Category Archives: North America

US Conference of Mayors Resolution for Peace


A press release from Mayors for Peace received by email at CPNN

Today [June 11], at the close of its 86th Annual Meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), unanimously adopted a sweeping resolution “Calling on the Administration and Congress to Step Back From the Brink and Exercise Global Leadership in Preventing Nuclear War.”

In the resolution, “the USCM welcomes the dramatic diplomatic opening between the U.S. and North Korea and urges President Trump to patiently and diligently work with North and South Korea for a formal resolution of the Korean War and normalized relations with a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

The USCM also “reaffirms the importance and efficacy of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by Iran, the U.S. and 5 other nations to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, and calls on [the] U.S. Administration to pursue diplomacy and normalized relations with Iran with the goal of establishing a zone free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the Middle East.”

The resolution notes that tensions between the United States and Russia “have risen to levels not seen since the Cold War” and warns that “this is only one of many nuclear flashpoints, from the Korean Peninsula, to the South China Sea to the Middle East and South Asia, where all of the nuclear-armed states are engaged in unpredictable conflicts that could catastrophically escalate out of control.”

The resolution also warns that the February 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review “manifests a commitment to an increasing and long-term reliance on nuclear arms, lowers the threshold for use of nuclear weapons”, proposes new warheads and missiles, and “endorses current plans to sustain and upgrade existing nuclear forces and infrastructure projected to cost well over a trillion dollars over the next three decades.”

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Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Noting that “in 2017 the United States spent $610 billion on its military, more than two and a half times as much as China and Russia combined, amounting to 35% of world military spending”, and that this huge amount is slated to rise significantly in coming years ”the USCM “calls on the President and Congress to reverse federal spending priorities and to redirect funds currently allocated to nuclear weapons and unwarranted military spending to support safe and resilient cities” and to meet basic human needs.

The USCM resolution expresses deep regret that the United States and the eight other nuclear-armed states boycotted last year’s negotiations for a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and urges the U.S. government to “embrace the TPNW as a welcome step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear arms”.
Finally, “the USCM calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first; ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack; taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”

The resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President T.M. Franklin Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa and 25 co-sponsors including USCM President Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina and USCM International Affairs Committee Chair Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio.

The USCM, the nonpartisan association of 1,408 American cities with populations over 30,000, has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for 13 consecutive years. Resolutions adopted at annual meetings become USCM official policy.

As noted in this year’s resolution, “Mayors for Peace, which is working for a world without nuclear weapons and safe and resilient cities as essential measures for the realization of lasting world peace, has grown to 7,578 cities in 163 countries and regions, with 213 U.S. members, representing in total over one billion people”. Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982, is led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

See full text of resolution with list of 26 co-sponsors:

Contact: Jackie Cabasso, Mayors for Peace North American Coordinator,

USA: March For Our Lives: Road to Change


Statement and Projects from March for our Lives

This summer, the students of March For Our Lives are making stops across America to get young people educated, registered, and motivated to vote. We call it March For Our Lives: Road to Change.

When people across the country rallied at the March For Our Lives just over 2 months ago, we showed our politicians that we refuse to accept gun violence as an unsolvable issue. Now it’s time to turn our energy into action.

The Road to Change kicks off on Friday, June 15 in Chicago, where we’ll be joining the Peace March, led by students from St. Sabina Academy.

From there we are traveling from city to city, with more than 50 planned stops in over 20 states including Iowa, Texas, California, South Carolina, and Connecticut. We’ll also hold a separate Florida tour with more than 25 stops, visiting every congressional district.

We’re going to places where the NRA has bought and paid for politicians who refuse to take simple steps to save our lives — and we’ll be visiting a number of communities that have been affected by gun violence to meet fellow survivors and use our voices to amplify theirs.

At each stop, we’ll register young people to vote and educate them on the reforms we need to save lives, and whether their local elected officials support these reforms or support the NRA.

Take Action:

Register to Vote


Organize a Voter Reg Drive

Start a Local Action Club

How to set up an activism club:

Find a safe space and/or teacher sponsor at your school. After school clubs tend to be successful because of access, but if your school is giving you trouble you can contact the ACLU (they legally need to give you the opportunity to peacefully gather and share ideas) or find a community spot where you can hold meetings.

Reach out to people around the community. Diversify your voices and find a way to approach activism from an intersectional viewpoint. We have to stand up for funding for anti-violent programming just as intensely as we support voter registration. The only way we win is by educating each other on all fronts.

What are the goals of the club?

Create a more politically engaged and educated community.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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Register people in your area to vote, raise money for community engagement events and lower the violence in your area.

