Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Human Rights Resolution in Dutchess County

Dutchess legislators contemplate criminal justice, human rights

Vasquez: "There is a lot of public support ..."

POUGHKEEPSIE – After the Dutchess County Legislature zipped through an agenda of routine business during their brief monthly session Monday night, the real action began, on possible future topics related to human rights.

Democrat Legislator Joel Tyner, who usually addresses several topics during the ‘other business’ segment at the end of the agenda, said legislators can look forward to a “Criminal Justice Reform Act of 2018.” 

The intent is to follow the lead of recent directives from Governor Andrew Cuomo and he lead of other area counties, on not jailing and requiring bail for non-violent offenders, in most cases. 
Tyner is doing it as a local law because, he said, he can’t get anything through the committee process.

“Because you guys don’t allow Democratic resolutions to be on the agenda for committee meetings,” he said.

Tyner said this spills into the broader issue of human rights.

“We are going to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent on companies and non-profits that respect consumers, respect workers, respect the environment and respect human rights.”

During the final public comment period, Jasmin Vasquez of Poughkeepsie picked up that theme, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt.
“There’s a lot of public support in Dutchess County by a lot of activists of all different grassroots organizations and across party lines to promote human rights,” Vasquez said.  “We feel that those liberties that we fought so hard for, generations fought so hard for are going to be threatened and are threatened right now.”
Vasquez said she is focusing on the Dutchess County Legislature and is looking for bipartisan support.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The War Grinds On

The War Grinds On

Each morning begins the same way:
nonsensical verbal rants from Ubu Roi-
retorts in red ink from the “opposition” –
Neanderthal defenses from his paralytic crew
of brainwashed zombies, leavened by cynical talespinners.

Another morning in the America of lies…
so like the Italy, Germany, Spain of lies
we grew up hearing about, witnessing,
dealing with PTSD from, the full catastrophe.

Even were some bloody angel in human form
to rid us of this troublesome clown,
too late!  He’s already cloned himself
into a million dwarves, a scintilla of light
like ECT dousing their darkened brains.

So let us recall the Polish wisdom 
of 100 years ago:
“The taking of the earth from those
with darker skins or slightly flatter noses
than we is an ugly business
if one looks too closely at it…[but]
it is redeemed by an idea only…”
And Conrad’s imperial irony has morphed

into our guileless and stolid gaze:
Stand well back of these chaotic scenes
and you will notice the grand design:
They’ve brought the war to us, left
us no place to flee or to retreat, given
the gift that keeps on giving:
the struggle, which continues, endlessly.

Port Angeles, Washington USA 21 February 2018
Barry Fruchter

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Dutchess County Legislature should follow example

Act locally to put an end to human rights abuses across the globe

I am a strong advocate of the phrase, “think global act local”. However, history is full of examples where countries take collective action. In the 1990s when global leaders focused on eliminating apartheid in South Africa, humanity won. Yet the world failed to act in Rwanda. Our leaders were aware of the extreme cruelty occurring during this time. They decided that apologizing is more convenient than clear, decisive action.

This brings me to the present-day case of Ms. Ahed Tamimi, otherwise affectionately known as “Shirley Temper” by her neighbors. She was born in what former British Prime Minister David Cameron called “the world’s biggest open-air prison,” and yet she has a disarming smile. With nothing more than her bare hands and a strong sense of duty to her community, she keeps an eye on the foreign military personnel who often terrorize her young friends. Now 16, she has practiced nonviolence since her first demonstration. I met Ahed’s father, Bassem, at an event years ago. Hearing him speak about the conditions in which they are forced to live was heart-wrenching. Snipers shoot youth in the legs during marches; their elite training ensures that they will render this child permanently disabled.

And still, Palestinians organize. Peacefully, after 70 years, they drag their wheelchair- ridden families right back to the same spot along the West Bank barrier, a physical wall that spans 440 miles. A modern Berlin wall separates them from the land on which they grew generations old olive trees. It divides families.

Back to Shirley Temper. I have been following this curly haired freedom fighter for years. The brutality of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 incited a deep urge for me to act. I took to social media and kept a close watch on the activities in the Occupied Territories long after the world put this siege to bed. That’s when I found Ahed. In her, I witnessed the growth of an unrelenting humanitarian. Her public addresses to the world through underground media connects our shared freedom. She echoes the sentiments of the ever-relevant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he declared “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny”.

My child hero is facing a decade in military captivity for hitting the soldier who shot her unarmed brother at point blank range… in the face.

It serves as a duty to those who fought for America’s freedoms that I take pen to paper. This narrative should be the shot heard ‘round the world. As a patriot, I see the spirit of the Founding Fathers in Palestine’s youth. As a Dutchess County resident, I recognize that we are facing increasing threats to our own liberties. As a human, I urge us to learn from history by making Ahed’s story end differently than that of our beloved Anne Frank. The truth is simple yet heartbreaking. We could have saved Anne. Her diary, although one of the greatest gifts to our collective consciousness, is a testament to our inaction.

There is no debate. Detaining minors in military detention facilities is wrong. Holding people captive in an outdoor prison is wrong. As much as Americans hate to face it during this time of sensationalism, some things are fundamentally unacceptable. Ms. Tamimi’s ability to fight for basic human rights in Palestine will determine the ability of your grandchildren to do the same here, in America. Our connected economies make human oppression a global issue.

