August 2005 Newsletter
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Oregon Biodiesel Workshop Facilitates Move Toward Renewable Fuel
Biodiesel is a renewable, low-emission, domestic fuel made from vegetable oil that can be used in any diesel engine. In "Oregon Biodiesel Workshop" (VB #54.10), join workshop founder Loren Fenell as he describes the history and uses of this exciting petroleum alternative, and considers the possibilities for a fueling infrastructure that allows for cars and trucks without depending on oil.
One hundred years ago, Rudolf Diesel invented his "diesel" engine to run on peanut oil. Now more and more people are discovering this environmentally friendly alternative fuel. Biodiesel comes from sources as varied as recycled grease from restaurant deep fryers, soy beans, and algae.
During the program Loren gives a tour of his workshop where he processes grease collected from restaurants into biodiesel, which in turn fuels Cloudburst Recycling's fleet of garbage trucks. It's a simple process that can be done on a community scale or even at home. He also explains how simple modifications can make a car run on unprocessed grease. "Oregon Biodiesel Workshop" shows that a future without petroleum doesn't have to be a future without cars and trucks.
Daniel Ellsberg and Medea Benjamin Cover US Policy in Iraq
Daniel Ellsberg, a former policy analyst under President Johnson who exposed the Pentagon Papers, and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink/Global Exchange spoke together at Portland State University in September, 2004 on the war in Iraq. In "Daniel Ellsberg and Medea Benjamin on US Policy in Iraq" (VB #54.8), Ellsberg delivers a sharp critique of US policy in Iraq, comparing it to Vietnam, and calling for "truth telling" to expose the policies. He touches on the Neocon agenda of "The Project for the New American Century," and how America's policies exacerbate the problem of Al Qaeda.
Benjamin speaks on her visits to Iraq and how the violence has worsened since the invasion. She tells of Iraq War veterans and their parents who oppose the war, discussing how many recruits joined the military to get an otherwise unaffordable education. She also links opposition to war to the greater struggle for economic justice and human rights. Finally she recalls her experience protesting the Republican National Convention in August 2004 with half-a-million protesters. These two voices are important to world peace, which may be why they are rarely heard on mainstream TV.
Panelists discuss Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine,
Teach-in / March Oppose US Military and Foreign Affairs, Occupation of Iraq
An informative panel discussion and a spirited peace parade are featured in "Saying No to War and Occupation: Teach-in and Peace March, Two Years Later" (VB #55.7&8). Recorded at a March 19, 2005 event on the anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, the show features speakers such as Johanna Brenner of the Women's Studies Department at PSU and Portland Solidarity, Goudarz Eghdetari, host of KBOO's "Voice of the Middle East," Amin Wahab, an engineer who moved to Portland from Afghanistan in 1980, and Mazen Malik of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights. They cover topics such as the US economic and strategic interests for invading and occupying Iraq; the possibility of a US invasion of Iran; Afghan survivors who are ready to rebuild their country after over 20 years of war; the needs of Palestinian refugees and the borders of Israel as defined before the 1967 war.
Vietnam Veteran Grant Remington of Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 and Adele Kubein, who is a member of Military Families Speak Out and the mother of a wounded Oregon guardsmember, also brought their personal perspectives to the teach-in.
The march features remarks by Laurie King of Jobs with Justice, at PSU's Urban Center Plaza and by the Oregonian building, the upbeat rhythms of the No War Drum Corps, signs reading "Bring All the Troops Home Now," and numerous chants. The show touches on many issues in a way to give viewers enough information to understand some basics of US military and foreign policies in the Middle East and how those policies harm people at home and abroad.
Women for Peace Around the World
Flying Focus member Yvonne Simmons has traveled to many countries in the past year and has pulled together two episodes featuring "International Women Peacemakers" (VB #56.6&7). Guiliana Sgrena, Italian journalist from the Rome newspaper Il Manifesto, speaks to Yvonne about her ordeal in Iraq as a hostage and on her release being shot by US soldiers on her way to the airport. She describes the physical pain, and the trauma of having the man who tried to protect her fall dead on top of her. She speaks to the politics involved and different investigation reports generated by the US and Italy.
