Hearts and Minds 6/26/13

When hearts and minds are war-torn

By Tom H. Hastings

Tom Hastings

Tom Hastings

The Taliban is finally making another try at initiating peace talks. Who is listening and who cares?

Afghans care. Their hearts are in pieces like the rubble that is strewn wherever the US-led NATO/Karzai forces have bombed from the air, or where the Taliban has crude-bombed, sometimes suicide-bombed, from the ground.

The Bush-installed Karzai government cares—and they don’t want it because the Taliban are sort of acting like a government-in-exile, replete with a new office in Doha, Qatar that sported a Taliban flag and a plaque identifying the building as the offices of the “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Whoops. Hamid Karzai wants it clear that these are just ragtag insurgents, not a government-in-exile. But both sides have a point. Karzai holds that, unlike the Taliban, his government is elected. The Taliban, who did indeed take power by military force—although the origin stories of the Taliban tell of liberation and defense of the vulnerable, making them popular in the early-to-mid 1990s and made recruiting easy for them, paving their way to power—ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until ousted by the US invasion in 2001 (and were heavily supported during their formation and rule by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, who were massively supported by the US), so in their eyes they are the government-in-exile. They see Karzai as the puppet government of the occupying military.

Underlying these deep differences are the age-old problems of the conflict industry, that is, those who benefit financially, politically, or militarily by the continuation of the war and so work to sabotage peace efforts. Those parties may be visible or shadowy and they may proclaim public support for peace or peace talks, but their actual work is to undermine any real peace. They are the war contractors, the business owners both in Afghanistan and elsewhere who profit handsomely from the ongoing war, the military leaders from all sides, and the politicians who stand to lose everything if peace breaks out. Indeed, says a Pakistani source who told Reuters on condition of anonymity, “there were many likely spoilers in the peace process who would want to maintain the status quo to continue to benefit from the war economy and the present chaotic conditions.”

How can we who live in a democracy help in a situation like this?

First, tell our President and our Secretary of State and our elected representatives that we expect the US to stick to the military exit plan, to accelerate it if possible, and to bring home or destroy all US military weapons and munitions as we leave. The US should ban itself from selling or giving any weapons to any party in the region. That is a proven losing strategy, again and again. It was a loser when we gave tons of weapons to the mujahedeen in the 1980s—weapons that then became the arsenals of the fighting Islamic forces that either launched the September 11 attacks or harbored those who did. It’s called blowback and it works well for US war profiteers. Ending their profit-taking is perhaps the most important peace step the American people can achieve by themselves, without the involvement of any foreign government. As long as American war corporations are allowed to sell their warmaking arsenals and ammunition either to the Pentagon to give away to Central Asian governments or to any of those governments (or any parties who trade with those governments and who can act as transshipment brokers), we are enabling the conflict industry that is killing innocent Afghans and enraging the survivors and crippling any efforts toward peace.

We, the American people, can take decisive steps to give Afghans more hope than they’ve had since 1979 if we outlaw the sale of the goods of war to the region, withdraw our own troops and weaponry, and convert funds that our Congress was going to take from the US taxpayers for making war and spend them instead on some combination of desperately needed humanitarian aid, US war-debt reduction, and US domestic expenses (education, environmental protection, and US infrastructure maintenance—all of which create far more jobs than the weapons industry ever did).

In short, what is good for peace for the people of Afghanistan is good for the well being of all Americans except for the extremely wealthy war profiteers. It’s time for them to stop controlling us.

Tom H. Hastings is PeaceVoice Director and teaches in the Conflict Resolution program at Portland State University.

 

Government on War 6/26/13

Your Government on War
by Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler

Robert Koehler

“Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament, designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. . . .

“While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

That was President John F. Kennedy speaking to the 1963 graduating class of American University —announcing that the human race was ready to move beyond war. This was the speech in which he revealed that talks on a Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union had begun, and that the U.S. was unilaterally suspending atmospheric nuclear testing.

Fifty years later, the words seem like an archaeological find — quaint, strange, shocking. Look, common sense! Perfectly preserved. Once upon a time, such a goal — disarmament, the end (good God!) of war itself —had political cred at the highest levels.

Kennedy even had the audacity to proclaim that peace wasn’t totally a matter of our enemy du jour, the Soviets, changing their behavior. “I also believe,” he said, “that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs.”

