BCP&J E-Newsletter –- March 31, 2008

 

Berkshire Citizens for Peace & Justice

175 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201

 

 

Contents (Click on the link)

 

                                            Upcoming BCP&J Events
                                                  
 -
Location of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Pittsfield

 

                                            Descriptions of Upcoming Thursday Night Videos
 
                                                 Four part series on various religious fundamentalisms -

                                                 Should be some interesting discussion after the videos

                                                    - April 3 (Part 3 of series)

                                                    - April 17 (Part 4 of series)

  

                                                 May Videos

                                                     - May 1, "Uncounted"

                                                     - May 15, "Bam 6.6"

                                                     - May 29, "Blood and Tears"

  

                                            Notes from the March 27 meeting
 

                                            Plans for our April 18 Brattleboro trip (1) to congratulate high school students
                                                   for their anti-war action of November 16, (2) to congratulate and thank the
                                                   citizens of Brattleboro for their vote of  Tuesday, March 4, 2008,
calling

                                                   for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for violating the
                                                   Constitution, and (3) to participate in Brattleboro's regular Friday march protesting
                                                   the war against Iraq).  [T
he article passed in the March 4 vote called for Brattleboro
                                                   police to arrest Bush and Cheney if they ever visit
Brattleboro, and "prosecute or
                                                   extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them
."] (New)
  

                                            Berkshire Community College Events
                                                    - Global Issues Resource Organization (GIRO) meetings (All are welcome.)

                                                    - Berkshire Community College Diversity Events scheduled for the spring semester
  

                                            Some Other Events (Non-BCP&J and Non-BCC)

  

                                                     - "Facing the Death Penalty," Sunday, March 30, Little Theater, Northampton High School (New)
 

                                                     - Peace and Sustainability Conference, Albany, NY, April 11-12 (with Cindy Sheehan) (New)

  

                                            A little political humor
 
                                            About Peaceplans

  

                                            Cost of Iraq War as of Jan. 24, 2008
  

                                            Quotes (George W. Bush, General William Tecumseh Sherman, President Dwight
                                                      David Eisenhower,
war tax resister Henry David Thoreau, Senator Robert C.
                                                     
Byrd (D-W.VA.), and Sen. John S McCain III) (New - Please don't miss this)

   

                                            About Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice (BCP&J)
  

                                            Contact Information
   

                                            Fair Use Notice

 

 

 

Upcoming BCP&J Events

 

Weekly Peace Vigil each Thursday at Park Square in Pittsfield, 5 to 6 P.M.  The Vigils are held in cooperation with Berkshire Community College’s Global Issues Resource Organization (GIRO).

 

 

Thursday, April 3 --  On March 6 we began a four-part look at religious fundamentalisms by showing "God Fights Back - 1979."  On March 20, in Part 2 of our study, we showed "The Land," taken from the series, The Glory and the Power.  That video documents the intense commitment of contemporary ultra-conservative Jews.  Tonight, for Part 3, we'll view a Bill Moyers account of Christian Zionist activity, followed by his discussion with a rabbi and an evangelical clergyman.  Discussion will follow the video.  UU Church in Pittsfield, 7:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, April 10 -- We will have a regular business meetinng at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, April 17 --  Tonight we will conclude our fouur-part look at religious fundamentalism.  Tonight's first video, "Islam vs. Islamists," explores two avenues of contemporary Muslim activity.  This hour long film will be followed by a half hour documentary by Landrum Bolling entitled "Searching for Peace in the Middle East."  Discussion will follow the two videos.  UU Church in Pittsfield, 7:30 p.m.

 

Friday, April 18 -- Trip to Brattleboro (For details, clicck here.)

Thursday, April 24 -- We will have a regular business meeting at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, May 1 -- Video followed by discussion.  Toonight's video will be "Uncounted."

 

Thursday, May 8 --  We will have a regular business meeting at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, May 15 -- Video followed by discussion.  Toonight's video will be "Bam 6.6."

