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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Seminar Offered by Los Alamos Study Group on Nuclear Weapons Law, Policy & Public Intervention


Albuquerque, NM - On July 29-31, the Los Alamos Study Group will provide an authoritative short course on the legal status of nuclear weapons and the history of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, as well as a review of the civil society response over the past 60 years. 

The course will be held in Room 2405 at the UNM Law School.  It begins Friday evening at 7:00 PM with a précis of the course from all four lecturers.  The course resumes Saturday morning at 8:00 AM with a 4-hour review of international legal status of nuclear weapons.  The Saturday afternoon session, beginning at 1:30 PM, is to be devoted to nuclear weapons technology and effects and to the historical development of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. 

At 4:30 pm Saturday, Dr. Lawrence Wittner will speak on “How Peace Activists Saved the World,” a lecture open to the general public at no charge. 

On Saturday night, the history of resistance by civil society will again be the theme. 

On Sunday at 9:00 AM, the last session of the course will begin with a review of current issues in nuclear weapons policy and will conclude with a discussion of the contradictions and challenges inherent in nuclear weapons policy and law overall.

This information-intense seminar is aimed a broad audience, including citizens interested in active participation in nuclear policy decisions; journalists looking for background often missing in the daily news context; attorneys interested in international law or in nuclear issues; and weapons complex personnel looking for an outside perspective. 

Study Group Director Mello: “The very strong legal norms against nuclear weapons have been enacted, often against strong state opposition, because of humanity’s moral convictions against mass slaughter and needless suffering.  These norms deserve our careful attention.  In the long run if not the short, nuclear weapons must give way to law, or law itself will fall to nuclear weapons.” 

Lecturers include: Dr. John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, a specialist on treaty regimes and international law relating to nuclear and other non-conventional weapons; Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation, a leading voice for nuclear weapons abolition in the U.S. and worldwide; Greg Mello, Executive Director of the Study Group, an expert on U.S. nuclear weapons policy and the U.S. nuclear weapons complex; and Dr. Lawrence Wittner, a SUNY Albany professor and former president of the Council on Peace Research in History (now the Peace History Society), author of the acclaimed three volume history, The Struggle Against the Bomb. 

The course is accredited for 8.4 general units of continuing legal education (CLE) credit.  Full tuition is $50 for non-attorneys and $150 for attorneys seeking CLE credit.  For those who cannot attend the entire weekend, single “blocks” of time (Friday evening; Saturday morning, afternoon, and evening; and Sunday morning) cost $10, except for the 4:30 pm lecture by Dr. Wittner, which is free.

Pre-registration is required; contact Claire Long at clong@lasg.org or 505-265-1200.

(Click image above for larger version.)

July 26, 2005 at 02:40 PM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Next Ecumenical Voices for Democracy Forum Set for 7/31

From Ecumenical Voices for Democracy:

Citizens take action to prevent misuse of religion in politics: Forum Panelists to discuss Civic Virtue, Civil Rights, and Individual Liberties:  How can conflicts be resolved?

Ecumenical Voices for Democracy, a group of New Mexico citizens, organized to combat the misuse of religion in politics, is announcing its second forum on Religion and Politics. The event will take place on Sunday, July 31, at 2 PM, at the TVI Main Campus, Smith Brasher Hall Auditorium, Coal and University in Albuquerque. Get street map or see .

The forum will utilize a panel composed of religious, political and academic leaders. The panel discussion will be moderated by Reese Fullerton, a recognized expert in conflict resolution whose experience includes defusing conflicts in Beirut, Macedonia, and Northern Ireland.

Panel members for the forum include:

  • Rev. Charles Becknell, Minister of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Rio Rancho.
  • Prof. Rob Schwartz of UNM Law School and former Director of UNM ACLU
  • Imam Isam Rajab, Imam, the Islamic Center and School of Albuquerque
  • Dede Feldman, (D) NM State Senator, District 13
  • Mark Boitano (R) NM State Senator District 18

Panel members were chosen for their ability to present diverse opinions, and their knowledge of issues to be discussed. 

