February News and Upcoming Events

In memory of Ken LaRoche, how sweet the sound.
CONTENTS:
National Items* Regional & Local Items-

1- Walk to Entergy Offices, & Tea Sunday, 2/26 Brattleboro
2- NRC Meeting at Latchis Theater, Wed. March 1, 7pm
3- WHY? Whose Responsibility is It?
4- Delay payment; NEXT OPPORTUNITIES, TMI, Chernobyl
5- Nonviolence with Randy Kehler, 3/5, 1-5PM, Greenfield
6* International Women’s Day celebrated March 8
7* National Week of Campus Action, March 13-17
8- No-Go-Solo, New support for Noho-Amherst carpools?
9* Vets “Walkin’ to NEW ORLEANS” from Mobile, 3/14-19
10- IMAGINE Conference, Communication Skills Galore
Bement School, Deerfield, Saturday, March 25, 9-4
11* Boycott Exxon/Mobile, Walk Irving to Crawford, TX.
VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS

THANKS. Room for an intern. Room for rent.

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< <<<< TRAPROCK P E A C E A C T I O N REPORT >>>>>>>>>

1. “Peace Walk to Entergy Nuclear offices, Sunday, Feb. 26”

The New England Peace Pagoda invites you to join their Peace walk this
Sunday. Enjoy winter wonder of a walk or GREET walkers. A reception follows
at Quality Inn, 1380 Putney Road.

Join any portion:
MORNING
9 am Meet in Bernardston at the MA/VT state line, Rt 142
10:30 Prayers, drumming at the Vernon reactor
11:00 Shuttle back to cars and have lunch.

AFTERNOON!
12:30 Assemble at the Brattleboro Coop – parking garage
1 PM Depart walking 3 miles, north and east
2 PM Assemble to greet walkers at Entergy Offices:
91 Exit 3, Route 5 north, right on Old Ferry Road.
2:45 Reception, It’s a Vernon Tea Party at the Quality Inn

Will loving life rouse a car full?

Rides with Halley, from Amherst or Greenfield, 253-1751
Ride with Debra, from Deerfield or Greenfield, 772-0302
Ride with Danny Botkin from Gill, 863-8696

Friends of the Leverett Peace Pagoda launched the fourth annual “Walk for a
New Spring” on Sunday, February 19, appealing for an end to the production,
testing and use of nuclear weapons. Everywhere mayors and town officials are
asked to join the Mayors for Peace, to help shift resources from killing to
serving. This walk concludes in Boston on Monday, March 20.

Citizens Awareness Network and the Traprock Peace Center support this
assembly. Students from Northfield Mount Hermon are asking parents for
permission to join the walk. Elaine Kenseth gives updates on the walk
schedule for the next day, available by about 9pm, 413-253-7609.

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2. NRC Meeting on 20-year License Extension Request

When: Wednesday March 1, 7 PM

Where: Latchis Theater, 50 Main St, Brattleboro, VT

Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will describe their process for response
to Entergy Nuclear’s request to permit 20 years beyond 2012, of continued
production of wastes, with questions from the public. The Vermont Yankee
reactor began operations in 1972.

There should be many public official present. (John N. in Rep. John Olver’s
office says someone will come. Call your town Board of Health?) They may be
interested in new approaches to Entergy Nuclear’s onslaught of proposals:
for additional power production 20% beyond design capacity, elimination of
the back-up cooling pump, and new radioactive waste storage in the cheapest
containers available, (no end-date in sight), with the complicity of the
Governor’s appointees’ rubber stamping before the Public Service Board’s
Hearing in Montpelier, that a site they haven’t inspected is suitable. There
was no visit to the site to determine wetlands and water table issues, no
reading of the past report that found the site unsuitable for low-level
rad-waste storage. Is this true that proceedings in Montpelier got NO media
coverage in 2 weeks of testimony and cross examination. Please invite your
neighbors to witness.

Please invite a friend. Pass the chocolate! Pass the popcorn!
Pass the oranges — it’s time meet and greet.

We prefer to congregate, NOT evacuate.
Please bring your cameras, recorders, teachers, students,
poets, as our tools for survival, with eyes wide open.

NRC — Nuclear Regulatory Commission?
NRC — No Real Concern?
NRC — Nation’s Real Criminals?

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3. WHY? (And Whose Responsibility is It?)

A. Entergy Nuclear proposes to increase stresses at the
Vernon reactor after March 1.

B. If the NRC gives permission it will disregard ___________of the Vermont
Dept of Health, who says emissions could exceed Vermont state standards by
24%, but this detail is scarcely reported. Already health effects downwind
are excessive.

