Awakening a Sleeping Giant

Sign at Occupy Wall Street .

Sign at Occupy Wall Street .

Update, June 13:   Fast Track was defeated in the House of Representatives… for now.  We can do this if we are in the struggle for the long haul.  Success!

My dear friends,

If you ever plan to participate in decisions made by so-called “leaders” on your behalf, today is the day to do it.  The Senate already passed “Fast Track” trade negotiating authority, and it is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives today.  If passed, it will be much harder to stop upcoming free trade agreements, which increase corporate rights and make it harder to protect public health, communities, human rights, and the earth itself.

Go to Credo Action for the phone number for you to call your congressional representative.  Simply tell whoever answers that you urge your representative to vote “no” on Fast Track.

If you want to know more about this, see my blog on Fast Track to Hell, which spells out what’s so bad about the upcoming Trans Pacific Partnership, the first in a series of very bad agreements that don’t just deal with trade.  You can also watch the video presentation that I gave with Emanuel Sferios on Toxic Trade Agreements and the TPP.  Finally, the book that I wrote, Shaking the Gates of Hell,  is about the process of “corporate globalization,” in which transnational corporations write and promote these corporate bills of rights in their quest to consolidate global corporate rule.

There are many among the 1% who would benefit materially from increased corporate profits, but so many more among the general population who would be harmed.  Fortunately, more and more people are awakening to the extent of the damage being done by these misguided policies, and realizing that only “the power of the people” can stop them.  Even if Fast Track passes, the struggle will go on.  As the sign says, “The 1% has awakened a sleeping giant and filled us with great resolve.” Join us!

As I wrote in Fast Track to Hell:   “We don’t need to leave these decisions to government “leaders” who are blinded by allegiance to their corporate sponsors.  The fact is, we who can see what is at stake are the only ones who can stop this fast track to hell.  I trust that God and all the powers of the living earth are with us in this struggle.”

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.

Goodkill… Or Not

Sharon with Janie at Beale AFB

Memorial Day seems a fitting time to review the movie Goodkill,” now playing at the Magic Theater in Nevada City.  The movie, based on actual events, portrays a morally-conflicted and psychologically-tormented operator of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”), played by Ethan Hawke.

Even though the plot includes some obvious Hollywood enhancements, it presents some basic facts about drone warfare, facts that are little known to the US public.  For instance, drone operators accidentally kill civilians, but sometimes see that civilians (including children) are present and proceed (or are ordered to proceed) anyway.  “Signature strikes” do not target individually-recognized terrorists, but groups that fit a particular profile.  A “double tap” means that after a drone attack, a second drone targets rescue workers or people attending the funeral of victims from the first attack.

The movie allows the viewer to enter into the discordant life of a drone “pilot”—wearing your flight suit even though you’re not going to fly, entering the cramped but air-conditioned “cockpit,” holding joysticks and looking at computer monitors, endlessly watching people thousands of miles away, being given the order to strike a particular target whether you think it’s right or not, calling “goodkill” when a target is obliterated, stepping out after a shift into the sunlight and driving home to your family, not being able to talk about it without breaking security clearance, silently processing what you have done.

Several drone pilots in the movie clearly believe that they are “protecting American lives” and congratulate each other when they are successful in their targeted killings.  The commander, played by Bruce Greenwood, struggles with the morality of some of the killings, but articulates the official view.  He says to the trainees:  “Do any of you think that if we stop killing them, they’ll stop killing us?  No way.  That’s not going to happen.  So we can’t stop.”  There is one lone voice of conscience, a female drone pilot, asking questions throughout:  “So we can never stop?”  “Did we just commit a war crime?”  “They are 7,000 miles away.  What immanent threat could they pose?” She also states the obvious—that we are creating more terrorists through drone attacks.

The Ethan Hawke character brings to life the studies showing that  drone operators suffer from stress disorders as much as those in combat do.  On this day of remembrance, let us resolve to do everything in our power to end the nightmare of war for military personnel, civilians, and the earth itself.  “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.

Read Sharon’s previous blogs on drone warfare here

From Beale to Baltimore:  No Justice, No Peace

Beale April

On Tuesday sixteen of us were arrested as we demonstrated against drone warfare at Beale Air Force Base, where pilots at computer stations guide Global Hawk Drones in identifying targets for Predator and Reaper “killer drones.”  Advanced robotic long distance killing machines are not only cruel, unethical, and illegal; they are a waste of the precious lives of our brothers and sisters in other lands and a waste of tax dollars that could be used to create better lives here and goodwill around the world.