In addition to the upcoming Forum, two additional forums are planned in 2005. They will deal with topics of The Sanctity of Life, and Poverty Issues.

Information on Ecumenical Voices for Democracy and upcoming events can be found at www.Evoices.org or by calling organizers Tom Solomon (505)856-1244, or Eric Elison (505)271-0271.

Editor's Note: If you attended this group's first forum in May, as I did, you know what an excellent job they do in coordinating a lively, informative event with top-notch panelists. Be sure to check out their second forum on July 31st if you possibly can!

July 26, 2005 at 09:41 AM in Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACTION ALERT: Submit Comments on Preserving the National Environmental Policy Act by 7/27

From SaveOurEnvironment.org:
Is it a new type of sushi?  An exotic bird?  Actually, NEPA stands for The National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark environmental law that has protected our natural heritage for over thirty years.  This law gives us average Americans a voice in decisions made by the government that could harm the air we breathe, the water we drink and the bountiful public lands that make up our unique heritage. 

Right now, NEPA is under attack and we need your help to protect it!

Next week a Congressional task force led by the anti-environment House Resources Committee will be holding a hearing on NEPA in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.  The task force will be accepting comments on NEPA, and if you submit your comments before Thursday July 27, we will hand deliver them to the hearing for you. 

Click here to stand up for your rights and submit your comments in support of NEPA today!

At its most basic level NEPA is about giving people the power to protect their health and their environment.  It requires the government to "look before it leaps" by reviewing major federal projects for their impact on the environment and public health.  If the impacts will be significant, they have to come up with new ways to minimize the damage and then share those options with the public. 

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), a long-time ally of developers and the oil, mining and timber industries, formed a NEPA task force earlier this year to hold field hearings around the country.  These hearings are designed purely to give big industry and other NEPA opponents a platform to attack and slander this excellent legislation that gives us the power to protect our own health and environment.

To date the hearings have been scheduled on short notice and have been unbalanced, typically having a four or five to one ratio of NEPA opponents versus supporters.  That's why your comments are so important and so desperately needed!

Once you've submitted your comments, please take a moment to forward this email to your friends, family and co-workers to urge them to take action as well!

Thanks so much for your help!

Katelyn Sabochik
Online Campaign Manager

July 26, 2005 at 09:30 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2005

ACTION ALERT: Amnesty International Urges Calls to Senators Re Torture Today

Please read this and take Action. This is really important.

July 25, 2005
Amnesty International Action Center Alert
Support Amendments Restricting Interrogation Practices and Establishing an Independent Commission

We urgently need calls to both of your Senators on Monday in support of three amendments that would help protect the human rights of detainees in US custody! Please pull out all the stops to get calls to your Senators in support of the two McCain/Graham amendments and the Levin/Kennedy/Rockefeller/Reed amendment to the fiscal year 2006 Defense Authorization bill.

Talking points for the three amendments are below (click to continuation page of this post). If you have extra time, please call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111 and urge the Bush Administration to support these common sense amendments.

For New Mexico:

Bingaman, Jeff- (D - NM)
(202) 224-5521
E-mail: senator_bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov

Domenici, Pete- (R - NM)
(202) 224-6621
Web Form: domenici.senate.gov/contact/contactform.cfm


(Note: You don't need to use all the talking points. A short message stating that you support the McCain/Graham and Levin/Kennedy/Rockefeller/Reed amendments to the Defense Authorization bill would be fine.)

-- As your constituent, I strongly urge you to support the two McCain/Graham amendments and the Levin/Kennedy/Rockefeller/Reed amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill.

-- Senator McCain, a former POW in Vietnam, and Senator Graham, a former military judge, are offering two important amendments to provide further clarity and guidance on acceptable interrogation practices: one to extend the application of the Army Field Manual Regulations on Interrogations to all detainees in Department of Defense custody, and the other to reinforce U.S. prohibitions on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

-- The McCain/Graham amendments are designed to be consistent with long-standing U.S. Military doctrine, U.S. constitutional standards and U.S. international commitments.

