Oklahoma Peace Strategy News November-December 2012
Free newspaper from the Oklahoma City Peace House, published six times a year.
N o v. - D e c. 2 0 1 2 “ P e a c e is n o t ju s t t h e a b s e n c e o f v io le n c e , b u t t h e p r es e nc e o f j u s t ic e . ” D r. M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g , J r. Sunday Nov. 11th Details below The Best Kind of Holiday Shopping-Helping 50+ Good Causes: Come to the Peace Festival! Oklahoma City’s 27th annual Peace Festival will be on Sunday, Nov. 11th, from 11 am to 5 pm, in the Civic Center Music Hall’s “Hall of Mirrors” in downtown in Oklahoma City. The event is free and open to the public. Bring friends and new visitors this year. “Visitors will be inspired by tables and booths of local groups and organizations serving in social justice, human service, human rights, environment and peace,” said Nathaniel Batchelder, director of the Peace House. Dr. King said peace is the presence of justice. The Peace Festival presents a holiday shopping opportunity as groups and vendors sell items as gifts for the holiday season. Fair trade and homemade goods on sale include pottery, crafts and organic coffee from Central America, carving and hand-made items from Africa. Local artists and craftspeople sell their art as well. Many groups sell books, calendars, tshirts and bumper stickers furthering their mission. Groups offer newsletters and membership opportunities in addition to sales items. . “Background entertainment during the festival includes musicians Steve McLinn, Jahruba, and others,” Batchelder said. Folk singers and guitarists Jerry Carroll and D. Ray Polk will perform. Dance recitals by students from Oklahoma City’s Aalim School of Dance are at 2 pm. A Children’s Activity Room, supervised by adults during the event, is sponsored by the Peace Education Institute, a cosponsor of the Festival. Other sponsors with the Peace House and Peace Education Institute include the Social Justice Committee First Unitarian Church, Home Creations, Bright Lights of OKC, Summit Business Systems, Oklahoma Observer, and Bob Lemon. More information is available by calling the Peace House in Oklahoma City at 405-524-5577, or by going on the website www.PeaceHouseOK.org. Inside this issue: ALERTS Page 5 P. 5 You’re invited to “LEAPS & BOUNDS” P. 6 Weapons Caused Birth Defects P. 7 $21 Trillion Hidden by the Rich P. 9 Renewable Energy Oklahoma P. 10 THE PEACE HOUSE 2912 N. Robinson Oklahoma City, OK 73103 P. 4 Non-profit U.S. Postage Paid Okla. City, OK 73125 Permit No. 1096 Honoring the life of George McGovern Address Service Requested P. 2 Return a Gift to the Peace House in the enclosed envelope! THANKS! Donna Compton Editorial: “Really!!??” Page 1, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 by Donna Compton tinuously at war. There are huge corporate interests who very much want it to stay that way. Enough money has been spent on these wars to solve every social problem we have and still have enough left over to reduce everyone’s taxes. We could have converted virtually every motor vehicle to renewable or less polluting power sources. We could have financed enough wind farms and solar panel arrays to switch much of the grid to clean, renewable sources. We could I’ve been hearing that word in my head for a while now- have sent every deserving student to college for free. Innot about the news on SNL-but about the constant drum- stead, we have become more and more adept at inventing beat for yet another war-this time with Iran. and deploying more diabolical ways to kill others and we have turned a number of ancient landscapes to rubble. I have heard many excellent arguments against our possi- And we think THEY are a threat? Really?? ble participation in a war against Iran, a number of them on these Thousands of our young people pages by our own Nathaniel have been killed and maimed and Batchelder and others. I have also hundreds of thousands in other read articles and listened to convercountries have suffered the same sations on TV and radio in stunned fate. And each of those individuals disbelief as an endless parade of had a circle of friends, family, and warmongers reel off a litany of colleagues who still care about fearful consequences of not acting them, love them, and will miss them quickly. My first reaction is not forever. And all this pain and sufwell-modulated or even very civil. fering is worth it? REALLY!? I find myself shaking my head and saying, like Seth and Amy, Meanwhile, the most ominous Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers on Saturday REALLY?! Night Live during the “REALLY?!” segment threats to our nation and to the of Weekend Update-a sarcastic send-up of world, have become tests of ‘faith.’ REALLY AMERICA?! Are we outrageous news. “Do you believe in global warmreally going to fall for those threading?” “Believe” is not the right bare excuses for war???? Again??? word. There is overwhelming scientific evidence around “The Threat is Real!” the earth, in many disciplines, demonstrating that the earth “They’re Four Years Closer to a Nuclear Weapon!” is warming in a way that threatens not only human life but all life on the planet. “The Time is Short to Act!” “They Hate Us!” Talking about population control has become taboo also. “They Want to Destroy Our Way of Life! But the planet is beyond its carrying capacity. All of us “They Will Get Us if We Don’t Get Them First!” must reduce our consumer footprint and walk more gently “They Have Weapons of Mass Destruction.!” on the earth. We in the northern hemisphere are using many ‘Strategic Supplies are Threatened!” times more resources that people in the southern hemiREALLY??!! Don’t these ‘reasons’ sound eerily like the sphere and must use less. But we must also bring the actual number of humans down or nature is likely to do it for us. same excuses for the war in Iraq? None of these catch phrases is a statement of undisputed fact. In reality, the But Iran is the biggest threat to peace on the planet? REALLY!?? evidence for some of them is extremely flimsy or suspect, or both. And some of them could be rather accuFor the “experts” to start in with the same old lame rately turned around on ourselves. WE are being encour- excuses for going into yet another war is the most deadly aged to hate THEM. Many of THEM think WE want to game of Charlie Brown and Lucy in their ‘kicking the footdestroy their way of life. Pogo said, years ago, “I have ball’ series.’ Are we really going to kick it again? The warseen the enemy and he are us.” Never truer than now. mongers think we’re going to fall for it one more time. So, These same ‘reasons,’ in some variation, have been used pardon me if, when someone starts beating the drum for in every decade since the 1960s to keep this country con- another war, my first response is “REALLY?! ///// A regular feature on Saturday Night Live is the Weekend Update. Occasionally, something in the actual news is so outrageous, the hosts do a series of one-liners followed by the word “REALLY??!! said with great incredulity and often followed by, “You’ve got to be kidding! Page 2, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 C OMMENTARY REALLY??!! Oklahoma Peace Strategy News is produced by The Peace House in Oklahoma City. It has been published since 1983. It is written, compiled, typeset, composed, labeled, and mailed by volunteers. Letters to the Editor and articles submitted for publication are welcome. They must be signed with a phone number and address for the author; however, requests for anonymous publication will be considered. OPS News reserves the right to edit for space and to refuse publication of statements that are libelous or unsubstantiated. Send to: The Peace House 2912 N. Robinson Okla. City, OK 73103 Or to email@example.com Phone: 405-524-5577 Peace Education Institute 11404 N. Midwest Blvd. Jones, OK 73049 405-204-6479 FULL & NEW MOON CEREMONIES The New Moon begins each lunar cycle. It’s a perfect time to set intentions for the coming month, for yourself, our community and our world. Setting your intentions has a great effect on what you do. It helps you remember who you are and what you are about. New Moon Ceremonies take place at MettaWing. Monday, November 12, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 13, 7:00 p.m. The Full Moon signifies the completion of the lunar cycle. You can mark that event by letting go of those things that you no long wish to carry forward into your future. As life changes, “letting go” is an important tool to staying in the here and now. Monthly demonstrations for “No War on Iran” take place on the first Friday of the month, 4:30pm6pm, on the four corners by Penn Square Mall. Join us in December. In the new year, a new location and time may be chosen. Full Moon Drumming Circles Friday, December 1, 9:00 p.m. Winter Solstice Celebration Friday, December 21, 2012, 7:00 p.m. Details at www.PeaceEducationInstitute.org Please Help The Peace House Tear and remove Send a gift in the enclosed envelope Support The Peace House, OKC Oklahoma City’s Peace House depends upon your contributions — all sizes — to survive. Also send us your suggestions, and the names and addresses of friends you’d like to receive our newspapers and mailings, which we send free to everyone. The Peace House networks with many groups and individuals to bring about public events, peace walks, demonstrations, speakers, editorials, educational events, peace camps … and a host of activities relating to human rights, economic justice and environmental sustainability. If you know us, you know it’s true. The Peace House website — www.peacehouseok.org — is updated frequently and regularly to share announcements, alerts, photos, and essays about peace as well as events and links to other organizations with whom we are aligned. Thanks to all who can help! Your contributions to Peace House support our publications, programs, rallies, marches, and ongoing efforts for human rights, economic justice, environmental sustainability, nonviolence, and peace. As we are a political nonprofit, donations to Peace House are not tax-deductible. Send to: PEACE HOUSE 2912 N. Robinson Oklahoma City, OK 73103 Page 3, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Bread for the World and Churches for Middle East Peace Honor the Legacy of Sen. George McGovern mann. “We pray lawmakers will continue his bipartisan commitment to ending world hunger by supporting the Washington, DC, October 22, 2012 McGovern-Dole Bread for the World joins the anti-hunger community in offering condo- school feeding lences to family and friends of the late George McGovern. The former U.S. initiative and senator and ambassador devoted much of his career to fighting for proother programs grams that support hungry and poor people in the United States and around that help lift milthe world. lions out of poverty from poten“We are deeply saddened by the passing of such a great leader on global tially devastating federal budget cuts.” hunger,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. Funeral services were at 1 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26 at Mary Sommervold “Sen. McGovern’s legacy and commitment to ending hunger will live on Hall at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science in Sioux Falls, S.D. A through the McGovern-Dole feeding program and his accomplishments as private burial will take place at a later date at a Washington, D.C., cemea World Food Prize laureate.” tery. Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) was instrumental in feeding hungry people in the United States by reforming the food stamp program in the 1970s. Working closely with Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kans.) to cosponsor the bill, Sen. McGovern modernized and expanded the program now known as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which currently assists 46 million Americans. The two senators also established the International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which serves millions of people in developing countries. Named in honor of Sens. McGovern and Dole, the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program has provided low -income countries with U.S. agricultural commodities and financial and technical assistance for school feeding programs since the 1990s. The program also supports maternal, infant, and child nutrition programs. With funding of about $200 million in 2010, McGovern-Dole has served approximately 5 million beneficiaries in 28 countries. “Sen. McGovern’s anti-hunger legacy is apparent in the millions of lives that have been spared through the programs he sponsored,” added Beck- Tear and remove Support The Peace Education Institute The Peace Education Institute is committed to educational and practical opportunities for people to explore nonviolent living options. We need your support. Send your contributions to: The Peace Education Institute 11404 N. Midwest Blvd. Jones, OK 73049 Contributions to “PEI” ARE tax-deductible. Page 4, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Corinne Whitlatch, the founder and first executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, was a friend of Senator George McGovern, who passed away this week. Corinne recalls Senator McGovern, his relationship with CMEP, and his dedication to peace in the Middle East: Churches for Middle East Peace is grateful for George McGovern’s decades long dedication and work for Middle East peace. He was a founding member of CMEP’s Leadership Council and one of CMEP’s first fundraising letters was from George. Long before I came to Washington and became CMEP’s director, I was a friend of George McGovern. I was treasurer of the McGovern for President campaign in Iowa where his caucus success launched his successful candidacy for the Democratic contest against Richard Nixon and political defeat. Also working for the Iowa campaign were McGovern family members from Iowa and his nearby home state South Dakota which led to my working security for the family at the Miami convention. At the convention, McGovern’s expressed concern for Palestinian human rights brought pressure from a major donor and awakened me to the controversy and the issue. Senator George McGovern was a foreign policy expert with long service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who knew the fundamental importance of Israeli-Palestinian-Arab peace to the Middle East region and any chance for global peace. He was on the board of the Middle East Policy Council, which publishes an academic journal, for two years. When he became its head in 1991, our paths crossed again. Our last time together was at the September meeting of the heads of Middle East peace groups on the morning of 9-11. With no hesitation George, who had retired to South Dakota, accepted my invitation to join CMEP’s Leadership Council. “If my name can help, use it.” It was an honor to know George McGovern, his example of perseverance and steadfast work for peace is an inspiration to me, to CMEP and a great many people. Our commitment to peace making will be his legacy. ///// Contact Elected Officials: The White House Washington, DC 20500 202-456-1111 (comments) 202-456-1414 (switchboard) FAX: 202-456-2461 Congressional Switchboard (202) 224-3121 (202) 225-3121 Mail: US Senate US Senate Washington, DC 20510 Mail: (Name of Rep.) US House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 Senator Tom Coburn (OK) DC Tel: (202) 224-5754 DC Fax: (202) 224-6008 OKC Ofc: (405) 231-4941 Tulsa Ofc: (918) 581-7651 Senator Jim Inhofe (OK) DC Tel: (202) 224-4721 DC Fax: (202) 228-0380 OKC Ofc: (405) 608-4381 Tulsa Ofc: (918) 748-5111 U.S. Representatives (OK) Dist 1: John Sullivan (Tul) DC Tel: (202) 225-2211 DC Fax: (202) 225-9187 Tulsa ofc: (918) 749-0014 Dist 2: Dan Boren (Musk) DC Tel: (202) 225-2701 DC Fax: (202) 225-3038 Muskogee: (918) 687-2533 Dist 3: Frank Lucas (W. OKC) DC Tel: (202) 225-5565 DC Fax: (202) 225-8698 OKC Ofc: (405) 373-1958 Dist 4: Tom Cole (Nrm & S.) DC Tel: (202) 225-6165 DC Fax: (202) 225-3512 Norman Ofc: (405) 329-6500 Dist 5: James Lankford (OKC) DC Tel: (202) 225-2132 DC Fax: (202) 226-1463 OKC Ofc: (405) 234-9900 Contact one or more of them today! “No War on Iran” Oklahoma City’s “Americans Against the Next War” group meets every Friday afternoon to discuss actions and strategies, as we continue to study information available on this issue. Visit www.AmericansAgainstTheNextWar.org. Peace activists must continually make concerns about another needless war clear to members of Congress and the White House. Intelligence sources