultimately it doesn’t hurt them, either, and what it does for sure is dramatically increase the overall audience of independent artists around the world.

“But people are stealing private property on those P2P networks”
There are many ways to try to compensate artists for original work, scientists for ground-breaking research, inventors for great new inventions, etc. There is no single, sacred way to do this. There are many ways to support art and artists in society and reward them for their work. Paying royalties based on airplay, downloads and/or CD sales is one way among many.

If royalties are going to be a primary way artists are compensated, there are many ways to do this, too. With CD sales, according to the current system, the songwriter gets something like 7 cents per song per CD sold in the stores. With radio airplay, the onus on paying the royalties that may eventually get to some of the artists is on the radio stations, and the radio stations are usually supported by corporate advertisers.

If the RIAA really thought their artists could compete with the rest of the world’s artists on a relatively open playing field, they’d probably be busily trying to create some kind of web-based infrastructure where corporate advertising would pay some kind of royalties for their artists. If this infrastructure existed, people would drift towards it as the path of least resistance, compared to finding music on P2P networks.

The problem is, the RIAA doesn’t control the internet the way they control the commercial radio airwaves, and they know that the musical tastes of the people are broadening, and threatening their pop star system, threatening their profit margins. They can’t keep out the competition, so they’re trying hard to control the environment in a way that’s most beneficial to their corporate interests -- screw everybody else. Screw independent artists and screw the public at large.

I don’t know if anybody can predict these things with certainty, but it seems to me the basic nature of the internet will ultimately triumph over the narrow interests of the music industry. The music industry will not cease to exist by any means, but it will shrink somewhat, and will have to give way to the flourishing grassroots music scene which the internet has nurtured.

It seems to me that the most relevant question in terms of the efforts of the RIAA is, at what cost to society at large? How far will they go to maintain this broken system, to maintain the inequities of their star-making machinery?

And another crucial question: why should a system be allowed to continue that massively rewards a few artists for their “original” records full of “original” songs, while leaving destitute the masses of musicians and others who created the cultural seas in which these “original” artists swim?

Musicians, as a whole, represent some of the richest people in the society and many of the poorest. The music industry’s system, in conceptual terms and in practical terms, is broken. It represents the interests of the monopolies against the interests of the rest of the world’s people, cultures, musical traditions and musical innovations.

To my fellow musicians I say put all your music up for free download, help your careers and screw the music industry. To music fans I say keep on downloading, don’t feel bad about it -- and try not to get caught.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Thoughts on Columbus Day

by Jim Polk

It is my understanding that holidays, at least ideally, are intended for thoughful consideration of our national and community life, and reflection on both who we are and hope to be as a people. In this context, I have for several years used part of my holidays writing essays along these lines. Having done so on both public and religious holidays, I have come to believe it is both the patriot's and prophet's responsibility to challenge the people to fulfill our highest calling in bringing health, wholeness, and what was once called holiness- but now perhaps more commonly denominated as sacredness- to the earth.

In any case, it remains true that that which is sacred became sacred to a significant degree because of sacrifice. The words sacred and sacrifice are integral, mutually interlocked and mutually sustaining.

Today, when only soldiers and their families are called on to sacrifice, and are expected to do so privately, out of public view, with little common public awareness and less recognition, the effect of that privacy is not merely private. The resulting challenge to prophet and patriot alike is immense. Private sacrifice means only private sacredness, and the shared-in-common sense of the sacredness of our life together is depleted, endangered. (Going shopping to support the nation, I would note if it is worth the effort, hardly qualifies as sacrificial giving, though shopping seems the highest public ideal some of our current politicians are willing to invoke.)

Therefore, I grow more concerned about how we in America seem to be answering the question of who we are as a people (and still more so because of how few people seem to even be asking the question). Not only our sense of what is sacred, but the reality of our abundance, and therefore our capacity for giving, has been fiercely, terribly depleted.
The earth and her people, far from being healed, seems much more blistered and broken now than before tens of thousand of lives and inestimable treasures were thrown into the fires of war.

Borrowing the title of an old book that was on the shelves of my childhood home, I hope we will find our way very soon to open channels for "Streams in the Desert", to seek out and reopen lost springs of restorative justice, human care and kindness.

Such streams are needed not only in the Middle East, but within the Americas, in our homelands. "Homeland Security" for all the effort seems at best a very constraining answer to concerns for security of the homes and lands of the Americas. In this context, here is an essay for this Columbus Day which I believe to be relevant to the occasion. If I have sent this to you previously, please excuse... Nevertheless, from my perspective I believe that the hazard of leaving these things unsaid is far greater than that of saying them twice.

Finally, I hope you will forward this to others who might share this hope and might pledge their allegiance to efforts to release and restore "Streams in the Desert"- that justice might flow down like mighty waters...

Jim Polk