 

Thursday, May 22 -- We will have a regular business meetinng at the UU Church in Pittsfield.  The meeting will start  at 7:30 p.m.

 

Thursday, May 29 -- Video followed by discussion.  Toonight's video will be "Blood and Tears."

 


 

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Descriptions of Upcoming Thursday Videos

 

Videos are shown on first and third Thursdays of each month (and on most
5th Thursdays in months having them).  Discussion follows the showing of
each video.  Videos are shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church
at 175 Wendell Ave. in Pittsfield.  All are welcome.  There is no charge.

  


Four-night series of videos and discussion on various types of religious fundamentalism
(March 6, March 20, April 3, and April 17)

   

  

Human beings are separated by race, gender, ethnicity, degree of economic well being and religion.  While we have little choice about the first three designations and there is often minimal opportunity for those born into economic misfortune to greatly improve their lot, religion is a matter or choice.  Yet war is frequently fueled by religious hostility, among other causes.

Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice will show films on four nights which explore religions, particularly of the fundamentalist nature, which can lead to violent hatreds being acted out.  It is our hope that these films will prompt discussions which can lead to better understanding of the impassioned commitments of our fundamentalist brothers and sisters and help us to generate potential paths toward peace where these beliefs inflame violence. 

All films will be shown on Thursday nights at the UU church in Pittsfield, at 7:30 p.m.  On March 6, "God Fights Back - 1979" explores the rise of contemporary Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu fundamentalism.  On March 20, from the series The Glory and the Power, "The Land" documents the intense commitment of contemporary ultra-conservative Jews.  On April 3, we will view a Bill Moyers account of Christian Zionist activity, followed by his discussion with a rabbi and an evangelical clergyman.  Lastly, on April 17, "Islam vs. Islamists" explores two avenues of contemporary Muslim activity.  This hour long film will be followed by a half hour documentary by Landrum Bolling entitled "Searching for Peace in the Middle East." 
   

Thursday, May 1 -- "Uncounted" is an explosive documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election led to even greater fraud in 2006 - and now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election.  This controversial film by Emmy award-winning director David Earnhardt examines in factual, logical, and yet startling terms how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S.  As we approach the decisive election of 2008, "Uncounted" is likely to change how you feel about the way votes are counted in America.

 

Thursday, March 15 -- "Bam 6.6" is the story of the human condition.  The film weaves together stories of survival, loss, and healing, as we explore the humanity of the Iranian people through the prism of the devastating 2003 earthquake that struck at the heart of Bam, an ancient Iranian village.  Our subjects come from different walks of life - A Jewish-American woman, an American businessman, and the Iranian residents of Bam.  Through their experiences, viewers will witness how a natural disaster can overcome religious and political barriers, dispel stereotypes, and unite disparate members of the human family.

 

Thursday, May 29 -- "Blood and Tears," by acclaimed documentary producer and director, Isidore Rosmarin, and co-producer, Jeff Helmreich, has been called the definitive film on the seemingly irresolvable Arab-Israeli conflict.  Having acquired over 20 years of news and documentary production experience working at major television network programs such as CBS's "60 Minutes", NBC's "Dateline", Court TV, A&E and many other prime-time shows, Rosmarin now uncovers the truth beneath the hype and the headlines.  Rosmarin and his team of Middle East experts have gone right to the source: the ministers and mullahs, the fanatics and peaceniks, the soldiers and terrorists, and the ordinary families battling extraordinary forces as they try to live a normal life.  They have interviewed top officials from both sides, from former Israeli Prime Ministers to senior Palestinian officials to the leaders of the militant extremist group Hamas, Sheikh Bitawi and the late Dr. Abdel aziz Rantisi.  They have also interviewed renowned Mideast scholars Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami and the foremost Palestinian scholar, Rashid Khalidi.  "Blood and Tears" explores the origin of the confrontation itself, and challenges many of the deep-rooted myths we all hold about this epicenter of human conflict.

