Soon: Peace March, Justice Rallies

There will be a march for peace from Amherst to Northampton on August 9 at 1 p.m. There will be rallies to protest an unjust employer in Springfield and nearby towns August 11 and August 12 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.

On August 5, President Obama said, “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.” In Congress, Republicans say they want war with Iran. Obama and most of the Democrats in Congress say they want peace.

On August 9 in Amherst there will be a gathering to mark the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There will be “songs for all to sing” and prayers for peace, according to the organizers' web site. The public is invited. “The monks and nuns of the Leverett Peace Pagoda will depart from this gathering for a prayer walk for peace from Amherst to Northampton.” Meet at the First Congregational Church lawn, 165 Main Street, Amherst at 1 p.m. More information is at:

http://masspeaceaction.org/events/hiroshima-nagasaki-call-2015

Rallies to persuade Price Rite Corporation to pay its workers more are August 11 and August 12 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the following Massachusetts locations: 1600 Memorial Drive in Chicopee; 633 Boston Road in Springfield; 1106 Union Street in West Springfield; 303 East Main Street in Westfield. RSVP by e-mailing wageaction@wmjwj.org. Organizers said, "Tell us which store you can be at; which date(s) you can do; when you can get there, and when you have to leave; and the best phone number to call you at in case of last-minute changes. Meet at store entrance 20-30 minutes ahead of time for an orientation. All materials, plus t-shirts, will be provided." For more information contact Jon Weissman by phone at (413) 827-0301. He works for the local chapter of Jobs With Justice: www.jwj.org.

People want justice because companies like Walmart, which is owned by the world's richest family, pay poverty wages, and because millions of people a year die of starvation around the world while in the USA billionaires pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than someone who makes $60,000 a year.

People want peace for many reasons; among those reasons is saving money. Almost half (45 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of $2.9 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

Here are the 2013 voting records of local members of Congress, from Peace Action’s web site:

http://peaceactionwest.org/thescore

100 is best, zero is worst.

The Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts:

Edward Markey 100

James McGovern 97

Richard Neal 83

Elizabeth Warren 75

Brattleboro:

Patrick Leahy 75

Bernie Sanders 75

Peter Welch 91

Keene:

Kelly Ayotte zero

Ann Kuster 65

Jeanne Shaheen 75

John Ungerleider is a professor of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. “The military budget is so high mainly because members of Congress want to keep defense jobs in their districts,” he told the Valley Post. Asked if the U.S. would be more likely to be attacked if the military budget was cut by 50 percent, Ungerleider said, “Of course not.” The best way for people to get the government to cut military spending is to donate to, and/or volunteer for, a group like the American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org, he said.

Melvin Goodman is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. For a decade he worked at the CIA as a division chief and foreign policy analyst. New Yorker magazine writer Seymour Hersh said of Goodman’s 2013 book, National Insecurity, “Goodman is not only telling us how to save wasted billions, he is telling us how to save ourselves.”

In the book, Goodman writes, “The United States has the most secure geopolitical environment of any major nation, but sustains a defense budget that equals the combined budgets of the rest of the world…. We have more than 700 military bases and facilities around the world; few other countries have any. We can deploy 11 aircraft carriers; among our rivals only China plans to deploy one—and that is a revamped Ukrainian aircraft carrier, a carryover from the ancient Soviet inventory…. Since the end of World War II, the United States has fought inconclusive wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan; conducted dubious invasions of Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama; and mounted counterproductive covert operations around the world, including those in the Congo, Chile [which resulted in the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who tortured and killed thousands of his political opponents], El Salvador, and Guatemala. Only Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991 can be termed a success, although it left Saddam Hussein in power and President George H.W. Bush out of power the following year, setting the stage for George W. Bush’s use of force against Iraq two decades later.”

David King is the United Kingdom's Special Representative for Climate Change. "The Iraq war was just the first of this century's 'resource wars,' in which powerful countries use force to secure valuable commodities," King told the Guardian newspaper.

The U.S. and other rich nations have a long history of stealing resources from Africa. This story is told in the books “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild and "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power" by Steve Coll, and in the film "Lumumba" by Raoul Peck. The average life expectancy in the central African nation of Chad is 49; in the USA, it’s 80.

While the chances of dramatically cutting U.S. military spending may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 149 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

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