Friday, April 11, 2008

DN!: ~V to the Tenth~: Thousands of Women Gather in New Orleans for 10th Anniversary of Global Movement to Combat Violence Against Women

Democracy Now!, a daily independent radio and TV news program:

Democracy Now! broadcasts from New Orleans, where thousands of women are gathering to celebrate the tenth anniversary of V-Day, the global movement to combat sexual violence against women and children. V-Day began a decade ago when playwright and activist Eve Ensler held the first benefit performance of her award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues. This weekend, Ensler is organizing a two-day celebration at the Superdome called “V to the Tenth.” Its focus is on helping the women of New Orleans and the Gulf South. We speak with activists from New Orleans, Kenya and Iraq. [includes rush transcript–partial]


Colette Pichon Battle, Gulf Coast coordinator for Oxfam America and founder of the group Moving Forward Gulf Coast. She is a native of Slidell, Louisiana, and comes from one of the oldest French Creole families in South Louisiana.

Carol Bebelle, Executive Director of Ashé Cultural Arts Center. She is a native of New Orleans and a published poet and writer.

Agnes Pareyio, coordinator of Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative in Kenya, a community-based group to save girls from female genital mutilation and early marriages. In 2002, she helped V-Day open a safe house in Narok, Kenya to create a safe haven for young girls seeking refuge from female genital mutilation (FGM) and early childhood marriage.

Yanar Mohammed, Co-founder of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. The group vocally supports women’s rights in Iraq and shelters Iraqi women targeted in honor killings and sectarian violence. She was born in Baghdad in 1960. She left Iraq in 1993 and then returned after the US invasion.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re on the road, broadcasting today from New Orleans. Thousands of women here are gathering this weekend to celebrate the tenth anniversary of V-Day, the global movement to combat violence against women and children. V-Day began a decade ago when playwright and activist Eve Ensler held the first benefit performance of her award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues.

This weekend, Eve Ensler is organizing a two-day celebration at the Superdome called “V to the Tenth.” Its focus is on helping the women of New Orleans and the Gulf South. Today, we speak with activists from New Orleans, from Kenya and Iraq who are here for the V-Day celebrations.

But we’ll start with Eve Ensler herself, the author of The Vagina Monologues and the key organizer behind V-Day.

    EVE ENSLER: Well, we went down to New Orleans right after the flood. We were invited down there by women on the ground who were, you know, at shelters and hotlines, and the whole infrastructure, of course, was gone. So we went to see what we could do, which is what we do. We don’t kind of have an interventionist politics. People invite us, or they do what they do and we support it. And we did this amazing evening of storytelling, and we kind of launched this idea of this Katrina warrior network of women, and about 900 women showed up. And it launched this community and network of women.

    And we were down there at the same time trying to determine where our tenth anniversary was going to be, and we thought maybe Nairobi, maybe Paris, and then it was like, no, this needs to be at the Superdome. You know, we need to take back the Superdome. We need to reclaim and turn it into Superlove. And what was fabulous about it is, at the same time, we were launching a spotlight on conflict zones last year, and New Orleans is clearly a conflict zone. It has all the ingredients of a conflict zone, a failed state, you know, the desecration of one section of the population, loss of control in the central government. We can go on and on. And so, we began to look at it like that and began to see the impact of what happens when there is a failed state, when in this country people don’t show up and there’s that kind of profound neglect and abandonment, particularly looking at women, because women have carried New Orleans and the Gulf South since the storm.

    And I know you all have spent a lot of time there and covered it in an incredible way since the flood, but, you know, I’m there almost every month in some way, and people don’t know what’s going on there. We don’t—people don’t know that we have tent cities there. People don’t know that the mental health rates and the suicide rates are out of control. People don’t know that people who lived in houses that were once $400 are now $1,200. People don’t know that people are being charged for fuel adjustment, this new term, and they don’t even have a meter, you know, the gas meter in their house. I mean, it’s a bizarre, I think really immoral and profound statement about where the US is.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: And, of course, the reports recently of all the formaldehyde problems with the trailers—

    EVE ENSLER: Oh, absolutely.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: —and the poisoning of—

    EVE ENSLER: And the poisoning and everybody becoming sick. You know, there’s a piece I just wrote for Oprah, where I call it “FEMAldehyde,” you know, which is kind of this new creation made by our own, very own failed government. But I think what we’re saying is that we need to bring women from this country and all over the world to show up for our sisters in the South.

    AMY GOODMAN: And what is the special burden you feel the women of New Orleans bear?

    EVE ENSLER: Well, I think if we can look at all the pieces of it, we kind of look at the whole story of what needs to change for women everywhere. But there’s the burden of racism. There’s the economic inequalities. There’s the burden of a failed education system there, so where are children going to school? And where are they—it has just been designated the murder capital of America. So we’re talking about one of the highest—the highest violence rate in America. We’re talking about communities where taxi drivers wouldn’t even bring me to go—I don’t have a car—because they were too scared to go into the community, and people are living there.

    You know, we’re talking about—I think women particularly are on the frontlines, because they are dealing with children, they’re dealing with husbands who have no work, they are dealing with how to put food on the table, they are dealing with all the kind of nurturing, moving-the-community-forward aspects. And everybody’s traumatized. We’re talking about a seriously traumatized population. So you’ve got trauma.

