Thursday, September 19, 2013

09-19-13 Activist Calendar

September 19, 2013, Issue #672
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NOTE: This Is In Addition To Calendar 671, Below, Sent Sept. 15.

Saturday, Sept. 21, NEW PALTZ: Activists in over 200 towns and cities throughout the U.S. will take part in demonstrations today to “Draw the Line” against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring “dirty” tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S. President Obama will rule this year on whether to import the controversial fossil fuel which emits extremely high concentrations of greenhouse gas. In New Paltz, members of the Climate Action Coalition and others are responding to the call from by gathering first at 10 a.m. in front of Rock and Snow (44 Main St.) for a number of events in the vicinity lasting until 3 p.m. Information,  

Saturday, Sept. 21, MOUNT KISCO: Another “Draw the Line” action against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will be a “Tar Sands Teach In” starting at 2:30 p.m. at the UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester, 236 S. Bedford Road (Rt. 172).

Saturday, Sept. 21, NEW PALTZ: A demonstration in support of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against Israel — an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people — will take place 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Main St. in front of Starbucks and, across the street, outside the Elting Library. Sponsored by Middle East Crisis Response, (845) 876-7906,

Saturday, Sept. 21, NEW ROCHELLE: Women in Black/Westchester will hold a Palestine Solidarity Vigil today, International Peace Day, 2-3 p.m., Main St & Memorial Hwy. It is sponsored by WESPAC. Information, (914) 654-8990,

Mumia Abu Jamal
Tuesday, Sept. 24, DELMAR: A documentary about America’s best known political prisoner — “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal" — will be screened at 6:30 p.m., Bethlehem Public Library, 451 Delaware Ave. The two-hour film, produced last year, will provide a “A profile of the writing and broadcast career of death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. The documentary chronicles Abu-Jamal’s life and work as a journalist, writer and public intellectual, even as he spent some 30 years on death row in Pennsylvania.” His advocates maintain he is an innocent victim of racial injustice. A discussion will follow the screening. Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace is the sponsor. Information, (518) 466-1192, Joe Lombardo,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

09-15-13 Activist Calendar

September 15, 2013, Issue #671
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One of many demonstrations for peace with Syria.
Editor’s Note – The Threat of War Continues

Mass opposition by the people has temporarily halted a U.S. attack on Syria. An attack could take place during or after the current negotiations about removing chemical weapons. The ANSWER Coalition has organized a petition campaign to the president and members of Congress opposing any new attack. When you “sign” the online petition, including your Zip code, it will automatically fill in the address of your representatives: The next Activist Newsletter will publish several articles on this subject in order to unravel the story behind the story. For instance, why has Washington not made public the actual evidence that the Assad regime launched a chemical attack? Why did Obama swiftly make an about-face just as he was going to take action? The answers are far more complex than the government told us.

If an attack does occur a protest demonstration will be held THE DAY AFTER in New Paltz, 4-6 p.m. on Main St. in front of the New Paltz Plaza (the one with the theater). Bring signs. We can supply some. Sponsored by The Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Mid-Hudson WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), Mid-Hudson ANSWER. Information,


Activist Events:

Tuesday, Sept. 17, KINGSTON: Today is a national day of action to expose the negative aspects of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade deal engineered by Washington that critics consider a “threat to our democracy and sovereignty.” Local activists are participating in a demonstration opposing the TTP in front of the office of Rep. Chris Gibson (19th CD), 721 Broadway. The Obama Administration seeks to “fast track” the legislation through Congress, limiting debate and disallowing amendments. Opponents, including the AFL-CIO, say, “If we can stop Fast Track, we can stop TPP” —especially the most onerous elements.

Protests against TPP have taken place in several
 countries, including the U.S. This one is from Asia.

