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April/May Newsletter

 

We hope our April/May E-newsletter finds you enjoying the warmer weather we have all been waiting for. We are excited to share the many upcoming events we and our sister organizations are sponsoring in the coming weeks. It has been and continues to be a very busy period, but we wouldn’t want it to be any other way!

We greatly appreciate everyone who has been able to attend our recent working group meetings and events and hope that you will continue do to so. Please ask a few friends, neighbors or colleagues to join you!

We have two very special requests –

Please like us on our Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/WatertownCitizensPJE. It is a great place to quickly learn about upcoming events and to post your ideas. We need more FRIENDS!

Please visit our newly minted web site atwww.watertowncitizens.org. It is a very user-friendly site and great place to learn about our working groups, upcoming meetings, and events as well as read timely articles and share your ideas. We need more VISITORS!

Oh yes, one more important request!

Please mark your calendar now for our ANNUAL MEETING on Sunday, June 1 at 5:30 PM at the Coolidge School Apartments.

The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting is domestic surveillance and our keynote speaker is Ms. Kade Crockford from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. As in the past, we will have a potluck dinner, followed by an update from the various working groups, a short business meeting, the keynote, and discussion.

Thank you for all you do for peace, justice and the environment. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and suggestions by sending an email towatertowwncitizens@gmail.com or going to “Share an Idea” under the “ACT” tab on our new web site.

 Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment
 April General Meeting – Wednesday, April 16 at 7:00 PM Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment will hold its April General Meeting onWednesday, April 16 at 7:00 PM at Watertown Free Public Library, Watertown Savings Bank Room.

Watertown Citizens meets monthly to plan new initiatives, hear reports from working groups and identify areas of interest. Please join us. Check on summaries of past meetings and highlights at our new web site, WatertownCitizens.org

 

 Boston City Council Hearing: Stop BSL4 Research in Boston 
 Wednesday, April 16 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM Watertown Citizens has been in the fight against the BSL4 research in Boston since 2002. The fight continues on Wednesday at a Boston City Council Hearing: Stop BSL4 Research in Boston

When: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM Where: Boston City Hall – City Hall Plaza * City Council Chambers – 5th floor * State St. or Park St. T –Govt. Center T is closed.

There will be a hearing on the Ordinance to Prohibit BSL4 Research in the Boston City Council chambers at City Hall. The Coalition to Stop the BU Biolab is very excited that we finally have an opportunity to stop the lab.

We have three sponsors — Charles Yancey, Tito Jackson, and Ayanna Pressley, on record opposition to BSL4 research by the mayor, and statements of support from a majority of the Council.

The Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Councilors Michael Flaherty and Tito Jackson, will hold a public hearing in the Council Chambers which is located in the 5th floor in Boston City Hall on:

AN ORDINANCE REGARDING THE PROHIBITION OF RESEARCH DESIGNATED AS BIOSAFETY LEVEL 4 (BSL 4)

PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND
This is a culminating event in the long struggle to make sure that Biosafety Level 4 research will never be done in Boston. The Center for Disease Control defines Biosafety Level 4 containment as “required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that posea high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease that is frequently fatal, and for which there are no vaccines or treatments.”” Disease-causing organisms used in BSL4 laboratories include viruses such as Ebola, Marburg virus, Lassa and Hemorrhagic fever.

Boston University’s BSL4 laboratory, like those established in the immediate years following the 2002 anthrax scare, aims to fulfill a biodefense, not a public health mission. Excessive concern with bioterrorism led to the proliferation of high containment labs which has come at the expense of much needed funding for public health research.

The NEIDL laboratory (National Emerging Infectious Disease Lab) on Albany Street in Roxbury/South End is located in a designated environmental justice neighborhood which already suffers from an excess of environmental hazards. The lab overshadows the community’s most at-risk groups, including guests at Rosie’s Place, children enrolled in Orchard Park Elementary School, and residents of the Cathedral Housing Development Residents of Roxbury, Dorchester, and other surrounding communities have repeatedly demonstrated their opposition to the NEIDL during 12 years of efforts to stop the lab. It is difficult to fathom the decision to pursue such dangerous research in a densely populated, low income area in the middle of the city.

Inadvertent or intentional release of pathogens has been named by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the top five health threats of 2013. Accidents and other alarming incidents at BSL3 and BSL4 labs are numerous and continue to surface.. The Marathon bombing raises awareness of the NEIDL as a potential terrorist target. Improbable events do occur and when they do, they may have terrible consequences.

Please share this information with your friends and lists, particularly to people who live in Boston. We have a chance of stopping Level 4 research in our city if there is enough public awareness and action!

All who oppose this research can have input by emailing their testimony to:
Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov
Tito.Jackson@cityofboston.gov
Ayanna.Pressley@cityofboston.gov
Charles.Yancey@cityofboston.gov

Your message can be as simple as,”I support the Ordinance to Ban BSL 4 research in the City of Boston or it can be far more involved. What is important is that you let the City Councilors know you oppose this research.”

