Court Orders Act of 2016 (CCOA)

“This draft bill is the most ludicrous, dangerous, technically illiterate tech policy proposal of the 21st century so far.” – Kevin Bankston, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute.1 Last week, privacy advocates and security experts widely denounced draft encryption … Continue reading

“This draft bill is the most ludicrous, dangerous, technically illiterate tech policy proposal of the 21st century so far.” – Kevin Bankston, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute.1

Last week, privacy advocates and security experts widely denounced draft encryption legislation leaked to The Hill newspaper as a radical assault on privacy that would make the American people less safe.2, 3

The Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 (CCOA) would undermine Americans’ privacy, make encryption illegal and force companies to weaken the security of their products and services. We need to make sure this dangerous legislation doesn’t gain any traction in Congress.

Sign the petition: Stop the Burr-Feinstein attack on privacy and security. Click here to sign the petition.

The CCOA, which is being drafted by Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-AL) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), is bad policy for a number of reasons. It would:

  • Make end-to-end encryption illegal by requiring companies to provide “information or data” to the government “in an intelligible format” anytime they are served with a court order. It would also require companies to decrypt secure communications “in a timely manner” or give technical assistance to law enforcement agencies attempting to do so. As Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement, “for the first time in America, companies who want to provide their customers with stronger security would not have that choice – they would be required to decide how to weaken their products to make you less safe.”4
  • Undermine Americans’ privacy by increasing the risk that their private information and information entrusted to businesses is accessed by criminals, hackers and government entities, both domestically and abroad.
  • Make American technology companies less competitive by making it illegal for them to offer secure communications protected by end-to-end encryption, which is currently relied upon by Google, Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp and countless other companies.6 Foreign companies would not be bound by this constraint. As the executive director of a trade group that represents thousands of app developers put it, “the senators might as well take a hatchet to the entire Internet economy.”7
  • Force platforms to censor applications by requiring license distributors to ensure that all “products, services, applications or software” they distribute are able to provide the content of communications to law enforcement agencies “in an intelligible format.” This would put Apple, Google and any other company that operates a platform for software applications in the untenable position of vetting every app to make sure they aren’t secure, and censoring those that are secure.8

Tell Congress: Reject legislation that would undermine our privacy and security. Click here to sign the petition.

As we saw with the FBI’s recent attempt to force Apple to create a backdoor to access San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone, law enforcement agencies are determined to undermine Americans’ privacy and security, and gain access to encrypted communications. The Obama administration’s sudden reversal in that case in March – which came only after it said a third party had helped it access the content of the phone without Apple’s help – doesn’t change its desire to force companies to weaken the security of their own products. Indeed, in an April 8 letter to a district court judge presiding over a separate case, the Department of Justice maintained that “the government continues to require Apple’s assistance in accessing the data that it is authorized to search by warrant.”9

As this debate continues to play out over the coming weeks and months, we need to forcefully reject the dangerous language in the draft Burr-Feinstein bill and any other legislation that would put Americans’ privacy and security at risk by undermining encryption.

Sign the petition to Congress: Stop the Burr-Feinstein attack on privacy and security. Click here to sign the petition.

Thanks for fighting to protect our privacy and security.

Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ?
  1. Anti-Encryption Bill from Senators Burr and Feinstein Would Be Disastrous for Cybersecurity, Tech Economy,” Open Technology Institute, March 31, 2016.
  2. Cory Bennett, “Senate encryption bill draft mandates ‘technical assistance’,” The Hill, April 7, 2016.
  3. Jenna McClaughlin, “Bill That Would Ban End-to-End Encryption Savaged by Critics,” The Intercept, April 8, 2016.
  4. Wyden Statement on Draft Bill Requiring Companies to Undermine Strong Encryption,” April 8. 2016.
  5. Max J. Rosenthal, “Tech and Privacy Experts Erupt Over Leaked Encryption Bill,” Mother Jones, April 8, 2016.
  6. Andy Greenberg, “The Senate’s Draft Encryption Bill Is ‘Ludicrous, Dangerous, Technically Illiterate’,” Wired, April 8 2016.
  7. Dawn Chmielewski, “The New Encryption Bill Isn’t Finished and Silicon Valley Already Hates it,” Recode, April 6, 2016.
  8. Andy Greenberg, “The Senate’s Draft Encryption Bill Is ‘Ludicrous, Dangerous, Technically Illiterate’,” Wired, April 8 2016.
  9. Julian Chokkattu, “Apple vs. U.S. isn’t over yet; Feinstein-Burr ‘encryption bill’ draft surfaces,” Digital Trends, April 8, 2016.

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

The unprecedented corporate power grab known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal could be headed for a possible vote in Congress later this year. But thanks to the work of thousands of CREDO activists, whether it has enough support … Continue reading

The unprecedented corporate power grab known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal could be headed for a possible vote in Congress later this year. But thanks to the work of thousands of CREDO activists, whether it has enough support to pass is still an open question.

Unfortunately, the TPP just got a major boost from some of the largest and most well-known internet companies. A trade association representing companies including Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo just announced their full support of the TPP.1,2

This is outrageous. The TPP is antithetical to the interests of internet users. Furthermore, many of these companies pride themselves on putting the rights and interests of their users first and claim that principles such as free speech and privacy are at the core of their mission. TPP directly undermines those values in favor of corporate profit.

Tell members of the Internet Association: Disavow endorsement of the TPP. Click here to sign the petition.

Google, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo don’t have to go along with the Internet Association’s disastrously poor decision to endorse the TPP. One of its members, Reddit, has just come out and disavowed the endorsement.3 This is why we are joining with our friends from Fight for the Future to pressure other members to do the same.

The TPP was written and negotiated in absolute secrecy, and it’s easy to see why. It would eviscerate broad swaths of regulations that protect consumers, workers, the environment, and the soundness of our financial system. And it would set up a global system where corporate profits trump the policy priorities of sovereign governments.

Passage of the TPP could mean more American jobs offshored, developing countries losing access to lifesaving medications, and unsafe foods and products pouring into our country. The deal includes countries that are notorious for human rights violations without once mentioning “human rights” in its 5,600 pages.

The deal could also mean the end of internet freedom as we know it. It would expand corporate copyright enforcement at the expense of privacy and free speech. It would criminalize tinkering and modifying products under fair use purposes. And it would allow corporations to avoid the legal and democratic process by using secretive international tribunals to attack internet users’ rights – the same tribunals that could be used to undermine environmental and consumer protections.

