Category Archives: North America

USA: Trump Parade Canceled — Peace Parade Goes Forward

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article by David Swanson, World Beyond War

A few days after an over-hyped white supremacist rally in Washington, D.C., was massively outnumbered by people opposed to racism, and one day after 187 organizations (more than that now) publicly committed to turning out people to counter Donald Trump’s planned weapons parade with a parade for peace in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, and less than a day after the U.S. military said the weapons parade would now cost $92 million (which in fairness is a legitimate rounding up from the earlier estimate of $12 million according to the rules of Pentagon math), the parade of death and war profiteering that was threatened for November 10th in Washington, D.C., has been canceled, or (as these things are always announced) “postponed.”


Far from assuming no danger of the Trumparade actually being resurrected, organizers of the peace parade are planning to move forward as planned with a celebration of both Armistice Day and the prevention of the disastrous scheme to roll a giant middle finger to the world down Pennsylvania Avenue in the form of the weapons of mass destruction built by some of the top contributors to U.S. election campaigns, dealers of instruments of death to dictatorships around the world, and prospective members of the nascent Space Force.

Events are being planned for the weekend of Armistice Day in Washington, D.C., and around the world. The plan is to . . .

Celebrate No Trump Military Parade in Washington on November 10!

Celebrate Armistice Day and Peace Everywhere on November 11!

Sign up for any event on the world map here, or add a new one.

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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If you can be in Washington, D.C., to celebrate preventing the Trump military parade, also sign up here.

Also, join in the Women’s March on the Pentagon on October 21-22.

Come to a free peace concert in Washington D.C., November 9, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. planned by Code Pink.

We’ll also be part of Catharsis on the Mall, November 10-12, in Washington, D.C.

Note also that the Kennedy Center in DC is opening a show about the WWI Christmas Truces on the evening of November 10.

Veterans For Peace is planning a silent march to all the monuments in Washington, D.C., on November 11.

November 11, 2018, is Armistice Day 100, a century since World War I was ended at a scheduled moment (11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918). For decades in the United States, as elsewhere, Armistice Day was a holiday of peace, of sad remembrance and joyful ending of war, of a commitment to preventing war in the future. The holiday’s name was changed in the United States during the U.S. war in Korea to “Veterans Day,” a largely pro-war holiday on which some U.S. cities forbid Veterans For Peace groups from marching in their parades. Trump had planned for this year a super-pro-war weapons parade — a Trumparade — for Washington D.C. on Saturday November 10th, the day before Armistice Day.

Our goal (now partially met) was to get the weapons parade (until recently planned for November 10th) canceled but to carry through with our own peaceful Armistice Day celebration in Washington, D.C., and everywhere else on earth. If the Trumparade had not been canceled, our goal was to be bigger and make a more impressive showing for peace and friendship than the weapons parade made for war and hatred and profiteering greed.

We need your help planning Armistice Day / Remembrance Day events everywhere on earth, and adding our presence to those already scheduled. If you can start an event or a contingent to participate in a larger event, we can help you. The first step is: please enter it into our system so that it shows up on our map for people to find.

More Than 300 Newspapers Denounce Trump Attacks on the Press

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from Prensa Latina

More than 300 US media are publishing editorials to denounce President Donald Trump”s growing attacks against the press, in an initiative launched by the Boston Globe newspaper.

As part of the unprecedented campaign, each newspaper organization on Thursday disseminates its own considerations on the subject, with the common point of denouncing the position of a president who has said that the media are ‘enemies of the people’ and has branded them as ‘dangerous and sick.’ 


Click on the image to enlarge

We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 about the dangers of administration assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date, urged the Globe in recent days, and many texts began to appear in since yesterday.

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(Click here for the Spanish version of this article.)

Question(s) related to this article:

Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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In Missouri, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called journalists ‘the most loyal of patriots’; in Illinois, the Chicago Sun-Times said that most Americans know that Trump says nonsense; and in North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer considered that the president manipulates reality to obtain what he wants.

For its part, The New York Times noted that in 2018 some of the most damaging attacks against news organizations come from government officials.

Criticizing the media for minimizing or exaggerating the stories, for doing something wrong, is totally correct. Journalists and news editors are human and make mistakes. Correcting them is essential for our work, the newspaper said.

For its part, The Mercury News, published in San Jose, California, reported that in its rallies, the president verbally abuses the press, and ‘it is not surprising that some of his followers have taken it to the next step, threatening with violence.’ 

For the Philadelphia Inquirer, in Pennsylvania, Trump made the term ‘false news’ a mantra with which he points to any news coverage and, often, to any fact with which he does not agree.

In some media, however, there are some contrary opinions, considering that it could give the president more arguments in his speech that there is a coordinated attempt among the country’s publications against him.

‘Trump will get enough fresh material to hit the media for at least a month,’ said journalist Jack Shafer in the digital portal Politico.

How Corporations ‘Bypassed the Politics’ to Lead on Clean Energy in 2017

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article by Julia Pyper for Green Tech Media (reprinted as non-commercial use)

From mega wind purchases to rooftop solar arrays to electric truck orders, companies of all sizes are stepping up to act on climate.

When President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord attention quickly turned to corporate America. Would business leaders forge ahead in the fight against climate change in the absence of federal backing?

In 2017, at least, the answer is yes. 


As of December 12, when heads of state joined to commemorate the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement, 327 major corporations, worth a cumulative $6.5 trillion, had committed to matching their emission reduction plans with the Paris goals through the Science Based Targets initiative. Another 864 companies have stated their intention to adopt a science-based target within two years. 