    You know, we did a brunch there recently for the women in the Gulf South, Mississippi, Alabama, grassroots activists, fabulous women who have just been working twenty-four hours a day, and we just gave them a brunch. Women were standing up and weeping, you know, talking about the fact that no one had ever given them a brunch. I thought, a brunch? This is what we’re grateful for? A brunch? And I think, so, part of it is, how do we bring people from all over the US and say we care about the women in New Orleans? We’re going to be giving free massages, free medical exams, free yoga and meditation, all free for the women. And women from all over the country are volunteering. And then we’re going to do a performance of The Vagina Monologues with performers from New Orleans. You know, Charmaine Neville is performing, and there will be gospel choirs. And it’s going to be the biggest mega-event we’ve ever done, at the New Orleans Superdome, at the arena.

    AMY GOODMAN: Explain what The Vagina Monologues are, for people who don’t understand. I’m sitting with two of your books. One is The Vagina Monologues, featuring five never-before-published V-Day monologues, and the other, Insecure at Last: A Political Memoir, that you wrote.

    EVE ENSLER: Well, The Vagina Monologues grew out of interviews that I did with about over 200 women, where I took little pieces and strains of their stories and created literary theater text that are really talking about the sexuality of women. The story of women is filtered through their vaginas and the story of their vaginas, and so it ranges from very orgasmic pleasure to, you know, very shattering stories, like that were based on the women in Bosnia who were raped during the war. And I think it goes from celebration to sorrow to happiness to—but looking at how—if we tell our stories through the kind of biography of our vagina, you know. And it was just amazing to me how many women needed to talk about it, and still do.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Eve Ensler interviewed in New York in February. Well, now we’re here in New Orleans, and the V-Day celebration is taking place today and tomorrow, culminating in a major event on Saturday night.

We’re joined right now by two people involved with the V-Day celebration. Colette Pichon Battle is the Gulf Coast coordinator for Oxfam America, founder of the group Moving Forward Gulf Coast. She’s a native of Slidell, Louisiana and comes from one of the oldest French Creole families in South Louisiana. Carol Bebelle is the executive director of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, a native of New Orleans, and a published poet and writer. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!


CAROL BEBELLE: Thank you so much.

AMY GOODMAN: Carol, talk about the significance of this event, thousands of people coming in from all over the country, though there may be a few fewer with American Airlines canceling what? More than a thousand flights?

CAROL BEBELLE: Absolutely. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, for us, I mean, I start where Eve started, which is that she was out in the world working on violence against women, and the end of August 2005 happened, and she turned around, and many of the faces that she saw in water, and many of them were girls and women. And she began to think about what was it that V-Day ought to be doing. They came to do humanitarian work. And then, with the tenth anniversary coming up, she said she thought that it was really important to come back and stand here with the women of New Orleans, because when systems stop working in society, because women are at the center of everything, they get the brunt of the problem.

And so, the institutions shut down, and women, in their physical vulnerability, being, you know, the carriers of children, being the caretakers of the family, the nurturers, etc., when those systems go away, they’re just kind of left out there on their own. And so, the violence that we see here is really—it’s more subtle. It doesn’t leave bruises. But what it does is it winds up essentially rendering women helpless inside of the place where they should be the most powerful. And so, the institutions are not there. They’re not there for the children. They’re not there for the women. And it’s kind of counterintuitive to not take care of women, with women being as important to the life of a society as they are.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you here during Hurricane Katrina?

CAROL BEBELLE: You know, this was the first time in my life that I ever evacuated. And so, I went off, and I left that Sunday and, to my obvious horror, discovered what happened after my exit.

AMY GOODMAN: And your community, how hard hit was it?

CAROL BEBELLE: Well, I live in the uptown area, so I’m close to the Sliver by the River, so my personal home was not—we didn’t have problems. In Central City, which is where I work and I spend most of my time, half of that community was flooded, and it’s a renting community, and so the people are not as easily able to come back home, because they don’t have land that ties them to New Orleans, and so they’re left to the devices of government, in terms of getting rental properties, helping to get rental properties up, and landlords, you know, in terms of the rents and how expensive they are.

AMY GOODMAN: Colette, housing is certainly an issue that you have worked on. Talk about the situation today here in New Orleans.

COLETTE PICHON BATTLE: Yeah. Well, Moving Forward Gulf Coast is bringing 1,200 women back to the region for V-Day. And one of the things we discovered as we’ve been reaching out to women in at least eight different cities, diaspora cities, is that a lot of the women want to come back, but, as Ms. Carol just said, many are part of the rental population, and there just is no way for them to come back right now. So we are proud and sad that what we’re able to provide for this one weekend is actually what most of these women need in a more long-term way.

AMY GOODMAN: And where are they based?

COLETTE PICHON BATTLE: These women are based out of Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, Jackson, Baton Rouge.

AMY GOODMAN: But they come from New Orleans?

COLETTE PICHON BATTLE: Many come from New Orleans. They include rural Louisiana, which is often not talked about but took a hard hit of the storm, some from Slidell on the North Shore, all the way out in Pass Christian in Mississippi, Biloxi and Mobile.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s happened in rural Mississippi?

