Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Remembering Gwynelle Dismukes

by Rev. Sizwe Herring

Gwynelle C. Dismukes "won" her battle with renal disease on October 3rd in Flat Rock, NC. She did leave behind a rich legacy of publishing and writing books on family, community empowerment and her latest "Black 2 The Future" is creatively penned like a channeled science fiction piece. It also features writings (Marie Douglas), poetry (Adora Dupree), and an interview with Roy "Futureman" Wooten on the Black Mozart and the simultaneous nature of time.

She was a sought after performance poet and workshop leader on many subjects including African centered spirituality, peace education, sustainability, conflict resolution and Kwanzaa. She leaves behind two children, Chaing-tu Emmanuel and Alpha Aminata and hundreds of extended family members around the world.

She published two newspapers, Brite Moments and the MultiCultural Resource Guide. Present at practically all community events that uplifted our global communities including Juneteenth, African Street Festivals, Peace Marches and was one of the founders of the Hadley Park Concert Series. She was devoted to cultivating "Dao" in her everyday life and culture. Gwynelle was a founding curator at the (now defunct) Sankofa African Heritage Museum in Nashville and had a wide array of fun, exciting jobs including management of Reggae Sunsplash concerts in the islands. Here, she met and fell on love with the famous Alpha Blondy, reggae superstar. She lived in Washington DC for many years. More recently she founded a successful local "susu" and performance troupe called "Women To The Nth Power" with notable writer/performers Sela "Serenity" Pearson and Thandiwe Shiprah.

Gwynelle faithfully served on many community non-profit boards including the Farm, MediationWorks!, Center for Peace Education, and was heavily responsible for the successful history of EarthMatters Tennessee and the George W. Carver Food Park. One of her favorite Carver quotes is "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." In 2008 she appeared on a panel at the Belcourt Theatre after a screening of the Secret Life of Plants and taught the audience how to successfully communicate with their plants and the natural world.

In an apparent preparation for her passing, she moved to Asheville, NC, not far from where she was born in 1952. She frequented Mt. Zion Baptist Church to be "with my people" and continued participation with the largest Dao Temple in the United States in Fletcher, NC. Her apartment nestled atop her literal "Crystal Mountain" with a stupendous view and lovingly hand fed families of chipmunks and birds. Her 17 year old dog, Coco, was her constant companion, always keeping things lively.

A Memorial Service, co-officiated by Rev. Maryellen Bowen and Rev. Sizwe Herring, will be held on October 23rd at 3 pm at The Farm cemetery in Summertown, TN where she lived with her family for 10 years. A Life Celebration Benefit will happen from 1:55 pm - 5:55 pm at the George W. Carver Food Park and Garden where she served on the leadership team for many years. The Park, located at 1001 Gale Lane, will host a celebration that will uplift her work through remembrances, art, music, reiki, alternative healing, massages as well as a planting of trees in her memory.

Cards and support can be sent to: 1814 Lillian St. Nashville, TN 37206, c/o Sizwe Herring to her Family and Legacy Fund, Brite Spirits. Some of the essays, remembrances, photos and clippings will be featured on Gwyn's web site:

Behind the Economic Fallout

Behind the Economic Fallout
by Richard Aberdeen

There was a program on PBS Frontline last night about someone during the Clinton administration named Born who warned Geitner, Sumner, Greenspan and the rest that the economy would fail due to large banking firms starting to go under because of the de-regulated derivative market and they dismissed her, ridiculed her along with several senators in complicity including Phil Graham, one of the worst and, eventually silenced her completely by getting rid of her non-partisan government watchdog agency, which Geitner, Sumner and Greenspan insisted on and only Congress could approve. At the time, she stated before congress on film that the people's money was in endanger and she was trying to protect it against Greenspan's program of deregulation.

Two of the main cronies involved were Larry Sumner and Geitner, who now advise Obama on economic policies. They along with Greenspan, who unlike them, publicly admitted he had been wrong all along, are in large part responsible for our current economic mess as far as government complicity is concerned. Both Clinton's and Reagan's administrations severely destroyed the economy by engaging in massive de-regulation of the banking industry and Junior Bush only continued what Reagan and Clinton had already been doing; Clinton's administration was probably the most economically corruptive of the three. Only in the U.S, do people who screw up the worst get appointed to advise the next president in line.

Obama reminds me very much of President Grant during the first Gilded Age, a well-meaning president with much popular support and public goodwill behind him due to his Civil War status (which is eerily similar to Obama's status as being the first African-American president). Grant chose some of the worst cabinet members and other advisors in American history and as a result, his presidency remains one of the worst failures in U.S. history, even though he himself apparently meant well and was not corrupt.

According to Born and others interviewed who were involved, Obama's economic advisors are doing nothing to fix the banking de-regulation problem that got us into this mess and our country will continue to experience severe economic recessions leading to depressions down the road, given the current direction that Geitner and Sumner are leading Obama now. Grant's advisors took advantage of Grant's Civil War reputation and public goodwill to wreak havoc on our economy by engaging in all manner of political cronie backroom deals with major wealth interests. Already, crooked banking practices have only shifted into the life insurance market, where they are playing economic charades with life insurance policies similar to what they did with mortgages that caused the current crises. What they are doing now might cause the insurance industry to go under and thus need a giant taxpayer bailout. This might be an even worse economic fallout than the recent bank collapse, because our economy is tied heavily into the life, auto, medical, home and other insurance industry, which are all tied in together (i.e., large insurance companies like Hartford have their fingers in most if not all of the insurance pies).

People who care about our future need to get off the Obama rock-star bandwagon, watch PBS instead of the mainstream networks for their information and start looking at the economic and other hard reality facts, such as the boondoggle coming out of Congress now pretending to be health care "reform".

The Democrats have managed to "trim" a few billion more off an already incredibly bad piece of legislation. What this will ultimately do as far as I can tell is, it will help the very poor because the government will pay for their health care, but it will economically squeeze the middle class and working class by forcing them to pay for health insurance or pay higher co-payments through their employer-based coverage and, the cost for health care will continue to rise dramatically, thus putting the economic squeeze on the majority of Americans and small business and as a result, significantly hurt the economy. Plus, the health insurance industry will continue to suck Medicare and Social Security down the economic sewer into oblivion over time. The new plan also apparently will significantly hurt states coffers by placing a significant economic burden on state Medicaid coffers. This, in the midst of a growing economic funding crises in large states like California.

That is what happens when a president and the party in power gives in to corporate lobby pressure, instead of having the political balls to stand up for what would really help the American people.