in the US and Israel, and the IAEA inspectors (International Atomic Energy Agency) agree that “Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon.” They also agree that should Iran begin to enrich uranium to higher levels for a weapon, it would be detected within one or two months, and it would take Iran a year to 18 months to build a weapon. President Obama is clearly committed to resolving the Iran issue through diplomacy, inspections, and sanctions … a policy characterized as “weak” by hardliners in the US and Israel. Do they prefer war? Dangerous talk risks war. Military strikes likely leading to war would be catastrophic for the world, resulting in untold destruction and death in Iran and Israel, and destroying America’s fragile economic recovery. A regional war could result involving Russia and China. Write, Call, Fax our elected officials. Write a letter to the editor of newspapers small and large. Letters get read! Do what you can to prevent another war. Cosponsors Needed for the “Education For All” Act RESULTS Global Hunger & Poverty Lobby wants 100 cosponsors for the EFA Act by year’s end. There are 74 cosponsors already (none from Oklahoma yet). While the U.S has provided important global leadership to open classroom doors for children around the world, there are still 61 million primary-schoolaged children not in school, the majority of whom are girls. The world has made progress toward universal education since 2000, but is not on track to achieve this goal as committed in the Millennium Development Goals. To achieve the goal of universal basic education, the EFA Act lays out U.S. policy that includes working with other countries, international organizations and civil society to: 1) assist developing countries in strengthening their educational systems, 2) assist multilateral organizations and NGOs (nongovernmental organizati ons), 3) promote education as the foundation for community development and strong economies, and 4) extend access to education particularly to marginalized and vulnerable groups, including girls, children affected by conflict or crises, disabled children, children in remote or rural areas, children from families affected by disease. Please contact U.S. Representatives asking them to cosponsor the Education For All Act of 2011. The EFA Act is authored by Reps Nita Lowey (DNY) and Dave Reichert (R-WA). Republican Reps should contact Ashley Johnson in Rep. Reichert’s office for more information and to become a cosponsor (they know how to do it). Page 5, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 “Leaps and Bounds” is a one-woman show exploring the intersection of faith, ecology, and the global economy. Developed and performed by Tevyn East, this show has been shared with more the 100 communities in over 50 cities across the country. Recently adapted into a film, Leaps and Bounds continues to inspire individuals and communities to consider their response to the ecological and economic crises now upon us. It is presented by the Affording Hope Project. You are invited to: Using a number of creative tools including storytelling, song, poetry, prayer, movement, and music, this work of theater sheds light on the unsustainable strain of our economic system, while awakening the imagination to a new way of living with and relating to Earth. Grounded in theoFriday, November 16 logical reflection, Leaps and Bounds, embodies an adventure both visceral and thought-provoking, asking for a reckoning and a reclaiming of the valChurch of the Open Arms ues that promote human well-being and ecological health. 3131 N. Penn, Oklahoma City The Affording Hope Project accesses the transformative power of art to inspire faith communities to be a prophetic witness to alternative economic The Affording Hope Project presents Leaps and Bounds, a onesystems of sufficiency and solidarity. LEAPS & BOUNDS Tevyn East brings the urgency and passion that are appropriate to the environmental crisis that is now upon us. Her performance probes this difficult terrain with depth and breadth, grounded in the moral imperatives of biblical faith. — Ched Myers woman show which explores the intersection of faith, ecology, and the global economy. Developed and performed by Tevyn East, the event intends to inspire faith communities to be a prophetic witness to alternative economic systems of sufficiency and solidarity. “My attorney suggested that we try to work things out in mediation to avoid a litigation disaster” Since 1988, Jim Stovall, founder and Director of the Mediation Institute, has worked with individuals, families, and organizations to resolve difficult and complicated disputes that often threaten valuable relationships. Jim works to assist those in conflict to retain control over the decision-making process and prevent a matter from turning into a lengthy court battle or a painful grudge match. Divorce and Custody Matters Family & Interpersonal Disputes Elder Care, Estate and Inheritance Issues Training and Consultation Call 405-607-8914 for more information and a free initial consultation. The Mediation Institute, 133308 N. MacArthur Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73142 Page 6, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Surge in birth defects in Iraq said to be caused by US and NATO munitions October 16th, 2012 | LobeLog.com, an ini- coalition partners. We always take very seriously public health concerns about any population now tiative of IPS news agency and its Washliving in a combat theatre. Unexploded ordnance, ington DC bureau chief Jim Lobe. By Jasmin Ramsey including improvised explosive devises, are a recognized hazard.” According to a new study first reported But a series of studies have suggested links beon by the Independent, there has been a tween the bombardments and a rise in Iraqi birth significant rise in Iraqi birth defects in cities that defects: were hard-hit by US-led forces during the war: Their preliminary findings, in 2010, prompted a World Health Organization inquiry into the The latest study found that in Fallujah, more prevalence of birth defects in the area. The WHO than half of all babies surveyed were born with a report, out next month, is widely expected to birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the show an increase in birth defects after the consiege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior flict. It has looked at nine “high-risk” areas in to the turn of the Iraq, including millennium, fewer Fallujah and than 2 per cent of WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION Basra. Where babies were born REPORT OUT NEXT MONTH high prevalence with a defect. More ...a series of studies have suggested links be- is found, the than 45 per cent of WHO is exall pregnancies surtween the bombardments and a rise in Iraqi pected to call for veyed ended in misbirth defects: Their preliminary findings, in additional studcarriage in the two 2010, prompted a World Health Organizaies to pinpoint years after 2004, up precise causes. tion inquiry into the prevalence of birth defrom only 10 per cent before the fects in the area. The WHO’s report, out bombing. Between next month, is widely expected to show an 2007 and 2010, one increase in birth defects after the conflict. in six of all pregnancies ended in miscarriage. The new research, which looked at the health histories of 56 families in Fallujah, also examined births in Basra, in southern Iraq, attacked by British forces in 2003. Researchers found more than 20 babies out of 1,000 were born with defects in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital in 2003, a number that is 17 times higher than recorded a decade previously. In the past seven years, the number of malformed babies born increased by more than 60 per cent; 37 out of every 1,000 are now born with defects. Implications for War on Iran: After being asked to give his take on a recent report about the human costs of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, a prominent commentator on US-Iran relations said it was an “inexact science” and declined further comment even though he called the project a worthy endeavor. While the idea that inflicting physical damage on a nuclear site would cause serious harm to surrounding biological entities seems indisputable, at least the