Politics that make room for self-reflection? While he proceeds to bash the Communists for bad-mouthing the U.S., he calls their rhetoric “a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.”

This is politics outside the simple zone of winning and losing. Kennedy dared to suggest that that peace was complex, that it was not a mere matter of military strength and the power to dominate, and that “our enemy” was not subhuman. The American public was ready to hear this half a century ago. What happened? And more to the point, how do we return to this cutting edge of political sanity?

As I listened to Kennedy’s speech, which a number of people have pointed out to me recently, what struck me even more, perhaps, than the words themselves, was that the president seemed to be speaking from a position independent of the American and global military-industrial consensus. That this should stand out as unusual — that my inner political child should feel moved to ask, “Is a president allowed to do that?” — is truly unnerving.

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, the highest levels of American government were capable of representing more than just the status quo, and were not irrelevant to real social change. Once upon a time, principles stood independent of politics. It was always shaky, of course. The Kennedy presidency was flawed; the Vietnam War was set at simmer. But once upon a time, one could look for real values in the political arena . . . and find them.

What has happened in the intervening years has been a hollowing out of those principles and of democracy itself — a moral bottoming out, you might say. What has happened is that the military-industrial consensus has taken control. No more nonsense. War wins. We’re addicted to it.

“But any awake American can see that PRISM is only one sock on a long line of dirty laundry,” Erin Niemela wrote recently at Common Dreams. “The list of U.S. government abuses and failures to protect stretches far and wide. . . .

“While PRISM and the rest of the gang are individually sordid, when combined they are the track marks of a far more pervasive, widespread, life-wasting problem. One that has systematically attacked not just the Fourth Amendment, but also the First, Second, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and 10th. No matter how hard we advocate for the Fourth Amendment now, others will fall so long as this substance burns through the veins of the Republic.

“This is your government on war.”

Whatever the threats that emanate from beyond or within the national borders, the overwhelming condition that concerned citizens — the ones, for instance, in sync with Kennedy’s 1963 speech — must address is that the government itself is the problem, and its abuses both at home and abroad are only going escalate until its addiction to war is curbed. And the first step in this process is to declare: no future wars. The seductive rhetoric pushing “the next war” is a lie. It’s always a lie, concealing the addiction. The game stops here. No future wars!

Niemela proposes a constitutional amendment: “The American people, in accordance with the promotion of international justice, peace, human rights and dignity, hereby renounce the use of organized, armed force to resolve intra- and inter-state conflict; neither war nor war-making processes shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

David Swanson, in response, proposed enforcing the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, which the United States, along with more than 80 other nations, signed, agreeing that the settlement of all disputes between signatory nations “shall never be sought except by pacific means.” The precedent is there. I don’t doubt that the moral passion, in the U.S. and around the globe, is there as well. The idea of ending war can no longer be compromised. Can it regain the political presence it had 50 years ago? That part is up to us.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, nationally syndicated writer, author of Courage Grows Strong at the Wound and can be contacted at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

 

Frenchman Lake Boat Ramp 6/26/13

Frenchman Lake… Quincy–Plumas National Forest and California Department of Boating and Waterways have teamed up to improve the Frenchman Lake boat ramp and parking area.

The improvements include grading, repaving, stripping and fog-sealing the parking lot in addition to adding a new drinking fountain, accessibility trail and solar light at the launch ramp.
The facility will be closed Monday through Friday to accommodate the improvements but will be open on weekends with reduced parking for vehicles pulling trailers. Both the parking lot and boat launch will be closed to vehicles following the paving to allow new asphalt to properly cure. The work is expected to be completed by mid-July.
The Lunker Point boat launch (on the west side of Frenchman Lake) will be open and fully operational during this time.
Please call the Beckwourth Ranger District at 530-836-2575 with any questions or for more information about other recreation opportunities in the area.

Frank & Bette Jo Lang Feted 6/26/13

Frank and Bette Jo Lang

Frank and Bette Jo Lang

Frank and Bette Jo Lang were honored for their over 35 years of service to the western Sierra County communities.

The event paid tribute to 37 years of leadership, service and foresight that the Langs have provided as they formed and developed Western Sierra Medical Clinic into the comprehensive health center that serves our community today.