Obama's presidency so far, is a mirror-image of Grant on the home front; Grant also engaged in massive public works projects (trans-continental railroad project, which was riddled with massive corruption). And, it is a mirror-image of Lyndon Johnson on the international front, where Obama is leading the U.S. more and more into a military quagmire with no hope of success. The recent election fraud in Afghanistan should be a giant red flag to anybody that we are accomplishing nothing in Afghanistan and instead, Obama appears to be getting ready to increase troop levels and is only stalling because of the health care boondoggle currently front and center on the political radar.

There was again another Afghanistan expert on Bill Moyers again this week, drawing the same conclusions of the many other experts on Moyers over the past year, that the U.S. is in a political quagmire in Afghanistan that is only getting worse and will continue to fail. One expert said recently that it would take 500,000 or more troops and even then, the U.S. effort would probably fail. Which is what happened under Johnson, who eventually along with Nixon, sent in well over 500,000 troops into a situation that only got worse and worse and worse over time and eventually, causing the massive economic fallout recession under President Carter.

Richard Aberdeen
Freedom Tracks Records
615-889-1669 - 800-992-8084

CJ Sellers: the Panopticon In Action

An Activist Reaction to the Panopticon In Action
by CJ Sellers

First off, you may ask, what the hell is a "Panopticon"? Granted, it's a new word to many but it's far from a new idea. If you've read the dystopian novel 1984 or watched the ABC TV series "Lost" , you've understood it in a work of fiction where it induced fear, paranoia, and savage disloyalty to one's fellow man when used in a society.

A Panopticon is a method of containment and control that requires minimal effort or enforcement. Its origins are, of course, found in the prison system. To quote from Wikipedia: "The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience.'

Bentham himself described the Panopticon as 'a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.'"

Well, that seems alright in a prison system if it results in less violence, right? But what if something like it being used outside of the prison system right now? Are we complicit guards in a Panopticon where we are the prisoners?

The paranoid climate of a Panopticon breaks down the will to resist. I was reminded of this when I recently read "The Willie Lynch Letter" circulated during the time of slave trade.

An excerpt about how to maintain order amongst the slaves (and this is not the worst of it): "Let us make a slave. What do we need? First of all, we need a black nigger man, a pregnant nigger woman and her baby nigger boy. Second, we will use the same basic principle that we use in breaking a horse, combined with some more sustaining factors. What we do with horses is that we break them from one form of life to another; that is, we reduce them from their natural state in nature. Whereas nature provides them with the natural capacity to take care of their offspring, we break that natural string of independence from them and thereby create a dependency status, so that we may be able to get from them useful production for our business and pleasure."

And I saw this video about the beginning of "white supremacy" where one man was turned on another for the flimsiest of reasons but for great profit (for the wealthy, slave-owning minority):

I'm not asserting that the presentation in the above video is entirely factual, I have not researched its claims but it was thought-provoking. Knowing about the Panopticon, I can see how these situations are similar in some ways, how these methods--minor infractions to gross injustices-- work their way into our lives, insinuate themselves into our hearts and minds and dupe us into unwitting complicity as our liberties are taken from us one by one until we are successfully enslaved. We do it to each other and we do it to ourselves when we stop questioning, when we stop following the money, asking who has something to gain from this violence, or if it is just. (Whenever I am uncertain what is just, I apply the "Golden Rule".) Where there's violence and cruelty, there's almost always a racket somewhere in the picture, behind the scenes or right out in the open, we may be just too far gone to see it.

And I get now to a recent incident that inspired me to write this note. It may seem like a minor incident or maybe a minor complaint that I have, that's up to you. For me, it sets off red flags. I was reading about the use of social media to organize dissent at the 2009 G20 Summits:

Before the event and protest in London in April 2009, people were warned by the media that their online actions were being observed by law enforcement:
"Officers have been monitoring social networking sites, including Facebook, to try to stay one step ahead of the [G20] protesters as part of the crackdown, dubbed Operation Glencoe."

And here, after the Pittsburg, Pennsylvania G20 protest, a cautionary tale not to use social media to organize dissent:
"Watch what you tweet"

Good article but after I read it, I was incensed. Did you get mad or is that just me? I wasn't just mad at the FBI for their response, I was also annoyed at the writer for choosing a title that starts out "Careful..." Although these writers were probably well-intentioned or simply capitalizing on sensational news items, these cautionary articles reinforce the Panopticon by discouraging citizens from using efficient social media technology to organize their protests (for fear Big Brother may be watching). Especially the second one since the article advertises that the consequence of dissent may be an extremist response by law enforcement. The gist of the article is not, "Everyone get mad and do something about this abuse of authority". It's mostly informative but it does take a bias and the gist is a rather timid response with a mild call to the censors to disperse. Maybe they'll make a note of that and get back to the writer on it but I doubt it. It's written for an audience of activists and would-be activists. The effective result could do more than discourage citizens from using this technology to organize. More subtly, it may induce fear so that the unintended effect is a decrease in active dissent. This single event is not a direct threat by law enforcement to any of us. But as a result of such cautionary tales, a single incident where the police over-reacted may convince an inordinate number of people to pre-emptively self-police because they fear the police, so they may change their behavior and censor/stop themselves from using these convenient methods toward the end-goal of positive social change. Was that really the intent of the writer? I doubt it. But I have seen how these things can just take off and get out-of-hand. Fear is like a contagion. Reading this article, I instinctively want to wash my hands of it. And so I wrote this note to purge myself of all these dark thoughts, these misgivings. They converge in my mind and I feel a need to lay it all out, look it over, analyze, get some feedback... so comments are most welcome.

My personal opinion on this is: we writers, bloggers, talkers, parents, siblings, lovers, and friends, we conspirators toward a better world... "We the People" should be careful to avoid accidentally acting as Uncle Toms for our keepers when the result is a reinforcement of an unhealthy status quo. We should not listen to the well-intentioned advice to not use the Internet to organize dissent. The Internet has proven to be a powerful and effective tool for organizing! Whatever means we citizens have at our disposal for peaceful assembly, it is our right to use them. We are law-abiding adults, equal to our protectors by law and by our common humanity and if the law is being twisted and used against us, we must demand our liberties be restored to the letter of the law. And if unjust laws are made or exist, we have to fight them. Dissent is a vital part of our social and cultural evolution and an integral part of positive social reform but we see how it all but faded away when we needed it most (after the announcement of an illegal decades-long campaign for pre-emptive warfare targeted at a nation that never attacked us, which was clearly in violation of international law). The fear instilled in us by the politicians in league with the media after 9/11 resulted in a Panopticon where we were quite suddenly, and with little cause or provocation, afraid to say or do the wrong thing for fear we'd be labeled traitors or terrorists, or (gasp!) unpatriotic... and then the PATRIOT Act and other power grabs... and we were told that they may be reading our emails and our online posts... How about Bush's presidential order giving himself the right to seize the assets of any war protesters as he saw fit? (Do you see this resonating in the present although that was overturned?) We were made then to feel afraid to protest an unlawful war, a war that at that time wasn't even by definition, a "war", it was a "preemptive military incursion" into foreign territory, followed by an "occupation". As our politicians called for bravery and patriotism (to fight for murderous oil profiteering), we were told to be silent. And silence ruled the day. I can hardly believe it even now. I was there, I lived through it, but I am still as dismayed now as ever. And now I know how the German citizenry must have felt under the Nazi regime. They were victims too just as we were. Victims of a Panopticon of our own creation.