COLETTE PICHON BATTLE: In rural Mississippi, there’s an interesting fight between the politicos, and the federal money that has come down for housing in Mississippi was actually not given to people who had wind damage. And so, you have a significant portion of the population in Mississippi who have gotten absolutely no help, and therefore they’ve got no ability to return to the place where they even had houses, not just renters, but they had houses there, and they had no insurance or not enough insurance to return. So Rural Mississippi is one of the—it’s a story that’s often forgotten when people talk about Barbour’s successes in Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Colette Pichon Battle and Carol Bebelle, we’re going to break, but we’ll come back. This is Democracy Now! We’re broadcasting from New Orleans.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Mother Jones Headlines

March 19, 2008: It's been five years since we headed down the rabbit hole to Iraq. Reflecting on this milestone while visiting Baghdad a couple of days ago, Dick Cheney declared that "we've come a long way" since the days of "Mission Accomplished," describing the war as "a difficult, challenging, but nonetheless successful endeavor." Which in the topsy-turvy, up-is-down world of Iraqspeak means that we are still horribly, gut-wrenchingly screwed. To commemorate the war's fifth birthday, here's a brief collection of some of Mother Jones' best coverage of Iraq.

The Iraq War's Greatest Hits An invasion day package of Mother Jones' special reports on the war.

Viktor Bout's Last Deal How an elite DEA unit brought down the world's most notorious arms dealer.

Ode to Bear, Stearns Fortunately, I have no stock left in Bear. But I have friends who do, and they've been emailing me as though someone died.


Photo of the Day

Chinese embasy, London
June 9, 2007 more...

Inside Mother Jones
The MojoBlog
Black and More Than Black "Black and More Than Black"

David Corn: How Obama avoided a Sister Souljah moment.

The Blue Marble
Quiz: What's Worse, Exxon or Crocs? Quiz: What's Worse, Exxon or Crocs?

Today's corporate death match is between oil giant ExxonMobil and Crocs, the much-hated-upon yet oh-so-comfy rubber clogs.

The Riff Blog
Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke Goodbye, Arthur C. Clarke

From his vantage point in Sri Lanka, the iconic author made science fiction look like science fact.

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©2008 The Foundation for National Progress

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CODEPINK: Opening our hearts and shutting recruitment centers

February 14, 2008
Berkeley High students in our video.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, we witnessed a historical moment in the anti-war struggle. The Berkeley City Council withstood thousands of hate-filled emails, threats to cut off state and federal funds, hundreds of irate pro-war activists descending on their town insisting they were anti-troops. They stood firm in their opposition to a Marine Recruiting Station in the heart of their peace-loving city. Yesterday as we gathered to celebrate, the City Council expressed their gratitude of the resolve and tenacity of CODEPINK. Finally people in power modeling for Congress how to choose peace, instead of trembling in fear as the right hurls insults and threats.

Help us spread this campaign and sign our pledge of resistance to military recruiting and war and watch the video of youth and veterans speaking out for peace in Berkeley!

Today, CODEPINKers and friends are holding "kiss-ins" at recruiting centers around the country with the message, "Don't Enlist, Stay and Kiss”That Way Everyone Makes Out!" Of course, these actions are energized by the recent landmark actions in Berkeley. We are using the creative power of love to combat the destructive power of war. How better to celebrate Valentine's Day?!

Standing strong, with hearts wide open,

Dana, Desiree, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Jodie, Liz, Medea, Nancy and Rae

Message from Eve Ensler, creator of V-Day, to CODEPINK…
The women of New Orleans and the Gulf South - Katrina Warriors - have survived the fallout of global warming, failure of public structures, racism, economic hardship, and domestic abuse and violence. V-Day is working collaboratively with activists and grassroots groups to unite, activate, involve, and transform the women of the New Orleans and Gulf South community, forming a structure that will last through the rebuilding and beyond.
I invite YOU, the amazing activists of CODEPINK, to join V-Day in New Orleans on April 11 and 12, 2008 and change the story of women. Help us usher in the next decade where together we will end violence against women and girls!
Click here to find out how to join Eve!
CODEPINK is working to transform New Orleans through a cutting garden that will bring shade and beauty to families who live in the beleaguered region. This Valentine's Day instead of buying a dozen short-lived roses for your sweetie, consider planting a rose bush in their name. We need your help to make the garden, and the whole city of New Orleans, bloom. Donate a perennial, a wild rose or an indigenous tree TODAY!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tell the House: Strip Retroactive Immunity from FISA Legislation

Please have a look at this CREDO Action e-activism campaign.

The Senate has rolled over and given Bush, Cheney and the big
telecom companies exactly what they wanted -- immunity from
prosecution for their wiretapping crimes. Now it's up to the
House of Representatives to strip those provisions out of the

Please take action on this issue using the link below:

Friday, February 08, 2008

Benedict@Large: "Like your broadband? Just wait."

