Photo: Defenders of the Harvest and Education Learning Project protest against mining at an Iron County Board meeting in 2013
Resolutions calling on the state to repeal the 2013 iron mining law, refuse any mining permits to Gogebic Taconite on state constitutional grounds, and undertake greater monitoring and oversight of air emissions at frac sand mines were each introduced by citizens at the Conservation Congress Spring Hearings in more than a third of Wisconsin's 72 counties, and passed by at least a 2:1 margin statewide! This huge success was due to the efforts of dozens of people around the state--many of whom had never been to a Conservation Congress hearing before this year--coordinated by WNPJ and the Sierra Club.
Members of the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars and Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice organized a statewide lobby week against drone warfare during which time visits or calls were made to all eight Congressional offices around the state between January 15-21 as we commemorated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., prophet for peace and nonviolence.
Two scary bills fail to reach votes in the state Senate and Assembly. Click on the titles to read the whole stories.
Mining bill headed back to drawing board. Sen. Tom Tiffany is taking Senate Bill 349 back to the drawing board after a ten hours of testimony from environmentalists and local governments. The bill would have severely limited the control that local governments could exert over frac sand and other non-mettalic mining operations in their jurisdictions. Tiffany plans to revamp the legislation and reintroduce it, though probably not for another year. Kim Lamoreaux, Baraboo News Republic, 10/30/13.
Bill allowing concealed weapons in schools won't get vote. The state Assembly will not be voting on a bill allowing concealed carry in schools. The bill in question would have applied only to off-duty, retired and out-of-state police officers. Joel Kleefisch, the bill's sponsor, planned to go ahead with a vote in the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee to expand the proposal to allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry guns in schools but concede that even in this Republican-controlled committee there were not enough votes to pass. Appleton Post-Crescent, 10/30/13.
Many thanks to all who joined us in La Crosse on Saturday for WNPJ's member assembly and 13th annual awards reception, with special thanks to our host Tracy Littlejohn and the Hmong Cultural and Community Center!
Our awardees included (from left to right in the picture) Peacemaker of the Year - Adult Babette Grunow, Lifetime Achievement Award winner Al Gedicks, Peacemaker of the Year - Senior Pat Popple, and Peacemaker of the Year - Youth Key Jackson. (Not pictured is our Dennis Bergren LGBTQ Advocacy Award winner Sharon Whitney, who was unable to attend.)
To see more pictures from the day, click here.
Last week, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board voted 6 to 2 against a frac sand mine proposed next to the Wisconsin River, near the Iowa border.
Those who spoke at the Board's meeting were overwhelmingly opposed to the mine, as were the Board members themselves.
"The members felt that visual intrusions from potential dust and lighting would cause the activity to become visible from the river," explained the Board's director.
In other good environmental news, Entergy announced it would close its Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor at the end of 2014. The nuclear company said the reactor was "no longer financially viable."
Wisconsin's Kewaunee nuclear reactor was shut down in May, also due to economic factors.
"Anyone who doubts whether international labor solidarity makes a difference should speak to Hassan Juma'a Awad, President of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU)," reports US Labor Against the War.
"Months after the Ministry of Oil lodged a criminal complaint against Brother Juma'a and after seven or more postponements, his case was finally heard by a Basra count. ... In 30 minutes the court decided to drop the charges. The company lawyer and the prosecutor repeated the accusations against Hassan but could produce no evidence that the Iraqi economy suffered any damage as a consequence of strikes by oil workers over broken promises, unsafe working conditions and lack of respect for their rights."
The Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq stated, "This is an accomplished victory for supporters of freedom of trade union work and supporters of the freedom to work and assemble in Iraq and all over the world, and is the best proof that international and domestic solidarity is capable of reestablishing free and legal trade union work."
WNPJ was one of 164 organizations from around the world that signed onto a statement in support of Hassan and labor rights in Iraq.
On July 3, the city of Joliet, Illinois announced that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is withdrawing its plans to build a for-profit immigration detention center in that city.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights applauded the news as "a victory for the many local residents of Joliet and surrounding communities who took strong leadership to oppose the for-profit jail. The Concerned Citizens of Joliet made their voices heard at city council meetings, educated their neighbors, built alliances, and registered and turned out voters in the April elections. These efforts crossed ethnic and racial lines and showed that Joliet’s diverse communities will unite against the common enemy of mass incarceration devastating their neighborhoods."
"Who are the true patriots of today? Not the flag-wrapped politicians who send other people’s children off to be killed or disabled in wars to make the world safe for big businesses," writes Bill Quigley, before suggesting 12 people we should celebrate on Independence Day.
One of Quigley's "true patriots" is Joy First of Mt. Horeb, who's active with WNPJ member groups Pledge of Resistance and WI Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. Quigley lauds Joy as a "Wisconsin grandmother of five who has been arrested over 30 times for protesting against the Iraq invasion, the war in Afghanistan, the US drone assassinations."
Congrats, Joy (with Cindy Sheehan in photo), and happy Inter-dependence Day, all!