 

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Notes from the March 27 meeting

 

Major items of discussion were:

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BCP&J's April 18 Trip to Brattleboro


 

On April 18 BCP&J members will travel to Brattleboro, Vermont:

Purpose

  1. to congratulate high school students for their anti-war action of November 16, 2007,

  2. to congratulate and thank the citizens of Brattleboro for their vote of Tuesday, March 4, 2008, calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for violating the Constitution, and

  3. to participate in Brattleboro's regular Friday march protesting the war against Iraq).

On last November 16, approximately 200 Brattleboro Union High School students walked out of their classes and held an anti-war rally on the school steps.  The students were punished with detention.  Our trip will be in part to congratulate the students for their action.  For a Brattleboro Reformer article on the November 16 student protest, click here.

 

The article passed in the March 4 vote called for Brattleboro police to arrest Bush and Cheney if they ever visit Brattleboro, and "prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them."  For a Associated Press article about the March 4 vote, click here.

 

Trip Details

We will be leaving Pittsfield in cars at 12 noon, will make a restroom stop near the rotary in Greenfield (where Rt. 2 meets Route 91), travel north on Route 91, take the first Brattleboro exit (Exit 1), and arrive at the school around 2 pm, in time to set up with signs.  The students' last class period ends at 2:20, and the school buses depart from the school at 2:30.

After our visit to the school, we will go to a family restaurant for a meal, and then participate in the Brattleboro peace group's regular Friday march through town.  They march in two directions, and the march takes about 45 minutes.

 

Following the march through town, it is hoped that at least some of our people will be able to stay a little longer for a social time with some of the Brattleboro folk over a beverage.

 

Contact Person

 

Please let George Desnoyers know if you intend to make the trip.  We need to keep track of the number of people going as we will need to find sufficient vehicle space to accommodate everyone.

Phone: 443-4298

Email: gdesnoye@berkshire.rr.com


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Berkshire Community College Events

 

 

All are welcome to attend meetings of GIRO (Global Issues Resource Organization).  Meetings are now being held on Mondays at 12:00 noon in room 104 of Melville Hall.

 

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BERKSHIRE COMMUNITY COLLEGE DIVERSITY EVENTS FOR THE SPRING SEMESTER

 

    FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH

    MARCH IS WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

    APRIL IS SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH

 

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Some Other Events (Non-BCP&J and Non-BCC)

 

 

FACING THE DEATH PENALTY

Sunday, March 30, 2008
, 3:00 pm

Little Theater

Northampton High School

SPEAKERS:

SHUJAA GRAHAM

* Exonerated Survivor of 3 Years on California's Death Row

* Death Penalty Abolition Activist

* Project Board Member: Witness to Innocence, Journey of Hope

SCOTT LANGLEY
        *
Human Rights Activist Against the Death Penalty

* Photojournalist: Death Penalty Documentary Project

* Co-Founder, Raleigh Catholic Worker Hospitality House

Presented by Northampton High School Amnesty International Club & Amnesty International Group Local Group #76

Funded in part by the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty Fund

Cosponsors:

* American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Western
    Massachusetts Office

* Mass Citizens Against the Death Penalty Fund

* MCADP-Hampden County

* Amnesty International Group 128

* Progressive Democrats of America, Western MA

* Pioneer Valley Coalition against Secrecy and Torture

* Rear Cost of Prisons Project

* Murder Victims Families for Human Rights

 

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The North East Peace & Justice Action Coalition (NEPAJAC) presents:

Peace and Sustainability Conference
April 11-12, 2008

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany
405 Washington Ave, Albany NY
Albany, New York

April 11, 7:30 pm: Conference Opening
with keynote speaker,
Cindy Sheehan,
and Victor Sidel

Suggested Donation $10, pre-register to reserve your seat

 

April 12, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm: One-Day Conference

Featured speakers include:

Cindy Sheehan, Victor Sidel, Elliott Adams, Steve Breyman,
& members of Iraq Veterans Against the War

Workshops by: May Saffar, Mabel Leon, Susan Davies, Steve Wickham,
Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, Joe Lombardo & more.


