An Evening with RICK STERLING
Eyewitness Report on Syria and Venezuela:
Board member Rick recently returned from a trip to Syria and is next travelling to Venezuela on a fact-finding mission.
An avid traveler and researcher, particularly on the situation in the Middle East and South America, he regularly writes articles and speaks on these topics. He has also participated in human rights delegations and election monitoring.
Sterling worked for 25 years in electronics engineering, doing NASA and satellite work at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, and retiring in 2011 to work full time on progressive causes. “I am interested in bringing more information on Latin America and the Middle East to Contra Costa County. The goal is to push for substantial change in US policy to build support for progressive organizations working for change in other countries.”
In addition to being an active MDPJC board member, Sterling works with Rossmoor Friends of KPFA Radio, Task Force on the Americas and Syria Solidarity Movement.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17th
6 PM Potluck, 7 PM Presentation
Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, California
Pre-registered: $10 At the door: $15 (Center Members 1/2 price)
FREE FOR STUDENTS—
CO-SPONSORED BY FRIENDLY FAVORS
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Resolution in Support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(“The 2015 Iran Agreement”)
Whereas, an international agreement has been negotiated by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK and the USA) plus Germany with Iran, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and informally known as the P5+1 Iran Agreement; and
Whereas, the plan calls for major reductions in Iranian capacity to produce enriched uranium or plutonium and agreement to not enrich beyond a level far below that required for military use, and the agreement calls for continuous monitoring and allowance for inspections and verification for 15 years, and in return, the P5+1 countries will lift economic sanctions on Iran and unfreeze Iranian assets in foreign banks; and
Whereas, the Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center believes this plan is a positive step toward a foreign policy based on negotiation and compromise rather than force, and
Whereas, for the past 12 years the US government and allies have invaded, bombed and destabilized governments they did not like; the US and allies invaded Iraq (2003) , bombed Libya (2011) and have funded the armed opposition in Syria (2011-present); and
Whereas, the consequences of this policy have been disastrous at home and abroad, with conditions vastly worse in Iraq, with chaos and terrorism having taken over Libya, and with close to 250,000 people having died, and another 10 million people displaced in Syria; and
Whereas, it is now estimated the US invasion of Iraq will ultimately cost about $3 trillion, with many thousands of Americans killed, and hundreds of thousands seriously injured physically or psychologically; and
Whereas, we note that many of the opponents of this agreement are the same organizations and individuals who promoted the invasion of Iraq and who have encouraged war with Iran; and
Whereas, we note that the agreement has been attacked with false claims, exaggerations and falsehoods just as there were false assertions about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq; and
Whereas, if the USA fails to endorse the agreement, the other countries involved will likely proceed, without the USA, and this would damage American credibility on the world stage; and
Whereas, we believe this agreement is a significant and overdue step toward a foreign policy which uses diplomacy and negotiation rather than force, and that the alternative to diplomacy on this issue could be war;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of the Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center supports the JCPOA; and
Therefore, be it further resolved that the Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center urges our congressional representative to fully endorse the agreement, and vote in its favor.
Dan Reynolds, Board Chair
Resolution passed August 31, 2015
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The Board of the Mt. Diablo Peace & Justice Center passed the following resolution on September 15, 2014
Whereas recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have shown that even small police departments have acquired military hardware such as armored personnel carriers (APCs), grenade launchers, military-style “Fritz helmets,” and camouflage uniforms that are conspicuous shows of authority in built-up areas, and
Whereas Davis, California had acquired an APC and seeks to dispose of it (1) and Saddleback College of Mission Viejo, California has acquired an APC, even though the Campus Police force has 10 or fewer officers (2), and
Whereas the use of SWAT team actions has soared from a few hundred annually in the 1970s to more than 50,000 per year by 2005 (3) and SWAT team use has shifted from hostages, barricades, and active shooters (7 percent of uses as analyzed by the American Civil Liberties Union (4)) to routine police tasks such as drug searches and serving search warrants (80 per cent); SWAT teams infrequently find contraband (36 per cent); and often involve forced entry into private residences (65 per cent) and involve risk to innocent people, including children, and
Whereas militarized police can be cut off from their communities rather than be engaged with their communities, as happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and exceed their mission to protect and serve the public, as when battle-clad police in Ferguson fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protestors (5) and also invaded a McDonald’s restaurant to arrest reporters (6), and
Whereas there are far too many police actions resulting in citizen deaths that should result in questioning, arrest, or non-fatal use of force instead.
It is concluded that:
The militarization of police has reached unjustifiable levels,
Militarized police often threaten the public they are to protect and serve, and
The combination of militarized police and pervasive surveillance poses a threat to the civil liberties of Americans.
Therefore, be it resolved that:
The militarization of police needs to be stopped immediately, SWAT team use restored to hostage, barricade, and active shooter situations, and military weapons and equipment returned from police departments to the Federal government for storage or disposal.