after-effects of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq The US response: tragically continues to serve as a case study for the impact a prolonged war with Iran—required A US Defense Department spokesperson said: if the goal is to set back Iran’s nuclear program “We are not aware of any official reports indicat- by more than a few years — would have on the ing an increase in birth defects in Al Basrah or human population. Fallujah that may be related to exposure to the metals contained in munitions used by the US or Vision and Action for Ending War Education/Outreach on Conscience and Military Legal Services for Conscientious Objectors Counter recruitment/peace education tools War Resisters League affiliate 504 NE 15th St., OKC 73104 Phone 405.598.7362 centerforconscience.org Page 7, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 THANKS to Donors to the Peace House received from January, 2012 through October 29, 2012. Kay Adair Lee Agnew & Lonnie Corder Agnew Kay Ahaus Bob Aldridge Dorothy Alexander David Alexander Valerie J. Allen Kathryn & Andy Anderson Kay Anderson Kelly Armstrong Mona Baird Lois Barber Paul Barby Carol Barry Pamela Barrymore Fannie Bates Cara & Ronald Beer Lee Eddy & Bill Bennett Nan Binder-Smith Robert & Sharon Bish Melanie Bittman Teresa Black Patricia Black Linda Blackerby Fred & Sue Blackmon Shirley & Jon Blaschke David Blatt Barbara L Bonner Linda Bowlby Tom And Pat Brewer Terry & Kay Britton Ron Burkard Rev Jack And Susan Burton Phyllis Byerly Bill and Alice Byrd Anne L Guzman & Gary Byrkit Nancy Cain Pat Califana Sherry Bacus Scott & Jerry Carroll Richard Cates & Jeanene Davidson D. L. Cetrangolo Jack Clifford Annette Clifton Orra Compton Margaret Cox Billy Coyle David & Betty Craighead Della G. Craighead Lois & Ray Crooks Kathy Cullinan Bob Curtis Marilyn & Lawrence Curtis Joan Dark Lynda Deibel Marge & Bob Delaney R.L. Doyle Sally Duran E. Warren Eads Ozie, Kay And Anthony Edwards Robert & Harriette Elliott Susan Elliott Hawthorne Farr Jalal Farzaneh Ken Feiger Thurma Fiegel Margie Finley Christy A Finsel Margaret Flansburg John S. And Gail P. Fletcher Dorothy Foster Mary Francis Tom Fredgren & Ellen Frank Naomi French Gus W Friedrich Mike Fuller Carol Ann Fulton Tom Gallagher Gail Garloch Jane & Bill Garthoeffner Barbara Geary Alice Gehrke Veva Gibbard Rivermont Susan A Gonzalez Dixie Mosier Greene Marjorie Greer John & Francis Griffin David Grow Denise Hall Dennie Hall Arlene Halley Kay Ham Jim Hankins Frances Harbert Diane Hardersen Mary Harris C.M. & Phyllis Harvey, M.D. Brad Hawkins Don Helberg William R. Henry Lois & R.E. Hilbert Don & Kay Holladay Jim & Carolyn Holloran Jill Holmes Penny Hopkins Steven & Melinda Howard Jean Hubinger Sara Iselin Terry And Rebecca James N EW M EDIA Democracy done digitally Web Sites - design, hosting, administration Print and digital publication production Publicity and online marketing Specializing in nonprofit/grassroots groups Rena Guay NewMediaActive.com Page 8, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 PROUD TO BE UNION Barbara Hagen & Bruce Johnson Davis D And Carole J Joyce Bruce W. Keck Edwin Kessler Ann Richards Ketcham Martha & Bill King Beryl & Esther Kingsbury Mary Jo Kinzie Wilma J & Perry Klaassen Joan & Michael Korenblit Bernadette & Michael Krawczyk Marvin & Lilly Kroeker Shirley Cleary, Mike & Coleen Kunkel Jim & Pat Laing Linda & Tim Larason Mrs. Harriet Larsen Sharon Lawson Jim Lazalier Connie Leahy Bob Lemon Robyn Lemon Sellers Roger Lienke Tupper Lienke John R Long Annye Love Janis Love Gene M Kasmar & Kerry Lund Gayla Machell Phyllis McKenzie & Peter Maher Ruth Males Joyce & David Markes Dolores D. Martin Moses & Sadie Mast Jim Maxey,D.D.S. Ray McGovern Steve & Sherry McLinn James Mcusic Gordon & Judy Melson Mary Menges Myers Dorothy Messenger Mr. & Mrs. T.H Milby David Miller & Barbara Neas Mary Moloney Sp J.T. Moore Bill & Helen Moorer Lynn Moroney Fran Morris Betty P. Morrow Charlene Morrow Anne Murray Nancy Musselman Kent & Sheila Myers Chris Nanny Michael Nelson Bill Nerin Clayton & Sandra Ness Peter J. Neufeld Pam & Herb Neumann Aldean Newcomb Morty & Hamsa Newmark Rita Newton Donna O'Keefe John Orr Liane Ozmun Carol Palmer Laura Elia Woods Schaller & Allen Parleir Douglas Parr Linda Perkins Tony Pezeshkian Margaret Phipps Peter Pierce Mary & Max Pliska-Kintner Ruth Podolin In Memory of Bill Byerly Lois Pokorny Ben & Laura Pollard Lydia Polley Dennis & Carol Preston Ghislaine Rabin Lorrie Sylvester & Paul Reynolds Judith Appleton & Stan Reynolds Ann Todd and Dave Riley C.J. Roberts Bob & Maria Rounsavell Robert S Ryan Jeff Salamat Susan & Abraham Sasso Peter Schaffer Virginia Savage Tom Schott Floydette Seal Gail Seto Fr. Clark Shackleford Paula Sharp Sondra Shehab Rev. James & Lucy Shields Susie Shields & Mark Derichsweiler Frank Silovsky Susan Singh Martha Skeeters Randy Smith Marie Soliel Jerry Sommerseth Cliff Sousa Constance St Hilaire St. Scholastica Monastrey Jane St. Amant, OSB David Stamps Barbara Stanfield Wanda Jo Stapleton Margaret Steichen Jerry Stein Carol Stone Jim Stovall Sharon & Jim Tappan Sabra Tate Lester Taylor Lois Taylor Leslie Teets Moses Linda & Tom Temple Patti Tepper-Rassmussen Jenny Thompson Terry Thompson Hank & Sheila Tiarks Sammy Towner Rev Dale & Sherron Tremper Jon Trzcinski Rick Tucker Becky & Will Uraneck Saundra Vallejo-Delgado Harley & Anne Venters John & Rosie Walters Susan & Jim Warram Brent & Gina Wendling Lyntha & Charles Wesner Shawn Wicker H. Harbour & Mickey Winn III Ernest Wirsich Bertha Wolford Kay Woody Robert Hamm & Ingrid Young 6 Things You Should Know About the $21 Trillion the World's Richest People Are Hiding In Tax Shelters A new report from the Tax Justice Network found trillions of untaxed wealth that the world's richest people are hiding. Here's what you need to know. (July 25, 2012) cated trusts and other investments just to shave a few more points off the bill they pay to their home country. And it's all adding up. $21 trillion. That's how much the world's richest people are hiding in off2. Where's the Cash? It's Complicated shore tax havens worldwide. Or it may be more, as much as $32 trillion— “Offshore,” according to Henry, isn't a physical location anymore— the real amount is, of course, almost impossible to track. though plenty of places like Singapore and Switzerland, he notes, still speWhile governments slash spending and lay off workers, citing a need for cialize in providing “secure, low-tax physical residences” to the world's “austerity” because of the slow economy, the ultra-rich—fewer than 10 rich. million people—have stashed an amount equal to the US and Japanese But these days, “offshore” wealth is virtual—Henry describes “nominal, economies combined away from the tax man. This is according to a new hyper-portable, multi-jurisdictional, often quite temporary locations of netreport by the Tax Justice Network, and their findings are shocking. The works of legal and quasi-legal entities and arrangements.” A company may lost tax revenue from offshore tax shelters, they note, “is large enough to be located in one jurisdiction, but it is owned by a trust located elsewhere, make a significant difference to all of our convenand administered by trustees in a third location. tional measures of inequality. Since most of the “Ultimately, then, the term 'offshore' refers to a set missing financial wealth belongs to a tiny elite, of capabilities,” rather than to a place or multiple the impact is staggering.” places. James S. Henry, who was former Chief EconoIt's also important, the report notes, to distinguish mist for McKinsey & Co. and is the author of the between the “intermediary havens”--the places most book The Blood Bankers as well as articles for people think of when they think of tax havens, like publications including The Nation and The New Romney's Cayman Islands, Bermuda, or SwitzerYork Times, dug into information from the Bank land—and the “destination havens,” which include for International Settlements, the International the US, the UK, and even Germany. Those destinaMonetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations are desirable because they provide “relatively tions, central banks, and private sector analysts efficient, regulated securities markets, banks backand found the outlines of the giant