Bottom line, what the rich people want, or their corporations covet, what particular politicians or political parties push, are not always in the interest of public good and we citizens must have the cojones to say so publicly, at all cost. We must continuously remind and assure one another that peaceful protest is right and good for this country, even when wrong or misguided, we still have the right to join hands and stand together and loudly let the powers that be know what our position is. That we peacefully but loudly demand action and positive change is brave and it is patriotic. Those that peacefully but loudly take to the streets when our country needs them are the ones that care and we should applaud them, our eyes should fill with tears, and our hearts with gratitude as some do to see brave soldiers marching off to fight a JUST war. Those that peacefully but quietly sit at their televisions, hiding behind closed doors, or at their computers where they self-monitor their every communication as this country's state of affairs devolves around them, these law-abiding citizens are not patriotic, at this call to public service they are cowards and/or incompetents. But those that are of sound mind, able-bodied and give a damn know there's more at stake than a seized computer or a week from the job or even the job itself. They are the yippies of yore and now our G20 protesters, war protesters, and teabaggers. They are patriots. They're regular people who took that extra effort to make a difference in the world and you and I should thank them and stand by their side when their rights are violated whether we agree with their opinions or not. I wouldn't go to a G20 protest but I'm pretty mad about that social worker from New York City being targeted, aren't you?

But don't get me wrong. Even though that has happened, I don't blame the officers involved because they are obedient. When it comes to their job, obedience rather than stalling and questioning, I can see how that would be effective, if their leaders are wise and just. I have heard a lot of negativity towards the police lately. Too much and I think it's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, not well-thought-out. The critics may be coming from a different experience than me but I know first hand, not all police will do the wrong thing like we witnessed here in this article. MOST police will do the right thing and I personally believe that we can trust them to do the right thing because they are not some nameless, faceless entity, they are our neighbors and friends who care, as we do, and they will listen to reason because they are as reasonable as you or I. Whereas some will tell you to fear their response, I am telling you, don't fear the police when you know you are doing the right thing and you know you are within your rights. Know or have faith that if a misunderstanding occurs or someone goes too far, that the truth will come out and justice will be served because we have your back, we will be watching and we will demand it. We can create a Panopticon of faith in one another and faith in our willingness to do the right thing. Those that villainize our public servants ought to stop and think about the effect of their words. The soul of our nation is being cowed by who... the police? By the politicians? By the thugs and criminals? No, every step of the way, it's been us well-intentioned folks giving in, letting our hearts break, our spirits weaken, we have faltered and let fear rule the day. When I see an embrace of paranoia or scapegoating on either side, aimed at public servant or private citizen, I take offense and I won't tolerate it, I'm gonna say something and the bigger the offense, the more loudly I will say it. How about you?

Good articles, writers, but respectfully, be careful what you tweet? TWEET ON THIS! <=3

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TADP Abolition Update

TADP and Rhodes College present: Voices on the Death Penalty: A Dialogue from the Front Lines

Thursday, October 22, 2009, at Rhodes College, Blount Auditorium in Buckman Hall

6:30 Reception with a 7:00 Panel discussion featuring Ron McAndrew, former Florida prison warden; Kathy Kent, sister of a federal agent killed in the Oklahoma City bombing; Paul and Joyce House, Tennessee death row exoneree and his mother who is a TADP board member; Reverend Stacy Rector, Director of TADP and spiritual advisor to Steve Henley, the last man executed in Tennessee.

Please join us to hear from people who have experienced the death penalty in very personal ways and who believe that the capital punishment system is a public policy failure.


Save the Date: TADP and Amnesty International Student Conference on the Death Penalty, February 6, 2010, at MTSU

The 2010 Student Conference on the Death Penalty will be held at Middle Tennessee State University on Saturday, February 6 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. This conference provides an opportunity to learn about the death penalty system and how to effect change. High school and college students are invited to attend this free conference which will include national speakers and organizers, as well as Tennessee activists. If you would like to bring guests (such as parents or professors), you are welcome to do so. This year's keynote speaker will be Diann Rust-Tierney, an expert in the movement to eliminate the death penalty in the U.S. As the director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Ms. Rust-Tierney manages and directs the program for the national organization and 100 affiliates seeking to change public policy on the death penalty. Ms. Rust-Tierney holds a JD from the University Of Maryland School Of Law and a BA from the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio. Lunch and free t-shirts are provided.

For more information, contact Diana Stapp, volunteer organizer, at 615-256-3906 or by email.

On-line registration will soon be available on the TADP website.


National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Annual Conference

Kentucky is famous for its bluegrass music, the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger baseball bats, and as the birthplace of heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.

The conference theme, Training for the Long Run -- Building Bridges to Wider Audiences, reflects an effort to broaden the base of support for ending capital punishment. The conference will explore this theme through speeches from internationally renowned figures in the areas of religion, civil rights and civil liberties, including: Sister Helen Prejean, Sisters of St.Joseph of Carondelet; Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Dr. Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. (invited) and the staff of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School; and Professor Howard Zehr, Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, Eastern Mennonite University. A Praise and Healing Ceremony with Terence Cozad Taylor of the Interfaith Paths to Peace Center, and other Louisville leaders will conclude the conference.

The crown jewel of the NCADP conference is the annual awards dinner, held to recognize the successes of noteworthy leaders in the field. Each year, hundreds gather to celebrate those who have been at the vanguard of the important and necessary movement to abolish capital punishment. During the 2010 dinner, NCADP will honor two Kentucky leaders. Carl Wedekind, member of the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty’s Board of Directors, will be presented with the Special Recognition Award, and the Kentucky Office of Public Advocacy, represented by Edward Monahan, will be presented with the Legal Service Award. Other award recipients will include: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and New Mexico Representative Gail Chasey, Abolitionists of the Year; New Mexico Coalition to Repeal the Death Penalty, Lighting the Torch of Conscience Award winners; Anthony Amsterdam, New York University Professor of Law; Lifetime Achievement Award winner; and country music artist Steve Earle, who will be presented with the Shining Star of Abolition Award.