The members of the Internet Association have no obligation to support this wrongheaded endorsement of the TPP. And, fortunately, many of these companies would be extremely sensitive to a backlash from their own users. After all, companies like Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t have a product if it weren’t for their users’ ability to freely express themselves and create content on a daily basis.

Tell members of the Internet Association: Disavow endorsement of the TPP. Click here to sign the petition.

With the media currently focused on the corrupt practices of corporations revealed in the release of the Panama Papers,4 we have the opportunity to shine the spotlight on how the TPP is just another attempt by corporations to skirt domestic and international law.

If we can get these major internet companies to publicly reject the TPP, as Reddit just did, we can turn this pathetic and self-defeating endorsement into exactly the opposite: A major public statement against the TPP and the corporate power grab it represents.

Tell members of the Internet Association: Disavow endorsement of the TPP. Click below to sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/sign/TPP_Internet?t=7&akid=17517.5084505.ftxYLO

Thank you for your activism.

Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Sign the petition ?
  1. Internet Association Member List.
  2. Statement In Support Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Internet Association, March 30, 2016.
  3. Reddit statement on Twitter disavowing TPP endorsement,” Reddit, March 30, 2016.
  4. Panama Papers: Leaks spur global investigations,” BBC, April 4, 2016.

America’s neglected public water system

From the Great Lakes to the Puget Sound, America’s rivers, streams, and lakes provide us with a sufficient supply of drinking water. But the transport of this water through the American water system is simply unsafe. Flint, Michigan is using … Continue reading

From the Great Lakes to the Puget Sound, America’s rivers, streams, and lakes provide us with a sufficient supply of drinking water. But the transport of this water through the American water system is simply unsafe.

Flint, Michigan is using corroded lead pipes to transport its water, allowing dangerous chemicals to leach into the water — causing diseases that will plague this community for years. But this problem isn’t limited to one city.

Many of America’s water systems are more than 1OO years old. They’re due for a serious upgrade, but each year we’re falling $22 billion short in the funding the EPA needs to make these critical changes.

Demand Congress fix our nation’s water systems ? Sign the petition now!

The aging U.S. water infrastructure can no longer be ignored. If we don’t have federal support, our communities will continue to suffer.

Flint, Michigan shows us exactly what’s at stake. We need to take immediate action to protect the health of our citizens now and ensure safe drinking water services for years to come.

Citizens of the wealthiest nation on Earth should not be denied this basic human necessity. It’s unacceptable.

Sign your name telling Congress to fix our nation’s water systems:

http://leftaction.com/clean-water

America’s neglected public water system, which contains more than 3 million aging lead pipes, is the cause of this public health catastrophe. Many of these pipes are so decrepit that even small disruptions — an unintentional alteration in water chemistry or repair work — cause them to poison our water with toxic lead.

The result? Hundreds of thousands of Americans — many of them low income and people of color — are needlessly exposed to health risks from lead-contaminated water. And these risks are horrifying: even low levels of lead exposure can damage the brains of children, lower IQ, cause learning disabilities and contribute to behavioral problems.

Appallingly, the laws that regulate our tap water are as antiquated and weak as many of our lead pipes. But reforming the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Lead and Copper Rule is only part of the solution.

We also need a powerful commitment to rebuild America’s outdated drinking water infrastructure — pipes, water mains and treatment plants — wherever needed.

I’m sure you agree that failing to act now — leaving the door open for another Flint — is unthinkable. That’s why it’s imperative that we raise our voices in a massive public outcry and demand that everyone in the U.S. be protected from this long-ignored danger.

Safe drinking water is every American’s right: tell President Obama, EPA and Congress to get the lead out of America’s drinking water!

The disaster in Flint underscores our nation’s galling failure to deliver the most basic services to its citizens. This is an affront to the people of Flint and to those who care about justice everywhere — and it can’t be tolerated in this country.

NRDC is fighting back by suing Flint and Michigan officials to make sure they clean up Flint’s toxic water. But we need your voice now to take this public health battle to the next level.

Stand with me now to demand that lead be removed from America’s tap water once and for all — we owe it to our families, communities and children.

Sincerely,

Rhea
Rhea Suh
President, NRDC
Rhea Suh

2015 was the hottest year ever recorded

Dear friend, It’s official: this week NASA confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. And it’s not just warmer weather that people have been feeling. The impacts of a climate being cooked by a reckless fossil fuel industry … Continue reading

Dear friend,

It’s official: this week NASA confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. And it’s not just warmer weather that people have been feeling. The impacts of a climate being cooked by a reckless fossil fuel industry are being felt right around the world. From devastating flooding to seemingly endless drought, the message each disaster sends is clear — the time for procrastination is long gone, and the need for action has never been more urgent.

With a global climate deal in Paris done, the world has a choice: This could be a time we look back on as the moment the curtain came down on the fossil fuel age, and we began to build the 100% clean energy future that we need. Or it could be the aftermath of another failed global agreement — a missed opportunity, sabotaged by the fossil fuel industry and their political allies.

To make sure that the Paris deal results in real climate action, people are beginning to organise a historic wave of nonviolent actions around the world in May of this year. This wave of actions is called Break Free from Fossil Fuels, and it’s how the people are going to make sure that this moment is remembered as a turning point.

Actions are being planned at locations in 12 countries, and plans are coming together quickly — click here to be a part of it from the very beginning.

The Paris agreement leaves a lot of work to be done: the timeline for action is far too long, and there is no plan for how countries will reduce their emissions at the scale and rate necessary. There is a gap between the target that governments have set themselves and what their commitments will lead to. It is up to us to do the work that will close that gap.

There is no way to reach the 1.5 degree target that governments aspire to while continuing to dig coal, oil and gas out of the ground.But governments around the world are still continuing to approve new fossil fuel projects, which will commit us to years more warming.

Break Free from Fossil Fuels is different from anything we’ve been a part of before: dozens of major actions around the globe, non-violently escalating the fight against the worst fossil fuel projects on earth, coordinated to show that we are united against the fossil fuel industry’s power.