Please join me in asking our Dutchess County Legislature to follow the example of the New Orleans City Council by passing a resolution pledging to avoid contracting with or investing in businesses that practice human rights abuses.  Ever since World War II we have said “Never Again”. Ask your legislature to mean it.

Dutchess County resident Jasmin Vazquez is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz, where she received a bachelor's of arts degree in political science with a concentration in international politics.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Miko Peled will be speaking

After watching Stephen Colbert's presentation on the State of the
Union Speech, (I couldn't bear to watch it directly from the 'horse's
mouth,' ) it becomes even more critical to do everything possible to
replace the power that puts forth 'ending the war on beautiful clean
coal' for America! That person's type of thinking goes across the

Friday night at 7 at the Inquiring Mind bookstore in
Saugerties, author-activist Miko Peled will be speaking in our
community.  Peled is touring the country from California to present
his new book, INJUSTICE.  How is our government overstepping (or
squashing)  justice?  What dangerous laws that harm innocent people
are enacted by our government?  As a final note, it is a challenge and
hard work to do something about it.  Much more fun to lay back and
laugh with Stephen Colbert.

Jane Toby
Catskill, NY

Monday, January 22, 2018

Boycott human rights abusers

Good afternoon all,

Dutchess County is an incredibly historic place to live. It is full of rich history that is founded on the principles we hold sacred within Constitution of the United States. Did you know that Fishkill's own John Bailey forged the sword sheathed at George Washington's hip in the famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, now owned by the Smithsonian Institution? Years later, on July 26th 1788, delegates to a state convention approved the Constitution right here in the Dutchess County Courthouse in City of Poughkeepsie. 

That's right across the street.

Republican Gov. George Clinton, one of the Founding Fathers and among America's first veterans, did not want to ratify the Constitution without a bill of rights. He only supported it because Alexander Hamilton convinced him amendments would be made to protect states rights and the rights of the individual.

This brings me to the reason I am emailing you, my elected officials. I am a major force behind a resolution being proposed to the Board today. I truly believe that our county needs to protect its long and sacred history of protecting human rights. The resolution being brought forth has no teeth, but is designed to honor the sacrifice our veterans have made since the Revolutionary War. To honor who we are as a county and our place in not only American history, but also world history, as our very own Eleanor Roosevelt was the powerhouse humanitarian that brought the world The International Declaration of Human Rights. 

In no uncertain terms, Dutchess County MUST declare that it will not do business with corporations that trample on the very foundation of our principles as Americans, no matter the party. 

I leave you with a quote by others who have passed similar resolutions in their cities and counties:

“What we’re doing on the local level does have an impact on what happens on the national and international levels.”

Let's Make Dutchess County Great Again!
See you tonight

Jasmin Vazquez
8 Park Place
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Poisonous and sly commands

re: Rowan Dordick’s statements defending Israel, Jerusalem and Netanyahoo, I believe he is another revisionist of history, based on Biblical readings that are, at best, sickening. 
This current episode starts with the horror of Passover. When god told Moses to warn Pharaoh that all first-born Egyptians were gonna’ be done-for, unless the Hebrews were set free, god played a lousy trick. He hardened Pharoaoh’s heart, so that when Moses got in to see Pharaoh, the setup was complete, and all the first born were slaughtered needlessly, obviously to satisfy a maniacal god. Also, as the Hebrews left that country, they managed to take Egyptian Gold and treasure with them, which was used to make that famous, infamous ?, golden calf. 
But back to the “history”, as is found in a heavy book celebrating humanity, so-called. As the various tribes continued through the desert, god’s voice told them, flat out, that when they get to the land he was leading them to, they were to smash the temples of the previous inhabitants, forbears of the Palestinians ?, destroy their homes, chop down their olive trees and everything else. And the Israelis today are still following all these poisonous and sly commands, and using the Bible as if it were acknowleged History. 
By the by, did you believers and apologists know that recently, Troops under orders from that Netanyahoo, entered a Palestinian village, where, after years of trying to obtain electricity, a European country paid for a solar generating system, and those freedom loving troops, and their bosses, destroyed that rooftop generating system, and retreated to their cities of god.
I’ve been an Atheist all my life, since I was twelve. I’m a Jew by heritage, which I’m happy with. I helped to free the prisoners in Buchenwald, Dachau, and Flossenberg, when I was eighteen, and I’m appalled at what the descendants of those people who went to what became Israel have, and are doing. All their defenses of Israel and its action are underpinned by that book, and the words of a psychotic old thing with a long, white beard.

Jay Wenk,  Woodstock

Sunday, October 1, 2017

“Tears of Gaza”

“Tears of Gaza” to be screened this Friday eve, Oct 6, at the UUCC is a film NOT to see.  It is too overwhelming to take.  The title is enough to spark recognition that we are each and all implicated in cruelty, pain and intolerable suffering inflicted through violence on women, children, on ‘the family of man.’ The looming question that was left with me upon viewing the film is:  What can I do about it – this ceaseless intolerance, ‘endless war,’ desecration of human lives?  I am open-mouthed. I do not know.  On the other hand, maybe that is a good reason TO SEE the film - so we can talk about it.  For I believe that this honest yet painful look at history is the only way towards change and creating a better world for all.

Jane Toby
Catskill, NY