Sunday, May 15, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) — Hundreds of climate activists on Saturday marched to the site of two refineries in northwest Washington state to call for a break from fossil fuels, while a smaller group continued to block railroad tracks leading to the facilities for a second day.
Protesters in kayaks, canoes, on bikes and on foot took part in a massive demonstration near Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle, to demand action on climate and an equitable transition away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
A day before, about 150 activists had pitched tents and set up camp on nearby railroad tracks to block the flow of oil flowing to the nearby Shell and Tesoro oil refineries.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grace Paley reads poetry at the San Francisco Women's Building on June 22, 1980 in a benefit for the War Resisters League. In Part 1, Paley reads the poems 2 villages, Connections: Vermont Vietnam, and That country, and a short story, The story hearer. Also performing that night was Judy Grahn (see AZ0456). Part 2 of the recording also contains Grace Paley reading at U.C. Extension, Berkeley on June 19, 1980. Paley reads the stories The used-boy raisers and Enormous changes at the last minute. Part 3 of the recording is a question and answer period from when Paley was at U.C. Berkeley (audience questions not miked). Contains sensitive language

Sunday, May 1, 2016

On Good Friday 1970, the activist priest and poet Daniel Berrigan, whose resistance to the war in Vietnam included the ritual destruction of draft board records as a member of the Catonsville Nine, eluded the FBI and went underground immediately after giving a speech to thousands of students in the Cornell University gymnasium by exiting from the building inside one of Bread & Puppet Theater's disciple puppets. Berrigan died yesterday at the age of 94. This photo documents that day.
"'On the very day he was scheduled to begin his prison term, [Daniel Berrigan] left his office keys on a secretary’s desk in Anabel Taylor Hall and disappeared.' –Anke Wessels, director of Cornell’s Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy 
"Cornell celebrated Berrigan’s impending imprisonment for his involvement in the Catonsville Nine action by conducting a weekend-long 'America Is Hard to Find' event on April 17–19, 1970, which included a public appearance by the then-fugitive Berrigan before a crowd of 15,000 in Barton Hall. Also scheduled to appear were Phil Ochs, Judy Collins, Country Joe and the Fish, and Bread and Puppet Theatre.
Berrigan evaded FBI agents, who were present in large numbers, by climbing into one of the 15-foot tall puppets, walking out of the venue, and into a getaway car.”

From another post:
“I was in solitude all of a sudden in this large gathering,” Berrigan recalled when someone whispered in his ear, “do you want to go out of here?” After a few moments of contemplation, the fugitive priest concurred. He would make his escape from the clutches of the FBI with a little help from the Bread and Puppet Theater. Father Berrigan recalled being told by an anonymous benefactor, “just follow me, the lights will go out, just hold this stick.” He later described his escape:
“When the lights lowered for a rock group, I slipped off backstage. Students helped lower around me an enormous puppet of one of the twelve apostles . . . Inside the burlap, I had only to hold a stick that kept the papier-mâché head aloft, and follow the others, making for a panel truck . . . I climbed in, blind as a bat, sure of my radar, spoiling for fun. It was guerrilla theater, a delight, just short of slapstick. An FBI agent ran for the phone, our license plate was recorded, the chase was on. But our trusty van, hot with destiny, galloped for the woods, and we made it.”
Later, in 1981, Bread & Puppet was inspired by and collaborated with Daniel Berrigan, his brother Philip, and their colleagues of the Ploughshares Eight anti-nuclear activist group to create the production "Swords and Ploughshares."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David”.
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Demonstration at Creech Air Base in Utah

Ann Wright posted these photos of a Code Pink Demonstration.

From Ann Wright: "Some fascinating comments from local residents about our protests at Creech drone base- not all negative!!!!
"At the Oasis Bar, the only bar in town, a resident said he didn't believe protesters would effect any change at the base level, but that he shared a concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes.
“'We do worry,' he said of the base's Reapers and Predators, the two types of drones flown from Creech. 'It was a lot better when it was a Thunderbird (flying).'
"He added that if authorities arrested protesters, they should also prosecute those responsible for civilian deaths. (Yes!!! Ann's comment)
"But even as he identified common ground with some of the protesters, he recognized the economic benefits of having the base there.
"Some Indian Springs residents said protesters should direct their message to decision-makers instead of urging drone operators to disobey commands.
"Another resident said the town had become accustomed to protests but felt they created tension among residents and lowered the morale of drone operators, which she felt was unfair because the pilots merely follow orders."