The advance conference registration fee (prior to Nov. 20) is $175 and $100 for students and seniors. Special rates are available for NCADP Affiliates (such as TADP) who register 8 or more individuals together. If you are interested in attending this powerful conference with other TADP participants, please contact Stacy Rector by November 20 in order to participate in a group registration with TADP. Call Stacy at 615-256-3906 or email her. If you need to register after that date, you can register through Janury 15, 2010 at the NCADP website.

Clarksville Chapter Meeting, Tuesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m.

TADP celebrated the creation of a Clarksville chapter last year and will be gathering with that chapter on Tuesday, October 27 at the Wesley House (510 College Street, Clarksville) at 6:30. Come join other TADP supporters in Clarksville to learn more about what is happening in the work of abolition and how you can get involved. Contact volunteer organizer Diana Stapp with questions at 615-256-3906 or by email.

Name Change Update

On October 6th, TCASK members gathered in Nashville and voted to change TCASK's name to Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (TADP) as well as to update the organization's charter. Currently, the state office is in the process of submitting all the necessary legal documents, updating the website and print materials, and making all the other changes, both big and small, that accompany such a decision. We ask for your patience through this process. Our hope is that by January 2010, we will be fully transitioned to the name TADP. Thank you for your patience and support.

"The death penalty is a public policy that fails victims, the accused, and our core constitutional value of fairness. The best solution is to use alternatives and simply abolish the death penalty."

PO Box 120552
Nashville, TN 37212
United States

Tennessee Transgender News

TTPC President to be Honored at Nashville Black Pride

The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition is proud that our President, Dr. Marisa Richmond, is one of the honorees at this weekend's Nashville Black Pride. She will be receiving the Community Award during the BASU Legacy Award ceremony this Friday, October 23. The other award recipients are:

Organization: Nashville CARES
Business: OutLoud Books & Gifts (Ted Jensen & Kevin Melody, owners)
Media: Linda Welch (Inside OUT© Nashville & XENOGENY©)
Visual Arts: Bobby Jones (Son of Ellis)
Individual: Jim Hawk
Group/Entertainment: MAC Productions

The 2009 BASU Legacy Award recipients will be honored during the Nashville Black Pride© opening ceremony on Friday, October 23, at 7 PM at the Hotel Preston, 733 Briley Parkway, Nashville, TN 37217. The gathering is free and open to the public and is the official kick off of the Nashville Black Pride© theme “YEAR OF CHANGE”. We congratluate all of this year's honorees.

For more information on Nashville Black Pride #7, Year of Change, contact:

Web Site:
You Tube:

TTPC Fifth Annual Dinner

We wish to thank all who came out and supported TTPC at our recent annual fundraising dinner in Nashville. We especially wish to acknowledge our Keynote Speaker, State Representative Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis).

Representative Jeanne Richardson delivering her Keynote Address during TTPC Dinner

Her colleague, State Representative Mike Stewart (D-Nashville), also attended the event to show his commitment to the transgender community of Tennessee. We greatly appreciate his support.

We would also like to thank Stirrup Nashville for being a sponsor of TTPC.
Stirrup Nashville 615-782-0043
1529 4th Ave. South; Nashville, TN 37210

Federal Hate Crimes Bill

We are still waiting on the Senate vote on the Conference Committee report on the Defense Authorization bill, which includes language making hate crimes based on sexual orienation or gender identity a federal crime. It was accepted in the House of Representatives by a vote on 281 to 146.

The Senate vote on the Conference Committee report is expected sometime this week, either Wednesday or Thursday. When the Senate voted earlier this year to add Hate Crimes to the Defense bill, both of Tennessee's Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, were noticeably absent for the vote.

Employment Non Discrimination Act

The fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R.3017, which would protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, is headed to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives sometime this fall. The bill, which enjoys bi-partisan support in Congress, would add sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to existing federal employment non-discrimination laws.

At the present time, Representatives Stephen Cohen and Jim Cooper are among the original sponsors of the bill filed in the House of Representatives.

We urge all Tennesseans to thank Representatives Cohen and Cooper for their support.

The remaining members of the Tennessee delegation in the House who you should contact and ask to vote to end discrimination in the workplace are:

Phil Roe, M.D.
John Duncan, Jr.
Zach Wamp, candidate for Governor of Tennessee
Lincoln Davis
Bart Gordon
Marsha Blackburn
John Tanner

We also urge all Tennesseans to contact Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and ask them to support the Senate version of ENDA, S.1584, to end discrimination in the workplace against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in this country.

For help contacting Members of Congress, check out:

The Task Force ENDA Grassroots Toolkit
National Center for Transgender Equality’s Making Your Voice Heard

PFLAG’s Bringing the Message Home

Let us know!

Please let us know what your Senators and Representatives tell you about their support of ENDA using our Lobby Report Form

For more information about the United ENDA Coalition and additional available resources, go to

Upcoming Elections

We also encourage Tennesseans to support the other elections in November across the nation focused on the lives of LGBT people:

One Kalamazoo
Last year, Kalamazoo, Michigan passed a fully inclusive, non-discrimination ordinance that some people want to take away. Opponents of equality are using mean-spirited, anti-transgender tactics in their attempt to overrule the fair people of Kalamazoo who stand with us.

The good news is, we can win this fight. Local community leaders have banded together and formed a strong campaign to defeat the bigotry and preserve their town's values. They are advised by an incredibly talented campaign manager, Jon Hoadley, and bolstered by scores of hard-working volunteers who are going door-to-door, and talking with their neighbors.

Unfortunately, their opposition is bringing in outside resources and so OneKalamazoo needs our help now. You can support the One Kalamazoo Campaign by giving here.

Protect Marriage Equality in Maine

With the vote on marriage equality a month away, Maine Equality and the No on 1 Campaign have been working around the clock to raise enough money to keep their ads on the air and on Get-Out-The-Vote efforts, since the vote is expected to be very close. You can help on both fronts by (1) making a donation to the No on 1 Campaign and (2) Taking a "Volunteer Vacation" in Maine to work on and contribute to the success of this extremely important campaign.