Create morally just leadership in all facets of society.  

Print a Price Tag

We’ve calculated the price of each student in states across the country, based on the millions of dollars politicians have accepted from the NRA. Scroll through the options and print out a price tag to wear and share. If your state doesn’t have a price tag, that’s good news. It means that your politicians aren’t taking large sums of NRA money. Instead, use the national average price tag to show your support for reforming our gun laws. And then make a donation to help us change gun laws and beat the NRA.

Sign the Petition

We support the right of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms, as set forth in the United States Constitution.

But with that right comes responsibility.

We call on all the adults in Congress elected to represent us, to pass legislation that will protect and save children from gun violence.

Our elected officials MUST ACT by:

1. Passing a law to ban the sale of assault weapons like the ones used in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Aurora, Sandy Hook and, most recently, to kill 17 innocent people and injure more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Of the 10 deadliest shootings over the last decade, seven involved the use of assault weapons.

No civilian should be able to access these weapons of war, which should be restricted for use by our military and law enforcement only. These guns have no other purpose than to fire as many bullets as possible and indiscriminately kill anything they are pointed at with terrifying speed.

2. Prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines such as the ones the shooter at our school—and so many other recent mass shootings used.

States that ban high-capacity magazines have half as many shootings involving three or more victims as states that allow them.

Limiting the number of bullets a gun can discharge at one time will at least force any shooter to stop and reload, giving children a chance to escape.

3. Closing the loophole in our background check law that allows dangerous people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms to slip through the cracks and buy guns online or at gun shows.

97 percent of Americans support closing the current loopholes in our background check system.

When Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks on all handgun sales, they saw a 40 percent reduction in gun homicides.

22 percent of gun sales in this country take place without a background check. That’s millions of guns that could be falling into dangerous hands.

A background check should be required on every gun sale, no exceptions.

The children of this country can no longer go to school in fear that each day could be their last.

For more information about the Road to Change, text CHANGE to 977-79.

USA: “It’s Time for Moral Confrontation”: New Poor People’s Campaign Stages Nationwide Civil Disobedience


An interview by Democracy Now (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0)

On Mother’s Day 50 years ago, thousands converged on Washington, D.C., to take up the cause that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fighting for when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968: the Poor People’s Campaign. A little more than a week after her husband’s memorial service, Coretta Scott King led a march to demand an Economic Bill of Rights that included a guaranteed basic income, full employment and more low-income housing. Half a century later, Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis have launched a new Poor People’s Campaign. Starting today, low-wage workers, clergy and community activists in 40 states are participating in actions and events across the country that will culminate in a mass protest in Washington, D.C., on June 23. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. . .

Video of broadcast

AMY GOODMAN: The new Poor People’s Campaign officially launched last year, and, since then, Reverend Dr. William Barber and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis have been touring the country. Today they’re in Washington, D.C., for a major day of nonviolent direct action, joining us now.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Reverend Dr. William Barber, you’re president of Repairers of the Breach, distinguished visiting professor of public theology at Union Theological Seminary, former president of the North Carolina NAACP, and Moral Mondays leader. Talk about what you’re doing now. What is different today? What are you doing in Washington, D.C.?

REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: Thank you so much, Amy. Today, in more than 30 states and here in the District of Columbia, activists, clergy and, most of all, impacted people, the poor, will be organizing a nonviolent, moral, fusion direct action Mondays, a direct confrontation with what we call policy violence and the immoral policies that we see are continuing to hurt the poor. And particularly the focus today will be on women in poverty, children in poverty and the disabled. We cannot continue to have a democracy that engages in the kind of policy violence that we see happening every day.

I think about the low-wage worker I met in North Carolina who could not get insurance, because North Carolina did not expand Medicaid, and was also sick with ovarian cancer and has children. Or Amy in West Virginia, who is a woman who’s a working poor woman, who watched her state, her governor, Republican governor, cynically give a little raise to teachers, but chose to do it by cutting Medicaid and cutting food stamps. Or I think about the lady Pamela in Lowndes County, Alabama, who has raw sewage in the back of her yard, who was taken advantage of by predatory lenders and had to pay over $100,000-some for a single wide trailer that is now falling apart, full of mold and holes. And her son, who is an 11-year-old, now has to wear a CPAP machine because of the infections in his lungs. And she, herself, is disabled.

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Question for this article:

Helping the poorest of the poor help themselves, if millions took it up, could it be the foundation of a just world?