Before crossing the line onto base property, we stood holding panels with drawings of children killed by U.S. drones, while someone read aloud the names and ages of some of the hundreds of children whose lives have been cut short.  As we called to mind each child by repeating their names and ages, many of us were in tears.  We were also mindful of the bereaved families and communities, including Baltimore and Ferguson, where black and brown men are so often abused and killed while in police custody.  The domination and violence of our military, police, and prison systems will never bring peace.  Instead, they contribute to an ongoing cycle of violence that is spinning out of control.

Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell, co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, joined us for this action.  They have both had recent, first-hand experience with the injustices of the prison system.  Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly was released just days earlier after spending three months in federal prison for an anti-drone action at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.  Peace activist Brian Terrell recently spent six months in prison for nonviolent action against drone warfare.

As we crossed the line and were arrested on Tuesday, we delivered a letter addressed to the Base Commander, which said in part:  “Our purpose in delivering this letter is to urge you and other military and civilian leaders to end your participation in the U.S. drone warfare program and begin to work for peace. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war…but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians, including countries where we are not at war, such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” After being arrested, we were all cited for trespassing and released.

I believe that the ongoing anti-drone protests at Beale and at other Air Force bases around the country are helping to touch people’s consciences about the cruel immorality of drone warfare.  Just a few days ago, the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board wrote Deeply Flawed Drone War Takes More Innocent Victims, a strong critique of the U.S. drone program.

This was a touching and tearful ritual, undertaken in solidarity with the children and families who live their lives in terror of the “killer drones” hovering above.  It was also a joyful celebration of nonviolent resistance to militarism, economic exploitation, and hardness of heart. We cannot dehumanize “others” and make them expendable, not in Pakistan or Yemen, not in Iraq or Afghanistan, not in Guantanamo or in U.S. prisons, not in Baltimore or Ferguson.

No one is expendable.  All lives matter.

No justice, no peace.

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Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.

Find updates about various actions at Earth Justice Ministries Facebook page.  Stay current with Beale activities at the Occupy Beale AFB Facebook Page.

 

Costly Hope: This Changes Everything

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“Love will save this place.”  From This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein.

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. the Climate, is a hard read.  But it is so important and timely that I will be leading a five-session study and discussion on this groundbreaking book (see details below).  It will begin on April 6, the Monday after Easter, an appropriate time to begin discussing a book that gives hope that we human beings will be able to rise to this historic occasion and address the root causes of climate change and related injustices before the ultimate catastrophe of runaway climate change is upon us.

The catch?  This book does not lend itself to optimism.  It fosters what I call “costly hope.”  The book pushes us toward facing our global situation squarely and refusing to take refuge in false hopes that will allow us to stay comfortable as we are.

A friend who has started reading admits that she is becoming discouraged as she reads.  And it’s true—the first section of the book, “Bad Timing,” points out the grave challenges we face on a warming world and makes clear that the profit-based global economic system that is accelerating greenhouse gas emissions cannot provide a solution that will save us.

This sounds, at first, like very bad news.  Part II, “Magical Thinking,” goes on to expose the false hopes for addressing climate change that have gotten us nowhere.  The very things that we had hoped would save us are revealed as too little, too late.

More bad news—but wait!  Facing the reality of our situation is actually a healthy place to be.  It is like coming out of denial and hitting bottom, ready for a new approach grounded in true hope for both personal and systemic transformation.

This is a fitting message for this Easter Season.  It is a bit like dying and being reborn, like entering the darkness in order to glimpse the dawning of the light.  It is costly hope because it requires us to change.  As the title of the book says, “This changes everything.”

The last section of the book, “Starting Anyway,” is an astounding proclamation of hope and a call to hopeful action.  So much is already taking place that is hopeful, and it is not based on the market, or on corporate partnerships, or on “Big Green” environmental groups, or on government action.  Rather, this hope is being built upon successful grassroots struggles that impact everything (“this changes everything”), including actions at the top.  Hope that “another world is possible” is not a top-down process, but emerges from the bottom up, from people who are invested in the lives of their communities and are committed to leaving a flourishing world to future generations.  “Love will save this place.”

This is not a summary of the book—just a challenge to read it and consider what changes you can make to your current world view and way of life.  It helps to be able to talk things out with others who are also going through a transformative process, so feel free to join us.  This changes everything.

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Community Book Study on This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, Sponsored by the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition 

The Nevada County Climate Change Coalition is sponsoring a 5-session book study on This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein.   The study will be led by Sharon Delgado, a climate change educator, and is open to all.  Each session will include a presentation summarizing the themes of each chapter, with small group and open discussion by those who are reading the book.  The study will be held on the following Mondays at 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Nevada City United Methodist Church, 433 Broad Street, Nevada City:

 April 6- (pages 1-94) Introduction and Part One:  Bad Timing (Chapters 1 and 2)

April 13- (pages 96-187)  Part One:  Bad Timing (Chapters 3, 4, 5)

May 4- (pages 189-290) Part Two:    Magical Thinking (Chapters 6,7,8)

May 18– (pages 291-387) Part Three:  Starting Anyway (Chapters 9,10,11)

June 1- (Pages 388-466) Part Three:  Starting Anyway (Chapters 12,13); Conclusion 

Please RSVP if you plan to participate by “joining” this Facebook event at the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition website:  https://www.facebook.com/events/790583357657274/ or by contacting Sharon or by email at thischangeseverything@earth-justice.org. 

