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Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Memes" for Peace and Planet - Promoting the April 24-26, 2015 events

This week, particularly on Tuesday, I'll be using social media to help generate excitement for the Peace and Planet events taking place April 24-26, 2015, in New York City.

In particular, there is a conference taking place both days, and the speaker list is now being release - see

I'm learning, along with everyone else, about good ways to get the message out on social media. My contribution this week will be to create "memes" (graphic + text) that can be conveniently shared by others on Twitter and Facebook.

(Thanks to David Swanson, I now have some ideal dimensions for memes: Twitter: 1024 x 512; Facebook (shared image): 1,200 x 630)

Herewith my growing set of "memes" for the Peace and Planet conference

When will the world heed the testimony of Taniguchi Sumiteru?
Share on Twitter via @scarry

"This is what I saw . . . . " Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow
Share on Twitter via @scarry

"What can we do  to secure, reduce and eliminate stockpiles
of highly enriched uranium and plutonium worldwide?"
(Photo: Prof. Zia Mian)
Share on Twitter via @scarry

"What would happen if we put our focus on the Global South?"
(Photo: Prof. Walden Bello)
Share on Twitter via @scarry

"What if we feed the PEOPLE not the Pentagon?"
(Photo: Jo Comerford)
Share on Twitter via @scarry

“The nuclear crisis is real and ongoing"
 - Yoshiko Kira
Share on Twitter via @scarry

Thomas de Toledo on #Solidarity #People #Struggle #Peace"
Share on Twitter via @scarry

#PEACE   an old idea whose time has come
Rainer Braun, International Peace Bureau
Share on Twitter via @scarry

"Respect our Mother the #Earth as nurturer of all living beings"
Manuel Pino - Scottsdale College
Acoma-Laguna Coalition for A Safe Environment
Share on Twitter via @scarry

Peace and Planet
Share on Twitter via @scarry

Related posts

2015 "No Nukes" Mobilizations planned in the US already include New York City in April, Nevada in March, and New Mexico in August.

(See Key 2015 Events for Nuclear Disarmament Movement Organizers )

In light of the upcoming review of the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and the fact that organizations throughout the country and worldwide are organizing to press the U.S. to substantially reduce its stores of nuclear weapons, it seems like a good time to use social media to get EVERYONE on board!

(See 5 Ways YOU Can Make a Difference on #NoNukesTuesday )

The Vienna conference in December 2014 was a great start!

NOW . . . it's up to those of us with networks in the U.S. to get the word out to people in this country about the what nukes do to people -- and the need for people to become active in the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons.

(See #GOODBYENUKES: 10 Images I'll Be Sharing From #HINW14Vienna )

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ayotzinapa43: US People Need an Attitude Adjustment

Human Rights in Mexico After Ayotzinapa
Thursday, February 26, 2015 7pm
at Northwestern McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Dr., Evanston.

Solidaridad con Ayotipnapa 43
My friend Natalia asked me to tell people about the case of the 43 young people killed in Ayotzinapa in Mexico.

I had a vague awareness of the case, but I have to confess that I couldn't quite understand what it was all about. Just an escalation of the violence in Mexico that we hear about here in the U.S., I assumed.

Then I attended an event hosted by Neighbors for Peace in Evanston that left me flabbergasted.

It will take me multiple posts to spell out everything that I feel needs to be said about the Ayotzinapa 43.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed with information, it usually works best to just get the main points into words, and build from there.

A Mystery That's Not a Mystery

At the NFP event, we started by seeing a film about disappearances in Mexico: Documental Ni Vivos Ni Muertos. There are estimated to have been 27,000 in the last decade. That's disappearances -- we're not talking about the ~100,00 confirmed deaths, the ones in which the facts are known. Disappearances are a terror technique.

I learned to stop thinking about "narcos" (drug cartels) as the sole purveyors of violence in Mexico.  I learned that the system in Mexico has involved the local police, and the federal police, and the army, and private paramilitaries, in corruption and violence. I learned that the Calderon administration saw a massive militarization of all levels of public "security" in Mexico. And I learned that US has been helping every step of the way. (Think School of the Americas.)