We’ve marched, we’ve signed petitions, and we’ve demonstrated for climate action. But this is the critical moment, and climate action is even more urgent than ever before. That’s why in May 2016 we will be joining with partners around the world to take things to the next level. We will directly confront those who are responsible for climate change, put our bodies in the way of business as usual, and take bold action in support of a 100% renewable energy future.

It’s up to us to close the gap between rhetoric and reality.

We’re ready. Are you? Click here to find out more and sign up to be a part of this historic moment.

Onward,

Will on behalf of the Break Free coordinating team

Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Tolerance is an intractable term.  Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent? Who decides who’s who, who’s what? Words used in complex social situations have always a degree of double-speak; there is a disconnection between what we think we mean and our actual thinking.
Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/ ) is supposed to be about letting those different from us be themselves, but in practice is about pretending that we are different from ourselves. To always have a favorite football team as an essential part of our identity? Even in this limited sense, one has to be careful; it might not be healthful to display the wrong loyalty in the wrong bar.
Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. For instance, many Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/tolerance ).
it is easy to protest
when the bombs fall miles from the fridge
yet, we are still afraid
a trip to Disney World on the line
so what hundred children massacred a day
better to have less terrorists, right?

Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Behring Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe.  One of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/08/americas-breivik-complex-how-state-terror-electrifies-the-islamophobic-right ). Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City.
While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror.
In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/gallup-poll-jews-and-christians-way-more-likely-than-muslims-to-justify-killing-civilians/ ).  Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence).  Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter.
Public Policy Polling asked Republicans if they would want to bomb the fictional town of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin movie (http://www.loonwatch.com/2015/12/30-percent-of-republicans-want-to-bomb-aladdins-hometown-agrabah/ ).
These are the results:
Support bombing Agrabah  …………………………30%
Oppose bombing Agrabah  …………………………13%
Not sure ……………………………………………………57%
In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx ), Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.
Gallup analysts (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx ) tested correlations between the level at which populations say these attacks are “sometimes justified” and a number of independent indicators, and they found human development and societal stability measures are most strongly related.
Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.

 “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”
Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade .
A common complaint among non-Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks. The complaints often surface in letters to the editors of newspapers, on phone-in radio shows, in Internet mailing lists, forums, etc. A leader of an evangelical Christian para-church group, broadcasting over Sirius Family Net radio, stated that he had done a thorough search on the Internet for a Muslim statement condemning terrorism, without finding a single item.
Actually, there are lots of fatwas and other statements issued which condemn attacks on innocent civilians. Unfortunately, they are largely ignored by newspapers, television news, radio news and other media outlets. Possibly because Islamic terrorists keep killing innocent civilians.
A 2007 Pew Research Center study of several nations throughout the Muslim world showed that opposition to suicide bombing in the Muslim world is increasing, with a majority of Muslims surveyed in 10 out of the 16 of the countries responding that suicide bombings and other violence against civilians is “never” justified, though an average of 38% believe it is justified at least rarely. Opposition to Hamas was the majority opinion in only 4 out of the 16 countries surveyed, as was opposition to Hezbollah.[5] The Pew Research Study did not include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria in the survey, although densely populated Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were included.
Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.
An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.
And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).
Muslim man was attacked by Piro Kolvani who decided he had to drive from Florida to New York to beat on a Muslim (Kolvani was inspired by the NY Post front covers). Kolvani viciously attacked Sarker Haque, who stated, “I never saw a situation like that. Not even after 9/11.”
Yet, the conflict is not about religion nor race, but power (in the sociopathic sense) and resources. Human activity is not driven by justice but by power. In a way, justice is the right of the strong. One thing is rationalizations used to justify actions, and another, real social and psychological motives behind. These ulterior motives are not necessary explicit or even conscious.
All three religions   – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – in conflict share the same core barbaric Bronze Age believes sated in the Hebrew Bible, and all pick and choose what’s convenient to their respective social order. Whether one is consider a Christian or a Muslim is more an accident of geography or ethnicity, than a reflection of actual belief.   That is, religion is mainly a marker of cultural identity.
Israel, for all the talk about being a Jewish state is in practice rather secular. Although the idea of a vibrant queer community in Israel, reputed birthplace of the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations, may seem far-fetched, Israel today is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of equality for sexual minorities. Politically, legally, and culturally, the community has moved from life at the margins of Israeli society to visibility and growing acceptance (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/homosexuality-in-israel/ ).
Many Israelis are not Semitic (http://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html ). While Ashkenazi Jews have a long tradition in Judaism, they cannot claim a bloodline from David, which is a mythological figure anyway (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html ).
The scourge of Islamic fundamentalism is a monster created by the same people crying wolf (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-islamic-state/ ).
The modern Islamic fundamentalist movements have their origins in the late 19th century. The Wahhabi movement, an Arabian fundamentalist movement that began in the 18th century, gained traction and spread during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Cold War following World War II, some NATO governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom, launched covert and overt campaigns to encourage and strengthen fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and southern Asia. These groups were seen as a hedge against potential expansion by the Soviet Union, and as a means to prevent the growth of nationalistic movements that were not necessarily favorable toward the interests of the Western nations. By the 1970s the Islamists had become important allies in supporting governments, such as Egypt, which were friendly to U.S. interests. In many cases the military wings of these groups were supplied with money and arms by the U.S. (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/religion-and-terrorism/ ).

Regardless of the machinations behind the current crisis in the Middle East, its effects will unsettle the whole World, including the US and Europe (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-roots-of-the-migration-crisis-1441995372 ). The Syrian refugee disaster presents a dilemma to the West. A massive influx of refugees into any country compromises its social and economic stability but the crisis cannot be ignored in humanitarian and practical grounds. Furthermore, the rise of religious fundamentalism (of all flavors: Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) is a treat to the long term viability of modern society.
Humans are social animals and it’s our natural instinct to be emphatic with others. It’s natural for us to bond by kinship. Unfortunately the same tribal instinct hampers our ability to recognize the essential and vital global brotherhood of man. We cling to nationality, religion, and many artificial walls we build around us that compromise our chances for long term survival.
We must overcome our fears and reach out for peace. To live or die together is the choice.