At the end of June, Frank Lang, FNP, will officially retire from his leadership role at WSMC, where he has been the primary provider for the entirety of his tenure.  He and Bette Jo both plan to continue to remain involved at WSMC in the coming years.

Frank and Bette Jo, with their three sons. J.R., Mark and Tim in tow, arrived in Downieville on June 19, 1976 to begin a simple two-year assignment for Frank’s active duty in the U.S. Public Health Service.  As history will attest, the duo remained on long after the assignment was completed, and now calculate that they provided over 100,000 patient encounters since their arrival.

With foresight and hard work, Frank and Bette Jo paved the way for progress at the health center, by purchasing the building for the clinic and expanding services to include a dental clinic, x-ray, urgent care, mental health and more. In the process, they also created an extraordinary team of staff members, sought and received federal recognition, and created an enduring practice that will live on to serve the community that they love.

While taking care of the community Frank and Bette Jo managed to raise their sons to become a medical doctor, an attorney and an atmospheric scientist.

Here are some pictures with descriptions of the events. Missing is a picture of Mary Nourse giving a heartfelt, warm tribute to the Langs but especially to Bette Jo, many people talked about Mary’s speech but I didn’t get the picture because I was caught up in listening to her….

WSMC CEO Scott McFarland welcomes the overflow, standing room, admirers and patients of Frank and Bette Jo Lang

WSMC CEO Scott McFarland welcomes the overflow, standing room only crowd of admirers and patients of Frank and Bette Jo Lang.

Tim Beals

Tim Beals spoke fondly of Frank as both a professional and good friend recalling many humorous moments through the years while honoring the hard work and sometimes dangerous situations encountered during medical emergencies.

Bill Pangman

Bill Pangman, retired Superior Court Judge and Frank’s BFF, talked about the history of Frank and Bette Jo and their contributions to our community along with memories of fun and fellowship. 

Supervisor Lee Adams wearing an ill fitting neck support (Frank did not apply it) recounts many memories of the Lang's ending with a presentation of a severed thumb, antique poster of the human body, and a Resolution of Appreciation from the Sierra County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Lee Adams wearing an ill fitting neck support (Frank did not apply it) recounts many memories of the Lang’s. Adams ended with presentations to the Langs which included  a severed thumb, an antique poster of the human body, and a Resolution of Appreciation from the Sierra County Board of Supervisors.

Frank and Bette Jo discovering where everything goes..

Frank and Bette Jo discovering where everything goes..

Sarah Cantell and Frank Lang (Sarah is the new Frank) sorry Sarah, we'll stop saying that after awhile....)

Sarah Cantell and Frank Lang (Sarah is the new Frank) sorry Sarah, we’ll stop saying that after awhile….

photophotoDSCN0967

 

Margo and Mason

Margo and Mason

 

Suzi, Brandon, Cheryl and Bill

Suzi, Brandon, Cheryl and Bill

 

The StringALongs JR Lang, Adam Daigle, Peggy Daigle, Frank Lang and Paul Douville

The StringALongs JR Lang, Adam Daigle, Peggy Daigle, Frank Lang and Paul Douville

CEO Scott McFarland presents Plaque honoring the Langs to be installed on the WSMC building in Downieville.

CEO Scott McFarland presents Plaque honoring the Langs to be installed on the WSMC building in Downieville.

FrankLangSr.jpg

Frank Lang Sr., FNP

Family Medicine

For Appointments and Inquiries Call:
 (530) 289-3298
Location: Downieville, CA
Accepting New Patients: Yes
Appointment Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 9:00am – 5:00pm

Frank Lang, NP,EJD – Frank graduated with a BS in Nursing from the University of Northern Colorado; MS Nurse Practitioner, University of Colorado; FNP, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine; Radiologic Technologist, University of California, Berkeley; Executive Juris Doctorate, Health Law, Concord University School of Law. Frank is Board Certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner by the ANCC. He is also certified in both Pediatric and Adult Advanced Life Support by the American Heart Association. He is certified as a CPR and First Aid Instructor by the American Red Cross. He holds a California Lifetime Teaching Credential and teaches EMT Courses for western Sierra County. He is certified as a MICN by Northern California EMS. He is Medical Consultant to the Sierra County Superior Court, Drug Court.