BOARD OF THE MOUNT DIABLO PEACE AND JUSTICE CENTER, WALNUT CREEK
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MT. DIABLO PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT
WHEREAS, the Mount Diablo Peace & Justice Center upholds the ideals of equal justice under the law, racial justice and human dignity for all; and
WHEREAS, the recent deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and too many others, compel questioning of whether or not equal justice under the law is possible for young men of color – particularly poor, young men of color; and
WHEREAS, these deaths are indicative of a growing social-economic division threatening the current and future well-being of people of color and the larger society; and
WHEREAS, while we recognize there have been some strides within police departments across the nation to engage in constructive dialogue and good faith efforts to improve relations between officers and communities of color and young people, there are still problems that exist and improvements that are needed in order to protect lives; and
WHEREAS, while we recognize that most police officers carry out the mission to protect the public in a manner that is honorable and professional, it is also true that incidents of racial profiling are still a very serious issue; and
WHEREAS, we express solidarity with the thousands of protestors in the Bay Area and throughout the nation who are peacefully expressing their outrage and frustration at the deaths of unarmed African-Americans; and
WHEREAS, while we profoundly believe and insist that all black lives matter, we also believe that the growing divide between “haves and have nots” in American society undermines the realization of that belief in the actual workings of the criminal justice system, our schools and economy,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we encourage people to engage in dialogue around the concepts of equal justice under the law, racial justice and “institutional racism”; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Mount Diablo Peace & Justice Center supports Black Lives Matter forums, community meetings and peaceful demonstrations; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the Mount Diablo Peace & Justice Center joins with local schools, districts, labor and community groups to call for the creation of a national model for community policing and well-funded, thoughtful programs for youth that divert marginalized young people into academic and career programs, and an end to institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system.
Dan Reynolds Adopted by Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center Board on June 15, 2015
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Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center – Resolution – Against Linguistic Racism
Whereas, language is power; and
Whereas, the term “dog whistle language” defines seemingly neutral language (such as “welfare queen,” “food stamp president,” and “the undeserving”) used by politicians, those in the media, and others as a substitute for explicit racial pejoratives to trigger and promote racial anxiety, create racial division, influence the way people vote, and nurture a political climate that has allowed income inequality to expand while appearing innocuous, disguising open class warfare; and
Whereas, dog whistling cannot be resisted by refusing to talk about race because this allows constant racial insinuations to go unchallenged, creating fear and feelings of racial superiority among many whites; and
Whereas, dog whistle racism rests in “colorblindness”;
Whereas, the core stories of colorblindness —that discrimination against minorities has ended, their inferior social positions are deserved, and contemporary whites are innocent victims of reverse discrimination—underpin dog whistle portrayals of nonwhites as threats to imperiled whites; and
Whereas, some politicians, Supreme Court Justices, and others contend that colorblindness means government should not take race into account even to promote racial equality; and
Whereas, some politicians and others use veiled racial references to persuade white voters to support policies that weaken unions and public pensions, defund public schools, block improvements to health care, and favor the extremely rich yet threaten their own interests; and
Whereas, racial politics has destabilized the American middle class—white and nonwhite members alike; and
Whereas, inequality and exploitation are the enemies of all people; and
Whereas, addressing linguistic racism allows American society to combat economic inequality; and
Whereas, the Board of Directors of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center sees the issue of combating economic inequality as being in line with the mission and vision of the Center
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center condemns “dog-whistle” politics, and political rhetoric of colorblindness, and encourages Americans to condemn it whenever it is used; and
Be it further resolved, that the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center will work to combat racism by focusing on educating Americans about racism’s persistent cultural presence, and ways to transcend it; and
Be it further resolved, that the Board of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center will work to create inclusive environments, expose and eschew linguistic racism, and promote equality; and
Be it further resolved, that the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center encourages its members to work to create inclusive environments, expose and eschew linguistic racism, and promote equality; and
Be it further resolved, that the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center calls upon government at all levels to promptly promote inclusiveness, expose and eschew linguistic racism, and promote equality.
Daniel Reynolds, Board Chair November 17, 2014
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70 Years of Nuclear Weapons – At What Cost?
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CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!
We had a record number of schools participating this year – 42!
Painting by Second Place High School Art Winner
Anna-Sofia Giannicola, Las Lomas High School
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THE MT. DIABLO PEACE AND JUSTICE CENTER AND CODE PINK PRESENTED THE FOLLOWING LETTER TO THE COUNCIL AFTER HOLDING A STREET PROTEST
January 22, 2015
To the Board of the East Bay Leadership Council
Subject: Protest of your choice of Karl Rove and Ellen Tauscher as speakers at the “29th Annual East Bay USA Dinner”
We, the undersigned, object to your selection of Karl Rove, former strategist for the GW Bush administration, and Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control, as honored speakers at a public event in Contra Costa County.
Karl Rove, as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), wrote speeches and other documents containing lies about WMDs in Iraq that led the United States into a disastrous and very expensive war of occupation in that country. That war, costing over 4400 US lives, up to 1 million Iraqi lives and $3 trillion of our tax dollars (and counting), drained resources from much-needed civilian economic development, including green energy programs. Rove has also appeared recently on national TV programs attempting to defend the worst torture techniques used by the CIA, after the release of the “Torture Report” by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Karl Rove is not a leader whose thoughts we respect, or someone whose words we need to hear.