From: "Benedict@Large"
Subject: Like your broadband? Just wait.
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2008

    Like your broadband? Just wait.
    If you're anything like me, you love your broadband connection. Not that your provider is perfect, but isn't that speed great? So much in so little time.
    At first, you either had broadband or you didn't. One size fits all. Then, the providers got together and started offering "tiered" broadband. Want a little more speed? Pay a few dollars more a month. But that didn't matter much because waiting 40 seconds for that video clip instead of twenty just wasn't a big enough deal for folks like us to pony up the extra dollars.
    But our ISPs still wanted more money, and so they tried to tier the internet itself! Internet sites that paid for premium delivery of their content would get it, while those who did not would be delayed in their delivery, even though we had paid for our broadband. They wanted to make our providers of internet content to pay extra for its delivery or make us wait extra for it, even as we had paid them to not wait for it.
    That effort is still in limbo; it requires an act of Congress before they do it, and so far, our internet service providers (ISPs) have not gotten that.
    Now, enter into their latest effort (the below article) to extract more money from us for less service. Now I write here assuming that most of you are at least a bit like me; you like to download (lots) whatever you can that you are interested in, and you need your broadband to do it. Well, it seems that our ISPs have suddenly found a new scheme to get more money out of you and I: They want to charge us for how much we download. If you download a lot, you'll be seeing an extra "usage charge" added to your bill.
    Do you use peer-to-peer file sharing? You're screwed. Pay for it. Like NetFlix and use their download service? Sorry, add to your NetFlix charge your ISP's charge for "excess usage".
    You have to understand what this is about. Your ISP is all willing and good to provide you with the quick access you've become used to, but they want more money from you if you get "too much" quick access. They sold you on quick access when you got broadband, but now they want to also tell you how much of that quick access you can have. Too much, and they want more money from you.
    Now the article below says that they are testing this in some community in Texas, and screw them I guess. But they are testing it there to see if it will work for the rest of us. If it works there, expect them to try it elsewhere. Like in your neighborhood.
    I've heard of late from others who have recently had their internet service suddenly cancelled. Excessive usage. And on every instance of this, the ISP could (or would) not specify exactly what constituted excessive usage. These folks had somehow exceeded some limit that could not be specified. I myself recently reviewed my new AT&T contract (which bought out my BellSouth contract), and indeed it specified this nebulous limit that might be applied to me. This is where they are coming from. They want more money out of us for the same service, and left to the "free market" Bushavics, they will get it. Which leaves it to us. Again.
    Now think of this for a moment. As liberals, we understand how critically important it is that people have as full access to internet content that they can use. Indeed, the internet is replacing our access to our now underfunded libraries, replacing those libraries with online content … our new world of knowledge.
    I think back now to when I was a child. Everyday as I walked home from school I went by my local branch of my town's libraries, and often stopped in. I loved that library so much, I would often go in without a single thought of why I was going in or what I was looking for as I did. I would "discover" that only as I repeatedly browsed what was there.
    Think of this. I was poor. This library represented to me everything I wanted to know about, and everything my parents could not afford to provide me.
    We speak these days of providing internet access to everyone, especially to poor children. To provide them with an equal opportunity so that they too have the ability to rise above their circumstances; to succeed. And yet now we are confronted by an industry that seeks to restrict how much we want to learn by how rich we are. If we (and especially our children) are indeed quite curious, our curiosity will be limited by what we can afford to toss at our ISPs. In other words, what is being pawned off to us as a quite reasonable usage fee will actually become a method of controlling what rich children can learn from the internet verses what poor children can learn. This is wrong. Our democracy cannot survive the tiered access to knowledge based on wealth that these corporations want. Our children too cannot survive this as they hope for their own futures.
    It's one community in Texas that is suffering from this so far. But it will not remain this way. If they get away with this there, we will begin to see it everywhere. One more spike in our democracy's death.
    Yes, we can.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Mother Offers Santa a Tip for 2008

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December 28, 2007

Mother Offers Santa a Tip for 2008

J. H. Jones

Dr. Barbara Grubb drives a team of award-winning jennets (female donkeys).

Dear Santa,

We’ve been thinking about global warming a lot, and we’re worried about your reindeer. How did those tundra-dwelling sleigh-pullers hold up in the heat? Maybe you should have a backup team to help out Rudy and his pals next year — we’re thinking mini donkeys like the ones shown here might be perfect. (Just think — no more harness tangled up in those dang antlers!)

Standing just 36 inches (or less) at the shoulder, miniature donkeys make wonderful pets, can be used for pulling light loads, and can even be used as therapy animals. (We’re guessing you could use a little therapy after delivering toys to millions of kids.)

The National Miniature Donkey Association offers more info and advice about miniature donkeys. Or, you could adopt a new team from a donkey rescue.

You can also read Cheers for the long-ears in our online archive at

Mother Earth News Editors

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Recent Posts from the Homesteading and Self-Reliance Blog

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Free at LAST!"

Victor Lopez just called from the Courthouse --
He'll be flying back tonight c/o the DEA.

Ever talked to someone just released? Wow, what a joyful soul!!!
Listen for him with MikeMalloy tonight on the NovaMRadio network.

On the Unreported News.Net Radio Show December 9th at 10 AM Eastern, Sarge's guests will be:

Democratic Presidential candidate Represenative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Derrick Evans, Executive Director of the Turkey Creek Communitiy Initiative and a member of the Steps Coalition. Congressman Kucinich will take questions, as will Evans, who was recently featured on Bill Moyers Journal on the Public Broadcasting System. Will in Chicago live blogs the show at the Unfiltered News Network site.

Now playing: 1480 KPHX - The Valley's Progressive Talk

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 2 days of shopping left--yep... A Whole Lotta Info too! Please don't spend $ on CorporateXmas!

