Healthy Water & Air 8/9/17

Are we Egypt?  –  by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

When the world watched Egyptians bravely gather en masse in Tahrir Square in Cairo in January 2011 to Arab Spring Hosni Mubarak out of office, we were mightily impressed and most of us cheered the nonviolent resistance.

The western press lionized the Egyptian military as it seemed to support the uprising and the generals kindly offered to run the country on an interim basis. Sure enough, there was an election eventually, Mohammed Morsi won, and the military handed over power.

For a minute.

Then we saw the military not-so-kindly grab power, ousting the elected Morsi and General Sisi ordered mass arrests and torture of dissident pro-democracy Egyptian activists.

Now, a few short years since the US calmly watched democracy betrayed badly by the Egyptian military, the US press is valorizing the military officers who are starting to snap some discipline into the most chaotic, dysfunctional, investigated White House this senior citizen has ever observed, at least since the months leading up to Richard ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon’s resignation.

Be careful.

Falling all over ourselves in gratitude because a Marine general imposes some order in the executive branch may benefit the racially biased, anti-immigrant, pro-military agenda of the range of rightwing members of Congress, but that new efficiency is not going to result in the policy changes most Americans want nor those which protect the healthy water and air we all need.

From H.R. McMaster (National Security Adviser), to John Kelly (Chief of Staff) to James Mattis (Secretary of Defense) to Joseph Dunford—all generals—Trump is ceding power to those who know how to seize it. Generals now head his staff in the White House.

In short, handing over the keys to the democratic system to the military might seem like a safe path toward stability, but it failed miserably for the Egyptians and even in our disrupted state we should not seek to hitch our lines to the ones who do not practice democracy, who have a mission to control by threat of destruction, and who practice a dominating form of rule, not a democratic form of governance.

None of these generals is a Dwight Eisenhower, all are dedicated to the Trump agenda—ramping up global climate chaos, sowing race hate and violence, targeting refugees and immigrants fleeing from wars we supply arms to wage, rolling back civil rights, being cozy with the likes of autocrats Putin, Duterte, and yes, General al-Sisi, while scorning democratic humane clean energy leaders like Merkel. Be ye advised.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Nine Powers Showdown 8/2/17

Now  –  by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

We have been living with nuclear weapons for 72 years, so that must make them safe and sustainable, right?

Wrong.

Nuclear weapons are the only way we have of killing most humans on Earth in the space of a few hours—far more immediately than global climate chaos, which is itself a dire threat. Indeed, reliable astro-scientists assure us that they predict no giant meteor collisions nor anything else that can wreck life on Earth for at least millennia, except the ultimate self-inflicted nuclear apocalypse.

Most of humankind understands this, most of humankind is not defended in any conceivable fashion by the godawful weapons in the arsenals of just nine of the 200 nations on Earth.

That is why we are witnessing a political showdown between the overwhelming majority of the planet’s countries and the nine nuclear powers.

Oh, you hadn’t heard about this conflict? That is hardly surprising in our strange media and political atmosphere of random bellicose presidential tweets, votes on whether to slash healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens, and narcissistic speeches to the bewildered Boy Scouts. Not to mention the deranged cockfight environment we are witnessing inside the inner circle in the oddest, most dysfunctional White House in US history.

Far more meaningful in the long arc of human history and certainly in our hopes for future generations is the recently passed treaty to ban all nuclear weapons on Earth.

Yes, there have been sidelong, kick-the-warhead-down-the-timeline attempts before, including the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the stalled Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but now comes a full frontal legal and worldwide political assault on the enemy of the generations, nukes.

And we have seen successful treaties to outlaw both biological weapons (1972) and chemical weapons (1992), neither of which have ever been capable of the immediate and long term threat to life locked and loaded in the arsenals of just nine nations.

Naturally, it is The World v Nuclear Weapons Nation-states, plus a few nations who don’t have nukes but whose economic and political arms have been twisted, primarily by the US.

The 72 years since the atomic annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is nothing more than a quick eyeblink in the long span of human history and prehistory. Nukes are a single incident away from wrecking your life, your great-grandchildren’s lives, and those of everyone else. They are now officially criminal and have always been evil.

Now is the most opportune time ever to let your federal elected officials know that we stand with the vast majority of people on planet Earth. It’s time. Sign that treaty and get it ratified. Save the world, literally.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

 

Doubling Down Badly 7/19/17

TrumPutin moving forward, democracy declines – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

As a child of the Cold War (born during the Korean War, learned to talk during the McCarthy Era, turned 12 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, feared the Soviets and loved Barry Goldwater as a 13-year old) it is stunning to me, even as a peace and justice person critical of my own government since Civil Rights and Vietnam, that Donald Trump is a) president and b) a traitor to the US and c) loved by his nationalist base.