Nevada County Fair 6/26/13

Editor Note: Following is the press release for the Nevada County Fair. Although I will not be attending this year in protest of them having Elephant rides for the public, I do believe in everyone having information available and deciding for themselves. 

Elephant information

So, elephants are very intelligent:  they exhibit altruism, compassion, self-awareness, and language complexity. And, I’m guessing that we still have much to discover about elephants, as well as other animals.

So, let’s suppose, for argument’s sake, that elephants were not smart.  Would it then be all right to use them for our own entertainment or monetary purposes?  I don’t think so. Humans have a great range of intelligence, including suffering intellectual deficiency and other issues that would allow us to use and/or abuse them.  But we don’t.  Well, most of us don’t.  I think we should use the same standards of care and concern that we display toward one another for those animals, including elephants, who find themselves at our “mercy”.

And finally if you do a search online for Have Trunk Will Travel you will see for yourself on YouTube videos the kind of abuse these intelligent beings are subjected to.

Grass Valley–The Nevada County Fair’s Competition Handbook, which includes all the information you need to enter exhibits in this year’s Fair, is now available. If you can make it, bake it, grow it or show it, there is a category for you – and it can be found in the Competition Handbook!

Why not showcase a talent, a project, a cooking skill, or a special collection. Try one of the traditional categories like baking cookies or entering a prized photo; or one of the specialty contests designed specifically for this year’s Fair theme of “Under the Big Top,” like creating a circus train car out of a shoe box. Or, enter one of the specialty food contests for adults – held each day of the Fair. There are also lots of special contests like the Squash Mobile Races, Rain Gutter Regatta, and the Idol Competition. The Competition Handbook is filled with hundreds of categories for children and adults.
Copies of the free handbook are available at the Fairgrounds’ Office, Chamber of Commerce offices, county libraries, Raley’s, or on-line at www.NevadaCountyFair.com.
It’s easy to enter! Look through the book, pick your favorite categories, and follow the simple steps for completing the entry forms. You can even enter on-line atwww.NevadaCountyFair.com. This year, there won’t be any entry fees for most categories (yes, it’s free!), you can enter on-line or at the Fair office, and there will be some great prizes! The deadline for submitting paper entry forms and on-line entries is July 19 at 4 p.m.
This year’s Competition Handbook also contains information about discounted Fair tickets available now through August 6, discount days at the Fair, and nightly arena events.
The 2013 Nevada County Fair is August 7 – 11. For more information, visitwww.NevadaCountyFair.com or call (530) 273-6217. You can also follow the Fairgrounds on Facebook at “Nevada County Fairgrounds.”

PG&E Assistance 6/26/13

SAN FRANCISCO–Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today estimated more than 100,000 households throughout Northern and Central California may be eligible to receive a discount on their monthly energy through the CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) program, but are not yet enrolled.
Every year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adjusts the maximum qualifying household income levels for the CARE program to reflect current federal poverty guidelines.
With hot summer temperatures upon us, now is the ideal time for customers to compare their pre-tax, annual household income against the latest eligibility guidelines to determine if they now qualify for discounts on their gas and electric bills.
On average, the CARE program saves income-qualified households $50 per month on their gas and electric bill. Since the program’s inception in 1989, PG&E customers enrolled in CARE have saved more than $5.2 billion on their energy bills.
PG&E also encourages qualified CARE customers to take advantage of Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESA). It provides free solutions like home improvements including compact fluorescent lights, caulking, showerheads, minor home repair and more as well as valuable energy savings tips to help income-qualified households manage their energy use and save money.
“The challenges for low income families are greater than ever so it is increasingly important that they have timely access to money-saving initiatives such as the CARE or ESA program,” said Kate Comfort Harr, Executive Director of HIP Housing. “We very much appreciate PG&E’s ongoing efforts to help bring greater awareness of their financial assistance programs to customers in Northern and Central California. We know our collaborative efforts and valuable partnerships will provide direct financial relief to many families in need.”
More information about PG&E’s financial assistance programs can be found athttp://www.pge.com/financialassistance. Households can see if they might qualify for CARE or ESA and complete an application online. Qualified households will be enrolled in the CARE program within two business days. Customers may also enroll through the toll-free multi-lingual assistance line at (866) 743-2273. The CARE discount will appear on their bill after a full billing cycle. Following enrollment, customers may be asked to provide proof of qualifying household income, and agree to participate in the ESA program to remain enrolled in CARE.
    

