Tag Archives: peace

Lawyers preparing to defend, protect inauguration protesters in D.C.

The National Lawyers Guild is coordinating with the DC NLG Chapter in preparation for mass protests surrounding the 58th presidential inauguration.

Mass demonstrations are planned for Jan. 19-21 in the capital and across the country.

Large numbers of people are expected to converge in the nation’s capital to protest the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th U.S. president.

The inauguration is National Special Security Event. So the swearing in and other events will be accompanied by an intense degree of policing coordinated by over three dozen federal intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies, with security costs expected to exceed $100 million.

Such high levels of security and policing at previous national events have led to mass arrests, surveillance of protesters, unconstitutional restrictions of permits and free speech and intimidating shows of force by police, according to a statement from the guild.

“Tens of thousands of people are answering the call to resist the incoming administration at inaugural protests next weekend. As always, the NLG is mobilizing its dedicated team of radical lawyers, legal workers, and law students, to provide the critical legal support infrastructure needed for such large scale demonstrations,” said Maggie-Ellinger Locke, DC NLG Mass Defense Chair.

From the various actions on the day of the inauguration to the Women’s March on Washington planned for Jan. 21, the NLG is organizing a mass defense infrastructure of Legal Observers , jail support and lawyers.

Legal observers will monitor on-site at protests and document any arrests and potential abuses inflicted on demonstrators by law enforcement, according to the guild.

The jail support team will handle hotlines, track arrests and assist people as they are released.

Attorneys who can practice in D.C. will represent arrestees and do jail visits.

In preparation for the inauguration, DC NLG members have been holding trainings in the capital, as well as online trainings for those coming from other parts of the country.

The NLG also recently released an analysis of recent trends in protest policing, based on an updated version of the Field Force Operations training manual for crowd control produced by the Department for Homeland Security and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Get involved

Lawyers, legal workers and law students interested in assisting with legal support can fill out this form to volunteer.

Resources

  • Website: dcnlg.wordpress.com
  • Legal Support Hotline:  202-670-6866
  • NLG Know Your Rights Booklets in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.

Civil rights groups urge clemency for Chelsea Manning

The American Civil Liberties Union and more than a dozen LGBT groups on Dec. 5 urged President Barack Obama to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information to raise public awareness regarding the impact of war on civilians.

Manning is serving the seventh year of a 35-year sentence.

Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative, said, “Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Granting her clemency petition will give Ms. Manning a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.”

The letter to the president states, “Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. The Army even opposed her request to use her legal name and to be referred to by female pronouns. While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity.”

The following groups signed the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
BiNet USA
COLAGE
Family Equality Council
FORGE, Inc.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
Immigration Equality
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
League of United Latin American Citizens
Los Angeles LGBT Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
Pride at Work
Transgender Law Center

On the Web

Free Chelsea Manning.

UNICEF calls for end to dire situation in Aleppo

UNICEF’s representative in Syria called Saturday for an end to the violence that has beset northern Aleppo, causing dire humanitarian and psychological impacts on both sides of the divided city.

U.N. agencies are on “standby” to deliver needed assistance, Hanaa Singer of the U.N.’s children agency told The Associated Press.

With the key powers deeply divided, the U.N. Security Council on Saturday once again failed to agree on the course of action in war-ravaged Aleppo, and Syria in general. Russia vetoed a resolution drafted by France demanding an immediate halt to the bombing of Aleppo. A resolution put forward by Russia that called for a separation of moderate and extremist forces in Syria but making no mention of a bombing halt in Aleppo failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes required for passage.

Also on Saturday, Syrian state media and a Syria monitoring group said pro-government troops advanced in a northern district of eastern Aleppo, wrestling control from rebel fighters in their latest push into the besieged area.

Singer said conditions in besieged Aleppo are “terribly dire,” with hospitals hit, doctors overwhelmed, and over 100 children killed in bombings since Sept. 19. Conditions for thousands of displaced in the government-held part of the city are also deteriorating, with some of them being displaced for up to six times in the last three years, she said.

Singer returned earlier this week from a week-long trip to the government-held part of Aleppo where she was visiting thousands of displaced Syrians. Most are crammed in makeshift shelters, mosques, parks and churches after recently fleeing clashes on the frontline between rebels and pro-government forces. In one case, a mother so desperate from the continuous displacement, stabbed her baby girl thinking she will save her the misery of living on handouts and without a home, Singer said.