pool of cash stopped by large populations of taxpayers, and infloating in that nebulous location known as surance companies; well-developed legal codes, “offshore”. (And this is just money—the report competent attorneys, independent judiciaries, and Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com leaves out things like real estate, yachts, art, and the rule of law.” other forms of wealth the super-rich are hiding, So the same folks avoiding paying taxes by shufuntaxed, in offshore tax havens.) Henry refers to it as a “black hole” in the fling their money around, in other words, are taking advantage of taxpayerworld economy and notes that, “despite taking pains to err on the conserva- funded services to do so. And here in the US, certain states have begun, tive side, the results are astonishing.” since the 1990s, to offer inexpensive legal entities “whose levels of seThere's a lot of information to wade through in this report, so we've bro- crecy, protection against creditors, and tax advantages rival those of the ken out 6 things you should know about the money the world's richest are world's traditional secretive offshore havens.” Combine that with the dekeeping from the rest of us. clining share of US taxes paid by the rich and corporations, and we're start1. Meet The Top .001% ing to look awfully appealing to those looking to squirrel away money. “By our estimates, at least a third of all private financial wealth, and nearly half of all offshore wealth, is now owned by world’s richest 91,000 3. Big Bailed-Out Banks Run This Business people– just 0.001% of the world’s population,” the report says. Those top Just who is facilitating this process? Some familiar names surface 91,000 have about $9.8 trillion of the total estimated in this report—and quickly when you dig into the data: Goldman Sachs, UBS, and Credit fewer than ten million people account for the whole pile of cash. Suisse are the top three, with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JP MorWho are those people? We know they're the richest, but what else do we gan Chase all in the top ten. “We can now add this to their list of distincknow about them? The report mentions “30-year-old Chinese real estate tions: they are key players in many havens around the globe, and key enspeculators and Silicon Valley software tycoons,” and those whose wealth ablers of the global tax injustice system,” the report notes. comes from oil and the drug trade. It doesn't mention, but could, US presiBy the end of 2010, the top 50 private banks alone were managing some dential candidates—Mitt Romney's famously taken flak for having money $12.1 trillion in “cross-border invested” assets for their clients. That's more stashed in a Swiss bank account and in investments located in the Cayman than twice what it was in 2005, representing an average annual growth rate Islands. (Politifact rated these statements in a recent Obama Ad as “true”.) of over 16 percent. Drug lords, of course, need to hide their ill-gotten gains, but plenty of “From banks to accountancy firms and corporate lawyers, some of the the other ultra-rich are simply avoiding paying taxes, constructing compli- biggest businesses in the world are part of the fabric of Continued, Page 12 Page 9, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Renewable Energy Standard for Oklahoma by Joel Olson The transition from an electricity network based on fossil fuels to a new one based on cleaner energy technologies has to occur, but not abruptly. The burning of coal and oil has to end, but the energy they produce must be replaced by renewable sources - sun, wind, biota, geothermal, hydrogen, etc. - slowly at first, more quickly later on when the technologies have matured. Most of these alternative technologies are still in a period of rapid improvement and innovation, industries in their early stages. And they perform best at different times of day, so a mixture will be needed to match up with the times when electricity is most needed. That schedule itself may change as, for instance, electric cars needing overnight recharging become more popular. It is much too early to limit the choice of methods for generating renewable energy to a favored few, to foreclose on options that may pay off in the future. Most state programs award renewable energy credits (RECs) to whoever actually contributes energy from renewable sources, be it independent enterprises, local factories, or individual homeowners and ranchers. Thus the homeowners with solar panels get paid once for the energy they produce, and again for having done it by means of a renewable technology. Some utilities offer the home generator rebates or other incentives in exchange for their RECs. If not, the RECs are an additional source of income, sold on a separate market. Some states go farther, and distinguish the RECs according to the source technology, creating, for example, Solar RECs (SRECs) and including a percentage ("carve-out") for solar energy in the state portfolio. So there are a wide variety of ways to structure and to satisfy the Portfolio Standards. OK is one of the states (MT, WI, MI, NY, OK) with short deadlines and modest goals, around 15% by 2015, which we are on track to accomplish already in 2013. Others with longer time frames and stronger commitments cluster around 20% by 2020 and 25% by 2025. It’s time for OK Thus, as a nation, we need to encourage this transition, and develop to join them. We need to advance from a voluntary to a mandatory RES, these new industries. To assess where we are, one way is to examine how and to set up a number of incentives, for industrial, institutional and resienergy is being generated today. A list of source technologies and the per- dential generation. Solar energy has become widely known and has a huge centages of the total electricity has been called an energy portfolio. Incor- amount of popular interest and support across all political parties - 92% porating new sources or changing the contribution of older sources will nationwide according to a recent survey and of 2/3 in Oklahoma, according then change the percentages in the portfolio. In 2010, the national portfolio to the OK Policy Institute. (Survey at www.esolarenergynews.com ) consisted of 45% from coal, 25% natural gas, 20% nuclear and 10% renewable: hydro, geothermal, wind, solar, or biomass. So I suggest the larger step, to 25% renewable energy by 2025, the longer time-frame, as we are already far behind the leading states in develWe can set goals and a timetable in terms of that portfolio without oping these new industries. And I would include a 5% carve-out for solar being very specific about the component energy sources. Such flexible energy, so that the man on the street can participate, can own a piece of it. portfolios are called Renewable Energy Standards (RES), or Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), and require the major utility companies to provide a percentage of the total energy from some mixture of renewable sources. A national portfolio standard has not been enacted, but has been proposed, S2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, by Senator Bingaman and nine co-sponsors. But the idea has been around for a decade or two, and has been enacted in various forms in several states. A graphic of the current situations is available at www.seia.org/galleries/FactSheets/ Factsheet_Res.pdf . The states fall into 3 groups: 29 that embrace the development of renewable energy with RES and other incentives; 8 that are in the middle, with voluntary RES (including OK, 15% by 2015), and 13 with no RES and minimal support for the development of renewable energy sources. This grouping correlates well with the recent grades awarded by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, with praise OK for the recent improvements: www.aceee.org/press/2012/aceemassachusetts-still1-state-en. Compliance by the utility companies is demonstrated by the presentation of "receipts", annually, to the regulating agencies. They are denominated in some number of kiloWatt hours, and called Renewable Energy Oklahoma Sierra Club used a ‘take it to the street’ approach with their coal Credits (REC). This is a market-based approach, as the RECs can be exchanged and traded; a utility in need can purchase them; those