New OK-KS-TX Passenger Rail Alliance

Evan Stair, Executive Director of PassengerRailOk.org, writes:

We just kicked off a new multi-state Passenger Rail Alliance http://www.NorthFlyer.org. This alliance is intended to get the “next step up” from regular grass roots movements with Mayors and City Councils involved with asking for more passenger rail for the region. The following story was released in the Wichita Eagle newspaper as a result of our work last weekend in Wichita.

We are asking people in Oklahoma to write to Governor Brad Henry to listen to this alliance as citizen input is paramount to our purpose. If you could write him and ask him to pay attention to this issue (that of working with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to operate the current Oklahoma City to Fort Worth Heartland Flyer on to Kansas City through Wichita) we would be appreciative. As all of you know, grass roots work is hard and sometimes disappointing, but we all have to work to take back our government from Corporate America. This is our contribution.
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Status report on English-only bills in Oklahoma legislature

From Cleveland Co. Green Alice Alice Anderton, who serves as Executive Director of the Intertribal Wordpath Society:

Friends,

The official English bills have been making their way through the legislative process. Time to make some calls and let people know that official English sends the wrong, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, divisive, pro-anglo message. And even though some measures make exceptions for Indian languages, if a bill wouldn’t be good for Indian languages, it wouldn’t be good for any minority language.
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Feature in Christian Science Monitor profiles Oklahoma working poor

Check out this two-part story that serves as background on the minimum wage bill to be before Congress this week. It begins with a portrait of a “working poor” family in Muskogee.

Life at America’s bottom wage
Mark Trumbull Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Choice excerpt:

Few states will see a greater impact than Oklahoma. As of last year, the Sooner
State led the nation in the share of hourly workers (4 percent) who earn no more
than $5.15 per hour.

That means many families such as the Hosiers will see a boost in pay if the law
changes. But it means that negative ripple effects will also be magnified, as
businesses confront a big jump in labor costs. Many employers will have to raise
prices, and some are likely to hire fewer people as a result.

In the end, the law may exert only a modest influence on the arc of Oklahoma’s
economy, experts say. (The income gains and job setbacks would be greater if the
hike, say, doubled the wage instead of boosting it by the proposed 40 percent.)

Part 1 | Part 2
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Oklahoma Greens endorse vigil in support of 3 CO’s imprisoned at Ft. Sill

(This event has been endorsed by the Green Party of Oklahoma)

Vigil on behalf of 3 “prisoners of conscience” to be held in Lawton, OK — Event is planned to show support for soldiers being jailed for refusing to fight in Iraq

Supporters of three “prisoners of conscience” currently incarcerated at Fort Sill will hold a vigil in support of them on Sunday, August 28th from 4-6 p.m. in Lawton, OK.

The vigil is being organized by the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors and has the endorsement of local and national peace and activist groups, including:
* Voices in the Wilderness (www.vitw.org)
* Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (www.objector.org)
* Tulsa Peace Fellowship (www.tulsapeace.org)
* The Peace House of Oklahoma City (www.peacehouseok.org)
* OCU Law school chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (www.okcnlg.org)
* The Green Party of Oklahoma (www.okgreens.org)

The vigil has also been endorsed by Camilo Mejia (www.freecamilo.org), a soldier who was sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to return to Iraq.

The three imprisoned objectors are Blake LeMoine, Dale Bartell and Neil Quentin Lucas.

Specialist Blake LeMoine was convicted of the “crime” of willfully disobeying orders for refusing to perform duties after a year-long tour of Iraq. He was sentenced to seven months in prison, reduction in rank to private and bad conduct discharge after a March 2005 hearing at Darmstadt Military Base in Germany, and was shipped to Ft. Sill to complete his sentence.

Specialist Dale Bartell became a Mennonite after serving a combat tour in Iraq. After encountering the church’s teachings and his own conscience he refused to return to Iraq and was sentenced in July to four months in military prison and a dishonorable discharge. His wife Amy, was also cited by military police with felony charges for “enticing and abetting” a deserter, but the charges were later dropped.