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All over this country, we continue to see what is not often seen or talked about in our politics, in our political debates, or even in the media, except for places like here, Amy. Two hundred fifty thousand people are dying every year from poverty and low wealth. Sixty-four million people work with less than a living wage, 54 percent of African Americans. And these realities hurt children and women and the disabled the most. Thousands of people who are homeless, of every different race, creed, color and sexual orientation.

And what we are saying, it is time for a moral confrontation, a nonviolent moral confrontation, because whether you look at the morality of our Constitution, the establishment of justice, or you look at the morality of the Scriptures, that says, for instance, in Isaiah 10, “Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor of their right and make women and children their prey.” It is immoral to have 37 million people without healthcare. It is immoral not to pay living wages when we know we can do it. It is immoral that people don’t have single-payer healthcare for everybody as a matter of human rights—and children have access to public education and college, and that we stop the trend of resegregation. It is immoral the way we’ve suppressed the vote in a way that allows people to get elected who, once they get elected, using racialized methods to do so, they then vote policies that hurt women and children and disabled. They’re against living wages. They’re against healthcare. They’re against unemployment—and those things that hurt families, hurt children, hurt women and hurt the disabled.

And we’re coming together, of every race, creed, color, kind, people from every part of this country. There will be simultaneous nonviolent actions, beginning today with a 2:00 rally and then 3:00 direct action. And this will go on for 40 days, every Monday, along with other things that will be happening across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: What is that direct action, Reverend Dr. Barber?

REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: The direct action, well, today, after the rally, we will link arms, clergy, in full vestment, with impacted people. And today, we will—under the theme “Somebody is hurting our people, and it’s gone on far too long, and we can’t be silent anymore,” we will take a particular street, right near the east side of the Capitol, and we will engage in that street. Many people will sit down to pray and lay, because we are saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That’s why today it’s the street. Later on, it will be other places in D.C. But today it’s the street, because we’re saying the country is headed in the wrong direction. We have to break through the moral narrative. Our first goal is to break through the moral narrative to where we’re talking about it. We’re not even talking about these issues in the country. And we’re also going to be calling people to engage in massive voter mobilization. We’re also going to be doing power building among poor communities. And this, Amy, is a launch.

The 40 days is not the end of the campaign. It is the launching of a multiyear campaign.

USA: Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance


Excerpts from annual report of Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance

Quite a year—OREPA members rose up to meet the greatest financial challenge in our 30-year history, raising more than $50,000 in less than 60 days to fund a lawsuit to stop the Uranium Processing Facility nuclear bomb plant planned for Oak Ridge.

At the same time, it was the year the future broke open with new possibilities—the UN passed the Ban Treaty that outlaws all nuclear weapons development, production, possession, deployment, testing, use, threat of use…

It was the year that we traveled to Germany and came to a new collaboration with colleagues in Europe who are aggressively resisting the deployment of US nuclear weapons in five countries there.

It was the year we went to the United Nations to help lead a workshop on US nuclear weapons production and participate in the initial negotiating stages of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons—it was exciting and humbling to watch the deliberations and realize history was turning before our eyes because of the courage of the delegates and the leadership of Costa Rica’s Elayne Whyte Gómez.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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It was the year we turned our eyes to the future with determination to develop a new generation of leaders in the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons as we began to implement the goals of our Next Generation Leadership Fund.

Meanwhile, we continued to do the many things that has made OREPA a strong and effective organization—publishing a newsletter that Ralph Nader called, in his year-end blog, a “must-read.”

And we maintained our on-line presence; celebrated the conclusion of the 18th year of uninterrupted Sunday vigils at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex by launching year 19; published the Reflection Booklet; kept our staff and our bills paid; took seven people to Washington, DC, to oppose the UPF bomb plant in meetings with Congress and Administration officials; and worked with our colleagues in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability to develop and carry out strategies to oppose new bomb plants and new bombs while we advocate for responsible policies for nuclear waste and cleanup programs.

Oh, yes—we also sued the National Nuclear Security Administration and celebrated the Nobel Peace Prize going to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Most important of all—not one bit of OREPA’s work this past year would have been possible without the persistent, amazing support of our members. Many of you not only sent money, but wrote letters to the editor, pressured your elected officials, invited OREPA to make presentations, held fundraising events for the lawsuit, and educated yourselves about the trillion dollar plan to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal.

So our year-in-review closes with a huge Thank You to everyone who took part in this grand year.

Campaign for Compliance with the Nuclear Ban Treaty 


Campaign description from Nuclear Ban US (excerpts)

The Campaign for Treaty Compliance is about getting individuals, businesses, faith communities, schools, organizations, cities and states to be in ‘compliance’ with the Nuclear Ban Treaty. This will put pressure on the nuclear weapons industry and eventually force the federal government to implement the Treaty.