** Will we ALL be on the road if there’s an evacuation?**

C. NO, some can’t evacuate from hospitals, shelters, nursing Homes. And on
behalf of teachers, nurses, police & fire staff who will be asked to stay at
their jobs, rather than attend to their own need for immediate shelter, or
to family members’ immediate needs, we’ll be on the road this Sunday.

D. At monthly demonstrations, numbers have been growing since November. As
at Seabrook, commitment matters. It seems we need numbers to get a real
safety assessment of our 34-year-old reactor in Vernon. Ray Shadis tells us
Maine Yankee got 24,000 hours of inspection. Vernon got 5% of that scope and
scale. Only Forty-five aspects were checked –eight problems were
identified. Innumerable problems await identification and correction–and
waiting doesn’t help.

E. The reactor operators propose to throw the switch to begin to power
uprate sometime after March 1, and promise to keep an ear tuned through new
listening devises to hear excess vibration, or parts tearing lose due to
increased water pressure and corrosion. Increased corrosion may take a
while. We don’t know how long. Steve Goodale reminds us that the Chernobyl
accident happened during a power test. If they succeed with a 5% uprate, in
90 days they’ll add 10%, and so on until they are at 120% of the original
generating capacity. All this is in order to rake in $20 million more each
year from rate-payers–that’s us.

F. F is for failure. There’s quite a history of problems at this reactor.
I’ll print and bring excerpts I’ve whittled down from that long history on
Feb. 26 & March 1. (Thanks Sally for the bulk of that compilation.)
Other failures are anticipated. An ALERT sent out by the New England
Coalition forwarded news from David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety
Project, Union of Concerned Scientists.
Exelon called a Site Area Emergency at their LaSalle Unit 1 nuclear
reactor in Illinois on Feb. 20. A Site Area Emergency is the second highest
of the NRC’s four emergency classifications. It’s the first Site Area
Emergency declared in over a decade.

G. GE-whiz According to Ray Shadis, LaSalle is a Boiling Water Reactor
that has had a 5% Uprate. The cause of the failure of control rods to insert
was apparently control element deformation due to irradiation and “shadow
corrosion”. Both LaSalle and VT Yankee were listed on a bulletin put out by
GE (the manufacturer) last July as reactors subject to this problem. What
occurred was A Transient Without Scram (ATWS) in NRC-speak. It takes failure
of only 3 control rods to insert to trigger a site emergency, and an
inability to insert only 3 stubborn control rods left out to begin a
melt-down. “One would hope this would give the Regulators pause, on the eve
of the ENVY Uprate” said our dear Sally Shaw of Gill.

Whose Responsibility is It?
The Devil is in the DETAILS …
on that little dotted line.

I think it’s up to those of us writing the checks. We’ve been buying
Vernon’s nuclear electricity off the grid.

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4. Delay payment; NEXT OPPORTUNITIES

If deregulation didn’t give you a chance to opt out, THIS MONTH & NEXT WE
CAN DELAY payment of electric bills until we get the needed inspection. We
wouldn’t pay for gas at any local gas chambers killing neighbors. With
50-mile per hour spring winds, emissions are so close. Ten minutes of
exposure to the shine off a cloud released from Vernon in a severe accident
could be incapacitating according to comments before the Advisory Committee
on Reactor Safeguards. This nuke is OUR immediate NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR.

As Nina Keller of Wendell said, I’ll paraphrase, “Our neighbor is becoming
violent; I can’t sit by and watch, silently–I have to intervene.”

NEXT OPPORTUNITIES

Sun. Feb 26 — Peace Walk & Reception
Wed. March 1 — NRC at the Latchis Theater, 7pm
Mon, March 27 — Three Mile Island anniversary, noon?
Wed. April 26 — Chernobyl 20th Anniversary
And Today — when you pick up the phone

HOW many calls will it TAKE?

2 by 2 we pass on the message and ASK OUR QUESTIONS.
Finding 2, who will find 2,
2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, (~125) 500, 1000.

Believing in people,
and the power of what is small.
2000, 4000, 8000, 16,000, 32,000, 64,000,

It’s more than a $64,000 question. It’s the Vernon tea party.
Keene, Amherst, Plainfield, come out and play?
Keene student looses life to leukemia, http://www.keeneequinox.com
We probably can’t do it without you.

On this snowy quiet day, please call 2 friends in town,
A friend who’s lost a Mom to cancer,
An old buddies in the Clamshell Alliance,
A nurse, or a teacher who cares at school,
Your best friend from soft ball, soccer or little league,
A friend you’d miss if your synagogue all had to evacuate,
Those oh-so-quiet farmers in the snow season,
Those PIRG-friends, socialist friends, PDA friends,
Arise friends focused on economic justice,
Peace or river keepers, in NH, Maine, MA, VT, CT.
Can they come Sunday afternoon with a song in their heart?

