Trending topics . . .

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#Nuclear #President (Clinton?) (Cruz?) (Sanders?) (Trump?)

It has seemed to me that people are oblivious to the question that matters most in the 2016 presidential election: what happens if    (fill in the blank)    is in final control of the massive US nuclear arsenal??

I experimented with a Twitter poll yesterday. The small sampling yielded interesting results:

"Which candidate would you be LEAST scared
to see holding the nuclear controls?"
(Participate in current poll here.)

So now I want to give a larger number of people a shot at answering the question. The poll asking "Which candidate would you be LEAST scared to see holding the nuclear controls?" will run for one week. Please participate in the poll, and share the poll with others so they can weigh in, too.

Please use these hashtags for this issue: #nuclear #president.

Related posts

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )

The clock is ticking. If Barack Obama is going to make a difference in stopping the threat that nuclear weapons pose to the world, there is one (and only one) thing to do.

(See Putin and Obama: #talk)

Putin and Obama: #talk

Putin and Obama: #talk
(Please retweet this message.)

President Barack Obama has precious few days left in office. (Real-time count here.)

If he's going to make a difference in stopping the threat that nuclear weapons pose to the world, there is one (and only one) thing to do.


With Putin.

About eliminating US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

Everything else is sideways motion (at best).

Spread the word . . . .

Related links

February 11, 2016: Prof. Alan Robock and Prof. Owen Brian Toon, writing in The New York Times, underlined the urgency of action by President Obama on nuclear disarmament: "With less than a year left in office, President Obama could add to his legacy . . . . Mr. Obama said himself in 2009 that 'the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War' and that the United States, as the only nation to have used these weapons, had 'a moral responsibility' to seek a world without them. 'We have to insist,' he said, '"Yes, we can."'" "Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter"

Related posts

The total elimination of nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Russia is by far the most important issue confronting our two countries -- more important than all the other issues combined. This is not to slight the importance of the many areas upon which we disagree; the hard facts of nuclear weapons danger trump everything else.

(See SOTU 2015: What Will Obama Say January 20 About Nuclear Disarmament? )

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) )

The nuclear "haves" are meeting in London today and tomorrow. Everyone in the world should be doing everything possible to drive them 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)

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?) )

 How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?
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) )

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )

Any advocacy for the elimination of nuclear weapons must sooner or later get around to the specifics of the steps by which we get to zero. U.S. nuclear strategists recognize that 311 is still a large number of strategic nuclear weapons for the U.S. to hold. Shouldn't our minimum demand be to get U.S. to this level (or below)?

(See Why Are These Military Experts Saying CUT CUT CUT Nukes? )

The US Council of Mayors just met in San Francisco in June and adopted a strong position for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

(See US Mayors "Get It': The Nuclear Threat Must Be Stopped

Monday, February 8, 2016

#ChiPAC: It's time. (Civilian Control of the Police in Chicago)

#ChiPAC: It's time.
All-elected Civilian Police
Accountability Council for Chicago
I've just returned from Chicago. To sum up what I've observed: people have realized the Emanuel administration is running on empty. They've realized the problems of the city -- police, schools, housing -- are coming to a head. And they're realizing that the people now get to decide on new directions.

This past week saw publication of poll figures indicating that SIXTY-FOUR PERCENT of Chicagoans said cover-ups and a code of silence are "a widespread problem" at the Chicago Police Department. An article in the Chicago Reader detailed the way in which the Chicago Police Department has allowed the police union to be the provider of information to the public when police shootings occur -- information that was "false or misleading" in 15 of 35 cases examined.

The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression urged the public this week to demand that their representatives on Chicago City Council take action:

Thank you for joining the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression campaign to stop police crimes and for community control of the police!  We’d like to thank you for signing the petition supporting the proposed ordinance creating an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council, or CPAC.

 Now we're asking for your help in getting our representatives' attention. Take a moment to call your alderman and ask if he/she supports CPAC.

(Don't know your alderman? Click this link to learn who your alderman is and how to contact her/him. When the name of your alderman comes up, click on it to get his/her office phone number.)

By the way, if your alderman doesn't have a copy of the CPAC ordinance, offer to email the link below, or fax it to his/her office.

And please call us with the results. We want to know what our representatives think!  Call us at 312-939-2750.


Frank Chapman

Field Organizer

After you call your alderman, please share this image on social media:

#ChiPAC: It's time!
I told MY alderman we need an all-elected
Civilian Police Accountability Council for Chicago!
(Please retweet this message.)

It's time for the idea of an all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council for Chicago to go viral.

Related posts

A campaign exists to bring about a democratically-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) in Chicago. The campaign would involve the people in electing the watchers of the police, and put the ultimate control of (and responsibility for) the police in the hands of the citizens of Chicago.

(See Does a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) need to be part of a "new plan of Chicago"? )

As 2015 came to a close, the people of Chicago took to the streets to demand citizen control of the police.

(See CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Impose Civilian Control on CPD)

#BlackLivesMatter: When all is said and done, how many career politicians in Chicago will have crashed and burned along the way because they couldn't or wouldn't step up and lead on this issue?

(See #PeopleOverPolice: Is This What Democracy Looks Like? )

It's time for Chicago's Progressive Caucus as a whole -- and all its members individually -- to come out strongly in favor of a democratically-elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) for Chicago.

(See A Modest Proposal for Chicago's Progressive Caucus: Support CPAC )

People around the world reading the exposé in The Guardian today about the thousands of (mostly African-American) people denied their rights while being detained at a secret Chicago Police Deparment location at Homan Square might wonder if anyone in Chicago is doing anything in an attempt to get control of the police.

(See CHICAGO: Twilight Zone? Constitution-Free Zone? (What's it look like to YOU?) )

Thursday, January 28, 2016

In 2016, Walk the Talk: "Anti-Islamophobia." (You can do it.)

December 6, 2015 — This week, American Jews are participating
in a series of nationally coordinated actions against Islamophobia
and racism to mark the eight days of Chanukah with a rekindling
of their commitment to justice. (See
As a person working to put a stop to war, it is clear to me that the conflating of the ideas of "the threat of Islam" and "the global war on terrorism" are the biggest obstacles to peace today.

Simply stated: Islamophobia fosters war.

We live in a 24/7 entertainment and media culture, and it is a constant struggle to shift from being a passive participant in the dominant cultural narrative to being an active influence on the ideas circulating in our communities.

Numerous groups are leading an effort to replace Islamophobia with education and conversation. (See links below.)

In particular, as an active participant in several church congregations, I recognize the responsibility of people of faith to move from contemplation to action. (Apostles act.) I invite us members of Christian communities to ask ourselves:

What are we doing to bridge the gap between ourselves and Muslims? 
(If we are not the ones to create the bridge, who is???)

Here are some of my recent blog posts on the subject of Islamophobia:

We all wish to be judged by our good intentions. But the way people know us is through our actions. So ... what do people in the Muslim world know about us here in the United States?

(See They'll Know Us By Our Actions)

The iPhobe is a humanoid robot that spouts anti-Islamic rhetoric and encourages fear and hatred in an unprecedented variety of ways.

(See Like your iPhone? You'll LOVE the new iPhobe!)

If we are going to stave off a U.S. war against Iran, we are going to have to have some very difficult conversations with other Americans. Some people are extremely hostile. It's confusing and a bit frightening, but we're going to have to confront it.

(See Why Does Iran Arouse So Much Hostility?)

In 2013 America, we have been conditioned to feel anything associated with Middle Eastern and/or Muslim men should trigger feelings of suspicion, fear, and hatred. And when those cues are triggered, all of our objectivity and healthy skepticism goes out the window.

(See Orwell and the Uses of Hate)

Here's something that would be courageous and valuable, in my opinion: zero in on the handful of people in the world who have their fingers on triggers of the massive nuclear arsenals that threaten us, and bring them to heel. That would be impressive.

