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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A Question of Perspective: Examining the progress of a nuclear agreement from various global viewpoints

By Dani Douglas

The deadline for a final, comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program between the P5 + 1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) and Iran is less than two weeks away. American and foreign diplomats, foreign ministers, and secretaries alike are scrambling to create a backup plan and alternative methods to foster a cooperative environment so that a permanent agreement can be reached prior to the July 20 deadline set by the Joint Plan of Action. The last round of talks began July 3 in Vienna and will last at least until July 15.

This final agreement not only concerns the great world powers, but also many other nations across the globe. Thus is the nature of international affairs: what happens in one country affects the next, a disagreement in one hemisphere will have consequences in the other. For a deal to be successful, both Iran and the United States need to understand and address the concerns not only of each other and the P5+1 nations, but also of other important partners. Each nation has its own agenda in mind, but must be conscious of the desires of others.

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A Send Off for PANYS Executive Director Alicia Godsberg

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New Campaign Promoting Carbon-Free Energy!

By Dani Douglas

As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent and are impacting individuals and communities around the globe, it is evident that the way in which we produce energy needs to change. Today, 82% of energy in America comes from fossil fuels (including petroleum, natural gas and coal). Fossil fuels release mass amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, and further exacerbate the greenhouse effect. It has been proven that environmental changes cause increased political conflict, as resources become scarce and citizens are not happy with policy. New legislation is being implemented and sources of energy are beginning to be used, but there is still much progress to be made.

Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, New York is the second largest wind farm in the United States.

To learn more about the importance of alternative, carbon-free energy, visit the “Campaigns” tab or click here.

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New Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence!

By Salem Hoffman-Sadka

Whether it’s the physical abuse from an intimate partner or the systematic rape of thousands by a genocidal regime, the violent targeting of women and girls occurs everywhere. This oppression of women is arguably the most prevalent and enduring violation of human rights that the international community currently faces. The violence stands hand in hand with a world culture of gender-inequality; the violence fuels inequality as the inequality fuels the violence. Steps have been taken to break this cycle and some progress has been made, but this is only the beginning of an uphill climb to a gender-equal world free of gendered violence.

You can find the new page in the “Campaigns” tab, or by clicking here.

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New York Communities Gain Leverage Over Energy Companies After Court Ruling

By Dani Douglas

On June 30, the New York State Court of Appeals made a landmark decision for the environmental advocacy movement, ruling that any town in New York can prohibit fracking within its borders. This decision was added to the list of over 420 nationwide bans and 170 New York State bans that have been issued against the controversial and hazardous drilling process.

Residents of Dryden, N.Y. rally after the town prohibited fracking in 2011.

Various towns in the Northeast, including Dryden, N.Y. and Middlefield, N.Y., had outlawed fracking by amending zoning laws in their districts in 2011. Energy companies were thoroughly angered by this and filed suit, arguing that “that state oil and gas law pre-empted the town ordinances.

In an effort to reduce US reliance on expensive foreign oil and ecologically degrading coal, many energy corporations have turned to natural gas as the new solution to meet growing energy needs. Natural gas, located in shale bedrock located over 5,000 feet below the surface of the earth, is harvested through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking:  horizontal drilling and high pressured, chemically treated water.

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The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women

By Salem Hoffman-Sadka

CEDAW is a UN treaty that essentially serves as “an international bill of rights for women.” As its mouthful of a name suggests, CEDAW works to dismantle oppression against women everywhere. The UN put it into force in 1980 after receiving the necessary 20 instruments of ratification. Now CEDAW stands with a grand total of 187 ratifications. The US does not happen to be one of those 187; it holds this grand honor with 6 other countries that include Iran and Somalia.

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“Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas”: The Importance of Political Language

By Dani Douglas

On June 24, Peace Action New York State was invited by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) to a meeting held at the Bahai’i Center near the United Nations for a briefing on the background and intended purpose of the phrase “use of explosive weapons in populated areas.”

Syrian civilians take cover as a bomb explodes in northern Syrian city of al-Bab.

Bombing in heavily populated areas inevitably results in high civilian mortality rates: around 30,000 civilians are killed each year and 90 percent of war casualties are civilian casualties. The briefing of INEW network members Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will, Thomas Nash of Article 36 , and Alex Hiniker of PAX sought to explain exactly how peace organizations are intending to use this wording and the impact that they hope it will have.

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