Ruben Beltran of Indian Springs waves a peace sign during a protest Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, at Creech Air Force Base. Beltran said most Indian Springs residents dislike activists because the base hires civilians from town.
Click to enlarge photo
Indian Springs resident Ruben Beltran holds a poster Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, during a protest session to highlight the environmental effects of war. Beltran was across the highway from Creech Air Force Base as part of a weeklong anti-drone protest.
INDIAN SPRINGS — Ruben Beltran pointed across U.S. 95 to his neighbor, a man sitting on a motorcycle inside the fenced boundary of Creech Air Force Base.
Beltran and the man on the motorcycle know each other, like a good many other residents of this community of about 1,000 people. But they don't know each other in the warm small-town way captured in Norman Rockwell paintings.
“That guy, he hates me," Beltran said.
What divides Beltran and his neighbor is something that also has created fault lines among Americans well beyond Indian Springs. It's drone warfare. Beltran is an outspoken anti-drone activist, an anomaly for a resident of Indian Springs. On Monday afternoon, he was standing at a weeklong anti-drone protest directed at the pilots and civilian staff who commute every day to Creech, one of the military’s hubs for flying drones.
“They don't like people like us here because a lot of people work at the base," he said.
In fact, Beltran said that the town’s connection to the base runs so deep that some of his neighbors who work at the base no longer talk to him because of his activism.
While the installation has been in this small town for several decades, its purpose has shifted over the years, from being a practice site of the Thunderbirds precision flight team to being the base of operations for drones used for 24/7 surveillance or strikes overseas.
Click to enlarge photo
An anti-drone activist calls for an end to targeted drone strikes in front of Creech Air Force Base Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2015.
As a result, the town has been a magnet for anti-war protesters like Beltran. This week, Code Pink, the grass-roots group known for disrupting congressional hearings and political speeches, is expected to protest on the highway by Creech twice a day until Friday. With the town in the spotlight, many residents said they had a dim view of the activists.
Several residents said they supported the base, which provides jobs to the community. And even those who are more sympathetic with an anti-drone sentiment believe protesting at the base is futile in affecting change and see the importance of having the base.
“They feed so many families,” said a resident who used to work as a civilian at Creech.
Accordingly, conversations with residents reveal how sensitive the topic of Creech is in the town. Residents were not willing to be identified because some worked at the base, had plans to apply for a job there or believed speaking about the base could harm their businesses.
Indian Springs, an unincorporated town in Clark County, has always had strong ties to the military. Besides being the home of Creech, it’s adjacent to a 2.9 million-acre test range and is 45 miles away from the Nevada National Security Site. As such, the military has served as one of the town’s principal employers and is integral to keeping the economy afloat.
But the drone missions have brought new attention to the town. Code Pink members have traveled to Creech since 2009 to call for an end to drone strikes, which in their view have been responsible for more civilian deaths than the government has acknowledged and have helped galvanize the nation's enemies. Other groups have come as well. Dozens of peace activists were arrested in March for trespassing and blocking the base.
Click to enlarge photo
Anti-drone activists with the group Code Pink hold signs for cars turning into Creech Air Force Base Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2015.
Some residents said the protests had become business as usual. Asked about Code Pink’s peaceful 15-person rally Monday morning, a former employee of the town’s shuttered casino responded in an unsurprised tone: “There’s another protest?”
At times, though, several residents said the protesters had triggered a backlash. Residents have been known to stage counterprotests at Creech. One resident, who works full-time at the base as a civilian contractor and whose father worked at the Nevada National Security Site, said the counterprotesters felt the activists shed a negative light on the town, a sentiment echoed by several other residents.
“I used to flip them off every time I passed,” said the former Creech contractor. “They’re not always peaceful.”
She said the town had become accustomed to protests but felt they created tension among residents and lowered the morale of drone operators, which she felt was unfair because the pilots merely follow orders.
On Monday, protesters arrived at 6 a.m. so they could catch the attention of pilots on their commute. Some Indian Springs residents said protesters should direct their message to decision-makers instead of urging drone operators to disobey commands.
At the Oasis Bar, the only bar in town, a resident said he didn't believe protesters would effect any change at the base level, but that he shared a concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes.
“We do worry,” he said of the base's Reapers and Predators, the two types of drones flown from Creech. “It was a lot better when it was a Thunderbird (flying).”
He added that if authorities arrested protesters, they should also prosecute those responsible for civilian deaths. But even as he identified common ground with some of the protesters, he recognized the economic benefits of having the base there.
He said he might even apply for a job there.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Vera Williams, Grace’s friend and collaborator has passed away

Vera William and Sienna Paley

Sad news that Vera Williams, peace activist, educational visionary, artist, children’s book writer and illustrator died peacefully right after having a retrospective exhibition at the Delaware County Art Gallery. Vera was one of the founders of the “Land” - Gate Hill Co-op where I lived for five years in Rockland County. Her partner Paul was the collaborating architect for the homes-one of the first experiments in “artists housing.” Vera founded the Collaberg School, patterned after Paul Goodman and A. S. Neill. Her many children’s picture books have won every prize for that genre. Vera loved to dance at the Golden Festival.
My four children and eight grandchildren grew up on her books. More More More. Vera kept making them more and more beautiful.

