Horrors of the Occupation Go Way Beyond the Settlements

Horrors of the occupation go way beyond the settlements / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 8 June — Every decent citizen, both in Israel and around the world, must cry out against the many horrors of the Israeli occupation- which have little to do with any West Bank construction — …The mask was ripped off long ago, and Israel is no longer trying to hide that settlements are no more than a punishment. But they aren’t the real punishment. The real punishment is the continued tyranny. The settlements are a measure of Israeli intentions; they were built to eternalize the status quo and destroy any chances for agreements. But the real punishment is the insufferable injustices of the occupation, which are actually less discussed. We must stop talking about the settlements. The amount of settlers reached critical mass long ago, making the situation irreversible. Another 1,500 housing units won’t change much. Constructing them only proves that Israel intends to continue its colonialist endeavors, but housing units themselves are not the heart of the issue. The real problem is the totalitarian regime in the West Bank. It is the Palestinians’ biggest problem, as well as that of the Israelis, as their nation has become a false democracy … The international community should focus on the fact that there are two peoples here, one with every right and the other with none aside from the right to be occupied. Stop condemning Israel for each new apartment and caravan. Israel should be condemned and punished for creating insufferable life under occupation, for the fact that a country that claims to be among the enlightened nations continues abusing an entire people, day and night. Talk about the helpless fishermen in Gaza fired upon by gunships; talk about the children brutally arrested in the middle of the night; talk about the countless detentions without trial, about the families torn between Gaza and the West Bank, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Talk about the light Israeli finger on the trigger; talk about the discriminatory courts, the daily dispossession, house demolition and destruction of villages; talk about the pasturelands turned into firing zones only to dishearten residents and expel them; talk about the soldiers who shoot out of boredom and the police officers who make arrests just because they can. Talk about the inherent apartheid in the West Bank, and the terrible chances facing any Palestinian child looking to build a life, or even just visit the beach, even if it’s only a short distance from his home. Talk about the Gazans who cannot export their goods, nor go anywhere – not to study, not to go to the hospital, not to visit family members or work outside their prison, the largest in the world. Talk about the thousands of prisoners, some of them political prisoners, who face inhumane discrimination, as opposed to their Jewish counterparts. Talk about the bureaucracy of occupation, another institutionalized method of abuse. Talk about the checkpoints, and the overwhelming injustices. Talk about the horrors of occupation.

Temporary Job Opportunity!


Temporary Job Opportunity! 6/25-7/28

Susan will be away for a month this summer and the Center is looking for someone to step in for 15 hrs. a week. Here's the info and the contact:
Temporary Part-time Coordinator of the Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County –

June 25 – July 28, possibility of continued employment.

The Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County is seeking a temporary Center Coordinator, while the current Center Coordinator is on vacation. The principle duties include keeping the Center open during business hours, interacting in person, on the phone, and through email with members and visitors.

Office tasks include opening the Center, Monday through Friday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.; responding to phone calls; greeting visitors; answering emails and correspondence; renewing supplies; creating an optimal environment; maintaining the wall and website calendar; scheduling the room use; contacting members and donors; attending semi monthly Board meetings, and assisting with the Peace Press.

Pay is $17/hr. Email letter of interest and resume, to tommy@sonic.net, by 6/18/14. Call Tomas Phillips 707 235 2200 with any questions.

Andy Lopez - Reflections on his 14th Birthday - a Birthday Deprived

Andy's parents - Sujey and Rodrigo
June 2nd, 2014
by Elbert "Big Man" Howard
Today, I just keep thinking about Andy Lopez and his family. I am thinking about how young Andy Lopez never lived to see his 14th birthday, thanks to murdering Deputy Erick Gelhaus .
On October 22, 2013, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was walking in a field in broad daylight, in his neighborhood. He was on his way to one of his friend's homes, doing nothing criminal, doing nothing wrong, just a child, on his way to see his friend. Suddenly, with no warning, within seconds, he was ambushed and killed in cold blood by Gelhaus, a trained assassin from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.
Why was Gelhaus even present in this largely Latino Santa Rosa community? The answer to this question lies in the decades-old analogy: "The police occupy our community like a military troop occupies a foreign territory. They are there to brutalize and kill us because they have their orders to do so."
On the day of Andy's murder, no crime had been committed or reported so Gelhaus was simply on a seek-and-destroy mission. He did what he and others like him are paid to do, without fear of public outrage or punishment. Gelhaus knew that there was no chance of prosecution because the Sonoma County District Attorney is on the same racist, reactionary team which includes judges, city government officials and big money political supporters. In the end, they believe that the law is what they say it is.
On the other hand, as in times past, the community and Andy's loving family members, are still demanding to know when District Attorney Ravitch is going to divulge the results of her investigation to the public. What are the results of her "prolonged investigation" of the killing of this child, Andy Lopez, by this "servant of the people", Erick Gelhaus?
Jill Ravitch has the office, the money and all the tools to get the job done that she was (supposedly) elected to do. Why doesn't she do it? Past history and present events show us that the systemic failure to deal with these injustices has resulted in the continued loss of lives at the hands of Law Enforcement agencies in Sonoma County - a loss of sixty-one human beings since 2000 - 61 human beings who mattered to their families... and to us. 
Elbert "Big Man" Howard                                     Santa Rosa, CA                            June 2, 2014
Elbert "Big Man" Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party, and an author, lecturer, and community activist in Sonoma County.

