Help Puerto Rico rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria:

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

 Help Puerto Rico rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria:

Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in almost a century, and has severed communications and crushed its aging electricity infrastructure. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has indicated it may take up to six months just to restore power to the island's 3.5 million residents.

These hurricanes are not accidents. They are a direct result of climate change. As is the case throughout the world, low income communities and people of color face the challenges not only of storms such as Irma and Maria, but of pollution, water contamination, and a degraded natural environment that exposes them to disease at a far higher rate. This record breaking Atlantic hurricane season, as well as record breaking climate trends across the world, must be our impetus to take aggressive action to preserve our planet now before it is too late.

Please consider contributing to the organizations below to help Puerto Rico rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria:

Help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria. Contributions made to this crowd-funding effort will go to several Puerto Rico-based organizations. Donate:

Friends of Puerto Rico. A DC-based nonprofit run by people of the Puerto Rican diaspora that funds arts, education and culture. They have launched a campaign to send money to Puerto Rico.  Donate:

ConPRmetidos. An organization that aims to connect Puerto Ricans from across the world to build Puerto Rico as a global economy.  Donate:

Taller Salud. A feminist grassroots organization that supports health in frontline communities, specifically focused on the communities in Loiza. This town has a high population of low income people of color who suffer the most during natural disasters. Donate:

Vulture funds have exploited Puerto Rico's economic woes and forced millions of people to suffer: 45% of Puerto Ricans live in poverty, including 56% of the children. Thousands of people are fleeing the island for the mainland United States every week, where threadbare social safety nets are still better than what can be provided locally under the cruel policies of austerity. Puerto Ricans are Americans, but are not always treated as such. It is a cruel reminder of our colonial history.

The local Our Revolution group is dedicated to rectifying these injustices and more, but they need your help.

I have no doubt that Puerto Rico will weather this storm and come back stronger than ever, to fight with us for a future of racial, economic, social, and environmental justice.

In solidarity,

Robert Becker

Former Iowa Director, Bernie 2016

Our Revolution member


603 2ND ST, NE


Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. Our Revolution is a 501(c)(4) organization. Donations to Our Revolution are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. All donations are made to support Our Revolution’s general mission and are not designated for any specific activity.

603 2nd St NE, Washington, DC 20002 

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Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News



As we write this, Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti, killing at least 900 people and leaving thousands without shelter or food. The hurricane has devastated the city of Les Cayes and many villages in the Southwestern part of the country, destroying crops and livestock and reversing the gains in food production made by women’s agricultural cooperatives and other local farmers. The torrential rains and winds have also hit the capital, Port-au-Prince. With massive flooding comes the increased danger of water-borne diseases, particularly cholera (brought to Haiti by UN troops), which has already reached epidemic proportions.

We ask that all friends of Haiti donate as much as they can to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. Your donations will go directly to grassroots organizations in Haiti which are saving lives by helping people on the ground access water, food and shelter, and reconstructing their lives. Unlike the big NGOs which were accused of profiteering from the billions donated by a generous public after the earthquake, HERF pays no wages and takes no cut. All our work is done by volunteers and all the money we collect goes directly to those who need it, starting with women – the primary caregivers in every community.

The hurricane hit Haiti just days before the recalled October 9th elections were due to take place. People had worked very hard for over a year, risking their lives to demand free and fair elections after the 2015 electoral results were declared fraudulent. Elections have now been postponed. Popular organizations in Haiti are hard at work trying to ensure that families and communities can survive and rebuild, and that when a new election date is set every vote counts and is counted.

This is a critical time for all friends of Haiti to step up our solidarity. Please donate on line at:

Or to:

Haiti Emergency Relief Fund

c/o East Bay Sanctuary Covenant

2362 Bancroft Way

Berkeley, California 94704

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you so much for your generous support, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund Board of Directors: Walter Riley, Maureen Duignan, O.S.F., Pierre Labossiere, Marilyn Langlois, Robert Roth

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, tax ID# 94-3249753

Tel: +510-595-4650


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Plan Colombia, Permanent War, and the NO Vote

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by Laura Carlsen

Plan Colombia, Permanent War, and the NO Vote

The Colombian people voted NO to peace. Or to be exact, 50.2% of 37% of the eligible population voted no. In the referendum held Oct. 2, the majority of voters decided to scuttle four years of peace talks dedicated to ending 52 years of bloodshed.

The vote came just days after the celebratory signing of the agreement, considered exemplary for achieving a bridge between historic enemies and dealing broadly with the root causes of the conflict. The rest of the world was stunned.