Describing the dramatic situation for thousands of families living in shelters in government-controlled Aleppo, Singer said: “These (are) the horrors in western Aleppo. God knows what is happening, (in the case of) mental health or the psychological situation on the eastern (rebel-held) side.”

Western Aleppo, controlled by the government, is separated from eastern rebel-held Aleppo by a few meters, sometimes by a single plastic sheet or pockmarked building. An estimated 275,000 people are living in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, with no international aid reaching the area since the first week of July. Besides the scarce assistance, it is also difficult to assess the needs with the ever-evolving violent situation, and lack of access for international aid groups, she said.

“I think we all agree, and especially if you have been so close in the area there and seeing the dire situation in the west, hearing about the horrible situation in the east, all we need now is (for) the violence to stop,” Singer said. “The violence has to stop and once the violence stops, the U.N., we absolutely stand ready. We are ready. We are actually on standby.”

Singer says U.N. plans are in place for government-held Aleppo to accommodate residents that may evacuate the besieged part of the city if a cease-fire takes effect.

According to medical charity Doctors Without borders, hospitals in the eastern side of Syria’s Aleppo have been attacked 23 times since July, damaging all eight facilities that have not yet been shuttered or destroyed. Since the U.S-Russian cease-fire broke down on Sept. 19, the situation in besieged Aleppo has immensely deteriorated under a relentless bombardment campaign. Water stations and civil defense centers have also been hit, while over 320 people have been killed in eastern Aleppo in nearly three weeks of violence.

“In eastern Aleppo, the situation is terribly dire. Lots of schools and of hospitals have been hit we understand that there are only 30 doctors there. We have information that at least over 100 children have been killed. We hear that because of the lack of services and lack of health facilities that some children, that doctors can’t cope with all the cases, and some children in dire situation are left to die,” Singer said.

On Saturday, amid intensive air raids, pro-government forces seized the al-Awijeh district in northeastern rebel-controlled Aleppo, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory also reported clashes on the southern edge of the rebel-held area. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Syrian State TV reported that government and allied troops took control of al-Awijeh, moving toward the Jandoul roundabout and getting closer to crowded residential areas in Aleppo’s rebel-controlled eastern districts.

Refugee debate hits home for Hmong family in Appleton

Pang and Chia Lee Xiong, among the first Hmong refugees to be settled in the Fox Cities as they fled their war-torn homeland nearly four decades ago, cannot read or write.

But their nine children? They all hold college degrees — a doctor, a nurse and teachers among them — and they say they’re a family that stands as a shining example of refugees finding a better tomorrow, a story that resonates amid today’s often heated debates regarding refugees and immigration in the United States.

Eight of those nine children came home recently to celebrate their parents, who despite their own limited education hammered home over and over again the message that education and hard work can still make the American dream a reality.

With their own children in tow, they flooded into St. Pius X Catholic Church on a Wednesday afternoon to surprise their father, who at age 70 was retiring after 38 years as a custodian in Appleton Catholic schools.

Up until two years ago, Pang Lee Xiong held two full-time custodial jobs, often working 16 hours a day.

“My mom and dad are both hard workers,” daughter Kathy Xiong said. “They’ve always talked about taking pride in who we are, honoring our heritage and our ancestors; but at the same time making sure that we do what we can to be a value to others in our community, and that we’re giving to our community.”

Neither Pang, nor his wife, Chia, received an education, but they could work and did so tirelessly to ensure their two sons and seven daughters would have a path to success.

It took hard work but also patience and endurance after arriving in Appleton as outsiders, family members said. Their experiences provide a glance into how Appleton has evolved since the first of the Hmong refugees arrived here in the late 1970s.

Yet as some things change, others remain the same.

The Xiongs’ celebration unfolded as refugee resettlement remains a hot-button political issue.

The Fox Cities, to the delight of some and disdain of others, has had mostly open arms for refugees.

In recent years, hundreds afforded refugee status have arrived from a number of nations including Somalia, Iraq, Burma, Cuba and the Congo.

The last major Hmong resettlement in the Fox Valley came in 2004.

Community leaders said those wary of the vulnerable arriving can look to this Appleton family as an example of the great things that can happen when rolling out the welcome mat.