Seriously. While the Putin-ordered Russian interference with the US election is far more complex than most media describe, it is real and Trump was “elected” due to Russian meddling at several levels.

And now, having met face-to-face with the foreign adversary who put him into the highest office in the land, Trump is once again doubling down on treason, saying he wants to ‘move forward.’

Great line for a crook. Caught robbing the bank? ‘I just want to move forward.’ Exposed as a perpetrator of illegal financial crimes taking millions from retirees? ‘Can we just move forward?’ Confronted as he stands holding a smoking pistol over the bleeding-out body of the Goddess of Democracy? ‘Let’s just move forward.’

No. Unless by ‘move forward’ you mean move to impeach.

@HardyMerriman: GOP wants to make US a one party state. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, no action on hacking the vote. It’s a slow motion coup.

There was much about Winston Churchill I loathed—he was an avowed racist and self-described terrorist—but his gift for the turn of phrase was significant, and never more profound than when he said, “democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

TrumPutin ‘democracy’ is what we are sliding into. Writing this column in Russia might be the last thing I ever did, as the slaughter of Russian journalists by Putin shows. Fake news, fake elections, fake democracy—that is what Putin has produced in Russia and he now brings it to the US.

In the McCarthy Era the hysteria whipped up by the Wisconsin Senator was fake news and it harmed our democracy then. Now, however, the Russian agent is the tool in the White House. Trump and the Republicans are the greatest threat to our democracy we have faced since World War II, rot from the inside instead of bombs from elsewhere. Trump is just low-hanging fruit to Putin and Trump’s voters were badly, sadly duped.

Without an impeachment, without a serious overhaul of enforced voting rights and a return to safeguarded paper ballots, we will continue to watch the erosion and destruction of this 241-year experiment in freedom. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is stable right now. Civil society will engage or it will lose what liberty is left.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

 

Bad & Sad Two 7/5/17

Fundies, Issa to ISIS – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

As the world recoils in disgust at the new Trump America, even independent voters are jumping the Trump ship. In March, 38 percent expressed disapproval of Trump’s economic measures, and now it’s a 49 percent opinion amongst independents that Trump is weakening the economy.

Who are the Congressional members who stick with Trump through everything?

Darrel Issa (R-CA 49th district), purportedly the richest member of Congress, endorsed Trump more than a year ago, still said he’d vote for no one other than Trump when the “grab ‘em by the p__sy” tape came out, and has voted for Trump resolutions and legislation 100 percent of the time.

Of course they are soul mates, of a sort. As a younger man, Issa was twice charged with Grand Theft for stealing cars and was under suspicion later for insurance fraud and arson after a troubled business of his went down in flames shortly after he took out a major policy. Then he made his fortune from car alarms designed to thwart Grand Theft. Apparently he was the best person to fix the car stealing problem.

Similarly, Donald Trump has connived to pay a far lower percent of his income in federal taxes than you and I—and campaigned claiming he was just being a smart businessman and that his knowledge would make him the best person to fix those inequities. Of course, his tax ‘reform’ aims to do the precise opposite, revealing more of his lies and false promises. Issa will benefit massively from Trump’s overwhelming favoritism for the rich.

Like all sociopathic leaders from Trump to Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi, from ISIS to Issa, they cite religion without shame, with a straight face, as the backbone of their actions. Issa opposed every civil and human right for LGBT citizens on a religious basis, and the elimination of Planned Parenthood for the same, yet supports Trump’s ongoing wars and arms transfers to war criminals such as the Saudis, who are mercilessly committing genocidal bombing campaigns against Yemenis that rival Assad’s attacks on civilians.

I’m sure it was pure faith in Jesus that drove all of Issa’s pro-gun votes, though protesters at his office might roll their eyes as they tried in vain to convince him to vote for sane gun laws. Pass the Lord and praise the ammunition. Other protesters, many in wheelchairs, protested his version of a Christian vote to reduce healthcare benefits, including Medicaid to people with handicaps.

Perhaps we are all ‘bleeding badly’ from a ‘face-lift’ that should never have placed those two faces in positions of authority and power.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Expert Witness Role 6/28/17

Courting each other  – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

This week I was certified in a Spokane, Washington courtroom as an expert witness, able to offer a professional opinion as to the conduct of a man who sat down on a railroad line to block a coal train. My role was to let the court know whether, in my opinion, this elderly gentleman was acting in the American tradition of nonviolent civil resistance that is, at times, permissible by law.

