By Kathy Kelly for Counterpunch. Before making their home in Damascus, Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak had regularly visited Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, where they developed lasting friendships and deepened cultural awareness. Iraq was steadily deteriorating under thirteen years of U.S./UN imposed economic sanctions. Despite iron clad determination by U.S. policy makers to isolate Iraq, Gabe and Theresa repeatedly challenged the economic sanctions by carrying medicines and medical relief supplies to Iraqi children, families and hospitals. They also helped organize opportunities for scores of other U.S. and U.K. people to visit Iraq as part of Voices in the Wilderness (VitW). Voices delegations politely but firmly notified U.S. authorities that they would break the economic sanctions by personally carrying duffel bags filled with children’s vitamins, antibiotics, medical textbooks, surgical kits, first aid material and medical relief supplies, all of which the economic sanctions prohibited.
By Dud Hendrick for Popular Resistance. Bath, Maine – Guilty, guilty, guilty, 10 times said. We ten among our so-called Zumwalt 12, on trial for an act of civil resistance, silently faced our twelve peers and assessors in Bath, Maine’s District Court on Friday, February 3. After two and a half days of testimony, the verdict came back in twenty minutes. In striving to remove the veils that obscure the costs of American militarism, we had served up a virtual seminar, but had not gotten to even one of them: we had broken a law, enough said! It was this simple alacrity, not the verdict, which amazed us. Still, as a bystander overheard two jurors remark after the proceedings, “I was moved by summa that stuff!” and also, “I’m puttin’ protest on my bucket list.”
By Four Arrows for Truthout – Oppressive legislation is aimed at ending grassroots resistance, the bedrock requirement for sustaining democracy. In an op-ed in the Guardian, Douglas Williams writes that it is not just the media, judiciary or electoral systems that are being undermined: “What is ignored is the effect that the Trump administration will have on the social movements, which serve as pillars of the resistance. If these fall, our democracy will be irreparably harmed.” In response to the “water is life” spiritual movement in Standing Rock, lawmakers in 10 states have proposed oppressive legislation. In North Dakota, a bill was proposed to let someone get away with running over a protester, after a cop on a snowmobile ran over a Water Protector. Earlier this month, the North Dakota State Senate passed a bill 33-12, making it illegal for a protester to wear a mask, whether to protect the face from cold or pepper spray.
By Bruce Gagnon of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. One of the big issues facing Denmark is the US pushing them to purchase the F-35 fighter plane that is getting lots of bad reviews for being a complicated and temperamental war plane. Peace activists there are organizing a campaign to block their government from buying the planes – the US is even demanding they purchase spare parts up front which is not a real confidence builder in the quality of the plane. Just like in all the other meetings Dave and I participated in during this trip, the demonization of Russia by NATO was at the forefront in our discussions. One Danish woman in the meeting said, “We’ve got to work together globally and do it around NATO which is at the center of what is creating tensions.”
By Eli Safran and Ibrahim Bushnak. Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine – Robi Damelin, an Israeli bereaved mother whose son – an IDF officer – was killed by a Palestinian sniper during the Second Intifada, gave to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) a watch bearing the flags of Israel and Palestine, and the word “Peace” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. That was at the climax of a meeting which President Abbas held with more than a hundred Israeli activists who came to the Presidential Compound in Ramallah. Robi Damelin and the other Israeli activists expressed appreciation for what Abbas said to them: “I do not believe in violence and terror. Despite all the difficulties that we face under occupation, we will not turn to other, improper means. We oppose such means and struggle against them. We are against violence and terror, anywhere in the world.”
By Uri Savir for Al Monitor – Sensing the despair in Palestinian public opinion, pragmatic officials in the PLO are contemplating a new interim policy move for 2017 to prevent an armed intifada and to keep alive the national Palestinian positions on permanent status. The idea is to launch a Palestinian initiative for a three-year interim agreement that would lead to permanent status. Summaryâ Print Pragmatic Fatah members are developing a proposal for a new interim agreement, which would establish a transitional state until negotiations on a permanent status solution are launched.
By Dr. Wee Teck Young Hakim) and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers for Our Journey to Smile. During particularly stressful moments in 2016, I had felt that the year was one long, hard Afghan night. A few evenings ago, my eyes had smarted from the dense irritant pollutants that enshroud Kabul streets and invade breaths and dreams in winter. Mansoor, determined to do well in his college entrance exams next year, laughed sarcastically at the burnt air which smelled of soot and survival scraps, holding his hand to his mouth and nose as a mask, saying, “Of course our lives are shortened by this smoke.” At least, someone had told me, T.V. ‘commercials’ warn us, “Stay in, or else…” I dashed back to my room, already coughing reflexively, feeling like the human masses have been cornered into prisons within prisons, elaborately presided over by an Afghan President, his CEO and the U.S./NATO/UN corporate machine, watched by an unquestioning, approving world.