Justicia en Ayotzinapa
Comité Chicago
From the talk by members of Justicia en Ayotzinapa Comité Chicago I learned that the economic stakes go way beyond narcotics -- think mining, think control of land, think multinational corporations, think gas and oil -- and that all of these economic factors are driven by U.S. money.

And in all this I heard the term "context" -- as in "to understand what's happening in [Guerrero state, for instance], you need to consider context."  "Context" includes a lot, but a big part of it is the race-based pecking order in Mexico -- a variant of the systemic racism in the US -- based on where people are on the Euro-indigenous continuum.

And so the final piece of the "puzzle" that's not really a puzzle, as explained by Laura Ramírez, a PhD candidate at UIC and Comité member: the 43 "disappeared" young people are not just ordinary students. They are teaching students from one of numerous colleges in Mexico where the spirit of justice and respect for indigenous people, and an alternative way forward for Mexico, is fostered. As Ramírez said, in a country in which the power structure conspires to make people hopeless and to say, "You have no alternative," these young people were part of the small band of leaders saying, "There is another way!" (See this article: "Ayotzinapa: The Rural Normal School and the Criminal Government Offensive ")

The most deadly weapon of all: US ideology toward Mexico

"This is like the story of Mississippi Burning!" I said to myself. "The Ayotzinapa 43 are like Freedom Riders."

Still from A Touch of Evil
"And the difficult lesson that we're still learning about that episode in US history -- that systematic racism and a corrupt system is not just something that's happening somewhere else, in that other, bad place -- is the same lesson that we need to learn about what's happening in Mexico today."

The old paradigm -- the old US attitude -- is that there's a border, and everything on this side of the border is good and everything on that side of the border is corrupt.

This attitude is epitomized by the old film, A Touch of Evil. Cross from San Ysidro into Tijuana and it's night and day.

This attitude has been updated only slightly by the hit TV series, Breaking Bad.  (Moral: yes, one or two US people can go bad, but it is all about the drugs and the really horrific violence is done by the Mexicans.)

Hold it. Pause a moment to look at a couple of snapshots of the real US-Mexico relationship:

Here's a map of the terrain that David Rovics is singing about in that song about the St. Patrick's Battalion:

The Hispanic and Latino American population in the United States
in 2010 and the Mexican-American border of 1836 in red.

Probably the biggest impediment to US people getting any kind of clarity on the US-Mexico relationship is the idea that the US has an "immigration problem" ... and that the most we can possibly do is be more generous to "undocumented" people -- "illegals." The band OUTERNATIONAL has another perspective on that:

"Some day it will be ridiculous to say people are illegal the same way it’s ridiculous that people used to own other people as slaves.”(See "Outernational and the Return of Revolution Songs")

REPENT!  (US People Need an Attitude Adjustment)

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday -- the beginning of Lent.  It's the time when we acknowledge our own failures, and commit to repent -- to make an about-face -- so that the future can be different.

I can't think of a better way for people in the US to repent than to work to change their own attitude about Mexico, and about the culpability or all of us here in the US in the wrongs that are being done down there. The Ayotzinapa 43 were persecuted for saying "the future can be different." It's time for us to take up their cry.

NEXT IN CHICAGO: Human Rights in Mexico After Ayotzinapa - Thursday, February 26, 2015 7pm at Northwestern McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Dr., Evanston.

Human Rights in Mexico After Ayotzinapa
Thursday, February 26, 2015 7pm
at Northwestern McCormick Tribune Center, 1870 Campus Dr., Evanston.

Friday, February 13, 2015

There ARE Alternatives to War (A Personal Commitment to the World Beyond War Initiative)

The present confrontation between "the West" (i.e. the US/NATO military alliance) and Russia over Ukraine is a case in point that illustrates what the thousands of people who have committed themselves to the World Beyond War movement are committed to. @WorldBeyondWar

"#Ukraine ceasefire deal agreed at Belarus talks"

There is no denying that there is conflict within Ukraine and there is no question that Russia is involved.