George Taylor wore his clerical collar to court that day, looking the part that he plays in Spokane life, which is that of a Christian minister. This has historically lent itself to the perception of possible moral authority and, under the circumstances, Reverend Taylor certainly held it.

The Rev had done this nonviolent confrontation last August in the company of other sincere souls, all six of whom were arrested and charged with relatively minor crimes; the maximum sentences they faced were three months in jail. All indicated willingness to serve that if convicted, since coal is the largest contributor to greenhouse gasses that are driving up the temperatures of the oceans and atmosphere around the world.

Then the railroad threatened to seek unknown scores of thousands of dollars in restitution for costs they claim were incurred by the delay of all their trains by the blockades. The other five defendants were legitimately concerned–all were senior citizens and more vulnerable to the seizure of their limited funds than to serving three months of their retirement years in a jail cell.

All undertook the blockade as an act of pure altruism; none are likely to be affected by the most terrible results of global warming. They were acting in defense of their grandchildren and future generations.

The other expert witness, I confess, intimidated me at first when I read his curriculum vitae–which included sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his scientific work to document, explain, and predict the effects of climate change.

Dr. Steven Running has studied and measured aspects of our atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-effect gasses, since the 1980s. He has personally published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and his expertise will be validated by any court.

He’s also an affable, humorous, genuine fellow, who, like me, appeared because we intend to help, and not for any fee or any compensation other than the sense of duty to help battle the descent to what Dr. Running described as human chaos.

If, as a society, we pull together hard, starting now, says Running, the children of the future won’t lose too much to the climate change that is underway, with an unavoidable temperature rise of perhaps two degrees Celsius this century. But, he says, if we continue business as usual, temperatures will rise upwards of 12-14 degrees Celsius and, he cites the collective judgment of his fellow scientists, human life may not go totally extinct in the next few decades, but a human society will not continue anywhere. All human systems will break. Fires, floods, hurricanes, crop death, drought, massive dislocation as virtually all port cities are lost to the seas, and killer heat.

Civil resistance, my area of expertise, is expressly to interrupt business as usual, and to do so in ways that invite others to approve, if not join in–completely nonviolent, accountable (no running), and transparent (no masks). I explained all this to the judge, was lightly challenged by the prosecutor, but it was apparent that Dr. Running’s pure fact-based analysis, derived entirely from millions of data from reliable instruments gathered for decades by dedicated and very smart scientists, impacted everyone.

Dr. Running is profoundly worried about the Trump regime, which is doing everything possible to simply ruin life, to strip the protections that might give children a chance.

So, I suppose, I may well be back in that court, or another one, but not always as an expert witness, rather as a defendant. I’d invite anyone to consider that. Business as usual cannot continue if we want to preserve hope for the young, for the unborn.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

IMPEACH NOW 5/17/17

Seriously. Now is the time –  Impeach.

Tom Hastings

It is a daily rush of traitorous, misogynist, racist, autocratic buck-naked dissembling and craven manipulation. Trump now. Pence next. Keep it going until we get someone with a bit of integrity.

On Wednesday, May 10, the day after Trump fired the lead investigator of the increasingly obvious collusion between Vlad Putin and the Trump campaign to get this clown in the White House, Trump meets with the Russian Sergeys—Kislyak and Lavrov, ambassador to the US and Foreign Minister, respectively. What media gets shut out and what media is allowed in that meeting? No, I am not making this up. The Russian media is allowed exclusive access; the US media is shut out. While I am more of a matriot than a patriot (loyal to Mother Earth more than to a country), I highly value the best of what America strives to be, and Trump is plunging us the other way, toward strongman rule, anti-environment, and a deep disregard for the truth and facts.

Trump praised James Comey—FBI Director until just days ago—when Comey essentially tossed the election his way last October by going very visibly and audibly public with his incorrect but volatile findings that Hillary Clinton had used the wrong server for her emails when she was Secretary of State (wow—who knew that was a capital offense?) but Comey remained completely silent about the known and possibly suspected connections between Trump operatives and Russian operatives until long after the election, even though the FBI was investigating both of them at that time. Obama should have fired Comey.

Trump on October 31, 2016, just days before the election: “‘That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,’ Trump said at a Michigan campaign rally.” In other words, he approved of Comey’s meddling in the election in both July and the infamous October Surprise.

But on Tuesday, May 9, Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer said in firing Comey, Trump had “accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Those recommendations were all based on critiques of the Clinton email business and were the transparently fig leaf silliness we’ve come to expect from the Lyin’ King.

