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JOIN PANYS!

Peace Action of New York State is excited to invite you to join us as a member today – whether for the first time or once again – and help us make this year a very special one for peace & justice in New York.

Join us ONLINE today and you will be that special member who helps us save money on mailing costs.

Join us ONLINE today at a $40 membership level or more, and you will receive a free 20-week subscription to The Nation magazine.

As one of the hosts of the 2015 Peace & Planet mobilization, we also extend a warm invitation to come to New York City from Friday April 24th to Saturday April 25th for an international conference, and Sunday, April 26th for an international march, rally and festival taking place on the weekend before the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review begins at the United Nations.   Sign up for more information at peaceandplanet.org.

On April 26th, we will be joined by thousands of activists from the U.S. and around the world, including many survivors of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demand that the NPT Review Conference mandates the beginning of the promised negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition and making the connections between the no nukes, no war, climate justice, move the money, and racial and economic justice movements.  Stay tuned for rally location and march route at peaceandplanet.org.

We are also proud to be taking the lead in organizing student chapters of Peace Action around New York State from Buffalo to SUNY Stonybrook University.  We currently have 10 student chapters (up from 4 just a year ago) and, if you show support, we can keep going.

We are a membership organization and members like you are the voice for nuclear abolition, diplomacy, not war, moving the money to fund human needs, and building the next generation of Peace Action activists.

Let’s take it to the next level together.  Click here to join.

Jim Anderson, President


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Free Internet… If You Can Afford It

Source: Dan Shewan, “What Is Net Neutrality and Why Should Marketers Care?,” Wordstream: Online Advertising Made Easy (blog), April 18, 2014, accessed February 20, 2015,http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/04/18/what-is-net-neutrality.

FREE INTERNET… IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT

On February 26, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on new Net Neutrality Rules on Title II of the Communications Act. Net Neutrality is the ability for individuals and organizations to communicate freely online without the risk of internet service providers (ISPs), using “undesirable tiers” for financial gains. If passed, the new Net Neutrality rules would have far-reaching, and beneficial, ramifications for social and political minorities within the United States. However, many ISPs are working to block its passage on exploitative “fast lane” and “slow lane” practices that protect their profitabilities through usurious monthly fees.

Social minorities, whether due to race, gender, or other “axes,” would benefit from Net Neutrality due to the reduced cost for entrepreneurs to enter various internet media outlets. While some contend that the advent of Net Neutrality may stifle innovation and the use of mobile broadband, many European countries consider broadband internet a public utility not unlike water, electricity, and heat. If implemented in the United States, minorities would have a greater ability to access fast internet at lower costs, and continue to advance in adopting various internet technologies.

Net Neutrality would allow political minorities to share viewpoints without ISP-based restrictions. Much like telephone services cannot determine who you can call nor decide the topic of conversation, the introduction of Net Neutrality would prevent ISPs from discriminating against “dissenting” sites, regardless of whether the site was accessed by wired or wireless connection. Political minorities would not have to worry about issues such as “paid prioritization”, in which a provider can either favor bandwidth to its affiliates, or sell the bandwidth to other companies at “preferred” rates. More importantly, political minority organizations would no longer be subjected to “blocking,” and ISPs would be required to protect the privacy of both the producers and the viewers of such content.

PANYS supports net neutrality because it would allow greater accessibility and opportunities for social and political minorities to learn, teach, and communicate with one another without the risk of an ISP deciding what’s “best” for a community. As an organization that speaks out against nuclear proliferation, wars in Iraq and other states, and advocates for the advancement of social minorities, an affirmative vote by the FCC would allow PANYS and other organizations to reach a broader audience. A broader audience that can take our non-violence message and distribute it to areas that the internet may not yet reach.

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ISIS, MASCULINITY, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

ISIS, MASCULINITY, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

The internet has become a means for individuals to align with one another over common interests. Middle Eastern groups such as Islamic Statehood for Iraq and Syria (ISIS) use social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to entice younger, more technologically integrated, persons into their respective networksi ii. By using these Western-originated – and thus more “uncensored” – viaducts, these organizations are able to enter social media markets that would be otherwise unattainable through typical means,iii as well as recruiting persons who see joining ISIS as a way of purifying a fundamentalist sect of Islam.iv As such, it is important to prevent the spread of ISIS not only at the ground-level, but within the digital domain, where much of the recruitment takes place.