Most pundits have begun the post-mortem analysis of the referendum saying something like “Colombians did not vote against peace.” They go on to discuss factors including people’s ignorance of the accords, or their mistaken belief that after four years it could simply be renegotiated.

But the fact of the matter is that the NO voters voted clearly and unambiguously to continue the war. The words on the ballot read: “Do you accept the final agreement to terminate the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?” It’s almost inconceivable that any population would vote no on this proposition, but they did.

So why?

Although even former president Alvaro Uribe, the nation’s lead warmonger, now makes the politically correct statement that the ultimate goal is peace, the macho sentiments of total domination and punishment (of one side), along with a strong dose of Cold War hysteria (yes, in the 21st century) won the day.

The NO promoters knew what they were doing. They were not promoting an alternative peace. As a 32-year old NO voter quoted in the New York Times put it, “If ‘no’ wins, we won’t have peace, but at least we won’t give the country away to the guerrillas.”

His statement reflects the patriarchal logic that has started and perpetuated wars since time immemorial–the only good enemy is a dead enemy, and if I don’t win, nobody wins.

At least some NO voters and many of the leaders are betting on continuing war until they gain by force their entire military and political agenda–a prospect that, given the war’s longevity to date could easily be another half century. Or never.

The Perks of Permanent War

For many NO promoters, including Uribe himself, “never” could be the best-case scenario. Basking in the limelight of a political career rebuilt on the ruins of one of the most complex and progressive peace agreements in history, Uribe released proposals for revamping the peace agreement designed to throw a monkey wrench into any process to salvage peace in Colombia.

Analysts stated that Uribe’s wish list is aimed at “torpedoing the peace accords”. No one expects the FARC to accept Uribe’s terms, which include being banned from politics; serving 5-8 year sentences in confinement for crimes, including drug trafficking; pardoning Colombia’s security forces for serious crimes, and eliminating the meticulously negotiated Tribunal for Transitional Justice.

Huge sectors of the population reject them as well, since the proposals also would wipe out the parts of the Peace Accord that regulate the return of stolen lands to peasant and indigenous communities and seriously hamper if not strike plans for reparations to victims.

To pretend that everyone wants peace and the only issue is, how is to ignore the fact that the war benefits many powerful interests. Those interests will fight to keep fighting.

On the political front, war assures military control over a population and justifies authoritarianism and repression through fear. In general, the most militarized parts of the country are areas where peasant, Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples are defending their lands and resources from the incursions of transnational corporations and mega development projects. Fear and murder are powerful repressive tools.

War is also a huge business. Thanks to U.S. Plan Colombia and policies that fanned the conflict, Colombia became the third largest recipient of US aid in the world during the war, behind Israel and Egypt. The budget for security forces skyrocketed; between 2001 and 2005, it grew more than 30% and by 2006 it was double 1990—some $4.48 billion for military and police.

U.S. Interests

The U.S. government also has a vested interest in continuing the war. The conflict justified Plan Colombia, the $10 billion dollar counterinsurgency, counternarcotics plan that allowed the Pentagon to establish military presence in Colombia, both physically and by proxy. With the pretext of the internal conflict, the U.S. government built up a platform not only for control in Colombia, but also with regional strike capacity, as leaked in the proposed agreement to establish seven US military bases.

Plan Colombia and its later incarnations kept U.S. contracts for weapons, espionage and intelligence equipment and military and police training flowing to the most powerful lobbying industries in the nation. Billions of dollars have been poured into Plan Colombia and national security investment that ended up in the pockets of political elite and defense companies. In the 2010-2017 budgets, the United States has allocated $2.13 billion in military and police aid–most of that during the peace talks.

The country was converted into a testing ground for the latest in counterinsurgency and unconventional warfare techniques and equipment from the United States. The blood spilled on its soil feeds the global war machine, to such an extent that Colombia has been groomed as an exporter of counterinsurgency and “security” training, despite its reputation as a gross violator of human rights and the disastrous humanitarian impact of its prolonged war. So very powerful interests saw the peace agreement as a threat. In addition to Uribe followers who viewed it as soft on the FARC, the war economy of the nation and its ally, the United States, was at stake.

In this context, the US government reacted tepidly when peace was voted down. Bernard Aronson, the special envoy to the peace talks, expressed no regret in a press interview after the vote, stating, “We believe Colombians want peace, but clearly they are divided about terms of settlement…” The State Department limited its statement to support for Colombian democracy and further dialogue. After four years of ostensibly supporting the peace talks, neither mentioned the vote as a setback.

An analysis published by the US Army War College, although it is not an official document, openly expresses relief at the continuation of indefinite war in Colombia. Through a mixture of hawkish arguments and lies, the analysis recognizes that the country now enters into a “period of uncertainty”, but notes that this “presents a strategic situation less grave and more manageable, than had the accords been approved.”