The U.S.-dominated TPP is focused on the Asia/Pacific region. Critics charge the TPP “is being written by 600 corporate ‘advisors,’ but Congress and the American public are being kept in the dark. It would allow corporations to sue nations for anticipated loss of profits, voiding environmental and labor laws; offshore millions of American jobs; bring unsafe food and products into the U.S.; increase cost of medicines; strangle internet privacy and free speech, and much more.” Another objective  of the trade pact is to strengthen the U.S. in the region to “contain” China’s influence. A petition to Congress demanding, “Don‘t renew fast track authority,” plus background on the TTP, is at Two local articles are at and A five minute video explanation is at  Among the sponsors are New Paltz Women in Black and local MoveOn. Information Barbara Upton at AnahataSun@aol.com

Wednesday, Sept. 18, SARATOGA SPRINGS: A free public screening of the extremely moving documentary “Five Broken Cameras” will take place 7-9 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, 624 North Broadway. The film is “a Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army. It was shot almost entirely by Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. The footage was given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi, who edited it to be structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat's cameras. The filmmakers' collaboration follows one family's evolution over five years of village turmoil. The showing is part of the Saratoga Peace Fair Week. It is sponsored by 10 progressive, peace and church groups. Information, (518) 584-1555, Saratoga.peace.fair@gmail.

Sunday, Sept. 22, SARATOGA SPRINGS: The annual Peace Fair, culminating Peace Week takes place today at Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, 24 Circular St. There will be over 50 exhibitors, live music, family activities, calls to political action, fair trade products, lunch vendors, and other features. Participants are asked to bring canned food, coffee, cleaning, or paper products to benefit the Guardian House, a local veterans' home. This free public event is sponsored by 10 progressive, peace and church groups. Information, (518) 584-1555, Saratoga.peace.fair@gmail.

Monday, Sept 23, RHINEBECK: A rally in support of the Women’s Equality Act will be held at 4:30 p.m. in front of Northern Dutchess Hospital (on the shoulder of Rt. 9 at 6511 Spring Brook Ave.). The 10-point Women's Equality Agenda failed narrowly in June because conservative legislators objected to the clause strengthening abortion rights. The other nine points passed. The demonstration is in solidarity with the N.Y. Women’s Equality Coalition, the driving force behind Gov. Cuomo’s requested legislation. The coalition has tremendous support throughout New York State from over 800 progressive organizations and unions. Information, (845) 453-2105, About the10-point plan,

Wednesday, Sept. 25, POUGHKEEPSIE: The group End the New Jim Crow Action Network (ENJAN), meets every second and fourth Wednesday planning actions to address the racism in the U.S. criminal justice system, resulting in a wildly disproportionate number of inmates of color. The effort is inspired by Michelle Alexander's best-selling 2010 book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." The book is about the mass incarceration rates of African Americans in the U.S. today. An extensive outline of the book is available at The 6-8 p.m. Meeting is at the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library, Family Partnership Center (Suite 218), 29 North Hamilton St. Information, (845) 452-6088, ext. 3343, Odell Winfield at

Thursday, Sept. 26, WOODSTOCK: The Middle East Crisis Response group meets the second and fourth Thursdays 7-8:30 p.m. to work toward peace and human rights in Palestine and the Middle East. The venue is Woodstock Public Library, 5 Library Lane. Information, (845) 876-7906,,

Monday, October 7, OLD CHATHAM: A free public screening of the documentary “Five Broken Cameras” will take place 7-9 p.m. at Old Chatham Quaker Meetinghouse, 539 County Rt. 13 (across from Pitt Hall Rd.). A description of the film is above at Sept. 18. Information, (518) 794-0259, Bob Elmendorf,

Wednesday, Oct. 9, TROY: Malalai Joya, the famed Afghan activist and writer, will speak at a 1 p.m.public meeting in Bush Memorial Hall on the Russell Sage Campus at 45 Ferry St. (at Congress St.). She will also speak in Albany at 7 p.m. (see directly below). We are informed by the organizers: “Malalai Joya, 35, first gained international attention in 2003 when she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords in Afghanistan. She was at that time serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga that was convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan. In 2005 she became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly. An extraordinary young woman, raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girl's schools, hiding her books under her burqa so that the Taliban couldn't find them.” This important event is sponsored by Women Against War, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and numerous other local organizations. The tour is sponsored by The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Information, (518) 466-1192, Trudy Quaif,

Wednesday, Oct. 9, ALBANY: Malalai Joya, the famed activist and writer from Afghanistan, will speak at a 7 p.m. meeting at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, 405 Washington Ave. (See above for details). Sponsors are Women Against War, Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and numerous other local organizations. The tour is sponsored by The United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Information, (518) 466-1192, Trudy Quaif,

Thursday, September 5, 2013

09-05-13 Say No to War!