Click for more information about…

Becoming ‘treaty compliant’ yourself

For most people, Treaty Compliance is pretty simple. It means:

* You are not employed by any of the companies that make nuclear weapons.

* You do not have personal investments in any of them.

* You will not buy any of their products in future . . .

Helping to get a group or organization to be ‘treaty compliant'(neighborhood, club, school, university, business, faith community, civic organization)

Any organization or institution that wants to be on the right side of history and help rid the world of nuclear weapons can decide to be in ‘compliance’ with the Nuclear Ban Treaty. To have the force of legality behind it, normally it will be the board or trustees or some similar body who will need to agree to this. That body may then oversee the rest of the process or assign a smaller (sub-)committee to do so. . . .

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Working locally to get your town/city to be ‘treaty compliant’

There are 220 towns, cities, counties and Native American nations across the United States which declared themselves Nuclear Free Zones (NFZs) in the 1980s. Some of the local ordinances and city codes that established these zones were largely symbolic, but many had real teeth and included fines and other sanctions for violations. Sample ordinances and city codes are located here.

Many of these existing NFZs are already Treaty Compliant with the Nuclear Ban Treaty. Others may want to revise their existing legislation to be fully in compliance with the new Treaty.

In addition to NFZs, there are 211 cities in the United States who have signed the Mayors for Peace (MfP) covenant. This commits the mayor to “make every effort…to achieve the total abolition of nuclear weapons…” These mayors may choose to appoint a Mayoral Commission to oversee Treaty Compliance for their city. . . .

Campaigning state-wide to get your state to be ‘treaty compliant’

Individual states of the Union cannot sign international agreements, but they can decide to comply with such agreements. When President Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, cities and states across the country stepped up to the plate to commit themselves to this Agreement, with or without the federal government’s blessing.

Sixteen states (plus Puerto Rico) have so far committed themselves to meeting these targets because they recognize that climate change poses an existential threat to humanity and that the US government is out of step with the global consensus on what to do to address this problem. Nuclear weapons also pose an existential threat to humanity, and once again the US government is out of step with the global consensus on how to eliminate these weapons once and for all. . . .

Campaigning nationally to get the federal government to sign the Treaty

The only protection from nuclear weapons is to eliminate them all. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons bans all nuclear weapons and seeks their total elimination. Ultimately, we want the US President to sign this Treaty, we want the Senate to ratify it, and we want to see it fully implemented and enforced. You can sign the WILPF petition calling for this here. You can also urge your member of Congress to sign the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge here. . . .


USA: Meet The Students Who Dreamed Up Friday’s National School Walkout


An article by Cassandra Basler from National Public Radio (reprinted as non-commercial use)

April 19: When Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore, heard that 17 high school students and educators had been killed in a shooting in Parkland, Fla., she says she felt numb. To her, and so many others, mass shootings can feel all too common in the U.S. “In the time I’ve been in high school we’ve had the Pulse, Las Vegas and now, [the Parkland] shooting,” Murdock says.

So that same day, Feb.14, Murdock started a petition  that so far has received more than a quarter-million signatures. Her ask? A walkout to protest violence in schools that she planned to coincide with the anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Murdock was born in 2002.

Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore, says she felt numb after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and knew it was time for her to try to make some change.

On one of the last days of spring break, she and seven other students from her high school in Ridgefield, Conn., gather around a few tables at their town rec center. They have been working hard, even losing sleep, trying to get organized for the day. As Murdock says, “Success knows no sleep.”

This is, by far, the biggest event they have ever planned. She and her team have more than 2,500 walkouts across the country registered through their website. They’ve drafted a long to-do list, including everything from securing a stage for speeches for their local walkout, to reaching out to the national press.

“Prioritize,” Murdock tells her team, “We’re not going to be able to get 100 percent of these things, I can guarantee that, but it’s important that we get the important things.”

Murdock wants the walkout to go down in history but acknowledges that it won’t represent every student’s perspective. Some polls show that young people are no more liberal  than older generations on gun control.

And other students who live with gun violence regularly have said they don’t feel represented  in the social movements following the shooting at Parkland.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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“There’s gun violence that’s been happening every day that isn’t a school shooting,” Murdock says. She wants the day to be inclusive. On the other hand, she knows it will be uncomfortable.

“We get hate comments online all the time because we’re angering people, and we’re angering people because we’re scaring them, and if we’re scaring them it’s because we’re doing something,” she says.

