Recent local blog posts

Thrifty Thurston Brings Generations Together through Crabbing at Hood Canal

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 6:00am


I associate summers at Hood Canal with equal parts waterskiing, clam digging and crab catching. Along with my siblings and cousins, we would dive into the often frigid Hood Canal waters and search for delectable treasures that we could serve to the adults for dinner. Now that the next generation of our family is crabbing […]

Leave It to the Pros at Putnam Lieb Potvin

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 6:00am


All the paperwork of day-to-day life multiplies exponentially in the face of an injury. “The fiberglass has barely dried on your cast when you are bombarded with requests and paperwork from doctors, law enforcement, and insurance companies. You’re confused and overwhelmed by all the questions about your accident” and this is where a personal injury […]

8 Sunset Dinner Deals Worth Eating Early for in Olympia

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/11/2016 - 6:00am


I like to think of myself as a foodie, exploring my town through eating. The only problem is the cost. Even on the low end, a dinner out can be expensive for our family, not to mention the dollar signs associated with paying my babysitter in order to go out. The good news is that […]

Thurston County Fair Voters Pick Rudy Rabbit as 2017 Fair Mascot

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 5:57pm


Submitted by Thurston County Elections Kids at the Thurston County Fair picked Rudy Rabbit to serve as the 2017 mascot of the Thurston County Fair. Candidates for fair mascot were Timmy Train, Rudy Rabbit, Freddy Frog and Gary Geoduck. There was a total of 571 ballots cast. Timmy Train . . . . . . […]

SPSCC Ready for Inaugural Volleyball Season under Coach Melanie Miller

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 6:00am


It’s tough to measure success when you are talking about a brand new sports program. What’s the gauge when you have nothing to compare it to? If enthusiasm was used as the meter, however, the newly formed volleyball program at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) can already be deemed a triumph, and the Clippers have yet […]

Olympia Pet Emergency Provides ER for Injured and Sick Animals

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 6:00am


It’s a pet owner’s worst nightmare: your dog gets injured late at night on a holiday weekend and needs to be treated right away but your regular veterinary office is closed. Attempting to quell rising panic, you search online and discover a small miracle, right in your own backyard – Olympia Pet Emergency. Open 24 […]

TOGETHER! at the Evergreen Villages Apartments

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 6:00am


Schools out for summer. Lovely images of sunny days playing at the park, riding bikes and running through the sprinklers come to mind. Yet modern day reality requires families to work long hours even though children are not in the classroom throughout the day. While the summer months bring additional challenges for families, support and […]

TOGETHER! Gives Free Sports Physicals for Tumwater Students

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:59am


Submitted by TOGETHER! Tumwater School District partnered with TOGETHER! and a broad coalition of healthcare agencies around the area to provide free sports physicals for the students of Tumwater School District as part of their Back-to-Basics event series. The event’s goal is to remove barriers for low-income families wishing to participate in student athletics, as […]

Adopt-A-Pet Dog of the Week

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:47am


Submitted by Adopt-A-Pet of Shelton Scout is a beautiful blue-eyed, two-year-old, Husky mix. He is looking for someone who enjoys daily physical activity and can help him burn off energy with long walks, hikes and bike rides. This boy loves the water and a long game of fetch. Scout lived in a home with cats […]

2016 Thurston County Fair Photos

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:35am


The Thurston County Fair delivered great memories this year.  The fair, which ran from August 3 – 7, 2016, delighted visitors.  See the Fair through the lens of Shanna Paxton Photography.  