Refugees arrive with a mind on building better lives, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said.

“There’s such a passion, and they’re fighting for their families,” he said.

Pang held his composure as 20 of his 28 grandchildren streamed into the room and waited their turns for hugs and kisses. He finally broke into tears when asked to muster up a few words about retirement and his long hours of janitorial work.

“I knew that I had to support my kids,” he said.

His son, Bon Xiong, said it’s difficult to comprehend his father’s efforts working two full-time jobs.

“I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I’ve thought about it, but I couldn’t do it.”

The Xiongs were just the third Hmong family to settle in Appleton after arriving from a refugee camp in September 1978.

Today, it’s Syrian refugees who are drawing the greatest debate, though contemporary wrangling over whether or how much we should support helps explain what the Xiong family faced in their early years here.

A 2015 Gallup poll found 60 percent disapproval for bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States. In 1979, the polling organization found 57 percent disapproval for taking in refugees from Southeast Asia.

“I remember the talk around town being skeptical,” Hanna said of the late 1970s.

Pang had fought on behalf of the CIA during the secret war in Laos, and he and his family were forced to flee to avoid persecution and likely death.

The family made its way through three refugee camps before arriving in America. They were sponsored by St. Mary Parish, and its leaders and parishioners taught the family how to live here — right down to the simple things such as trips to the grocery store.

Their children attended Catholic schools. Pang began his custodial duties within days of settling into his new environment.

Daughter ThaoMee Xiong remembered being riled up by the prejudiced words she’d hear from her classmates. She said her father, a janitor at her school, let it roll off his shoulders and encouraged her to brush it off as well.

“He never took that personally, although it probably doesn’t feel good as a grown man being taunted by young boys,” she said.

Today, about 4,700 Hmong residents call the Fox Cities home. Back then, Pang, Chia and their children stood out.

Bon Xiong said he’s long past any hard feelings, knowing much of the poor treatment they received was born of resentment from the Vietnam War, and the Korean conflict before it. He said he is proud to see that as the Hmong population grew, so did acceptance.

In 1997, he was elected to the Appleton Common Council, and the following year became an Outagamie County Board supervisor. He was the first Hmong American in either of those roles in Wisconsin.

“There was a lot of prejudice,” he said. “Prejudice out in the streets, in the schools — a lot of name calling. I couldn’t really comprehend it. But as time went by, all of that kind of just disappeared. The diversity here in Appleton now — it’s awesome.”

Daughter Anne Vang-Lo said the messages she and her siblings received from their parents were simple, repetitive and carried big expectations — all based on their refugee struggles.

“Coming to America, my mom and dad always said, ‘Make sure you go to school, make sure you go to school. Make sure you work hard, make sure you work hard.””

Now that Pang has retired, he and Chia will move to Minnesota to be closer to many of their children and grandchildren.

Despite all of the uncertainty that existed when the family first settled here, Pang is now a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving, ThaoMee said. Appleton has become home.

Hanna issued a proclamation that declared Wednesday Pang Lee Xiong Day in Appleton, noting his “tenacity to survive the trauma of war and displacement and the audacity to encourage his children to reach and obtain the American dream.”

Today, new families continue to arrive and take the first steps on that path, often with similar challenges.

Jean Long Manteufel, a member of the Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis Club, said she’s been impressed by the response of the Fox Cities as new neighbors arrive. She took part in community collections to set up homes for hundreds of Hmong refugees in 2004, and again for the new wave of refugees in 2014.

Some communities reject them.

“I was so proud of the Fox Cities that our choice was, ‘Let’s help them,”” Manteufel said.

It’s never been a greater issue, and the rhetoric has remained heated.

A June report from the United Nations said 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes either from war or persecution at the end of 2015. That was up from 59.5 million the year before.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has pointed to Syrian resettlement as a national security issue. Last year, Gov. Scott Walker was among 15 governors who asked the federal government not to place Syrian refugees in their states after attacks from the Islamic State in Paris.

Manteufel suggests we judge people on their individual merits rather than place of origin.

Kathy Xiong has full confidence that refugees arriving to skepticism today can ultimately make their communities stronger, just as her family has done.

“He really had to leave to make sure he was safe and my family was safe,” she said of her father. “But we’ve given back in so many ways.”

An AP member exchange.

Peace and healing march planned in Kenosha

Congregations United to Serve Humanity will hold a peace and healing march July 21 in Kenosha.

An announcement from CUSH said people are invited to gather on the east lawn of the Kenosha Public Museum at 7 pm.

Marchers will go to the lakefront, where community and faith leaders will lead a lantern release — pending DNR approval — representing the officers and people of color who died in recent events.

The event marks a starting point for CUSH to foster dialogue and actions that lead to equity, justice, peace, and healing for our whole community, the news release stated.

CUSH is a non-partisan, interfaith coalition dedicated to “the pursuit of justice through advocacy, education and empowerment.”

For more information about the march or CUSH, call 262-564-8223.

On the Web

Find CUSH on Facebook.

Nation’s largest peace organization endorses Feingold

Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace organization, endorsed Democrat Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.

“Peace Action is proud to endorse Russ Feingold,” said Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s senior director and also the director of Peace Action’s PAC. “He warned of the folly of Bush’s Iraq war which turned out to be the largest foreign policy mistake of the century.

Martin added, “Additionally, Feingold thinks it is time to end our longest war in history — the Afghanistan War, that a large military intervention in Syria will only repeat the grave mistakes of the past and that we need to keep Pentagon bloat in check.  He concurs that the world needs to lessen the number of nuclear weapons and refrain from building more.  That’s why he supported the New START Treaty with Russia and the Iran Nuclear Agreement.  Peace Action is confident in Feingold making rational, studied foreign policy decisions and keeping a critical eye on Pentagon expenditures.  His policies will make Americans safer.

Nearly 60 years ago,

Peace Action was founded nearly 60 years ago. Peace Action has an affiliate in Wisconsin called Peace Action of Wisconsin.

The former senator said of the endorsement, “Peace Action has long taken a stand against the kind of rhetoric that drives fear, anger, and violence in our communities. I look forward to working alongside them to reduce threats to peace and ensure economic justice here in Wisconsin and across the world.”

Feingold is challenging incumbent Republican Ron Johnson for the Senate seat.

Activist Grace Lee Boggs dies at 100, leaves lasting legacy

Activist Grace Lee Boggs, 100, died on Oct. 5 in Detroit, leaving behind a long history of humane, revolutionary activism aimed at transforming U.S. society. Her vision of social justice and universal human rights inspired admiration and emulation.

As an activist and writer, Boggs worked closely with husband James Boggs, an African-American autoworker. Their unabashed advocacy of the Black Power movement drew them to Malcolm X, who stayed at their home when he visited Detroit.

The vision of Grace Lee and James Boggs, who died in 1993, was never restricted by race, gender, sexual orientation or class. They focused on building a tolerant, multi-racial society founded on economic and social equality.

In the eyes of the powerful, including the FBI, which compiled an 884-page file on her, Grace Lee Boggs was a dangerous revolutionary. But she was untroubled by the “subversive” label with which she was branded.

“She never, never backed away from the idea of an American revolution,” said Rich Feldman, a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership in Detroit. “For her, revolution meant more creating power than taking power. It meant self-transformation toward becoming broader, more cooperative human beings. She saw people moving from being workers and consumers into becoming self-governing citizens.”

Boggs spread her message through her writings, lectures, extensive and probing conversations with a wide range of people and an indefatigable energy in launching projects to create what she called “a beloved community.”

Boggs was especially noted for her bottom-up efforts to rebuild Detroit — which was devastated when the giant automakers moved many jobs to Mexico and China and then robbed of democracy by Gov. Rick Snyder, who installed his hand-picked “emergency manager” Kevyn Orr to displace elected officials and run the city.

Boggs thus found herself operating in a city stripped of its right to democratic self-rule and beleaguered by high unemployment, rampant crime, a falling population, decaying housing stock and collapsing infrastructure.

At the same time, corporate planners sought to impose their vision for the city’s future, stressing gentrification and massive public subsidies for projects like a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Privately owned by billionaires, the arena will be built with $450 million in public funds.

Boggs responded by initiating and consolidating a number of grassroots projects that represented a vastly different vision of Detroit’s future. She promoted urban agriculture on the vast acres of land left empty by torn-down factories and housing. That effort provided meaningful, community-building work and a plentiful supply of healthy food to residents, who otherwise lived in “food deserts” where fast-food restaurants and corner groceries supplied limited diets.