It goes on to predict that the FARC will likely break the ceasefire, despite its explicit and public commitment to respect it even in the absence of the guarantees provided in the peace agreement. This position, coming from sources close to the US military, which has in many senses called the shots in Colombia’s war since Plan Colombia began in 2000, indicates that there is a dangerous possibility of a provocation to further undermine the peace process that has now been thrown into crisis by the NO vote.

The writers also advise President Santos to retract his commitment to the ceasefire following the vote. They note that Santos promised to “not authorize military operations in the areas where FARC units are located in order to avoid an incident which breaks the fragile truce. Yet, not doing so will allow FARC dissidents to operate with almost complete impunity in these areas.  Indeed, within the new background of uncertainty, such impunity will increase incentives for FARC units to continue illicit activity, such as drug trafficking, since doing so will pose relatively low risks.”

War Engenders More War, Not Peace

Before the NO vote, the U.S. press hailed Plan Colombia for making peace possible. President Obama, in his self-congratulatory last speech to the UN stated we “helped Colombia end Latin America’s longest war.” The logic of this bizarre argument went that were it not for the military debilitation of the guerrilla thanks to the US-Colombian military alliance, the FARC could never have been brought to the negotiating table.

The NO vote is the classic example of the fallacy of that logic. The war fomented by Plan Colombia built up a mentality that made peace an unacceptable solution for many. It revealed the fundamental clash of perspectives between diplomacy and annihilation.

The lesson couldn’t be clearer: War is a terrible preparation for peace. Peace depends on much more than a favorable correlation of forces. Peace, at its core, is a rejection of force as the way to confront differences, and a search for non-violent solutions to conflict and conflict prevention.

With U.S. military theorists openly calling for reopening hostilities, it is a dangerous myth to assume that at this juncture everyone wants peace and the only open question is how to do it. Plan Colombia, the U.S.-sponsored war on drugs and Uribe’s Democratic Security posit continued militarization. Those who promote peace and reconciliation in the country must deal with that mentality head on. To second-guess or justify NO voters with “they-know-not-what-they-do” arguments reflects the kind of complacency and misreading of the public that created this dangerous debacle in the first place.

There is no doubt that a massive campaign of misinformation and scaremongering played a role. Voters were bombarded with alarmist messages that spun out wild scenarios, from a legislative takeover by the former FARC to a “Chavez-Castro style dictatorship”. CNN’s footage of the NO celebration showed the crowd chanting “The NO won, now we won’t have a Cuban dictatorship”. It didn’t seem to matter that there was no logical relationship between voting for the peace agreement and the nation becoming a dictatorship. For followers of Uribe, who led the massive campaign against the negotiations and the acceptance of the agreement, the vote was ideological and personal. It represented the right against the left, and Uribe against Santos. For many people stuck in bitter partisan politics, to vote for peace was to vote in favor of the latter.

It is also likely that many people did not have a clear understanding of the accords or their implications, which is a failing of the negotiators and SI (yes) promoters that left a fatal opening for NO propaganda. Some voters also apparently believed that four years of arduous negotiations with the technical support of scores of international experts and mediators could simply be reopened and “fixed” to their liking, despite that the president made it clear there was “no Plan B”. Some NO voters quoted in the press even expressed dismay that they had won, believing they were merely casting a protest vote.

Despite these factors, the NO vote reveals a major obstacle: Society has been trained over years of conflict—one of the longest-running internal conflicts in the world–to acquiesce to war as the only response, to dehumanize the enemy and overlook the obvious fact that it takes two sides to sustain hostilities. A society that believes that the only solution is to drive the enemy into the ground–even when they are men and women from your own country and a reflection of serious social problems, into the ground.

This is the patriarchal mentality that the war industry thrives on. Plan Colombia has fomented this mentality since it began. It conflated a war on drugs with a counterinsurgency war to justify foreign intervention and broaden the war. The U.S. government knew that military funding was going directly to paramilitary groups. A 2010 empirical study demonstrated a measurable relationship between increases in US security funding and paramilitary homicides. War propaganda presented the FARC as the sole culprit, when terrible atrocities were being committed on both sides.

With the exceptions of Arauca and Norte de Santander, the departments on Colombia’s borders that have suffered most in the war voted to end it. They know what it’s like to feel their houses shaken by bombs, to risk life and limb walking through minefields, to lose their loved ones in crossfire. They know that to stop the violence in their day-to-day lives is far more important than the political games of how punishment and power are dished out.