The xenophobic policies offered up by Republicans in the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks are simply jaw-dropping:

  • Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz suggested bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East.2
  • Twenty-six Republican governors have vowed, without any legal authority, to block Syrian refugees from their states.3
  • Presidential candidate Jeb Bush joined Cruz in proposing that we block Syrian refugees based on religion — admitting Christian but not Muslim refugees.4
  • The House passed a bill this week requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally sign off on every refugee from Syria or Iraq.5
These policies are especially offensive in light of the fact that there is legislation that Congress could pass right now to actually reduce gun violence. The Senate could:
  • Close the terror gap by allowing the Department of Justice to block guns sales to anyone on the terror watch list. Between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 people on the list purchased guns in the U.S.
  • Close the loophole that allows people to buy guns without undergoing background checks through private sales, at gun shows and online. An estimated 40 percent of all firearms transferred in the U.S. are transferred by unlicensed individuals not required to conduct background checks on buyers.6
  • Ban convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.7
  • Prohibit the manufacture of assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use.
If Republicans really want to protect Americans, it’s clear what they need to do: break their blind allegiance to the NRA and pass gun control legislation. But they’ll never act unless we force them. Can you add your voice today?
Tell Senate Republican leaders: Act to make us safer and pass real gun control legislation. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Thanks for standing up to the NRA today,
Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
References:
  1. Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks,” Everytown for Gun Safety, July 21, 2015.
  2. Judd Legum, “In Response To Paris, Ted Cruz Calls For Airstrikes With More ‘Tolerance For Civilian Casualties’,” ThinkProgress.org, November 13, 2015.
  3. Sarah Frostenson and Dara Lind, “Here’s a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees,” Vox.com, November 18, 2015.
  4. Amy Davidson, “Ted Cruz’ Religious Test for Refugees, New Yorker, November 16, 2015.
  5. Camila Domonoske, “House Votes To Increase Security Checks On Refugees From Iraq, Syria,” NPR, November 19, 2015.
  6. Universal Background Checks & the “Private” Sale Loophole Policy Summary ,” Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, September 10, 2015.
  7. Gabby Gifford, National Domestic Violence Prevention Leaders Applaud New House Legislation to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Abusers,” Americans for Responsible Solutions, July 22, 2015.

The House of Representatives voted for a bill that would shut the door in the faces of refugees who are fleeing violence in Syria and other locations.  That same day, hearings in the House and Senate focused on the need to “keep America safe” – suggesting that our country was not brave enough to help those who are victims of violence.

Some in the House stood up for refugees and voted against the anti-refugee bill, but far too many supported it.  Please write to your Representative now.  

As faith communities gather this weekend, we encourage you to stand up to the fear and hate that is rampant in this moment of heightened anti-Muslim bigotry as you’ve undoubtedly seen expressed on social media and cable news, and by governors and Presidential candidates.  Many faith groups and denominations have distributed statements and resources, and NRCAT will continue to update this resource list.  These include messages of welcome to refugees of all faiths, and talking points that can be used for sermons and prayers.  If you have a resource that should be added, please email me.

Finally, please consider reaching out to a local mosque or refugee resettlement center.  You might send a note of support, make arrangements for a joint service project, plan an interfaith vigil, or volunteer to help resettle refugees in your community.

Sincerely,

T.C. Morrow
Director of Finance & Operations
Staff for NRCAT’s Addressing Anti-Muslim Bigotry Program

Tolerance is an intractable term.  Should we tolerate the intolerant, the racist, or the violent? Who decides who’s who, who’s what? Words used in complex social situations have always a degree of double-speak; there is a disconnection between what we think we mean and our actual thinking.
Tolerance (http://www.tolerance.org/ ) is supposed to be about letting those different from us be themselves, but in practice is about pretending that we are different from ourselves. To always have a favorite football team as an essential part of our identity? Even in this limited sense, one has to be careful; it might not be healthful to display the wrong loyalty in the wrong bar.
Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. For instance, many Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia (http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/tolerance ).
it is easy to protest
when the bombs fall miles from the fridge
yet, we are still afraid
a trip to Disney World on the line
so what hundred children massacred a day
better to have less terrorists, right?

Few political terrorists in recent history took as much care to articulate their ideological influences and political views as Anders Behring Breivik did. The right-wing Norwegian Islamophobe.  One of the most remarkable aspects of the manifesto is the extent to which its European author quoted from the writings of figures from the American conservative movement (http://maxblumenthal.com/2011/08/americas-breivik-complex-how-state-terror-electrifies-the-islamophobic-right ). Many of the American writers who influenced Breivik spent years churning out calls for the mass murder of Muslims, Palestinians and their left-wing Western supporters. American Islamophobes simply sit back from the comfort of their homes and cheer as American and Israeli troops — and their remote-controlled aerial drones — leave a trail of charred bodies from Waziristan to Gaza City.
While Israel has sought to insulate itself from the legal ramifications of its attacks on civilian life by deploying elaborate propaganda and intellectual sophistry (witness the country’s frantic campaign to discredit the Goldstone Report), and the United States has casually dismissed allegations of war crimes as any swaggering superpower would (after a US airstrike killed scores of Afghan civilians, former US CENTCOM chief David Petraeus baselessly claimed that Afghan parents had deliberately burned their children alive to increase the death toll), the online Islamophobes who inspired Breivik tacitly accept the reality of Israeli and American state terror.
In American and Israeli society, Professional Terrorism is acceptable, whereas Amateur Terrorism is absolutely the world’s greatest evil (http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/gallup-poll-jews-and-christians-way-more-likely-than-muslims-to-justify-killing-civilians/ ).  Amateur Terrorism provides the justification for Professional Terrorism (this even though it is usually almost always the case that Professional Terrorism started the cycle of violence).  Those who have the capability to carry out Professional Terrorism have absolutely no need to resort to Amateur Terrorism since the former is so much more effective in killing civilians than the latter.
Public Policy Polling asked Republicans if they would want to bomb the fictional town of Agrabah in Disney’s Aladdin movie (http://www.loonwatch.com/2015/12/30-percent-of-republicans-want-to-bomb-aladdins-hometown-agrabah/ ).
These are the results:
Support bombing Agrabah  …………………………30%
Oppose bombing Agrabah  …………………………13%
Not sure ……………………………………………………57%
In sharp contrast with Americans who identify themselves with other faith groups (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx ), Muslim Americans are more likely to say military attacks on civilians are never justified (78%) than sometimes justified (21%). Respondents from other faith groups, particularly Mormon Americans, are more likely to say military attacks are sometimes justified than never justified. The opinions of Americans who don’t identify themselves with any religion are more in line with those of Muslim Americans, but they are also more divided.
Gallup analysts (http://www.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx ) tested correlations between the level at which populations say these attacks are “sometimes justified” and a number of independent indicators, and they found human development and societal stability measures are most strongly related.
Residents of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states are slightly less likely than residents of non-member states to view military attacks on civilians as sometimes justified, and about as likely as those of non-member states to say the same about individual attacks.