The Boycott Begins-November 23rd, 2007.
Happy Holidays. This will be my final message to all of those thousands who have signed up at since last January. Since beginning this project I have been alternately disheartened by the fractured manner in which the opposition has been working to oust the Bush Administration and end the war, and filled with hope by the hundreds upon hundreds of messages and conversations I have had with concerned people around the globe.

I understand now that even if the 'leadership' of our progressive, liberal and libertarian organizations cannot set aside their personal differences and agree on a coordinated set of actions then at the very least the 'membership' is more than ready to take whatever steps are necessary to not only bring Bush and Co. to justice and end this horrific travesty of a war-but to fundamentally reform the economic, political and social systems that have brought us to this point.

We are ready to put our money where our hearts are and to take action every day to erode the base of support for the policies that appall us. We are not doing it by making contributions to non-profits or trying to buy a candidate, we are doing it by drawing down our economic activity to the point where there will be no more 'business as usual'. And it all starts this Friday. Black Friday 2007 marks the beginning of a change in the behavior of what Madison Avenue calls 'consumers' and what we call human beings.

The message has spread and it has taken on a life of its own. In Austin a 70 year old grandmother has made signs saying "Boycott Bush" and is working with her community to stop corporate greed and at the same time support Ron Paul. In Santa Rosa California a group of students and retired people are protesting in front of the local mall, handing out homemade flyers and holding signs promoting an old-fashioned greed free Christmas season:

Subject: Sonoma County "No Buy Day" action - Friday, 11/23

Hi all - we are organizing a "No Buy Day" action in front of the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping mall (in front of the hand sculpture on the public sidewalk) for the Friday after Thanksgiving. It will begin at noon and last until 2:00 or later if there's energy and weather permitting. We will provide signs to hang around your necks which will read "Homo sapien" with the "sapien" crossed out and replaced with "accumulatus." Bring a sign with a simple message such as "Give the Gift of Time, Not Money", "If You Must Buy, Please Buy Local", etc. You get the picture. I plan to wrap a few empty boxes with Christmas paper, attach them to my back and be weighted down by them. Feel free to do the same. We'll be offering free presents, so if you have a good quality item you'd like to donate to the free table, please bring it along. And if you want to make signs at the Peace & Justice Center that morning, just let me know and we'll have supplies and companionship. Pass this on and we hope you can join us.

In Pittsburgh a group of spiritual activists are putting their ethics into action by organizing at every level to promote a non-corporate holiday season and are providing alternatives to corporate grocery stores for peoples everyday needs during this process:

Hello Mr. Brown,

My name is Rose Lord. I'm an associate of Victor Landa. I've been working at promoting the corporate boycott here in Pittsburgh. Victor thought you might be interested in knowing what I'm doing. After an initial announcement sent out on October 22nd, I've been sending out weekly reminders/words of encouragement to my local mailing list. I'm using your list of 11 things we can do but I modified it a bit and took it down to 8 things so that it will take us from our starting date through the Christmas holiday. I send these weekly e-mails to Victor as well and he forwards them to his mailing list, which is much more extensive then mine.

I also made up flyers which are being distributed at our local co-op, and a poster with many of the points that are outlined on your power point presentation.

I've been trying to contact the East Coast coordinator for the United States Social Forum to encourage all the people who attended that event in July to participate but I haven't been successful yet.

I hope this boycott will be very successful but even if it doesn't have the impact that we are hoping for, I'm sure that it will start a significant number of people thinking and acting differently and I hope we can keep it going throughout the coming year.

If you would like, I will include you on my weekly reminder e-mail list so that you know what's going on here in the Burgh.

In peace,

Rose "Mirabai" Lord

Global Coalition for Peace

Online new twists on the idea have been springing up since the summer including this series of responses on a bulletin board that networks community minded people:

Hello Lew,

This thread on, Sonoma County's "conscious community," seems to be related to your boycott project. If you have info on the boycott that you would like me to post in response to this thread, I'd be happy to do so. If you're not a member of Waccobb, you might consider joining or at least trolling.

Q: How to Hack the Holidays...? A: It's Festivus for the Rest of Us!

"Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season."

Hate the holiday hype?
Want to create lasting family traditions this holiday without all the pointless shopping, killing trees, or creating piles of trash?

Try Festivus!

Here's another helpful hint: it's about the spirit, ambiance, and embraces of the season, but it's not about the stuff. Not shopping not only eliminates a big source of stress that makes most people crazy and cranky, it is good for the planet and a good way of removing power from the corporations that are fueling and profiting from the resource wars that are the hallmark of the empire of overconsumption--which is to say that opting out of the shopocalypse is a great way of promoting "peace on Earth."

Or, as someone else put it:

You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful. You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.

Yet, every year, you cave in and go shopping.

The relentless onslaught of advertising exerts constant pressure. So do the unified bleatings of herds of shoppers, who call you "Scrooge" if you fail to enthusiastically join their ritual orgy of consumption. Friends and family needle you with gift requests, store windows beckon with shiny colorful packages, the same "classic" holiday jingles are piped constantly through every speaker in town.

How can you resist? Join the Christmas Resistance Movement!

The growing CHRISTMAS RESISTANCE MOVEMENT is joined in solidarity against the Shopping Season. For every 100 automatons who call you "Scrooge," there's a sparkly-eyed CHRISTMAS RESISTOR who supports YOU in NOT BUYING INTO THE HOLIDAY HYSTERIA.