From the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Sept. 5, 2013
1. Protest Syria war in New Paltz.
2. Why oppose a new war?



4 to 6 p.m. On Main Street in front of the New Paltz Plaza. Bring signs. We can supply some.
Sponsored by The Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter, Mid-Hudson WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), Mid-Hudson ANSWER.

By Jack A. Smith, editor, Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter

Despite the Obama Administration’s statement that there is “irrefutable” evidence that the Bashar Assad government in Damascus ordered the chemical gas attack in Syria last month, no direct proof of this allegation has been revealed. Why doesn’t President Obama present his proof to the United Nations, better yet to the UN Security Council?

Why in fact does the president casually inform the American people that he is “comfortable” about bypassing the UN when he launches a war against a country that presents no threat to the United States? This means that any attack by the U.S. on Syria will be judged by international law, to which the U.S. is a party, as an unjust, illegal war crime. If it didn’t bother George W. Bush why would it matter to Barack Obama? The same goes for the Bush-Obama surveillance state.

The White House won’t go to the Security Council for two reasons.

The main one is that Russia and China both oppose American plans to toss a match into the tinderbox of the Syrian conflict that could ignite a fire throughout the region and they both will veto support for Obama’s impending attack. The U.S. is demonizing Russia in particular for thwarting administration ambitions in Syria. Moscow and Damascus have been close allies for decades, and Russia genuinely believes the U.S. objective is regime change, not democracy. Washington’s wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya fall into that category, and this one does, too.

Second, recalling the lies told to the UN by the Bush Administration, the world body is likely to probe quite deeply into the suspect evidence Washington offers. It would also seek to clarify the actual number of casualties from the recent attack (the death count ranges from 350 to Secretary of State Kerry’s total of 1,400).

Most of the American people oppose Washington’s plan to attack a seventh Muslim country since 2001. Nearly the entire U.S. antiwar movement has taken a stand for peace. They remember the lies that led to many years of unending war. The ANSWER Coalition is once again the leading force for peace, as it was during the Bush years, having already mounted nationwide demonstrations in various cities and it will stage a major protest in the nation’s capital Sept. 7.

In a statement Sept. 5, ANSWER national coordinator Brian Becker declared: “Obama, Kerry and the mass media are working overtime to conjure up the image of ‘inevitability’ in order to demoralize and paralyze the antiwar opposition that clearly represents the sentiment of the vast majority of the people in the United States.

“We reject the concept of the inevitability of this attack. All power does not rest in the hands of the war makers. The people oppose this next war. We must organize and organize and organize. Right now there are deep divisions within the summits of the political and economic establishment about the reckless act of aggression being planned against a country in the heart of the Middle East. Such opposition is not based on principle but rather fear that once the war starts it is impossible to know what regional and possibly global chaos could follow. Under such political circumstances, a mass opposition can have a decisive impact even inside the centers of world imperialism.”

In our view, gas was used — a hideous crime — but there is considerable room for doubt regarding the guilty party. A serious, independent investigation is called for, but Washington will have none of it. An important sector of world public opinion is not convinced that President Assad or any top government officials gave the order. It could have been a dissident military faction acting on its own to disgrace Assad, or a put up job by al-Qaeda-affiliated elements within the opposition to provoke the U.S. into launching an attack. Even Kerry acknowledged that some 20% of the opposition aligns with al Qaeda, and this is probably an underestimate.