There is also no denying that Ukraine now sticks out like a sore thumb as a remaining contested space in a process of Western power creep that has been taking place in Eastern Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

NATO's eastward expansion -- 1990 vs. 2009

The news in the US is full of Russia and Ukraine and Putin and Crimea, and I recognize in myself a curiosity and thrill at learning about this new, exotic part of the world. Unfortunately, this is a movie I've seen a growing number of times in the last decade -- the U.S. dazzles the public with "foreign-conflict-as-entertainment," and the public loses sight of the big picture.

The big picture -- the forest for the trees -- is that we have to de-escalate conflict, not engage in one-upsmanship. This is particularly true in the US-Russia relationship, where job #1 is the elimination of the two countries respective nuclear arsenals.

The World Beyond War initiative is aimed at encouraging everyone to stay focused on the key point: there ARE alternatives to war, and when we are able to proceed with those alternatives, we CAN succeed in achieving peace.

Four people who discovered the truth of this statement are François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin. When they met in Minsk and talked, they were able to achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine.

Peace is not a one-shot deal. It involves a continuous process. A process of choosing the alternatives to war.

There are already an AMAZING number of people around the US and around the world who have committed themselves to choosing these alternatives -- and they're doing so in more ways than you can imagine.  Over the days and weeks ahead, World Beyond War will be lifting up these alternatives and the way people are pursuing them, and encouraging everyone to #choosepeace.


Sign up at
and tell others.

Like World Beyond War on  Facebook
and join the conversation.

Follow @WorldBeyondWar on
Twitter and #choosepeace

Related posts

It can all happen very fast . . . . No one really knows ahead of time what will happen . . . . That's why it's so important for people to get together and talk.

(See The Lesson of Reykjavik: TALK About Nuclear Disarmament (You Never Know) )


Everyone in the world should be doing everything possible to drive the nuclear "haves" towards an agreement on nuclear disarmament. It's more important than ISIS. More important than Iran, Bibi, or Boehner. And certainly more important than the top ten things trending on Twitter or coming up in your Facebook feed.

(See Job #1 Vis-a-vis Russia: NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT)

I wonder . . . what would it look like . . . if we could use social media to underline the concrete ways each of us is, in fact, choosing alternatives to war? And expressed interest in how others are choosing, too? (Including by sharing and spreading what we find valuable?)

(See STEP ONE: CHOOSE (To Have the Power to Choose, Putting Alternatives to War into Action) )

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Valuation

Mother Nature Says "Divest!"
(So do Black and Scholes.)
If the people who organized Global Divestment Day are looking for a sign that they're getting under the skin of the oil industry, they need look no further than yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

In "The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Divestment," Daniel R. Fischel summarizes a white paper written by his firm and financed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America: “Fossil Fuel Divestment: A Costly and Ineffective Investment Strategy.”

Fischel provides a very interesting argument about why universities, despite their possible wish to appease student activists, shouldn't divest from fossil fuel companies. It goes something like this:

Fossil fuel companies are more like "the market in general" than like any other sector in particular.

As everyone knows, investors are wise to diversify, so that they are not over-exposed to any particular market sector.

The more fossil fuel stocks you have, the wiser you are (because the more your portfolio will resemble a diversified one). Conversely, the less fossil fuel stocks you have . . . well . . . you get the idea . . . .


The readers of the Journal are likely to recognize this as an analysis that has something to do with correlation -- "alpha" and "beta" and the "capital asset pricing model (CAPM)" -- and if this recognition brings back painful memories of business school finance classes it would be hard to fault them for deciding to simply call it a day and just give Mr. Fischel the benefit of the doubt.

Perceptive readers, however, will stop to ask, "What's the real correlation that's at issue here?"