Maria Botey, of DonesXDones, tells Yvonne about the conference "The Female Mediations, A Practice of Peace" held in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain in early 2005 and its inception. Thandi Modise from South Africa talks about AIDS and the Truth and Reconciliation Tribunals and their painful success. Sanam N. Anderlini from Iran speaks at the conference about the need for women's perspective and involvement in peace negotiations. As Yvonne likes to say, "Listen to the women for a change."
Truth, Reconciliation and Apartheid
Peter Storey, minister to Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in the 1960s, and head of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission under Mandela in the 1990s, offered his deep insights into Apartheid, political struggle, and forgiveness in a speech in Portland on June, 2005 ("Peter Storey: Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa," VB #56.2&3).
He discusses the role of many Christian churches in the struggle against Apartheid (partly inspired by Martin Luther King in the US) as well as the Dutch Reform Church's complicity. He also goes into former President FW de Klerk's official ending of Apartheid in 1990, and the role of Bishop Desmond Tutu. Storey notes the conflicts caused by the Inkatha Freedom Party. Part one of this two-part show ends with Storey describing the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and telling how some victims forgave some perpetrators of violence, and the power of forgiveness.
In part two, Storey finishes the topic of forgiveness and takes audience questions such as, "Are there any parallels to the Zimbabwe violence against white farmers with South Africa?" the current problems of AIDS and crime, the South African Communist Party and the Church's unique alliance with it, and the conflicts of the Church as creator of revolutionary change as opposed to its role of complicity.
Israeli Pilot Calls for End to Occupation
Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli pilot who refused to serve in the occupied territories, spoke in Portland in March, 2005. Shapira was a pilot in the Israeli Defense Forces for 11 years, serving two years in the elite Black Hawk helicopter squadron. He then became the author of the Israeli Pilots' letter of refusal to serve in the occupied territories. Flying Focus' show "Breaking Ranks: Israeli Air Force Pilot Refuser Yonatan Shapira" (VB #54.12&13) features the Portland leg of his speaking tour of the US sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace <http://www.btvshalom.org>.
Shapira describes his experiences as an IDF pilot that brought to light the conflict between his values of human rights and democracy, and the reality of Israeli policy in the occupied territories. He critiques the policy of targeted assassination and makes the connection between Israeli and US policies. He highlights the paradox between democracy in the 1967 borders and the situation outside of them. He also describes the consequences of his refusal activity as well as the growing support within Israel for the refusal position. Shapira differentiates between religious right-wing soldiers who refuse to carry out orders that involve evacuating Jewish settlers, and those opposed to the occupation. One clear wake-up call he brings is that acceptable public opinion in the US is more narrow than that in Israel.
Rachel Corrie appears at her final news conference
Family Remembers Activist Daughter
Rachel Corrie was crushed March 16, 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer purchased with US dollars. She was trying to stop the demolition of the home of a Palestinian doctor on the Gaza Strip. In September, 2003 her parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, traveled to Palestine and met with the people that Rachel worked with there. In the emotionally moving program "In Memory of Palestinian Rights Activist Rachel Corrie," (VB #55.3&4), the Corries tell how she became an activist and worked to help Palestinians save their homes and lives. They also tell the story of Palestinians under Israeli occupation - unable to move about freely and living under constant threat of losing their homes or being shot. The program includes Rachel's last press conference in Palestine and one in Olympia when she was 10 years old, as well as slides from Palestine.
90 Years of Activism
In May, 2005 the Portland branch of an international organization celebrated their 90th anniversary with the dedication of a plaque for peace and a march through downtown Portland ending at Portland State University. "Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's 90th Anniversary Celebration" (VB #55.11&12) is a retrospective of powerful, dedicated women from WILPF founders such as Jeanette Rankin and Jane Addams to present day activists, many of whom have been speaking out against war since the 1960's. The program includes music and inspiring words from women united in working for peace and justice. Gretchen Kafoury, long time WILPF member and Oregon politician, gives the keynote speech at PSU. This historic view puts the struggle in perspective and acts to inspire a younger generation.