Ask now … Please will they come on March 27?
Anyone with a telephone can ask the media
about buckled GE fuel cladding, or about four crucial
pumps on the verge of failure for 22 years (1974-1996).
Your authentic voice is like no other. Thank you !!!!!!!!!!!

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5. Active Nonviolence: An Orientation & Training March 5, 1-5PM

In Greenfield, Randy Kehler, assisted by Sunny Miller, offer historic
examples, discussion, and role plays to simulate creative response to
violence.

Whether you want to consider strategies or polish skills to address violence
at home, in school, in Washington, in Iraq, or during the social upheaval of
an evacuation, your participation is invited. Please pre-register by phone
this week. 773-7427.

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6. International Women’s Day celebrated, Wed March 8

Hampshire, U-Mass, and GCC on Thursday, March 9 (12;30) are some of the
venues hosting an important speaker from Mexico, addressing violence against
women. Please check our calendar on line for later posting, as news from
Susan Dorazio on those events has not come through a pre-existing email jam,
yet. (Sorry, we have a dial-up conection, and folks sometimes send big pdf
files.)

Locally women meeting with neighbors to mobilize against the war have begun
to visit Congressional offices to urge action, and insist on an end to
funding the war. Claudia Lefko reported that seven people visited Rep.
Neal’s office days after Kathy Kelly spoke. Sally Weiss has called Senator
Kerry’s office to schedule a visit and finds NO one in the Springfield
office all week. Rep. Jim McGovern of Worcester, MA has sponsored
legislation to end funding the war, HR-4232. Bravo! Is your Rep a
co-sponsor?

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence asks for your calls, visits,
fasting and civil resistance to intensify the rising tide of opposition to
funding for violence, when funding for reparations is what is urgently
needed.

http://www.VCNV.org

You can hear Kathy Kelly and her amazing grace (humor included) on any
winter morning noon or night. It’s easy to download from our homepage and
listen to later if you have a dial-up connection. Thanks to Charlie Jenks
for pictures at the Greenfield vigil, audio editing, and web posting:
http://www.traprockpeace.org

Thanks to the principal and teachers at Springfield Vocational H.S, Arise
for Social Justice, Writers Voice at WMIA, Mt Holyoke Office of Religious
and Spiritual Life, the Odyssey Bookshop, Western Mass American Friends
Service Committee, Greenfield Peace Vigil, Suzanne Carlson of Second
Congregational Church, Beth Adams (singing!), Students for Social Justice
and Institutional Change, the Northampton Committee to End the War, and the
Amherst Peace Vigil, and Woolman Hill neighbors … for eager audiences,
hospitality, and help spreading the word.

Thanks to Traprock donors for making Kathy’s travel here possible. We sent
her home with all the donations at the door. Thank you friends, for bringing
inspiration on our snowiest week-end. Meeting Kathy truly changes our lives.

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7. No-Go-Solo — Saving Gas, Saving Lives

Frances Crowe says the Northampton Committee to End the War is considering
organizing support for car-pooling as a way to withdraw support for a war
driven by oil profiteering. Folks are considering bringing hot beverages and
breakfast snacks to Sheldon Field near the Northampton Fairgrounds, on Route
9, to encourage car pooling on one of the most heavily traveled routes
daily.

Thanks Jaime for this tip: 20/20 Vision recommends HR-4409, & S-2025 in the
House and Senate to support better fuel choices and a sustainable energy
policy.

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8. National Week of Campus Action, March 13-17

Join Cindy Sheehan, Camilo Mejia, Kathy Kelly, Howard Zinn and students
who’ve fought repression and won at Berkeley, SFSU, CCNY, HCC, GMU, Kent
State, Hampton, and Madison, in supporting…

NATIONAL WEEK OF CAMPUS ACTION
Week of March 13-17
Students Say NO to War in Iraq!
College Not Combat, Troops Out Now!

On March 13-17*, students will hold events at high schools and colleges
around the country demanding an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq
and money for young people’s education, not military recruitment. This
week of action leads into the global days of protest on March 18-19,
where students will join many others in marking the anniversary of the
invasion of Iraq and demanding to bring the troops home now!