Our own doubts are based on a couple of obvious assumptions. First, Assad is not illogical. He fully understood that if he ordered a gas attack it would cross Obama’s “red line,” leading anywhere from an increase in U.S. support for the rebels to massive retaliation. Why would he, in effect, toss it all away by approving the use of militarily unnecessary poison gas knowing it could trigger his defeat?

Precisely why Obama has decided to bomb Syria at this point is not entirely clear, but two possible reasons come to mind:

1. He fears being regarded as weak politically at home and that the U.S. will be seen as a “helpless giant” abroad if he does not act violently after implying he would do so if an arbitrary “red line” was crossed. Supposedly, Iran, Russia and other countries thereafter would just thumb their noses in mockery. This is absurd, given Washington’s military might.

2. He was propelled to take action because Syrian government forces were winning. Kerry suggested that opposition forces are getting stronger, but that was a lie. The government army has been advancing for months, despite the flow of jihadists from around the world joining the rebel ranks. Any U.S. attack will help the opposition. With the tide turning significantly in its favor, why would the Syrian government intentionally take the one action that would provide the U.S. with a “justification” for inflicting damage on its military?

Ironically, Obama fears the actions of the Assad government far less than he fears what would happen if the jihadist faction in the rebel army he supports ultimately get their hands on Syria’s storehouse of chemical weapons. That explains Obama’s recent statement about the danger to America from Syria’s weapons.  He decided to be obscure in order to keep Assad as the target, but he really meant that the danger is not from Assad but al-Qaeda affiliates in the opposition forces.

The Obama Administration has supported the rebels from the beginning, along with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some other Sunni Muslim countries against the Alawite government of Assad. The Alawites are a branch of Shia Islam. The main reason is to weaken Iran, the real target. Two regional countries are close to Shia Iran — Shia Iraq and Alawite Syria.

If Syria falls, Iran will lose a key ally, and jihadist forces will then turn on Iraq. They already are largely responsible for the virtually daily bomb attacks in Iraq. Obama thinks he can eventually replace Assad with a moderate leader of a unified opposition, but the jihadist  “20%” are not playing along. They want more power and have demonstrated little concern for democracy or tolerance toward other sects and religions.

Washington war hawks, within and without the administration, have been calling for the U.S. to go to war against Syria for a year. They are anxious to weaken Iran. It has nothing to do with overturning a Syrian “dictatorship.” Some of America’s closest allies have been dictatorships.

Obama has decided to join the hawks, though he was never a dove after he took power. The White House says ground forces won’t enter Syria, just missiles and bombers. But at his press conference Kerry suggested “boots on the ground” cannot be ruled out entirely.

At this stage Obama’s effort to round up a “coalition of the willing” is faltering. Key allies are not going along. The Pope vocally opposes an attack. Over a dozen years of needless Bush-Obama wars has depleted the willingness of a number of countries to bend the knee to Washington’s endless penchant for military conflict.

Obama evidently had no intention to consult with Congress, which was on vacation when the martial decision was made. But intense political and public criticism induced him to do so. His minions in Congress and the White House have since been twisting every arm in sight to get a majority of Congress behind his war. He will then declare, in one way or another  “it is the will of the American people that has made this decision to punish a despicable regime that uses poison gas on its own people.”

Instead of a war, the nations of the world — acting through the UN — should encourage both sides in Syria to observe a cease fire and enter into negotiations to end the mayhem. In the past the Assad government indicated it would take part in talks. Russia also said it would support talks. Unfortunately, the faction-ridden opposition has previously spurned efforts to join talks. But if the U.S., Russia and other influential countries and organizations joined together in honestly calling for a cease-fire and talks, it may work this time.

A war can still be stopped. But all this is happening in a matter of weeks. Time is extremely short and while the majority of Americans want peace, most seem unaware of the facts and all too prone to being influenced by the pro-war media and Congress members of both parties. It will take a mighty effort by the antiwar forces to stop this war. If Obama attacks, join “day after” protests in New Paltz and  elsewhere.
* For an assortment of critical Syria articles posted Aug. 30 go to:
* For a broad analysis of the Syrian struggle, including its important geopolitical ramifications, see: