Thursday, July 20, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 20 - 22, 2017

29] Don’t Gut Medicaid – July 20
30] Fundraiser for refugees – July 20
31] District 43 Legislative Debrief Meeting – July 20
32] See the film TIDEWATER – July 20
33] How City Government Works – July 20
34] Peace vigil at White House – July 21
35] WIB peace vigil – July 21
36] DCRAPP Monthly Coalition Meeting – July 21
37] Black Lives Matter vigil – July 21
38] Christmas in July July 21
39] Ballroom Dancing – July 21
40] West Chester peace vigil – July 22
41] Summer Reading Program at the Maryland SPCA and Project Adopt – July 22
42] Masters' Day Interfaith Program – July 22
43] Support the Wheeler family who lost their home in a fire
44] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
45] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
46] Do you need any book shelves?
47] Join the Global Zero campaign
29] – U.S. Senate Republicans are back at it this week, talking about moving ahead with plans to roll back advances in health care coverage and gutting Medicaid—outrageous! Come to Capitol Hill on Thurs., July 20 at 10:30 AM to tell Congress: Don’t gut Medicaid—Families need access to quality, affordable health care! RSVP at  Help deliver health care stories to key Senators with the message, “Medicaid does wonders for America’s kids and families!”

Meet in front of the HUGE black mountain sculpture in the lobby of the Hart Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. between 1st and 2nd Sts. NE.

30] – On Thurs., July 20 at 5 PM, attend AWE Community Night Fundraiser at Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  Gertrude’s will be donating a portion of their evening sales to the AWE Community to further its work with asylum seekers and refugees. It’s a chance for everyone to dine out and do good all at the same time. Go to Reservations are recommended and can be made at or 410-889-3399. 

31] – Come to a District 43 Legislative Debrief Meeting on Thurs., July 20 at 6 PM at 2601 N. Howard St., Baltimore 21218-4508.  This is a legislative debrief session for Baltimore JUFJ folks who live in District 43. 

32] – The D.C. Environmental Film Festival will be at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum.  At 6 PM on Thurs., July 20 see TIDEWATER which explores the challenge of sea level rise in Hampton Roads, Virginia-- a region vulnerable to the nation's overall national security. Rich in diversity and historical significance, the Hampton Roads area is also the second most vulnerable community in the nation for sea level rise. The area is comprised of over 1.6 million residents, 18 government agencies, and Naval Station Norfolk--the largest naval base in the world. Post film discussion will be facilitated by a museum educator. Call 202.633.4866 to register for this program. Watch the film trailer:

33] – On Thurs., July 20 at 6:30 PM, attend Civics 101: How City Government Works.  This is part of the next District 8 Community Academy Workshop Series to be held at the Fred B Leidig Recreation Center, 301 S. Beechfield Ave., Baltimore 21229. RSVP at

34] – On Fri., July 21 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416. 

35] – On Fri., July 21 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts. Stay for as long as you can. Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather. Bring your own poster or help with the "NO WAR IN MY NAME" banner.  When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride [].  Peace signs will be available. 

36] – There is a DCRAPP (Release Aging People in Prison) Monthly Coalition Meeting at the BF Senior Wellness Center, 3531 Georgia Ave. NW, WDC 20010, on Fri., July 21 from 3 to 4:15 PM.  DCRAPP is working together with other campaigns, groups, and organizations to take on the crucial issue of people aging and dying in prison without justification. There are elderly DC prisoners who are trapped in the federal prison system due to denials of parole, compassionate release, and clemency. Come out to the next coalition meeting to learn more about this issue; DCRAPP plans to usher in change; and how you can become involved in the campaign.  Email or go to

37] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on July 21. Black Lives Matter.  

38] –It's Christmas in July at Wine & Wag on Fri., July 21 from 5:30 to 8 PM at the Maryland SPCA. 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore 21211.While too warm to dig out your best ugly holiday sweater, bring your animal dressed in his/her favorite Christmas bandana and get a jump start on your Christmas photos by visiting a holiday-themed photo booth. Perhaps we’ll even see a few antlers!  Enjoy live music and delicious food and drinks. Taste complimentary food samples provided by Galley Foods refreshing frozen yogurt offered by Sweet Frog.  Knights from Medieval Times will be giving out T-shirts, crowns, koozies, keychains and coupons for a show. Wine & Wag admission is $10 and $15 at the door per person. Go to;jsessionid=00000000.app340a?view=Tickets&id=100662&NONCE_TOKEN=B72122A368BC1299A34F0F3F7B5A1D2C.

39] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at  8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on July 21. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

40] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

41] – The Summer Reading Program at the Maryland SPCA and Project Adopt helps both children by strengthening their reading skills and the animals by giving them company, which helps to reduce stress if they are anxious in a kennel environment. The Summer Reading Program runs Tuesdays from 3 to 4 PM until the end of August at the Maryland SPCA, 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore 21211, and on Saturdays from 1 to 2 PM at Project Adopt in White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd., Baltimore 21236. There is no fee for the reading program, but space is limited and registration is required. Go to the Reading Program @ the MD SPCA on Tuesdays and the Reading Program @ Project Adopt on Saturdays
42] – You are invited to this year's Masters' Day Interfaith Program on Sat,, July 22 at 4 PM at the Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, 2950 Arizona Ave. NW, WDC 20016.  Enjoy Love, Unity & Peace.  After the program, eat a vegetarian meal. Go to or call Davinder Khanna at 571-218-9541.

33] – Activists Joyce and Tim Wheeler now live in Sequim, Washington, but their son, Morgan and his family have lived in the Wheeler’s Baltimore home, 816 Beaumont Avenue for some time.  Tragically, at 3 AM on February 4, the home was burned beyond recognition.  Morgan was able to get his family out, but the house and its contents are totally destroyed.  Morgan's daughter, Erin, has created a Go Fund Me page which you can access below.  Anything you are able to contribute to support Morgan and his family would be greatly appreciated. Go to 


 - Description:

34] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email:

35] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski at

36] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

37] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Downplaying Atrocities? Trump Plan to Close 'War Crimes Office' Sparks Concern

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Downplaying Atrocities? Trump Plan to Close 'War Crimes Office' Sparks Concern
The US 'is essentially downgrading the importance of accountability for the commission of atrocity crimes'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to shut down the U.S.'s office dedicated to advising his department on issues related to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, according to a new report by Foreign Policy.

  "This sends a strong signal to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the United States is not watching you anymore." 
—David Scheffer, former diplomat and former U.S. official, told Foreign Policy that Todd Buchwald, who currently heads the Office of Global Criminal Justice, was recently informed he would be reassigned to the department’s office of legal affairs office, and other office staffers could be sent to the department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. The office closure was first reported on Monday by Just Security, a blog dedicated to examining U.S. national security law and policy.

   Northwestern University professor David Scheffer, who was the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, characterized the potential move as deeply troubling. "This is a very harsh signal to the rest of the world that the United States is essentially downgrading the importance of accountability for the commission of atrocity crimes," Scheffer said. "This sends a strong signal to perpetrators of mass atrocities that the United States is not watching you anymore."

   The office was established two decades ago, in the aftermath of genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, and according to its State Department's webpage, "helps formulate U.S. policy on the prevention of, responses to, and accountability for mass atrocities," by advising U.S. officials and foreign allies "on the appropriate use of a wide range of transitional justice mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation commissions, lustrations, and reparations, in addition to judicial processes."

  The supposed shuttering of this office could offer insight into the Trump administration's priorities for foreign policy, and follows reports of possible U.S.-backed war crimes committed against civilians in Iraq, during the  U.S.-led coalition's victory over the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul, as Common Dreams reported last week.

   Regardless of this office's fate, it is just one piece in Tillerson's plans for department-wide reorganization. 

As Colum Lynch writes in Foreign Policy:

The decision to close the office comes at a time when America’s top diplomat has been seeking to reorganize the State Department to concentrate on what he sees as key priorities: pursuing economic opportunities for American businesses and strengthening U.S. military prowess. Those changes are coming at the expense of programs that promote human rights and fight world poverty, which have been targeted for steep budget cuts.

A State Department spokesperson acknowledged the department's ongoing "redesign initiative" but would not confirm or deny any details, including whether the war crimes office will close.