War as a policy is almost always favored by those farthest from the battlefields.

The Road to Peace

Understanding the very real and perilous obstacles is not the same as being pessimistic or defeatist at this point in the Colombian peace—it’s a process. It’s important not to minimize the enormity of this setback–President Santos’ Nobel Peace Prize may be deserved but it’s a sorry consolation prize for having gotten so close only to be slapped down. But it’s also important to acknowledge that there is still room to move forward.

The peace accords opened up a dialogue and allowed the nation to envision peace. Grassroots organizations are mobilizing in defense of this vision and the possibility of a new reality.

This is the hope on the horizon. Since the NO vote, thousands have marched to support the peace process in Bogota and also in Cali and cities across the country. The marches have awakened and united groups of indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, victims, students, human rights defenders, peasants, women and the LGBT community in defense of peace.

The international community should openly and actively support the call for a broad grassroots dialogue for peace. It must continue to be firm and vigilant, because there will be a serious attempt to force a return to the model of military annihilation of the left-wing guerrillas while leaving in tact rightwing paramilitaries and other militarist structures.

International organizations committed millions of dollars to support peace implementation and it must be clear that those funds will only be released when the process is back on track. Part of creating adequate conditions is to deny any new funding to militarism– including the war on drugs, which acts as a thinly veiled excuse for militarization.

The NO vote unexpectedly flipped the political situation back in favor of the rightwing hawks. This uprising could not only flip it back in favor of peace, but also create a social movement capable of going beyond the accords in terms of establishing social justice and human rights and addressing the enormous backlog of demands from below.

Laura Carlsen

Laura Carlsen (lcarlsen(at) is director of the Americas Policy Program ( in Mexico City, where she has been an analyst and writer for two decades. She is also a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist.

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"We're Ready to Stop It Again": KXL Opponents Flood Nebraska's Capitol

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by Jessica Corbett, staff writer August 07, 2017

"We're Ready to Stop It Again": KXL Opponents Flood Nebraska's Capitol

"Commissioners in Nebraska have a choice to make—either they protect the fossil fuel industry's greed, or they stand up for the health and safety of our climate and our communities."

Hundreds demonstrated in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday as part of the March to Give Keystone XL the Boot.

The protest of TransCanada's proposed pipeline kicked off a week of events planned to coincide with public hearings, set to begin Monday, by the Nebraska Public Service Commission about the pipeline, which would run 275 miles across the state.

Locals farmers and ranchers as well as members of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska and Yankton Sioux Tribe marched with a coalition of environmentalists from Bold Nebraska,, Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, CREDO, Greenpeace, Oil Change International, and MoveOn. Some even rode on horseback through Lincoln's streets.

    LIVE: Marchers from the Kickapoo Nation have arrived on horseback, as the crowd swells to Give Keystone XL the BOOT! #BootKXL #NoKXL

    — Greenpeace USA (@greenpeaceusa) August 6, 2017

The coalition has collected thousands of written public comments expressing concerns about Keystone XL's threats to climate, water, and property rights, which will be delivered to the commission Thursday morning.

"The Nebraska Public Service Commission has an immense responsibility. Not only does it have the responsibility to act in the best interest of Nebraska but also bear the trust responsibility the federal government chooses to ignore," said Harold Frazier, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chairman.  "Approving the permit for TransCanada would send a message that Nebraska supports the damage that has already happened to our environment from the tar sands oil."

    Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier speaks at March to Give #KeystoneXL the Boot in Lincoln. #nokxl #bootkxl #mniwiconi

    — Bold Nebraska (@BoldNebraska) August 6, 2017

"Keystone XL never has been and never will be in Nebraska's public interest. This is a foreign pipeline, headed to the foreign export market, wanting to use eminent domain for private gain on Nebraska landowners," said Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb, who also noted that the proposed pipeline route crosses the Sand Hills and the Ogallala Aquifer.

A recent Greenpeace report (pdf) predicted that the Keystone XL pipeline, if constructed, would average more than one significant spill per year, posing a serious threat to all water resources along the route. The Nebraska Sand Hills—the Western Hemisphere's largest sand dunes—has been designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. (However, the department seems unlikely to fight the pipeline, with a deputy secretary who, before his appointment by President Donald Trump, had built a successful career as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry.)

"It is not in Nebraska's interest to place a tar sands pipeline through Nebraska's eastern Sand Hills and over the Ogallala Aquifer, or to allow a foreign corporation to use eminent domain for corporate greed and abuse landowners with 'all risk, no reward' easements," said Art Tanderup, a landowner along the Keystone XL route.