Book study organizers encourage participants to purchase copies of This Changes Everything from local book dealers:  The Book Seller (272-2131) or Harmony Books (265-9564), well before the first meeting.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.  Her other blog postings about climate change can be found here.   

System Change Not Climate Change (2)

Change the SystemHow can we understand, challenge, and transform the global system of late-stage free-market capitalism?  It seems so all-encompassing and all-powerful that nothing can stop it.

To most people in the United States, today’s dominant system seems like a given, just part of the milieu.  Most people don’t give it a second thought.  We’re like fish in water who have never known anything else.  Or rather, we are like frogs in a pot of water on the stove, not noticing that the water is getting hotter and hotter and will eventually kill us.  We have moved from a “mixed economy” in the decades following World War II to a system that benefits the wealthy few at the expense of the majority of people, communities, and the natural world.  This system is very bad news for the climate, for those vulnerable people who suffer first and worst from the effects of climate change, and for future generations.

How is all this related to so-called “free trade”?  The very corporations that write many of the laws here at home are creating trade agreements with new rules to consolidate their power.  The egregious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is just one such effort.  There are many more.  Through the global trade regime, corporations are able to challenge democratically enacted laws, including climate-friendly policies that require local sourcing or “green jobs” for locals, that create moratorium on fracking or other environmentally harmful practices, or that restrict the extraction or export of “dirty fuels.”

For details about how trade agreements impact the movement toward a peaceful, just, and sustainable world, read This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. the Climate, by Naomi Klein. (See info about a local book study below.)  You can also read my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, which covers similar themes.   Below is an excerpt from Chapter 12, “The Unholy Trinity:  The IMF, World Bank, and WTO,” which explains how this global free market system is being further institutionalized:

“You would think that governments and multilateral institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, would be moving in a more constructive direction, but many people both within and outside of these institutions believe that the current course is already set and is inevitable. Why, for instance, is the United States government not using its vast financial resources to create a better life for the majority of its people or for people around the world? Why does it support policies that trap people in generations of debt? Why does it allow domestic laws that protect people and the environment to be overturned?

“Clearly, the United States and other nations see their interests as tied to corporate interests. As corporate power increases, however, the power of government decreases, until governments, the lucky ones, end up riding on corporate coattails. But corporations, once they are truly globalized, have no loyalty at all, except to the bottom line. They are not even loyal to their “home” governments. They can even change nationalities at will.

“Though the rhetoric of the IMF and World Bank has been about development and raising the standard of living, the actual effects of these multilateral bureaucracies has been to integrate poor nations into a world economy dominated by global corporations and powerful nations. They have used structural adjustment policies (SAPS) to “pry open” the economies of developing nations, creating complete dependency.

“How can global corporations further pry open the U.S. economy and the economies of other industrialized nations? How can they finish what they started during the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s? How can they bypass the messiness of the democratic process altogether while gutting regulatory agencies and eliminating troublesome laws that interfere with corporate profits? How can they perpetuate the “smoke and mirrors” illusion that nation-states have power, while eliminating the very laws that governments use to protect the rights and well-being of their people? How can they privatize the potentially lucrative public-services sector, including publicly funded hospitals, schools, libraries, prisons, utilities, water services, and social services, and offer these and all other services up for sale to the highest bidder? How can they ensure that wealthy, industrialized nations will ultimately be as dependent upon the global system that they dominate as are poor and indebted nations? How can they bring structural adjustment policies home? How can global corporations extend their power and consolidate their dominance over people, their governments, and the earth itself? The answer: they create trade agreements and global bureaucracies that convince governments to do this for them, institutions like NAFTA and the WTO, which essentially take the matter out of government hands.”

As of now, there are many things that we can do to challenge and transform this global system. In order to be effective, we must understand what is at stake and where the power for change resides.   I will lead a 5-session community book study on Naomi Klein’s book beginning Monday, April 6.  To RSVP and to find out more, “join” the book study on this This Changes Everything on the Nevada County Climate Change Coalition Facebook page or contact me here.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.

Read Sharon’s previous blogs on climate change here.  Order Sharon’s CD– Climate Change:  What Do We Know?  What Can We Do? or download a free MP3 version.  Other blog postings about climate change can be found here.   Find related actions at Earth Justice Ministries website or Earth Justice Ministries Facebook page