Approve Referendum 71 in Washington State

Voters in Washington State will go to the polls to either approve or deny domestic partnership (DP) benefits for more than 12,000 registered domestic partners. The race is still too close to call. Equal Rights Washington is leading a broad-based coalition, Washington Families Standing Together, to get a yes vote on Referendum 71. Equality Federation sent an action alert to its supporters and member state equality groups throughout the country, so each group could then forward the alert to its members and supporters, urging them to support the Approve 71 campaign. A loss of DP benefits would be a huge setback for Washington's families. Please visit the Approve 71 campaign's website and lend your support!

There are also statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia along with numerous local elections featuring out LGBT candidates.

And Please Save These Other Dates!

Saturday, October 31, 11am to 1pm CST
Letter Writing Campaign for Equal Rights
Caritas Village

Monday, November 16, 7 pm CST
Transgender Day of Remembrance
Sarratt Cinema
Vanderbilt University
co-sponsored by Vanderbilt's Office of LGBTQI Life and the Tennessee Vals
More ceremonies will be held across the state and we will list them as we learn more details.

Saturday, January 23, 2010, 6 pm CST
TTPC Winter Membership Meeting
contact us for details

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
P.O. Box 92335
Nashville, TN 37209
(615)353-1834 fax

Occupation War Deaths: October 10th-17th

In Afghanistan were killed:

Sgt Johann Hivin-Gerard 29 France
Sgt Aaron Taylor 27 Bovey MN
Pvt Radoslaw Szyszkiewicz 22 Poland
Pvt Szymon Graczyk 23 Poland
Spc George Cauley 24 Walker MN
Cpl Alfonso Ochoa 20 Armona CA
Pvt Brandon Styer 19 Lancaster PA
Spc Daniel Lawson 33 Deerfield Beach FL
Spc Jesus Flores 28 La Mirada CA
Sgt Glen Stivison 34 Blairsville PA
Cpl Rosario Ponsiano 25 Italy
Sgt Chris Staats 32 Fredericksburg TX
Spc Anthony Green 28 Matthews NC
Sgt Christopher Rudzinski 28 Rantoul IL
Spc Michael Dahl Jr 23 Moreno Valley CA

130 Afghanis and Pakistanis were killed.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Stop Nuclear Dumping in Tennessee

In California, lawmakers secretly talk about the “Tennessee Loophole” which allows nuclear waste to be dumped in ordinary Tennessee landfills. Unbelievable? Unfortunately, it’s a sad fact and it is done through a process known as Bulk Survey for Release (Click Here for Video). BSFR begins by reclassifying nuclear waste and ends by dumping this radioactive material in Tennessee landfills that are not regulated, controlled or designed for radioactivity. It’s like dumping Drano in a child’s toy box!

However, unlike a John Grisham novel, everything being done is being done legally and with the support of our elected officials. In fact, our state government is profiting from it! Our state has a responsibility to mandate nuclear waste be disposed of in facilities designed to safely isolate nuclear waste while protecting our beautiful state.

During the 2009 legislative session, Senator Marrero introduced Senate Bill 687 aimed at ending the process of Bulk Survey for Release. SB687 was assigned to the Senate Committee on Environment, Conservation and Tourism. While SB687 seeks to protect the health and safety of our families, it never even received a hearing--much less a vote!

Families for a Clean Tennessee needs your help to ensure this critical piece of legislation is passed next year.

for more information visit Families for a Clean Tennessee

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nashville to Host UN Ambassador

Ambassador Thomas Miller's visit on November 9th at Belmont University. There is to be a dinner followed by his talk on: “The Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Challenges and the Role of the United Nations: A Practitioner's Perspective" Ambassador Miller is CEO and President of the United Nations Association-USA. Ambassador Miller devoted 29 years to the US Foreign Service, working on policy issues in the Balkans, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. During his career, he served as Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina (1999-2000) and to Greece (2001-2004) as well as negotiator for Cyprus. Most recently, Ambassador Miller was the Chief Executive of Plan International, a $650 million international agency that focuses on improving children's lives in developing countries. He has also taught university courses on international relations and diplomacy. In May 2009, Ambassador Miller was appointed CEO and President of the United Nations Association-USA. He resides with his family in Washington, D.C. For more info please send an email to

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Disarm Now

Disarm Now! Mobilizing Call for the 2010 NPT Review Conference

Today our world is facing crises on an unprecedented scale - global warming, poverty, war, hunger, and disease. They threaten the very future of life as we know it, and on a daily basis bring death, sorrow and suffering to the majority of people on our planet. Yet these problems are almost entirely the results of human action and they can be equally be resolved by human action. We have an unprecedented opportunity to create the political will to manage the riches and natural bounty of our world in such a way as to meet the needs of all peoples, and to enable us to live together in peace and justice

Such is the desire of the overwhelming majority of peoples, yet we face a situation today where global military spending - money for killing - has now reached a total of $1.46 trillion in 2008. Furthermore, nine countries maintain arsenals of nuclear weapons - all together, over 23,000 warheads. These uniquely destructive weapons can not only destroy life on our planet many times over, but they are also used as political weapons of terror, reinforcing an unjustifiable global inequality. The eradication of these weapons will not only end the threat of global annihilation and this hierarchy of terror, but it will unlock enormous resources to address climate change and mass poverty, serve as the leading edge of the global trend towards demilitarisation, and make advances in other areas of human aspiration possible.

In spite of treaty obligations and international resolutions and rulings over the decades since the criminal atomic bombings of Japan by the United States in 1945, the nuclear weapons states have failed to eliminate their nuclear arms. Their continued possession of these weapons, together with modernisation of systems and increasingly aggressive nuclear use policies in recent years, have contributed to an increasing tendency towards their proliferation - and a greater likelihood of nuclear war.

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires both non-proliferation and disarmament, and must be supported and strengthened - yet it lacks a concrete process for achieving these essential goals. Furthermore, there are grave problems with its Article IV. This guarantees the right to peaceful nuclear energy but overlooks the inextricable link between nuclear power and weapons technologies and their health and environmental costs.

The newly-launched International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) provides an opportunity to phase out nuclear power, superseding the Article IV guarantee. This said, the NPT continues to provide the framework for advancing towards an essential new initiative - a timetable for the elimination of nuclear weapons so urgently sought by the global majority.

The NPT Review Conference in May 2010 presents a precious opportunity to take that initiative. It is an opportunity that must on no account be missed. After the spiralling aggression of the Bush era, the Obama presidency provides a new context for our campaigning. President Obama's commitment - alongside that of President Medvedev of Russia - to global abolition of nuclear weapons is greatly welcomed, and their first steps towards bilateral reductions and support for treaties restricting nuclear developments are positive. However, the goal of global abolition cannot be postponed into the indefinite future, for only a defined, achievable and timetabled process can halt the proliferation that threatens us all.

