War and Peace

The Bab al-Shams encampment in the E-1 area overlooks Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Image source: Lazar Simeonov/Al Jazeera.

This August will mark twenty years since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the first peace agreement between a Palestinian group and Israel. While the parties have signed a handful of agreements since then, arguably none have had an impact on the daily lives of people living on that land.

Protestors in a neighborhood adjacent to Ofer Prison. Photo By: Joshua Stephens

By now, the world is beginning to hear about Arafat Jaradat. A young Palestinian father, imprisoned three months without charge, in the notorious Israeli Megiddo Military Prison. Allegedly, he'd been involved in throwing stones. Two nights ago, he died, still in custody. Still without charge or trial.

Photo by Bill Hughes.

On Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 20, 2013, activists from CODEPINK, a Peace & Justice organization, staged a demonstration in the Atrium of the U.S. Senate Hart Office Building in Washington, D.C. In its press release, CODEPINK said it organized the action to show the growing grass roots opposition to the use of “killer drones and doubts about John Brennan.” Brennan is currently under consideration by the Congress for the post of CIA Director. On the evening of Feb. 21, 2013, a “prison chic”-styled party—aka “Prison Reception”—was held at the au courant Hays-Adams Hotel, in Washington, D.C., only blocks from the ex-Constitutional Law Professor Barack Obama’s White House.

Zapatistas march in Ocosingo, December 21, 2012. Source: Roarmag.org

On December 21st of last year, as many across the world were speculating about the end of the Mayan calendar, 40,000 actual Mayans marched silently into five cities in Chiapas, Mexico, putting the Zapatistas and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) back into the forefront of grassroots political discourse the world over, and mainstream political discourse in Mexico. A stream of provocative communiques from the EZLN's spokesperson, Subcomandante Marcos, have followed.

Veterans protest the deployment of traumatized soldiers. (Source: underthehoodcafe.org)

In financial terms, the Veterans Administration (VA) and commercial insurance companies are totally different. One, a government funded institution, cares for all recently returned and disabled veterans. The other, a market-based approach, offers only the services patients can afford. Nevertheless, patients in both systems are angry. They aren’t getting the services they need. I spoke with veterans and civilians about their experiences in these bureaucracies and discovered strikingly similar barriers to health care.

Photo by J.M. Giordano. Photo source: City Paper

Monday, January 21, was a day of two symbolic events, which, in crucial ways, diverge radically in their significance: the inauguration of Obama for his second term and the celebration of the memory of Martin of Luther King Jr. In celebration of MLK's memory, myself and two other Baltimore peace and justice activists, Maria Allwine and Max Obuszewski, participated in a direct action in opposition to Obama's global drone assassination program. We, along with a dozen or so other activists from around the country, performed a “die in” to raise awareness to the criminality of U.S. drone assassinations and their bloody toll. Here you'll see video footage of the action, along with articles written about the action by Obuszewski and another organizer of the action, Joy First.

President Barack Obama and his family at 2009 inaugeration. Photo by: EPA

Today, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States. For many, the election of President Obama signified a break with the past, a new era of "Hope" and "Change". Although Obama promised us a lot in the lead-up to his election, his appeal to liberals and progressives came from much more than his policies and campaign promises.


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