Activism

More Ithaca Awesomeness

Upcoming events

Ongoing programs & events

Petitions and Public Letters

WordPressTumblrEmailShare

Like Elephants? Help Elephants!

sad circus elephant remembering her familyI recently learned about Elephant Watch Nepal and hope other animal advocates will help to spread the word about their wonderful work for elephants and other animals around the world.

More info: Responsible Travel vs Elephant Safaris

Like them on Facebook and share their page with your contacts – thanks! They can really use the international exposure.

Safety: A Play about Community-Police Relations by @CivicEnsemble #Twithaca

civic engagementI feel so, so honored to have been able to help local theatre group Civic Ensemble develop their new graphic identity and website.

And now, I’m really excited to tell you all about their upcoming, long-awaited community-based play, Safety: A Play about Community-Police Relations.

These folks are seriously awesome and I’m so happy to be in any way able to contribute to their impact here in the community. Check out this show and I think you’ll see what I mean.

Civic Ensemble presents 2nd Annual Community-Based play:

Safety: A Play About Community-Police Relations

Touring Ithaca September 19-28th

All performances are “Pay What You Can” At The Door 
More

In Memoriam (better late than never)

A Moment of Silence (2002) by Emmanuel Ortiz*
Before I begin this poem, I’d like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.
I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, in the U.S., and throughout the world.
And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence… for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence… for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result
of a 12-year U.S. embargo against the country.
…And now, the drums of war beat again.
Before I begin this poem, two months of silence… for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where “homeland security” made them aliens in their own country
Nine months of silence… for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin, and the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence… for the millions of dead in Viet Nam­—a people, not a war—for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
Two months of silence… for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.
Before I begin this poem,
Seven days of silence… for El Salvador
A day of silence… for Nicaragua
Five days of silence… for the Guatemaltecos
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence… for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas…
1,933 miles of silence… for every desperate body
That burns in the desert sun
Drowned in swollen rivers at the pearly gates to the Empire’s underbelly,
A gaping wound sutured shut by razor wire and corrugated steel.
25 years of silence… for the millions of Africans who found their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
For those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees
In the south… the north… the east… the west…
There will be no dna testing or dental records to identify their remains.
100 years of silence… for the hundreds of millions of indigenous people
From this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our consciousness…
From somewhere within the pillars of power
You open your mouths to invoke a moment of our silence
And we are all left speechless,
Our tongues snatched from our mouths,
Our eyes stapled shut.
A moment of silence,
And the poets are laid to rest,
The drums disintegrate into dust.
Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence…
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won’t be.
Not like it always has been.
…Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem…
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th 1973 poem for Chile.
This is a September 12th 1977 poem for Steven Biko in South Africa.
This is a September 13th 1971 poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York.
This is a September 14th 1992 poem for the people of Somalia.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground amidst the ashes of amnesia.
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told,
The 110 stories that history uprooted from its textbooks
The 110 stories that that cnn, bbc, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored.
This is a poem for interrupting this program.
This is not a peace poem,
Not a poem for forgiveness.
This is a justice poem,
A poem for never forgetting.
This is a poem to remind us
That all that glitters
Might just be broken glass.
And still you want a moment of silence for the dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves,
The lost languages,
The uprooted trees and histories,
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children…
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.
So if you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines, the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights
Delete the e-mails and instant messages
Derail the trains, ground the planes.
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window
of Taco Bell
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses
and the Playboys.
If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July,
During Dayton’s 13 hour sale,
The next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful brown people have gathered.
You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Now,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence.
Take it.
Take it all.
But don’t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.
And we,
Tonight,
We will keep right on singing
For our dead.
*Emmanuel Ortiz is a third-generation Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American community organizer and spoken word poet. He is the author of a chapbook of poems, The Word Is a Machete (self-published, 2003), and coeditor of Under What Bandera?: Anti-War Ofrendas from Minnesota y Califas (Calaca Press, 2004). He is a founding member of Palabristas: Latin@ Word Slingers, a collective of Latin@ poets in Minnesota. Emmanuel has lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland, California; and the Arizona/Mexico border. He currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the “buckle of the Bible Belt,” with his two dogs, Nogi and Cuca. In his spare time, he enjoys guacamole, soccer, and naps.

