Thursday, August 11, 2016

Veterans For Peace National Convention

The Peace Panel Project arrived at the Veterans for Peace National Convention in Berkeley this last Friday, 8/12/16, about 9:30 am. Even though I was single handing it, every time there was something challenging to do, a volunteer appeared! What a neat group of people. After we got the PPP exhibit set up, just outside the entrance to the dining hall (we got a lot of traffic) we proceeded to Ginko Court, set up our table and offered the PPP's 5 books, Ruses for War, Nonviolent Communication, Better World Shopping Guide, Censored 2016, and now Manufacturing Consent at 27% off retail.

The workshop “Challenging Corporate Rule (TPP), Creating Democracy, was a hoot. I got to meet and hear David Cobb of Move to Amend. I think he may have delivered the best speech I ever heard: Be careful how you spend your money and let's work to amend the Constitution to overturn “Citizens United”. 17 states have already voted for the amendment and this November two more will. That will make 19. And we'll be half way to 38 that are required for a Constitutional Convention! Vote this November! Contribute to Move to Amend. Wear a pin; talk to your friends; see the movie, “Legalize Democracy”.

The PPP table was next to the CODEPINK table. That was neat. I ended up buying Medea Benjamin's new book, Behind the U.S.- Saudi Connection, Kingdom of the Unjust. And scored some cool stickers!

The Northern California International Solidarity Movement with Palestine had such an impressive booth/table that I had to go check their exhibit out. Wow they were selling all kinds of stuff. Alison Weir was getting some buzz around the Convention and there I was talking to her! I ended up with a signed copy of her book, Against Our Better Judgment, The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel. Described by Senator James Abourezk as a “must read”.

That evening I got to hear Oliver Stone (Untold History of the U.S.), Helen Caldecott (nuclear weapons), Roy Scranton (global warming:”we're fucked”), and Andrew Bacevich (Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War) speak on issues that they had researched, very impressive.

The next day I got to talk to, and sign a petition by, representatives of the citizens of Okinawa who presented some compelling evidence about the burden that U.S. military bases place on the residents of that island. Did you know there are something on the order of 25 U.S. military installations on Okinawa, that occupy 22.6% of the land. And the U.S. Military are talking about building more! The citizens are not happy about it. The U.S. maintains about 900 military bases overseas.

The PM Press, an Oakland publisher of “radical ideas”, had an impressive table, all kinds of books. They offered 40% off when you use coupon code: SUMMER2016.

We had a banquet that night and heard a keynote address by Ann Jones about the corrupting effect the Koch brothers companies have had on our government and the Military.

The US Peace Memorial Foundation awarded its 2016 Peace Prize to Veterans For Peace In recognition of heroic efforts to expose the causes and costs of war and to prevent and end armed conflict.

At the Counter Recruitment workshop I got to meet Emily Yates. And if you haven't head her sing “Yellow Ribbon” on YouTube you are in for a treat! Check it out. I got to hand out some Career Builder / Chico Peace & Justice brochures to some grateful attendees. We had a productive discussion and I got some of the latest brochures from other groups.

It was so rewarding to hang out with such an interesting group of activists for the weekend. I hope to attend more Veterans for Peace Events in the future.

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