(*Spring break alternative: Schools on spring break during March 13-17
will hold events the week of March 20)

Student week of action coordinated by the
Campus Antiwar Network
http://www.campusantiwar.net
RecruitersOut@yahoo.com

Students Against War at Greenfield Community College are working to organize
to show films on a Wednesday at noon. They seek donations to make final
arrangements. Write to Halley Watkins to lens support

Permission will be sought to show films like
Caught in the Crossfire
Voices in the Wilderness
Weapons of Mass Deception
Out-Foxed

Locally highway ‘Blogging’ with Banners is a favorite tradition that
students are considering. Posting signs people can’t help but see provides
an alternative when the media won’t give adequate coverage to antiwar
organizing.

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9. “WALKIN’ TO NEW ORLEANS”
Veterans’ and Survivors’ March for Peace and Justice
Mobile to New Orleans
March 14-19, 2006

March 19, 2006 is the 3rd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against
the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and
hurricane survivors’ organizations (Save Ourselves, the People’s Hurricane
Relief Fund, Common Ground Collective, Bayou Liberty Relief, the Mississippi
Immigrant Rights Alliance, C3, and others) are organizing a five-day march
and caravan along Gulf Coast Highway 90 are working together to begin in
Mobile, Alabama on March 14th and end in New Orleans on March 19th, the
war’s anniversay.

Hurricane Katrina is in the news again, as thousands of hurricane
survivors who were housed at hotels in New Orleans and other Gulf Coast
cities are now being summarily evicted. … The National Guard, which was
sent in at night almost as a surprise attack in conjunction with police, was
tasked to collect people’s meager possessions, as these serially-displaced
residents were herded aboard buses to be shipped off to overcrowded shelters
in other cities, or left to fend for themselves as homeless people. This
looks for all the world not like reconstruction, but a military occupation.

Thousands of over-priced FEMA trailers sit unused, … Some of the same
contractors who have repeatedly been caught stealing publicly appropriated
funds in Iraq were almost immediately offered no-bid crony contracts to
rebuild the Gulf Coast, while local firms and contractors were frozen out,

If we can build cities in the desert to wage war, why can’t we rebuild
cities on the Gulf Coast to deliver justice?

***ADVISORY: Spring Break corresponds to the march. If you plan to get plane
tickets to Mobile and from New Orleans, book them early.

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10. Imagine Conference,
for Communication Skills & grace when tested!

IMAGINE >>> Harnessing HEART Energy
It’s all about communicating!

Saturday, March 25, 2006, 9-4

Third Annual Day-long Conference
at the Bement School
100 Main Street,
Old Deerfield, MA

Learn Communication Skills
that make all the hard stuff easier!
Choose your Workshops:

————- AM————-

Circles: Helping Schools & Communities
Restore Justice– Court Dorsey
(Conflict Resolution Consultant)

Hip or Hijacked? Confidence and
Competence in Facing Conflict
– Karen Fogliatti & Bett Farber (CCI)

Just Say Yes: Positive Approaches
to Teen Substance Abuse Prevention
– Rachel Stoler & team,
(Community Coalition for Teens)

Welcoming Anger!
Jerry Koch-Gonzalez (NVC)

THE GAMESMAN VISITS, 1 PM

——— After Lunch ———–

Theater of Life: Theater games are a fun
and lively way to illuminate possibilities
– Sunny Miller (Traprock Peace Center)

or Participant-led
Discussion Groups
—————– PM —————–

Gender Challenges:
The Bumpy Road to Reconnection
– Sandra Boston (CCI)

Parenting from the Heart
Jerry Koch-Gonzales, (NVC)

Teens Creating Tean/Adult Dialogue
– Jade Barker & teens
(The Mediation & Training Collaborative)

Music: Annie Hassett

For Information call
Sandra Boston
413-774-5952

Free Childcare w/registration;
& just $14 if pre-registered
by March 20.
Or just $18 at the door;
13-18 yr. olds $8/10 at door.
Lunch available ($6) or bring one.

(WORK-STUDY AVAILABLE.)
Registration forms online at:
www.ccitraining.org
or contact co-sponsors.

CO-SPONSORED & ENDORSED BY
Conscious Communications Institute (CCI)
The Institute for Peaceable Communities (NVC)
Traprock Peace Center
G.C.C. Response Initiative
The Mediation and Training Collaborative
Quabbin Mediation,
American Friends Service Committee,
Men’s Resource Center and the
Franklin County Community Coalition for Teens

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11. Boycott Exxon/Mobile, walk to Crawford, TX.
http://www.consumersforpeace.org

– Join The ExxonMobil War Boycott – Buy Citgo –

VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS

ExxonMobil has been selected for boycott because of its apparent active
involvement in U.S. policy in the Middle East in general and Iraq in
particular, and its power to help change these policies.