-- The Levin/Kennedy/Rockefeller/Reed amendment would establish an independent commission to investigate all allegations of torture and ill treatment of detainees in US custody and determine which officials, policies, and practices were responsible for such abuses and to prevent further abuses.

-- Again, I urge you to support the McCain/Graham amendments and Levin/Kennedy/Rockefeller/Reed amendment to the DoD authorization bill .

Click here to find more information about this action:


Your urgent support is key. Please help us stop torture.

Rosa Del Angel
Amnesty International USA
Online Action Center

July 25, 2005 at 03:45 PM in Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iraqi Women May Lose Rights Under New Constitution

Spreading freedom and freeing women are supposed to be two of the primary goals of BushCo's Iraq War. I guess not quite:

Iraqi Women May Lose Basic Rights Under New Constitution by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS - The irony is not lost either amongst women's groups in Baghdad or activists in the United States: Iraqi women who enjoyed basic human rights under one of the world's most repressive regimes headed by former President Saddam Hussein are now on the verge of losing their hard-won freedoms under a U.S.-blessed administration in the insurgent-ravaged country.

”We express our deepest concern and worry about the drafts lately released by the (Iraqi) Constitutional Committee, specifically relating to the chapter on duties and rights, in which the (Islamic) sharia law was clearly stated as the main source of legislation in the new Iraqi constitution,” the Iraqi Women's Movement said in an appeal to the United Nations.

I think that the United States should be held accountable for its disregard of the impact on women's rights of the (military) occupation -- something many people said in advance when the Bush administration tried to claim the war would benefit women, and many pointed out that Iraq had some of the best laws and policies regarding women's rights already.

Charlotte Bunch of the U.S.-based Center for Women's Global Leadership
According to this draft, the new Iraqi transitional government acknowledges the equal rights of men and women in all fields -- ”as long as it doesn't contradict with sharia law.”

If implemented, the proposed new laws will restrict women's rights, specifically in matters relating to marriage, divorce and family inheritance. A marriage enjoined by a woman's free will is likely to be made more difficult, and divorces by men relatively easier.

Several key rights that were included in the interim Iraqi constitution are also at risk of being taken out of the new constitution by the drafting committee.

Click to read the entire article.

July 25, 2005 at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Story of the Week: Raging Grannies Want to Enlist for Iraq

RaginggranniesFrom the BBC:

US Anti-War Grannies Face Justice 

Tucson's Raging Grannies have been holding regular protests
Elderly members of a US anti-war group called the "raging grannies of Tucson" are due in court following a protest at an Arizona military recruitment centre.

They have been accused of trespassing after entering the centre earlier this month, saying they wanted to enlist.

The group, mostly women in their 60s and 70s, said they wanted to go to Iraq so their grandchildren could come home.

An army spokeswoman says the protesters were not serious about enlisting and were harassing recruiters.

Nine people - five elderly activists and four journalists - are due to appear in court on Monday.

The Raging Grannies, who are associated with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, have held protests outside the Tucson recruitment centre every week for three years.

July 25, 2005 at 09:04 AM in Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunday Bird Blogging

Bosco the peach-faced lovebird loves to climb, when he's in the mood. Here he is climbing a hanging toy on his own private "window gym" we've constructed for him:


Or is he actually running away from the TrueMajority liar, liar, pants on fire Bush sticker on our window? You be the judge:


(Click on photos for larger versions.)

July 24, 2005 at 10:33 AM in Bird Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

DPBC Update

From the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County:

Voter Registration Workshop: We will have another voter registration training on Monday, August 15th, at the Law School Room 2401 at 6:30 PM.  It is crucial that as many of you attend as possible, things have changed and you must register in Santa Fe at the Secretary of State's Office as a registration agent to be eligible to assist people in filling out their form.  Please call the HQ if you have any questions: 256-1855.

What We Inherited, Where We Are, & Where We Go From Here: We hope you will attend for a conversation about our County Party.  Marvin Moss and Terri Holland will be there to give an overview and to answer your questions and  hear your thoughts on what you want the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County to be in 2008. Tuesday, July 26, at 6:00 PM at Plumbers Hall, 510 San Pedro SE.