 “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.”
Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade .
A common complaint among non-Muslims is that Muslim religious authorities do not condemn terrorist attacks. The complaints often surface in letters to the editors of newspapers, on phone-in radio shows, in Internet mailing lists, forums, etc. A leader of an evangelical Christian para-church group, broadcasting over Sirius Family Net radio, stated that he had done a thorough search on the Internet for a Muslim statement condemning terrorism, without finding a single item.
Actually, there are lots of fatwas and other statements issued which condemn attacks on innocent civilians. Unfortunately, they are largely ignored by newspapers, television news, radio news and other media outlets. Possibly because Islamic terrorists keep killing innocent civilians.
A 2007 Pew Research Center study of several nations throughout the Muslim world showed that opposition to suicide bombing in the Muslim world is increasing, with a majority of Muslims surveyed in 10 out of the 16 of the countries responding that suicide bombings and other violence against civilians is “never” justified, though an average of 38% believe it is justified at least rarely. Opposition to Hamas was the majority opinion in only 4 out of the 16 countries surveyed, as was opposition to Hezbollah.[5] The Pew Research Study did not include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria in the survey, although densely populated Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were included.
Per the 2013 State Department’s report on terrorism, there were 399 acts of terror committed by Israeli settlers in what are known as “price tag” attacks. These Jewish terrorists attacked Palestinian civilians causing physical injuries to 93 of them and also vandalized scores of mosques and Christian churches.
An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by non-Muslims. In actuality, 42 percent of terror attacks were carried out by Latino-related groups, followed by 24 percent perpetrated by extreme left-wing actors.
And as a 2014 study by University of North Carolina found, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslim-linked terrorism has claimed the lives of 37 Americans. In that same time period, more than 190,000 Americans were murdered (PDF).
Muslim man was attacked by Piro Kolvani who decided he had to drive from Florida to New York to beat on a Muslim (Kolvani was inspired by the NY Post front covers). Kolvani viciously attacked Sarker Haque, who stated, “I never saw a situation like that. Not even after 9/11.”
Yet, the conflict is not about religion nor race, but power (in the sociopathic sense) and resources. Human activity is not driven by justice but by power. In a way, justice is the right of the strong. One thing is rationalizations used to justify actions, and another, real social and psychological motives behind. These ulterior motives are not necessary explicit or even conscious.
All three religions   – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – in conflict share the same core barbaric Bronze Age believes sated in the Hebrew Bible, and all pick and choose what’s convenient to their respective social order. Whether one is consider a Christian or a Muslim is more an accident of geography or ethnicity, than a reflection of actual belief.   That is, religion is mainly a marker of cultural identity.
Israel, for all the talk about being a Jewish state is in practice rather secular. Although the idea of a vibrant queer community in Israel, reputed birthplace of the biblical condemnation of same-sex relations, may seem far-fetched, Israel today is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of equality for sexual minorities. Politically, legally, and culturally, the community has moved from life at the margins of Israeli society to visibility and growing acceptance (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/homosexuality-in-israel/ ).
Many Israelis are not Semitic (http://www.livescience.com/40247-ashkenazi-jews-have-european-genes.html ). While Ashkenazi Jews have a long tradition in Judaism, they cannot claim a bloodline from David, which is a mythological figure anyway (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html ).
The scourge of Islamic fundamentalism is a monster created by the same people crying wolf (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/the-islamic-state/ ).
The modern Islamic fundamentalist movements have their origins in the late 19th century. The Wahhabi movement, an Arabian fundamentalist movement that began in the 18th century, gained traction and spread during the 19th and 20th centuries. During the Cold War following World War II, some NATO governments, particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom, launched covert and overt campaigns to encourage and strengthen fundamentalist groups in the Middle East and southern Asia. These groups were seen as a hedge against potential expansion by the Soviet Union, and as a means to prevent the growth of nationalistic movements that were not necessarily favorable toward the interests of the Western nations. By the 1970s the Islamists had become important allies in supporting governments, such as Egypt, which were friendly to U.S. interests. In many cases the military wings of these groups were supplied with money and arms by the U.S. (https://arnulfo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/religion-and-terrorism/ ).

Regardless of the machinations behind the current crisis in the Middle East, its effects will unsettle the whole World, including the US and Europe (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-roots-of-the-migration-crisis-1441995372 ). The Syrian refugee disaster presents a dilemma to the West. A massive influx of refugees into any country compromises its social and economic stability but the crisis cannot be ignored in humanitarian and practical grounds. Furthermore, the rise of religious fundamentalism (of all flavors: Christian, Muslim, or Jewish) is a treat to the long term viability of modern society.
Humans are social animals and it’s our natural instinct to be emphatic with others. It’s natural for us to bond by kinship. Unfortunately the same tribal instinct hampers our ability to recognize the essential and vital global brotherhood of man. We cling to nationality, religion, and many artificial walls we build around us that compromise our chances for long term survival.
We must overcome our fears and reach out for peace. To live or die together is the choice.

The xenophobic policies offered up by Republicans in the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks are simply jaw-dropping:

  • Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz suggested bombing innocent civilians in the Middle East.2
  • Twenty-six Republican governors have vowed, without any legal authority, to block Syrian refugees from their states.3
  • Presidential candidate Jeb Bush joined Cruz in proposing that we block Syrian refugees based on religion — admitting Christian but not Muslim refugees.4
  • The House passed a bill this week requiring the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally sign off on every refugee from Syria or Iraq.5
These policies are especially offensive in light of the fact that there is legislation that Congress could pass right now to actually reduce gun violence. The Senate could:
  • Close the terror gap by allowing the Department of Justice to block guns sales to anyone on the terror watch list. Between 2004 and 2014, more than 2,000 people on the list purchased guns in the U.S.
  • Close the loophole that allows people to buy guns without undergoing background checks through private sales, at gun shows and online. An estimated 40 percent of all firearms transferred in the U.S. are transferred by unlicensed individuals not required to conduct background checks on buyers.6
  • Ban convicted domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.7
  • Prohibit the manufacture of assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use.
If Republicans really want to protect Americans, it’s clear what they need to do: break their blind allegiance to the NRA and pass gun control legislation. But they’ll never act unless we force them. Can you add your voice today?
Tell Senate Republican leaders: Act to make us safer and pass real gun control legislation. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Thanks for standing up to the NRA today,
Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ?
References:
  1. Closing the Terror Gap in Gun Background Checks,” Everytown for Gun Safety, July 21, 2015.
  2. Judd Legum, “In Response To Paris, Ted Cruz Calls For Airstrikes With More ‘Tolerance For Civilian Casualties’,” ThinkProgress.org, November 13, 2015.
  3. Sarah Frostenson and Dara Lind, “Here’s a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees,” Vox.com, November 18, 2015.
  4. Amy Davidson, “Ted Cruz’ Religious Test for Refugees, New Yorker, November 16, 2015.
  5. Camila Domonoske, “House Votes To Increase Security Checks On Refugees From Iraq, Syria,” NPR, November 19, 2015.
  6. Universal Background Checks & the “Private” Sale Loophole Policy Summary ,” Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, September 10, 2015.
  7. Gabby Gifford, National Domestic Violence Prevention Leaders Applaud New House Legislation to Keep Guns out of the Hands of Abusers,” Americans for Responsible Solutions, July 22, 2015.

The House of Representatives voted for a bill that would shut the door in the faces of refugees who are fleeing violence in Syria and other locations.  That same day, hearings in the House and Senate focused on the need to “keep America safe” – suggesting that our country was not brave enough to help those who are victims of violence.

Some in the House stood up for refugees and voted against the anti-refugee bill, but far too many supported it.  Please write to your Representative now.  

As faith communities gather this weekend, we encourage you to stand up to the fear and hate that is rampant in this moment of heightened anti-Muslim bigotry as you’ve undoubtedly seen expressed on social media and cable news, and by governors and Presidential candidates.  Many faith groups and denominations have distributed statements and resources, and NRCAT will continue to update this resource list.  These include messages of welcome to refugees of all faiths, and talking points that can be used for sermons and prayers.  If you have a resource that should be added, please email me.

Finally, please consider reaching out to a local mosque or refugee resettlement center.  You might send a note of support, make arrangements for a joint service project, plan an interfaith vigil, or volunteer to help resettle refugees in your community.

Sincerely,

T.C. Morrow
Director of Finance & Operations
Staff for NRCAT’s Addressing Anti-Muslim Bigotry Program

Oregon militia

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

Jan 7, 2016

Mass attitudes towards the other are influenced by the Media. In this day and age of information overload our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. Moreover, the Media is not a neutral player, but an instrument of the power elite.  Thus, we are ripe for the simplifying power of the sound bite and the Media is more than willing to provide us with a boogeyman .
The neat and sharp-focused World offered by the establishment  – where God is on our side, and The Others are evil Muslims and political correct Marxists conspiring to take away our freedom and wealth-  is compelling and comforting; we have the firepower to do what needs to be done.
While the political ideology of the Tea Party is not an exact match of the European fascism of the 1930´s, there are troubling parallels between the events that lead to the Second World War and the circumstances of the early Twenty-First Century. The Tea Party movement shares with Fascism an obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, and victim-hood, as well as compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants embrace a credo of violence and ideology-driven armed militias .
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants:
Thomas Jefferson.
Gun owners tend to be among the political right, and Second Amendment support is a common thread among Tea Party demonstrators. One of the fundamental mantra of them is guns as a mechanism of check and balance against tyranny.   It sounds like sedition.  There is a not only idle talk, there is a trail of actual terrorist activity. The Hutterite militia in Michigan was planning to kill police officers but they had not actually done anything violent before they were arrested, and their ultimate goal was to war against the anti-Christ.  Timothy McVeigh in 1995 blamed the US Government for attacks against American citizens at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
The gun crowd likes to wax eloquent about protecting our natural rights with our weapons when the government becomes unconstitutional, and all other avenues have failed. They see themselves as law abiding insurrects that do not use violence and have confidence in the ballot box, and that that ensure that the government can’t stray too far toward tyranny. Fools playing with fire; a fire that will get us all burned.
In the NRA’s world, we are only free to the extent that our guns allow us to impose our will on others.”
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign,  “Gun Rights and Political Violence”
More guns were sold in December 2015 than almost any other month in nearly two decades, continuing a pattern of spikes in sales after terrorist attacks and calls for stricter gun-buying laws, according to federal data released on Monday.
The heaviest sales last month, driven primarily by handgun sales, followed a call from President Obama to make it harder to buy assault weapons after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.
Fear of gun-buying restrictions has been the main driver of spikes in gun sales, far surpassing the effects of mass shootings and terrorist attacks alone, according to an analysis of federal background check data by The New York Times.
During the previous record month, December 2012, President Obama called for new buying restrictions after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Several days ago a group of right wing militiamen stormed a building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon. The group is engaged in an armed occupation claiming to be opposing the U.S. government for perceived violations of their rights. They have also made the demand that two rancher brothers convicted of arson, Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, be released from prison. The 150-man strong occupation force is being led by three of Cliven Bundy’s sons, specifically Ammon Bundy. As you may recall they were engaged in an armed standoff with the F.B.I. in 2014 over a dispute involving cattle grazing land.

The militia men are arguing that they should own public land simply because they feel the government hasn’t been kind to them. Their goal is to build private businesses on the protected land. They’re trying to take away land that is being held in common for their own exploitation of it.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon and says it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.” The White House considers it “a local law enforcement matter,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report on that standoff that the militiamen and the federal land-return movement are part of the same spectrum.

“Anti-government extremists have long pushed, most fiercely during Democratic administrations, rabid conspiracy theories about a nefarious New World Order, a socialist, gun-grabbing federal government and the evils of federal law enforcement,” the center said.

Law enforcement officials said that the occupiers came to the region with a specific goal:

“These men came to Harney County claiming to be part of militia groups supporting local ranchers,” Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said in a statement Sunday. “When in reality these men had alternative motives, to attempt to overthrow the county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States.”