She wants people to know that she’s imagining this day to be very different than the March For Our Lives  or the 17 minutes of silence on March 14 in honor of the victims in Parkland, Fla. This walkout will last from 10 a.m. through the end of the day.

“People ask me, like, ‘Why? Why all day?’ ” Murdock says. That’s because “this is a topic that deserves more than 17 minutes.” Part of the plan for the day is to get students together in what they refer to as “a call to action,” registering voters or writing to elected representatives about the need for further gun control, for example.

These student organizers have gotten help from a national nonprofit called Indivisible, a group that says it aims to “fuel” young people to “resist the Trump agenda.” Paul Kim, a senior at Ridgefield in charge of communications for the event, says Indivisible helped the high school organizers map their outreach online.

“I got every chapter signed up in Texas,” Kim says, talking about all the walkouts they’ve registered. “And these people emailed back … I could like feel the Texas in the email. The accent, everything.” The group laughs.

To Murdock, the widespread support she says they’ve seen shows that sensible gun control doesn’t have to be partisan.

“It is not conservative or liberal. It is just about making sure our children don’t get harmed in school and we don’t live in a community and in a country that has institutionalized fear,” Murdock says. “I think we’re all sick of it. That’s why we’re doing this.”

She grew up with that fear. Her school had regular lockdown drills after 26 students and educators were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School when she was in fifth grade. It happened just 20 miles from her classroom.

She says there is a reason why she felt desensitized when she heard about Parkland. She and her team of fellow organizers at Ridgefield say that gun violence in the U.S. has gone on for too long.

“Change happens through patience and this fight does not stop after April 20,” Murdock says. “There is going to be a lot of work to be done after April 20 and that is going to include you guys and it’s going to include tons of students all across this nation,” she says talking to the group.

At 10 a.m. local time on Friday, thousands of students will march out of their classes wearing orange for gun safety and chanting for change.

U.S. student anti-gun activists to keep momentum alive over summer


An article from Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Leaders of the student-led anti-gun movement, who inspired classroom walkouts across the country on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, say they plan to maintain their activism through the long summer break.

This week’s protests [on April 20] marked the second mass student walkout since a 19-year-old man opened fire at a Parkland, Florida high school in February, killing 17 people. It signaled the emergence of a growing national campaign led by young people to lessen gun violence and toughen laws on firearms sales.

Youths take part in a National School Walkout anti-gun march in Washington Square Park in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

But the movement faces a major early challenge as the traditional three-month summer break approaches for most U.S. public schools at a critical moment in their bid to be heard by politicians in their home states and Washington, D.C.

“The reason why this has been so huge (is that) we’re in school, we talk to our classmates, we spread it around, everybody’s around so it’s kind of easier to show up,” said Vivian Reynoso, 17, a junior at Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson, Arizona, who helped organize rallies for both nationwide demonstrations in the past month.

“Of course you fear (losing the momentum),” said Reynoso, who like her peers in the campaign was born a year or more after the Columbine shootings. “I’m pretty sure even the Parkland victims are afraid of that. That’s why we need to be pushing, even if it’s summer, to keep telling people to keep talking about the issue and not to forget to about it.”

In the nearly two decades since Columbine seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting rampage in 1999, killing 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, school shootings have become almost commonplace in the United States.

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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Students at Columbine, which has not held classes on April 20 since the massacre, did not take part in the walkout, and were encouraged to do community service instead.

Even as students prepared for Friday’s protests wearing orange, the color of the anti-gun movement, news began trickling out that a 17-year-old student had been wounded in a shooting at a high school near Ocala, Florida, some 225 miles northwest of Parkland.


The debate over guns in America, where the right to bear arms is protected under the Second Amendment of the Constitution, has raged nearly since the nation’s founding.

The students hope to succeed where other activists have failed in enacting stricter legislation on gun ownership, either at the state or federal level.

As anger fades over the Parkland shootings, the test for students will be in organizing for gun reform. Many of the protests featured voter registration drives, with students aiming to make it a major issue for midterm elections in November.

“Who knows whether they maintain the energy or not but there are historic examples of student-led movements that have played an important role in moving things forward, (for example) the Civil rights movements,” said Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“We’ve seen these kids take a real leadership role on this issue,” said Winkler, author of a history of the debate over gun control in America. “Whether they can sustain it not remains to be seen.”

The March 24 “March For Our Lives” rallies in cities across the United States were some of the biggest U.S. youth demonstrations in decades, with hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters taking to the streets.

Friday’s walkouts, though smaller in scale, signaled the determination of the students to press on with their movement.