Suggested Donation $10-$20 (includes vegetarian lunch)
**pre-registration preferred due to limited space**

 



Note: We are requesting donations from all attendees to help cover the costs of the conference,
however no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

 


Schedule of Events:

Friday, April 11, 7:30 pm
Music by Cultural Relativity...
Remarks by Victor Sidel, Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility…
Keynote address by Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mom for Peace


Saturday, April 12, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
8:00 - 9:00 am Registration and Music
9:00 - 10:30 am Speakers: Victor Sidel, Elliott Adams and Steve Breyman
10:45 - 12:15 Morning Workshops (detailed below)
12:15 - 1:15 pm Simple Meal with Music
1:30 - 3:00 pm Afternoon Workshops (detailed below)
3:00 - 4:00 pm Antiwar Strategy Discussion Panel: Joe Lombardo, Cindy Sheehan, Elliott Adams, Iraq Veterans Against the War.
4:00 Music etc.
 

Morning Workshops (10:45 am - 12:15 pm)

-      Steve Breyman: Mitigation, Adaptation or Suffering: Confronting Our Rapidly Diminishing Climate Choices.

-      May Saffar and Susan Davies: Taking Responsibility for the Human Costs of US Warfare & Addressing Population Displacement: Strategies for Building Support for US Assistance to Iraqi Refugees. The workshop presenters are Members of the Women Against War Iraqi Refugee Project.

-      Mabel Leon: Using Props, Costumes and Creative Signage to Strengthen Our Message: Mabel Leon is a promoter of these methods since spending a week with Code Pink in DC. Mabel is active in Women Against War, a Code Pink affiliate.

-      Steve Wickham: Modern Day Pamphleteering: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and other Founding Fathers and Mothers created the American Revolution in large part by writing and distributing their ideas with pamphlets. This session will cover ways you can become a modern day pamphleteer using technology like your computer, your video camera, your cell-phone, and of course copy-machines! Free electronic text and audio versions of Thomas Paine's Common Sense will be given to everyone who attends.

 
 

Afternoon Workshops (1:30 pm - 3:00 pm)

-        Student Organizing: This workshop will be lead by local students and will focus on how to organize students around current issues.

-        Iraq Veterans Against the War Present: Supporting Veterans and Building the GI Resistance Movement. Presented by IVAW members David Lester (of Syracuse), Eli Wright (of Ft. Drum) and Adrienne Kinne (of Vermont), this workshop will include two components: 1) about active duty organizing and GI resistance; 2) about how members of a community can organize with and support veterans. A chief aim of this workshop is to determine how IVAW members and the local community can form a Capital District chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

-        Promoting Peace as a Religious Principle: Dr. Ahmad and 2 other co-presenters will examine the role of religion in the peace movement today.

-        Sanctuary for Independent Media: Independent Media in the Capital Region.



Registration Information:


PLEASE COMPLETE THE REGISTRATION FORM ON THE
BACK OF THIS BROCHURE [SEE BELOW]. Send your form and registration payment
(checks made payable to "BNP") to: BNP, PO Box 473, Delmar, NY 12054

TO REGISTER FOR THE FRIDAY EVENING KEYNOTE ADDRESS
(7:30pm, Friday, April 11)
Send a donation of $10+ to reserve a seat now. Write on the Check "APRIL 11, Cindy Sheehan."
NOTE: Seating is limited
and by registering ahead of time, you will reserve your seat!
 

TO REGISTER FOR THE ONE-DAY CONFERENCE (Saturday, April 12, 9:00 – 4:00 pm)
Send $10- $20 to pre-register for the conference on Saturday. Write on the Check "APRIL 12, Conference"
Saturday’s donation covers the cost of a simple vegetarian lunch to be provided at the conference.
NOTE: You must pre- register by April 8 to
guarantee lunch will be provided for you on the day of the conference!