These companies hail from some 50 countries and 70 sectors, including finance, chemicals, food processing, technology hardware and more. Companies headquartered in the U.S. make up 20 percent of the group and have made the greatest number of climate commitments to date, despite uncertainty surrounding the American government’s participation in the Paris accord.

In addition, some 1,700 U.S. businesses from every state and of varying sizes — from Walmart to Wild Joe’s Coffee Spot in Bozeman, Montana — have signed the “We Are Still In” declaration. The initiative, which also includes cities, statehouses and college campuses, was intended to demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement.

Apple, for instance, issued a $1 billion green bond in June, shortly after Trump announced his exit from the climate deal, which CEO Tim Cook tried to convince the president not to quit. This is the tech giant’s second green bond, following a $1.5 billion offering that came in response to the Paris Agreement last year. Proceeds from the green bond sales will be used to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at Apple facilities.

In another significant development this year, Walmart launched Project Gigaton, which asks its suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 1 gigaton by 2030. That amounts to the equivalent of taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off of U.S. roads for an entire year.

Walmart is “bypassing the politics” to focus on driving down emissions internally and in its supply chain, said the company’s Chief Sustainability Officer Kathleen McLaughlin, speaking at the New York Times’ ClimateTECH conference in late November. There is a business case for supporting sustainable agriculture, combating deforestation, reducing waste and purchasing renewables, she said. Cost savings is one, but there’s also the potential for business-model innovation, improved product quality and increased sales revenue.

“In light of the withdrawal from the Paris accord…I wouldn’t say the political winds are favorable to the climate agenda right now,” McLaughlin said. “But we’re trying to make it practical and favorable just from a common-sense point of view.”

Walmart signed the We Are Still in pledge, she added, because “we think we need to show the rest of the world that there is still a critical mass of American companies of states and cities working on this, to drive [climate action] forward.” 

New recruits to the 100 percent group

As part of their climate action plans, 119 companies have committed to sourcing renewable energy for 100 percent of their operations through the RE100 initiative. That’s up from 56 members a year and a half ago.

Schneider Electric is the latest company to commit to 100 percent renewable electricity through RE100, with a 2030 target date. The European multinational also pledged to double its energy productivity by 2030, from a 2005 baseline, through an initiative called EP100

 “When it comes to the climate, I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist — I’m an activist,” said Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, in a statement. “Prosperity and energy are intertwined.”

Other recent additions to the RE100 list include Estée Lauder, Kellogg, DBS Bank and Clif Bar. Citi Group also made the 100 percent renewables pledge in September, on top of the company’s vow to finance $100 billion in clean energy, infrastructure and technology projects. 

Meanwhile, French utility EDF Group recently committed to transitioning to electric vehicles by 2030 through EV100, a new initiative that seeks to make electric transport “the new normal.” All three initiatives — RE100, EP100 and EV100 — are led by the international nonprofit organization The Climate Group.

The increasing cost-competitiveness of lithium-ion batteries has made electric trucks, and shorter-haul vehicles in particular, an attractive investment for many companies. UPS, for instance, currently owns 120 electric trucks in the U.S. and more than 140 of them abroad. In New York City alone, UPS is planning to convert up to 1,500 tucks to EVs by 2022.

To support its electrification goals UPS recently placed advance orders for the newly introduced Tesla Semi. PepsiCo, Walmart and several others have also preordered the Tesla truck, which is scheduled for delivery in 2019.

It took Walmart a decade to double the fuel efficiency of its trucking fleet in an attempt to reduce fossil fuel use and cut costs, but the company still uses an enormous amount of fuel, said McLaughlin. The company is excited to pilot the Tesla Semi and other electrified platforms because “we envision a world where our fleet is run completely on renewable energy and we think this is an exciting step that allows us to experiment with that,” she said.

With electric trucks either on the market or expected from manufacturers such as BYD, Daimler, Volvo, Tevva Motors, Chanje and several others, corporate customers will soon have lots of options to buy electric. The rise of electric trucks coupled with exponential growth in the number of passenger EV models has made a campaign like EDF Group’s commitment to EV100 achievable.

The biggest corporate deals of 2017

EDF hasn’t only been active on cleantech internally. Like many other energy companies, EDF has also played a growing role in serving others in the corporate sector this year.

In late November, EDF Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of EDF Group, announced a deal to supply Google with 200 megawatts of wind energy generated from the new Glaciers Edge Wind Project  in Iowa. Glaciers Edge is the third deal EDF RE has done with Google, and it is expected to come on-line in December 2019. Once complete, the wind farm will help Google reach its goal of purchasing enough renewable energy to match its consumption for global operations.

Google also signed agreements in recent weeks for wind-generated electricity from Avangrid’s Coyote Ridge  and Tatanka Ridge wind farms in South Dakota, both of which are 98 megawatts, as well as 140 megawatts from the 300-megawatt Red Dirt site in Oklahoma. The cumulative 536 megawatts Google purchased from U.S. wind farms in November puts the company’s total renewable energy procurement to date above 3 gigawatts.

These wind deals are just the latest in a long list of corporate renewable energy procurements this year. While 2017 won’t be record-breaking, it will be the second-best year for corporate renewable deals, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Business Renewables Center.