And sure enough, suddenly Trump says he was going to fire Comey because FBI personnel wanted him out. Huh? That is exactly backward from what the Acting Director Andrew McCabe just said, that in fact Comey had “broad support” across all sectors of the FBI.

Bill Moyers is a trusted American life commentator. The way he put it: “whenever Trump finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood.”

This regime needs to fall.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Gravity Fake Science 5/3/17

Trump kleptocracy  – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

The Trump budget—pure profit for Pentagon corporate contractors. The Trump tax “reform”—massive tax cuts for the rich. Really? We are going to stand for this?

Compared to last year, if his corporations truly paid the going corporate tax rate, Trump would “richly benefit,” in multiple ways when his proposed cuts kick in. His corporate tax burden would be cut by at least 4.9 percent—millions of dollars—and his personal taxes would likely be cut even more massively, although since he alone amongst modern presidents has refused to let the American people see his returns, we cannot pin a number on his projected undeserved gains.

This is the textbook definition of corruption.

Fortunately for him, the Senators are wealthy too and love these ideas, as are most of the members of the House of Representatives. Corrupt Congress, corrupt president—and somehow the white male voters generally suppose this will all work out for them, since a reported 96 percent of his voters say they would vote for him again (and white males voted for him in overwhelming numbers, with white males without a college education voting for him a 72 percent rate).

This is not working out for those uneducated white men, but they love him. Could it be that blowing off a Mother of All Bombs on Afghans, deporting Mexicans, ending Department of Justice investigations of police killings of people of color, and banning many Muslims from entering the US is more important than getting totally hosed by a kleptocratic kommander-in-chief and kongress? Interesting priorities.

Just to further pound in the financial punishment to the very voters who put him and the other Republican lawmakers into office, they are gutting healthcare to millions of the least well off Americans as the Tea Partiers are now lining up to repeal Obamacare—unless enough moderate Republicans save the day, which will only happen by ongoing constituent pressure.

Meanwhile, in a regime just as Orwellian as his BFF Putin’s, Trump keeps tweeting and repeating that CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other evidence-based mainstream media are “fake news.” If Donald Trump tripped and fell he would blame it on CNN and call gravity fake science.

When will we all be embarrassed enough or properly terrified enough to halt this charade? Will we get this charlatan impeached before he launches a Wag the Dog nuclear war? Before Miami and Manhattan are inundated from rising seas due to his sheaf of anti-environment Executive Orders? When does that 25th Amendment kick in?

Since our “leaders” seem incapable, we will need to lead ourselves, it appears. This is our democracy and we want it back. These are our children and grandchildren and we want them protected. We cannot allow this to continue for 1300 more days.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

It’s Worth It 4/26/17

Happy Earth Day  – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

It was 21 years ago on April 22, I awoke in the middle of the night, got my co-actor up, then roused the others and we all got into two vehicles, drove to a deserted part of the Chequamegon National Forest in the boreal forest of northern Wisconsin, and unloaded our tools, statements, and general gear. My father, in his 70s then, hugged me goodbye and drove off on slushy roads. It was still pre-dawn. We were operating by moonlight.

We had come to a place where the gravel road passed under an antenna that carried command signals to all US thermonuclear submarines, as well as fast attack and hunter killer submarines, and this command facility, for a number of technical reasons, had one and only one mission, to issue the command to launch a pre-emptive nuclear war.

So we hiked in about a quarter mile to where we had done our reconnaissance and hung signs, sprayed painted the wooden poles on which the antenna was strung (one pole every few hundred feet), and, with swede saws, notched three poles. By then the media arrived, including a reporter from the Progressive magazine, a tribal station radio reporter, and a reporter from Wisconsin Public radio, along with a television crew from a Duluth, Minnesota station (the only ones I didn’t know nor invite, but the WPR man did).

I had sent media packets to everyone beforehand, explaining our action and the difference between what we were doing to prevent bombing and the property destruction we sometimes see, unfortunately, in mass actions (broken windows, vandalized mailboxes, etc.). We were the 58th Plowshare action, a tradition begun by Phil and Dan Berrigan and others by “hammering swords into a plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4).

We administered the coup d’grace and three poles, all about 40 feet tall with the antenna strung between them, crashed to the Earth. Happy Earth Day. We knew we had shut if down; I took my metal saw and tossed it to hit the antenna to make sure the 125 million watts weren’t still running through it, and sure enough, we had shut it down. We chatted with the media folks and waited for the sheriff. The Navy crew showed up and the first one out of the snow machine said to me, “You’re going to prison for this.” I said, “Yup. It’s worth it.”