Together, we boycott Christmas Shopping, Christmas decorations, Christmas cards, and every variety of Christmas Crap. We refuse to support the Holiday Industry. We show our love for friends and family by giving our time and care, not by purchasing consumer goods. We maintain the integrity of giving by giving spontaneously and from our hearts, rather than during a specified season.

You are not alone. Together, we can RESIST CHRISTMAS!

And even if your choice of winter holiday celebration and observance has nothing to do with Christmas, you, too, can be a part of the resistance to the shopping frenzy being pushed on us against our better judgment. Just give a moment's thought to all that you can do to have a loverly time and express joy and gratitude with others without loading up on consumer goods and the associated waste that come with them when you set out to make the most of this special season. Put a little extra care into the healthy, sumptuous food you prepare. Lighten your load by giving away something you don't need to someone who does. Make a special place in your home and your heart for the spirit you wish to share. And remember, the true gift of the winter holidays is something to be, not something to buy.

Best wishes to all!

All around the country and all around the world people are waking up to the idea that money is what makes the world go around and that money comes from us and goes to the people with the real power through corporate fronts.

We are awake, we are communicating and we are taking action by doing with less, doing without and promoting a positive, safe and healthy holiday season. It is wonderful to see the message spreading from mind to mind, group to group. My work here is done I do wish all of you a wonderful season and would remind you to spread the message far and wide. I have included a number of essays, lectures and articles with this e-mail that you can use freely to promote this action through your e-mail list and social networking contacts.

Visit the website at for more information and join our completely non-corporate social network at to share information about how you are working personally to organize in your community.

Thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do in the future-together we can end the war and bring Bush and Co to justice, together we can rebuild America into a force for peace and healing throughout the world.

Happy Holidays
Lew Brown
National Coordinator

Can you imagine just saying NO?

We all know what the problems are. We all can see that protests and letters, elections and phone calls and every other form of grass roots or net roots activism has so far produced absolutely nothing, in terms of movement towards peace or impeachment.

Yet there is a tool still left that we can use and if we stand firmly together for just a little more than a month we may well be able to bring the system to its knees. Are you ready to try it? Are you prepared to REALLY strike a blow for freedom and aim at the heart of corporate control?

Since early in 2005 I have been constantly in communication with a host of economists, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists and journalists. People who have held high positions within Banking and industry have lent me their ears and offered their advice and insight. Ordinary run of the mill citizens of the world from Biloxi, Canberra, Glascow, Paris, New York and hundreds upon hundreds of communities in between have flooded me with ideas and suggestions about how to not only bring the Bush Administration to justice and end the war, but how to change the very basis of our civilization and pave the way for a new age of peace, prosperity and community for our grandchildren to inherit.

I have had some trepidation in proposing this solution and promoting it as vigorously as I could. In fact it scares me a little the potential we have together to stop the world from turning and to take back the power from those "malefactor of great wealth" who run our corporations and governments. It scares me because there is a little uncertainty in what will fill the place of the devil we know. It scares me because I, like most people, like to know what to expect. I like a sense of certainty and security but am I willing to trade not only freedom but hope for that security? My answer is no. No, because I know that the future, should we lose this fight, is characterized just as Orwell predicted, by the image of a boot stomping on a human face¡K.forever.

So what do we do?

Do Not Participate!

To paraphrase Einstein you cannot simultaneously change a corrupt system while at the same time perpetuating it. Every time we buy a product or service that profits a corporate shareholder we tighten the chains that bind us to the machine. By striking back through non-participation we weaken those chains and make it more and more difficult for those who hold the reigns of power to maintain their control.

Christmas is the key.

We all know that the Christmas season has come to mean not charity and goodwill towards all humanity, but rather a media fueled corporate feeding frenzy where our good intentions are exploited to make the rich and powerful even richer and more powerful. So this year lets simply observe an Old Fashioned Christmas. Presents may be hand made or purchased used and fixed up. We could spend more money buying locally grown food and having feasts with our family and friends rather than diving into the madness of malls and box stores. Give your time and good intentions to charity. Feed, clothe and house those who are poor and incapable of fending for themselves. Let the kindness and compassion that lies locked within you shine through and build community with neighbors you may have never even said hello to. In everything you do spread the wealth and the benefit to those who truly need it and starve the system in any way you can.

We tried this already earlier this year, and it worked. From April 15th until April 22nd I organized an across the board boycott of all corporate goods and services to promote peace and impeachment. There is a summary report and a full report available for downloading on the website at here is an excerpt with the relevant news articles for your review:

"Did we have an impact in economic terms? The short answer is yes, though the economists and retailers were not aware of our campaign they did become cognizant of the effect. The following news articles illustrate that the professionals were aware of an anomaly in April, though they could only reach for explanations that they expected to account for the drop off in growth during that month. It is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy how much of the $1.157 Billion in lost anticipated revenue was a result of the boycott, though we do know that for the week of the boycott itself (April 15th-22nd) revenues were down by approximately $740 Million. (all estimates are based on an average of retail sales over the course of the previous quarter at $350 Billion per month). This ripple in the economic waters has caused a bit of speculation in regards to the Federal Reserve's stand on interest rates and other potential moves by regulators and industry to prepare for a loss of consumer confidence.