Her experiments in urban agriculture helped reinforce similar efforts in other cities, such as Milwaukee’s Walnut Way and Growing Power project, led by Will Allen, said longtime Milwaukee activist James Godsil.

Boggs also spawned annual Detroit Summer programs involving teenagers and other young people in art, music, dance, rebuilding homes and urban agriculture. Godsil recalled Boggs’ remarkable rapport as she circulated among discussion tables filled with teenagers talking about the possibilities of a new Detroit rebuilt from the bottom up.

Godsil remembers being impressed by Boggs at a 2006 conference, where “she broke down complex ideas simply.” Always insistent on re-evaluating and rethinking the goals of those seeking to radically restructure America, “She quoted Martin Luther King on the ‘bitter but beautiful’ struggle for the new world we’re conceiving.”

Boggs continued her outspoken advocacy throughout her life. In poor communities, she aided in fighting the “crack houses” proliferating in vacant, abandoned homes. She was prominent in fighting the widespread water shut-offs of poor people imposed by the municipal water authority at the direction of Orr, who at the same time let major corporations rack up massive overdue water bills.

Boggs saw her activism and community projects as building a “beloved community” that represented a radically different version of the new Detroit promoted by Snyder, Orr and corporate interests. In her eyes, she was creating on a small scale a new society within the shell of the old.

Boggs spread her influence with her writing, as well as activism. She and James Boggs co-authored Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century. She wrote Living for Change: An Autobiography (1998) and The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (2011) with Scott Kurashige.

Boggs’s staying power eventually produced widespread recognition and fame. She became a much sought-after lecturer across the nation and abroad because of the energy and imagination she displayed even as she grew older. She was the subject of a memorable 2007 interview by Bill Moyers and was featured in Grace Lee’s (no relation) PBS documentary  American Revolutionary: Grace Lee Boggs.

Boggs 100th birthday was marked by numerous celebrations, with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center sharing 100 of Boggs’ most memorable quotes, one for each of her years.

In recent years, Boggs accumulated honorary degrees from a number of major universities. But she was at her most joyful, said Rich Feldman, when she saw young people from Detroit’s mean streets take part in community efforts and transform their lives.

“Her greatest honor ever was speaking at the graduation of the Freedom Growers, a group of young people working on an urban farm,” Feldman said. “She’d spoken at graduations at the University of Michigan and other prestigious places, but giving the graduation speech to these young people really made her smile.”

On the Web

To learn more, visit www.boggscenter.org.

Shift the food system | Letters to the future: The Paris Climate Project

Dear future family, I know you will not read this note until the turn of the century, but I want to explain what things were like back in 2015, before we figured out how to roll back climate change. As a civilization, we were still locked into a zero-sum idea of our relationship with the natural world, in which we assumed that for us to get whatever we needed, whether it was food or energy or entertainment, nature had to be diminished. But that was never necessarily the case.

In our time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture still handed out subsidies to farmers for every bushel of corn, wheat or rice they could grow. This promoted a form of agriculture that was extremely productive and extremely destructive — of the climate, among other things.

Approximately one-third of the carbon then in the atmosphere had formerly been sequestered in soils in the form of organic matter, but since we began plowing and deforesting, we’d been releasing huge quantities of this carbon into the atmosphere. At that time, the food system as a whole — that includes agriculture, food processing, and food transportation — contributed somewhere between 20 to 30 percent of the greenhouse gases produced by civilization — more than any other sector except energy. Fertilizer was always one of the biggest culprits for two reasons: it’s made from fossil fuels and when you spread it on fields and it gets wet, it turns into nitrous oxide, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Slowly, we convinced the policymakers to instead give subsidies to farmers for every increment of carbon they sequestered in the soil.

Over time, we began to organize our agriculture so that it could heal the planet, feed us and tackle climate change. This began with shifting our food system from its reliance on oil, which is the central fact of industrial agriculture (not just machinery, but pesticides and fertilizers are all oil-based technologies), back to a reliance on solar energy: photosynthesis.