ISIS AND MASCULINITY

Callaghan et al (2014) break down Syria’s social networking into four categories – Kurdish, Pro-Assad, Moderate, and Jihadist – based on a network of 652 nodes (servers) and 3,260 edges (viaducts) where categories are created based on the followings and creations of those who post tweets, comments, and videos throughout various social media networks.v Callaghan et al monitored tweets, YouTube comments, etc., and by classifying the “posters”, found that whereas women were often found in “revolutionary” networks, they were largely absent in “jihadist” networks.vi Consequently, jihadist networks are largely masculine organizations absent of feminist ideologies.

However, where does masculinity and social networking come into play with regards to ISIS? Ilyas Mohammed argues that the “shock and awe” mentality that ISIS uses in its video-documenting the beheading of westerners such as James Foley (and more recently, ISIS’ immolation of Jordanian pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbehvii), is one that is cold, calculated, remorseless, and designed to incite panic among Western populations .viii Such wanton displays of violence are a sort of “subversive” masculinity against the traditional masculine state-role the United States and other western hegemons currently possessix. Furthermore, these actions threaten the traditional status quo of secular states globally controlling the economic and political interests of smaller states. At the same time, ISIS’ “socially aware” involves other gendered relationships.

If ISIS’s “subversive masculinity” is a way to get Western states’ collective attention and instill fear upon their respective populationsx, then there is a very strong “traditional masculinity” that exists with dealing with feminine and “less masculine” (i.e. the LGBTQ population) within Syria and Iraq. The promotion of “traditional” moralist actions against women and children such as stoning unwed women in the name of honor, impregnating Yazidi women to break their bloodlines and introduce pro-ISIS bloodlines, removing children from their families and forcing them to watch their parents be killed by ISIS, are among the actions used by ISIS to demonstrate not only their power, but also devalue those who go against their view of an “Islamic State”xi. With regards to LGBTQ populations within Syria, Siegel (2015) states throwing, and then immolating, these persons to their deaths, are implemented as a strict form of Sharia that is essential to ISIS’s governance and legitimacyxii, with the videos a warning to other Syrians that “immorality” will be met with harsh punishmentxiii. If this is the case, then why are Westerners joining ISIS?

ISIS AND WESTERN SOCIAL NETWORKING

With ISIS’ actions against women and the LGBTQ community so prominent, it would appear unfathomable for westerners to join such an organization. However, the ability for ISIS to record their actions and use social media such as Twitter, YouTube, etc., demonstrates their advanced technological prowess.xiv So why would westerners, who have little to gain in terms of finance or global status, and know of the atrocities ISIS commits, be enticed by their social media activity and subsequently join such an organization? There may be several answers, ranging from theological backlash against their home state’s action and religious aspirationsxv, to simply desiring acceptance from a groupxvi.

The desire to “fit in” entices many persons deemed to be “middle-class yet outcasts” who are typically male and under the age of 40.xvii These individuals see groups such as ISIS as an opportunity to exist within a disciplined hierarchy and move upwards within the ranks. Conversely, women who join groups such as ISIS join with the intent of either marrying a “freedom fighter” or serving in all-female unitsxviii. Rand and Vassalo (2014) contend that one of the main reasons for “networked” individuals to enter these organizations is the relative ease in which they can enter and exit afflicted countries such as Syria, as well as to overcome educational and economic limitations that exist in the Westxix. For some foreign male “freedom fighters”, there also lies the opportunity to work with Sunni extremists in a concurrent – not agreeing – role against the Westxx.

Social networking is also used by ISIS due to the difficulty that exists in tracing the location of not only the organization itself, but the location of various executions of those deemed in apostasy. When an individual goes on a social networking site (i.e.: Facebook, Twitter, etc.,) information about the user such as his or her internet protocol (IP) addressxxi, or the GPS location, internet service provider, device IDs, etc., of his / her data device (i.e.: smartphone, tablet, etc.,) is collected as wellxxii. Knowing this, ISIS and similar organizations have employed encryption methods such as TOR hidden services in order to prevent location information from disclosing their whereabouts.xxiii Although TOR does encrypt this data, the use of such services by ISIS and its “siblings” has resulted in it being perceived by states such as the United States as wholly malignant and under constant attack.xxiv Ironically, TOR was used as a means of providing news coverage of the goings-on of the Arab Spring when regimes began “censoring their internets,”xxv demonstrating that just as it can be used to cover up malice, it can also be used to promote civil and political liberties.