Please attend if possible. We need to fill the Council Chambers with those who support the ban. If you live in Boston be sure you cc copy to your district councilor and to at large councilors Michelle Wu and Stephen Murphy.

If you live outside of Boston please email your statement to the first four councilors listed above. Also cc copies to your State Senator, Representative, Mayor, Alderman, or Selectman as the case may be.

 

 Chemical Free Yard and Garden Tour 
 Sunday, May 11 from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM Spring has arrived just i time for the 12th Chemical Free Yard and Garden Tour which will be held onMothers’ Day, Sunday, May 11 from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM.

Sponsored by Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment and Watertown Community Gardens, the tour is meant to invite visitors to any growing space, however humble, where no synthetic chemicals have been used for at least a year. (Better for beleaguered hone-bees and other important pollinating creatures!)

For more details, please contact Louise Forrest at louisefor@aol.com or Henrietta Light at 617-926-2545. A copy of the final list of yards and gardens on the Tour will be available soon on our website at www.watertowncitizens.org.

 

 Charles River Clean Up 
 Saturday, April 26 from 9:00 AM to 12 Noon Please join the Rethink Plastics! Working Group onSaturday, April 27 from 9:00 AM to 12 Noon in cleaning up the banks of the Charles River in commemoration of Earth Day.

Members and friends of Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice & the Environment will be convening in the parking lot of Stop & Shop, 700 Pleasant Street, Watertown. See you there!

Email Kathy Button at button@brandeis.edu if you are interested, or just show up.

 

 Current Events Film Series 
 Sunday, May 4 and Sunday, May 18 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM Watertown Citizens’ Current Events Film Series continues on Sunday, May 4 with the showing of “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” and on Sunday, May 18 with the showing of “The Law in These Parts“.

The films will be shown from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in the Watertown Free Public Library.

In “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars” Director Robert Greenwald investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes at home and abroad through more than 70 separate interviews, including a former American drone operator who shares what he has witnessed in his own words, Pakistani families mourning loved ones and seeking legal redress, investigative journalists pursuing the truth, and top military officials warning against blowback from the loss of innocent life.

The Law in These Parts” explores the legal framework for the Israeli occupation through testimonies of the military legal professionals who created the system. It asks crucial questions that are often avoided: Can such an occupation be achieved within a legal framework that includes genuine adherence to the principles of rule-of-law? Should it? What are the costs that a society engaged in such a long term exercise must bear? And what are the implications of the very effort to make a documentary film about such a system?

 

 Friends of Bees Meeting 
 Saturday, April 19 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM The Friends of Bees Working Group will hold its next meeting on Saturday, April 19 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM In the Eastern Bank Community Room.

The Working Group had a wonderful program of speaker, honey tasting, information sharing scheduled for April 1 but it had to be cancelled due to the memorial service of Firefighter Walsh. Friends of Bees will be re-scheduling the program. Come help and visit www.watertowncitizens.org to access resources on bees and the environmental challenges we face when bee colonies continue to decline.

 

 Rethink Plastics! Meeting 
 Monday, May 5 at 7:00 PM The Rethink Plastics! Working Group will hold its next meeting on Monday, May 5 at 7:00 PM at First Parish Church, (35 Church Street) to discuss the latest developments in efforts to reduce the use of plastics in Watertown. For more information visitwww.WatertownCitizens.org

 

 

 Earth Day Film Showing – “unacceptable LEVELS” 
 Tuesday, April 22 at 7:00 PM  Join us on Earth Day for a film showing and discussion of“unacceptable LEVELS”, a film about chemicals in our bodies and how they got there. The event will take place on Tuesday, April 22 at 7:00 PM at Watertown Free Public Library Watertown Savings Bank Room at 123 Main Street. Watertown.

This award-winning documentary dissects the ways chemicals saturate our homes and environment amid a backdrop of a glaring lack of regulation. Ed Brown interviewed the world’s leading experts in science, advocacy and law, weaving their stories into an engaging narrative. Brown’s findings offer a revealing look at how the chemical revolution was a catalyst to the issues we face today and he empowers us to harness the power of choice to enact real and lasting change.

Dr. Richard Clapp who is an expert in environmental and public health and who appears in the film will lead a discussion following the showing. He is a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Public Health at BU School of Public Health and adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

The film is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by: Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment www.watertowncitizens.org Survival Education Fund, Inc. and local businesses including the Deluxe Towne Diner, Spencer Organ, The Bookcase Factory and Debra L. Smith, Attorney at Law.

If you have any questions, please call Debra Smith at 617-924-6728 or email her at lawdeb@aol.com. To preview trailer and learn more about the documentary visit, www.unacceptablelevels.com. Remember to visit our new website at, WatertownCitizens.org

 

 Forum – “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace” 
 Wednesday, April 30 at 7:00 PM  Please join us for a stimulating presentation by Josh Ruebner, author of the newly released, “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace“. Mr. Ruebner will speak on Wednesday, April 30 at 7:00 PM at Grace Vision United Methodist Church at 80 Mt. Auburn Street .