SPSCC’s Pathways Program Expanding to Main Campus

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:00am


The end of a quarter usually means final exams, but for students in South Puget Sound Community College’s Pathways program, it was an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding in a different way. After months of integrated studies team-taught by two instructors, they explained what they had learned at a program-wide conference. “They had great presentations […]

The Gravity Quartet: A Quintessentially Olympia Band

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:00am


Olympia is a wellspring for unconventional music. Something about living here encourages musicians to test their bounds, try new things, and be different. In this way, genre-bending indie band The Gravity Quartet is quintessentially Olympian. Plus, Olympia is where the group’s four members—Christine Gunn, Ingrid Ferris, Giles Arendt, and Robin Toye—came together, almost by accident. […]

Legislative committee examining police use of deadly force law

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:33pm

Tuesday, July 12– “I do believe that this issue is not an either-or…you can be a complete advocate and supporter of law enforcement as I am, and you can also be an advocate for community safety. I think the common ground we all share is to have a safe community. Everyone wants to go home to their families at the end of the day and I think if we keep that in mind as we go through this process, it would be very helpful,” said Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, Washington Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Ochoa-Bruck’s words at the first meeting of a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force in community policing on June 28 takes on new meaning as feelings of insecurity, tension, grief and outrage increased and challenged Americans this week.
Later in the meeting, Ochoa-Bruck said, “If you take away the badges, what does that look like? There are apparently two very different standards….”

In response to the five police officers killed in Dallas and for the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the work of the joint legislative task force should be made all that much more urgent.

To continue reading…



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Death by cop count

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:32pm

The US government has no comprehensive record of the number of people killed by law enforcement.

The Counted is a project by The Guardian, counting the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015 and 2016, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.

The Guardian counts police fatalities through traditional reporting on police reports and witness statements, by monitoring regional news outlets, research groups and open-source reporting projects such as the websites Fatal Encounters and Killed by Police.

The database combines Guardian reporting with verified crowdsourced information and is the most thorough public accounting for deadly use of force in the US and is frequently updated by Guardian reporters and interactive journalists.

In an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police by The Guardian, African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15 percent of all deaths logged this year, despite making up only 2 percent of the total U.S. population. Their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age.

Also according to The Guardian, paired with official government mortality data, this new finding indicates that about one in every 65 deaths of a young African American man in the U.S. is a killing by police.

How does the US government count killings by police now?

The FBI runs a voluntary program through which law enforcement agencies may or may not choose to submit their annual count of “justifiable homicides,” which it defines as “the killing of a felon in the line of duty.”

Lacking a baseline in reporting systems, there are wide fluctuations in the number of agencies choosing to report figures. Faulty reporting by agencies that do report has resulted in partially informed news coverage pointing misleadingly to trends that may or may not exist.

Between 2005 and 2012, 1,100 of the 18,000 police departments in the country reported a “justifiable homicide” to the FBI.

The FBI system counted 461 justifiable homicides by law enforcement in 2013, the latest year for which data is available. Crowdsourced counts found almost 300 additional fatalities during that year.

The Counted, upon its launch on June 1, 2015, had already found close to that number of killings in just the first five months of 2015.


The post Death by cop count appeared first on Works in Progress.

Orlando was more than an incident–it exposed a landscape of violence

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:29pm

Editorial note: This article is a collaborative statement from Southern Movement Assembly leaders. While it is dated because of printing deadlines and addresses a Southern audience, we felt that its contents are useful beyond Orlando and all the other acts of violence of the past month. WIP recommends this article as an important read.

Our hearts break in two directions

One heartbreak is the violent deaths and injuries of so many young, Latinx, Puerto Rican, and Black gay, queer, trans, lesbian, and bisexual people who were massacred at the Pulse nightclub’s Latin Night in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. That heartbreak is bound up in the horror that a place of sanctuary and culture was marred and twisted into a place of fear and death. We mourn as part of the queer community and as part of movements that organize for racial and immigrant justice, movements that organize with Muslim families, movements contending with displacement and colonialism in Puerto Rico, and movements inspired by young people fighting for their lives.

The other heartbreak is because we know, from every crisis we have weathered thus far, that this crisis, this disaster of hate and violence will be manipulated to expand agendas for profit, political power, and deeper oppression during a moment of collective grief and outrage. Rather than making swift moves toward real public safety, healing, or access to care, the political landscape shifts to reinforce violence, economies of scarcity, and global warfare.