Clownish as such stunts unquestionably are, it bears remembering that the activities of such violent abolitionists as John Brown looked just as pointless in their time; their importance was purely as a gauge of the pressures building toward civil war—and that’s exactly the same reading I give to the event just described. The era of rural and urban guerrilla warfare, roadside bombs, internment camps, horrific human rights violations by all sides, and millions of refugees fleeing in all directions, that will bring down the United States of America is still a little while off yet.

water crises

Last year, news broke that Nestlé, the largest bottled water producer in the world, had been extracting water from the drought-stricken San Bernardino National Forest on a permit that was supposed to expire in 1988 — and hadn’t been re-evaluated … Continue reading

Last year, news broke that Nestlé, the largest bottled water producer in the world, had been extracting water from the drought-stricken San Bernardino National Forest on a permit that was supposed to expire in 1988 — and hadn’t been re-evaluated by the U.S. Forest Service in nearly 40 years!

Now, the Forest Service is proposing to renew Nestlé’s permit for another five years, even as drought conditions persists in the western U.S.1

That’s unacceptable. But our pressure can make a difference. The latest Forest Service plan comes after intense public pressure on the agency, including petitions from more than 190,000 CREDO activists. In a major step forward, the proposal triggers a re-evaluation of the impact of Nestlé’s water withdrawals under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We have to make sure the review is as comprehensive as possible, which will show that Nestlé’s water extraction must be put to a stop.

Tell the U.S. Forest Service: Conduct a comprehensive review and put a stop to Nestlé’s water extraction in the San Bernardino National Forest. Submit a comment now.

Nestlé has been taking a self-reported 25 million gallons a year from the forest’s Strawberry Creek — which is only at 10 percent of its 90—year average level.2 As the water level drops over the summer, Nestlé’s continued withdrawals pose a risk to the creek ecosystem by making water levels even lower.

Incredibly, Nestlé pays only $524 (yes, five hundred and twenty four dollars!) each year to draw out the tens of millions of gallons it sells to the public under the Arrowhead Mountain label.

But this isn’t just about Nestlé or the San Bernardino National Forest — it’s a symbol of a much deeper problem in federal lands management that continues to prioritize corporate profits over protecting and preserving public resources.

Sally Jewell, secretary of the Department of the Interior, recently laid out a vision for re-evaluating our federal lands management to prioritize protection and preservation.3 But the U.S. Forest Service, which is under the Department of Agriculture, controls a full 25 percent of federal lands.

Pushing for the Forest Service to stop rubber-stamping Nestlé’s corporate water profiteering sends an important signal in the fight to preserve our public lands and resources.

Submit a comment now urging the Forest Service to stop Nestlé’s water extraction.

Thank you speaking out.

Elijah Zarlin, Director of Climate Campaigns
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Add your name:

Take action now ?
  1. Agency proposes 5-year Nestle bottled water permit,” Desert Sun News, 3/18/16.
  2. After years, review of Nestle water permit to begin,” Desert Sun News, 8/24/15.
  3. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is calling for ‘a major course correction’ in the way the nation conserves its public lands,” Associated Press, 4/19/16.

The questions is: What happens when a military superpower and 1,5 billion desperate people start running out of water?


Future Impact of Climate Change Visible Now in Yemen

November 24, 2014

Water conflict is a term describing a conflict between countries, states, or groups over an access to water resources.[1][2][3] The United Nations recognizes that water disputes result from opposing interests of water users, public or private.[4]

A wide range of water conflicts appear throughout history, though rarely are traditional wars waged over water alone.[5] Instead, water has historically been a source of tension and a factor in conflicts that start for other reasons. However, water conflicts arise for several reasons, including territorial disputes, a fight for resources, and strategic advantage.[6] A comprehensive online database of water-related conflicts—the Water Conflict Chronology—has been developed by the Pacific Institute.[7] This database lists violence over water going back nearly 5,000 years.

These conflicts occur over both freshwater and saltwater, and both between and within nations. However, conflicts occur mostly over freshwater; because freshwater resources are necessary, yet limited, they are the center of water disputes arising out of need for potable water and irrigation.[8] As freshwater is a vital, yet unevenly distributed natural resource, its availability often impacts the living and economic conditions of a country or region. The lack of cost-effective water supply options in areas like the Middle East,[9] among other elements of water crises can put severe pressures on all water users, whether corporate, government, or individual, leading to tension, and possibly aggression.[10] Recent humanitarian catastrophes, such as the Rwandan Genocide or the war in Sudanese Darfur, have been linked back to water conflicts.[1]

A recent report “Water Cooperation for a Secure World” published by Strategic Foresight Group concludes that active water cooperation between countries reduces the risk of war. This conclusion is reached after examining trans-boundary water relations in over 200 shared river basins in 148 countries,[11] though as noted below, a growing number of water conflicts are sub-national.


No Wars for Water

Why Climate Change Has Not Led to Conflict


From California to the Middle East, huge areas of the world are drying up and a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources and experts say the world is ‘standing on a precipice’

Perhaps this chapter from THE WORLD’S WATER Volume 8 The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources will be of interest (you should have heard of this book – The World’s Water is the most comprehensive and up-to-to date source of information and analysis on freshwater resources.)

The Syrian Conflict and the Role of Water

‘Starting in 2006, however, and lasting into 2011, Syria experienced a multi-season extreme drought and agricultural failures, described by Shahrzad Mohtadi as the “worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago” (Mohtadi 2012).

Robert Worth of the New York Times noted that this drought contributed to a series of social and economic dislocations (Worth 2010). The United Nations estimated that by 2011, the drought was affecting 2–3 million people, with 1 million driven into food insecurity. More than 1.5 million people—mostly agricultural workers and family farmers—moved from rural regions to cities and temporary settlements near urban centers, especially on the outskirts of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Damascus, and Dara’a.

A research paper published in 2012 suggested that climate change is already beginning to influence long-term droughts in the region including Syria by reducing winter rainfall (Hoerling et al. 2012). That study suggests that winter droughts are increasingly common and that human-caused climate change is playing a role. Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory, one of the study’s authors, stated, “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone” (NOAA 2011).

If the international community wants to reduce the risks of local and international political conflicts and violence over water, more effort will have to be put into recognizing these risks and improving the tools needed to reduce them. ‘

—-

other reports have also shown the link between climate change and the war in Syria. For example,

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150302-syria-war-climate-change-drought/

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-hastened-the-syrian-war/

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241.abstract

the last of these states ‘We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.’