“Sustainable companies, led by tech giants and other leading Fortune 100s, are moving forward on their clean energy commitments,” Jacob Susman, head of origination for EDF RE, wrote in an email. This comes despite uncertainty around federal tax implications and the potential for new solar tariffs. According to Susman, “this is a testament to the value, risk mitigation, and societal and environmental benefits they perceive from adding renewables to their portfolios.”

Notable deals include Anheuser-Busch’s virtual power-purchase agreement with Enel Green Power for 152.5 megawatts of the 298-megawatt Thunder Ranch wind farm in Billings, Oklahoma. The renewable energy produced under the PPA is equivalent to meeting 50 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s total electricity needs in one year, which is enough renewable electricity to produce more than 20 billion 12-ounce servings of beer annually. The Anheuser-Busch agreement marks a significant step toward delivering on parent company AB InBev’s global commitment to secure 100 percent of purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

JPMorgan Chase, which recently committed to facilitating at least $200 billion in clean financing over the next eight years, signed a 20-year PPA with NRG for a 100-megawatt wind project this year as part of the bank’s commitment to cover all of its power needs with renewables by 2020. While JPMorgan does not disclose how much power that amounts to, it will have to cover the real estate footprint of more 5,500 properties in 60 countries. To reach that goal, the company is also evaluating on-site solar options on up to 1,400 bank-owned retail buildings and 40 commercial buildings worldwide.

At the same time, America’s biggest bank is cutting energy use at its 4,500 U.S. branches through the use of new energy management and digital technologies. Chase is partnering with GE’s Current to install sensors, software and lighting controls that will help bank branches reduce electric and gas consumption by 15 percent. The company also continues to offset 100 percent of emissions generated by employee air travel on an annual basis. Collectively, these actions put JPMorgan Chase on track to reach its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Kimberly-Clark also made some big commitments to clean energy in 2017, with the corporation’s first major renewables agreement to buy 245 megawatts and 1 million megawatt-hours of electricity from two new wind projects in Texas and Oklahoma. In October, Amazon made a splash with its largest wind farm announced to date.

The next frontier of corporate purchasing: Smaller buyers

Industry giants with household names are currently leading the way with renewable energy purchases, but the corporate clean energy market is starting to diversify and appeal to smaller players.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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“The next frontier of corporate purchasing is for corporate buyers with smaller appetites to increase their renewables contracting in a meaningful way,” said EDF’s Susman.
Expanding markets to these smaller players has proved to be a challenge, however.

In an interview earlier this year, Patrick Flynn, director of sustainability at Salesforce, pointed out that in the commercial renewables sector “growth is driven by a handful of large, experienced corporations” and the top priority should be to “lower barriers to entry” for other companies.

While many companies are choosing to bypass federal politics to act on their climate agenda, policy innovation at the state and local level continues to be critical for the commercial renewables sector. That’s true for companies of all sizes, but it’s especially so for smaller businesses that are more price-sensitive.

In regulated markets, utility green tariff programs are an emerging option for corporate customers. As of September, 17 green tariffs in 13 states have been proposed or approved since NV Energy put forward the first green tariff in 2013, according to the World Resources Institute.

Green tariffs come in different forms and flavors. Puget Sound Energy, for instance, launched the first subscriber-style green tariff to be used by retailers and small governments in April. While most existing green tariffs are designed to enable a single, new and very large customer to contract for an entire renewable energy project, PSE’s Green Direct program allows existing customers to contract for a more modest portion of a big clean energy project, which could enable smaller corporate players to participate.

In North Carolina, a July law reintroduced a Green Source Rider Program that allows corporations, the military, and the University of North Carolina to purchase renewables. The same law, HB 589, also legalized third-party leasing of renewable energy systems, which could be a viable option for the business community.

If companies don’t get the policy arrangement they want, regulated utilities risk losing corporate customers. Pressure from large corporate buyers is spurring utilities in the heart of coal country to find renewable energy solutions — despite President Trump’s calls for a coal renaissance. In Nevada, casinos such MGM and Wynn Resorts are leaving the grid to buy clean energy from outside suppliers, and now the state is considering deregulation.

Other parts of the country, a different set of policy solutions has cropped up. San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s CleanPowerSF program, for instance, helped Salesforce to source 100 percent renewable energy for its two office towers in San Francisco in August.

In deregulated markets, where most clean energy deals have been done to date, corporate buyers have more flexibility in their renewable energy purchasing options. But even here policy remains central. In all states, renewable energy targets, net metering policies, utility rate schedules, permitting processes, government incentives and other policy elements affect how easy or hard it is for companies of various sizes to purchase renewable energy.

Hospitals get active on renewable energy policy

In a testament to the role policy plays, healthcare providers in Ohio recently sent a letter to state lawmakers calling on them to stand behind the state’s clean energy standards and correct restrictive wind siting requirements. The letter asks for a “comprehensive approach to Ohio’s energy policy” that would “value innovative technologies that institute energy efficiency and demand response as a resource and expand the deployment of advanced energy technologies that curb energy costs to consumers.”

After several years of policy uncertainty, Ohio’s renewable energy and efficiency mandates were officially reinstated late last year. This year, the issue cropped up again. In March, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill to make the mandates voluntary. The legislation has since been taken up by the Senate, and Senate President Larry Obhof has said he’ll advance the bill in January. 

Meanwhile, there’s an ongoing debate in Ohio around the need to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.

“What both the advanced energy industry and healthcare providers would like to see from lawmakers is a move to put innovative technologies on a level playing field with some of the other incumbent technologies in the state, basically allowing competition to thrive,” said Ray Fakhoury, state policy associate at Advanced Energy Economy, which helped to facilitate the Ohio energy policy letter.