   This restructuring update also follows reports of a letter, sent to Tillerson Sunday, signed by more than 50 former diplomats and foreign policy experts who criticized a White House proposal recommending that the U.S.'s refugee office—the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration—relocate to the Department of Homeland Security. The letter outlined potential repercussions for the U.S.'s diplomatic influence, as well as concerns that DHS has neither the resources nor the capacity to address the global refugee crisis.

   Late Monday, the New York Times reported that U.S. embassies received a cable disclosing that Tillerson had hired two consulting firms—Deloitte and Insigniam—to assist with the State Department's restructuring. The Times said Tillerson is "expected to come up with a reorganization plan by the end of the year and begin putting it to work next year," noting that the "unusually long process" reflects the degree to which the department could be overhauled.

   Tillerson has been critical of the department's current structure, and commissioned a survey of State employees, compiled by Insigniam for $1.1 million. As the Wall Street Journal, which reviewed the findings earlier this month, reported: "Many of the more than 35,000 State Department and USAID employees responding to the survey indicated longtime frustration with the way the agencies function, including poor technology and duplicative and redundant processes that make frequent workarounds necessary."

  However, the survey "comes as the Trump administration has yet to fill scores of senior State Department positions, which current and former officials say has hampered decision making," the Journal reported.
State Department employees expressed concerns about both Trump and Tillerson's leadership, with the report noting that "People do not speak optimistically about the future.... The absence of a clear vision of the future allows room for speculation and rumor about what the future could bring, such as further USAID integration into [the Department of State] or the militarization of foreign policy.

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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau/Where Have All the Children Gone? The Age of Grief


Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of  Henry David Thoreau [July 12, 1817] by joining the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE in the RIVERS OF BLOOD II on Wed., July 12.  This will be an action of nonviolent civil resistance to call on Congress to stop funding wars which are causing rivers of blood to flow through the US Capitol.  Meet in Union Station in Washington, D.C. in the lower level food court near Walgreens at 10 AM on July 12 for a final planning meeting.  First, the group will deliver a petition to offices of Congressional leaders calling on them to end the funding for war. Then a number of activists from the group will gather on the steps of the Capitol to read Martin Luther King’s Riverside Church speech.  We invite all people of nonviolence to join us.  Please wear a t-shirt with red paint to simulate blood.  Bring posters. 

   Let me know if you would like to sign the Petition, which will be delivered to Representatives Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi, and Senators Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.
Kagiso, Max

