United States

SULEIMANIYA/CHICAGO: Building peace for the next generation.

Mohammad Salah Mahdi came to Chicago from Suleimaniya in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to give a keynote address at the CPT Congress 13-16 October 2011.  Besides working as the translator, advisor, and driver for the CPT Iraq team, Mahdi teaches English to sixth and seventh grade teachers at Seventh Azar Basic School in Suleimaniya.  Before he left Suleimaniya, he asked his students to write letters to students in Chicago and videotaped them singing songs of greeting and friendship in English.

WASHINGTON, DC REFLECTION: History is knocking.

A friend sent me an email with this subject heading: "History Is Knocking, Stop The Machine!  Create A New World!"

The first paragraph hooked me: 

 There comes a time when efforts to avoid the truth begin to fail, when one can no longer go about daily life and pretend that all is okay.  If you are like most of us, you are experiencing this.  There comes a time when one can no longer shut out the atrocities of U.S. foreign and military policy: trade agreements that destroy farming; mass unemployment; especially among communities of color; illegal detention and torture; increasing drone attacks resulting in mass civilian deaths; and once again a President who lies the United States into another war for oil and bankers.

 I immediately signed up to be at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC on October 6.  

JONESBOROUGH, TN: CPT conducts ‘Occupy Aerojet’ action.

 On 29 October, outside of the Aerojet Ordnance plant.  CPT delegates and members of the local community, wearing “Decontaminate Jonesborough” shirts, set up tents in an effort to publicly imagine a new Aerojet.  Participants split into groups and surveyed the perimeter of the company grounds, documenting notable buildings and materials.  Each group then had a chance to re-imagine what the grounds and buildings could be used for once the plant is no longer producing depleted uranium.  One group suggested that the venues could be come a museum depicting the past horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons, along with ways to work toward a more peaceful future.  Another group suggested Aerojet could become a retreat center or a gathering place for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Some participants suggested planting climbing vines like Virginia Creeper that pull heavy metals from the environment as part of a cleanup process.

JONESBOROUGH, TN: Depleted Uranium delegation collects samples to be examined for DU contamination, participates in press conference.

Aerojet Ordnance, Inc. in Jonesborough, TN is a Depleted Uranium (DU) processing plant with an unsavory history of handling toxic waste.  The CPT DU delegation in Jonesborough has helped Dr. Michael Ketterer—professor at Northern Arizona State University—collect soil, water, and sediment samples in the area to be examined for DU deposits.  Previous samples taken by Dr. Ketterer confirm DU contamination in areas around the plant and also in the Little Limestone Creek.  CPT delegates accompanied Dr. Ketterer to three different homes in the area on Saturday, 22 October, collecting new samples, serendipitously gaining access to a home that backs up to Aerojet's fence line.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Walking with God in a fragile world

 In the summer of 2007, I traveled to Colombia for a reservist stint with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  On the flight, I was reading a book of essays about 9-11 titled Walking with God in a Fragile World.  At first it seemed strange to be reading about this act of violence committed in the United States when I was on my way to confront violence in Colombia.  But the more I read, the more relevant the essays seemed.   While violence in Colombia appears in many forms—fumigations, threats against community leaders, displacement—it is no less catastrophic than the attack on the Twin Towers in its impact on human lives. 

U.S./CANADA: The CPT Boutique awaits your tax-deductible valuables!

An antique sapphire and diamond pin brought in $150.  Brass pineapple candleholders brought in $18.  A child’s Ethiopian dress brought in $40.  A 1927 edition of Winnie the Pooh brought in $35.  A Paragon bone china cup and saucer from the 1940s brought in $20.  Some 1854 stamps from India brought in $60.

All of these items were donated by CPT supporters over the last year to the CPT Boutique—one less material thing in their lives meant a little more money to support CPT’s work in the Middle East and the Americas.

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: CPT Aboriginal Justice Team to participate in the Wild Goose Festival this summer

This summer the CPT Aboriginal Justice team will participate in the inaugural Wild Goose Festival set in North Carolina’s Shakori Hills from 23-26 June 2011.  The gathering will bring together disparate voices in a conversation on the present and future state of Christian faith in North America and around the world.  The organizers have invited Christian Peacemaker Teams to contribute by sharing tales from its work and its dream of a world without violence.  

CPT INTERNATIONAL: CPTer Anne Montgomery and four other Plowshares activists sentenced for trying to enforce international laws against nuclear weapons

On 28 March 2011, five Disarm Now Plowshares activists who entered U.S. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (Washington, USA) in November 2009 to disarm symbolically the nuclear weapons stored there, received sentences ranging from to six to fifteen months confinement and one year supervised release.  Long-time CPTer Sr. Anne Montgomery, sentenced to two months in jail plus four months electronic home monitoring, said, “We join those…deprived by our wars and military budget of a human way of life.”

PALESTINE BLOG: Obama’s speech on Libya

Generally, I thought Obama's speech to the nation was well written, and he made a relatively compelling case for 'just' war in Libya (even though I personally don't believe that terminology to be very helpful).  You can come to your own conclusions about the military intervention.  I, personally, have friends on both the interventionism and anti-interventionism side of the issue.

COLOMBIA: Stop the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement; Ask Obama to keep his promise

Lenten greetings from CPT Colombia.  As we enter this season approaching the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we want to make sure you are aware of two special opportunities for your faith community in the coming weeks.  

Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia      

Palm Sunday Materials

 CPT-Colombia works closely with the Latin American Working Group (LAWG) and encourages its supporters to sign the following LAWG petition.

 Momentum is building fast in Washington to approve the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia.    

 We cannot let this unfair agreement move forward.  President Obama must not consider it until there are major improvements in human rights and labor conditions in Colombia.