Large companies like Kaiser Permanente and Partners HealthCare have made sizable investments in renewables in recent years, but healthcare providers have generally taken a cautious approach to renewables. There’s hesitancy to make the upfront investment when healthcare needs are so high and some concern around disrupting hospital operations during installation. But the sector is starting to see a shift.
Because hospitals are the second most energy-intensive facility type in the U.S., renewables present a significant cost savings opportunity for the sector. Hospitals also need power around-the-clock and stand to benefit from clean energy microgrids in the event of an outage. Recent disasters such as the Boston bombing attack and Hurricane Harvey have underscored the need for uninterrupted electrical service at hospitals, according to a recent report sponsored by Ameresco.

“We’re now seeing hospitals get involved [in renewables] in a more active way, because pushing for access to a diverse portfolio of resources is something they’re interested in and Ohio is a state they’re looking to,” said Fakhoury.
Signers of the letter include the Cleveland Clinic, the Ohio Hospital Association Energy and Sustainability Program, and the CEOs of Mercy Health, Mount Carmel Health System, and Tri-Health. Energy business leaders signing the letter include executives from First Solar, Apex Clean Energy and Siemens.

Small commercial solar remains tricky

Of all companies, purchasing solar is the biggest challenge among the smallest players. Small and medium-sized businesses have traditionally been a “no man’s land” for solar installers.

Between 2012 and 2016, commercial solar installations were virtually flat due to project financing challenges, lengthy development timelines and heavy reliance on incentives.
According to GTM Research, commercial solar hit its highest year of installations in 2016 as the market experienced demand pull-in in response to two impending regulatory deadlines on solar-friendly rate structures came in California and the qualification period for obtaining the full SREC value in Massachusetts. These factors continued to drive deployments in 2017, but growth is expected to drop in 2018 and only grow incrementally over the next five years.

Legal fees and complex contract negotiations create substantial transaction costs for commercial project developers and owners. Customer acquisition is time-consuming and highly localized. And attractive financing is only available to a subset of the market. Small and medium-sized businesses don’t enjoy the investment-grade credit that the Fortune 100 companies do.

There’s still high interest in this market segment, however. Entities such as NextEra, NRG, AES and Duke’s REC Solar are active in the commercial solar space and competing to provide comprehensive low-carbon energy packages for customers.

Commercial solar asset owners are also taking more control of their projects from the outset, rather than acquiring projects at a later date. Taking more control can eliminate speed bumps like having to repeat due diligence on project financing, according to GTM Research solar analyst Michelle Davis, author of the Commercial Solar Asset Ownership  report. This trend could increase commercial solar installation volumes and concentrate the market beyond 2017.

Going global

While there’s still a huge opportunity to tap into the commercial renewables market in the U.S., most of the larger, mature buyers are now starting to direct their attention elsewhere.

According to the Business Renewables Center, North America accounted for more than 75 percent of global corporate PPAs through August 2017. But markets in South America, Europe and Asia have the potential for significant growth.

A recent report by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that new opportunities for companies to use cleaner power in China could increase the country’s wind and solar capacity by 40 percent over 2016 levels by 2020. China is already the global leader on renewable energy deployment, but it currently offers few scalable options for companies to use 100 percent renewables.

But things are starting to change.

China is undergoing its most significant electricity reform in a generation, according to the report. As a result, the number of options for corporate buyers is increasing. In March 2017, for instance, the government established ground rules for community solar, opening a new mechanism to procure local power for companies without sufficient rooftop access. RMI identified eight other new and existing pathways to expand corporate renewable energy procurements in China.

In some cases, policies and market dynamics in countries outside of the U.S. are better than those that exist within the U.S. 

Walmart, for instance, has a goal to reach 100 percent renewables across its global network, and currently sits around 25 percent renewable today. But in the U.S., that number is actually closer to 12 percent, due to “the regulatory environment, pricing environment, infrastructure, technology and so forth,” said McLaughlin.

Because large corporations have such large international footprints, they can’t afford not to lead on climate action or they could miss out on a business opportunity.

“We’re a global company, we operate all around the world, and so wherever we can, we like to have that certainty that there’s a level playing field wherever we operate,” said Todd Brady, director of global public affairs and sustainability at Intel, on a panel at ClimateTECH. “I think that makes a strong business case for staying in the Paris Agreement.”

The World Resources Institute identified three things company leaders can do push global climate action further in 2018: show up and speak up at high-level events, align their corporate climate goals with countries’ climate goals, and meet with ministers to help break down silos within and between governments, leading to a more cohesive policy framework.

At the COP23 climate conference in November, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ had a message for businesses: “I am asking you to misbehave.” He called for companies around the world to disrupt “business-as-usual” and urge governments to ramp up their climate action plans. Hundreds of businesses, in the U.S. and abroad, have accepted the secretary’s challenge. Now, the world will be watching for them to follow through.

Teachers, activists denounce U.S. immigration policies, attempt to deliver books, toys to detained children

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from Education International

A group of teachers, unionists, activists and religious leaders traveled to a detention center at the U.S. Mexico border to deliver books, toys and gifts to children incarcerated by U.S. immigration authorities.

The delegation was there to denounce the cruel, inhumane and traumatic separation of children from their families, the abusive detention conditions of minors and the systematic violations of the Human Rights of migrant families by the U.S. government.