PG&E Use Time 6/26/13

The following is a message from PG&E:

With Time-Varying Pricing, Time Matters. PG&E wants to help you understand time-of-use electric rates.

Beginning in November 2012, many of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) small and medium business customers began to move to time-of-use electric rates. PG&E’s large agricultural and large commercial and industrial customers already underwent a similar transition. This is part of a statewide plan, including other California utilities, to ensure a better energy future and healthier environment.

On time-of-use, rates will be higher during summer weekday afternoons when electric demand is higher, typically noon to 6 p.m., May through October. In return you’ll pay lower rates at all other times. This means that when you use energy, is just as important as how much you use.

PG&E is committed to helping business customers understand their energy use, find ways to conserve electricity, and benefit from time-of-use rates. Learn more and sign up for a free webinar by visiting www.pge.com/TVP or speak with your local customer service representative Shane Lopez, by calling 530-217-7918.

PSCW at the Fair in August 6/26/13

The Plumas Sierra Cattle Women will be  having a booth at the Plumas County Fair Aug. 14th thru Aug. 18th. We will have information on beef, beef by-products, recipes, our handmade quilt for the public to see and buy tickets, a kids corner where on Sat. Aug. 17th at 1:00 p.m. there will be  a program with Flinda dressed as “Annie Oakley”  reading a book about “Cowboys and Cowgirls”. 

Sabena Says Thank You 6/26/13

Dear Editor,
I wanted to thank all the locals that came to my fundraiser buffet dinner at Two Rivers Cafe. It is so wonderful seeing people coming out to help me with my volunteer trip to Kenya and for amazing Indian food as well. I wanted to formally thank Rachel Guffin, a coworker and amazing human being, for volunteering her time and energy to help me host the dinner. The people here in Downieville are one of a kind, they are so supportive and honestly, I would not be able to go on this adventure of a lifetime without their help. Downieville will always be close to my heart. Thank you all for the generosity that keeps my hope for humanity alive.
Lots of love and gratitude,
Sabena Lodhi

SCFWC Meets June 28 in Downieville

Sierra County Fire Safe Watershed CouncilAgenda June 28th 2013
Meeting Agenda – Friday June 28, 2013
Masons Hall, Downieville
10:00 am to 12:00 pm10:00- Roll Call / Introductions
Public Comment-
Approve June 2013 Agenda-
Approve May 2013 Minutes –
Agency Reports: USFS, Cal Trans, NRCS, other
Discussion Items and Reports:
1.    Finney – Clarification on issues raised recently by Board members.
2.    Introducing Donna Lindquist as  DOC  Watershed Coordinator –
3.    Attendance at June RCD meeting by staff and Board- report
4.    AIS update –Staff
5.    SNC – Long Valley Project Update – Lindquist
6.    Rivers & Ranches  application update- Lindquist
7.    DOC watershed Coordinator report-  Lindquist
Action Items:
1.    Approve funding request to SNC for Fuels reduction funds. – Staff
2.    Approve Funding request to CA Fire Safe Council – fuels reduction funds – Staff
3.    Discussion/ Approval of increase in rate of pay for DOC contractors – Staff
4.    Request for By- Laws review – Staff and Finney
Informational Items:
1.    Highway 49 Road side Clearing – Foothill Tree Contract terminated.
2.    Loyalton Pines – Completed. Request for Site visit in July –proposed July 26th.
3.    Living with Fire tabloid – $500 expense – Title IIIPublic Meeting adjourned ______________with Special Session following immediately.  See notice and agenda for Special Session on page  2
Next meeting July 26th Sierraville CA 10-12 with Loyalton Pines project Site visit @ 1:00pmNOTICE OF SPECIAL SESSION called by Chair, SCFSWC Board of DirectorsPlease note Bylaws SCFSWC 2011:  Section 6.4:  Special Board meetings may be called by the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, or any two Directors at any time with a seventy-two (72) hour notice toall Board members.  No business shall be transacted except that mentioned in the notice.  Special Board meetings must have a quorum of 2/3 of the Board of Directors and in emergency situations,

notices and business transactions may be conducted by electronic mail.

