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On March 8, 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13692, which declared a national emergency, calling Venezuela "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," and imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials. Now that he has publicly backpedaled on his claim, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) calls on him to immediately withdraw the executive order.
On April 9, the day before the Summit of the Americas began in Panama City, President Obama backtracked on that claim. In an interview with the Spanish news agency EFE that received little coverage, Obama stated, "Venezuela is not a threat to the US and the US is not a threat to Venezuela." Nevertheless, the EO remains in effect. Such a false declaration that a country poses a national security threat to the United States violates domestic and international law and serves only to further isolate the US in the region.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Indonesian embassies in London, Paris and other cities today to call for an end to West Papua's 50 years of isolation.
Supporters of Tapol, Amnesty International, Free West Papua Campaign and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples' rights, wore black to protest the media black-out in Papua, and carried placards brandishing slogans such as "Stop the killings, open Papua".
In response to the killing of Freddie Gray, Mya Hall, and others by the Baltimore Police Department, the protests in the street, and the mobilization of the National Guard to enforce a nightly curfew the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) issued the following statement:
"Our hearts are with the family and loved ones of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old Black man who was brutally and senselessly beaten by six officers of the Baltimore Police Department. Gray's injuries were so horrific that his spine was severed during the encounter, and he later died from the injuries that he sustained. Just a few weeks prior, Mya Hall, a Black trans woman, was killed by the same police department..."
Dr. Ron Crews, USA (Ret.), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, released a joint statement Friday, which reads in part as follows:
"We have testified before the same Congressional panels. We have spoken out on the same incidents in the services. And, we are always on opposing sides, but in this instance it is easy for us both to say that the Navy went too far and is clearly in violation of the Constitutional religious liberty rights of American sailors at the Recruit Training Command."
Gov. Jerry Brown today announced an important new plan to reduce California's greenhouse gas pollution by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. But the governor's executive order on climate change isundermined by his support for fracking and dangerous oil production. Leading climate experts have called on the governor to impose a moratorium on fracking in the state.
"Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for this important step toward fighting global warming, but the governor continues to undermine his own plans by backing fracking," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "Fracking pollution threatens to blow a huge hole in California's target for reducing planet-warming emissions. No plan to prevent climate disruption can succeed if it doesn't include a rapid transition away from fracking and other dangerousoil and gas production."
Peace negotiations are moving forward in Havana, Cuba, between the Colombian central government and the FARC, the Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, aka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Progress includes a joint agreement to clean up the thousands of landmines that litter the Colombian landscape and an end to the conscription of soldiers under the age of 17. Many issues remain on the table such as reparation; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission; lingering questions of whether or not to hold criminals accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide; an effective mechanism for the return of property to people who fled their property in fear, the disarmament - or not - of FARC.
Patients, family members and activists stood with legislators today as they announced the introduction of Assembly bill A.7060 that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medicalmarijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb, comes 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the medical marijuana bill into law on July 5, and nine months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.
In April 17-18, 2015, I attended a conference in Orlando, Florida. Beyond Pesticides, a non-profit environmental organization in Washington, DC, since 1981, sponsored the forum.
Before the conference started, some fifty people took a bus tour of rural Florida, especially exploring the lush agricultural region around Lake Apopka, Florida's fourth largest lake. I entered the bus with apprehension. I had heard bad things were taking place in central Florida.
Citigroup shareholder votes today on two resolutions aimed at reforming the way the bank does business in Washington, DC, highlight the increased demand nationwide for corporations to disclose details of their political spending, Public Citizen said.
The first resolution asks Citigroup to disclose more information about its lobbying activities. The second asks the company to disclose which of its executives are eligible for bonuses should they leave the bank for high-ranking positions in government. Both resolutions, which were filed by shareholders, address a troubling pattern of influence-peddling by the bank, made worse by the shadow of Citigroup's 2008 taxpayer bailout.
Since 2001, the United States sees myriad existential threats to our nation from lone terrorists to rogue states like North Korea to China and Russia. The American response to this has been to act in line with what Walter Wink called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. The original form of the myth tells of the creation of an ordered world through killing: violence defeats chaos and enables ordered societies to flourish. Violence, in the form of war, then looks like the best way to overcome threats. As Stephen Kinzer pointed out recently, there are in fact few or no such doomsday threats. We need to look at the world with eyes open to the complexity of the conflicts and injustices in the world, and we need to widen our sense of the options available to us.