Under the scorching Texas sun, educators from both the Mexican and U.S. side of the border arrived at the gates of the Tornillo detention center, where several hundred children are living in a series of tents surrounded by a stone wall and barbed wire and under the custody of armed guards of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Before reaching the gate, the activists, which included members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) and EI’s General Secretary, David Edwards, participated in a demonstration to protest family separation policies and indefinite internment policies of the U.S. government.

The rally and visit to the detention center came on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order on the issue, which has done nothing to reunite children with their families and continues the policy of jailing children, minors and migrants seeking refuge. The administration also continues to violate international law and detain thousands of children.

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(Click here for the Spanish version of the article or here for the French version.)

Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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Armed guards at the gate refused to accept the donations, which included notebooks, teddy bears and soccer balls, and did not allow the teachers to enter or visit the children. The U.S. authorities also did not respond to a letter a sent in advance requesting the opportunity to deliver education materials to the children.

“We have seen governments around the world mistreat migrants and refugees, but we are horrified by the level of cruelty, arrogance and disregard for human rights displayed by U.S. authorities,” remarked EI General Secretary David Edwards.

Several NGO’s have reported children being tied up, handcuffed and forcibly medicated and sedated. In other instances children are denied exercise and human affection. This is also aggravated by the long term trauma of being inhumanly separated from their parents, explained Edwards.

“As the voice of educators, as professionals who care about children, as an organization committed to Human Rights, Education International condemns this brutal and outrageous treatment of migrants and children and calls for the immediate end to these policies,” Edwards added, “As educators we welcome, develop, encourage and inspire children. We also stand up for their rights.”

The president of AFT, Randi Weingarten, stated that “these policies are typical of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, not democracies…These actions violate basic human rights and have caused deep and traumatic harm. The nations of the world must take action against these immoral and hateful acts by this administration.”

Juan Díaz de la Torre, president of SNTE, who was also at the rally asserted that as educators “our vocation goes beyond teaching in a classroom. We are men and women dedicated to forming the citizens of the future. The inhumane treatment that these children are bearing will leave a mark on their development if we don’t act immediately.”

He added that to solve the migration challenges there must be a multilateral agreement/process that involves all countries receiving or expulsing migrants. Everyone must work towards a solution. “It may seem that borders divide us, but we have a vocation that unites us.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

USA: Former Marine to Create Legacy of Peace

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article from Ploughshares

On May 1st, 1952, two thousand Marines waited in the Nevada desert for the detonation of an atomic bomb. Crouched in foxholes just two miles from ground zero without protective equipment, they were instructed to keep their heads down. “The bottom of my foxhole turned a brilliant, bright white I’ve never seen except in chemistry classes,” Bud Johns remembers, adding, “We were told to stay down until that light changed, and then immediately leave the foxholes and double time with full packs and rifles toward ground zero.” The explosion to which these Marines were exposed was the 19 kiloton Shot DOG, the fourth of a series of eight atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission as part of Operation TUMBLER-SNAPPER. According to a government fact sheet, “Tactical maneuvers were designed both to train troops and to test military tactics.”


Photo: Bud and Fran Johns

“When we got to ground zero,” Bud said. “where they had built a mock village with houses, sheep and goats, there was nothing but ashes. That made me a pacifist.”

Asked about his exposure to radiation, Bud shared, “We were guinea pigs. We wore badges to record how radioactive we were. We were lucky in our test because the wind disbursed the mushroom cloud and its radioactivity. The next test dropped a radioactive hotspot near St. George, Utah, where it killed farm animals. The hotspot remained, and years later when they were filming The Conqueror many of the cast and crew ended up dying of an identical cancer. Nobody paid much attention until John Wayne died.”

“The tests were widely publicized, so we weren’t sworn to secrecy afterwards,” Bud explained, “but we never talked about it.” Looking at a photo of Shot DOG that appeared in newspapers at the time, Bud noted he might be among the Marines pictured in front of a giant mushroom cloud. When results of US nuclear tests were declassified, Bud learned that his radiation exposure fell within acceptable AEC standards.

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Question related to this article:

Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Completing his Marine service in 1953, Bud returned to his home state of Michigan where he renewed a career in journalism as a political reporter for the Flint Journal. Having worked his way through Albion College, Bud came to San Francisco in 1956 as a newspaper bureau chief.

Not long after arriving in San Francisco, Bud met Sally Lilienthal. Sally was horrified to learn of Bud’s experience. “I’ve never shared my story publicly, only individually, and I told Sallie I wanted no part of anything like that ever again. I became involved with Ploughshares Fund as soon as Sally started it,” Bud said. Bud and Fran Johns were married in 1992. Having dated while Fran attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Bud was in the Marines, they were reintroduced after 40 years by family. According to Bud, “When Fran first came to San Francisco, I brought her to a party and introduced her to Sally with, ‘I want you to meet a great lady.'” Fran, a life-long writer who has written extensively in the fields of death and dying and reproductive justice, added, “So, I married into Ploughshares.”

Reflecting on Bud’s experience, Fran said, “Every time I hear about a test, I have to wonder what human participation they had that we’ll never hear about. When you look at the fallout on the soldiers and the film crew, you get an idea of how related we all are. We can’t just think that if North Korea drops a bomb somewhere the effects will only impact that place.”

“And the bombs are so much more powerful now than the bomb I saw,” Bud added. “It’s like comparing the M1 rifle I carried to an AR15.”

