America on Fire — A Moral Reckoning Arrives

In the countryside, mountain wildfires rage out of control, destroying all life in their path for hundreds of miles at a time. The daytime skies are covered with layers of ash and smoke, and in the evening are lit up by a luminescent orange-yellow glow. Meanwhile, in the cities, mostly peaceful public protests boil over, igniting some local buildings in ferocious flames. The orange-yellow-tinted nighttime skies, punctuated by police helicopter searchlights, radiate with rage and the heat of history.

The United States of America, in the summer of 2020, has been a nation on fire, both in the country and in the city. At first glance, these rural and urban blazes across many different locations may seem to have little in common. But in fact, they do: centuries of officially sanctioned neglect, abuse and violence in the USA — against nature in the countryside and against human beings in the cities, especially Black lives. And as this year continues on, those two sets of blazes edge closer and closer toward each other, signaling an even worse fate to come that will not easily be extinguished.

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Inside the Quake Zone, 25 Years On

We walk the streets of the old neighborhood this afternoon, remembering another place, another time. Our former apartment building is still there on the south side of JR Koshienguchi station in Nishinomiya, but the cozy third-floor unit where my wife, son and I first lived as a new family, apartment #303, is now being rented out to some local business. The family-run liquor shop just across the way from us in the local shopping arcade is still there, as is the old family-run stationery shop, the shelves filled with office supplies and paper that seemed unmoved since 17 January 1995, the day of the big quake.

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Happy Thanks-Taking Day, America

Every year on this day, the fourth Thursday of November, people all over the United States celebrate an almost sacred national holiday called Thanksgiving Day. It is a day when American families from all walks of life across the nation take time out of their busy lives to gather together and celebrate all that they have to be thankful for in life.

Turkey is the main dish served at these sumptuous Thanksgiving Day feasts, evoking long-distant memories dating back to the year 1621, when the early Europeans settlers in the U.S. sat down together with members of the indigenous First Nations and made peace and shared the bountiful harvest of the land.

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America’s Oil Coup in Venezuela

The recent utterance by so-called president Donald Trump of the United States about using a “military option” in dealing with the South American nation of Venezuela has shifted a slow-motion coup d’état into crisis mode, with the very real possibility now existing that the socialist government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro could fall in the near future.

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Remembering Judi Bari

Most people in the United States and around the world, it is fair to say, have probably never heard of Judi Bari — or if they have, they may just barely recall a news story about some crazy domestic American eco-terrorists blowing themselves up in a car.

But if such people had ever spent any time on the far northern coast of California in the U.S., they would need no introduction or explanation as to who Bari was. They would already know.

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When Johnny Went Marching Home Again

The recent decision by the U.S. government to put aside for now the plans to build the $3 billion Dakota Access pipeline near the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux nation was a tremendous People’s Victory — a good example of how the forces of nonviolence and “prayerful” spirit-power can stand up to the economic and political bullying of the mightiest nation on Earth, and win.

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Dakota Pipeline: Prelude to a Land Grab

High tensions over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in the USA have subsided for the moment, with the recent announcement by the administration of U.S. president Barack Obama and a federal appeals court ruling that temporarily suspended the building of the 1,825-kilometer (1,135-mile) long pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois.

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The Zen of Climate Change

Fifteen of the world’s most well-known Buddhist leaders, potentially representing more than one billion adherents of the spiritual path of Buddhism around the globe, released a public statement on October 29, 2015, calling on world leaders to take urgent, meaningful steps to deal with planetary climate change. Among those those who signed the statement were the renowned Dalai Lama of Tibet and Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Where is the People’s Tribunal on Fukushima?

Leaders of three powerful nations were being tried in public in Japan in summer 2004, more than a year after the United States invaded the nation of Iraq, and it was an incredible scene to witness. This was no small matter, either: U.S. president George W. Bush, British prime minister Tony Blair and Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi were being charged with crimes against humanity in connection with the Iraq invasion and/or support for that invasion.

I sat transfixed in the audience of a public hall in the downtown Japanese city of Kyoto, astonished that such a scene was playing out right before me. On stage there were prosecuting attorneys representing the public, defense attorneys representing the three leaders on trial and a procession of witnesses — including some Iraqi exiles who had come all the way to Japan just to testify about the tragedy befalling their country.

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Climate Change — in the Skies and in the Streets

The People have spoken and the demand is made, loudly and clearly: We want issues pertaining to global warming and planetary climate change put on the international political and economic agendas. And we want meaningful action taken on these issues — today, right now.

That was the one voice in which an estimated 400,000 people, nearly half a million strong, spoke in New York City on Sunday, 21 September, during the “People’s Climate March”. Tens of thousands more marched in solidarity in cities around the world.

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