IBM, Campbell Soup, Carlson Companies (Radisson Hotels, TGI Friday’s),
Corning Inc., Metlife, Novartis, Pfizer, Verizon, Wells Fargo and Wyeth are
also selected for boycott because these firms can influence ExxonMobil
through board members they share in common with ExxonMobil.

Imagine stopping in at your local Exxon/Mobile station and asking if they
would like to be exempt from the boycott that’s mounting as the third
anniversary of the war approaches. Please make those inquiries Mar. 1-30.
Then join in demonstrations at stations which won’t call for and end to the
war, and impeachment.

From April 1 – 14, 2006 the “March to Redeem the Soul of America”, inspired
by the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, will lift
up the Iraq War, official misconduct and oil profiteering for consideration
and redemption by the American people and people around the world.

The march, which will start in Irving, Texas and visit the Exxon/Mobile
headquarters to carry the message of immediate withdrawal from Iraq –
reinforced by the ExxonMobil War Boycott – directly into the heartland of
Texas Oil Country and precisely to the Bush ranch in Crawford.

The purpose is to educate and to call on all Americans to examine their
views on the war, its relationship to the American economy and to America’s
future, particularly with respect to oil.

The touchstone of the march will be the teachings and work of Dr. and Ms.
King.

Cindy Sheehan will join us on this march and at the extended events planned
for the Third Anniversary of the Crawford Peace House on Easter Weekend,
April 14 – 16. Join us on Good Friday as we march from the Crawford Peace
House to Camp Casey.

Cindy lost her son Casey on April 4, 2004 to this immoral war, invested with
lies and spent with blood for oil. Casey was returned home on Palm Sunday.
He endures in his mother’s loving struggle for peace.

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!!!!! THANKS !!!!!

For a break-through this week when the U-Mass Daily Collegian and the
Amherst Student reported on “Surviving the Vernon Reactor” video and
discussion at the Jones Library on Feb. 21. Bless her heart, Megan Daily
offered balanced reporting, though the retired physics Professor who
defended nuclear power had to cite reactor uprates in Sweden to name a
success story–that’s quite a long fishing expedition to name irrelevant
success. He obviously doesn’t know about the loss of redundancy proposed for
our Vernon Reactor. http://www.dailycollegian.com

We are grateful for friends Ed Russell, Janet Masucci, Storm, Sanford Lewis,
Ken Masokowski, D.O., Harvey Schaktman, Deb Katz, Roger Conant, Charlie
Jenks, David Detmold, John Strickland, & all who help create media when more
news is needed.

Thanks to tenacious staff and volunteers in all our towns
and at the New England Coalition, http://www.necnp.org
Union of Concerned Scientists, http://www.ucsusa.org
Nuclear Information & Resource Service, http://www.nirs.org
Citizens Awarness Network, http://www.nukebusters.org
Traprock Peace Center, http:/www.traprockpeace.org
http:/www.evacuationplans.org
and Nuclear Free Vermont, who insist on getting the details.

Thanks to the Vermont Guardian, Vermont Public Radio, WXOJ in Northampton,
WFCR in Amherst, Springfield’s CBS TV, the Valley Advocate, the Montague
Reporter, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Rutland Herald, and WAMC in Albany for
important coverage from time to time. Please, more is needed. Calls from
thoughtful listeners help.

Thanks to Sally Shaw, Sally Weiss, Debra Schey, Mary Parker from four area
towns for leadership to collect baby teeth to assess strontium 90 levels. We
almost have enough teeth. Thanks Sally Shaw, Gregg Crawford, Ray Shadis, Deb
Katz, Nina Keller Joann Lind. Your phone calls, persistent sleuthing and
speaking up are the crux of what is needed. Your town-centered actions are
tremendously important.
K E N !
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Thanks to Ken LaRoche, / Annie Hassett, Pat and Tex LaMountain, Barry
Higgins, Beth Adams, Tom Neilson, Sarah Pirtle, Jay Mankita, Mimi Whitcomb,
Jim for the music.

Every voice is crucial. Frances Crowe, Ira Helfand, friends at Physicians
for Social Responsibility, John Olver, thank you for your deeds and words.
We need those deeds and words in ever more public venues. (We are calling
Jon Niedzielski, District Director, 413-532-7010 to ask for a meeting in
South Deerfield or Greenfield!)

Friends, our voices are too faint, and perhaps never spoken at many public
schools. Where is freedom of speech on such a crucial topic as surviving the
nuclear age.

Thanks in advance to the Principal at Pioneer for a table in the lunch room.
I know schools are busy places, and it can take a while to get around to
freedom of speech and assembly. As Darcy Sweeny said at a coalition meeting,
“We can do it!”