 

 

REGISTRATION FORM
_________________________________


Please include names of each person planning to attend:

Name(s)___________________________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Phone: _____________________      Email: ____________________________________________


Please check which event(s) you are registering for:
__ April 11 Keynote Address with Cindy Sheehan
__ April 12 One-Day Conference
 

On April 12, can you help the conference organizers? If so, please let us know how (check all that apply):
__ I can arrive at 7:30 am to help set up
__ I can help clean up at 6pm, after the conference
__ I can help with lunch set up and clean up from 11:30am -12:30pm

Can you help provide us much needed funds? If so, please indicate this below:
An additional contribution of ______$ is enclosed to cover expenses of the location, food, travel expenses for speakers etc. For more information call Trudy at 518-391-2830 or tquaif@yahoo.com


For further information please contact:
  
www.BethlehemForPeace.org

(518) 439-1968

Sponsored by: NEPAJAC... Physicians for Social Responsibility... Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace... Upper Hudson.Peace Action... Veterans for Peace... Women Against War... Interhelp Network

 

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About Peaceplans

 

Peaceplans is a web site for posting information about peace-related events and issues in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Joining Peaceplans is a good way to stay in touch with events in the area. To join Peaceplans, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Peaceplans/

Once you have joined, make it a habit to regularly check the latest messages at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Peaceplans/messages

 

You will also be able to post messages yourself.

 

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Cost of Iraq War as of January 12, 2008

 

(From www.costofiraqwar.org and http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home

 

Cost to U.S. - More than 4,000 military deaths; more than 900 civilian contractor deaths; more than 200 NGO American deaths; more than 27,000 service people wounded; $489 billion.
  

 

                                 Financial Cost of the War in Iraq as of January 24, 2008

 

    Entire Nation   Massachusetts   Pittsfield
             
  Cost of war in Iraq $488,500,000,000   $13,800,000,000   $70,289,000
           
  Number of children for whom we could have paid the cost of Head Start 58,016,532   1,638,952   8,348
           
  Number of children who could have been provided health care for one year 177,774,125   5,022,074   25,579
           
  Number of elementary teachers who could have been paid for one year (includes benefits) 7,230,179   204,251   1,040
           
  Number of students who could have been provided full one-year scholarships at public universities 52,601,491   1,485,979   7,569
           
  Number of affordable family housing units that could have been built 3,256,667   92,000   469
           
  Number of homes which could have been provided renewable electricity 760,916,796   21,495,705   109,486
           
  Number of elementary schools which could have been built 36,581   1,033   5.3
 
Affordable housing figures are based on an average cost of
$150,000 per unit.  Other figures are based entirely on data
from http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar/

 

  

 

 

 Trade-offs: How the $70.3 million Pittsfield has paid for the war might have been better spent:

   For the Methodology of the National Priorities Project, see below or go to http://www.nationalpriorities.org/cms/content/notes-and-sources-tradeoff

 

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Some Important News Items for the Week

 

None currently listed.

 

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Some Useful Links


None currently listed

 

 

 

 

The above links are provided as a convenience. However, as the updating of web pages can affect links, it may occasionally happen that a link provided in this newsletter will not work.

 

 

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Quotes
 

 

               Isn't it [War] romantic?


          George W. Bush              William Tecumseh Sherman       Dwight David Eisenhower

 

       Henry David Thoreau                Sen. Robert C. Byrd                 Sen. John S. McCain III

 

 

Since the last edition of the BCP&J E-Newsletter, Bush uttered words that arguable could be the dumbest words he has ever spoken, perhaps even the dumbest that any U.S. president has spoken within the memory of folk alive today.  It happened on Thursday, March 13, 2008, while Bush was in a video teleconference with a military unit in Afghanistan.  After being told of the hardships the unit faced, Bush said:

"I must say, I'm a little envious.  If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.  It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.  You're really making history, and thanks."