We did. We had a very interesting trial with a world-class defense, and we were acquitted of sabotage but convicted of destruction of property, three-year sentences. We each served about a year, and then released wearing electronic ankle bracelets. That’s when I applied to teach peace at a local college (I had been doing so before our Earth Day action through the U of Wisconsin) and was hired. I taught there until coming to Portland.

So that’s my Happy Earth Day story. We stopped any first strike nuclear war, even if only for a few days until they could repair it. But we kept fighting it, alongside the Lake Superior Ojibwe, and we eventually succeeded. It is now shut down, dismantled, removed, and the forest has been coming back since then, since 2004.

Earth Day was our way to use robust nonviolence to participate in democracy that day. Dr. King said the purpose of direct action is to get to the negotiating table. We did.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director.

Bombs are Dumb 4/19/17

Mad bombers just so 20th century – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Bombing is dumb. The Age of Destruction is a foolish logic. Mother Nature is offended and is showing us that annoyance—and this will worsen as we fail to correct our conduct. Simply put, anyone anywhere from the top of the command chain to the frustrated lone fertilizer bomber is acting foolishly. We are looking at you, Kim. And you, Donald. Our Era of Strategic Patience is wearing thin.

The solution to bombs is not more bombs—or rather it is the worst and most costly “solution” that usually leads, eventually, to even more bombs exploding and destroying even more innocent noncombatants. Idiot’s Delight.

And so, even as impulsively cathartic as Trump’s bombing the Syrian airbase might have been, it was Wag the Dog gratuitous. As dime store tough-talking as Mike Pence is in Asia, his braggadocio is simply annoying to anyone with a shred of humanity and coherence.

Can we, at some point very soon, move to thinking critically and in our national/transnational enlightened self interest? Simply put, Trump is threatening Life on Earth and it’s intolerable.

This guy can’t even show us his taxes. Dearest Trump supporters, it is time. Time to join the rest of us who want to survive, who want to salvage democracy, who want to have a President we can trust—even if we disagree with some of his decisions. You must know by now, if you have been paying attention even a wee tiny little bit, that Donald Trump is stone incompetent, a buck naked liar, a flipper and flopper who will betray you in a New York second, and someone who tosses his “promises” overboard when the first whitecap appears in the sea of public policy questions.

Let him go. Help us impeach this Tweeting Nuclear Option—and for Trump the nuclear option is not REPEAT NOT a metaphor. For your daughter, for your granddaughter, for all the daughters to come, stop this. End this aberrant administration. Yes, US presidents have been bad. But this one is an existential threat who must be turned out to pasture. Now. Before he turns Pyongyang into vitrified kimchi and Kim Jong-un transmogrifies Seoul, San Francisco, Tokyo and Seattle into seas of fire. We have two testosterone-addled rulers with pudgy fingers on nuclear code launchers. The Humankind Era of Strategic Patience is ended. Impeach one, impeach both—but stop this dummy dance to death now.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Nymphs in Heaven 4/12/17

Murdering martyrs: This too shall pass – by James A. Haught and Tom H. Hastings

James Haught

On Palm Sunday, suicide bombers detonated themselves at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, killing 44 and wounding 126. Undoubtedly, the volunteer “martyrs” thought they were on a mission so holy they were willing to sacrifice their own lives.

Each time this happens, we’re engulfed by a sense of lunacy. What kind of misguided fanatics think God wants massacres of defenseless strangers?

Tom Hastings

Yet it occurs thousands of times—now and in the deep history of humankind. A couple of months earlier, suicide bombers struck a Sufi temple in Pakistan, killing 90 and wounding 300. Evidently the death volunteers think God wants slaughter of dancing Sufis as well as Christians.

Christians are of course famous for such unholy campaigns—in 1209 at Beziers, France, the papal legate, when asked by the military leaders how to distinguish the Cathars (the “heretics”) from the Catholics, replied, “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius – Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His.” The Catholic forces took the lives of a reported 20,000 civilians that day, the equivalent to seven 9.11.01 attacks.

Not to mention Hitler’s theft of life from 12 million Jews, communists, disabled, LGBTQ, and other innocents. Or the Allied bombing of civilians from Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfort and many more residential areas. How about the US annihilation of nearly three million Vietnamese, approximately 90 percent of them civilians, often poor unarmed peasants? From the Spanish Inquisition to the Salem witch trials, we humans burn, bomb, stick, shoot and kill so many who have no weapons.

And now jihadis kill civilian Christians, Jews and fellow Muslims. Many radical Islam attacks hit Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University says 800 suicide bombers killed 5,560 people in 28 nations in 2016 — an all-time-high death toll. In 2015, some 735 martyrs killed 4,370. In 2014, the toll was 937 death volunteers and 4,400 victims, scarcely more than four casualties per martyr.