Commenting on his decades-long annual support of Ploughshares Fund, and his decision to include Ploughshares Fund in his will, Bud said, “The work it does is important, and it’s a battle that doesn’t have the support it should. You have to chip away at it, and that’s what Ploughshares Fund does. I’m probably the only member of Ploughshares who has seen an A-bomb blast. Politicians often think in terms of a war machine. A lot more of them would be pacifists if they had experienced the foxhole and seen the results at ground zero.”

Fran expressed her hope that people will see how Ploughshares Fund works to, “stop us from going down this horrendous path we’re on.” She said, “Other than voting, the individual doesn’t have the power to stop this, so supporting Ploughshares Fund is one little way for people to help stop the planet from self-destructing,” Ploughshares Fund is honored to list Bud and Fran Johns as members of the Nuclear-Free Legacy Society. For more information about the Nuclear-Free Legacy Society, or about ways to support Ploughshares Fund through your will or trust, contact Elizabeth Warner at 415-668-2244 or ewarner@ploughshares.org.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)
 

USA and Nigeria: The Right to Water

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

Information from Corporate Accountability

The government in Lagos, Nigeria is considering at least five water privatization projects. In response 23 members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a powerful statement in solidarity with the Our Water, Our Right campaign, which is leading the movement to keep water affordable and accessible in Lagos. The statement highlighted the perils of water privatization and connected the dots between struggles in the Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and Lagos, Nigeria.


Akinbode Mathew Oluwafemi

Here is their letter:

To Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi
Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria

Dear Akinbode Oluwafemi and members of the “Our Water, Our Right” Coalition,

We. members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus signed below, continue to stand with you and our brothers and sisters in communities across the United States, the African continent, and the world as we struggle together to achieve the universal human right to clean, safe drinking water.

Thank you for bringing to our attention developments since our 2015 communication about the situation in Lagos, Nigeria, where a mere fraction ofthe city’s roughly 21 million people have regular access to safe water. Water is a fundamental human right and building block upon which individual and collective economic prosperity relies. When people cannot access or afford clean water, the impact on their health and livelihoods is devastating. As you know all too well, these circumstances force families to make painful economic choices.

Unfortunately, water access is a problem that transcends national boundaries. In the U.S. city of Detroit, low-income residents continue to experience inhumane water shutoffs, a development that has drawn the concern of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. In Flint, nearly 100,000 people are still dealing with the effects of being poisoned by contaminated water, and are demanding infrastructure repair and health services.

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Question related to this article:

Is the right to water a basic human right?

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In Pittsburgh, people are facing elevated lead levels and working to ensure their water is safe, affordable and publicly-controlled. In both Pittsburgh and Flint, people are fighting for democratic control of their water systems: organizing against privatization in Pittsburgh, rebuilding from the devastating legacy of emergency management in Flint, and holding the global water corporation, Veolia, accountable for its role in the public health crises in both of these cities. At the root of the water crisis in the U.S. is a failure to invest in our precious public water infrastructure, which is an important foundation for achieving the human right to water. And as you know personally, the people of Lagos are facing the possibility that their water services will also be privatized.

We are deeply concerned that low-income communities, African Americans and other people of color, and people in the Global South are disproportionately affected when water is managed with greater attention to profits and finances than to human rights. Time and time again we have seen this practice result in abuses in the most vulnerable communities, whether through neglect and failure to invest in public infrastructure, or through outright privatization. While we cannot all be experts on the distinct water access challenges facing each of the world’s cities, we share your concerns that a move towards privatization of the water system in Lagos, including through public-private partnerships, could leave the city vulnerable to the negative impacts historically associated with various forms of water privatization, including rate hikes, unaffordable service, inequitable access, worker layoffs, service interruptions, and failures to adequately invest in infrastructure. Privatization also introduces significant governance challenges that can erode democratic control and oversight, including the government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.

Protecting this public good requires transparency, democratic decision-making, and strong public participation, particularly when governments consider contracting private, for-profit entities for water delivery and management. It is in this spirit that we wish to express our solidarity with the people of Lagos, Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and cities around the world as they raise their voices in support of public water, participatory governance, and universal access. Movements like yours provide us with an inspiring example of democracy in action and a valuable contribution to the struggle to secure the human right to water.

We also wish to demonstrate our support for governments exercising leadership, courage, and political will to stand up to powerful interests and make the strong public investments in water infrastructure that have proven successful in the past. It is our hope that we can continue working together to ensure that all people enjoy their fundamental human right to water.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

I Am the Flame

. DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An article by Irene Kai

I am honored to be telling my story as a peace builder, and an immigrant in the United States of America. I met my partner David Wick in 1999. He worked with Avon Mattison and Joanie (Misrack) Ciardelli since 1980 on the foundation of Pathways To Peace (PTP) which became a United Nations NGO. Pathways To Peace then developed Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and works with the U.N. Centre for Human Rights, U.N. Centre for Human Settlements, UNESCO, UNICEF and other Agencies. It is also an official Peace Messenger of the United Nations.


World Peace Flame Monument, Snowdonia Mountain Lodge, Wales

I arrived in New York’s Chinatown from Hong Kong in 1965 at the age of fifteen, not knowing how to speak English. I learned quickly that for me to survive, I had to learn the language, get educated and assimilate into the American culture. In the process, I learned to be a keen observer of both cultures. I soon recognized and retained what serves me. From the Chinese, I work hard, fiercely adhere to devotion, discipline and humility, from the American, I am creative and daring to forge new paths. I am a quick learner, I apply what I learned into practices, therefore, I created my own culture.