Carbon farming was one of the most hopeful things going on at that time in climate change research. We discovered that plants secrete sugars into the soil to feed the microbes they depend on, in the process putting carbon into the soil. This process of sequestering carbon at the same time improved the fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil. We began relying on the sun — on photosynthesis — rather than on fossil fuels to feed ourselves. We learned that there are non-zero-sum ways we could feed ourselves and heal the Earth. That was just one of the big changes we made toward the sustainable food system you are lucky enough to take for granted.

Editor’s note: World leaders convene in Paris soon for the critical U.N. climate talks. In fact, December of 2015 may be humanity’s last chance to address the crisis of our time.

Will the nations of the world finally pass a global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming … or will we fail at this most crucial task?

Here and on letterstothefuture.org, find letters from authors, artists, scientists and others, written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks and what came after. Read these letters and write one of your own. The letters will be sent to targeted delegates and citizens convening at the Paris talks.



Green global new deal | Letters to the future: The Paris Climate Project

Dear future generations, At the time I write this, the greatest fissure in global politics is between the affluent white North and the suffering and devastated victims of floods, fires, blazing temperatures, deforestation and war from the Global South. Writ large, the global crisis between rich and poor is the background to environmental and economic injustice.

At the December United Nations climate summit in Paris, the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, who will bear the greatest burdens of the crisis, will be demanding a Global Green Fund to pay for environmental mitigation and economic development. The price tag is a paltry few billion dollars at this point, compared to the $90 billion cost estimates for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan plus the budgets of our surveillance agencies. 

What is needed is a “Green Global New Deal” funded from public and private sources to begin saving the Earth.

The mass movement will gain momentum, unfortunately, from repetitive climate disasters that require billions for infrastructure alone. Si, se puede, it can be done because there is no alternative. That’s why producing affordable zero-emission cars is important in Hunters Point (the African-American center of San Francisco) and Boyle Heights (the heart of Los Angeles’ Mexican-American community) and the barefoot Third World bloc representing a majority of the world’s nation states. 

California Senate Pro Tem Kevin De León, a leader in the cause of environmental justice, has legislated a remarkable shift in environmental and budgetary priorities in the state where I reside. Call it the California Model. Current law now requires that environmental funding go both to reduction of carbon emissions and coequal benefits for disadvantaged communities. During the four years beginning in 2014 the state will invest $120 billion on such a climate justice program from sources including the much-debated cap-and-trade program which brings in at least two or 3 billion annually along with revenue from tax reforms funded by Tom Steyer, the billionaire San Francisco investor who has made climate justice his passion. 

This model is being carried by California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration by a series of state-and-regional pacts with the goal of achieving a more stable climate. Almost alone, the governor is pursuing energy diplomacy with formal agreements with 11 U.S. states, and a growing list of major countries from China to Brazil to Germany. Call it the emerging Green Bloc. By Brown’s conservative numbers, the Green Bloc represents 100 million people and a GDP of $4.5 trillion. But these numbers are low: by my estimate we are talking about 166 million people in states pursuing low-to no-carbon policies in American states with 262 electoral votes! Tea party beware. 

We are entering the pre-post Brown era in California along with the pre-post Obama era in the nation, intensifying the urgency of electing a governor, president and officials with the best ability to navigate the critical transitions ahead.

Editor’s note: World leaders convene in Paris soon for the critical U.N. climate talks. In fact, December of 2015 may be humanity’s last chance to address the crisis of our time.

Will the nations of the world finally pass a global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming … or will we fail at this most crucial task?

Here and on letterstothefuture.org, find letters from authors, artists, scientists and others, written to future generations of their own families, predicting the success or failure of the Paris talks and what came after. Read these letters and write one of your own. The letters will be sent to targeted delegates and citizens convening at the Paris talks.

Feinstein: U.S. must increase efforts in Syria, Iraq

The United States needs to increase its efforts in Syria and Iraq “directly” and expand its support to other nations where Islamic State militants operate, U.S. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said in a statement responding to the Paris attacks.

“It has become clear that limited air strikes and support for Iraqi forces and the Syrian opposition are not sufficient to protect our country and our allies,” said Feinstein, who is the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and a leading Democratic voice on foreign affairs.

From Reuters Media Express service

PHOTO: Messages are left in a chalk memorial to the victims of the attacks in Paris, in Union Square Park in the Manhattan borough of New York Nov. 14. | REUTERS/Lucas Jackson