The so-called “cult of death” has become the driving force of radical Islam. Without self-chosen martyrs, the religio-political movement would have little impetus. With them, it has become the world’s chief cause of bloodshed after the Cold War ended except the underreported wars in portions of Africa that have seen many more civilians attacked than anywhere.

But what of those who intentionally include themselves in the casualty count? In the final months of World War II, of course, Japanese kamikaze and shimpu attackers were on suicide missions, although one might argue they were in some ways morally superior since they only targeted military in a desperate act of “legitimate” war. Similarly, Vietnamese sappers sacrificed themselves carrying bombs to kill invading American soldiers.

Holy suicide was little known until 1983, when a volunteer truck bomber killed 240 U.S. Marines at a barracks in Lebanon, and another killed 60 at the U.S. Embassy there. Ever since, it has surged into a global curse.

The most maddening aspect is the righteousness felt by the killers, who think they’re serving God, who will reward them with virgin nymphs in heaven. When 19 devout young men committed the historic U.S. attack on Sept. 11, 2001, they left behind a written testimonial saying the “women of paradise” awaited them.

Columnist David Brooks calls suicide martyrdom “the crack cocaine of warfare…. It unleashes the deepest and most addictive human passions — the thirst for vengeance, the desire for religious purity, the longing for earthly glory and eternal salvation.” He said volunteers are promised “dark-eyed virgins in paradise” who will greet them the instant they depart this life.

In some Islamic societies, families express joy when their sons or daughters sacrifice themselves in massacres. Announcements in newspapers, almost like wedding notices, tell of sons happily united with virgins in heaven. The BBC filmed a “paradise camp” where children as young as eight are taught jihad (holy war) and martyrdom.

Columnist Brooks hopes that changing conditions may “allow the frenzy of suicide bombings to burn itself out.” But, so far, the phenomenon isn’t fading.

Ironically, religion is dwindling rapidly in Europe, America, Canada, Japan, Australia and other western democracies, especially among the young. Yet it spurs many young Muslims to kill themselves to kill others. It’s a strange contrast of faith, a gulf between the two civilizations.

Germans have gone to great lengths to face their history, as have Rwandans. American history that includes wiping out Native villages full of noncombatants has never been properly faced. Perhaps the dominant cultures are poor at self-assessment; one hopes we can all learn about our failures as humans and educate for love and friendship, values that are nominally core to all decent beliefs, religious or humanist.

James Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail. Tom H. Hastings directs PeaceVoice.

Impeach A Liar 3/22/17

Job-killing Lyin’ King president  – by Tom H. Hastings

Impeach.

Tom Hastings

Trump’s budget is out, his Trumpcare bill is introduced, and between them they are astonishingly stupid and promise-breaking. Featured are just a small sample of these job-killing aspects:

· The American Healthcare Act (Trumpcare), if enacted, will eliminate 23,000 jobs just in my state, Oregon. The national implications are horrific, in job loss and in healthcare loss—as well as sharp increases in premiums for at least the next two years—for example, senior citizens in Alaska may see a rise in annual healthcare insurance premiums of more than $14,000. I wonder if they are still thrilled about giving their electoral college votes to Trump?

· The Trump budget, if passed, would cut enormous numbers of civil service jobs, including scores of thousands by the elimination of 19 federal agencies and slashing the budgets for many others.

· Increasing the Pentagon budget will create fewer jobs per $billion spent than in any other sector of the economy. Each $billion that goes to DoD is job loss for even more Americans.

Between the two Trump proposals, several key promises that he made to help convince gullible Americans to vote for him will be broken:

· The Congressional Budget Office predicts that under Trumpcare 24 million Americans will lose health insurance, contrary to Trump’s unbelievable promise that everyone will be able to get health insurance. He lied.

· “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said as he campaigned making glib promises to everybody. The Trumpcare proposal cuts Medicaid. He lied.

Trump will completely eliminate these agencies, getting rid of some of the most forward-thinking US federal programs: The African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

But Trumpcare4rich will be the actual result of his collection of proposals, featuring:

· $900 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Impeach.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Find the Adults 3/8/17

Find the adults and get them in the room – by Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Trump attacks others, from the Pope to Gold Star families, on a routine basis, often based on no evidence, exaggerated claims, and he claims trends based on cherry-picked cases that are in fact anomalous. Some of his attacks flow from his hypocritical assumption that he, a rich boy who inherited a fortune, gets to have pretty much everything. If he can’t earn it honestly, he uses dishonesty because, in his mind, the ends justify the means. Other times he just needs to redirect our attention.