SPECIAL MEETING AGENDA

Discussion items:

1.    Board size

2.    Applicants and potential applicants

3.    Board training

4.    2013 Council Goals

Sheriff’s Public Log 6/17 to 6/23/13

6/23/13

SO BadgeSIerra County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Log

6/17/13

  • Copper piping and personal items stolen from cabin at Clark Station
  • A sex offender registered
  • Another instance of copper piping and fishing poles stolen at Clark Station
  • Broken window and siding off cabin at Clark Station
  • Child medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Juvenile problem in Loyalton
  • Civil dispute filed from Sierraville
  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Audible alarm at Loyalton business reported
  • Washoe Co initiating search and rescue in Mitchell Canyon

6/18/13

  • Stray dog scratching at back door in Downieville
  • Five suspicious people in Sierraville cemetary
  • Home broken into in Sattley
  • Woman receiving scam calls from medical company asking for money
  • Welfare check needed for juvenile in Loyalton
  • Dirt bikes disturbing the peace in Loyalton
  • Fraudulent use of county credit card reported

6/19/13

  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Bag found on highway given to Sheriff’s Office
  • Cow on Hwy 49 south of Loyalton
  • Medical emergency in Downieville
  • Welfare check needed in Calpine

6/20/13

  • Civil dispute filed from  Verdi

6/21/13

  • Report of neglected horses coming through county
  • Vehicle making a distress call reported to county
  • Firearm and ammunition stolen from Sierra City residence
  • Gunshot reported in downtown area of Downieville
  • Alarm sounding at Loyalton Elementary School
  • Subject booked on Court commitment

6/22/13

  • Plumas Co reports missing person near Plumas/Sierra Border
  • Two at large dogs are antagonizing another dog in Verdi
  • Medical emergency in Pike City
  • Vehicle accident with no injuries near Sierra City
  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Report of possible drunk driver near Sierra City
  • Two dirt bike riders hurt near Sierra City

6/23/13

  • Medical emergency in Loyalton
  • Two subjects flee scene of wood cutting violation near Loyalton
  • Suspicious tobacco burning in Downieville
  • Shed broken into and neighbors doors unlocked in Sierra City
  • Fawn making a suspicious noise in Goodyears Bar
  • Solo dirt bike versus barbed wire near Long Valley
  • Cabins broken into north of Sierra City
  • More cabins reported broken into north of Sierra City
  • Possible illegal substances being delivered in Sierraville
  • Hit and run to a parked motorcycle above Sierra City

 

 

 

 

Shouts In The Dark 6/26/13

Bahrain: Still Shouting in the Dark

By Matar Ebrahim Matar and Jeff Bachman

Matar Ebrahim Matar

Matar Ebrahim Matar

 

How many U.S. citizens know our government is arming the authoritarian regime of the
Bahraini royal family that uses wide-spread violence and torture to suppress its own people and crush a popular pro-democracy movement?

Nearly two-and-a-half years after a peaceful uprising began in Bahrain, mass human rights abuses and

Jeffrey Bachman

Jeffrey Bachman

torture are reaching new levels.  They are used as a tool to extract forced confessions from journalists, democracy leaders, and medical doctors on trumped up terrorism charges. For example, Nabeel Rajab, an activist and president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, has been arrested and imprisoned after merely appearing on Al Jazeera, despite assurances of his safety from Bahraini authorities.  Bahraini security forces carry out night raids and mass arrests, even fabricating outlandish charges such as “chanting against the king.”

According to U.S. officials, the decision to continue to support the royal family is based in ‘national security interests.’   Really? What of human security?  What best serves democracy and human rights?  Is it in the interests of the American people to be in bed with despotic regimes in the Middle East?  Will we ever learn our lesson after the Arab Spring?

Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, made a recent visit to Washington, D.C.   Not a word was mentioned in the U.S. press about his brutal suppression of his own people. Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, has been denied access to suspected victims of torture.

The government of the United States may not be directly participating in the violence and oppression against peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain, but the U.S. actively supports the Bahraini monarchy with arms sales and the stationing of our 5th Naval Fleet off their coast, as a measure of protection for the royal family. Defense Department documents released to ProPublica, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, show that between February 2011 and February 2012, the U.S. sold Bahrain ammunition, communications technology, parts for combat vehicles, and military helicopters.