with an ex- plant float in the Oklahoma Gazette Ghouls Gone Wild parade in downtown OKC with the theme of “Let's move Beyond Coal Oklahoma and Re-energize Oklahoma cess can sell them. with clean Page 10, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 A Bright Future for the Heartland: Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy from the Union of Concerned Scientists From the manufacturing centers and corn and soybean fields to the major finance hubs and lead-ing research universities, Midwest states have long served as an economic engine for the United States. Yet the region is still struggling to fully recover from a recession that has made it difficult for families to pay bills and for businesses to prosper and sustain job growth. The region’s unsustainable energy system exacerbates these economic pressures. The Midwest power system is dominated by coal—largely imported from outside the region—which poses serious risks to public health and the environment, and leaves consumers vulnerable to volatile energy prices. With abundant resources, revitalization is possible. The good news is that practical and affordable ways are available to help revitalize the Midwest economy and ensure a clean, safe, and reliable power supply. The Midwest is home to some of the best renewable energy resources in the world. The region is also endowed with a strong industrial base and leading research universities, where a tradition of hard work and innovation has long made the Midwest an economic engine for the entire nation. Few areas of the world have this ideal mix of resources, industrial capacity, and knowledge base. These advantages give the Midwest the tools to turn the challenges of a stalled economy and an unsustainable, polluting energy system into an opportunity for economic prosperity, job growth, and a healthy environment. UCS’s new report, A Bright Future for the Heartland, shows how we can get there. Clean energy: a wise investment for a bright future. Energy efficiency technologies and renewable electricity resources, such as wind, bioenergy, and solar energy, offer a cost-effective and responsible path away from polluting fossil fuels toward an innovation-based twentyfirst-century economy. Investing in these solutions would deliver new jobs and other economic development benefits, save consumers money, diversify the region's energy mix, and cut heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming. Boosting invest-ment in renewable energy and energy efficiency would also help keep the Midwest competitive in the growing global clean energy industry. sociation (MGA)—a collaboration of 10 states working on key public policy issues. These goals call for producing 30 percent of the Midwest's electricity supply from renewable energy by 2030, and for investing in energy efficiency technologies to reduce growth in power consumption at least 2 percent annually by 2015 and thereafter. Two key solutions: renewable electricity and energy efficiency standards. In 2009 an MGA advisory group released the Midwestern Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Roadmap (or Energy Roadmap), a set of policy recommendations for tran-sitioning to a clean energy economy (MGA 2009). Our analysis focuses on two of the highest -priority recommendations in the Energy Roadmap, which we model as a renewable electricity standard (RES) and an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). Our report shares what would happen if the entire Midwest region enacted the standards. An RES is a flexible, market-based policy that requires electricity providers to gradu-ally increase the amount of renewable energy used to produce the power they supply. An EERS similarly requires utilities to meet specific annual targets for reducing the use of electricity. While the region will need other policies to overcome specific market barriers to clean energy, the RES and EERS have proven to be effective and popular tools for advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency, and can play a key role in ensuring that the Midwest meets the targets in the Energy Roadmap. A bright future, together. Midwest states can benefit from enacting these policies individually, but will benefit even more by acting together. Many Midwest states have already taken important steps to promote clean energy, and there must be no retrenchment in those efforts. Instead, each state can go further to strengthen or enact policies that at least match the Energy Roadmap’s clean energy targets, and to support local, regional, federal, and international efforts to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cuts in carbon emissions. With each state doing its part to promote renewable energy and ener-gy efficiency, the region will reap many vital benefits today while building a clean and sustainable energy economy for future generations. Support the work of the Union of Concerned Scientists For more than 20 years, UCS has worked with leading experts to educate U.S. decision makers and the public about clean, renewable energy and the implemention of practical solutions at an international, national, regional, and state level. A roadmap for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In A Bright Future for the Heartland, UCS based its analysis on the renew- You can help support this work by becoming a member, making a donation, and able energy and energy efficiency goals of the Midwestern Governors As- joining with other UCS supporters to take action. Page 11, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 $21 Trillion (Continued from Page 9) in The Guardian. “These companies are not moral entities that we can shame into paying their fair share; they exist to maximize their profits and those of their clients.” “Until the late 2000s,” Henry notes, “the conventional wisdom among flight capitalists was 'What cold be safer than 'too big to fail' US, Swiss and UK banks?'” Without the bailouts that came along with the 2008 financial crisis, he adds, many of the banks that are stashing cash for the ultra-rich wouldn't exist anymore. The assumption of government backing is the very reason why those uber-rich are banking with the big guys to begin with. 4. Inequality Is Worse Than We Thought With all this wealth hidden around the world, impossible to count as well as to tax, the Tax Justice Network points out, it's certain that we're underestimating the amount of income and wealth inequality we have. Stewart Lansley, author of The Cost of Inequality, told Heather Stewart at the Guardian:"There is absolutely no doubt at all that the statistics on income and wealth at the top understate the problem." When calculating the Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in a society, he said, "You don't pick up the multimillionaires and billionaires, and even if you do, you can't pick it up properly." This is such an important issue that the Tax Justice Network included a second report alongside Henry's, titled “Inequality: You Don’t Know the Half of It.” The report details all the problems with the way we calculate inequality now, which often seem to boil down to the fact that we have no accurate measure of the true wealth of the super-rich. Income tax data is available, but if there are really trillions stashed around the world in tax havens, how do we calculate the true incomes of the world's wealthiest? Inequality has already been skyrocketing around the world, by the measures we currently use. If the top 1 percent in the US don't own just 35.6 percent of the wealth, for instance, but a much larger chunk that's hidden away somewhere, what does it mean for us? Don't forget, as the report notes, that “inequality is a political choice”--that we determine what to do as a society based on the amount of inequality we think is tolerable or just. If that number is far greater than we think, how is that skewing our priorities? Many Americans are already misinformed about our level of inequality—but this report confirms that even supposed experts were wildly underestimating the problem. 