Published on Portside (

Where Have All the Children Gone? The Age of Grief

Karen J. Greenberg

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It was one of those remarks that should wake you up to the fact that the regions the United States has, since September 2001, played such a role in destabilizing are indeed in crisis, and that this process isn’t just taking place at the level of failing states and bombed-out cities, but in the most personal way imaginable. It’s devastating for countless individuals -- mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, lovers -- and above all for children.
Ward’s words caught a reality that grows harsher by the week, and not just in Syria, but in parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, among other places in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Death and destruction stalk whole populations in Syria and other crumbling countries and failed or failing states across the region.  In one of those statistics that should stagger the imagination, devastated Syria alone accounts for more than five million [1] of the estimated 21 million refugees worldwide. And sadly, these numbers do not reflect an even harsher reality: you only become a “refugee” by crossing a border.  According to [2] the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2015 there were another 44 million people uprooted from their homes who were, in essence, exiles in their own lands.  Add those numbers together and you have one out of every 113 people on the planet -- and those figures, the worst since World War II, may only be growing.
Rawya Rageh, a senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, added [3] troubling details to Ward’s storyline, among them that deteriorating conditions in war-torn Syria have made it nearly “impossible to find bread, baby formula, or diapers... leaving survivors at a loss for words” (and just about everything else). Meanwhile, across a vast region, families who survive as families continue to face the daily threat of death, hunger, and loss.  They often are forced to live in makeshift refugee camps in what amounts to a perpetual state of grief and fear, while the threat of rape [4], death by drone [5] or suicide bomber, or by other forms of warfare and terror is for many just a normal part of existence, and parental despair is the definition of everyday life. 
Resignation Syndrome
When normal life disintegrates in this way, the most devastating impact falls on the children. The death toll [6] among children in Syria alone reached at least 700 in 2016. For those who survive there and elsewhere, the prospect of homelessness and statelessness looms large. Approximately half of the refugee population consists of young people under the age of 18.  For them and for the internally displaced, food is often scarce, especially in a country like Yemen [7], in the midst of a Saudi-led, American-backed war in which civilians are commonly [8] the targets of airstrikes, cholera is spreading [9], and a widespread famine is reportedly imminent [10].  In a Yemeni scenario in which 17 million people now are facing "severe food insecurity," nearly two million children are already acutely malnourished. That number, like so many others emerging from the disaster that is the twenty-first-century Middle East, is overwhelming, but we shouldn’t let it numb us to the simple fact that each and every one of those two million young people is a child like any other child, except that he or she is being deprived of the chance to grow up undamaged.
And for those who do escape, who actually make it to safer countries beyond the immediate war zone, life still remains fragile at best with little expectation of a sustainable future.  More than half of the six million school-age children who are refugees, reports [11] the UNHCR, have no schools to attend.  Primary schools are scarce for them and only 1% of refugee youth attend college (compared to a global average of 34%).  Startling numbers of such refugees are engaged [12] in child labor under terrible working conditions.  Worse yet, a significant number of child refugees are traveling alone.  According to [13] the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “at least 300,000 unaccompanied and separated children were recorded in some 80 countries in 2015-2016... easy prey for traffickers and others who abuse and exploit them.”
Such children, mired in poverty and dislocation, are aptly described as growing up in a culture of deprivation and grief.  At least since the creation of UNICEF in 1946, an agency initially focused on the needs of the young in the devastated areas of post-World War II Europe, children at risk have posed a challenge to the world. In recent years, however, the traumas experienced by such young people have been rising to levels not seen since that long-gone era.
heartbreaking story [14] by Rachel Aviv in the New Yorker catches the extremity of both the plight faced by child refugees and possible reactions to it.  She reports on a group of them in Sweden, largely from “former Soviet and Yugoslav states,” whose families had been denied asylum and were facing deportation.  A number of them suffered from a modern version of a syndrome once known as “voodoo death,” in which a child falls into a coma-like trance of severe apathy. Doctors have termed this state “resignation syndrome, an illness that is said to exist only in Sweden, and only among refugees.” Fearing ouster and threatened with being deprived of the ties they had already formed in that country, they simply turned off, physically as well as emotionally. 
While this is certainly not the first time grief has engulfed parts of the world, children have felt the brunt of its woes. By its nature, warfare breeds destruction, dislocation, and grief. But America's never-ending war on terror, its “longest war,” has contributed to the instances of trauma suffered globally among children and continues to undermine their chances for recovery.
As psychologists and psychiatrists who specialize in grief have found, it takes time as well as help to absorb and deal with such trauma and the grief for lives lost and worlds destroyed that follows in its wake. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who famously identified the five steps [15] involved in reacting to grief, has underscored the time it takes to recover from such traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, for refugee children and those uprooted in their own lands, there is usually no time for such a recovery, no safe space in which to experience those five steps. Instead, year after year, the trauma, like the wars, simply persists and intensifies.