To this end, to secure a future for humanity and our planet, to help create the conditions for a world of peace, justice and genuine human security, we urge the 2010 NPT Review Conference to make an unambiguous commitment to begin negotiations on a convention for the time-bound elimination of all nuclear weapons - a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Such a step will not happen without the active encouragement of civil society, giving voice to the yearning of the global majority for a world free from the fear of nuclear annihilation. We urge all those who share this vision to join us in mobilising for the international peace conference in New York on May 1st and the International Day of Action for a Nuclear Free World, in New York and globally, on May 2nd, as well as for the presentation of petition signatures to the NPT Review Conference.

First Signatories:

International Organizations

Abolition 2000 Global Council
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Europe
International Association of Peace Messenger Cities
International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility
International Peace Bureau
Pax Christi International
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

National Organizations

American Friends Service Committee, USA
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, UK
CODEPINK Women for Peace, USA
Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft - Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen, Germany
Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies, Israel
Gensuikyo, Japan
International Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, German Section
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, German Section
Mouvement de la Paix, France
Naturwissenschaftlerinitiative Verantwortung für Frieden und Zukunftsfähigkeit, Germany
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, USA
Peace Action, USA
Peace Women Partners Asia-Pacific, Philippines
STOP the War Coalition, Philippine Section
Swedish Peace Committee, Sweden
Swedish Peace Council, Sweden
The Coalition for a ME Free of Nuclear Weapons, Israel
United for Peace and Justice, USA
U.S. Peace Council, USA
Vredesactie - Bomspotting, Belgium
Western States Legal Foundation, USA
Cambridge / Berlin, 29th of September 2009

To sign onto the call, please send an E-mail to

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ending a Failed US Military Policy

Nashville Peace Coalition to Mark 8th Anniversary of War in Afghanistan with Vigil & Popular Education Panel

October 7th, 2009 marks the eighth anniversary of the current occupation of Afghanistan. At a time when President Obama is increasing the troops in Afghanistan and escalating the war, people of conscience are organizing to resist the war and educate the public on the real issues which are driving US military policy in the middle east. In concert with hundreds of educational events and vigils happening around the about the current wars in the Middle East, the Nashville Peace Coalition is hosting a vigil and a popular education panel on Wednesday, October 7th. The vigil marking the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan will take place on West End Avenue & 25th in front of Centennial Park from 4pm - 5:30pm followed by an educational panel at the Friends Meeting House, 530 26th Ave N, in Nashville from 6pm - 8pm. The panel will address current US occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as military incursions into Pakistan. Panelists will include Dr Amir Arain - a native of Pakistan and Outreach Director of the Islamic Center of Nashville, John Miglietta - Professor of Political Science at Tennessee State University and policy specialist on Iran, Iraq & Afghanistan, Jane Hussain - Author and Educator with current family members serving overseas in the Middle East, Elizabeth Barger, Organizer of Code Pink Tennessee presenting on US Drone Plane attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Joey King, former Army Ranger and organizer with Veterans for Peace in Nashville speaking on the current war in Afghanistan.

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, many in the US initially supported the war in Afghanistan because they believed that it would reduce the threat of another attack on US soil, and that it would enable the US to bring to justice Osama bin Laden and others responsible for the attacks. Once the Taliban fell, the war was touted as a success. However, while public attention shifted to the war in Iraq, the conflict in Afghanistan entered a new phase of violence and decay.

President Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change and with hopes for diplomacy instead of war. As the war in Iraq winds down, more troops have been sent to Afghanistan. Some in the Pentagon are calling for more. Now, 54% of the people believe the Afghanistan war is a mistake. The peace movement is challenged to organize into a movement to end the war in Afghanistan as one of the big steps towards addressing the crisis in our communities. Our best interests and the interests of the Afghanistan people lie in the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces. With every bomb dropped and every civilian and military death, we are no closer to helping the Afghan people and the region to grapple with their problems. In fact, the U.S. presence is the biggest obstacle to doing so.

Today, as calls grow louder for the US military to send more troops to Afghanistan, it is time to address the realities and counter the misconceptions surrounding the war and occupation. We must become better informed about the true consequences of US foreign policy in Afghanistan. We need to listen to the Afghan peacemakers and grassroots movements that are calling for alternatives to military action and work with them to devise strategies for building a lasting peace.

In the month of October, many activities are being planned in Nashville and around the world to end the current occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and military incursions in Pakistan. On October 5, a coalition led by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) will have a procession to the White House, deliver a petition and hold a non-violent direct action in Washington, DC. The Iraq Moratorium has called for local actions on October 17 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam War Moratorium. The Iraq Moratorium says, "Over 2 million people participated in thousands of communities [during the Vietnam War] and brought the anti-war movement into the political mainstream of American society. The lessons from that event in 1969 can help us strengthen the antiwar movement today."

The general public is invited to the vigil in Centennial Park marking the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan from 4pm-5:30pm as well as the educational panel at the Friends Meeting House, 530 26th Ave North, on Wednesday, October 7th from 6pm to 8pm for a discussion on the current occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as US military incursions into Pakistan. Refreshments will be served from 6pm to 6:30pm followed by a presentation by panelists and questions and answers. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information contact Chris Lugo of the Nashville Peace Coalition at 615-593-0304 or

Wednesday, October 7th 2009

Vigil for Peace - on the 8th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan
4pm - 5:30pm
West End Ave.& 25th
across from Border's Books
Nashville, TN 37203

Education Panel - Ending a Failed US Military Policy
6pm - 8pm
Friends Meeting House
530 26th Ave North
Nashville TN

for more info contact:
Chris Lugo
Nashville Peace Coalition

Thursday, October 1, 2009

UN Security Council Meets on Nonproliferation

In an historic meeting, the United Nations Security Council today convened at the head of state/government level and unanimously cosponsored and adopted a resolution committing to work toward a world without nuclear weapons and endorsing a broad framework of actions to reduce global nuclear dangers.

The meeting, which was called for and chaired by President Obama during the United States’ Presidency of the Security Council, shows concrete progress and growing international political will behind the nuclear agenda that President Obama announced in his speech in Prague in April 2009.

The session was the fifth Summit-level meeting of the Council in its 63 years of existence and the first time that a Security Council Summit has been chaired by a U.S. President.