    "We stopped Keystone XL twice already and we're ready to stop it again" @janekleeb #BootKXL

    — Sierra Club Live (@SierraClubLive) August 6, 2017

"Commissioners in Nebraska have a choice to make—either they protect the fossil fuel industry's greed, or they stand up for the health and safety of our climate and our communities," said's Sara Shor. "Communities in Nebraska and from surrounding states, including farmers, Indigenous peoples, and many more, are here to keep the pressure on and fight for a livable future. We've built solar panels in the path of Keystone XL to show what we need on a massive scale."

Last month, the coalition launched the Solar XL campaign to install solar panels at several locations along the proposed pipeline route, which a statement explained "will help power the farms and ranches threatened by TransCanada's use of eminent domain for private gain."

Sunday's protest ended with a display in front of the state's Capitol, with protesters using their bodies to send a message: Yes Solar XL, No KXL.

    Today's march ended with this human banner: Yes #SolarXL, #NoKXL. We're building the clean energy future we need, no more pipelines #BootKXL

    — 350 dot org (@350) August 7, 2017

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"Welfare Reform" Is Pushing Women Into Unwaged Work -- It's Time to Change

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By Sarah Jaffe, Truthout June 29, 2017

"Welfare Reform" Is Pushing Women Into Unwaged Work -- It's Time to Change 

Welfare reform briefly became a hot topic on the campaign trail last year when Hillary Clinton was criticized for supporting the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, signed into law with great fanfare by President Bill Clinton, who famously declared that the law would "end welfare as we know it." The law did precisely that, turning the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant, which came along with stringent requirements for the people, most of them women, who received it. Since that time, extreme poverty has spiked in the country, and the share of single mothers with no income or benefits has gone from 12 percent to 20 percent. But welfare rights activists never stopped fighting for their rights, and many are backing a bill being reintroduced by Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, the RISE Out of Poverty Act.

Reverend Annie Chambers (Big Momma’s House, Baltimore, MD): I am one of the eight women that started the National Welfare Rights Organization … But now, the system has changed, it's so bad for people that we have got to get back to that. That is what we are talking about now. Even training the younger people -- the younger men and women now, because a lot of men are raising their children -- to come back to the drawing board. They really need to know how to organize, how to go into the districts, how to work with district managers and social workers and fight for what they need. Even to go to the governor, the White House. I have been locked up in every state in the United States because we got out there and fought.

Contact Rev. Annie Chambers at 443-768-7682, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 247 N. Dallas Court, Baltimore, MD 21231

Rachel West (US PROStitute’s Collective, San Francisco Bay Area): We are supporting this initiative because when welfare reform was brought in, millions of women were literally thrown into the street -- no income, nothing. How were women supposed to support their kids when that happened? Well, it is even documented now that women went into prostitution. A lot of women had to feed their kids. Into shoplifting, selling drugs, whatever women could do to survive. Into so-called "crimes of poverty." Then, what happened was a lot of women ended up going to prison. There is a direct connection between welfare reform and women going to prison for crimes of poverty. We know the fastest growing prison population now is women, mostly women of color, and 70 percent are mothers. That is the major reason why we are supporting this, because we don't think women should be forced into prostitution through poverty and lack of any means to be able to survive. Contact US PROStitute’s Collective at or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Pat Gowens (Welfare Warriors, Milwaukee, WI): On welfare, ever since 1996 when the Clintons did the welfare reform bill, the moms have to work for no pay for 30 hours a week, and the average check is $390. For instance, in Milwaukee, our Head Start program was using 96 women at 20 hours a week for no pay. No pay, no Social Security credits, no unemployment credit, no protection from sexual harassment, because there is no money. And you have to do that to get a $390 check…and if you don't, you get sanctioned. The welfare bill (the TANF bill) allowed time limits to be as low as 18 months to two years. In Wisconsin it is two years. After that, you can't get any benefits. So, if you have no job, you are in the street with no money, no benefits… The RISE Out of Poverty Act would say that instead of only allowing mothers to do this unwaged work, that women could do their mandatory hours on job search, number one, and they could also do it going to college... In the states right now, they can require the mother to leave their babies at two months, three months, whatever, one year. In Wisconsin, it is two months. At that point, the children have no one-on-one care anymore from their mom, and the mom has to again go into that unwaged workforce or, if she can find a job, the paid workforce. This [RISE] would say the states couldn't do that. They would have to let the mothers be home…one year…or more… [and] they can't use the TANF money simply to take children away because of poverty.

Contact the Welfare Warriors at, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. For the full article and to add your comments: welfare-reform-is-pushing-women-into-unwaged-work-it-s-time-to-change-that Or listen to the whole interview

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