One thing seems guaranteed: children who suffer long-term trauma are likely to develop physiological and psychological symptoms that persist into adulthood, rendering it hard for them to parent in a healthy and supportive way. And in this fashion, the wounds of the wars of the present will be handed on to the future.  In the technical language of the experts [16], “Adverse childhood experiences increase the chance of social risk factors, mental health issues, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, and adult adoption of risky adult behaviors. All of these can affect parenting in a negative way,” and so perpetuate a cycle of dysfunction and trouble.
The Living Casualties of This New Age
There are many ways to think about this twinning of trauma and childhood, which is becoming such a signal part of our age. After the era of the concentration camps in Nazi Europe, psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, who had himself spent almost a year in one, studied the effects of trauma [17] on those who survived exposure to extreme deprivation and the constant threat of death. Adults, he concluded, face the possibility of schizophrenia and the destruction of their personality structures, but children, he wrote, faced worse: the destruction of the self before the ego even came into being. Having been exposed to “extreme situations,” they ended up feeling overwhelmed, powerless, and “deprived of hope.” Many of them had also been forced to grow up without parents who might have helped them through the trauma. Worse yet, some of those he studied had actually seen their parents -- or siblings -- killed.
What he learned remains, unfortunately, applicable to children in our moment.  Isn’t it time to begin paying more attention to the cost of losing so many children to the forces of deprivation, soul-crushing devastation, and the culture of death at both a global and the most personal of levels?  Isn’t it time for the rest of us to begin to imagine just what millions of damaged children will mean both for our world and for the world they will inherit as adults? Some of them, of course, will rise above the damage done to them in their youth, but many will not and so will lead lives of loneliness, confusion, and pain, and will potentially pose a danger both to themselves and to others.
As Bettelheim’s work, which almost anticipated Sweden’s “resignation syndrome,” suggests, the early years of the twenty-first century are hardly the first age of grief, nor will they likely be the last.  They are, however, ours to deal with and their ravages are already evident not just in the Middle East, but in the rest of the world, too. In Europe and the United States, terrorist attacks tied ideologically to the war on (and of) terror and targeted against civilians, continue to undermine the sense of security to which the citizens of such countries were until recently accustomed. Children are not only part of this cycle of death and destruction, but in a recent instance -- the suicide bombing in Manchester, England -- were its target, as they also have been elsewhere, as in the abduction [18] of hundreds of young girls by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria, in 2014. Meanwhile, teenage boys are being targeted as recruits for ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Strikingly, the United States has shown remarkably little concern for the children of the war-torn and violence-ridden areas of the Greater Middle East. Those young people could be thought of as the worst of the collateral damage from the years of invasions, occupations, raids, bombing runs, and drone strikes, including the children or youthful relatives of targeted, designated American enemies like Anwar al-Awlaki [19].
This lack of concern is strikingly reflected in the anti-refugee policies of the Trump era. Refugee children refused admission to the U.S. and other advanced countries and, forced to live in a state of limbo, are being harmed.  Such policies and “bans” are exactly the opposite of what’s needed to heal the world and move forward. Recently, as if to make just that point, an old photograph [20] of a child has been appearing on Twitter over the caption “Denied refuge and murdered in Auschwitz: the human cost of refugee bans.” As a signal of what to expect from the U.S. in the age of Trump, consider his administration’s proposed budget, which calls for a cut of more than $130 million [21] in funding for UNICEF, the signature agency providing relief and services to children in need globally.
The U.S. and its allies may one day defeat ISIS and other terror groups, but if what’s left in their wake is only bombed-out, unreconstructed landscapes and millions of uprooted children, what kind of victory will that be? What kind of future will that ensure?
There will be no “winning,” not truly, if the crisis of grief, the crisis of the children who are the living casualties of this new age, is not addressed sooner rather than later. For every dollar that goes toward a weapon or the immediate struggle against terror outfits, shouldn’t another go to the support of those children, to the struggle to stabilize their lives, to provide them with homes, education, and care of the sort that they so desperately need? For every short-term prediction about the possible harm refugees could bring to a country, shouldn’t there be some consideration of what the children who are taken care of will want to give their new homelands in return?  Shouldn’t some thought be given to the world that the rejected or deported young, if left in distress, will someday create?
In Sweden, where the problems of traumatized refugee children have now been studied for more than a decade, the recommendation of psychiatrists and other experts to that country’s policymakers was simple enough: “A permanent residency permit is considered by far the most effective ‘treatment.’”
The loss of childhood, the crippling effects of trauma, the narrative of grief, and the cruel removal of any sense of hope or of a secure future have been seeping into global discourse about children for many years now. Isn’t it time to begin to see their global crisis for what it is: one of the major threats to a stable future for the planet?
Karen J. Greenberg, a TomDispatch regular [22], is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. Her latest book is Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State [23], out in paperback this May. She is also author of The Least Worst Place: Guantánamo’s First 100 Days [24].  Rose Sheela and CNS interns Anastasia Bez, Rohini Kurup, and Andrew Reisman contributed research for this article.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter [25] and join us on Facebook [26]. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II [27], as well as John Feffer's dystopian novel Splinterlands [28], Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead [29], and Tom Engelhardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World [30].
Copyright 2017 Karen J. Greenberg  Reprinted with permission.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - July 19 - 20, 2017

