[pjw] REPORT BACK: Cease fire: Friday rally #61 under stay-at-home orders

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat May 22 16:34:42 EDT 2021

Greetings again friends of peace and justice

I'm starting this week's report back with the happy news that a member of 
Portland Peaceful Response Coalition who stopped attending rallies since 
the pandemic began was able to join us last night for the first time in 14 
months! They brought PPRC's banner which started making the event feel 
like old times again. Well, except that we were all masked up, stayed 6 
feet from each other, continued using a traffic cone for a bullhorn, and 
walked past dozens of boarded up and closed businesses. We did once again 
get a lot of support from the many many people who were out and about. 
Techincally speaking, Multnomah County is still in the "extreme risk" 
category until at least this coming Wednesday, but I think some people are 
unwilling to keep taking precautions. We'll see how things unfold in the 
coming weeks; for now we encourage people to keep COVID precautions going 
until further notice.

OK, so, what did we talk about at the rally last night, you ask?

We began with the big news about the cease fire between the Israelis and 
the Palestinians, though that came after Israel killed more than 20 times 
as many people using superior firepower, took a page from the US playbook 
and wiped out media headquarters to slow reporting on war crimes, and 
managed to unite Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel's 
borders in a way that hasn't happened in most people's memory.


I also noted that prior to the 11 days of violence, last month during 
Ramadan Israelis cut the wires to speakers at the Al Asqa Mosque to stop 
the call to prayer. Having heard these beautiful chants when I was in 
Iraq, I found this almost equally offensive as the bombings.


In other news, 16 US Senators called on President Biden to end the 
blockade of Yemen. For some reason Washington Senators Murray and 
Cantwell signed the letter but not Wyden and Merkley, which is weird since 
they both supported ending the US support of the war there.


Ongoing provocations in the new cold war:

--the US sailed another warship into the South China Sea, the third one 
this year.


--Russia is wary of the expaneded US/NATO presence in the Arctic now that 
climate change has made the seas easier to navigate.


Back here in the US Congress is looking at revoking/revising FOUR 
Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.

---there's work to revise the 2001 AUMF which created the "war on terror" 
after 9/11 and to revoke the 2002 AUMF igniting the Iraq War:


--and, did you know that Eisenhower created an AUMF in 1958 to confront 
communism in the "Middle East" using the US military? That and the 1991 
authorization for the "Gulf War" are also facing revocation as Congress 
tries to stop open-ended "blank checks" for war.


In Iraq, the US bombed ISIS (or people they claim were part of ISIS), even 
as they continue to negotiate removing troops.


Speaking of which, the Pentagon says 13% of US troops are now out of 
Afghanistan, three weeks after the withdrawal started. At this rate they 
might not even all be out by the US' September 11 deadline.


In local news, I talked about how the City is planning to start "sweeping" 
houseless encampments again even though the pandemic really isn't over, 
especially for the most vulnerable.


Also, the Portland Police Association is seeking to set its own rules for 
body cameras, including being able to watch the footage before writing 
reports. The City Attorney has told City Council not to discuss their 
positions on bodycams while PPA negotiations are going on. As I told the 
Willamette Week, this means the PPA could put any policy on the table 
during bargaining and shut down public discussion.


When we got to the part of the march where we usually focus on 
Israel/Palestine, I added the fun fact that after blocking UN resolutions 
to call for a cease fire three times, the US has now done so at least a 
total of 53 times over the years.


In the home stretch back to the Square, the "money for human needs not 
war" fact of the week is that the Center for Disease Control only has a 
biuget of $6.6 billion per year compared to the $732 billion military 
budget, according to this piece by Mass. Peace Action for Tax Day.


This week, the Ann Huntwork Peace Memorial Sign ran continuously 
during the majority of the march, but shut down again outside the 
Gucci story at Pioneer Place Mall. I've been too distracted to 
remember the experimental equipment I meant to take downtown but 
hope to do so in the coming weeks.

As noted above, we continue to request that people use masks and 
distancing if you decide to join us some Friday at 5 PM at the corner of 
SW Yamhill and Broadway, though we won't boot you out if you don't mask 
up. It's good that the cease fire in the Middle East seems to be holding 
for a second day, but we must always keep pushing for nonviolent 
conflict resolution, and justice

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

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