We also object to your choice of Ellen Tauscher as a speaker. As a former member of Congress and as a current board member of 2 nuclear weapons laboratories, she has been an advocate for “safe, reliable and effective” nuclear weapons (effective against whom? to what end?) and a booster of so-called “missile defense.”
The people of the East Bay are interested in the use of their hard-earned tax dollars for sustainable energy programs, civilian economic development, and foreign policy that does not kill and damage our young people in needless wars brought about by lies. We encourage you to seek speakers to can address these, the real needs of our community.
– Signed by representatives from both organizations and all 25+ protesters in attendance.
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By Rick Sterling, MtDPJC Board Member and Chair International Affairs Committee
First published, August 14, 2014, in http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/08/if-the-east-bay-was-gaza-how-would-you-feel/
The Palestinian enclave known as Gaza is approximately 25 miles long by 5 miles wide. It is about the same area as the East Bay from Oakland in the north to Fremont in the south. To the west is open water; to the east are the hills (heavily-reinforced razor wire fence for Gaza).
What would life be like if the East Bay of San Francisco was Gaza?
Imagine that is where you were born, where you will spend all your years, where you will die. Your world will be confined to that narrow strip, a lifetime sentence in an open air prison.
* Your family and ancestors lived for many centuries in villages beyond Gaza. In 1948 they were forced to flee their community and find temporary refuge in Gaza. They expected to return to their village. But a week became a month then years and now decades. You cannot even visit your family’s home or village let alone move back there. (Fact: about 80% of Gaza’s nearly 2 million population are refugees or children of refugees. They were driven out of areas now known as Sderot, Ashkelon, etc)
* There are only two entry/exit points for people and two more for goods and supplies in the entire Gaza Strip. But it does not matter because you cannot go out through any of them anyway. Nor can you depart by sea. There are patrolling Israeli Navy warships to capture or kill you if you try.
* You have relatives just 35 miles away in Bethlehem but you have never seen them, they cannot visit you and you cannot visit them. Israel keeps Palestinian Gaza completely separated and detached from the Palestinian West Bank in violation of international agreements including the Oslo Accords.
* If you are desperately sick and need special medical treatment it will be very difficult to get permission to go to hospital in Tel Aviv or Cairo. If you are lucky enough to get that rare permission, you will be pressured to become a collaborator. Most people just die.
* If you are an outstanding student and receive scholarship to study abroad, all your hard work and study may not help because your exit will likely be denied.
* If you are a fisherman, you will be restricted to fishing within three miles of shore. You are not allowed to go into into deeper waters where bigger and more fish are. Israeli Navy gunboats patrol the waters and shoot and kill fishermen who try to go beyond the illegal but enforced restriction.
* If you want to ship goods or work as a dockworker loading and unloading ships, you cannot. Israel does not allow ships to depart or arrive. In 2010, in international waters, Israel killed nine civilians who were trying to bring aid to Gaza.
* If you want to grow fruit and vegetables on land within Gaza but near the border, you will risk being shot, shelled or kidnapped by Israeli soldiers. Israel enforces a “buffer zone” on the Palestinian side of the enclosure around Gaza.
* If you are a Gazan farmer who can successfully produce strawberries and flowers you could earn a good living exporting these to Europe. Unfortunately Israel frequently blocks the export of crops and products from Gaza. More likely your flowers will wilt and die.
* Gaza has no air force or navy or anti-aircraft missiles. On the other side, Israel has the most sophisticated weapons, much of it supplied by United States. Israel drops bombs and targeted missiles at will – killing hundreds then thousands. Israel uses banned weapons such as White Phosphorous and Flechette bombs on civilian homes, UN shelters, hospitals and ambulances.
* You will probably have repeated cases of diarrhea, disease and illness from drinking contaminated water. That is because 90% of the water is unfit for consumption and Israel keeps bombing the power plants necessary for pumping and filtering water.
* You will have a huge problem finding work. The unemployment rate is now at 41%. You will be dependent on international handouts. Israel controls the amount of food permitted to enter Gaza so there is continual shortage leading to nutritional deprivation, stunted growth and anemia.
* You are subject to attacks and massacres every few years. Over three weeks in winter 2008-9 Israel killed over 1440 people, mostly civilians. In 2012 hundreds more were killed. In the last month Israel has killed almost 2,000 Palestinian (80% civilians) while THREE Israeli civilians have been killed.
* Some Gazans protest the prison like conditions by launching mostly home-made projectiles. These unguided “rockets” fired into Israel are largely ineffective and more like fireworks with small explosive. Nearly EVERY DAY of the past month, Israel killed more Palestinian civilians than ALL the Israelis killed by ALL the “rockets’ from Gaza in the past TEN YEARS.
Why are Palestinians designated as “terrorists” when Israel is doing the vast majority of killing?
Is this fair or just? How would YOU feel if the East Bay was Gaza?
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Rick Sterling / firstname.lastname@example.org