Visit the DPBC Website at https://www.bernalillodems.org/.

July 23, 2005 at 06:36 PM in Democratic Party, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sound Off: DLC-DC Axis Drags Dems Down

David Sirota lays out the disturbing facts about the Democratic Party's DLC wing -- you know, the spineless wing that encourages Democrats to pretend they're Republicans and support many anti-worker and anti-middle class initiatives, like unrestrained, unregulated "free" trade. Check out Sirotablog. All hail the Dems-In-Name Only (DINOs).

It's depressing to learn that many of those who believe they can be the next Dem candidate for president are streaming like lemmings to Ohio for an upcoming DLC conference. As reported by Daily Kos, "Evan Bayh, Hillary Clinton, and Tom Vilsack are all dutifully trecking to Ohio to worship at the altar of the "vital center" -- that elusive moving target that has conspired to rob Democrats of all conviction."

What is wrong with these people? I guess the lure of big buck donors in the megamedia and megacorporate world is just too seductive for these presidential-candidate wannabes. The only energy within the Party, whether locally or nationally, is obviously coming from the grassroots Democratic Wing of the Party, not the kiss-corporate-butt segment in DC. I guess they believe they can get along without us in 2008, or they believe we'll support any candidate, Republican-lite or not. They have it wrong of course. I hope they wake up in time. For the good of the Party and the nation.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say they will absolutely abandon the Democratic Party for good if it continues to follow the DLC line of least resistance. You know all those millions of dollars in small donations and millions of hours of volunteer time the Dem Party and its candidates got from the base and beyond in the 2004 election? They're history if the Party insists on continuing to listen to DC conventional wisdom insiders like the venal Bruce Reed and Al From, James Carville and Bob Shrum and any number of staffers and consultants at the DCCC and DSCC who have incredibly dismal track records. No matter, they keep on getting heeded and hired in some quarters. They've become "the usual suspects" in the minds of many more forward-looking Dems, and they've lost any semblance of respect outside the Beltway.

Worth a read on how this situation came to be: "Fire the Consultants," an article in the Washington Monthly by Amy Sullivan. Excerpt:

Over his 30-year career, (Bob) Shrum has worked on the campaigns of seven losing presidential candidates—from George McGovern to Bob Kerrey—capping his record with a leading role in the disaster that was the Gore campaign. Yet, instead of abiding by the "seven strikes and you're out" rule, Democrats have continued to pay top dollar for his services (sums that are supplemented by the percentage Shrum's firm, Shrum, Devine & Donilon, gets for purchasing air time for commercials). Although Shrum has never put anyone in the White House, in the bizarro world of Democratic politics, he's seen as a kingmaker—merely hiring the media strategist gives a candidate such instant credibility with big-ticket liberal funders that John Kerry and John Edwards fought a fierce battle heading into the 2004 primaries to lure Shrum to their camps. Ultimately, Shrum chose Kerry, and on Nov. 3, he extended his perfect losing record.

So what do you think about all this?

--Barbara Wold

July 22, 2005 at 04:01 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (6)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Military Death Count

Lest we forget what the Bush-Rove lie machine is causing in terms of death and suffering: the number of in Iraq just rose to 1,771, with the death of a sailor assigned to a regimental combat team in Baghdad on July 15. Click to get a map that counts out "coalition" military deaths in Iraq by date and their locations on a map.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has decided to keep classified a section of a new report on Iraq that details the readiness of Iraqi fighting forces. See the article in the Guardian Unlimited.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters:

Sunni Arabs boycotting the committee drafting Iraq's new constitution warned other members on Thursday not to push the document through without their support.

Sunni Arabs suspended participation in the constitution-drafting committee on Wednesday after a Sunni Arab committee member and two fellow-members of the Sunni Arab umbrella group Iraqi National Dialogue were shot dead.

Tick, tick, tick.

July 21, 2005 at 02:27 PM in Iraq War | Permalink | Comments (0)