NON-VIOLENT METHODS TO ENDING ISIS’ MADNESS

A common practice for reducing the viability of organizations such as ISIS is to either engage in traditional warfare with such an organization, or to “strongly condemn” ISIS’ actions. The United States’ previous involvement in Iraq has come at a cost of between 134,000 and 152,000 civilian lives and another 50,000 to 75,000 combatant livesxxvi, cost the United States $1.7 trillion in principle through the end of fiscal year 2013, and potentially upwards of $4 trillion when health and disability payments are accounted forxxvii. As a result, the United States has largely kept a “speak loudly and carry no stick”xxviii stance, when perhaps the best non-violent means would be to engage ISIS not in the traditional domain, but within the digital domain.

The combination of social networking’s societal presence, the use of social networking by many middle-class outcasts, and the ease of which “networked” individuals can enter and exit afflicted states such as Iraq and Syria, demonstrates the importance of cyberspace for ISIS. The EastWest Institute recommends that “the ability to trace users’ who engage organizations such as ISIS via social networking”xxix be a focus of a fused effort by law enforcement and intelligence organizations such as INTERPOL to counter fighters with western passportsxxx. Canada has already passed legislation that will strip citizenship from any Canadians who travel to support ISIS, or ISIS-like organizations.xxxi

At the “cyber-level”, increased networking needs to go beyond fusing international law enforcement and intelligence organizations, and be handled by both the states from which these persons emigrate from, and the states which these persons immigrate to. Jessica D. Smith (2014) states that to break the political control, it would be more conducive to break ISIS by and breaking their lines of communication in order to force them into guerrilla warfare would be more conducive to breaking ISISxxxii. The cyber-activist group Anonymous has launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in order to overload ISIS’s servers and reduce their ability to distribute propaganda to impressionable persons.xxxiii Perhaps then, allowing cyber-activist groups such as Anonymous to work with states would be most conducive to eliminating the cyber-viability, and by extension the overall viability, of ISIS. It is not enough to simply attack the individuals and the protections of citizenship; the focus must be on its citizenship-revoking cyber-tentacles.

iCNN, “ISIS recruiting Western youth with English-language video” (video), June 21, 2014, accessed February 6, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdgzCbrPqzQ.

iiCNN, “FBI: ISIS Looks to Recruit U.S. Citizens Online” (video), February 5, 2015, accessed February 6, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/02/05/tsr-brown-dnt-isis-goes-online-to-find-recruits.cnn.

iiiJames F. Tracy, “ISIS is America’s New Terror Brand: Endless Propaganda Fuels “War on Terror”,” L-Hora / Global Research, September 1, 2014, accessed February 6, 2015, http://www.l-hora.org/8/upload/isisa.pdf.

ivKellie Langwell and Kelsey Ruegger, “The Effects of ISIS on Family Structure Systems” (Poster of presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University., Orange, CA, December 10, 2014), accessed February 6, 2015, http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1024&context=cusrd_abstracts. Info on date and Location sourced from http://digitalcommons.chapman.edu/cusrd_abstracts/26/

vDerek O’Callaghan et al., “Online Social Media in the Syria Conflict: Encompassing the Extremes and the In-Betweens” (paper Presented at ASONAM 2014, Beijing, China, August 17, 2014), 2-5, accessed February 6, 2015, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1401.7535.pdf. Additional citation info found at: http://dblp.uni-trier.de/pers/hd/o/O=Callaghan:Derek?q=Derek+O%27Callaghan

viCallaghan et al 7

viiRod Nordland and Anne Barnard, “Militants’ Killing of Jordanian Pilot Unites the Arab World in Anger,” New York Times, Feb. 4, 2015, accessed February 6, 2015,http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/world/middleeast/arab-world-unites-in-anger-after-burning-of-jordanian-pilot.html?_r=0.

viiiIlyas Mohammed, “Isis Behead American Journalist,” The Socjournal, September 8, 2014, accessed February 6, 2015, http://www.sociology.org/isis-behead-american-journalist/.