(See The Wrong 3,000,000 Covers: Quel dommage! )

I wonder if the outrage that many Muslims seem to feel at the suffering of other Muslims doesn't put us Christians to shame.

(See Fighting Back: It's alright as long as you're a Christian, right? )

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

"Yes, I tell everyone: I'm Sicilian -- but," she said, "that doesn't mean I'm Mafia -- and German -- but that doesn't mean I'm a Nazi." And then she added: "And being Muslim doesn't mean someone's a terrorist! That's what I tell people!"

(See Kairos: "Muslim" Doesn't Mean "Terrorist"! )

I was back in New Jersey to visit with high school friends in July. It gave me the opportunity to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial. Not surprisingly, what I saw made me spend days and weeks thinking about the memorial itself, and the larger issue of 9/11 in our national life. Out of all that I have seen and heard and read and thought about, several thoughts keep rising to the top.

(See 9/11 Memory: Grieving and Celebrating Valor, Leaving Vengeance Behind )

Useful links to anti-Islamophobia resources

Veterans Challenge Islamophobia is an organization of U.S. military veterans, many of whom saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, who are appalled by the current spate of bigotry, racism and hatred expressed toward Muslims, the huge majority of whom are law-abiding and productive citizens.

10 Strategies to Counter Islamophobia - Presented by Imam Malik Mujahid at 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, January 27, 2016.

Anti-Islamophobia events happening around the country

Talk titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia” at WB Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina (January 3, 2016)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ditching a Beloved Symbol (Rule #1 of Activism: Get With the Times)

The "Doomsday Clock" - a trademark of
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
We need some new memes.

In particular, I'm thinking today about the "Doomsday Clock" meme -- the one that suggests we're just minutes from disaster -- created by and updated yearly by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Now don't get me wrong: I've always loved the "Doomsday Clock" symbol, ever since I was a teenager spending hours and hours at the Chatham Public Library in New Jersey, where The Bulletin was prominently displayed in the periodical room. I have a lot of nostalgia for the "Doomsday Clock."  The "Doomsday Clock" penetrated my consciousness and probably played a role in inspiring me to study nuclear physics in high school.

And so, on a day like today when The Bulletin is holding a press conference to update "Doomsday Clock," I want the whole world to sit up and take notice.

My fear, however, is that the world is not sitting up and taking notice. Sure, as I write this "Doomsday Clock" is trending on Twitter . . . but it has to share space with #RealFansGetIt, #WordsThatDontDescribeHillary, Detective Pikachu, Senior Bowl and other examples of our society's preoccupations. An hour from now, the lineup will be new again, and "Doomsday Clock" will have fallen off the radar screen -- even though the threat it signifies will not have been one iota reduced.

Is it time for us to admit that the very fact that the "Doomsday Clock" has been around so long proves that the "Doomsday Clock" isn't getting the job done?

Watch Peace and Planet video by Alexandra Minos
Alexandra Minos, a student at Falmouth High School, won
 first prize in Mass Peace Action's student video contest for
a short video explaining the Peace and Planet mobilization
 to abolish nuclear weapons, April 26, 2015.
This is painful for me, because saying this forces me to confront the fact that much of my accumulated experience is rapidly becoming passé. The symbols that spoke to me and my generation may not speak to the young people we are counting on to carry the struggle forward.

Why not ask them? Why not use the social media tools at our disposal to crowd source the next generation of meme(s) to inspire the effort to bring us back from the brink?

I have no idea what millions of young people could come up with, if given the chance. But I'd sure like to see . . . .

Postscript 1/28/2016

A glimmer of what might be obtained by crowdsourcing came yesterday as a meme -- #MyLast4Words -- started to trend on Twitter. Thousands of people weighed in. The contributions ranged from religious to snarky to whimsical to X-rated. It was an explosion of creativity. Here's one that caught my attention:

#MyLast4Words: It might never happen

Naturally, I made a contribution of my own.

Related posts

What I'm feeling particularly energized about is the potential for the thousands of people who have already signed on as supporters of World Beyond War -- as well as millions more who are expected to do so soon -- to become active participants in spreading this good news.