David introduced me to Avon Mattison not long after we met. I joined PTP as a director and assisted in various projects and created the Culture of Peace Initiative logo which is seen on this CPI newsletter and a print of this image hangs in the United Nations.

On September 21, 2015, the International Day of Peace, David and I launched the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ashlandcpc.org) which was based on the years of experience working with PTP and the United Nations. This was a unique opportunity to organize on the ground, in a dynamic and creative community and a small city, the principles, practices and insights of what a Culture of Peace can be.

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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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A week before the launch of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, I traveled to the UK for an art exhibit created by Banksy with my daughter. We decided to visit Wales since we had rented a car. Deep in the Snowdonia Mountains, I needed to turn my car around to go back to town and I turned into an outlet behind the mountain and I was stunned to see a glass monument with a flame near the top with the words “World Peace Flame” etched on the glass. I gazed at the flame in awe. The flame ignited the sacred flame in my heart and I knew instantly, peace starts with me – I am the flame.

In 1999, seven sacred flames from five continents were joined in Wales to become the World Peace Flame. The Asian flame was lit from the eternal flame at Gandhi’s memorial. My deep desire to bring the World Peace Flame to Ashland, Oregon, USA is to share the inspiration with each person to take responsibility to practice peace. There is only one other World Peace Flame in the United States, it is in the Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King. Peace is not just a concept or to help some other causes in faraway places. It is a daily practice. I experienced and learned about tremendous anger in communities in our country and in the world. Anger is an expression of deep passion; the same fierce passion also was expressed by Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King for peace. It is a choice.

My family is from China, immigrants to the United States. Many of us are immigrants in this country. I am proud to be an American. I am not defined by the US national politics. I traveled to many countries and experienced many cultures and America is the only country that offers freedom and the opportunity for a girl from New York Chinatown, who did not speak English, to have a vision and then through hard work and determination is bringing the World Peace Flame to the United States. The World Peace Flame is being lit on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2018 in Ashland, Oregon.

There is only one race in this country and in the world – the Human Race. We have different history and habits, but we share the same humanity. We put the stake in the ground, we light the World Peace Flame along with the sacred flame in our hearts. We declare that we are defined by our desire and action to bring peace to ourselves and to the world. We unite with our hearts to protect and care for each other, our children, our community, our country and our planet. We choose Peace.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Campaign Nonviolence National Convergence in Washington, DC this September 21-22, 2018

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An email received on July 14, 2018 from Ryan Hall of the Pace e Bene Community//Campaign Nonviolence

We’re working hard to get the word out about the Campaign Nonviolence National Convergence in Washington, DC this September 21-22, 2018.

[Editor’s note: Click here for the Campaign’s actions last September


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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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In preparation, John Dear has put together a Covenant of Nonviolence that we wil be using for the Saturday march from the King Memorial to the White House. It’s also a great tool to use for any actions you hold locally during the September CNV Action Week.

John Dear writes that, “This covenant of nonviolence is based on the guidelines of nonviolence which Dr. King used in the Birmingham, AL Campaign, in the Spring of 1963. We encourage everyone to reflect on these guidelines and to deepen their nonviolence during our time together and the days ahead.” Read the covenant here. If you plan to join us in DC, let us know by filling out the form on the Convergence page here.

Be sure to also let us know if you’re planning a CNV Action this year. So far we’ve got over 1000 actions against war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction being planned this September. Let us know about yours here if you haven’t done so yet.

Finally, John Dear has a new 4 week online course coming up next month organized by Monasteries of the Heart focused on the Beatitudes of Peace. Learn more about it and how to register here.

North America: Greentrees Sequesters Another 1 Million+ Tons of Carbon via Reforestation; Wins Award

. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Revitalization: the Journal of Urban, Rural and Enviornmental Resilience

GreenTrees® claims to be the largest reforestation program in North America, with over 120,000 acres of trees restored via its 500 landowner partners. These plantings produceg over 1,000,000 tons annually on The American Carbon Registry.

GreenTrees recently completed its latest verification for 1,273,866 metric tons on the American Carbon Registry (ACR). This marks the second consecutive issuance of over one million tons.


Photo credit: GreenTrees.

ACR has had fifteen issuances over a million forestry tons for both compliance and voluntary markets. This includes IFM, Avoided Conversion and Afforestation/Reforestation project types. Of the fifteen issuances, GreenTrees has two of them. Only three of the fifteen issuances are from afforestation/reforestation projects, with the remaining one from an international project.

The GreenTrees River System approach is setting the standard for how reforestation can achieve scale and impact and does it with small and medium-sized landowners. Reforestation provides a continuous loop of scaled impact while bending the climate curve.

On behalf of landowners—whose properties range from 7 to 1700+ acres–the company quantifies their positive impact being made in cleaning up the air, building equity in the landscape, filtering the water and enhancing wildlife habitat.

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Question for this article:

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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Ultimately, reforestation is about repairing past and growing future with nature’s own solar-powered carbon sequestration technology: trees.

On April 5, 2018, GreenTrees was awarded The American Carbon Registry’s Innovation Award. The American Carbon Registry (ACR) is a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International.

GreenTrees received ACR’s Innovation award in recognition of exceptional implementation of the world’s largest reforestation project both in terms of volume of high-quality verified emissions reductions issued and number of participating landowners and acres. The GreenTrees project is a one-million-acre conservation initiative that aims to plant over 500 million new trees for ecosystem repair and climate impact in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, North America’s largest rainforest and waterfowl migratory corridor.