I keep wondering when the adult supervision will appear. Congress is dominated by the lesser versions of the hyper-entitled Trump, with a few fine members like Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Earl Blumenauer, and Cory Booker in the minority. Turns out the only real powerful check on the abuse doled out daily by Trump is you. You and your friends. You, your friends, and me. Civil society.

We are the last hope because we failed to be the first hope. We did not pay close enough attention to the endless obligatory need to self-educate, to help our communities learn what they need to know, to empower each other from the bottom-up, and to keep the “deciders” from making poor decisions. We tend to think in terms of outsourcing—it’s our logical hope, after all, that since we are good people who pay attention to the details that make our businesses and service institutions work well for people, that we should be able to count on those we hire by our votes.

Turns out we cannot count on them. We will either ramp up our civil society ongoing involvement in monitoring our elected officials or we will continue down this descending spiral toward autocracy, hate, violence, and revenge. It will cost us everything, literally.

Congress is a den of thieves. We see rich white men serving each other’s agendas far too often, with only a slight bit of meaningful oversight from civil society.

Now comes a President Spoiled Brat. He is not a self-made person; at least one study showed that if Trump had simply invested his inheritance in a decent mutual fund he would have several $billion more than he currently has in his net worth. Even amongst that class of people born on third base who thinks they hit a triple he is scornworthy. When anyone is outclassed by George W. Bush it says volumes, and Trump is.

How can we fix this? I’m hoping we can start impeaching and not stop until we get to someone worthy of the job. Get Trump testifying to the Senate, to joint committees, to special prosecutors—I guarantee he will lie and can then be impeached. But beyond that, we really need to do much more collaborative thinking, dialog, and action from the grassroots to reconcile, to serve everyone’s need and no one’s greed, and to take far more responsibility than a simple ballot every election cycle. If democracy isn’t participatory it isn’t decent democracy.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Brave Federal Workers 2/1/17

Tom Hastings

Lurching backward   – by Tom H. Hastings

We are now officially in a New Age of Chaos, created by Donald Trump and his close advisors. Who ever thought that we would have a president who makes John McCain look moderate? Well, we do.

One wonders how long values held dear to Americans can last in the face of the Trump-brand Constitution Shredder™? Free speech, fair speech, accurate speech—all are being banned at various levels of government—but some brave federal workers with integrity are not backing down.

And now Trump has blocked immigrants—even those who have already been vetted for several years by up to eight US agencies and approved for immigration at long last—from seven Muslim nations that he said are hotbeds of terrorists. Never mind that conspicuously missing from that list is the nation that supplied the overwhelming majority of the 9.11.01 hijackers who flew into the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon, and that country would be Saudi Arabia, of course. Indeed, of the 19 attackers, 15 were Saudis, two were from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon—and none of those countries made Trump’s list. No other immigrant has attacked civilians on American soil except the Pakistani-born wife of the San Bernardino shooting—and that country is not on Trump’s list either (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—none of which have sent refugees, asylees, or immigrants that have committed acts of terror in the US).

It is clear that Trump and his people despise the nonpartisan, fact-checking media (along with many other sorts of truth-telling, evidence-based professionals). But I have no immediate recollection of the papers of record flat-out naming what the Trump team claims as “alternative facts” are in fact falsehoods (noting gross inaccuracies) or even lies (noting clear intent to deceive). Punishing the National Park Service for showing photos of Trump’s inauguration and Obama’s inauguration—photos revealing far more in attendance for Obama’s first inauguration—is beyond belief.

Believe it.

We are now under the thumb of a man who is increasingly being called mentally ill, a “malignant narcissist.” His power to commit all manner of mischief is now enormous. The people of the US will need to engage more than any time in the memory of this senior citizen if we hope to hold on to our democracy and the progress we’ve achieved in the most recent 80 years. It’s all up for grabs, right now.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

Cease Speculation & Rise Up 1/25/17

Tom Hastings

January 20, 2017, a day that will live in ignominy  –         by Tom H. Hastings

Donald J. Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the US. If you are a xenophobic isolationist nationalist, this is such great news. If you want climate chaos to worsen—more rising seas, more massive forest fires, more hideous hurricanes, more drought—this is the perfect storm for you.

On the other hand, if you hope for more progress toward getting along with the rest of humankind, if you want stricter laws and rules to protect our fresh water, if you strive in your life to slow the onslaught of climate chaos, well, sorry. Your nightmare has arrived.

