Saturday, January 19, 2008

Open Letter from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq

By Peggy Gish, Anita David, Michele Naar-Obed, and Cliff Kindy
(550 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished

An open letter to the United States Administration, United States Department of State and United States Defense Department:

As members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) presently living and working in the Kurdish north of Iraq, we have closely watched the news reports that detail the Turkish military invasions and bombings of Kurdish territory over the last five months, purportedly against PKK resistance. We note that the United States has provided intelligence or those attacks and has chosen to open Iraqi air space for those incursions.

We have had regular contact with the United Nations, the ICRC and
local Kurdish NGOs that have helped the casualties from those attacks. Those attacks killed at least three civilians and injured at least six. CPT has visited two of the families who had a member killed or injured. Additionally, reports indicate those bombings have damaged or destroyed homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals.

CPT visited mayors of communities to which some of the 600-800 displaced families, approximately 3000 individuals, fled for refuge.Those mayors shared photos and videos of the damages....

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For over twenty years, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has been an international organization of peace workers living in conflict areas around the world –from Colombia, Iraq, and the West Bank to the US–Mexico border. Peggy Gish, Anita David, Michele Naar-Obed, and Cliff Kindy are longstanding resident members of CPT in Iraq.


Friday, January 18, 2008

The Back of the Line

(411 words)
by Anne Winkler-Morey
This Commentary is Unpublished

To hear some Presidential candidates tell it, Americans' problems will be solved if we just send the lowest paid workers in this country home and make them, "get to the back of the line." Yes, to those who clean our nations toilets, break their backs in our fields, stand in a frozen puddle of blood processing our nation's meat, change the diapers of our nation's children: we not only refuse you citizenship, we not only call you names, but we act as though you are criminals, we arrest you and deport you and tell you to get in the back of the line.

Lets call this what it is: scapegoating. It happens every time things get worse for the majority of us in the vast and diverse middle. We look for someone to blame.

And things are definitely getting worse for those of us living on $20,000-100,000. Some of us must sell that second home, some of us are cutting back on everything else to pay that mortgage, some of us are facing foreclosure and some of us are looking for a place to rent that we can afford. We all feel the squeeze of rising healthcare, rent, mortgage, food and gas prices. We are seeing our real wages decline....

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Anne Winkler-Morey has three college degrees, works four jobs, makes $20,000 and would have no health insurance if not for the husband's union job. She is trying to figure out how to pay her daughter's college tuition.


By Larry Gara and Lenna Mae Gara
(649 words)
This Commentary is Unpublished

In the modern world of nation states, treason has replaced the medieval world's heresy as the highest crime. American colonists, having committed treason against the British government, were careful, in writing a new constitution, to define treason in specific terms that made conviction difficult. To criticize the President, for example, or to speak out against a particular war, is not treason.

Article III, Section 3, paragraph one of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as follows: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."

Because of its narrow definition there have been few treason trials in our history and even fewer convictions. In 1794 farmers in western Pennsylvania protested a tax on distilled whiskey by threatening to attack Pittsburgh. When President Washington called out 12,900 troops...

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Larry Gara, Emeritus Professor of History at Wilmington College, is the author or editor of six books and numerous scholarly articles. Lenna Mae Gara is a homemaker, writer and editor. They have lived in Wilmington since 1962.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thinking Globally

By Michael N. Nagler

(800 words)

This Commentary is Unpublished.

I often think back to Neil Postman's 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death when I watch the mainstream media spin their stories on critical events like the recent assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. In that book, subtitled Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Postman describes how technologies of communication, beginning with the telegraph in the 1840's, brought about the end of serious journalism because now people out on the Nebraska prairie, for example, were suddenly reading about faraway issues that did not concern them. That began a steady shift from news and democratic participation to 'entertainment' — and political manipulation — as the function of mainstream journalism.

We now live in the world of instant messaging and the internet, when distant events that do vitally concern us, like the death of Prime Minister Bhutto, are presented to us in a cloud of trivialization that the real nature of our connection to them ....

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Michael Nagler is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future. His UC, Berkeley course on nonviolence can be reached through He recently received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for Promoting Gandhian Values Outside India.

Friday, January 11, 2008

WWJN?---- What Would Janelle Need?

(926 words)
By Anne Winkler-Morey
This Commentary is Unpublished

Janelle (not her real name) is a bright African American teenager, two years behind in school and currently failing in her course work. She is clearly a child not performing at her academic potential. What if we made policy as if the needs of Janelle, a public school student I tutor, were our primary concern?

What Would Janelle Need to succeed?

Janelle would need a warm safe home that is securely hers. She and her mother and siblings have been shuffling from one shelter to another for at least two years. Whenever she moves she misses school for days, even weeks. Sometimes when I meet with her issues of security, lack of sleep and fear are too great to focus on reading.

Janelle and her family would need comprehensive health care like all families do so they proceed with the rest of their lives without fear of illness or disability. In Janelle’s young life she has dealt with more than her share of death and disease, exacerbated by lack of access to health care....

....It’s an election year. Demand that the candidates and the media spinners dig deeper. Tell them to ask WWJN?---- What Would Janelle Need? And when they come back with “How do we pay for it?” Tell them to begin by STWS---- Stopping The War ……Sweetie !

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Anne Winkler-Morey, Ph .D teaches history at colleges and Universities in the Twin Cities area and is a reading tutor for “Janelle” and others in the Minneapolis Public school District.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Little Gauze, Gas in Gaza as Israel Tightens Closure on Palestinians

(770 words)
by Joseph E. Mulligan

In the Gaza Strip, Palestine, the conflict between Israel, which controls the borders and since June has been closing them, and the Palestinians, who inhabit the small strip of land along the Mediterranean, is affecting the civilian population in a way that clearly violates international law.
For instance, Dr. Ahmed Abou Nekira, director of the public Al Najar Hospital in Rafah on the Egyptian border, told me last week that his hospital needs a 19,000-liter reserve supply of gasoline, especially with the frequent fuel and electricity cutoffs, but the current stock is only 1,500 liters. The hospital cannot provide milk for its child patients; parents bring it if they can find and afford it in the Gaza market.
As I was leaving the hospital, a woman approached me who clearly needed something; but since I don't understand Arabic it was only on a later visit to her home with my translator that I learned she could not find the needed medications for her asthmatic and epileptic twelve-year-old son. ... (to examine the full text for possible publication, contact us).
The author, a Jesuit priest from Detroit who lives in Nicaragua, is working for six weeks as a member of the Lansing-based Michigan Peace Team in Palestine.