“The way we’re viewing the summer right now is it’s really an opportunity to put in a lot of work on some really big plans we have going for the return to school in August,” said Gavin Pierce, 21, a college junior studying film in Los Angeles and an organizer of the “March for Our Lives” pro-gun control group.

    “Everyone is really eager to keep this going and to keep on organizing until we see real change,” Pierce said.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Ben Klayman in Detroit, Zach Fagensen in Miami, Edgar Mendez in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, Karen Dillion in Mission, Kansas and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard Chang

Culture of Peace: The World Peace Flame is coming to Ashland, Oregon


An article by Irene Kai / Ashland Culture of Peace Commission in the Ashland Daily Tidings

This is a journey of pure magic and grace. I went with my daughter to the U.K. for an art exhibit in early September 2015, and on a whim we decided to tour the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. We drove deep into the mountains on a narrow two-lane road with hair pin turns on the “wrong” side of the road. As dusk fell, we decided to go back to town. The nearest turning outlet was behind the mountain, so I drove into a hidden nearby space to turn. As I turned, I suddenly saw a two story tall glass tower with a flame inside near the top of it. An inscription on the glass said: “The World Peace Flame.” I was awed. Deep in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, I was greeted by a living flame representing World Peace. At that instant, I felt as if the flame ignited the sacred flame in my heart. I realized World Peace begins with me.

World Peace Flame Monument, Snowdonia Mountain Lodge, Wales

I went into the building behind the monument where a woman told me the history of the World Peace Flame. In 1999, the princess of the Netherlands went to five continents to collect seven sacred flames, flew them via military and commercial jets and united them in Wales. The Asian flame was from the eternal flame that burns at Gandhi’s memorial. The monument in Wales is the original World Peace Flame Monument. I was invited to light a candle from the flame and I brought it back to Ashland.

I came to Ashland 20 years ago via Hong Kong, New York, London and Los Angeles, not knowing anything about Oregon. Over a decade ago, I was attracted to the local Native American culture, and became very involved with the Ashland Native American group and befriended Roy Hayes, Chief Joseph’s great-great grandson. 

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Question related to this article:

How can we produce positive peace events, that open peoples hearts as well as their minds?

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I learned deeply about the culture of the Native American’s history in the Rogue Valley. 

Jacksonville was once a thriving Chinatown 200 years ago. Hundreds of Chinese migrants came to southern Oregon as laborers for the gold miners. The ditches they dug are still visible today. When the gold dried up, they were chased out and some were killed. They vanished without a trace. This group of migrants were from Toisan, southern China, the village of my family. They were my ancestral relatives.

On Sept. 21, 2015, the International Day of Peace, my partner David Wick and I launched the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC). During the launch, I lit the candle I brought back from Wales. During the ceremony, I was inspired to bring the World Peace Flame monument to Ashland, to honor our ancestors and to heal their sufferings.

By bringing healing and peace to our ancestors, we, the descendants will be able to release the burden of the sufferings of our linage and learn to practice living in peace for ourselves, our children and their children. 

The physical official live eternal World Peace Flame on our city ground will become a beacon of light that represents hope, healing, forgiveness, unity and humility for all who see it. The only other World Peace Flame in the United States is in the Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For almost three years, I told anyone who had influence in the city of Ashland that I would like to install a World Peace Flame Monument in Ashland. Everyone thought it was a great idea, smiled and said: “Good Luck.” One day, David Wick and I wandered into the Southern Oregon University Sustainability Center. We walked into the old farm house and saw the architectural drawing of the “Thalden Pavilion — The Center of Outrageous Innovation” on the wall. I saw a tower next to the main structure and said to David, “That is the perfect place for the World Peace Flame!” 

Barry and Kathryn Thalden, strong supporters of ACPC, agreed to have the World Peace Flame installed at the base of the obelisk and informed us that it will be flanked by two 28 ft. cedar teaching poles, carved by Russell Beebe, a local Native American sculptor. How perfect!

ACPC is responsible for our part of the construction for the housing of the World Peace Flame. I invite you to join me on this magical journey of grace to bring the World Peace Flame to Ashland. With your generous donations, it will become a reality. Please visit our website at

Memphis’ MLK50 commemoration marks ‘time for a political revolution’


An article by Kevin McKenzie for High Ground News (reprinted as non-commercial use)

As thousands of union members and supporters prepared to march in Memphis on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s slaying while supporting the city’s sanitation workers, the point of the outpouring became clear.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union still representing those workers today, tied the past to the present.