It is hard to imagine a more seriously hypocritical “leader” than Donald Trump:

· While Trump rightly accused Hillary Clinton of having too much cozy contact with Wall Street financiers, he is not only a predatory capitalist himself, but has now handpicked several more to join his cabinet.

· Even though Trump claims he is upending the Washington elite in order to bring manufacturing and sawmill and mining and oil drilling and coal-burning jobs back to America’s heartland in order to make America great again, he says nary a word about job loss through automation (including many of the Carrier jobs he pretends to have saved), nothing about losing jobs to foreign manufacturers who produce far more efficient vehicles than Detroit ever did, nothing about ruining the last bit of ancient forests of America, and nothing about increased disease and pollution from the dirty jobs he promises to bring back.

· Trump claims he is going to create “great schools” and yet he proposed billionaire Betsy DeVos as his Secretary of Education, a woman with effectively zero experience in public education (her hearing was nothing short of embarrassing) except to oppose it and instead has been an activist for using taxpayer monies for private Christian schools.

· In his address, Trump claims that, “We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own.” Huh? Apparently, I’ve missed hearing about all those foreign invading troops, all the missiles that have struck American towns, and all the foreign terrorists that have attacked us since 9.11.01. I would suspect the Republicans—who have been in control of the Senate and House—not to mention the Pentagon, are happy to know that finally all those attacks will stop.

· While Trump claims to care about the American people, he will likely sign the law eliminating Obamacare long before signing a better health care law into existence, thus throwing approximately 30 million Americans to the ravages of no health care.

There is so much more, but we can soon cease speculating and rise up to respond to his initiatives. I am wearing a t shirt today I haven’t worn in eight years. It has one word on it: Impeach.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice.

New Era – New Stories 1/11/17

New stories for a new era

Review: Sun, Rivera (2016). The way between. El Prado, NM: Rising Sun Press Works.

This novel should be read aloud to everyone, by everyone, from childhood onward. It is an auspicious beginning to a new mythology of peace, of justice, of inclusion, of conversion and transformation. Rivera Sun’s care for the unobtrusive embedding of the theories of change, of the principles of conflict transformation, and the way of the human heart all conspire to allow for a tale that will inspire. It is ancient and magical and legendary. It flips the glory of big men waging war into the valorization of “powerless” ‘tween girls waging peace, the sacralization of bloody combat into the lionization of nonviolent heart and mind power. It does so credibly, which is the stumbling block to most fiction writers trying to achieve what Rivera Sun actually does manage to do here.

If the reader were told at the outset that an 11-year-old girl would defeat the mightiest warrior of the nation without inflicting any pain or harm—this is in a medieval time of swords and teapots, warriors and monasteries—you would not continue reading. But by the time it happens, you have been prepared by Sun’s artful storytelling to accept—even expect and demand—just that outcome. Like any good plotmaster, Sun describes many setbacks, much potential, lots of inner conflicting emotions, but it’s all undergirded by the unflinching idealism of youth. The girl is mixed ethnicity and raised by a third people, thus bearing the strengths—and some of the challenges—of all three peoples, all of whom have been either in conflict or avoiding one another.

What is so poignant is that the girl is not accepted too much by any group—the forest people raise her but she is not one of them and cannot follow them to their wintering place, the village boys torment her, the monastery warriors-in-training taunt her and even beat her in her early training phases—but her idealism and her potential push her toward her own special destiny. The girl is the underdog at every turn but we learn to expect her to rise to meet all challenges. Her flash of serendipitous and even accidental brilliance convinces a great warrior to take her as apprentice and he teaches her the ancient, all-but-forgotten, Way Between—neither the violence of the warrior nor the avoidance of the coward.

No, there is no didactic artifice to teach us the particulars of principled negotiation, CLARA de-escalation, peer mediation, Sharpian or Kingian strategic civil resistance or any other of the researched competencies in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, even though Sun is in her professional life profoundly knowledgeable of all this. Rather, Rivera Sun writes in a style as magical as Tolkien and as authentic as Twain. The reader is not once bludgeoned with the zealot’s pontificating but rather is drawn to love the characters and the conclusions.

This book, along with her instant classic The Dandelion Insurrection will be on the reading list next time I teach Peace Novels, my favorite summer class.

Sun’s appendices carry all the theoretical, competency-based, and practical teachings that she wove invisibly into her tale. She helps the reader achieve the education necessary to reify her yarn and it makes it an invitational, educational, volume. Required reading for those wishing to be the countervailing message and meaning as we head into the Age of the Avenging Autocrat. Read it soon. We need you to pass it along.

Reviewer: Tom H. Hastings

Also  Books by Rivera Sun and  http://www.riverasun.com

Page 1 of 5
1 2 3 5