Obama and ISIS

David McReynoldsVia Edge Left:

Edgeleft is an occasional commentary from David Mcreynolds which may be resent or used in any way, without further permission

Obama and ISIS by David McReynolds

We can all agree that ISIS (or ISL) is a dreadful organization which has committed grievous crimes in Iraq, crimes which extend far beyond the beheading of American journalists to include mass executions of civilians.The problem is that, as always happens in these cases, there is a certain “selective outrage”, a kind of “willed amnesia” about our own role in such matters.

Let me leave aside ancient history such as Vietnam, and, just looking at Iraq, remind ourselves that the US supported Saddam Hussein for a long period of time, including his war against Iran which lasted nine years, during which he used poison gas against the Iranians with no comment from the White House. Or, after the first Gulf War, when Saddam had agreed to the terms of surrender and was withdrawing his troops from Kuwait, our planes machine gunned the retreating troops who, under any possible definition of the terms of surrender, should have had safe passage.

Then, the US encouraged an uprising among the Iraqis against Saddam, but provided no support, and stood by when Saddam slaughtered them by the thousands. Or perhaps to remember the massive loss of civilian lives in Iraq after our inglorious “Shock and Awe” invasion. Or the torture chambers we set up, photographs of which horrified the world.

Not all of the sins of America, taken together, justify the beheading of a single journalist – but memory may help us understand the roots of that horror.

Obama’s speech tonight went out of its way to chide Russia, at precisely the moment we need the help of Russia (and Iran) in dealing with ISIS. He stoked the old fires of the Cold War by reference to the troubles of Ukraine – for which the US is primarily responsible. And, most tragic of all, instead of offering some hope of ending the bloodshed in Syria, he is now going to extend further aid to one side in the civil war there, which will prolong and deepen it.

If ISIS is indeed the enemy, then, in Syria, the most natural ally is Assad, brutal as his dictatorship is. Let’s remember the US has relied on Syria before, as an ally against Hussein, and as a convenient place to send suspects we wanted tortured in the most professional way possible. This may well be, for the Syrians, a choice between Hitler and Stalin, with ISIS playing the role of Hitler.

The roots of ISIS are in part in Syria, where it has been a bitter enemy of Assad, and in large part now in Iraq, where it has made an appeal to the Sunni population. The Sunnis are the minority religion, but, under Saddam Hussein, they ruled Iraq. As a result of the US invasion, the Sunnis were driven from power and the government turned over to the Shiites (which have close ties to Iran). The US-sponsored government in Baghdad used its power to wreck vengeance on the Sunnis, excluding them from any share of power, and, in far too many cases, using control of the State to murder and imprison them.

Now the Sunnis have turned to ISIS for their revenge. And ISIS has used the weapons the US sent to the Iraqi army, which turned and fled, leaving behind their tanks and heavy artillery. The chances are good that more American aid will end in the same way – and the history of this is instructive. In the Chinese Revolution in the last century, Mao’s army equipped itself with the weapons the US sent to the Kuomintang. In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh’s army equipped itself with the weapons the US had sent to Saigon.

The one exception in Iraq is the Kurdish area. Contrary to media reports, the Peshmerga broke in their first encounter with ISIS – but they have a real stake in setting up their own territory and there is a good chance that, unlike the Iraqi army, they will stand and fight once they have caught their breath. (I feel guilty, as a pacifist, to even suggest aspects of military strategy and tactics – I am only trying to offer an analysis). It is true that a Kurdish “state” in Iraq will create new problems, but they are the one group that might prove a match for ISIS.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder why American intelligence was caught so totally off guard by ISIS and its sweep into Iraq. Just as our sources failed to alert us to this impending disaster , they may be over-estimating the power of ISIS, which will be subject to internal strains.

Meanwhile, missing entirely from Obama’s speech was any recognition of the dangerous role Saudi Arabia and Qatar have played in creating ISIS. If there is a hidden card in this deck, it is in the military and financial support these states gave to the Islamist forces in Syria – the very forces which evolved into ISIS. It is surely ironic that Obama and his advisers would go out of their way to chide Russia – which might actually be of help in dealing with ISIS – and remain silent on the countries which have played so ominous a role in creating the current problem. (Keep in mind that the funding for Al Queda came in large part from wealthy Saudis).

ISIS, dreadful as it is, is not a threat to the United States. It is part of the civil war which has emerged in Iraq now that the US has withdrawn. Massive bombing campaigns will not solve a problem which has its roots in the internal tensions and religious conflicts in Iraq. For diplomacy to have a chance, the US will need consultation with Iran, just as it needs to avoid deepening the civil conflict in Syria.