A leading panel of retired generals and admirals, the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board, recently labeled the impacts of climate change “catalysts for conflict” in vulnerable regions. The Pentagon concluded similarly in last year’s Quadrennial Defense Review that the effects of climate change are “threat multipliers,” enabling terrorism and other violence by aggravating underlying societal problems.

The CNA report states:

‘The nature and pace of observed climate changes—and an emerging scientific consensus on their projected consequences—pose severe risks for our national security. During our decades of experience in the U.S. military, we have addressed many national security challenges, from containment and deterrence of the Soviet nuclear threat during the Cold War to political extremism and transnational terrorism in recent years. The national security risks of projected climate change are as serious as any challenges we have faced. ‘

—-

The Pentagon report states:

‘Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.’

and on the Turkana in northern Kenya:

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (chapters 4-6 look at Kenya)

http://www.amazon.com/Tropic-Chaos-Climate-Geography-Violence/dp/1568587295

Climate Change and the Turkana and Merille Conflict

http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/turkana-merille.htm

Climate Change and Violent Conflict in Kenya: A Two-way Relationship.

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/262984122_Climate_Change_and_Violent_Conflict_in_Kenya_A_Two….

The video here might also help http://e360.yale.edu/feature/when_the_water_ends_africas_climate_conflicts/2331/

Bees

Lowes and Home Depot have agreed to take action on pesticides that are deadly to bees. So why haven’t Ace and True Value agreed to do the same? Bees are dying at a record pace. Tell Ace Hardware and True … Continue reading

Lowes and Home Depot have agreed to take action on pesticides that are deadly to bees. So why haven’t Ace and True Value agreed to do the same?

Bees are dying at a record pace. Tell Ace Hardware and True Value to stop selling bee-killing pesticides »

Arnulfo — Bees are in critical danger.

Each year, researchers and beekeepers are seeing weakened and abandoned hives, and entire colonies falling apart in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. More than 40% of honeybee colonies died in the past year alone.

But the good news is that we have a simple solution that could begin to restore the bee population immediately: Stopping the sale and use of a deadly class of pesticides — neonicotinoids — that are linked to bee deaths.

Report after report has linked neonicotinoids to mass bee deaths — the EPA has even called them “highly toxic” to bees. But we’ve won this fight before. After huge public outcry and hundreds of thousands of petitions delivered, retail giants Lowes and Home Depot agreed to take actions, like labeling and selling plants not treated with neonicotinoids, to limit bees’ exposure to these dangerous pesticides.

Yet Ace and True Value have not promised any actions to help protect our bee populations. The longer they keep selling neonicotinoids, and plants treated with them, the harder it’s going to be to save the bees.

If we want to save the bees, we need Ace and True Value to take action to limit bees’ exposure to neonicotinoids. Speak out today!

Bees may sound easy to dismiss, but one-third of the food produced in North America, including nearly 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, rely on honeybees for pollination. Without them, our national food security, and an estimated $15 billion a year in U.S. agriculture production, are all at risk.

Lowes and Home Depot’s decisions to limit exposure and use of neonicotinoids is an important step to saving countless bees — and that was all because of people like you who took a few minutes to speak out. There’s absolutely no reason why Ace and True Value shouldn’t follow suit — Ace has already indicated that it would be willing to move away from neonicotinoids. But it’s going to take full-fledged commitments to clear their shelves of deadly pesticides to save the bees. To get there, we need to push them over the edge. And that starts with you.

Let’s put an end to these deadly pesticides TODAY.

End the Bee-pocalypse for good! Tell Ace and True Value to limit the sale and exposure to deadly chemicals that are killing our bees »

Arnulfo, we’re not going to be able to flip a switch and save every bee from deadly pesticides. But we have clear steps on how we can get to that point, and it starts with Ace and True Value. These hardware stores rely on you to keep their doors open. If you speak out now, they’ll listen.

We can still save the bees, but we’re running out of time. Thank you for telling Ace and True Value to protect our bees today.

Sincerely,
signature
Kristin Brown
Director of Digital Strategy
League of Conservation Voters

GCHQ’s spying actions

UK Government quietly rewrites law so that GCHQ and other British spy agencies can avoid prosecution for hacking computers Government has changed the law via an amendment to Serious Crime Bill The change offers more protection to spy agencies who hack … Continue reading

UK Government quietly rewrites law so that GCHQ and other British spy agencies can avoid prosecution for hacking computers

  • Government has changed the law via an amendment to Serious Crime Bill
  • The change offers more protection to spy agencies who hack computers
  • Privacy International is challenging the legality of GCHQ’s spying actions
  • The charity has called Government’s ‘underhand’ behaviour ‘disgraceful’  

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3084535/UK-Government-quietly-rewrites-law-GCHQ-British-spy-agencies-avoid-prosecution-hacking-computers.html#ixzz3sREYu3Ts
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

children

Yassan, a 14 year-old boy displaced to a city in the north of Jordan, works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, earning less than $1 per hour. As a result of torture during the Syrian conflict, his father … Continue reading

Yassan, a 14 year-old boy displaced to a city in the north of Jordan, works 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, earning less than $1 per hour. As a result of torture during the Syrian conflict, his father is paralysed from the waist down. Yassan’s mother works as a maid to help contribute to the family unit but has a life-threatening blood condition and can only work a few hours daily.2 With a lack of resources and no access to educational opportunities, Yassan suffers this exploitation to help his family survive.

Speak up for children like Yassan. Your voice can make a difference. 

Yassan’s story is not unusual. As the world marks Universal Children’s Day, more than 20 million children living in conflict and disaster zones around the globe still have no access to education,3 making them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and child slavery. 

Take action now to help bring education to millions of vulnerable children. 

Education is a critical element of any effort to eliminate child slavery because it offers children the foundation, knowledge and skills needed to create futures full of opportunity – not vulnerability.

We know that education helps protect children from exploitative labour, girls from forced marriage, and can prevent the recruitment of child soldiers. And together with our partner, A World At School, we’ve made great progress at showing the world that every child deserves an education.

Children are among the most vulnerable in times of crisis and emergency. Will you take a moment to help bring light to this terrible tragedy?

In solidarity,

Alex, Joanna and the whole Walk Free team.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34714021
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34714021
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002256/225660e.pdf


Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.


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