22] Rally against voter suppression – July 19
23] South Asia’s Evolving Strategic Doctrines – July 19
24] Fair Elections Celebration – July 19
25] Public Forum on Medicaid – July 19
26] Veggie Meet Up – July 19
27] Film WHAT THE HEALTH – July 19
28] I Love Being Black – July 20

22] –RespectMyVote Rally in Lafayette Park, H and 17th Sts. NW, WDC 20006 on Wed., July 19 from 10 to 11:30 AM, outside the first Trump/Kobach Voter Suppression meeting. The REAL purpose of the commission is to justify legal actions for VOTER SUPPRESSION that target our communities.  President Trump has established this commission in an attempt to validate his false claim that 3-5 million Americans voted illegally during the 2016 Presidential elections. This event is hosted by Democracy Initiative and seven other groups.  Go to Stand up and hold Trump’s Voter Suppression Commission accountable!

23] –Come to a luncheon panel about South Asia’s Evolving Strategic Doctrines on Wed., July 19 from 12:15 to 2 PM at the Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, WDC 20036.  Lunch will be served.  Go to The triangular nuclear competition among China, India, and Pakistan is intensifying. Friction along the China-India border and the Kashmir divide is growing. As new nuclear capabilities come on-line, will doctrinal changes follow? What are the implications of these developments for the future of the arms competition, command and control, escalation scenarios, budgetary requirements, and political engagement? 

24] –Progressive HoCo, on Wed., July 19 at 5:30 PM, will host a Fair Elections Celebration.  Join an informal celebration of the passage of CB30 the Citizens' Election Fund.  Drop by, say hello, and share some thoughts about CB30 or other issues facing Howard County at Black Flag Brewing Company 9315 Snowden River Pkwy. Columbia 21046.Go to

25] –On Wed. July 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, attend a Public Forum on Medicaid at the One Stop Job Market, 31901 Tri-County Way, Salisbury 21804.  Go to  Progressive Maryland and others are sponsoring the event. RSVP to Beth Landry at

26] –There is a Combined Vegetarian/Vegan Meetup on Wed., July 19 at 7 PM at Mr. Chan Szechuan Restaurant, 1000 Reisterstown Rd., Pikesville. RSVP at

27] –On Wed., July19 from 6:45 to 9 PM see a screening of “What the Health,” hosted by DC Environmental Justice and Energy Justice Network.  It is happening at the Impact Hub DC, 419 7th St. NW, Ste. 300, WDC. Go to

28] – On Thurs., July 20 at 7:30 PM at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 30 W. North Ave., Baltimore 21201, join SHAN and members of the Baltimore community for the "I LOVE BEING BLACK" art demonstration. The event will include an open discussion on the progress and extension of the community art demonstration and pay homage to its supporters and participants. Call 443-602-7585.  RSVP at

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pope Francis’ Call for Dialogue In Venezuela Should Be Heeded, to Avoid Civil War

Published on Portside (

Pope Francis’ Call for Dialogue In Venezuela Should Be Heeded, to Avoid Civil War

Mark Weisbrot

Friday, July 7, 2017
Center for Economic and Policy Research

Over the past weekend, Pope Francis called once again for dialogue [1] in Venezuela to resolve the escalating conflict there. His plea went unnoticed in the major international media, but he is right about the urgent need for a “peaceful and democratic” solution.

In the 1980s, civil wars took hundreds of thousands of lives ― mostly civilians ― in Central America, including in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This is becoming a real possibility in Venezuela if a negotiated solution is not reached.
One reason that many people do not perceive the threat of civil war is that there is a media driven narrative of the Venezuelan populace rising up against an isolated dictatorship, much like the one which was used to describe the “Arab Spring” revolts in 2011–12. With the Venezuelan economy in a severe depression, inflation at more than 500 percent, and widespread shortages of food and medicine, this narrative holds that protests will topple the government and lead to a more stable and effective administration.