June 2nd is the 14th Birthday of Andy Lopez and the work for justice continues! Birthday party and more!

Celebrate the Life of Andy Lopez on his 14th Birthday!
Saturday, June 7, 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Join us in a community march to celebrate Andy's life and call attention to the law enforcement brutality which ended his life. We will begin with music and speeches in the Dollar Tree parking lot on Sebastopol Rd., followed by a march beginning at noon to Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa with a rally to begin at 1:00 p.m.

The work for Justice for Andy! continues.

After Andy was killed, in response to public anger, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors created the Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force. The Task Force, in turn, created three subcommittees: the Law Enforcement Accountability Subcommittee, the Community Policing Subcommittee, and the Community Engagement and Healing Subcommittee.

It is a goal of the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez (JCAL), of which the Peace & Justice Center is a member, for there to be members of the community at all the meetings of this Task Force and subcommittees. We need the Task Force to understand that we are watching them and that we want a say in their work. Our numbers are small and we are hoping that some of you will want to be at some of these meetings - just once or as many times as you can. We ask that you make a public comment - a general one at the beginning or one in relation to the agenda - and we'd love it if you could identify yourself as being with JCAL, the Peace & Justice Center, or another social justice group.

The meetings will be held through early next year. Here is the schedule for the upcoming summer.

The Community and Local Law Enforcement Task Force will meet June 9th, July 14th, and August 11th at 6:00 p.m., 2227 Capricorn Way, Santa Rosa Room, Santa Rosa

The Law Enforcement Accountability Subcommittee will meet June 2nd, 16th & 23rd, July 7th & 21st, and August 4th, 18th & 25th at 5:15 p.m., County Center, Board Chambers, 575 Administration Dr., Room 102A, Santa Rosa

The Community Policing Subcommittee will meet June 9th & 23rd, July 14th & 28th, and August 11th & 25th at 3:00 p.m., Lawrence Cook Middle School, Classroom #1, 2460 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa

The Community Engagement & Healing Subcommittee will meet June 2nd, 16th & 30th, July 7th & 21st, and August 4th, 18th & 25th at 6:00 p.m., County Center, Community and Government Affairs, Room 113A, 575 Administration Dr., Santa Rosa

Protest plans if D.A. Jill Ravitch announces that she is not indicting Deputy Gelhaus
We are asking that all protest be peaceful
On the day she announces, we will gather at the Dollar Tree parking lot on Sebastopol Rd. at 4:00 p.m.
On the day after she announces, we will gather at Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa at 5:30 p.m.
On the Saturday following the announcement will will gather at Courthouse Square at 1:00 p.m. for a March for Justice
Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez

"All governments lie." - Daniel Ellsberg

Half a block from the State Department, a bus shelter is now displaying a billboard nearly six feet tall with a plea from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg to “tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers.” On the sign, Ellsberg also urges: “Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died… You might save a war’s worth of lives.”
The billboard, located on 23rd Street NW in Washington, is scheduled to remain there throughout this month. It’s the first step in public outreach by ExposeFacts, a new organization for whistleblowing that will formally launch on Wednesday morning when the ExposeFacts.org website goes live and the group begins its first day with a news conference at the National Press Club (9:30 a.m., Zenger Room).
NSA whistleblowers William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe will speak at the news conference along with EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, a member of the ExposeFacts editorial board. The ExposeFacts organization is part of the nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy.
ExposeFacts “aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war,” the group says -- and its website will feature a whistleblower submission system known as “SecureDrop.”
The June 4 news conference will release a video statement by Ellsberg, who revealed the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The text of that statement, below, is being released now. The actual video will be released Wednesday morning. 
Statement by Daniel Ellsberg:
I’m very happy to join with other whistleblowers in supporting an organization called ExposeFacts, whose aim is to encourage whistleblowing and independent journalism, and preserve democracy.
All governments lie, and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned, in terms of their own decision-making, their planning -- and to be able to allege, falsely, unanimity in addressing their problems, as if no one who had knowledge of the full facts inside could disagree with the policy the president or the leader of the state is announcing.
A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy.
And as someone who served four different administrations, two Republican and two Democrat, I can say that when officials are assured that they will not be held accountable for their decision-making or for their choices or for their arguments or their considerations, even very intelligent men and women are capable of making crazy policies -- stupid, disastrous -- as we saw in Vietnam, and in Iraq, and right now on the subject of the climate.
The ability to know every aspect of a source’s dealings with a journalist, or with a member of Congress, really is a deadly threat to democracy. ExposeFacts is an organization that intends to counter that effect by making it more possible -- in the face of this technological onslaught -- to making it more possible for sources to tell their truths when government is off the rails here and to make it possible for us to get it back on track, to hold people accountable -- in other words, to preserve democracy itself and its benefits, which are very very great. I’m proud to be a supporter of this organization, and I look forward to the change in atmosphere that it can bring about.
-- Daniel Ellsberg

International Conscientious Objector Day

International Conscientious Objector Day

May 15


Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez - plans for protest

Protest plans if D.A. Jill Ravitch announces that she is not indicting Deputy Gelhaus
We are asking that all protest be peaceful
On the day she announces, we will gather at the Dollar Tree parking lot on Sebastopol Rd. at 4:00 p.m.
On the day after she announces, we will gather at Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa at 5:30 p.m.
On the Saturday following the announcement will will gather at Courthouse Square at 1:00 p.m. for a March for Justice
Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez

Fire Sale - A poem by Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Fire Sale

It's all about looting.

The corporations
Mr. Big
are lined up and ready
to feast

it's  a fire sale
and the people's
the Internet
is on the block
to be chopped
and handed out
to the already
rich and greedy

it's a fire sale

there is an emergency
in the House
Mr. Big owns it
and now Congress
has decided
to hand him the
keys to the door
and the city
and the national
and the Internet

it's a fire sale

Ukraine, Greece
African continent
'vital resources'
cheap labor

Mr. Big wants
it all
and he is gonna get it
because he now owns
the Internet

and the people hardly
raise a voice
they are too busy
knocking down pills
or gazing at
Dancing with the
or peeking from
round the corner

it's a fairy tale.

Petition - Supervisor Efren Carrillo! Please resign now!

A May Day 2014 Lament for American Labor


Today, May 1, 2014, is International Labor Day. It is worth summing up how well American workers—and their unions—have fared over the past year; since the so-called economic recovery began in mid-2009; and for the recent decades preceding.

What’s happened to jobs, wages and incomes, health and retirement security, and other indicators of the quality of life for the more than 100 million non-supervisory wage and salary earners—the core of the working class in America—over the past decade and especially since 2009?

What a summary of the facts tell us is as follows:

  • While jobs have been created for managers, supervisors, and highly skilled business and technical professionals since 2009, job levels for the core of the American working class—the category of the more than 100 million ‘Production & Non-Supervisory Workers’—is still 11 million below 2007 pre-recession levels. Manufacturing jobs are still 1.4 million fewer today than in 2007, and Construction jobs 1.3 million fewer.

  • The real unemployment rate in the US is approximately 14%, when the ‘hidden unemployed’ are added to the ranks of the officially declared full time unemployed (U-3) and underemployed (U-6) estimates. That’s approximately 22 million still jobless after five years of so-called economic recovery.

  • The quality of job creation since 2009 has been extremely poor by past historical standards. The US is ‘churning out’ high paying-good benefit jobs for low pay, increasingly part time/temp (contingent) jobs, with few if any benefits. 79% of jobs lost during the recent recession paid more than $14/hr., while 58% of the jobs created since recession were low pay (less than $14 and with a median of only $7.69hr.)

  • While 5 million plus jobs have been added since the official ‘end’ of the recession in June 2009, more than 5 million have left the labor force or been unable to find work as new entrants—a 5+million ‘in’ and a 5+ million ‘out’ additional churn. As labor force participation has declined in general (from 66.2% to 62.9% since 2009), and has fallen especially rapidly for age groups 35 and below, previously retired workers are entering the labor force in record numbers as their savings are depleted and retirement benefits are being reduced. The fastest growing age groups entering the labor force are: age 65-69 (64% increase in participation), 70-74 (91%), and >75 (81%).