It is that elusive phrase "consumer confidence" that provides us with the target to aim at when we consider the use of economic force in pursuit of a political or social agenda. We cannot predict with any great accuracy what the domino effect of a truly organized economic resistance would be, but we can say with some certainty that each sector of the financial world would suffer some ill effect and the majority shareholders would feel nervous enough to either change their positions drastically or, if they were aware enough of the link between the economic action and the move for impeachment and peace, encourage their political connections to negotiate and meet our demands. Bear in mind that 2/3 of the economy is based on consumer spending and any effect we have that slows the constant expansion of economic indicators, or better yet reverses that decades long trend even for a short time, will be seen as a serious threat. No matter how you slice it, even if the actual impact of this opening salvo was only half of $740 Million, that represents a significant amount of economic force wielded by only a few people."

By the time the Christmas shopping season arrives we should be able, by working together and spreading the word, to garner a far more significant number of people willing to participate in an Old Fashioned Christmas. Together we may be able to do something marvelous, something magnificent and even magical. Together we may truly be capable of unleashing the power of the true spirit of Christmas across the world. A spirit of love and peace, charity and goodwill that can sweep aside the darkness and fill our hearts and communities with light and joy.

I thank you again for the genuine human compassion that you have shown and for your desire to make a better world for the children of the future. I have included a few graphics and other tools for you to use as you see fit and I have created a public social network where we can all create a home page, share materials and generally touch base as this proposal takes wings and begins to fly. Visit us at

Lew Brown
National Coordinator

A Time for Conscience
By Peter Phillips and Dennis Loo

We are in a time of extremism, permanent war, and unilateral power managed by a small cabal of people in the US government. These power elites have been in operation for decades and are set on nothing less than the total US military domination of the world.

In October, Congress legalized torture and stripped habeas corpus rights (the right to due process and to challenge your detention) from anyone the President deems to have "materially contributed to hostilities against the United States." This means you or anyone else could be locked up indefinitely without charges and without any legal recourse to secure release.

The UK Lancet medical journal reports that over 650,000 civilian deaths have occurred because of our invasion of Iraq. Over a quarter million of these deaths were the direct results of US aerial bombings. Nearly 3000 American service personnel have died in this war against a country that posed no threat to us. Yet the war goes on with no end in sight. How many more must die, how many more tortured, how many more imprisoned before our moral consciences wither to nothingness?

Of the 80,000 Arabs and Muslim nationals who were required to register after 911, the 8,000 brought in for FBI interviews, and the 5,000 locked up in "preventive detention," none have been convicted of a terrorist crime.

There are words to describe these terrible things: war crimes and tyranny. Yet, like 'Good Germans" we watch in the hope that the country couldn't possibly get any worse.

Many people have been trying to understand why the Democratic Party has been so futile and even worse, complicit, in the face of war crimes and tyranny. The Democrats have been given an unmistakable mandate by the November 2006 elections to get the U.S. out of Iraq and to hold the White House accountable. Yet the Democratic Party leadership continues to speak softly and admonish those who call for impeachment ¡X the people's action for wrongful government.

The Bush White House represents a convergence of two tendencies ¡X radical know-nothing religious zealotry and imperialist empire. The clamping down on the borders, the militarizing of the police and the creation of a spy state, the public-order policies that criminalize the mere presence of groups of youth, minorities, and immigrants and the repression of legitimate forms of political protest are not designed to prevent terrorism. This rapidly evolving police state is designed primarily to both repress and coerce domestic and international populations who would challenge this American Empire.

As we travel and speak on impeachment around the country the most asked question is, "what can we do?" Letter writing, protesting, organizing are all good things. However, we say it is now time for the American people to act with conscience in a larger way. Of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart is larger, in economic terms, than 182 countries. After 9/11 Bush told us that the best thing was to go quietly shopping. We can collectively say no to being quiet by saying no to shopping. We propose that Americans take a holiday break and stop all corporate shopping, delay major purchases, stay out of shopping malls, and avoid national chain stores. People of conscience can send a message to corporate America and Congress to end the war in Iraq and move forward immediately on the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

The political leadership of this country has not been willing to halt the military predations of Bush and Cheney. We the people must now act in as many ways as possible. As the World Can't Wait people have said: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and director of Project Censored. Dennis Loo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. They are co-editors of Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney. For more on the National Shopping Boycott see:

Lecture on Refusal, the Transpersonal Dimension of Progressive Action-9/21/2007
Sonoma County, California

Rev. Lew Brown

"So here we are, on the eve of destruction. Once again the human species finds itself divided and in conflict. Not even a basic sense of unity or purpose can be found among the nations of the world. On the grand scale we have the specters of war and famine, disease and untimely death stalking the ancient lands of the Middle East and mother Africa. Ignorance has been passed on from generation to generation and now we once again have billions who have grown up with erroneous assumptions about what it means to be a human being, assumptions taken at face value and codified into moral imperatives that give license to kill at will.

Once again but will it be this way forever? Will our species ever find itself at odds with its place in the natural order? Will the constructs of culture: religion, nationality, race and all of the other labels we are given that identify and diversify us ever dissolve before the light of reason, or be blown away by the warm wind of compassion?

Look. For just once look around you. If you live in the western world, so prideful of what it believes to be 'civilization' you may be able to see the truth. The awful truth that all of the efforts and intentions of the people who have come before us have led to a system of waste and corruption, that those who sought to conquer the world have left us lives of meaningless work and intractable conflict.