(See News Worth Spreading: "There IS An Alternative to War!" )

This exchange has always stuck with me, because once you peel away the hopeless competitiveness and lack of compassion of these two characters, you are left with a grain of truth: if you want to succeed, you need to go where the conversation is taking place. The question for us: are we willing to check our egos at the door and get busy talking to people?

(See Antiwar Agitation in 2014: Less Mercutio, More Larry Levy )

I've discovered that there is a whole group of people who are actively passing along the latest news about Guantanamo (and a whole range of other civic affairs), and they can be found by searching on Twitter. That in turn leads you to certain "hubs" who distribute and redistribute ("retweet") the news on a particular topic. The interaction between the hubs and the "spokes" allows for incredibly rapid dissemination (and *digestion*) of the right information by the right people at the right speed.

(See The World Turned Upside Down - Huff Post, Wash Post, and Twitter )

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Ten Favorite "Scarry Thoughts" Blog Posts from 2015

Some of the blog posts I'm happiest about aren't necessarily the ones that get viewed the most.

These twelve made my 2015.


I never quite understood how much of a Chicago story the Bomb and opposition to it really is. I can think of at least three reasons why people right here in Chicago -- today -- need to make themselves heard about nuclear disarmament . . .

(See Unfinished Business in Chicago (Nuclear disarmament, that is))


Far more important than the historic performance of fossil fuel stocks 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.

(See The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Valuation )


What I'm feeling particularly energized about is the potential for the thousands of people who have already signed on as supporters of World Beyond War -- as well as millions more who are expected to do so soon -- to become active participants in spreading this good news.

(See News Worth Spreading: "There IS An Alternative to War!" )


Can there be any more clear illustration than the one at left to remind us that the work of the Church is liberation?

(See Christian "Church"? How about Christian "Liberation Organization"? )


"Once the boat went to full pressure, there was really no other option."

(See In Whose Machine Will YOU Be a Cog? )


It will be the 2016 presidential election that will provide the main form of entertainment and distraction to the U.S. populace between now an the end of next year. An enormous amount of political fluff will fill our lives -- pushing aside, I suppose, vast amounts of sports fluff and shopping fluff and celebrity fluff and -- well, you get the point.

(See What Will Dominate Election 2016? (ANSWER: ISIS and #BlackLivesMatter) )


It has required years and years of reflection to sort out the good and bad aspects and conclude that the diplomatic and commercial opening of China was part of a massive move away from conflict and toward peace.

(See THE EYES AND EARS OF HISTORY: A Perspective on the Iran Deal)


You might think that each person is just another face in the crowd, but if you look closely, they're all carefully drawn to depict an individual, and it's all these individuals working together that is going to stop Japan's return to militarization and war.

(See People Power Against War in Japan: A Lesson for Us All? )


Yesterday was the UN International Day of Peace. The day nudged me to think about what -- if anything -- I feel I really know about peace and the movement for peace. Here are 10 things that are true for me . . . .

(See #PeaceDay 2015 - Ten Thoughts on Peace)


As I walked home from today's service, I replayed the service in my mind. "The part about the visitor card was pretty good . . . " I thought, "and yet . . . visitor card . . . ? Maybe it's not really a visitor card . . . . Maybe what we should be calling them is participant cards."

(See Being Church in Logan Square, Chicago: An Ecclesiophilic Reflection )


"A terrible disease has struck the area . . . people call it the 'flu' . . . many in our own community have fallen to it . . . including someone very dear to you, someone in your own family . . . I'm talking about your sister, Margaret."

(See November 11, 1918: Another Veteran for Peace )


Hibakusha is a word that has traditionally been used to refer to people affected by the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagaski.  It is now being broadened to recognize the many additional victims of acute affects of nuclear radiation (including fallout from tests and radioactivity from mining and processing). In fact, we are all subject to the impact and threat of nuclear radiation spread indiscriminately by nations and corporations.

(See HIROSHIMA: What does it mean to say, "We are ALL 'hibakusha'?")

To be continued . . . .