By Gail DeGeorge for Global Sisters Report – In observance of the World Day of Peace January 1, we at Global Sisters Report join in prayer for peace in all regions, for all victims of war and for women religious around the world who dedicate their lives to helping them and to build peace. Sr. Megan Rice, a member of the Holy Child Jesus sisters, was released in May 2015 after serving more than two years in prison for trespassing on a Tennessee uranium enrichment facility. In December 2015, GSR had an interview with Rice about her peacemaking work. Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, a Sister of the Incarnate Word, has researched pockets of tolerance in hostile parts of the Middle East.
By Staff of Euro News – Hundreds of activists set off from Berlin on Monday on a three and a half month march to Aleppo to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Before setting off, Caspar explained why he was taking part: “It’s Christmas and it is nice to spend time with family, but we also have to raise awareness that in other parts of the world people are struggling and that we could do something to make their lives better.” Jaber, who is Syrian, was also passionate about the march, saying: “This affects me personally. The march and the people are here to express their humanity and I want to contribute to it.
By Patricia Rowell for World Beyond War – Can we find signers who will sign online or on hardcopy in Algeria, Libya, Western Sahara, Mali, Eritrea, Mauritania, Liberia, Chad, Angola? What about in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, North Korea, or Papua New Guinea? Beyond adding a single signer in each of these places, we want to add volunteer leaders who will join the global coordination of educational and activist efforts to rid our species of the disease of militarism before it rids the planet of us.
The emergence of vertical authority structures, the rule of kings and nobles, ripped people from historical patterns of living in small tribal groups. Along with forced stratification, the separation of people from their intimate connections with the earth produced deep insecurity, fear, and trauma to the psyche. Ecopyschologists suggest that such fragmentation led to an ecological unconscious. Thus, humans desperately need to re-discover and nourish examples of disobedience to political authority systems which have created 14,600 wars since the advent of civilization some 5,500 years ago. Over the past 3,500 years there have been nearly 8,500 treaties signed in efforts to end warfare, to no avail because the vertical structures of power have remained intact which demand obedience in their efforts to expand territory, power or resource base. The future of the species, and lives of most other species, are at stake, as we wait for humans to come to our right mind, both individually and collectively. The 1914 Christmas Truce of one hundred years ago was an extraordinary example of how wars can only continue if soldiers agree to fight. It needs to be honored and celebrated, even if it was only a flash of a moment in time. It represents the potential of human disobedience to insane policies.
By Ralph Nader for The Nader Page – Dear President Obama: On November 28, 2016, Jimmy Carter, the President who negotiated the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1978, wrote an op ed for the New York Times titled, “America Must Recognize Palestine.” His urgent plea was directed to you to take “the vital step…to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership,” before you leave office on January 20, 2017. Mr. Carter referenced your reaffirmation in 2009 of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and United Nations Resolution 242 when you called “for a complete freeze on settlement expansion on Palestinian territory that is illegal under international law.”
By Staff of AFGJ – It is with deep sorrow that we write to express our condolences for the recent assaults against your organizations and against the entire process for peace. We have learned that 72 human and labor rights defenders, peace activists, indigenous leaders and environmentalists were assassinated in 2016 alone. In the four years of its existence, 125 members of the Marcha Patriótica (Patriotic March) popular movement for peace have lost their lives. We are dismayed by the campaign of paramilitary violence that has occurred leading up to and following the October 2nd Peace Referendum.
By Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Earlier this year, Popular Resistance took action in solidarity with a peace delegation from South Corea* that represents activists who are working to end the crackdown on progressive political parties and free speech, to free activists who are in prison and to end the Korean War. We demonstrated at the White House and at the Korean embassy. We learned about the May 18th Democracy Uprising in 1980 in which hundreds were killed. And we learned that the current president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the dictator Park Chung-hee who ruled in the 1970′s, banned the Unified Progressive Party in violation of international law and has violated other rights.
By Staff of Tele Sur – Opponents of the peace deal submitted over 400 proposals for drastic changes, but negotiators largely tweaked the agreement rather than overhauling it. Colombia’s fraught peace process hit a breakthrough Saturday as the government and the largest rebel army, the FARC, signed a revised agreement to bring an end to over half a century of civil war after the deal was narrowly defeated at the ballot box last month.