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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

But first a word about Libya. Muammar Qaddafi has announced he is abandoning his quest for nuclear potency. Too bad. I think every country should have at least one nuclear device. It evens things up and would do more for world peace than a thousand pompous sessions of the UN General Assembly.

It’s difficult to believe that the Libyan pantomime will do much to help George and Tony’s adventure come quite to the conclusion they desire. But as Bruce Page remarks, there is a certain cunning in getting people to abandon voluntarily WMD they don’t have, as against invading them to destroy WMD that don’t exist.

Now for “Happy Holidays”. Can we please deep-six this trite “non-denominational” greeting, designed to alert the world that those uttering the salutation “Happy Holidays” are sensitive people aware that the recipients of the greeting might not be Christians, might be Kwanzans, or Jews or Muslims who have a low opinion of J. Christ and no desire to celebrate his birthday. The Muslims think Christ was not divine and the Jewish sacred writings say likewise, and that for the sin of getting ideas above his station JC is being pickled in excrement for all eternity.

But my Jewish friends say “Happy Hanukah”, with no nonsense about saying “Happy Holidays” out of sensitivity to the fact that the festival of Hanukah derives from the Maccabbees’ triumph over the bestial forces of Hellenism in 165 B.C., said Hellenism being in its neo-Platonic guise one of the central components of the Christian religion. An irony is that there’s no mention of Hanukah in the Torah, but only in the Books of the Maccabees, an annexe to the Bible.

My friend and neighbor Joe Paff tells me he heard Oregon Public Radio harshly criticize Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for daring to utter the forbidden phrase “Merry Christmas”, even though he immediately made haste to light a menorah to show that his “Merry Christmas” wasn’t an eruption of ur-Schwarzenegger, overture to a volley of Sieg Heils and Aryan paeans to Wotan.

When I lived in an apartment building on the Upper West side of New York, throughout December our elevator rang with jovial cries of Happy Hanukah and Merry Christmas, and Margot Adler who lived in the apartment right next to me wasn’t put out, even though she was a boisterous Wiccan and reserved her enthusiasms for the festival of Beltane, which I vaguely remember involved dancing round some sort of a Maypole. I One time Margot, a radio broadcaster of the first quality, was up for a big job at NPR but lost out because NPR was worried about being trashed in the Nw York Post for hiring a Witch (though a witch who was White in edvery sense of the term).

So, hear it from a unbaptised, unconfirmed Protestant/atheist, born out of wedlock, albeit raised in a Christo-Commie environment, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. And that’s from all all here at CounterPunch, Jeffrey St Clair, Becky Grant asnd yrs truly. And now, a few deserving cases for those of you with money in your pockets. It’s from the latest edition of the list Jeffrey St Clair and I draw up for our newsletter the CounterPunch newsletter each year. They’re all worthy and needy groups that are putting up a good fight against long odds, never losing their optimism that change can be wrought, from the ground up. These groups don’t act like subsidiaries of the Democratic Party and aren’t neutered by big foundations. So, of course, they mostly operate on a shoestring and greatly value each contribution. Give them what you can. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the results.

Bring Them Home Now!
c/o Veterans for Peace
438 N Skinker Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63130
bringthemhomenow.org/

Bring Them Home Now! is a campaign of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq . Their mission is to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations.

Powder River Basin Resource Council
P.O. Box 1178,
Douglas, Wyoming 82633
http://www.powderriverbasin.org/

The biggest natural gas rush in history is now going on in Wyoming, the way greased by Bush’s Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steven Griles, a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry, who still gets a paycheck from his former clients. If Bush and Griles have their way, more than 51,000 new wells will be drilled in the Powder River Basin alone. Along with the wells will come thousands of miles of roads and pipelines, toxic holding ponds, and the depletion and contamination of groundwater 80 percent of the people in northern Wyoming depend on wells as their sole source of water.

Campaign To Stop Killer Coke
P.O. BOX 1004, Cooper Station,
New York, NY 10276-1004
http://www.killercoke.org/

The realization that U.S.-based multinational corporations like Coca-Cola can get away with murder prompted Corporate Campaign, Inc.(CCI), working closely with the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF), to organize the worldwide Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. In July 2001, the ILRF co-sponsored a lawsuit on behalf of the Colombian union SINALTRAINAL and its members, charging that Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders.”

Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program,
POB 3401,
Park City, UT 84060
Phone: (435) 649-0535
http://www.anelder.org/

The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program started through the efforts of Linda Myers of Park City, Utah. In the late 1980s Meyers, an artist, was stunned by the intricacies of the patterns at a rug show displaying the weavings by the Elders from the Big Reservation. Touched by the stories of the Navajo people as told by Grace Smith Yellowhammer and Rose Hulligan during that rug show, Meyers soon became very involved in gathering donated food, clothing, firewood and simple medicines and was driving to the reservation in Northern Arizona to deliver them to Elders living traditionally on the Land. The Program supports 350 traditional Elders who live in the Northern portion of Arizona and Southern Utah. The activities of the Program focus on helping traditional Elders live on the Land in the ways of Dine’, as they have for thousands of years. This Program is assisted by traditional Dine’ people who serve as coordinators in various parts of the reservation to help the organization determine the needs of the Elders in their own culture and lifestyle.

Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants
P.O. Box 2310 Washington, DC 20013-2310
202-789-2126
http://www.curenational.org/

In early December an 80-page report by a group called Grassroots Leadership revealed that the nation’s largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, had used campaign contributions and intimate ties with conservative politicians to legislate harsher prison sentences for nonviolent crimes in order to boost demand for prisons. The same report detailed how the CCA, which pays its largely untrained workers and guards a pittance, bilks money off prisoners through outrageously high phone charges and other incarceration fees. National CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants) is a grassroots organization of prisoners, families of prisoners, former prisoners and concerned citizens working to reform the prison system .

The Kopkind Colony,
158 Kopkind Rd,
Guilford, Vt 05301
802-254-4859
john@afterstonewall.com

Above Weatherhead Hollow Pond, a few miles from Brattleboro, Vermont, we find the Kopkind Colony, a summer project begun as a living memorial to Andrew Kopkind, whose standing as the best radical journalist of his generation is lastingly set in Verso’s collection of his writings, edited by JoAnn Wypijewski, The Thirty Years’ Wars . On the theory that we can’t act without thought and can’t think without rest, the Colony has, since 1999, been bringing left journalists and activists together for a week of seminars, cross-generational exchange, good food and fun. Colony is not geared for solitary work but for collective engagement. It’s free for all the participants. Every year the colony holds summer sessions involving seven younger journalists and activists and two to four veterans of the same occupations. Every year someone says, “It changed my life”. Every year it holds public events for the community-free movies and speakers and an annual small fundraising lunch with special guests and, as always, vivid discussions. Speakers and mentors to the colony have included Tariq Ali, Patricia Williams, Rabab Abdul Hadi, Robin D. G. Kelley, Grace Paley, Robert Pollin, Makani Themba Nixon, Ron Nixon, Mandy Carter, Doug Lummis, Kevin Alexander Gray, Margaret Cerullo, Alisa Klein, Mike Marqusee, Nabil Abraham, and Kopkind’s close friend, CP coeditor ALEXANDER COCKBURN . This past summer the themes were internationalism and resistance and, in a special collaboration with the Eqbal Ahmad Initiative at Hampshire College, the question of Palestine. Participants hailed from Uganda and Pakistan, from Dearborn and the West Bank, and from all over the US.

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
P.O. Box 12149
Olympia, WA 98508
http://www.rachelcorriefoundation.org/

On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, a young activist from Evergreen College, was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer as she tried to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the town of Rafah, Gaza. Rachel’s killers have never been brought to justice. The US Congress has never launched an investigation. The Bush administration bought the Israeli line that Rachel was responsible for her own death. In one frightful instant Rachel’s parents, Cindi and Craig, had their hearts broken and were transformed into human rights organizers. Craig quit his job in North Carolina and he and Cindi moved back to Olympia to campaign for justice for their daughter and for the Palestinians living under the Occupation. The Rachel Corrie Foundation funds their important work. “Rachel was not an Israeli. She was, as a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a member of the international civil society, as we all are,” says Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. “In her actions she affirmed her responsibility for upholding the inherent dignity and equal rights of all people, including their right to a nationality. She opposed non-violently the violence that occupation does the Palestinians. “The threshold of what is outrageous has reached unimaginable heights in the Occupied Territories. Little moves us anymore. The demolition of 60 Palestinian homes in the Rafah section of Gaza where Rachel worked made barely a ripple when it happened a year ago. 2400 Palestinians have died in the past two years, a quarter of them children and youth, and 22,000 have been injured. Thirty percent of Palestinian children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. 500,000 olive and fruit trees have been uprooted or cut down. Israel is today imprisoning the Palestinians behind a 500-mile wall that is much longer, higher and more fortified than was the Berlin Wall. It’s all happening before our eyes and-who cares? Rachel cared.”

Peace Action New Mexico
226 Fiesta Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Peace Action New Mexico was founded in 1998 in the birthplace of the nuclear nightmare. They are committed to abolishing nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction, redirecting excessive military expenditures to domestic investment, ending global weapons trafficking, preventing the erosion of civil liberties both in this country and elsewhere, preventing the militarization of space, and fostering non-military solutions to international conflicts. It’s a grassroots, member-supported not-for-profit outfit . In 2003 Peace Action NM sponsored numerous large rallies and protests against the war in Iraq and Bush domestic policies, drawing 8,000 protesters to their February 15 rally. “Responding to email alerts, our members made as many as 1100 calls daily to our representatives in Congress in the run up to the vote on Iraq, resulting in Sen. Jeff Bingagam and Rep. Tom Udall finally voting NO on the resolution,” says Beryl Schwartz. “As part of our educational program on our issues, we brought many speakers to northern New Mexico, including Dr. Helen Caldicott, Rahul Mahajan, , former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Bruce Gagnon, David Barsamian, Mario Galvan, Damacio Lopez and most recently CounterPunch co-editor, Jeffrey St. Clair.” In 2004, Peace Action NM will be campaigning for a new foreign policy and for the use of verifiable voting machines.

Cascadia Wildlands Project
N.E.S.T.
POB 10455 Eugene, OR 97440
541.434.1463

Early this month Craig Beneville, a longtime friend of the CounterPunch editors, fell from an old Douglas-fir tree near the Molalla River in western Oregon. He died before they got him to the hospital. Craig had been working on a project to locate evidence of red tree voles and other endangered species in forests slated for logging under the Clinton/Bush forest plans. Last year, Craig and his colleagues at the Cascadia Wildlands Project launched the Northwest Ecosystem Survey Team (NEST), a group of forest watch experts committed to protecting the habitat of rare species associated with late-successional forests. NEST enforces environmental protections built into the Northwest Forest Plan-specifically the Survey and Manage Strategy. The on-the-ground information NEST develops will be critical to the CWP’s work to stop old-growth timber sales and protect habitat for lesser known species. The Survey and Manage Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan requires the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to conduct surveys for certain rare and endemic wildlife species that depend on old-growth habitat, and protect them where they are found. NEST has been highly successful at using the Survey and Manage Strategy to protect species. Habitat protection for the Red Tree Vole (RTV), an arboreal mammal that lives in the upper canopy of old-growth Douglas fir trees, has received considerable attention. NEST climbing surveys have been far more effective than agency surveys. For instance, NEST typically detects almost 75% more RTV nest sites. Recently, NEST surveys detected over two dozen RTV nests at the Straw Devil timber Sale, located in the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest. Forest Service surveys found zero nests. The timber sale has since been halted.

 

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Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

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