We are being consumed and transformed into something far removed from a human being. Our essential dignity has been stripped away in the name of the common good. Our benevolent nature and healing relationship to this planet have been obscured, obfuscated, by the false teachings of the past. Our lives, in the western world, are truly meaningless. We wake up, go to work for some corporation or the other, devote our precious life force to making somebody else rich at the expense of ourselves and our 'customers'. We marry and have children who we then raise in the same way that we were raised and who carry forward any errors we received from our teachers, parents or social leaders. We die and leave behind memories that will fade within a generation and the work we spent our lives engaged in, those innumerable days and hours of toil, the deadlines and commitments that seemed so important but leave us no legacy. To dust we return and to dust go all of our efforts.

Perhaps some sense of discomfort rises within us from time to time. Perhaps a story on the news captures our imagination and brings up feelings of fear or anger, sadness or despair. Sometimes we just try to ignore those feelings and go about our daily lives secure in the illusion of stability that surrounds us. Perhaps we react with anger and direct our outrage at whatever target we are given by those who profit richly from our control: immigrants, terrorists, child molesters, drug dealers or any other group of people that have been defined as acceptable for us to hate.

Same as it ever was. Same as it was in Rome when the empire fought the Celts. Same as it was in Egypt when an entire people were enslaved for the benefit of the Pharoh. Same as it was in Greece, same as it was in ancient Persia, same as it was in China¡Xsame as it has ever been since the ice last thawed and our people were scattered around the globe-disconnected from our roots and divorced from our heritage.

Can we not see it? Have we not the heart to understand that this life we are living is a brutal and dark shadow of the potential we possess? We, all of humanity, are bigger than this. We are bigger than nationality and religion, we are bigger than race or creed, we are more powerful than history and capable of far more than simple survival. We are the caretakers of all life on this planet and the harbingers of a true civilization. Our uncertain destiny is beyond description and the lives and natures of our great great grandchildren can be so far removed from the bestiality that we consider to be advanced that they will be as indistinguishable from us as we are from angels.

Our hearts may sometimes ache at a sense of loss that we do not understand. That pain becomes an impetus to action. Some people engage in a raging destructiveness, an orgy of vices based in hopeless selfishness and greedy lust. Some people open their heart and minds and with compassion reach out to the world with a healing intent. Perhaps they want to save the whales, perhaps the outrages of war are an anathema to them, perhaps they wish to protect the children or promote the arts. All of these actions are piecemeal and vain attempts at redressing a wrong that is not symptomatic, but rather systemic.

The disease is our way of thinking. The disease is our assumptions about what life means, what god wants and what our proper role is on earth. Men of pride have gone to great lengths to soothe their lack of esteem, they have lied and propagated their lies through the creation of innumerable religions and sects. Yes our religions are based on lies. Didn't you know that? Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, L. Ron Hubbard made it all up, so did Paul-well he actually plagiarized most of the story-you do know that right? Why do you think that Moses or Mohammed, or Smith or Hubbard were somehow special? Do you really think that you can trust the word of a man who , unobserved, claims to have received communion from God or its representatives? Can you trust someone who uses such a story to try to gain power over a people? Do you really believe that God likes torture and pain? That any offense can give you license to engage in bestial evil? That anything can trump the edict to not kill?

There is a god. There is an amazing and beneficent force within this universe that loves us all and that exists within each unit of matter and energy. There is indeed an all seeing and all hearing intelligence that infuses the entire universe-but it is not what we have been led to believe. Shall I tell you my story of going up the mountain to receive communion? Would you believe what I tell you in regards to gods will and wishes? Can I at least tell you that it is not happy with us-but that it has hope? Shall I pull aside the veil a bit for you who have eyes to see, and you who have ears to hear? Are you ready for the reality of this incredible universe?

No. There is no prophecy to be had from me-only this one fundamentally true fact that we must all understand unless we repeat the cycle of utter destruction in the days ahead. We must free the children of the future from the chains of the past. We are called to sacrifice all that we cherish, all of our precious illusions and desperate self-interest in order to break this cycle of torment. Our leaders will not do it for us, they rule in hell because they are not fit to serve heaven.

So what do we do? What is proper action in a world that is so upside down and backwards? How can we know whether our acts are good when our basis for understanding is so corrupt?

That is the point. The entire system of global economics and governance that we are living in is false and evil. Exploitation of others forms the basis of each of our societies. Division and competition have kept us apart for millennia and as long as we continue to participate without question within our cultures we will continue to spread suffering from one generation to the next.

So what is right action? That is the wrong question. Right action is no action at all.

You must sit down and refuse to participate.

You must lay down your weapons and refuse to fight.

You must embrace your enemy and swear friendship.

You must not work for those who care for nothing but themselves.

You must not allow your needs to outweigh the future of our species.

You must teach the young the meaning of love and cooperation.

You must shame those who spread evil

Shame on the millionaires for their greed and selfishness.

Shame on the murderers in uniform who kill without question.

Shame on those who kill for "god".

Shame on those whose hearts are shriveled.

Shame on those who love power.

Shame on those who lie.

Shame on the prideful and ignorant who have floated to the top.

Refuse, resist.

Thank You."

Rev. Lew Brown