The new measure, UNSC Resolution 1887, expresses the Council’s grave concern about the threat of nuclear proliferation and the need for international action to prevent it. It reaffirms that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery are threats to international peace and security and shows agreement on a broad range of actions to address nuclear proliferation and disarmament and the threat of nuclear terrorism. Broadly, the resolution supports:

A revitalized commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons, and calls for further progress on nuclear arms reductions, urging all states to work towards the establishment of effective measures of nuclear arms reduction and disarmament.
A strengthened Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a Review Conference in 2010 that achieves realistic and achievable goals in all three pillars: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The resolution supports universality of the NPT, calls on all states to adhere to its terms and makes clear the Council’s intent to immediately address any notice of intent to withdraw from the Treaty. The resolution also notes the ongoing efforts in the NPT review to identify mechanisms for responding collectively to any notification of withdrawal.
Better security for nuclear weapons materials to prevent terrorists from acquiring materials essential to make a bomb, including through the convening of a Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, locking down vulnerable nuclear weapons materials in four years, a goal originally proposed by President Obama, minimizing the civil use of highly enriched uranium to the extent feasible, and encouraging the sharing of best practices as a practical way to strengthen nuclear security and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and the G-8 Global Partnership.
The Security Council’s authority and vital role in addressing the threat to international peace and security posed by the spread of nuclear weapons and underscoring the Council’s intent to take action if nuclear weapons or related material are provided to terrorists.
Addressing the current major challenges to the nonproliferation regime, demanding full compliance with Security Council resolutions on Iran and North Korea and calling on the parties to find an early negotiated solution.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) essential role in preventing nuclear proliferation and ensuring access to peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective safeguards. This is particularly important to ensure that the growing interest in nuclear energy does not result in additional countries with nuclear weapons capabilities.
Encouraging efforts to ensure development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a framework that reduces proliferation risk and adheres to the highest standards for safeguards, security and safety and recognizing the inalienable right of parties to the NPT to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
National efforts to make it more difficult for proliferating states and non-state actors to access the international financial system as well as efforts to strengthen export controls on proliferation-related materials and stronger detection, deterrence and disruption of illicit trafficking in such materials.
Key nuclear agreements, including START follow-on agreement, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and its 2005 Amendment.
UNSC Resolution 1887 includes new provisions to deter withdrawal from the NPT and to ensure that nuclear energy is used in a framework that reduces proliferation dangers and adheres to high standards for security. The Council committed to address without delay any state’s notification of withdrawal from the NPT and affirmed that states will be held responsible for any violations of the NPT committed prior to their withdrawal from the Treaty.

The Council also endorsed important norms to reduce the likelihood that a peaceful nuclear program can be diverted to a weapons program, including support for stricter national export controls on sensitive nuclear technologies and having nuclear supplier states consider compliance with safeguards agreements when making decisions about nuclear exports and reserve the right to require that material and equipment provided prior to termination be returned if safeguards agreements are abrogated .

The Council also expressed strong support for ensuring the IAEA has the authority and resources necessary to carry out its mission to verify both the declared use of nuclear materials and facilities and the absence of undeclared activities and affirmed the Council’s resolve to support the IAEA’s efforts to verify whether states are in compliance with their safeguards obligations.

The resolution calls upon states to conclude safeguards agreements and an Additional Protocol with the IAEA, so that the IAEA will be in a position to carry out all of the inspections necessary to ensure that materials and technology from peaceful nuclear uses are not used to support a weapons program. The Council also endorsed IAEA work on multilateral approaches to the fuel cycle, including assurances of fuel supply to make it easier for countries to choose not to develop enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.

These steps are important in helping address situations where a country uses access to the civilian nuclear benefits of the NPT to cloak a nascent nuclear weapons program and then withdraws from the NPT once it has acquired sufficient technical expertise for its weapons program.

The resolution strengthens implementation for resolution 1540 which requires governments to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their means of delivery. Full implementation of resolution 1540 by all UN member states will require additional financial and political support. The Council reaffirmed the need to give added impetus to the implementation of resolution 1540 by highlighting the options for improving the funding of the 1540 Committee’s activities, including through a voluntary trust fund, and reinforcing the Council’s commitment to ensure effective and sustainable support for the 1540 Committee’s activities.

The Security Council meeting was attended by:

President Barack Obama, United States of America
President Óscar Arias Sánchez, Republic of Costa Rica
President Stjepan Mesic, Republic of Croatia
President Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, Russian Federation
President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, United Mexican States
President Heinz Fischer, Republic of Austria
President Nguyen Minh Triet, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Republic of Uganda
President Hu Jintao, People’s Republic of China
President Nicolas Sarkozy, France
President Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Japan
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Republic of Turkey
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
Director General Mohamed Elbaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency
Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My G20 by Jase Short - Part One

My G20: A Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever
by Jase Short

We arrived at 5 AM in Pittsburgh on Thursday for the G20 protests; immediately, we were treated to the sight of National Guard troopers directing traffic around major bridges. After two hours sleep in a Catholic Church’s cafeteria (following a 11 hour drive), we got ready to go into the city. We gathered in Arsenal Park: our numbers seemed sparse at first (the media was everywhere however, one of my comrades was interviewed by the New York Times), but the student feeder march joined us after an hour of mulling about, swelling our ranks to over 1,000 (media reports say 2,000 plus). We were ready.

But the security services were ready as well. In the end, the 4,000 police and 2,000 National Guard (and countless smaller units of ATFE, FBI, etc.) proved to be too little and on Friday the city imported another 2,000 police from around the country.

The riot police blocked our exit from the park. So, being clever people who believe in reason, we simply turned the march around and walked out the other end of the park. Our march permit had been denied, but we only intended to march, which is completely legal. Americans DO in fact have the constitutional right of assembly.

The police felt differently: their orders were coming from the very top, and they do not like anti-capitalist protests as they have a nasty habit of accomplishing some goals (Seattle, Genoa, etc.). Remember the recent past, as recalled by Slavoj Zizek in his new book:

“In Washington in 2004, so many people demonstrated about the danger of a financial collapse that the police had to mobilize 8,000 additional local policemen and bring in a further 6,000 from Maryland and Virginia. What ensued was tear-gassing, clubbing, and mass arrests–so many that police had to use buses for transport. The message was loud and clear, and the police were used literally to stifle the truth.” (First As Tragedy, Then As Farce Zizek, p. 9)

We were met with an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC from here on) on which was mounted a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), a weapon which had hitherto only been used on Iraqis during the US occupation. It emits a high pitched sound which–if turned all the way up–can disperse a crowd quite rapidly, causing nausea, permanent ear damage, and more. Lucky for us it was on a low setting: those who were very close to it didn’t seem to notice.