ixibid

xibid

xiLangwell and Ruegger

xiiJacob Siegel, “In Graphic Photos and On Twitter, ISIS Members Record and Tout Executions of Gay Men,” The Daily Beast, January 16, 2015, accessed February 6, 2015, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/16/in-graphic-videos-and-on-twitter-isis-members-record-and-tout-executions-of-gay-men.html.

xiiiibid

xivMohammed sociology

xvMichael Noonan and Phyl Khalil, “North American Foreign Fighters,”Journal for Deradicalization 1, no. 1 (Winter 2014 / 15): 70-72, accessed February 6, 2015, http://journals.sfu.ca/jd/index.php/jd/article/viewFile/6/6.

xviNoonan and Khalil 69

xviiibid

xviiiibid

xixDafna Rand and Anthony Vassalo, Bringing the Fight Back Home: Western Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria (Washington, DC: Center for a New American Society, August, 2014), 3-4.

xxRand and Vassalo 2-3

xxi“Facebook’s Privacy Policy – Full Version,” Facebook, last modified October 29, 2009, accessed February 6, 2015, https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=%20322194465300.

xxii“Facebook’s Data Policy,” Facebook, accessed February 6, 2015,https://www.facebook.com/policy.php.

xxiiiRachael Levy, “ISIS Tries to Outwit Social Networks,” Vocativ, June 17, 2014, accessed February 6, 2015, http://www.vocativ.com/world/syria-world/isis-tries-outwit-social-networks/.

xxiv“Thoughts and Concerns About Operation Onymous,” The Tor Project, November 9, 2014, accessed February 6, 2015, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/thoughts-and-concerns-about-operation-onymous.

xxv“Using Tor Hidden Services for Good,” The Tor Project, January 7, 2012, accessed February 6, 2015, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/using-tor-good.

xxvi“Iraq Body Count,” Iraq Body Count Project, February 10, 2015, accessed February 11, 2015, https://www.iraqbodycount.org/.

xxvii“Iraq: 10 Years After the Invasion,” Costs of War, accessed February 11, 2015, http://costsofwar.org/iraq-10-years-after-invasion.

xxviii With apologies to Teddy Roosevelt for demolishing one of the United States’ best quotes

xxixSee Facebook’s Privacy Policy and Data Policy for explanations (Citations xxi and xxii)

xxxWael Abdul-Shafi and Raymond E. Karam, “Countering Violent Extremism: Ewi Expert Roundtable Discusses Strategies to Counter Isis in Iraq and Syria,” EastWest Institute, December 17, 2014, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.ewi.info/idea/countering-violent-extremism-ewi-expert-roundtable-discusses-strategies-counter-isis-iraq-and.

xxxiLori Lowenthal Marcus, “Canada to Revoke Citizenship of Canadians Who Fight Alongside Isis,” The Jewish Press, last modified September 22, 2014, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/canada-to-revoke-citizenship-of-canadians-who-fight-alongside-isis/2014/09/21/.

xxxiiJessica D. Smith “The Islamic State: A Counterstrategy for a Counter-State,”Middle East Security Report no. 21 (July, 2014): 24-25, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Lewis-Center%20of%20gravity.pdf.

xxxiiiDarlene Storm, “ISIS is a virus that Anonymous plans to cure: Hacktivists hammer ISIS with #OpISIS,” Computer World, February 9, 2015, accessed February 11, 2015, http://www.computerworld.com/article/2881614/isis-is-a-virus-that-anonymous-plans-to-cure-hacktivists-hammer-isis-with-opisis.html.

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Today’s Frontier of Peace: Cyberwar, Nuclear Materials, Terrorism, and National Security

Above: A diagram of how various attack methods work. The left diagram shows a scanning attack where a single attack host scans a number of victims. The right diagram shows a distributed denial of service attack, in which an attacker uses a number of compromised hosts (bots) to attack a victim.i (Source: Sailesh Kumar, “Survey of Current Network Intrusion Detection Techniques,” Washington University of St. Louis – Computer Science Department, December, 2007, accessed January 20, 2015, http://www1.cse.wustl.edu/~jain/cse571-07/ftp/ids/index.html.)