The Wrong Correlation

The premise of the analysis presented by Fischel is that diversifying market risk is the greatest challenge university investment offices face, and that the historic correlation of fossil fuels stocks to possibly risky market sectors is what matters most. (This might be called "avoiding bad alpha.")

But far more important is the future correlation of fossil fuel stocks to generalized, systemic risk in the market, and their negative correlation to the few sectors of the market that stand apart from that risk.  (This might be called "avoiding bad beta.")  Specifically: as the world economy faces a carbon bubble, fossil fuel stocks are likely to go into free fall, and since fossil fuel stocks constitute such a large part of the overall market beta ain't gonna be doing too well, either.  ("Highly correlated," remember?)

Mr. Fischel might assert that I have no way of really knowing if and when fossil fuel valuations are going to go into the toilet. And you know what? I completely agree.  But you see, his is the argument that depends on the proposition that fossil fuel asset valuations are predictable: "load up on lots of fossil fuel stocks, and stay away from instability."  Mine is the argument that is consistent with a high degree of fossil fuel asset valuation uncertainty: "avoid fossil fuel stocks (after all, at best they're little better than a diversified portfolio of other sections."

The reason university (and other) investment offices should divest from fossil fuel stocks is: they provide overly-large exposure to risk. Raising awareness of this is the real point of Global Divestment Day.

Related posts

What was striking to me was that, despite the U of C's reputation as a center of economic research and thinking and teaching, all four of the panelists appeared singularly uninterested in the central economic problem of the climate crisis: how will the supply and demand of goods and services change as a result of society's understanding of the climate crisis? and how will the market react to signals about such changes?

(See EXTRA! Climate Economics Confound U of C Profs! )

Oil companies are valued by the market based on their reserves. The problem with this approach is that the total reserves claimed by the oil companies is FIVE TIMES what can possibly be burned without driving up the temperature of the atmosphere up by a catastrophic amount and, as McKibben puts it, "breaking the planet." How can the value of oil companies be a function of reserves that can never be used?

(See The REALLY Big Short: The Jig is Up with Oil Companies)

The planning that is under way for 2015 clearly envisions the connections between multiple issues -- nuclear disarmament, clean (non-nuclear) energy, and climate -- and a need to involve everyone who cares about these issues.

(See #NoNukesTuesday: Disarmament? Clean Power? Climate? All three?

IT'S A START: U.S. Ambassador: "The P-5 have a responsibility to do more"

As more and more people grew aware that the confrontation between the US/NATO and Russia over Ukraine could grow to world-threatening proportions, representatives of the nuclear weapons states (the so-called P-5 - US, Russia, UK, France, China) met in London.

This led to a very interesting exchange on Twitter:

Robert Wood @USAmbCD *
London Conference demonstrated P-5 commitment to their Article VI
obligations. Good exchange between P-5 and NPDI reps.

Joe Scarry @Scarry
.@USAmbCD - Thanks - that "demonstrated P-5 commitment to their
Article VI obligations"? Could we see more? @napf @Cirincione

Robert Wood @USAmbCD
@Scarry @napf @Cirincione The P-5 have a responsibility to do more.

*U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and Special
Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons (BWC) Convention Issues. 

U.S. Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and Special Representative for Biological and Toxin Weapons (BWC) Convention Issues says "The P-5 have a responsibility to do more [with respect to the P-5's Article VI obligations]"?

This is significant because, as the most powerful nation in the P-5, the US has the ability to make the P-5 "do more" if it wants to.

And it's also significant because the nations of the world meet in New York City at the UN starting in just over two months for the once-every-5-years review conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (the NPT). People around the world are clamoring for progress on the main pillar of the NPT -- the total elimination of nuclear arsenals by those who already have them. This is the "Article VI" of the NPT that all signatories (most notably US, Russia, UK, France, China) have signed on to:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." (emphasis added)

(See "THE TREATY ON THE NON-PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS( NPT ) (text of the treaty) on the UN website.)