  • The US economy is not only churning out high pay for low pay, and labor force drop-outs for new hires, but is also churning non-union for union jobs, in the process reducing private sector unionization to historic lows not seen since the 19th century.

  • Union membership in the private sector has fallen to only 6.7% of the total labor force, or 7.3 million—down roughly 5 million since 1980 despite 45 million more wage workers having entered the labor force.  And for the first time in decades, since 2009 union membership in the public sector has also begun falling since 2009, down by more than 2% points.

  • The US is experiencing a chronic long-term problem in the 21st century creating jobs sufficient to keep up with the growth of its population, a structural problem in the US economy that clearly pre-dates the onset of the latest recession. Since just 2009, the ratio of employed to the US population has fallen from 63% to 58.7%. The population is growing much faster than the economy can create jobs.

  • The US economy has developed a corresponding problem of inability to find jobs for the long term unemployed, whose numbers are growing as a percent of total jobless. The Employment to Population ratio has continued to decline through both recent recession and recovery, revealing a chronic structural problem of job creation in the US economy long term. The long term jobless as percent of total unemployed remains twice that (36%) of historical average (18%) today, five years into the recovery.

  • Income inequality is growing in the US not only because the rich are getting richer, but because the US working class is locked into stagnant wage growth (in best of times) or declining wage growth (in recession or slow growth times) for the past 30 years.

  • The real average hourly wage for the 100 million plus full-time employed core working class, adjusted for inflation, has declined despite nearly five years of ‘recovery’, from $8.86/hr. (adjusted in 1982-84 prices as per the US Government estimates) to $8.83/hr.

  • But when adjusted for the core working class as a whole—not just full time employed—the decline in core working class income since 2009 has been precipitous—(i.e. when adjusted further for the rise of millions more part time/temp workers, unemployed, for millions of workers leaving the labor force, for millions rise of workers on disability, for millions’ expiration of unemployment benefits, and for workers’ rising share of healthcare benefits costs and reductions of pension benefits). The adjusted decline is at least 15%.

  • Per US Government statistics (unadjusted per above), real median household income fell 4.1% under George W. Bush, collapsed by 9.6% since 2008 under Obama, recovering only 3.4% of the overall decline since 2012—i.e. a net loss of more than 10% since 2000.

  • The share of wages & salaries of total National Income has declined steadily for 30 years, from 55.6% in 1983 to 52.0% in 2007 just prior to the recession. It has continued to fall during the recession period, 2007-09, as well as during the post-2009 recovery, to 49.1% today.

Concluding Comments

Much has been written over the past year about the growing income inequality in America, and how the wealthiest 1% households, who almost exclusively derive their income from returns on capital (capital gains from stock & bond trading, foreign exchange & derivatives speculation, interest, real estate, rents, etc.), have accrued 95% of all the national income gains in the US economy since the June 2009 so-called economic ‘recovery’ officially began.   

Liberal economists like Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, James Galbraith and others have been writing numerous books and countless newspaper columns on the subject of income inequality in general over the past year. They have finally discovered in recent years the sad fact of accelerating income inequality in America, a developing trend that has been in progress for decades, at least since the early 1980s.

But while liberal economists today are finally focusing on why and how the wealthiest 1% are accruing more for themselves, not enough attention has been paid to why and how more than 100 million working class households in America have been doing so poorly—and increasingly so—during recent decades and in particular during the most recent period, 2004-2014. Nor have mainstream commentaries offered much in the way of correcting the historic decline in American working class conditions. How to improve the latter is just as important as taming the runaway capital incomes of the rich and super-rich. But only tepid and conservative proposals are forthcoming thus far from the mainstream economic profession, proposals that are long term and ‘safe’ for the owners of Capital today and do not embarrass their political friends and benefactors.

That condition of the 100 million plus working families in America today, International Labor Day 2014, is as lamentable as the accelerating accrual of income and wealth by the 1% is disgusting. Of course, the two trends are not mutually exclusive but directly related.  The rich and very rich are becoming super-rich and mega-rich in large part at the direct expense of the rest.

Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus is a Professor of Economics at St. Mary’s College. He is the author of Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression (Pluto Press - 2010) and Obama's Recover: Recovery for the Few (Pluto Press - 2011).  He has been a business economist, market analyst, vice-president of the National Writers Union and elected local union president and organizer for various labor unions. His website is: www.kyklosproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: @drjackrasmus.