George L. DeGrasse, Boston Globe editorialist, searched through his knowledge of history and was unable to find any other example of a U.S. Commander-in-Chief or well-known military leader speaking in such terms, making war out to be a romantic adventure.

What have some other notable leaders said about war?

 

Let's look, first, at the oft-quoted line from Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, "War is hell."  As DeGrasse pointed out in a March 21 editorial, this quote is unfortunately "often used with a shrug, as if it should just be accepted as part of the consequences of armed conflict...."  But that wasn't quite the thinking of Sherman.  Sherman was addressing the graduate class at Michigan Military Academy on June 19, 1879.  His speech included these words:  "I am tired and sick of war.  Its glory is all moonshine.  It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation.  War is hell."  It seems obvious from those words that Sherman was not trying to make the point that people just have to just suck it up and suffer the consequences of war - because war is hell.  Rather, Sherman thought that the evils of war were so great that they should be a factor when war is being considered, and that the fact that war is hell is why all other avenues to resolve serious conflicts should be tried before resorting to war.

 

Second, let's remember how President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke of war.  He had been Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.  Eisenhower expressed his sentiment regarding war on very many occasions.  He is perhaps most frequently quoted as saying, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

 

Here is how a famous war-tax resister, Henry David Thoreau, expressed his view on war taxes, "If a thousand...were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be as violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution."

 

In the midst of perhaps the most important political campaign for the U.S. presidency in a very long time, let's recall some words that were spoken on the floor of the U.S. Senate on March 19, 2003, just a few hours before Bush started his war against Iraq.

First, here is Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.: "Today, I weep for my country."  Byrd said the White House was plunging into an unnecessary war, showing contempt for other nations that urged negotiations.  "We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance."  He said the administration sought "to justify its fixation with war [by using] falsified documents and circumstantial evidence."

Byrd added: "There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9 /11." He said the White House "directed all of the anger, fear and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers" away from the real enemy and focused them falsely on Iraq.

In response to Byrd's accusation, Sen. John S. McCain III took the Senate floor and declared: "Contrary to the assertion of the senator from West Virginia, when the people of Iraq are liberated, we will again have written another chapter in the glorious history of the United States of America."

McCain added: "We will find there are still massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

As a March 25 editorial in The Charleston Gazette said, "Five years later, with America's Iraq deaths past 4,000, history has proven that Byrd was correct - and McCain was utterly wrong.  Yet McCain hasn't admitted that his warmongering was mistaken.  And President Bush has the gall to claim that war is romantic.  It's dismaying."

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A Little Political Humor

 

(This came to me last week in an email.)

  

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost.  She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me sir, can you help me?  I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

 

 

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level.  You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude."

 

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican."

 

"I am," replied the man.  "How did you know?"

 

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost.  Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

 

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Democrat."

 

"Well, yes I am," replied the balloonist.  "How did you know?"

 

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going.  You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem.  You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but, somehow, now it's my fault."
 

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BUHS students walk out of class
in protest of the Iraq War

 

By Howard Weiss-Tisman

Brattleboro Reformer Staff

 Saturday, November 17

 

BRATTLEBORO - Start with a handful of committed student activists, throw in a helping of 21st century technology and base it all around a foreign war that has claimed nearly 3,900 American lives and before you know it you've got a full-scale student protest.

 

About 200 Brattleboro Union High School students peacefully walked out of their classes at 2 p.m. Friday [November 16, 2007] to protest America's involvement in the Iraq War.

 

They gathered in front of the school holding signs, listening to speakers and showing their support for everyone else across the world who is fighting to bring an end to the war in Iraq.

 

"Why are we still there?" protest organizer Hannah Viens asked the crowd in front of the school. "We, as students, are concerned and we are standing up for our beliefs."

 

Viens, 17, a senior at the school, said earlier in the day that the BUHS student democrats wanted to organize a rally against the war.