By partnering with close to 500 landowners on over 120,000 acres to date to reforest their degraded lands, GreenTrees has enhanced wildlife habitat, improved water and soil quality and delivered local economic development benefits in addition to generating over 2.5 million tonnes of verified carbon offsets for partners including Norfolk Southern, Duke Energy, United Airlines, Arbor Day Foundation, Blue Mountain Brewery and Skyway Air Taxi, among others.

“We highly value this award and thank the American Carbon Registry for its keen understanding of research and market-based programs, our corporate clients and carbon buyers for endorsing our work, our conservation community friends for their wonderful counsel over the years, and our landowners as partners. Their stake as equity brokers with us is the chief factor creating the prairie fire of steadily expanding healthy forest ecosystems, which is the leading reforestation co-benefit for our time,” said Jerry Van Voorhis, president and chief executive officer of GreenTrees.

“We believe that ecosystem change in forestry alone will help bend the climate curve back most, replenish our earth, and let the tools of capitalism work for the greater good of the planet,” he concluded.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

USA: A call to resist immigrant concentration camps

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article from Courage to Resist

Courage to Resist believes that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with [the following] immigrant concentration camps.

Actual concentration camps are in the process of development at military bases across the Southern United States. Potential locations have been identified by military or Pentagon personnel as:

Tornillo Port of Entry, Texas – capacity 360 teenagers CURRENTLY ACTIVE

Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas – capacity 45,000
Fort Bliss, Texas

Dyess Air Force Base, Texas

Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas – capacity 20,000
Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Air Station, California – capacity 47,000

Navy Outlying Field Wolf and Silverhill, Alabama – capacity 25,000
Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona

Concord Naval Weapons Station, California – capacity 47,000 CANCELLED [see below]

This isn’t the first time in US history that facilities are being constructed and used to imprison large numbers of a persecuted minority in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities (the definition of a concentration camp). Previous examples of this are now infamous, such as the so-called Japanese internment camps. We’re now on the brink of adding a new chapter to this dark history.

Military officials, in response to pressured deadlines from the White House, have stated that these camps can begin to be operational by mid-August. Estimates are that capacity for another 10,000 people can be added each month. The White House’s stated timeline of 45 days out from June 27th has local base commanders scrambling and caught unaware.

In addition to providing the land, military personnel will construct the camps while private agencies will manage the operations. While this simplified explanation of operations seeks to minimize the military’s role, it omits the endless capacities in which the armed forces will surely be facilitating the functioning of these camps such as with water, electricity, sewage, trash, and all of the other services to go allow with sustaining tens of thousands of immigrant detainees.

Additional operational problems include the difficulty of housing persons in restricted access bases who legally need access to immigration and civil-liberties lawyers, secure areas to discuss their cases, as well as access for advocates, relatives, news media and political activists. Another issue is the lack of state licensing requirements, such as health and building codes, which military locations enable the government to avoid.

As of July 10th, two weeks after the Pentagon confirmed that it was indeed working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct these camps, there was still no Memorandum of Understanding with either DHS or Health and Human Services (HHS) nor could any timeline be stated for one. A memorandum would clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of all parties. To move forward with construction plans without one, nor any clear legal guidance, certainly leads military personnel into dangerous waters for themselves.

The military is strictly prohibited from domestic policing as stated in the constitution yet military personnel are being drafted into doing just that with this rising domestic enforcement of immigration policy. Just because Trump/Sessions Co. declares a war on immigrants, doesn’t make it an actual war. Being quite clearly an illegal order, the question is who will refuse to aid and abet?

The Trump administration’s reckless leadership is currently putting military personnel in danger of running afoul of the law. While military personnel at all levels have a responsibility to refuse to participate in facilitating these camps, commanders in particular are at a particularly high risk in complying with these orders due to the precedent of the Nuremberg prosecution of those who aided and abetted Nazi leadership.

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Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

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Already the construction of one camp has been abandoned due to people’s refusal to look the other way. The proposed use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station experienced significant resistance and outcry from the community and local officials who opposed the plan once it was exposed via a leaked Navy memo recently published. DHS soon thereafter announced they would no longer build a concentration camp at this location. To follow that up, on July 10th the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department announced it is cancelling its contract with ICE which facilitated the local county jails holding ICE-detained persons for a lucrative fee.

These human rights victories have been happening in other communities as well including Sacramento County just last month.

Since the news coverage of the camp plans was broken, there has been heated debate within military communities as individuals seek to understand and define their reactions to this new era we find ourselves in. Meanwhile more than thirty lawmakers are pushing forward different amendments which would bar National Guard or other reserve components from enforcing immigration laws, and restrict the Pentagon from housing immigrants on military bases. Alabama Rep. Byrne recently stated “Housing anyone in tents on the Gulf Coast during the heat of summer and the heart of hurricane season would be inhumane and a major mistake. I am committed to working with our local officials to fight back against this misguided idea.”

There are discussions and calls right now for counties to cease partnering with ICE, for communities surrounding military bases to refuse to work on the bases which will hold tens of thousands of people for the “crime” of seeking refuge.

Share this article and discuss with others these facts as you ask yourself, what will I do? Now is the time to make a decision. The White House has requested that the first of these large scale camps be ready by mid-August. We are in the midst of a pivotal moment in history, one way or another.

Sources:

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)