The NPT is based on a quid pro quo: nuclear "have-nots" agree to not acquire nuclear weapons, and nuclear "haves" agree to disarm. (See A DEAL'S A DEAL! (What part of "nuclear disarmament" doesn't the US understand?) )

The rest of the world is getting sick of waiting for the P-5 to honor their obligation.

Equally as important, AMERICANS are demanding action.

The clock is ticking . . . .


Read about the spring mobilization
for nuclear disarmament
... and commit.

Help us take this message viral:

every Tuesday on Twitter - #NoNukesTuesday.

Related posts

Far too many people think that the NPT is about freezing the status quo, and preventing additional states from obtaining nuclear weapons. This is a fundamental misunderstanding. The NPT is based on a quid pro quo: nuclear "have-nots" agree to not acquire nuclear weapons, and nuclear "haves" agree to disarm.

(See A DEAL'S A DEAL! (What part of "nuclear disarmament" doesn't the US understand?) )

There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

2015 "No Nukes" Mobilizations planned in the US already include New York City in April, Nevada in March, and New Mexico in August.

(See Key 2015 Events for Nuclear Disarmament Movement Organizers )

Why I'm Proud to Be Part of the #ShutDownCreech! 2015 Mobilization


Creech Air Force Base is the Nevada location where drone "pilots" control the killings by U.S. drone strikes thousands of miles away in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia . . . .

Many activists are paying a high price for their work to stop these killings.

Here's Kathy Kelly's message before entering federal prison for carrying a "stop the killings" message to the commander of Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Kansas City, MO:  "Let's rehabilitate CREECH!" on No Drones Illinois

Here's John Amidon, one of the many people who have protested drone killings at the Hancock Air Force Base outside of Syracuse, NY: "Please join us March 4 - 6 to Shut Down Creech!" on No Drones New York State

So: what can the rest of us do?


On social media: 
tweet using the hashtags

If possible, go to Nevada March 4-6 for

Wherever you are, get involved
with  your local peace group 

Related posts

Year after year, hundreds of thousands of people from Chicago and the surrounding area gather on the lakeshore to watch aerial displays by an array of planes. Most don't suspect that they are being subjected to an intense propaganda effort by multiple branches of the U.S. military.  The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo views this as a perfect opportunity to engage with the public and enlist them in the growing movement against U.S. war, torture, surveillance, and other crimes.  We will join activists from many other peace and justice groups who have had a growing presence at this event in recent years.

(See August 16-17: Protest U.S. Kidnapping, Torture, and Drone Assassinations at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show Protest )

With drones, people become just dots. "Bugs." People who no longer count as people . . . .

(See Drone Victims: Just Dots? Just Dirt? )

There was a lot of noise in Chicago during the NATO Summit. But one message we managed to get through -- at least to some people -- was that people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and many other places are being injured and killed in their names ... and that if that bothers their consciences they can get active and do something about it.

(See Making Drone Killing 100% VISIBLE in Chicago!)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

STEP ONE: CHOOSE (To Have the Power to Choose, Putting Alternatives to War into Action)

Help me with this, people.

How can all of us -- as widely distributed as we are -- put social media to work really effectively in our peace efforts?

It seems to me that, to do so, we need to tap into what's really contagious about social media. And do so in relation to peace efforts.

What have you seen and heard?
I'm intrigued by the work being done by the World Beyond War campaign -- a campaign that asserts that there are alternatives to war, and that we do have the power to choose those alternatives.

I wonder . . . what would it look like . . . if we could use social media to underline the concrete ways each of us is, in fact, choosing alternatives to war? And expressed interest in how others are choosing, too? (Including by sharing and spreading what we find valuable?)

I'm sure each of us knows how to use social media to make ourselves heard.

Do we know how to use social media to listen?

. . .

(comments please)

. . .

Related links

Per the comment from Jim Barton (below), Pamela Boyce Simms prioritizes, "[a]dopting a mindset that is a listening mindset." ("Pamela Boyce Simms on convening faith groups" on What does "adopting a mindset that is a listening mindset" look like on social media?