I had a note on FB from Craig Simpson asking if I had any word on the death of Vera Williams. I am very sad to report, having checked the internet, that this giant in the pacifist and women's movement, long associated with War Resisters League,died on October 16th. She was born on January 25, 1927.
Vera was one of my favorite people, along with Grace Paley and others who lived in the West Village, and made up (along with Karl Bissinger and others) the Greenwich Village Peace Center.

Vera and Grace collaborated on one of the annual War Resisters League Calendars, which was also made into a book of poems and short stories.

Publishers’ Weekly Obit:

There is a book about education with the history of Collaburg School with many quotes from Vera… thoughtful quotes about education, responsibility of adults for children’s safety, children and sex and many other things. It’s called Where have all the Flowers Gone by Alice Gerard.

Obituary in the New York Times:

Vera B. Williams, a writer and illustrator for young people whose picture books centered on the lives of working-class families, a highly unusual subject when she began her work in the 1970s, died on Friday at her home in Narrowsburg, N.Y. She was 88.
Her death was announced by her publisher, HarperCollins.
Ms. Williams, who did not start her career until she was in her late 40s, used picture books to express her lifelong interest in social justice issues. Her young protagonists are ethnically diverse, typically urban, often immigrants and rarely well heeled; fathers may be absent. Her inspiration, Ms. Williams said in interviews, came from her own background as the daughter of an immigrant family struggling to stay afloat in the Depression.
Her texts emphasize the joie de vivre of ordinary activities — flying a kite, making music, eating a meal — especially when carried out amid the comforting confines of a community. Her illustrations, known for bold colors and a style reminiscent of folk art, were praised by reviewers for their great tenderness and crackling vitality.
Her best-known picture book, “A Chair for My Mother” (1982), stars Rosa, a Hispanic girl living in the United States. After the family loses its possessions in a house fire, Rosa saves money to buy her mother a comfortable chair in which she can relax after her shift waiting tables.
For its illustrations, “A Chair for My Mother” was named a Caldecott Honor Book, as the runners-up for the Caldecott Medal, presented annually by the American Library Association, are designated.
Rosa returns in two sequels: “Something Special for Me” (1983), in which she must reconcile the desire to buy herself a present with the wish to help her community, and “Music, Music for Everyone” (1984), in which the present she wound up buying pays unexpected dividends.
The daughter of Albert Baker and the former Rebecca Porringer, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Vera Baker was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 28, 1927. When she was a child, her father disappeared for a considerable period; as an adult, Ms. Williams surmised that he had been in prison, though she never learned the details.
She recapitulated that experience in a picture book, “Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart” (2001), about two resourceful sisters who mark time until their incarcerated father comes home.
During the Depression, the Bakers lost their home; Vera and her sister, Naomi, were sent for about a year to a home for Jewish children. After the girls and their father rejoined the family, they moved to the Bronx.
Ms. Williams's "A Chair for My Mother."
Ms. Williams graduated from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts from Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where her teachers included the painter Josef Albers.
In the 1970s, after her marriage to a Black Mountain classmate, Paul Williams, ended in divorce, Ms. Williams moved to a houseboat in Vancouver, British Columbia. There she began to illustrate children’s books: Her first, “Hooray for Me!,” with text by Remy Charlip and Lilian Moore, appeared in 1975.
In addition to her home in Narrowsburg, which lies along the Delaware River in Sullivan County, Ms. Williams had another, in Manhattan. She is survived by two daughters, Sarah Williams and Jennifer Williams; a son, Merce, named for the choreographer Merce Cunningham, who taught at Black Mountain; her sister, Naomi Rosenblum; and five grandchildren.
The other picture books for which she did both text and illustrations include “ ‘More More More’ Said the Baby” (1990), also a Caldecott Honor Book; “Cherries and Cherry Pits” (1986); “Lucky Song” (1997); and “Scooter” (1993), a novel for older children.
Her picture books brought working-class subjects to the genre.
Ms. Williams also illustrated “Long Walks and Intimate Talks,” a volume of poetry and stories by Grace Paley, published in 1991.
Long active in antiwar, antinuclear and environmental causes, Ms. Williams was a past member of the executive committee of the War Resisters League. In 1981, after being arrested during a women’s blockade of the Pentagon, she served a month in the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va.
In an interview quoted in the reference work Contemporary Authors, Ms. Williams described what was, for her, the indissoluble link between creative work and political activity.
“I don’t make a point of ending up in jail,” she said. “But if you try to put your hopes and beliefs for a better life into effect, arrest is sometimes a hazard.”
She added: “As a person who works for children, who raised three children ... I have to be able to say I did something to try to save our planet from destruction.”