This is the dominant theme in the major international media. Many of its protagonists, including the Trump administration, US Senator Marco Rubio and important opposition leaders, seek to make the economic and humanitarian situation even worse through sanctions and other tactics (including the current reported threat of more drastic sanctions) that make it more difficult for the government to borrow or obtain foreign exchange, in order to hasten the collapse of the government.

But Venezuela remains a polarized country. This can be seen in the most recent polling data. First, Maduro’s approval rating is 20.8 percent, which has been its average over the past year. This may seem low by US standards, but given the depth of the economic crisis and depression, it shows a lot of die-hard supporters. (We can also compare it to the current 7 percent approval for President Temer in Brazil, or presidents of other Latin American countries, like Mexico, who have lower approval ratings than Maduro despite growing economies.)
As others [2] have pointed out, Maduro’s approval rating was at 21.1 percent just two months before his party got 41 percent of the vote in the last (2015) congressional election. In other words, there are a large number of people who are still skeptical of what the opposition would do, even if they think that the government is primarily responsible for an awful economic mess.

They could also be afraid. If they are associated with the government, they do not know what kind of repression they would face under an opposition government, especially one that comes to power in a coup. The Venezuelan opposition does not have a democratic and peaceful history. For example, in the 36 hours following the 2002 US-backed military coup, dozens of people were killed, and a round-up of officials of the elected government had begun. The current leadership of the opposition, although there are many divisions, has been pretty silent about opposition violence during the current protests in Venezuelan cities, including many killings.

The same polling also shows that 55 percent of the people approve of Hugo Chávez. The public is divided on the protests, with a majority in favor by a margin of 51.3 percent to 44.2 percent. (All polling numbers here are from Datanalisis, which is the most-cited polling firm in the international media, and cannot be accused of a progovernment bias.)

In addition to the polarization of the population, there are institutional and structural reasons to worry about civil war. There is a military of more than 100,000, and progovernment militias that the government claims to be in the hundreds of thousands. Many more Venezuelans have firearms.

Venezuela does not have the religious or sectarian divisions that have fueled the civil wars, mass slaughter, and chaos of Libya, Syria, or Iraq ― all countries where the US/major media narrative about the results of successful or attempted regime change turned out to be horrifically wrong. But the political polarization in Venezuela since Chávez was elected in 1998 has been overwhelmingly along class and therefore racial lines (the two are highly correlated, as in most of Latin America).

This is obvious to anyone who has ever witnessed opposition and progovernment demonstrations there over the years. Although the street demonstrations today have a broader middle class base than those of 2014 ― unlike then, many middle class people today are really hurting ― they have generally not been joined by poorer Venezuelans. At a large opposition mobilization in May, sociologist David Smilde noted [3] "how different the people selling water, beer and snow cones looked from those attending the demonstration in terms of dress and skin color.”

The lynching [4] in May of 21-year-old Orlando Figuera, an Afro-Venezuelan man, who was stabbed and burned to death by a mob of opposition protesters, was an ugly reminder of these racial and class divisions and a warning of what civil war could look like.

Negotiations would have to address the deterioration of the rule of law over the past few years. This would include such issues as the democratically elected National Assembly regaining its full constitutional powers; the release of jailed opposition leaders; the use of civilian and not military courts for trials of protesters; and elections, including the overdue regional elections and the constitutionally mandated presidential elections next year.

But there would also have to be constitutional guarantees for whoever loses future elections that they will not be victims of persecution in which all branches of government, including the judiciary, are controlled by one side and stacked against them. Without such credible guarantees, it may be difficult to avoid escalating civil conflict.

Like most wars, civil wars have to be prevented ― once they get started, they can be very difficult to end. Colombia’s civil war lasted more than half a century, and the government is still struggling to end the remaining violence after its historic peace agreement was signed last year.

Pope Francis is credited with playing an important role in the 2014 negotiations for the Obama administration’s opening to Cuba. Hopefully he can also contribute to a negotiated solution in Venezuela.

Mark Weisbrot [5] is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research [6] in Washington, D.C., and the president of Just Foreign Policy [7]. He is also the author of “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy [8]” (2015, Oxford University Press). You can subscribe to his columns here [9].


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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs