Execution Protest and vigil

posted Sep 29, 2015, 8:28 PM by CCPJ News

Public Protest to Oppose an Execution in Virginia


 In front of the Charlottesville City Court House, 315 E. High St.

    Please come noon-1pm on Thursday, October 1, to protest the 9pm execution that evening of Alfredo R. Prieto, by the Commonwealth of Virginia.  There is evidence that he is sufficiently mentally handicapped that he should be barred from execution.  Governor McAuliffe was asked to give him a short stay so that his handicap could be investigated, but this was denied.


    Protest signs will be provided, (or you can bring your own).  For more information on the protest, call Virginia Rovnyak, 540-456-6930.

    The vigil sponsors include: Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Charlottesville Friends Meeting, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the Peace & Justice Committee of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Amnesty International Group 157.

Execution vigil

 The Charlottesville Friends Meeting invites you to a vigil at the time of the execution, at the Meeting House, 1104  Forest, next to Murray High School.

The Meeting House will be open at 8:30 p.m.

International Day of Peace 2015 in Central Virginia

posted Sep 12, 2015, 5:21 PM by David Swanson

Flyer here.

On Monday, September 21st, millions of people around the world will honor and celebrate the International Day of Peace, established in 1981 by the United Nations.  At the same time streams of refugees are fleeing areas of conflict around the world, especially from the wars in the Middle East.  People honor peace, people see the need for peace, but wars rage on. 

For Peace Day this year, we will learn about and honor efforts by some champions of peace who work to bridge the divides of enmity that fuel conflicts and wars.  We will also hold a “Be the Peace” meditation in concert with thousands of similar meditations around the world.  We will do all this in the Social Hall at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian Universalist, 117 Rugby Road in Charlottesville.  Our program will follow this schedule:
- 6:00 gather in the Social Hall
- 6:15 begin the “Be the Peace” meditation
- 6:45 close the meditation with a musical interlude provided by Heena Reiter
- 7:00 begin a panel conversation on Bridging the Divides of Enmity
- 8:30 conclude the event
Our panel will include:
Roy Hange who serves as co-pastor of the Charlottesville Mennonite Church and has worked with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.  Roy has spent many years in the Middle East and has extensive knowledge of the conflicts in that region.
Mary Reed who has worked to help AIDs victims in Rwanda, currently co-leads a program to help rebuild rural education in Cambodia, and resides most of the time at Thosamling, a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in northern India.
Carroll Houle who, as a priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers of the Catholic Church, served in Tanzania for 21 years, in Kenya for 17 years, and at the United Nations in New York for 5 years.

Our panelists will share insights from their experiences.  Everyone attending can do the same, all in hope of strengthening our vision of a more just and peaceful world.  This event is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Cooperation Circle of Central Virginia and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.  The event is free and open to the public.  Light refreshments will be served.

The Weak Tough Sell of the Iran Deal

posted Aug 28, 2015, 12:37 PM by David Swanson

Airing on PBS on September 12 will be an interview I watched taped at the Miller Center at the University of Virginia on August 28 with Wendy Sherman, the U.S. Under Secretary of State who played the key role in negotiating the Iran agreement.

The Miller Center has cut public questions and answers out of the portion of its events that are broadcast, so what will air will only include questions from the host, Doug Blackmon, but he asked I think most of the questions, some reasonable, some absurd, that have been asked by CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press. The elderly, wealthy, white audience asked questions at the end too, and the first one was about supposedly secret side agreements that would allow Iran to build nuclear weapons. My impression was that the audience was won over by Sherman's answers to everything she was asked.

In fact, Blackmon was about to call on me to ask a question when I had to leave to go meet with a staffer of Senator Mark Warner to urge him to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and the first thing I did was give the staffer Sherman's information and ask him to ask the Senator to call her. Warner is, of course, undecided on whether the Iran deal is preferable to the course toward war that so many of his colleagues openly prefer.

My concern, which I had most hoped to ask about, would not have been a concern for Warner, I suspect. My concern was this: the White House Press Secretary has suggested, and Politico has reported that the White House has been telling Congress, that the agreement will allow the U.S. to learn useful information about Iranian facilities that will make it easier to launch an effective war against Iran in the future if "necessary." Sherman on Friday repeatedly violated the U.N. Charter by stating that the United States could launch a war on Iran, and that she had no doubt President Obama would do so, if "necessary" to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. How is that sort of talk heard in Iran?

Sherman should know. She spent two years getting to know and negotiating with Iranians. She describes friendly moments. Both she and her Iranian counterpart became grandparents during the course of this negotiation. She also describes yelling and walking out. How does she think the Iranians she knows hear threats of war? For that matter, how does she think they hear accusations of having had and desiring to have a nuclear weapons program -- accusations repeated by Sherman on Friday but for which she was not asked for any evidence. For that matter, she accused Iran of wishing death to the United States and Israel -- again, without being asked for any evidence.

Sherman was quite articulate and to-the-point and convincing in arguing every detail of the inspections. Those who want a "better deal" had better avoid listening to her at all costs if they want to maintain their belief system. But pushing for peace while threatening war is a weak sort of advocacy, even if its advocates view it as being tough. Sherman, like her former colleague Madeline Albright, brags about how much damage sanctions have done to people -- in this case Iranians. She wants to be tough. But is she being strategic? What happens when the U.S. changes presidents or Congresses or some sort of incident occurs or is alleged to have occurred? The U.S. public will have been taught to think about Iran in the least helpful manner possible.

Asked if she trusts Iran, Sherman says no way. She goes on at length about how trust is not even part of her profession, doesn't enter into it at all, that these negotiations were aimed at and achieved a regime of verification based on total mistrust. A moment later, asked if she trusts in the good faith of Benjamin Netanyahu, Sherman does not hesitate to exclaim "Oh, of course!" What does that example tell people to think about Iranians? Compared to an openly racist militarist who orders the slaughter of civilians, the Iranians are untrustworthy? If that were so, I'd oppose the agreement myself!

Sherman also says that Iran knows how to make a nuclear weapon. I'd have liked to ask her whether she learned this before or after the CIA gave Iran nuclear weapons blueprints -- for which Jeffrey Sterling sits in prison as the alleged and convicted whistleblower. And how did she learn it?

Sherman says the United States is the one indispensible nation that must lead the global fight against "terrorism." She declares that if needed the U.S. can re-impose not only its own sanctions on Iran but also those of its partners and the EU. I wouldn't be so sure. A stronger, reality-based case for this agreement would recognize that the threat is not from Iran but from the United States, that the world understands that to a huge extent, and that other nations are not going to easily re-impose sanctions on Iran. In fact they're already opening embassies there. For the United States to go back on this agreement, now or later, would indeed isolate one nation from the rest of the world. I wonder, however, if Sherman is able to allow herself to realize which nation that will be.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power wrote this week: "if the United States rejects this deal, we would instantly isolate ourselves from the countries that spent nearly two years working with American negotiators to hammer out its toughest provisions." Power goes on to explain that such isolation would be undesirable because it would prevent the United States from getting other governments to join in new sanctions to harm any other country or new wars against any other countries.

Hey, now that I think about it, I have to wonder whether U.S. isolation would be such a bad thing after all.

People Tell Rep Hurt No War on Iran

posted Aug 26, 2015, 12:43 PM by David Swanson

Which U.S. Senators Really Want War on Iran -- An Update

posted Aug 24, 2015, 9:03 AM by David Swanson

This is an update to "Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran."

I've found there isn't really any way to touch on this topic without misunderstanding, but here's a try. Iran has never had a nuclear weapons program or threatened to launch a war against the U.S. or Israel. Many opponents of the Iran deal in the U.S. Congress and nearly every, if not every single, proponent of the agreement in the U.S. Congress has proposed war as the alternative. Some examples are here. The White House is even telling Congress that the agreement will make a future war easier -- as a selling point in favor of the deal.

Of course, war is NOT the only alternative to the agreement. The threat of war comes from the U.S. An alternative to that would be to simply stop threatening it. No deal is actually needed. The purpose it serves is to slow down a U.S. push for war.

Of course, many ordinary supporters and opponents of the agreement do not want a war. But with Washington offering two courses of action toward Iran: a deal that imposes tougher inspections than anyone else has to deal with, or bombs, one has to choose the inspections.

That is, a moral person does. The "I want a better deal" argument is cynically put forward by people who want no deal at all, even if supported by well-meaning people who have the misfortune to own televisions or read newspapers.

Of course, the Iranian government can be criticized in many areas, none of which are subject to improvement by bombing.

Here are people who have said they oppose the agreement or can't make up their mind about it yet:

Every Republican in the U.S. Senate plus these Democrats (the first two have said No, the rest Undecided):
Menendez (NJ)
Schumer (NY)
Wyden (OR)
Bennet (CO)
Booker (NJ)
Cantwell (WA)
Cardin (MD)
Casey (PA)
Coons (DE)
Heitkamp (ND)
Mikulski (MD)
Murray (WA)
Peters (MI)
Stabenow (MI)
Warner (VA)

This is a much shorter list than what it was when I previously wrote on this topic. In fact, it's at 15, which is almost down to the 13 needed to kill the agreement. Get it down to 12 and the agreement survives. That means two more Democratic senators can come around to the Yes position on the Iran deal and the deal still die. Almost certainly at least those two will. Whether a third does, or more do, is the real question.

When measures voted on are popular with funders but unpopular with the public, they very often pass with no more than exactly the votes needed. Sometimes word leaks out about the deals that have been cut. Senators and House members take their turns giving the unpopular votes demanded by funders and "leadership." The trick here is that the "leadership" is split between Obama's and Biden's YES and (would be Senate leader) Schumer's NO.

The fifteen people named above have had PLENTY of time to conclude that many of their colleagues want to risk a war and to understand that the agreement is preferable to that. It's time for us to let them know we will not stand for them getting this wrong and will never forget it if they do. Here's what I'm asking about my senator, Mark Warner:

Here's what World Beyond War is doing to try to correct the myth that Iran is the origin of the threat of war in this affair:


We must uphold the Iran agreement, but upholding it while pretending that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, or is threatening anyone, will not create a stable and lasting foundation for peace. Upholding an agreement with both proponents and opponents threatening war as an alternative is perilous as well as immoral, illegal, and — given the outcome of similar recent wars based on similar recent propaganda — insane.

You can spread the above message on Facebook here, Twitter here, Instagram here, Tumblr here, and Google+ here.

In the U.S. sign these petitions: one, two, and join these events.

More events all over the world, and tools for creating your own are here.

Outside the U.S., people can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy.

Mark Warner Hides From Virginia Public

posted Aug 14, 2015, 5:22 AM by David Swanson

Senator Mark Warner's staff says he's holding only unannounced, closed-door meetings in Virginia this summer.

It's a good thing he doesn't have a job that requires knowing what the people of Virginia think about anything.

Virginians can click here to ask Warner by email to appear in public.

It's hardly an unreasonable demand. While Congress is on summer break, most senators and representatives attend publicly announced public meetings at which they speak about their work and hear comments from, and answer questions from, their constituents.

Warner could play a decisive role in upholding or rejecting the Iran deal (on which he has taken no public position), the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and all sorts of other projects of critical interest to the people of Virginia.

On the Iran agreement, Warner is on a shrinking list of Democratic senators who continue to maintain the pretense that they're carefully reviewing the data on whether peace or war is preferable.