Shattered Hopes is a hard-hitting critique of the Obama administration’s failure in the Middle East. It offers an informed history of the Obama administration’s policies and maps out a true path forward for the United States to help achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Mr. Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director for the US Campaign to the End Israel Occupation and former Middle East analyst for the Congressional Research Service. For more information visitWatertownCitizens.org or call 617-926-8560.

 

 Film Showing – “My So-Called Enemy” 
 Sunday, April 27 from 12:30 PM to 3:00 PM Please join us for the screening of “My So-Called Enemy” on Sunday April 27 from 12:30 – 3:00 PMat the First Parish in Cambridge 3 Church Street, Cambridge MA Harvard Square.

“My So-Called Enemy” is a documentary film about young women from Israel and Palestine who participated in an encounter group experience with the Building Bridges for Peace organization in New Jersey. Rev. Mykal Slack will facilitate a post-screening discussion.

Presented by The Middle East Education Group at First Parish Cambridge, and co-sponsored by the First Parish Transformation Team. Funded in part by the Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grants Program of the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility.

Free and open to the public. Donations accepted. For more information Email MEEG@firstparishcambridge.org .

 

 Film Showing – “A Place at the Table” 
 Saturday, April 26 at 7:00 PM The Social Action Committee of the First Parish invites you to the showing of “A Place at the Table” onSaturday, April 26 at 7:00 PM at the First Parish, 35 Church Street in Watertown.

This film received a great deal of coverage in the Boston Globe (see February 23, 2013) last year and features actor Jeff Bridges as narrator. The hunger crisis in America is the subject of Lori Silverbush’s documentary, which she produced and directed with partner Kristi Jacobson.

The powerful documentary draws attention to the little-known fact that nearly 50 million people in this country (including one in four children) don’t know where their next meal is coming from, a problem that’s all the more frustrating because the nation arguably has the resources to provide affordable, nutritious food for everyone.

“A Place at the Table” tells the powerful stories of three Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, “A Place at the Table” shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides – as they have in the past – that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all.

 

 

 Pivoting for Peace in Asia/Pacific 
 Saturday, April 19 from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM The American Friends Service Committee, Massachusetts Peace Action, and United for Justice with Peace are sponsoring a major one-day conference, “Pivoting for Peace in Asia/Pacific: Challenging US Militarism and Corporate Dominance“.

The conference will take place at the Friends Meeting House, 5 Longfellow Park in Cambridge.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Hideki Yoshikawa, environmental campaigner; leader of the Okinawa movement against U.S. military bases; professor at Univ. of the Ryukyus and at Meio Univ.

SPEAKERS
The Pivot: Motivations, Dimensions, Impacts, Possible Consequences

Joseph Gerson, AFSC: Overview
Duncan McFarland, UJP: Chinese foreign & military policies
Alex Brown, Pres., IUE-CWA Local 201: Trans Pacific Partnership

Introductions: The Most Dangerous Hot Spots

Hyun LeeHyun Lee, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development: Northeast Asia
Yuichi Moroi, Temple University:Senkaku/Diaoyu; Japan-China-US

Impacts of the Pivot at Home: Building a Movement

Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Mike Prokosch, New Priorities Network, Dorchester People for Peace: Move the Money, Costs of the Pivot.

Sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Massachusetts Peace Action, United for Justice with Peace, Asian American Resource Workshop, and MoveOn.org Boston Council.

Registration $10; with lunch $20. Donations to the event beyond the cost of registration and lunch are tax-deductible. They are needed to meet the travel costs for our speakers.

Register: http://pivoting-for-peace.bpt.me or call 800-838-3006
Info: JSherysr@afsc.org phone: (617) 661-6130
Schedule: masspeaceaction.org/4978

 

 Rally to End Mass Incarceration and Fund Job Creation 
 Saturday, April 26 at 1:00 PM 
Join the “Rally to End Mass Incarceration and Fund Job Creation” on Saturday, April 26 at 1:00 PM on the Boston Common.

The Patrick Administration has estimated that, if current criminal justice policies are not changed dramatically, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will have to spend $2 billion in the next seven years, to build 10,000 new prison units, as well as $150 million more each year to fill them. Massachusetts already has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world – on par with French Guiana and Kazakhstan. There are so few opportunities, and so many barriers to successful re-entry, that most (>60%) of prisoners released from DYS, county jails, and prison recidivate within 3 years.

Meanwhile, we are sliding quickly away from a full-employment economy. Businesses are shedding entry-level and middle-class jobs at an alarming rate, as many functions such as check-out clerk and warehouse operator are automated. Massachusetts has lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs just in the last six years.

Other states – including New York, Washington and Texas – have overhauled their criminal justice systems using practices that are proven effective, and so reduced their prison populations that they have closed prisons, saving taxpayers billions of dollars.

Massachusetts can do the same, by ending practices that are proven ineffective, and implementing the best of what other states have already proven can work.

For example:

Ending mandatory minimum drug sentences;

Diversion of low-level drug offenders to treatment even before trial;

Eliminating counter-productive “collateral sanctions” such as an automatic driver’s license suspension for drug offenses, and high fees