 

At first there was the hope that a few dozen students would be willing to walk out of class, but after creating a Facebook page on the Internet, sending around e-mails and text messages, and slipping flyers into every locker at school as interest in the event grew.

 

"There's been a huge buzz about this," Viens said about a half-hour before the protest began. "School is a source of power, but they can't have class if we aren't there. We wanted to walk out to get people's attention."

 

The event was not sanctioned by the school, and each of the students, if their names are recorded by the teachers leading the afternoon class, will have to serve detention Monday.

 

The school also would not allow the students to put up posters about the rally.

 

As the students started to filter out of the front doors BUHS principal Jim Day stood off to the side to observe.

 

He said he didn't want to comment on the action, and he refused to come down on either side of the debate over whether America has a place fighting in the Middle East.

 

"This is not about my values, it's about theirs," Day said as the group grew into a large, peaceful throng.

 

The organizers of the walk out picked the time and date because they wanted to get it in before it got too cold and before the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

After a little Web surfing, however, they found that there is a national movement, The Iraq War Moratorium, that encourages acts of civil disobedience on the third Friday of every month.

 

The BUHS students joined other high schools that were protesting Friday in Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and at other schools in Vermont.

 

Students at Leland & Gray in Townshend also staged a walk out Friday.

 

Kyra Pelz-Walsh, 16, said the original idea for the Brattleboro school to stage the walk out grew out of a discussion she had with her uncle.

 

He said he remembered demonstrations against the Vietnam War and asked Pelz-Walsh what the student activists of today were doing.

 

"It sounded like a good idea," she said about the thought of organizing a protest at BUHS. "We need to start somewhere and this war will never end if people don't do something."

 

"Letters to the newspaper are a good thing, but we thought it was time to take action," added Meg Hudson, another one of the organizers.

 

Parents stood on the outside of the group to support their activist students.

 

After the group was gathered in front of the school, Viens and Pelz-Walsh spoke for a while and then Eric Wasileski, a member of the Massachusetts chapter of Veterans for Peace, addressed the crowd.

 

He thanked the students for being a part of the peace movement and told them that their work and support gave voice to the cause of bringing the American troops home.

 

"It's so important to see young people demanding an end to the Iraq War," he said.

 

The Brattleboro students stood in the cold afternoon light and listened. They held signs that read "No war" and "War is terrorism with a bigger budget."

 

Shannon Chalmers came out with a single peace sign earring dangling from her lobe. She adamantly denied that the big turnout had anything to do with getting out of school early.

 

"That's not what this is about," she said. "The point is that we want to make people aware about peace."

 

Jean Jersey, 76, who lives in Brattleboro, took part in her first peace march in Washington, D.C., in 1969. She came out to encourage and support the teenagers.

 

"It's wonderful they're here, but it's terrible that they have to do it," she said. "I love their enthusiasm. We've got to keep trying. We've got to keep doing what we can."

 

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.

 

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Brattleboro, Marlboro OK Bush indictment

By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press

 

Wednesday, March 5

 

BRATTLEBORO - Voters in two southern Vermont towns passed articles Tuesday calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for violating the Constitution.

More symbolic than substantive, the items sought to have police arrest Bush and Cheney if they ever visit Brattleboro or nearby Marlboro or to extradite them for prosecution elsewhere - if they're not impeached first.

In Brattleboro, the vote was 2,012 for and 1,795 against. In Marlboro, it was 43 to 25, with three abstentions.

"I hope the one thing that people take from this is 'Hey, it can be done,"' said Kurt Daims, 54, who organized the petition drive that led to the Brattleboro vote.

He said he hopes Bush and Cheney are never arrested here; he wants them impeached before that could happen.

"I voted in favor because I think Bush and Cheney have committed high crimes and misdemeanors," said Brattleboro resident Ellen Schwarz.

"I think it's outside the scope of town government," countered Jeff Morris, who voted against the indictment. "When history writes George Bush's story, he will be held in high regard for going into Iraq."