Obama’s speech failed to deal with the real problems. He seems unaware that the American Empire has ended, that while, like King Canute, he may command the tide to stop, the tides obey other forces over which the US has no control.

(David McReynolds is a former staff member of the War Resisters League, was twice the Socialist Party’s candidate for President, and served a term as Chair of War Resisters International. He is retired, lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with his two cats, and can be contacted at: davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com. He was the subject of the dual biography by Martin Duberman: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds)

Morning TNR: Meet Mochi!

Mochi

Mochi is a black and white feral. He’s at least half a year old if not a year and a half — I’m bad at keeping track of these things. I think he may have been born in our garage. He has several siblings who live here, too, and probably other family members.

Mochi

Mochi is brave and curious and sweet, interested in humans but scared of us. When I come to feed the ferals he and one of his brothers are the ones who may even walk toward me instead of running away or just watching from a safe distance. I used to watch them climb trees and play chase, though they do less of that now that they’re growing up.

I just trapped him and brought him to the wonderful people at SPCA of Tompkins County, who — for free! — are going to neuter him, give him shots, and if he has fleas, fix that too. Whoo hoo for Mochi! See you at 6pm, buddy.

Meet Sassafras!

Sassafras
This weekend a cute vanilla cat showed up in our driveway. He was super-friendly, coming over to be petted and cuddled. He let our toddler pet him; he let me pick him up and pet his tummy and put him over my shoulder like a baby. He purred deeply. He followed us up and down the driveway.

He was obviously not neutered, and looked like he had some eye issues and I think fleas. His face and tail were scratched up and some fur was missing. He was skinny. And he had tummy troubles, and an uncomfy-looking butt (sorry if this is TMI).

Sassafras

I now knew who had been pooping all over the place for the past week.

It’s been getting cold out at night. I thought of this sociable, lovey cat who really did not feel very good probably being left out in the cold again.
Sassafras

I reasoned that I’d rather worry about a worried human than about this cat having another night out there.

So, I called Tompkins County SPCA and asked if it made sense to bring him in. They said if he was a house cat and someone called in looking for him, they’d give him needed veterinary care and neuter him before giving him back.

All things considered, I think this was the best decision for the cat, and the cat is the one with less power in this situation. I try to side with those with less power. So, sorry human, if you’re out there: your cat has taken a trip to the SPCA and may go up for adoption if he isn’t claimed. : /

Sassafras

I took the liberty of naming this dude Sassafras; it seemed to suit his gregarious nature and appearance, somehow. I know that if he does go up for adoption, he’ll get a wonderful home and a happy life — he’s a lovely, sweet cat who obviously thrives on attention. If I hadn’t brought him in so quickly, I would have fallen in love. I think I already kinda did. Like all cats I’ve encountered and had some connection with, I’ll probably remember him forever.

Sassafras

Good luck, Sassafras. Whether it’s back where you one day came from, or in a new home, may your future be full of clean floors and enticing toys, clawable carpets and scratching posts, delicious food, cool fresh water, open windows in the summertime, lots of play and cuddle sessions, and safe afternoon naps in warm pools of sunlight, in your very own territory, surrounded by your very own human family. I’ll be glad to think of you there, rather than worrying about you roaming our driveway all winter.

Thank you to SPCA of TC for taking in Sassafras and providing his medical care free of charge! I could not help all of these cats without this incredible service and support. If you can, please consider donating to Tompkins County SPCA, Browncoat Cat Rescue, or another local animal rescue or shelter operation. The folks that do this work, and the animals who depend on them, really need us to pitch in. Whether it’s a few dollars, a few hours of your time, or a donation of towels or food, your contributions can make a huge difference.

Ithaca: Citizenship Education Program

-1

The Dorothy Cotton Institute (DCI) is offering the Citizenship Education Program over 3 Sundays: Sept. 21, 28, and Oct.5, at beautiful La Tourelle Inn on Rt. 96B South Hill.

Please read the flyer and share this with anyone you know who wants to

  • develop their ability to take direct action nonviolently,

  • communicate effectively and build support for the issues they care about,

  • get beyond internal, interpersonal and institutional stumbling blocks for positive change,

  • exercise their rights, use their power and make a difference in this world.