On the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, rumor has it that Warner will be meeting behind closed doors to discuss imposing that inevitable disaster on Virginians.

The TPP itself is secret because, in the view of several who have seen it, if it were to appear openly the public would never stand for it. Maybe Warner has the same idea for himself.

Shouldn't he want to know what Virginians think?

Please forward this message to your friends in Virginia. Please phone and tweet Warner if you're from Virginia, and email him here.

Which U.S. Senators Want War on Iran

posted Aug 7, 2015, 8:27 AM by David Swanson

Let's do the count:

Senators rallying and whipping their colleagues to support the Iran agreement: 0.

Senators admitting that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program and has never threatened or been a threat to the United States: 0.

Senators pushing the false idea that Iran is a nuclear threat but indicating they will vote to support the agreement precisely in order to counter that threat: 16
(Tammy Baldwin, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, Kirsten Gillibrand, Martin Heinrich, Tim Kaine, Angus King, Patrick Leahy, Chris Murphy, Bill Nelson, Jack Reed, Bernie Sanders, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Elizabeth Warren)

Republican (and "Libertarian") senators indicating they will try to kill the agreement, thereby moving the United States toward a war on Iran: 54.
(All of them.)

Democratic senators inspired during the repulsive Republican debate Thursday night to announce that they will try to kill the deal (and would rather have a war): 1.
(Charles Schumer.)

Democratic senators who haven't clearly stated a position: 29.

The number of those 29 who would have to join Schumer to kill the agreement and set the United States on a path toward self-isolation, international disgrace, and disastrous illegal immoral catastrophic war that will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like diplomacy: 12.

Can we keep the agreement protected from such a fate? Of course we can. We've been stopping a war on Iran for many years now. We stopped it in 2007. Such things never enter U.S. history books, but wars are stopped all the time. In 2013, the push for a massive bombing campaign on Syria was hard and absolutely bipartisan, yet public pressure played the key role in stopping it.

Now we have the White House on our side for godsake. When Obama wants a horrible corporate trade agreement fast tracked or a supplemental war spending bill rammed through or a "healthcare" bill passed, he twists arms and offers bribes, he gives rides on his airplane, he sends cabinet secretaries to do PR events in districts. If he really wants this, he'll hardly need our help. So one strategy we need to keep after is making clear he knows we expect this of him.

Senator Sanders has a gazillion fans now, and something like all but 3 of them believe he is a hero for peace. If you're a Bernie supporter, you can urge him to rally his colleagues to protect the Iran agreement.

In states like Virginia where one senator is taking the right position and one is keeping quiet, urge the first one (Kaine) to lobby the other one (Warner).

Would-be senators like Alan Grayson who want people to think of them as progressives but who have been pushing to kill the deal since before Schumer slithered out from under his rock, should be hounded everywhere they show their faces.

Schumer himself should not be permitted to appear in public without protest of his warmongering.

Just as in the summer of 2013, most senators and house members are going to be at public events in the coming weeks. Email and call them here. That's easy. That's the least anyone can do. And it had an impact last time in 2013. But also find out where they will be (senators and representatives both) and be there in small or large numbers to demand NO WAR ON IRAN.

The most expensive weapons system they've got ("missile defense") has been using the mythical Iranian threat as a ridiculous justification for picking your pocket and antagonizing the world in your name for years and years. But Raytheon wanted those missiles to hit Syria, and Wall Street believed they would.

The Israel lobby has much of Congress bought and paid for. But the public is turning against it, and you can shame its servants.

In the long run, it's useful to remember that lies do not set us free.

If both proponents and opponents of the agreement depict Iran falsely as a nuclear threat, the danger of a U.S. war on Iran is going to continue, with or without the deal. The deal could end with the election of a new president or Congress. Ending the agreement could be the first act of a Republican president or a Schumerian Democratic Leader.

So, don't just urge the right vote while pushing the propaganda. Oppose the propaganda as well.


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