“Fifty years ago those brave 1,300 sanitation workers, the faith-based community, our community partners, walked together hand-in-hand, singing together, praying together, walking and demanding justice and dignity for those sanitation workers,” Saunders told the marchers. “We will do the same today, sisters and brothers. That same coalition, coming together, fighting the good fight. Are you ready?” he asked.

Teddy McNeal (center) raises his fist during Common’s performance outside the AFSCME Hall. McNeal traveled from Kinston, NC with his Machinists union. (Andrea Morales/MLK50)

Fusing together broad coalitions and movements to harness the power of voting, nonviolent civil disobedience and union organizing were a clear message repeated during three days of conferences, speeches and workshops culminating with Wednesday’s march.

Martin Luther King III echoed those themes during a closing rally in a South Memphis field adjacent to Mason Temple, where King spoke the night before he was slain at the Lorraine Motel, now part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

“We’ve got to find ways to register people like never before,” King said. “And we’ve got to vote in November like never before. Black Lives Matter, Me Too movement and finally the student high school movement to address guns in this country, we should be excited about that,” King said.

Before the march started from AFSCME Local 1733 headquarters, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said called King a nonviolent revolutionary. Honoring his legacy means following his footsteps and transforming the country.

“Dr. King was many, many things,” Sanders said. “What he was mostly about was understanding that we are all of a common humanity — black and white and Latino and Asian American and Native American. We have common dreams and today we tell the president of the United States and anyone else, you are not going to divide us up.”

AFSCME and the Memphis-based Church of God In Christ, headquartered at Mason Temple, partnered to support an I Am 2018 conference and the march.

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Question related to this article:
What’s the message to us today from Martin Luther King, Jr.?

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Rev. William Barber, co-founder of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival, which rekindles King’s Poor People’s Campaign by harnessing civil disobedience to target government policies, shuttled between appearances, including the rally, to urge fusion and action.

“You dishonor the movement and dishonor the prophet if you just remember the prophet without having a revival of the movement the prophet stood for,” Barber told the marchers. “I’ve come today to tell you this is not time for a party, it is time for a political revolution.”

AFSCME and other public-sector unions also are preparing for what they fear may be a damaging U.S. Supreme Court case to be decided in coming months, Janus vs. AFSCME, that could cripple their ability to collect fees in some states.

The unions, as well as Democratic candidates they tend to support, would suffer the blow.

Entertainers including Common and Sheila E, who also delivered a speech at the closing rally, performed for the marchers.

CNN cable news political commentator Van Jones introduced speakers at the closing rally. Jones said his father was born in Memphis, went to Melrose High School, and was in Memphis the day King was slain.

“My father said that was the worst day of his life and the worst day in the life of Memphis. I wish he were here today to see the beauty, to see the strength to see the resilience, to see the power,” he said.

Another CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, also spoke, continuing a war of words with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

“Tell him that my facts are straight and here are the facts, Mayor Strickland, because I asked you if this was a Memphis that you are proud of, if you and the way that you are dealing with your workers in 2018, which is far too similar to the way that Mayor Loeb dealt with workers in 1968,” Rye said.

The city paid Rye to be keynote speaker Feb. 24 at an MLK50 event. Rye, who had met with Memphis activists beforehand, spoke critically of issues ranging from progress to policing in Memphis with Strickland sitting nearby.

The mayor told The Commercial Appeal that he didn’t know who Rye was, that she was wrong and out of touch at times, but that it was good to be challenged. He later followed up with a more detailed rebuttal.

Rev. Al Sharpton was among speakers who pointed to the continuing issue of police shootings of unarmed black men, as well as poverty and income inequality.

“We’re shot too much, incarcerated too long, that’s why we march,” Sharpton said.

Tilman Hardy, 41, is with Step Up Louisiana, which pushed for a statewide economic platform that was shot down by a House committee in the state legislature on party lines, with nine white Republicans voting no and three black Democrats voting yes, he said.

“That still shows that our nation is divided and all of these years later it seems like we still haven’t moved the needle as much as we could have. So days like today mean a great deal to America and New Orleans,” said Hardy, helping to hold a banner as he marched.

USA: The Missing Link in the Gun Debate


An article by Greta Zarro for Common Dreams (reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License)

America is up in arms about guns. If last month’s “March for Our Lives,” which attracted over one million marchers nationwide, is any indication, we’ve got a serious problem with gun violence, and people are fired up about it.  
But what’s not being talked about in the mainstream media, or even by the organizers and participants in the March for Our Lives movement, is the link between the culture of gun violence and the culture of war, or militarism, in this nation. Nik Cruz, the now infamous Parkland, FL shooter, was taught how to shoot a lethal weapon in the very school that he later targeted in the heart-breaking Valentine’s Day Massacre. Yes, that’s right; our children are trained as shooters in their school cafeterias, as part of the U.S. military’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program.  

Members of the Patch High School drill team compete in the team exhibition portion of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drill meet at Heidelberg High School April 25. (Photo: Kristen Marquez, Herald Post/flickr/cc)

Nearly 2,000 U.S. high schools have such JROTC marksmanship programs, which are taxpayer-funded and rubber-stamped by Congress. Cafeterias are transformed into firing ranges, where children, as young as 13 years old, learn how to kill. The day that Nik Cruz opened fire on his classmates, he proudly wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the letters “JROTC.” JROTC’s motto? “Motivating Young People to Be Better Citizens.” By training them to wield a gun?  

I want to know why America isn’t marching against the military’s marksmanship programs. I want to know why millions aren’t knocking on their representatives’ doors and refusing to pay their taxes, until congressionally-approved firing ranges are removed from schools. Meanwhile, military recruiters hobnob with students during lunch break, then train them how to shoot in that same cafeteria and lure them to enlist. No doubt, the military’s pitch is slick, and economically enticing. That is, until the trainees turn on their classmates and teachers.

Perhaps what’s key above all, however, is that JROTC, and U.S. militarism as a whole, is embedded in our sociocultural framework as Americans, so much so that to question it is to cast doubt on one’s patriotic allegiance to this nation. To me, this explains why the Nik Cruz JROTC connection is not even an option on the table in the dialogue about gun violence. Why, at last month’s March for Our Lives in D.C., when my colleagues held up signs about the JROTC marksmanship program, marchers nodded in approval and bragged that they were JROTC trained.  

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Question related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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The culture of war is pervasive in our society, through military-funded Hollywood films and video games, the militarization of the police, and JROTC and ROTC programs in our schools. The Pentagon receives the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all of our children, unless parents tell their children’s schools to opt them out. Nearly all of us are culpable, wittingly or unwittingly, in supporting the spread of U.S. militarism through our silent complicity and our tax dollars.  

The average mass shooter in this country is, by and large, an American male with a history of mental illness, criminal charges, or illicit substance abuse, according to a recently released March 2018 report by the U.S. Secret Services. He is not an ISIS terrorist or Al-Qaeda plotter. In fact, findings show that, above any ideology, mass attackers are most often motivated by a personal vendetta. What the Secret Services report does not talk about, however, is the disproportionate number of mass attackers who have been trained by the U.S. military. While veterans account for 13% of the the adult population, the data shows that more than 1/3 of adult perpetrators of the 43 worst mass killings between 1984 and 2006 had been in the U.S. military. Further, a 2015 study in the Annals of Epidemiology found that veterans kill themselves at a rate 50% higher than their civilian counterparts. This speaks volumes about the damaging psychological impact of war, and, I would argue, the deleterious potential of the warlike “us vs. them” mentality that JROTC and ROTC programs instill in the minds of developing youth, not to mention the very real marksmanship skills that they teach.  

While military recruits with access to a gun pose a risk to Americans at home, meanwhile, our soldiers abroad are not much more effective at policing the world. As military spending has skyrocketed in recent decades, now accounting for over fifty percent of U.S. federal discretionary spending, according to the National Priorities Project, so has terrorism.

Despite our country’s endless state of military “interventions” in other nations, the Global Terrorism Index in fact records a steady increase in terrorist attacks from the beginning of our “war on terror” in 2001 to the present. Federal intelligence analysts and retired officers admit that U.S. occupations generate more hatred, resentment, and blowback than they prevent. According to a declassified intelligence report on the war on Iraq, “despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.” With the U.S. government spending a combined $1 trillion annually on war and preparations for war, including the stationing of troops at over 800 bases worldwide, there is little left of the public purse to spend on domestic necessities.

The American Society of Civil Engineers ranks U.S. infrastructure as a D+. We rank 4th in the world for wealth inequality, according to the OECD. U.S. infant mortality rates are the highest in the developed world, according to UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston. Communities across the nation lack access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation, a UN human right that the U.S. fails to recognize.

Forty million Americans live in poverty. Given this lack of a basic social safety net, is it any wonder that people enlist in the armed forces for economic relief and a supposed sense of purpose, grounded in our nation’s history of associating military service with heroism? 
If we want to prevent the next mass shooting, we need to stop fueling the culture of violence and militarism, and that starts with ending JROTC marksmanship programs in our schools.