“BY ORDER OF THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH CHIEF POLICE, I HEREBY DECLARE THIS AN UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY…” the APC had a mechanical voice repeating these orders over and over again. At times, its sentences would be interrupted by an LRAD sound attack, often right before the words “serious injury.”

We darted into the alleyways, the black block (mostly anarchist affinity groups who wear black hoodies, black pants, etc. and carry out very low key civil disobedience of the more aggressive variety, they were quite tame here however) leading the way. We assembled on the street parallel to the original one, a residential area. One would think gassing a relatively poor neighborhood would not go over well, but the police did not seem to mind. Some black block folks attempted to heroically retaliate with a dumpster to the sound of many folks cheering them on.

We fled the gas, reassembling yet again and began a march down Liberty Avenue. I took my bandanna off too early, and so suffered quite a cough (I lamented that I was a smoker). We reassembled, intent on carrying out our peaceful demonstration against the crimes of the Group of 20. As we marched down Liberty, a black block member ran up to a Pinnacle National Bank branch, withdrew a hammer from his bag, and made quick work of the two ATMs and the window of the bank (the older security guard held out his hands in a vain gesture).

We screamed at this individual: virtually the whole march. I do not blame the entire black block for his actions, but certainly they did us no good, and were not representative of our intentions. What is the smashing of a bank window to the smashing of entire countries for the profit of a handful of banks? Nevertheless, it was bad for all of us, and very undemocratic. When I tried to yell at him, I choked on the tear gas residue built up in my throat, and quickly discovered that I am capable of producing projectile tears.

We continued the march down Liberty, blocking most of the traffic, but not for more than 15 minutes…we were headed downtown…

An ambulance was coming right at us. We parted to both sides of the street. I was part of a group of 7 individuals from Tennessee, and 5 of us were on one side of Liberty, 2 on the other. Before we could reassemble we discovered the ambulance was a dirty trick: one after another, civilian vans pulled up through the gap; heavily armed storm trooper-looking men with attack dogs jumped out of the vans and came right at us. Some started to run (me included) but someone shouted to stop, so I remembered: if we run, they will follow; we walked away, as if dispersing.

But we had Twitter on our phones…we were thinking collectively, constantly sharing information and supplies (water for example)…and our small party of 5 (quite concerned about the fate of the other 2) had a GPS. We got a Twitter message that demonstrators were regrouping at a public park (a different one than the one we had been to), so we told the scattered folks we ran into on the way, assembling a small group of about 20. Eventually we made it to the park, and two other marches (in the hundreds) joined up simultaneously, resulting in a collective cheer.

One thing was for sure: the police were making us learn how to rely on each other as a collective will and intellect; they should avoid that for their own sake.

We marched again. The APC was briefly held up by an older gentlemen, who (Tiananmen Square style) laid down in front of it. We made it to Liberty and Baum, only to be attacked by hordes of riot police bearing large wooden sticks (rather than the normal batons), some kind of new orange gas, the LRAD, flash bang grenades and shotguns loaded with bean bags (one young person went to the ER). Our small group was unwilling to face arrest–especially given that many were being prosecuted and because we didn’t know what happened to those the National Guard kidnapped in civilian cars–so we called it a day and had a much dinner. Twitter informed us our comrades–200 strong–continued the march, only to be cut down to 75–then surrounded.
(End of Part 1)

Screening of 'Rethink Afghanistan'

Rethink Afghanistan: Why are we there and what does it mean?

A free screening of the film Rethink Afghanistan is scheduled for 7:00pm, Tuesday, October 6 in Gailor Auditorium. The 72-minute documentary examines the consequences of military escalation in Afghanistan and how the war could further destabilize a nuclear-armed Pakistan. The cost of sending one U.S. soldier to Afghanistan is over $700,000. Why? Conditions of Afghan women are drastically worse since the U.S. invasion in October of 2001. Why? What is the relationship between Al-Qaida and the Taliban? A discussion will follow the film, with Dr. Arthur Knoll, Dr. Yasmeen Mohiuddin, and Henry Hamman serving as discussion leaders. Dr. Knoll is a former professor of Middle Eastern history. Dr. Mohiuddin is a Pakistani native. In her role as Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University, she established Sewanee's Summer-in-South Asia Program, enabling students to travel to Bangladesh and study the Grameen Bank’s success in making loans to the severely impoverished population. Journalist Henry Hamman set up a relief program for Afghan refugees in western Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and reported on the negotiations that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan; his novel, LAPIS, is set in Afghanistan. The screening of Rethink Afghanistan is being cosponsored by the African American Alliance and the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace. For more information, contact Leslie Lytle at 592-6594 or

Sewanee Peace Vigil, Oct. 7, 4:30pm

CCJP will host a Peace Vigil calling for a halt to U.S. military action in Afghanistan on Wednesday, October 7, 4:30 pm, on the corner of University Avenue and Highway 41A. Participants are encouraged to wear black and to display a sign expressing their opposition to U.S. militarism. October 7 marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-Afghanistan conflict which began on October 7, 2001, when the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom with the goal of neutralizing the international terrorist group al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the September 11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. According to most foreign policy experts, al-Qaeda is no longer a presence in the country. Signs will be available at the vigil site. Participants may park in the Sewanee Gardener’ Market lot at the corner of Highway 41A and Hawkins Lane. For more information contact Leslie Lytle at 592-6594 or

Friday, September 25, 2009

Space Week Events to Highlight Drones

On October 3-10 a week of local protest events to Keep Space for Peace will be held worldwide.

Each fall the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space organizes Keep Space for Peace Week: International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space. These events are intended to help educate the public about the need to prevent the arms race from moving into the heavens.

According to Global Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon, “The space week protests represent the largest grassroots global expression against moving the arms race into space. This year we are highlighting the U.S. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that are flown over Afghanistan and Pakistan by pilots sitting at computer terminals on bases back inside the US. This new high-tech satellite directed warfare is indeed death at a distance but the mounting civilian casualties reveals that the blood is still on our hands. We believe it is time to open our eyes and stop the military’s use of space for war on Earth.”

Dave Webb, the Vice-Chair of Great Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and also the chairperson of the Global Network, says, ““All of these operations, the remote control of robots and the integration with other war-fighting systems to provide a global reach of power and devastation, are all made possible through satellite communication technology. We are trying to remind everyone what kind of a destabilizing future these systems could create. We must not allow these technologies to go unchallenged. Indeed we must do all we can to stop the spread and rule of violence and destruction.”

The October 3-10 actions are being co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, and the World March for Peace & Non-Violence. Protests are expected at city centers and key space related factories and military bases. Educational forums will be held and space videos would be shown throughout the week.

To see the list of Space Week protest sites check