Private Neil Quentin Lucas of Boston was a man of faith who did not believe in violence, but was told by his recruiter that he would not have to ever kill anyone if he joined. During training at Ft. Knox he realized this was a lie and attempted to get out, but his commander punished him for doing this. He later filed a CO application in 2003 which was torn up by his Captain.

Neil filed a second CO application in the summer of 2004 which was ignored by the military bureaucracy at that time. Finally in January 2005 he was ordered to deploy to Iraq. Upon refusing to deploy he was held on base at Ft. Stewart. His application for CO status was denied in March 2005, and he was tried in a court-martial on June 22, 2005. Upon conviction he was shipped to Ft. Sill to serve 13 months in prison.

“The military has sentenced these men to prison to make an example out of them, to hopefully deter others from following their conscience,” said James M. Branum, organizer for the Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors. “We instead say that these men set a POSITIVE example for us all. We salute them for their nonviolent actions of conscience, and their willingness to do what is right instead of obeying orders. Our hope is that other Americans would follow their example of peaceful resistance to unlawful and immoral orders and laws.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION: contact James M. Branum at 405-476-5620 or info(at)okobjector(dot)org.

VIGIL DETAILS:
Sunday, August 28, 2005
1:30 p.m. — Gather at The Peace House, 2912 N. Robinson, Oklahoma City
1:45 pm — News media interviews if they are interested.
2:00 pm — Caravan departs for Lawton
4-6 p.m. — Vigil in Lawton — meet about 200 yards south of the Ft. Sill gate of Ft. Sill, on the east side of the road.
More precisely, this location is on the right-of-way in front of Highland Cemetery in Lawton (2401 NW Ft. Sill Blvd, at the corner of Smith & Ft. Sill Blvd).

A map to this location can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/7eqbo

PARTICIPANT GUIDELINES: Out of a desire to ensure a peaceful and successful vigil on behalf of those imprisoned for conscience sake and the courageous stands they are taking, we ask that all participants in the vigil agree to cooperate with these guidelines.

1. Please do not carry weapons, illegal drugs, or other contraband on your person.
2. Please do not assault — either verbally or physically — those who oppose or disagree with us. Even if we face verbal or physical opposition to our message, it is critical that we remain in a peaceful nonviolent posture.
3. Please be respectful to any law enforcement and/or military personnel we encounter.
4. Please do not bring signs that are attached to sticks for carrying. (the sticks could be construed as weapons by law enforcement)
5. Please do not impede or block traffic in any way at this location. (this includes handing literature to passing motorists)
6. Be respectful but also stand firm in your lawful right to publicly speak for what is right. The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under the US and Oklahoma Constitutions, as well as Lawton City Code, Section 16-4-3-442-A which says, “All persons shall have the right to peacefully demonstrate, strike or otherwise use the public streets, roads, sidewalks or other public property of this city for the purpose of expressing their opinions or viewpoints, or imparting information.”

OK Greens’ statement on the Death Penalty

The Supreme Court decision banning the application of the death penalty for juveniles means that a number of Oklahoma death row prisoners who were under 18 at the time of the crime they were convicted for, will no longer themselves be murdered by the state.

The platform of the Green Party of Oklahoma has the following plank regarding the death penalty:

As a matter of conscience we call for the abolition of the death penalty. Until such time as the death penalty is abolished, we call for a moratorium on further executions in Oklahoma until it can be ensured that no innocent person would be killed in our names.

Since Oklahoma executes prisoners at a higher rate per capita than any other state and most nations including China and Iran, and there has been proven examples of false and faked evidence used to convict the innocent in Oklahoma, and there may be instances of innocents being killed for crimes they did not commit, we continue to call for the state of Oklahoma, and indeed the United States government, to completely abolish state-sanctioned killing within the criminal justice system.