The Marlboro item was introduced from the floor under "other business," but it isn't binding since it didn't appear on the warning for the meeting, according to Town Clerk Nora Wilson.

"It was emotional. There were heartfelt speeches on both sides," Wilson said.

Since it's non-binding, the Marlboro Select Board could act on it at a later date, but they're not required to, according to Wilson.

In Brattleboro, a steady stream of voters paraded into the Brattleboro Union High School gym to cast their ballots on a day when school board elections and Vermont's presidential primary were also on the slate.

Some saw the measure as purely symbolic.

"It really carries no weight," said Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy. "Our town attorney has no legal authority to draw up any papers to allow our police officers to do so, but the gentleman who initiated the petition, got the signatures, wanted it on the ballot to make a statement."

The vote and presidential primary came on Town Meeting Day, the day when voters in most Vermont cities and towns gather to debate and vote in an annual exercise of direct democracy.

"It's the opportunity for this small community to set a precedent and an example for the United States," said Brattleboro resident Gerry Benjamin. "A little means a lot."

Organizers of the indictment campaign were frustrated that the printed ballot ended up relegating the Bush-Cheney indictment article to the back side, which they said would cause some people to miss it.

The 8-by-14-inch yellow cardboard ballot listed the offices and candidates in the local election on one side, and at the bottom in block letters "Turn Ballot Over and Continue Voting."

The article read: "Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities and shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and prosecute or extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them?"

"Turn Over Ballot and Indict Bush," read a 3-by-4-foot handmade picket sign carried by Daims, who stood outside the school Tuesday.

Voters interviewed after casting ballots said they saw the article as an opportunity to express their frustration over the war in Iraq and Bush's tenure in general.

"I realize it's an extreme thing to do, and really silly in a way," said Robert George, 74, a retired photographer. "But I'm really angry about us getting involved in the war in Iraq and him (Bush) disrespecting the will of the people," he said.

Ian Kelley, 41, a local radio DJ, said he didn't vote on the article.

"It's not a good reflection on the town," he said. "Do I like either of them and would I vote for them? No. But I don't think it's cause to arrest them."

Barbara Southworth, a 66-year-old nurse, said she would have voted against it.

"I forgot to vote because it was on the flip side," she said.

The White House press office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but promised one later Tuesday. But a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee denounced the article.

"It appears that the left-wing knows no bounds in their willingness to waste taxpayer dollars to make a futile counterproductive partisan political point," said Blair Latoff. "Town people would be much better served by elected officials who sought to solve problems rather than create them."

Reformer staffer Bob Audette contributed to this report.

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About Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice

 

BCP&J is open to all people interested in promoting peace and justice who live, work, vacation in, or visit Berkshire County.

 

REGULAR MEETINGS are held every Thursday, 7:30 to 9:30 pm, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield, 175 Wendell Avenue (one block up Broad St. from Rt. 7 & 20, and on the corner of Wendell Avenue and Broad St.).  Meetings on 1st and 3rd Thursdays (and some 5th Thursdays) are devoted to showing educational films/videos followed by discussion.

 

A representative sample of our other activities has included:

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Contact Information

                                                                                                                                       

For comments or questions regarding this newsletter, contact George Desnoyers at 443-4298 or gdesnoye@berkshire.rr.com

 

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FAIR USE NOTICE. This newsletter may contain copyrighted material, and some uses of copyrighted material may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. All copyrighted material in this newsletter is provided without charge and for educational purposes -- to advance the understanding of topics and issues important to the advancement of peace and justice in our time. All copyrighted material is provided in the belief that its use in this newsletter constitutes a “fair use” as provided for in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Determination of whether copyrighted material shall be used in this newsletter involves the consideration of the following factors: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors. No copyrighted material in this newsletter should be reproduced or distributed if the reproduction or distribution would diminish the potential market or value of the copyrighted work. If you wish to use any copyrighted material provided in this newsletter for purposes of your own that go beyond “fair use” as provided for in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 

 

 

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