ROOM for an Intern:

The roof has been leaking this winter, so we haven’t invited interns. Our
hope is that a solution will be implemented regarding the soft brick of the
chimney very soon. Spring brings that feeling that anything is possible, eh?

Anyway, if you are kind and capable, and willing to enter a veritable forest
of peace work, please send two letters of reference from employers and two
from housemates, however long or brief, and we’ll be very happy to consider
that as your application. A letter about your interests and experience, or a
resume is also welcomed.

Room for rent:

A room at the top of the building with windows to the east is available for
rent for $275-325, with rent reduction available for additional cheerful
participation in chores. Daily chores of fifteen minutes are needed for
general household maintenance. An extra ten minutes reduces the rent!
Please send references by email under the heading, Room for rent. Brief
phone interviews will precede showings on Friday and Saturday. (There’s
quite a workload here. Thanks for understanding.)

Cheers,
News compiled by Sunny Miller, in a Neighbors Network to End War!

Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413-773-7427
http://www.traprockpeace.org
————————————–
Underlying other news of the day this question remains:
What wouldn’t you do to prevent a melt-down?

The racist crusade against Muslims

Traprock Homepage

Politicians and the press bash Islam over anti-cartoon protests
The racist crusade against Muslims
February 17, 2006

LEE SUSTAR explains why Arabs and Muslims are right to be furious at the West’s racist attack on Islam.

THE CONTROVERSY over a Danish newspaper’s publication of caricatures of Muhammad has highlighted the scale of the Western ideological assault on Islam as justification for anti-immigrant scapegoating and imperialist war.

At the same time, the crisis highlights the failure of the antiwar movement in the U.S. to champion the civil liberties of Arabs and Muslims, even as their plight worsens.

This controversy didn’t start with the publication of the cartoons. It was triggered by years of political campaigns against immigrants in Denmark and across Europe.

The U.S. media, however, have focused on protests in Muslim countries–including the burning of Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon. They portrayed the issue as one of freedom of expression, playing up racist stereotypes of Muslims as intellectually backward and violent.

Somehow, the deaths of well over 100,000 Iraqis as the result of the U.S. invasion and Washington’s support for monarchs and dictators across the Middle East are seen as irrelevant to the protests over the cartoons.

Instead, politicians and pundits alike are using the specter of an irrational and violent Islam as an unstated but unmistakable after-the-fact justification for war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan–and, in the future, a possible Israeli attack on the Palestinian Hamas party and a U.S. military strike against Iran.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE PROTESTS over the Danish cartoon are not, as conservative academic Samuel Huntington argues, an example of the “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam. Rather, it is a sign of deep–and justified–anger at the U.S. and the West for humiliating military occupations that recall the colonial era.
In the U.S., stepped-up military aggression against Muslims and Arabs abroad has been matched by greater repression at home.

“Since the July 7 bombings in London, the crackdown on Muslims and South Asians in the U.S. has increased heavily,” Ahsanullah “Bobby” Khan, executive director of the Coney Island Avenue Project, an immigrant rights group in New York City, said in an interview. “The neighborhood searches and deportations have increased. Just in the last few days in Brooklyn, six to seven people were arrested. It is happening in other neighborhoods as well.”

Since the September 11 attacks in 2001, every one of the twice-weekly flights of Pakistan International Airlines from the U.S has carried two or three deportees, he said.

According to Khan, New York City agencies are routinely violating a directive by Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to inquire about the immigration status of residents. In fact, anyone who appears to be Muslim or South Asian is being forced to answer such questions from police and prosecutors–who are apparently cooperating with the Department of Homeland Security, Khan said.

Proposed legislation in Congress, known as HR 4437, would require local law enforcement to adopt this policy everywhere. The bill, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and set to go to the Senate, would also make undocumented immigrants into felons; criminalize many forms of assistance to immigrants from teachers, social workers and clergy; speed deportations; and fund the construction of a massive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

By targeting Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism, the right wing in Congress hopes to steamroller past opposition to the law.

Unfortunately, said Khan, “I don’t see a lot of attention from the antiwar movement [on Arab and Muslim immigrants], although all these issues are related to the so-called war. So much is going on. About two or three months back, a Pakistani died in prison. There was no response, not even from activist and progressive circles.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

WITCH-HUNTS against Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. are the inevitable result of a military drive that George Bush called a “crusade” after September 11, invoking the image of religious warfare.
More than four years later, the outrage among Muslims across the Middle East and Asia reflects not only anger at racist images of religious figures considered idolatrous in Islam, but the historic humiliations of colonialism, war and the U.S. occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the dehumanization and systematic torture of Muslim prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

While the massive protests in the Muslim world initially stunned Western political leaders, the White House soon moved to manipulate the crisis.

