America’s Radioactive National Park

February 25, 2015 by Paul DeRienzo

Door to a contaminated area in the T Plant at the Hanford Reach National Monument. By Paul DeRienzo.

Door to a contaminated area in the T Plant at the Hanford Reach National Monument. By Paul DeRienzo.

Among the items in the $600 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last year is a measure establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which encompasses three sites central to the development of nuclear weapons.

Supporters see the park — a monument to the Manhattan Project, the super-secret wartime effort that built the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and killed 200,000 people—as a long-neglected commemoration of the bomb project. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation reported in 2001 that the development and use of the atomic bomb during World War II was “the single most significant event of the 20th century.”

Located at Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington, the park will be jointly run by the National Park Service and the Department of Energy. U.S. senators from the three states involved sponsored the legislation, but notably, the park itself was left unfunded.

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Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a vocal opponent of commemorating the Manhattan Project, had blocked passage of the park proposal until he lost his 2012 re-election bid. Responding to the park’s supporters, who claim the monument is a celebration of technological achievement and not the bombing of civilians, Kucinich replied: “The technology which created the bomb cannot be separated from the horror which the bomb created.”

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Did the US Prison Boom Lead to the Crime Drop? New Study Says No

By Juan Thompson Feb. 19, 2015

Louisiana — a state whose motto is Union, Justice and Confidence — is known for many things. The Bayou State is the birthplace of jazz, Creole, and Cajun food, and New Orleans is the site of the country’s largest annual Mardi Gras Carnival. But as the Times-Picayune found in a major series years ago, Louisiana is also “the world’s prison capital,” with an incarceration rate that is “nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s.”

Last week, a new study from the Brennan Center for Justice reaffirmed Louisiana’s grim status as the world’s leading jailer. “Louisiana incarcerates 1 in 75 adults, that’s twice the national average [496 people per 100,000] and the highest in the world,” said the Brennan Center’s Lauren-Brooke Eisen. But the crux of the study was not the state’s prison boom. Instead, researchers sought to explain what caused the dramatic drop in crime in the United States over the past couple decades — and to what extent the decline can be linked to the expansion of the prison industrial complex. In the past 20 years, Louisiana — in tandem with the rest of the country — has experienced a drastic drop in crime at the same time the state’s prison population has doubled.

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War Is STILL Not the Answer!

The Peace & Justice Center joins with Veterans for Peace in condemning the decision for more war.
 

Veterans For Peace is disappointed but not surprised by the so called strategy President Obama presented last night. We are disappointed because it is more of the same. The U.S. will continue to be “the greatest purveyor of violence” on the earth. It will continue to follow a failed policy of war-making in the Middle East. It will continue to waste precious financial resources which should be directed toward human needs and to support the U.S. economy.It will continue to put U.S. service members into harm’s way when other solutions are possible and it will continue to take the lives of innocent people, most of whom will undoubtedly be women and children who are always disproportionately impacted by war.

We are not surprised because it has been made clear to us that our leaders are not interested in finding solutions other than war to solve international conflicts. After thirteen years of war what has been accomplished? Iraq and Afghanistan are in shambles, the Taliban has not been defeated, al Qaeda has further decentralized to at least thirty countries, ISIL has emerged as a power of sorts in Iraq and Syria and a State Department report outlines that terrorism increased by 43% in 2013. By any objective measure, U.S. foreign policy in the Iraq and Afghanistan from Bush to Obama has been a failure. Yet more war is put forth as the answer, even though President Obama himself in the recent past said there is not a military solution to the violence in Iraq and last night explained that ISIL does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Why then do we continue down this path?

There are solutions to confronting ISIL which do not include U.S. military action.

  1. Stop the airstrikes because the Sunni leaders and militia, who President Obama acknowledges must be persuaded to break with ISIL, see the U.S. as acting as the air force for the Kurds and Shia against Sunnis. The driving force for the Sunni-ISIL alliance is the alienation of Sunnis from Baghdad by the previous Iraqi administration. Bombing Sunnis will not help mend this relationship.
  2. Stop the slippery slope of sending troops to Iraq and stop sending more weapons that fuel the conflict killing more civilians and ignoring human rights violations committed by “allies.”This includes pressuring countries to stop supporting and selling arms to ISIL and stopping all black market weapons sales.
  3. Make diplomacy the number one priority. Since it is clear there is no military solution, seriously engage with everyone in the region, including Iran who is needed to force the Iraqi government to be more inclusive with Sunni leaders. Without an inclusive government in Iraq there is no way to effectively confront ISIL.
  4. Initiate a new effort at building a broad diplomatic solution in the United Nations to use diplomatic and financial pressure to stop countries from financing and arming ISIL and other fighters in Syria. An arms embargo on all sides should be on the long-term agenda.
  5. Make a real effort to restart UN negotiations to end the civil war in Syria. Set aside preconceived demands and work to end the violence. Once that is achieved the people of Syria can begin to chart their destiny.
  6. Massively increase humanitarian efforts through the UN and any other means. Real and effective efforts to relieve suffering will go a long way in convincing people to break with ISIL. More U.S. bombings and killings will only confirm that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam.

President Obama outlined a strategy no different from what the U.S. has done for the past thirteen years. It is not a plan for success, it is a gamble that war will work this time when it has spectacularly failed thus far. We at Veterans For Peace challenge the American people to ask whose interests does endless war serve? Who is paying for these wars, whose children are dying in these wars and who is getting paid to finance and provide weapons for these wars? We the people are being driven by manipulated fear to support polices that are not in our interest. Peace is harder than war, but it is cheaper in blood and treasure. After thirteen years it is time to take another path, the path of peace.

Activism!

"I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement."

-Angela Davis

 

Justice = Love

Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Birthday Celebration

Martin Luther King, Jr. - January 4, 1929 to April 4, 1968

10 Reasons Why the TransPacific Partnership Must Be Defeated

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy. It will also negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world.

The TPP is a treaty that has been written behind closed doors by the corporate world. Incredibly, while Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry and major media companies have full knowledge as to what is in this treaty, the American people and members of Congress do not. They have been locked out of the process. Further, all Americans, regardless of political ideology, should be opposed to the “fast track” process which would deny Congress the right to amend the treaty and represent their constituents’ interests.

More available at: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/31/ten-reasons-why-tpp-must-be-defeated

As 2014 comes to a close.....

As 2014 comes to a close, the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County looks back on thirty years of amazing history working for peace and justice. 

As the Center embarks upon its second thirty years, we wish to express our gratitude for your support over the years. Without you, our longevity and impact simply would not have been possible.

To honor the longevity and tenacity of our community seeking peace and justice, we ask that you make a tax-deductible contribution to the Peace and Justice Center before January 1st.

While any amount is deeply appreciated, we gratefully ask you to consider a special level of giving to commemorate the Center's thirty years of success and to ensure it continues for decades to come.

Again, thank you for your support.

Say "No!" to War Toys