A gripping and graphic award-winning film “Shouting in the Dark,” documents these abuses and the U.S. role in supporting the repressive royal family (available for free viewing for free  http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/2011/08/201184144547798162.html ). In the film, a young Bahraini woman, her identity shielded for her protection, stated, “I feel really alone. Whether it was a democratic country or an authoritarian country, all of them acted the same when it came to us. I discovered my humanity is a subject of discussion. Should I be killed in the street or not be killed based on the interests of the United States or Saudi Arabia or other countries?”

A few months ago, the Crown Prince was promoted to First Deputy Prime Minister. The promotion of the Crown Prince, seen by some as a reformer, could provide an opening for change.  With this new position, sadly, the Crown Prince becomes even more responsible for the deteriorating human security in Bahrain, and has refused to admit that Bahrain is holding political prisoners, instead referring to them as criminals.

Leaders in the Bahraini pro-democracy movement have stated clearly that they are ready to engage in dialogue with the regime, as part of a process sponsored by regional and international powers. Is the U.S. is ready to use its influence to facilitate such engagement?  If not, why not?

 As the Crown Prince was departing Washington, D.C. (after an attempt to convince the Obama administration of his commitment to dialogue and reform), Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior arrested the leading member of the February 14 Youth Coalition which has been mostly peaceful in its protest but has finally issued a warning to foreign soldiers and fighters to leave Bahrain.

The U.S. must make a decision.  It can point to the promises of reform made by the Bahraini monarchy as justification for the presence of the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet off the coast and its continued support for the regime, or it can live up to its proclamations concerning democracy and human rights.  Our hypocrisy in Bahrain is on display for all the world to see.

During his recent national security speech, Obama spoke of the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, and asked, “Is this who we are?”   We say resoundingly “no”!   Our nation is better than this.  We must not unconditionally support regimes that violate the rights of their citizens.

Students at American University are holding the Crown Prince accountable as an alum and donor with his $3 million contribution to their University for naming rights to the School of International Service atrium.  They have launched a letter writing campaignand petition they hope will spread.

American University students are willing to send a clear message that they stand with the Bahraini people and their democratic aspirations.  They ask our government do the same.

Matar Ebrahim Matar is a former Bahraini MP and Fellow at NED. For his role in Arab Spring, Mr. Matar was awarded the Leaders of Democracy Award by the Project on Middle East Democracy in 2011

Jeff Bachman is a professor of human rights at American University, with a focus in state responsibility for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

 

 

FNL Thanks Merchants 6/26/13

The Sierra County Friday Night Live Club would like to thank the merchants who are committed to preventing tobacco sales to minors.  Congratulations!  In the recent months, of the stores checked, all passed the tobacco compliance checks by not selling to minors.  We are proud of our local merchants for supporting the health and wellbeing of our youth.

How did we get to 100% compliance?  It has been proven that a local Tobacco Retail Licensing policy reduces the rate of illegal tobacco sales to youth in the counties and cities where a policy is passed.  Through our surveys and educational efforts it became apparent that Sierra County is not ready to support a tobacco retail licensing policy, but does believe in the enforcement of current laws.  Due to the rising rates of illegal tobacco sales to minors the Sierra County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, our Friday Night Live Club, and the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office collaborated to conduct a local Official Compliance Check and utilize current laws.

Once again, we thank our merchants for working with us through this process and having an outcome of 100% compliance!!

Skyfall at the Yuba June 28

Sierra County Arts Council

Movie Night!
 
“Skyfall” comes to the Yuba Theatre in Downieville

Friday, June 28th at 7:30 PM

Director: Sam Mendes.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Naomie Harris.

 

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

This program is part the Sierra County Arts Council’s “Movie Nights” series with funding from the Bill Graham Foundation. The Sierra County Arts Council is a local partner of the California Arts Council.

 

$5.00 Suggested Donation.

About the Arts CouncilThe Sierra County Arts Council is a member-supported 501 (c) (3) nonprofit public benefit corporation established in 1981 to promote, support and advocate the arts throughout Sierra County, California.Join Our Mailing List
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