“You do not just go out in the streets of Iran and protest spontaneously, and in the streets of Syria and protest spontaneously,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a February 12 television interview, using the issue to bash Washington’s next potential targets in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, right-wing politicians used the Danish cartoon controversy to advance their own anti-immigrant agenda.

“We [the Republicans] are the party that stands up for free expression around the world,” anti-immigrant Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington February 9. “And we shouldn’t apologize for it no matter how angry that expression may make some people, some religions or some governments.”

Notorious for his openly racist rhetoric and legislative initiatives targeted mainly at Mexicans, Tancredo calls himself a devotee of Huntington and links immigrant-bashing and military intervention in the Middle East. In an interview with RightWingNews.com, Tancredo said, “I believe that what we are fighting here is not just a small group of people who have hijacked a religion, but it is a civilization bent on destroying ours.”

A supporter of HR 4437, a viciously anti-immigrant bill that passed the House of Representatives last year, Tancredo says he’ll run for president in 2008 if leading Republican candidates don’t take a hardline stance against immigration.

While Tancredo has little hope of capturing the Republican nomination, he’s posed to shape the national anti-immigrant agenda. By legitimizing the immigrant-hunting Minuteman Project in the halls of Congress, Tancredo has helped stampede Democratic Govs. Bill Richards of New Mexico and Janet Napolitano of Arizona into declaring “states of emergency” on the border.

His strategy, in fact, follows that of the far-right Danish People’s Party, which became Denmark’s third-biggest party in 2001, forcing the ruling center-right coalition to rely on its support. In return, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen pushed through the harshest anti-immigrant laws in Europe, legitimizing the anti-Muslim racism that led to the publication of the caricatures of Muhammad, one of which portrayed the prophet’s turban as a bomb with a lighted fuse.

The Danish far right, in turn, has modeled itself on the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen, a neo-Nazi who came in second during the French presidential election of 2001. Pressured by the National Front’s calls for the mass deportation of mostly Muslim immigrants, the ruling mainstream conservative French government invoked a “state of emergency” to crack down on last fall’s rebellion of mostly Muslim immigrant youths.

Similar examples could be given from several other West European countries. The pattern is clear enough: the far right makes extreme demands; the mainstream right adapts and implements policies that would have been seen as shocking in the past; and liberals tail along to avoid being seen as “soft” on the issue.

Those dynamics are showing themselves in U.S. politics as well–Bush’s declining popularity and a lousy economy have left racism and immigrant-bashing as the Republican right’s last cards to play.

Overt anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry will figure prominently in the politics of immigration in the 2006 elections and beyond. It’s time for the antiwar and immigrant rights movements to join forces, defend Arabs and Muslims and stand up to all the racist attacks.

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We regularly feature lead articles from the Socialist Worker weekly newspaper, with their kind permission. The original article is located at
http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-1/575/575_05_OilProfits.shtml

See the index of this week’s issue at http://www.socialistworker.org/Storylist.shtml

Addicted to oil profits

Bush’s oil industry buddies, not consumers, are the real problem
Addicted to oil profits
February 10, 2006 |

NICOLE COLSON examines the Bush administration’s claim that America is “addicted to oil.”

IN HIS State of the Union address, George W. Bush said America was “addicted to oil.” The U.S., Bush said, must reduce its dependence on Middle East oil imports by developing “cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources.”

But Bush neglected to mention the real “addiction” that drives the production and consumption of oil in the U.S. and around the globe–the addiction of the oil companies to making huge sums of money.

Last year was the most profitable in history for the oil industry. For 2005, ExxonMobil had gross revenues of $371 billion, a 20 percent increase over 2004. In terms of profits, the company topped out at $36.1 billion for the year–a 43 percent jump from the previous year. This was the largest annual reported profit in corporate history, amounting to more than $4.1 million raked in for every hour in 2005.

According to CIA statistics, ExxonMobil’s revenues last year exceeded the Gross Domestic Product of Saudi Arabia ($340.5 billion), and its profits were higher than the GDP of El Salvador ($33.9 billion). Exxon’s super-profits alone were larger than the economies of more than half of the countries and territories of the world.

The other oil giants did well last year, too. In early February, Royal Dutch Shell announced net profits of $22.9 billion for 2005–up 30 percent from 2004 and the highest full-year profit figure in British history. As Socialist Worker went to press, oil giant BP was expected to announce its own inflated profits for 2005.