5. “Indebted” Countries Aren't in Debt After All Henry's report breaks out a subgroup of 139 countries, mostly lower or middle-income ones, for further study, noting that by most calculations, those 139 countries had a combined debt of over $4 trillion at the end of 2010. But if you took into account all that money being held offshore, those countries actually had negative $10 trillion in debt—or as Henry writes, “[O]nce we take these hidden offshore assets and the earnings they produce into account, many erstwhile 'debtor' countries are in fact revealed to be wealthy. But the problem is, their wealth is now offshore, in the hands of their own elites and their private bankers.” Continued, Page 13 Panoply Hippy A Center for Sustainability, Spirituality & Healing Store Want support to make changes to live more sustainably? Interested in alternative healing? Consider A Retreat at Turtle Rock Farm Turtle Rock Farm is a retreat center in North Central Oklahoma – a little over an hour’s drive up I-35 from Oklahoma City. To talk to us, call 580.725.3411 or email or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our blog: http://turtlerockfarmretreat.blogspot.com Page 12, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Monday thru Saturday 2 pm to 7 pm 2412 N Shartel OKC Need a place to go to get centered again in creation? Visit our website to see photos of the farm and read about the retreats and classes we have scheduled: www.turtlerockfarmretreat.com Here’s a sample: Dec 8 – Meditation Retreat January 5 – Adding Chickens to the Mix Jan. 12 – Beekeeping workshop Jan. 19 – Simpler Living Feb. 2 – Living in the Moment WE’RE STILL OPEN!! Home of Oklahoma Ghost Tours call 405.521.1010 CRIScontactresearch.com Peace House t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. Retro Clothing . Essential Oils . Hand Crafted Jewelry. Pendulums and Stones. Peace House butto0n & bumper stickers. Hard to find Books on Spirituality . ParaNormal . Metaphysical and many more interesting subjects . Quality Incense including Nag Champa Band T -Shirts Misc Hemp products. Sage sticks and Herbs . Really Cool Purses ! Hand made Soaps and Lotions . Tie-Dyed novelty items . Bandanas . Silk Scarves . Oils Eclectic Art . Candles . Unusual Post Cards . Kung Fu Shoes . Many More Unusual Items Hours are Mon thru Sat 2 PM to 6:00 PM DO YOU WANT TO DO YOUR PART TO IMPROVE THE WORLD? You can start by joining OKC Amnesty International Local Group #238 Sign of the Times ... On a wall flooded by Hurricane Sandy $21 Trillion (Continued from Page 12) creditor of the developed world, rather than a borrower, and has been so for more than a decade. “That means this is really a tax justice problem, not simply a 'debt' problem.” But those debts, as we've noted, fall on the shoulders of the everyday working people of those countries, those who can't take advantage of sophisticated tax shelters. And this isn't only a developing world problem. These days, Henry notes, the developed world has its own debt crisis (witness the troubles of the Eurozone). The French economist Thomas Piketty notes, “the wealth held in tax havens is probably sufficiently substantial to turn Europe into a very large net creditor with respect to the rest of the world." 6. How Much are We Losing? That's the bottom line, isn't it? It's impossible to say for sure, of course, because these numbers are all just estimates, but Henry guesses that if this unreported $21 trillion earned a rate of return of 3 percent, and that income was taxed at 30 percent, that alone would generate income tax revenues of around $190 billion. If the total amount of money in tax havens is closer to his higher estimate, $32 trillion, it'd bring in closer to $280 billion—which is about twice the amount OECD countries spend on development assistance. In other words, a lot of money. And 3 percent returns are about as conservative as you can get. That's just income taxes. Capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, and other taxes would bring in even more. That's why, at the end of the day, Henry says that we could look at this as good news. “The world has just located a huge pile of financial wealth that might be called upon to contribute to the solution of our most pressing global problems,” he writes. “We have an opportunity to think not only about how to prevent some of the abuses that have led to it, but also to think about how best to make use of the untaxed earnings that it generates.” Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that no one needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” We meet at the Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Penn on the 1st Monday of the month at 6:30 PM, in the basement. Call John at 720-6467 for more information. Page 13, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 Violence Surrounds West Bank Olive Harvest Churches for Middle East Peace CMEP Bulletin http://www.cmep.org/ fice for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that over 2,500 olive trees were destroyed in September 2011, and 7,500 throughout 2011. There were several attacks believed to be carried out by settlers during this first week of the harvest. Human rights groups are monitoring olive groves near Israeli settlements and documenting attacks by settlers. So far, according to B’Tselem: Between October 7th and 10th, 2012, with the start of the West Bank's annual olive harvest, B'Tselem has documented five cases of injury to Palestinian farmers and their olive trees in the Ramallah and Nablus regions. In two incidents, settlers attacked farmers picking olives and damaged their yields. In three other cases, olive trees were discovered damaged or with the olives stolen, apparently by settlers. In one incident B’Tselem documented, 220 trees were already harvested when farmers arrived to their grove and many of them were damaged. The perpetrators are unknown but B’Tselem points out that the owners of the land cannot reach it without prior coordination with the army because it is Beginning of Harvest Season Brings Violence Every autumn, Palestinian farmers harvest olives from the trees in their so close to an outpost. In al-Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah, a farmer disgroves, many of which go back decades. In recent years, these farmers covered 100 of his trees were damaged, most were cut down at the trunk. have faced settler violence and intimidation in order to pick their olives, a The groups are concerned about the inaction of security forces in the areas crop that brought $100 million into the Palestinian economy in 2010 and when these events occur. In B’Tselem’s roundup of the events, they note: sustains many families in the West Bank. The direct attacks documented by B'Tselem occurred while members of the According to Rabbis for Human Rights, “Every year at this time Palestin- security forces were present. All the locations where damage to trees was ian farmers from a number of villages across the West Bank receive threats discovered are familiar to the security forces as areas where Palestinians to their safety, are denied access to their land or have their olives stolen, are subject to repeated harassment by settlers. their trees poisoned, or even cut down altogether.” Last year, The UN Of- Not only are the attacks not stopped but the (Continued on Page 16) “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead - Page 14, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 DAN MURDOCK ATTORNEY AT LAW Resides & Resides, PLLC 615 North Broadway Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102 www.resideslaw.com TELEPHONE (405) 605-6547 FACSIMILE (405) 605-6577 DMURDOCK@RESIDESLAW.COM Truth is Stranger Than Fiction: By Ashley Lauren October 29, 2012 11:30 am care2causes blog Teaching George Orwell’s 1984 I started teaching George Orwell’s “1984″ last week with a few of my classes. Since we redesigned our curriculum this year, our choices for books have completely changed, and I was faced with a list of wonderful books, none of which I had ever taught before. Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive about teaching “1984.” Not only had I never taught it before, I had never actually read it before. When I read and fell in love with Ray Bradbury’s “Farenheit 451,” my teacher at the time handed me “1984″ immediately when I had finished. I read the first few pages and it just didn’t hook me like “Fahrenheit 451,” so I put it down. Throughout the years, I’ve picked it up again, trying to read it all the way through, and I’ve failed every time. This year, during Banned Books Week, I made it my goal to read the book all the way through, and I did. When I got to the end of it, I realized just how relevant it is for our time — from Big Brother constantly watching to brainwashing through propaganda to a seemingly constant state of war – and I couldn’t resist teaching it to my students. For those of you who need a small refresher on this classic novel, “1984″ takes place in dystopian London during a futuristic age when a dictator, Big Brother, has control over all of the citizens. They are constantly reminded, “Big Brother is watching” through devices called telescreens that are mandatory in each home. Citizens can be punished, or even “vaporized” for any action or thought — called a thoughtcrime — against the government. As the novel opens, we meet Winston, a reporter at the Ministry of Truth whose job it is to alter past news reports so they match up with whatever Big Brother says at the time. He keeps a diary about his complaints against the government — a crime punishable by death, to be sure. He meets Julia, a fellow dissenter, and, in a world where everything is controlled, including who you love, they fall in love and attempt to join the revolution. I was a little worried, though, that my students would put the book down after the first few pages, like I did, never to be picked up again. With this in mind, I spent a good deal of time introducing the book before we started reading. I made a big deal about why the book has been banned in schools and libraries across the country (because, after all, kids will always want to read books that have been banned), and we focused on some of the controversial themes, exploring how students felt about them before we even started reading. Once we started reading, the students were hooked. They immediately jumped on the concept of the telescreens that always have to remain on and which also recorded your every move in the name of Big Brother. They couldn’t believe that Winston is asked to rewrite history every time something changes so that the government looks as if it is always right. However, that momentum only took them so far. After a while, they started to complain. “This is interesting and all,” they said, “but it could never happen. We wouldn’t let it!” Our redesigned curriculum focuses not only on important themes and literature, but on making the curriculum relevant to students through the use of nonfiction articles that pair up with the novels we teach. When my students wanted to know what this book had to do with their lives, I set out to show them. The answer to this teaching dilemma fell right into my lap. I was reading through some of the wonderful articles here on Care2, and I came across this one about schools using computer chips to monitor kids’ locations throughout the school day. If this isn’t Big Brother in real life, I don’t know what is. The next day, I started the class by asking students to make a list of all of the ways they could think of that the society represented in “1984″ is similar to ours. They came up with great examples, such as the advertisements we see on television, the war each of our societies is fighting, and issues with truth in reporting. None of them, however, mentioned tracking chips in student ID cards, so I handed out copies of the article I found, along with some of the other related stories it links to, and had them read quietly. It didn’t take long for the students to be come outraged. “This really happens?” they asked. “No way! How is that even legal?” they wanted to know. One student shouted, “It’s like Big Brother watching them all the time!” More than anything, though, the students wanted to know why schools might implement a policy like this. I told them that it’s good for school funding, because schools receive money for every day each student is in class. I also told them that it can be useful for safety; knowing where students are in times of crisis can be invaluable to schools. With this information, we came up with a list of pros and cons to such a policy on the board. To my surprise, the students were able to come up with just as many positives as they were negatives. I looked at the list, realizing that my students were truly able to see both sides of the issue, even if they didn’t agree with the concept at all. “Let’s have a debate,” I said. The students emphatically agreed. We split into teams of “pro,” “con” and “judges,” with many students volunteering to test their debate skills by joining the pro side, even though they couldn’t disagree more. The next day, the students were able to have a lively, yet civil debate about the issue. They not only impressed me with how civil they were, but with how well they argued both sides. I was worried the con side would win each time because the students so obviously disagreed with the concept of tracking students, but in several classes, the pros won based on the sophistication of their arguments. The best part of the day, though, was when my students were filing out of the room at the end of class and I heard one student say to another, “I hope we keep reading tomorrow. I can’t wait to see how this book ends.” It’s vitally important for students to think about these issues as the play out in their lives. Big Brother might not exist in real life but, as my students discovered, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Read more: www.care2.com/causes/ Page 15, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 2012 PEACE FESTIVAL Sunday, November 11 11 am to 5 pm Civic Center Hall of Mirrors Downtown Okla. City (Pictures from 2011 Peace Fest) West Bank Harvest (From Page 14) criminal investigations rarely find the perpetrator. Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group focusing on legal action looked at the cases of tree vandalism over the past seven years and only found one instance of an indictment out of 162 cases. In the report they conclude that, “The police's failure to enforce the law encourages such acts of vandalism, since the perpetrators are not punished.” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there is an increased police presence in the West Bank and they are using more technology to stop these crimes. Further Reading Violence flared up between Israeli forces and Gaza militants as they exchanged fire. Israeli forces conducted strikes against two men they say are responsible for attacks, killing one and later targeted two mosques and a factory that injured five. Israeli military spokeswoman said the buildings were “Hamas posts” but did not elaboPage 16, OPS, Nov-Dec 2012 rate. Hamas joined the Islamic Jihad to launch 30 rockets towards Israel that caused property damage but no casualties. Hamas’ inclusion is noteworthy and Y’net explains why they joined in. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council regarding their failure to condemn the rocket fire from Gaza. He cited a double standard after the Security Council condemned Syria hours after a Syrian missile exploded in Turkey last week. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in the Gaza Strip for over 5 years has given his most detailed interview since his release one year ago in a prisoner exchange. Human Rights Watch is calling on Hamas to make widespread reforms after releasing a report accusing Hamas of arbitrary arrests and executing people over confessions extracted under torture in Gaza. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday, October 8 where he clarified his position on a two-state solution. He said, “Finally, I’ll recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.” Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu called for elections as “early as possible,” which analyst said meant they would be held in January, nine months before Netanyahu’s term would be up. He is forecasted to win easily and have a renewed mandate that may help in the face of U.S. pressure to negotiate in a new term or administration. The call for early elections was not a surprise and widely expected. Read CMEP’s recap of the Israeli political process from the last time Netanyahu called for early elections before calling them off days later following the formation of a new coalition. The new coalition only lasted 70 days. More information http://www.cmep.org/