Part I of a Series

Cyberattacks are politically and / or socially motivated attacks carried out through the internet via fake websites, infected computers (bots), and malicious programs such as Trojan horses, viruses, and worms).ii They have become an increasing risk for nuclear facilities due to the ease in which cyberattacks can compromise the facility’s integrity and ability to carry out its intended tasksiii. Whereas traditional attacks required the use of weaponry and armies, cyberattacks merely require a willing patron with a vendetta, a hacker (or hackers), a few computers, and as little as $100iv. However, the outcome can be just as devastating to a state’s infrastructure. Although a cyberattack may not be measured in “human casualties”, the ability to dismantle a state’s nuclear infrastructure through informal methods means that cyberattacks can be used not only as a weapon of war, but also as a means of maintaining small states’ compliance towards hegemonic interests.

The informal relationships that exist between the attacking state, organization(s), and “hackers-for-hire”v, allow for a state to deny the attack has taken place and investigations begin. This is because attacking states and organizations will often claim “plausible denial”vi, in which investigating states and organizations are unable to conclusively tie the attack to its presumed “point of origin”vii, thus protecting the alleged offender from reprisal by the international community.

Cyberattacks have already been used against nuclear power plants in Iran in order to disrupt their nuclear infrastructureviii. Stuxnet, a joint operation launched in 2010 by (presumably) the United States and Israel, was intended to preemptively dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure on the basis that their nuclear enrichment program was being used to produce weaponsix. However, such attacks can have unintended consequences. Stuxnet’s appearance on the International Space Station (ISS) in November, 2013, as a result of a rogue USB drive,x demonstrates how easily an attack can be caused, or continued.

Although the Council of Europe has had the European Convention on Cybercrime (ECC) in force since 2001xi, the United Nations has not been able to come to a consensus regarding what constitutes a cyberattack due to the differing interpretations of “cyberattack” held by various statesxii. Thus, smaller states engage in technological specializations and “sell their services” to larger states as a means of generating revenue and gaining protection from larger statesxiii, while providing larger states the technologies needed to build their Computer Emergency Readiness / Response Teams (CERTs)xiv Although an imperfect solution, until the United Nations comes to a consensus on how to deal with cyberattacks, the current “best practices” are through mutually beneficial economic treaties whose viability exists only so long as both parties need each others’ existence to survive.

i Sailesh Kumar, “Survey of Current Network Intrusion Detection Techniques,” Washington University of St. Louis – Computer Science Department, December, 2007, accessed January 20, 2015, http://www1.cse.wustl.edu/~jain/cse571-07/ftp/ids/index.html.

ii“What Constitutes a Cyber Attack,” NEC, accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/safety/info_management/cyberattack.html.

iiiPaul K. Kerr, John Rollins, and Catherine A. Theohary, “The Stuxnet Computer Worm: Harbinger of an Emerging Warfare Capability,”Congressional Record Service 7-5700, no. R41524 (December 9, 2010): 5.

iv Matthew Goldstein, “Need Some Espionage Done? Hackers Are for Hire Online,” New York Times, January 15, 2015, accessed January 16, 2015, http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/need-some-espionage-done-hackers-are-for-hire-online/.

v Goldstein New York Times

vi Victor Marchetti “Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History,” Institute for Historical Review, accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v09/v09p305_Marchetti.html.

vii Danny Bradbury, “Testing the Defences of Bulletproof Hosting Services,”Network Security 2014, no. 6 (June, 2014): 9-10.

viii Robert McMillan, “Was Stuxnet Built to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Program?,” PCWorld, September 21, 2010, accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.pcworld.com/article/205827/was_stuxnet_built_to_attack_irans_nuclear_program.html.

ix Kerr et al, 3-5

x David Gilbert, “International Space Station Infected With USB Stick Malware Carried on Board by Russian Astronauts,” International Business Times (London), November 11, 2013, accessed January 16, 2015, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/international-space-station-infected-malware-russian-astronaut-521246.

xi “European Convention On Cybercrime,” Council of Europe, November 23, 2001, accessed January 16, 2015, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/185.htm.

xii Anna-Maria Talliharm, “Towards Cyberpeace: Managing Cyberwar through International Cooperation,” UN Chronicle, August, 2013, under “”International Cooperation,“,”http://unchronicle.un.org/article/towards-cyberpeace-managing-cyberwar-through-international-cooperation/.

xiii Liina Areng, Lilliputian States in Digital Affairs and Cyber Security (Tallinn, Estonia: NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence, 2014), 4-5, accessed January 16, 2015, http://ccdcoe.org/multimedia/lilliputian-states-digital-affairs-and-cyber-security.html.

xiv See http://www.cert.lt (Lithuania), and http://www.us-cert.gov (United States) for examples.

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2014 WSC Jr. Peacemaker Award Gala: Jeremy Scahill

Video

Click Here to see the video on Youtube

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Sally Jones & Arnie Matlin travel to Nicaragua

By Arnie Matlin

On October 30, Sally Jones and I traveled to Nicaragua.  It was Sally’s first trip there, and my 32nd trip.  This allowed us to share perspectives in an interesting way.  I was able to introduce Sally to the projects our family supports, and the people I’ve worked with over the years, and she was able to allow me to look at Nicaragua from the perspective of someone seeing it for the first time.

To refresh everyone’s memory, Nicaragua is a country in Central America which the United States has dominated—or attempted to dominate—for over a century.  Augusto Sandino was a revolutionary leader whose guerilla army forced the U.S. Marines to leave Nicaragua in 1933.  Sandino was assassinated in 1934 by the Nicaraguan National Guard, under orders from Gen. Anastasio Somoza.  After the murder, the Somoza dynasty, all of them truly brutal dictators, ruled Nicaragua for 45 years.  In 1979, after a long and difficult revolutionary struggle, the FSLN (in English, the Sandinista Front for National Liberation or Sandinistas) overthrew the Somoza government.  The U.S., unable to tolerate Nicaragua as a sovereign nation, began the Contra war, and imposed a trade embargo on Nicaragua.  During the 1980’s, over 100,000 people from the U.S. visited Nicaragua to learn about the country and its revolution.  My daughter Sara and I visited Nicaragua in 1988.  Like so many others, we returned with a great respect for the Nicaragua people and their revolution, and an equally great disgust at how the U.S. was trying to destroy Nicaraguan as a sovereign nation.  In 1990, the U.S. was partially able to achieve this goal by accomplishing the electoral defeat of the Sandinistas.  Right-wing governments were in office for 16 years, and Nicaragua again became a U.S. client state.  The right-wing presidents were able to push back many of the revolutionary gains, but they couldn’t destroy the Nicaraguan revolutionary spirit.  In 2006, FSLN leader Daniel Ortega was again elected as president of Nicaragua. Sally and I were able to visit a country where the leaders of government actually care about poor people, and are trying to make life better for them.

Our family supports two solidarity projects in Nicaragua—a scholarship program and a Casa Materna.  The scholarship program provides financial assistance for 12 college students in various academic programs—nursing, social work, medicine, engineering, public relations, agronomy.  We met and spoke to every student.  (Sally has a great advantage, because she speaks Spanish and I don’t.  I need to work with an interpreter.)

The Casa Materna is where women with high-risk pregnancies can stay and be cared for until it’s time for their delivery.  They receive nutritious food, pleasant accommodations, information about childcare, and a daily visit from a nurse.  The Casa Materna is a joint project of the Mayor’s office, MINSA (the health ministry), and la familia Matlin.

November 2nd was Day of the Dead in Central America.  It’s not celebrated as extensively in Nicaragua as it is in Mexico, but most people go to the cemeteries and visit the graves to their loved ones.  Sally and I traveled to the city of Matagalpa to pay tribute to Ben Linder, the young U.S. engineer who came to Nicaragua as a volunteer, working on a hydroelectric program in the mountains.  The Contras murdered Ben on April 28th, 1987.  He was 27 years old.  By an amazing coincidence, we came to his gravesite at the same time as two women who owned the house where Ben had lived.  The older woman, who says Ben called her “mother,” is 95 years old.  However, she still makes an annual pilgrimage to his grave to commemorate his life and his sacrifice.

I’m a member of the Sandinista party, so Sally and I were able to have extensive political discussions with the FSLN political secretary of El Sauce and the political secretary of the Department of León.  We also had a long session with the mayor of El Sauce, mainly about the Casa Materna budget and fringe benefits of the four workers whose salaries we pay.

We had meetings with the Health Director of El Sauce, Dra. Teresa Velásquez, and her brother, Dr. José Miguel Velásquez, who is director of health for the entire Department of León.  Our big push was for an expanded program for medical students from the University of Rochester Medical School.  (We succeeded in getting unofficial approval.  Time will tell about the formal contract.)

On our last day, back in Managua, we had dinner with Jenny Atlee, long-time solidarity activist.  She and her husband, Tom Loudon are now working in solidarity with the people of Honduras, who are now ruled by a military dictatorship.