You won’t find anyone in the oil industry or the Bush administration admitting that these grossly inflated profits are a problem at all. In fact, the day after his State of the Union speech, Bush defended ExxonMobil. “I think that basically the price is determined by the marketplace, and that’s the way it should be,” Bush told an Associated Press reporter.

But while big oil companies rake in the money, ordinary people are the ones left paying the price–literally. In early 2003, drivers spent an average of 4.9 percent of their incomes on gas, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. By July 2005, that average had risen to nearly 7.3 percent.

Four years ago, during the winter of 2001-2002, home heating oil cost $1.16 per gallon. This winter, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts it will top out at $2.22 per gallon–almost double.

Nevertheless, in November, Congress rejected a proposal to increase spending for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program from its modest $2.2 billion to about $5 billion.

For people like Linda Kelly, a Quincy, Mass., mother of three, the rising prices and lack of assistance have meant disaster. Kelly told MSNBC last month that between higher heating costs and a doubling of the co-payments on her family’s prescription drug coverage, it’s been nearly impossible to keep up this winter.

Kelly suffers from multiple sclerosis, and one of her daughters is diabetic. The choice she’s been forced to make? “Maybe [my daughter] won’t test [her blood sugar levels] as often as she should using the strips,” she said. “Maybe I’ll go an extra day, miss one pill during the week. You do what you can.”

For the entire winter, the Kelly family received just $525 in home heating oil assistance from the government–less than the cost of filling even one tank.

Ordinary people are paying the price of the oil company’s profit addiction in other ways as well–in the form of damage to their communities, health and the environment.

Bush couldn’t even bring himself to mention the phrase “global warming” in his speech–even though scientists, with the exception of a few bought by the oil industry, are agreed that emissions of fossil fuels like oil are causing increases in global temperatures that are already having an impact on the environment.

Nevertheless, just a day after the State of the Union, Bush administration officials were assuring the energy industry that Bush didn’t mean it “literally” when he called for a 75 percent reduction of U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. According to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Bush’s statement was “purely an example.”

And while Bush plugged the development of certain “alternative energy sources,” overall, his speech was notable for what was left out.

As Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum pointed out, “Bush didn’t talk about scaling back demand at all; we need to greatly expand our public transportation systems. He talked about hydrogen, but he used the same rhetoric in 2003. The plans for hydrogen fuel actually involve it coming from coal-fired power plants. This means using a high-pollution process to create ‘clean’ energy. Bush made no mention of the comprehensive energy bill he recently signed. That makes sense; the lobbyists went wild with it. The oil companies got $5 billion, $8 billion for coal, $12 billion for nuclear and only $3 billion for renewables.”

In fact, the “Advanced Energy Initiative” that Bush claimed would promote alternatives to oil would, if cleared by Congress, boost spending by the Department of Energy by only $300 million by 2007–about what the U.S. is currently spending every two days on the war in Iraq.

According to Bush, the program would push “zero-emission coal-fired plants,” “solar and wind technologies,” and “clean, safe nuclear energy.” But environmental experts say that “clean” coal and “safe” nuclear power are contradictions in terms.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Bush administration is in the process of cutting back research into renewable energy. As the New York Times recently reported, the Energy Department this month expects to begin laying off researchers and staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory–because of a 15 percent budget cut pushed through last year. One department veteran told the Times that staff had been told the cuts would be concentrated among researchers in wind and biomass–two of the technologies Bush cited in his State of the Union speech.

As Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein commented, “[D]oes anyone really believe that a president and vice president who became wealthy from their association with the oil and gas industry, who never failed to tout the industry line and who presided over the biggest transfer of wealth from consumers to industry in the history of mankind–that these same leaders will move us beyond a ‘petroleum-based economy’ to one based on ‘wood chips, stalks or switch grass?’”

Threatened for telling the truth

IN AN administration with such close ties to the oil industry that it famously let corporate executives write its energy policies, global warming is something that’s not talked about. And the administration will punish those who do.

James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says that since he gave a speech in December calling for immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush administration has attempted to stop him from speaking out.

In the talk, Hansen pointed out that 2005 was likely the warmest year in at least a century, and that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of cars.

But that was too radical for the Bush administration. According to Hansen, following his speech, officials at NASA headquarters ordered the agency’s public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, Web postings and requests for interviews from journalists. Hansen said he was told that there would be “dire consequences” if he continued to make such statements.

In one instance, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Hansen, called NPR “the most liberal” media outlet in the country, and reportedly said that his job was “to make the president look good.”

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We regularly feature lead articles from the Socialist Worker weekly newspaper, with their kind permission. The original article is located at
http://www.socialistworker.org/2006-1/575/575_05_OilProfits.shtml