During the day inn Managua, we visited two old friends: Fr. Miguel d’Escoto, who was Nicaraguan Foreign Minister during the Contra war, and was President of the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 – 2009.  Pope Paul II had taken away Fr. Miguel’s right to perform the sacraments, no doubt because Fr. Miguel was a supporter of Liberation Theology.  After 30 years of being denied this privilege of performing the sacraments, Fr. Miguel was reinstated, and now he is able function fully as a priest.

Dr. Fernando Silva is a pediatrician whom I met in January 1988.  He brought a group of us into La Mascota, the children’s hospital, and took us to the bedside of a young child who was in critical condition after having been shot in the stomach by the Contras.  I thought to myself, “My government caused this terrible suffering, and my tax dollars paid for it.”  (That’s when I became Nicaragua solidarity activist.)  Dr. Silva’s biography describes him as “a pediatrician, a poet, a narrator, a short story writer, an essayist, a painter, and a linguist.”  Moreover, he has been brilliant in almost all of these spheres.  I know the details of his medical successes, but he’s probably best known in Nicaragua for his poetry.  (Poetry is very important to Nicaraguans.)  Dr. Silva has been called, “The most Nicaraguan of poets, and the most poetic of Nicaraguans.”

Nicaragua is a beautiful and welcoming country, but Sally didn’t get much chance to see Nicaragua as a tourist.  I see Nicaragua as a country whose people are determined to live in a sovereign nation, despite being in “the shadow of the eagle.”

Apparently, this is how Sally saw things also.  Just days after her arrival home, Sally began to obtain books for shipment to a primary school in Nicaragua.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Linder Accurate article about Ben Linder

http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/presskit/president.shtml Official U.N. bio of Fr. Miguel (Wikipedia article is out of date)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-28656661 About Fr. Miguel’s reinstatement

http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Silva_Espinoza Excellent article about Dr. Silva (Spanish)

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Call To Action Againt Wars in Iraq & Syria- Nov 11-16, 2014

NATION WIDE CALL TO ACTION AGAINST WARS IN IRAQ & SYRIA

Join Peace Action and over 20 peace groups on NOVEMBER 11-16 for a Nation Wide Action to End Wars in Iraq and Syria

Let your voice be heard! Do one or more of the following:

  1. CALL: National Call Congress day (11/13):  877-429-0678 (toll free#) and tell them “not another endless war.”
  2. TWEET: your members of congress with these messages #EndEndlessWar and adding in #Iraq, #ISIS and #Syria on (11/13)
  3. EMAIL: your member of Congress using the form here
  4. THUNDER CLAP: Thunder Clap with us on (11/13) @12-1pm -[details to follow]
  5. FACEBOOK:  Download and post on social media the graphics found here

For more information about the actions taking place November 11-16 click here

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Jeremy Scahill receives the William Sloane Coffin Jr. Peacemaker Award

Peace activists, supporters and friends of Peace Action New York State (PANYS) gathered in the auditorium of Scholastic Books in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.

They were there to attend the 2014 William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacmaker Award Gala honoring Jeremy Scahill, founding editor of The Intercept, contributing editor to The Nation magazine and author of the international bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, for which he received the George Polk Book Award. His newest book and documentary, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Scahill was introduced by PANYS’s new Executive Director, Elizabeth Turchi. She presented Scahill with Peace Action New York State’s William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award.

His speech touched on many topics, including the nefarious drone wars being conducted in many countries around the globe by the United States and the attack on whistle blowers who have attempted to alert the American people to the skulduggery and wars being secretly conducted in their name. He was critical of both parties and observed that until we are able to remove corporate cash that has flooded the political process, now accelerated by the Citizens United decision of the Roberts Supreme Court, these wars and attacks on civil liberties will continue. He urged activists to focus on action to that end.

Following his speech, Amy Goodman, host of the Democracy Now! program, interviewed Scahill. The two have had a long history of working together on various projects.

After the presentation and speech-making, the audience moved to the spectacular penthouse for a reception with light food and drink. The evening was concluded with a raffle of nice prizes including a case of wine.

It was another great gala event hosted by one of New York’s great peace and justice organizations.

WSC Jr.Gala Photos ( All Photos by Matthew Weinstein)


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Sally Jones goes to Japan!

This Month, Sally Jones was  invited by Shinfujin (New Japan Womens Association) to attend and speak at the 2014 World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs to be held from Aug. 2 to 9 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For all of you who wanted to be there, here is a copy of the speech she gave.

World Conference – Nagasaki
August 8, 2014
Sally Jones
Peace Action – USA

A Broader Consensus-Building Movement Heading to 2015 NPT

Konichiwa.  My name is Sally Jones from Peace Action USA.  I am from our New York affiliate and will be one of your hosts for the 2015 NPT.  Thank you to the Women’s Peace Fund, Shinfujin, Gensuikyo and everyone who helped make my first trip to Japan the experience of a lifetime.  It has been a wrenching experience to be here at ground zero of the A-bomb attacks.  With the crisis in Ukraine and the military build-up in Asia, we are living in dangerous times.  But it is also inspirational to be at the epicenter of the No Nukes! No War! Movement.

What I heard from activists from all over Japan at the conference in Hiroshima is that we need to make this movement a broader, consensus building movement, not just here in Japan but globally.  Anti-nuke activists here in Japan are showing us how.

The anti-nuke movement here has the spirit of the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s in the USA and you have even adopted its theme song:  We Shall Overcome.  The huge petition drive movement going on right now has resurrected some of the techniques of the 1980’s nuclear freeze.  Shinfujin is connecting to women by making the nuclear abolition movement a women’s movement.  It is connecting to youth by making this a youth movement.  It is connecting to people of faith by making this a spiritual movement.  It is seeking the endorsement of celebrities and putting their faces on flyers.  It is asking parents and grandparents to take their youngsters to peace walks and festivals and making the work creative and inspiring.  Japan’s movement is telling the world the compelling stories of the hibakusha with testimony and exhibits and it  connects their plight to the plight of the many victims in other countries who suffer because of nuclear accidents and testing.

Being a broad consensus building movement does not mean we are compromising our ideals of justice and equality.  The Japanese No Nukes! Movement stands in solidarity with the Marshall Islands and their lawsuits against the U.S. and the nuclear weapons states.  It goes to Okinawa to help the struggle against US military base expansion.  You support the peace and justice movements from other countries – which is reflected in the international delegation you brought to this conference – from Korea, Guam, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Indonesia, Cuba, Malaysia, Portugal, France, Norway, the United Kingdom and the US and Russia.

As we approach the all important year of 2015 with the NPT Review happening on the 70th anniversary of the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we will be taking this broader, consensus-building movement to NYC.  In our planning of activities for NY, let us use the spirit of the Japanese Anti-Nuke movement and apply them to the streets of NY.  This is what I’ve heard from activists at this conference so far:

Let the women, families, youth, and persons of faith who are in our movement create their own actions so that every person who cares about our issues will want to be there with us – and make it clear that we are there for their issues, too.  Some of the ideas I’ve heard is a Tea Party in Central Park, a Youth Peace Walk, and perhaps even a Children’s March.

Political and celebrity endorsements aren’t a bad idea, either.

Let the world be involved by choosing a global action at an agreed upon hour in every time zone around the globe.

And, finally, bring the heart and soul of the No Nukes! Movement to NYC in the form of the Japanese delegations from every prefecture, every group, with their hundreds of thousands of signatures, exhibitions and stories of the hibakusha and let them spread that spirit as far and high as possible.

With the creativity of activists from all over the globe, let us go to NY and breakdown the stone walls of the nuclear weapons states’ intransigence, nuclear deterrence, militarism and injustice.

Thank you.

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5 Things to Know Now About Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

By Dani Douglas

1.  The Joint Plan of Action (JPA) expired on July 20, after negotiations failed to reach a permanent, long-term agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

Significant gaps” remained on each side, and a larger compromise could not be made.

2.  Instead, a four-month extension to the JPA has been agreed upon, giving the parties until November 24 to come up with a final plan.

This extension worries some Members of Congress, who believe that Iran’s demands will only increase and become stronger within the next few months.

“Let me be clear,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Iran will not get any more money during these four months than it did during the last six months, and the vast majority of its frozen oil revenues will remain inaccessible.”

Some Republicans suspect that the extension will be used by Iran to continue uranium production until a final deal is reached. Some believe that disputes within Congress will make negotiations more difficult, as some hawkish Republicans press for Iran to get rid of any and all nuclear capability. Read more

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