This massacre is more than an incident that can be compared or contrasted with other horrific massacres. This massacre is not an aberration, and these are not isolated incidents or random tragedies. Part of our heartbreak is realizing that this massacre is an obvious extension of the historic roots of this country and the relentless reality of the current landscape in which we live.

The heartbreak of this moment exists because we know Orlando is not an isolated tragedy. In order to rise in strength from this pain, we have to understand the political and social terrain.  The terrible reality and aftermath of this massacre was a direct result of a combination of an economy based on surveillance, security, and militarized violence; a heightened social hostility and aggression; and a fifteen-year War on Terror that ushered in a permanent state of racist militarization and preemptive prosecution.

When the only employment is violence

More telling than any ambiguous ties the Orlando shooter had to ISIS, he was employed by G4S, one of the largest private security firms and largest employers in the world. With 600,000 employees worldwide, G4S runs youth detention facilities, border patrols and deportation operations, and armed security for corporations, governments, and gated communities.  The shooter was trained by this privatized global security conglomerate that represents two of the few growing edges of the global economy: social control and risk management.

George Wackenhut invested in mass incarceration early and founded a privatized security firm in 1954 in South Florida with several FBI agents. He bought them out a few years later and changed the name to Wackenhut Corporation. Wackenhut provided armed security services to nuclear power plants, weapons manufacturers, and prisons. By 1984, Wackenhut became the second largest for-profit prison operation in the U.S.

Wackenhut prisons were exposed in 2000 for rampant abuse, when the national media highlighted the sexual abuse of young inmates in Jena, Louisiana. After 62 federal court appearances for human rights abuses and diversion of public money intended for drug treatment, Wackenhut was sold in 2002 to a transnational company that eventually became G4S Securities. G4S has faced similar abuse scandals as recently as January 2016 in a juvenile facility in the UK.

In 2007, G4S hired the man who killed 49 people and injured 50 more in a few terrifying minutes in a gay nightclub in Orlando. That same year, G4S signed a contract to operate Israeli prisons, checkpoints, and interrogation centers. Also in 2007, Jena, Louisiana, a town of 3,000 people, made national news again when six Black students were charged and convicted with attempted murder and faced 100 years in prison for protesting racist attacks at their high school where nooses were hung from a tree and Black students were intimidated and provoked into a fist fight.

A desperate economy cultivates a culture of violence when it trains people to either produce and reinforce mass incarceration of Black and Brown bodies or protect rich bodies behind gated walls or borders. In the immediate wake of the Orlando attack, U.S. political leadership called for increased surveillance, security, and even increased air strikes in other parts of the world. It is quite probable that G4S will be contracted to provide parts of that increased militarized security in our neighborhoods, cities, public gathering spaces, gay Pride events, and across the world. When a violent culture is legitimized by lawmakers, hateful and racist backlash is inevitable.

The backlash is armed to the teeth

Florida represents a specific cauldron of Southern Republican supermajorities, District Attorneys gone wild, and the highest number of civilians carrying concealed weapons in the country. Sanford FL, 27 miles north of Orlando, was where another armed civilian murdered a young, unarmed Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. District Attorney Angela Corey, who has a record of harsh prosecution targeting Black and Latino youth and women, somehow did not secure a conviction of that murderer. The acquittal of George Zimmerman sent a signal of legitimized racist aggression that catalyzed social movements into action in 2013.

Florida leads the nation in gun permits with 1.3 million Floridians registered to carry concealed weapons. Labeled the “Gunshine State” in 1987, the NRA made sure that legislation was loose and easy to secure a gun. The legislation became a national model for concealed-weapon laws[6] not unlike the now famous Stand Your Ground Laws that passed first in Florida in 2005 and subsequently passed in over 23, mostly Southern states.

Social aggression combined with security culture, economic downturns, and reactive political leadership sets the stage for violent backlash against rising movements. As the LGBTQ community celebrated a victory of expanded rights in 2015, Angela Corey’s colleague, State District Attorney Pam Bondi opposed adoption for gay couples and recently argued in a Florida court that gay marriage would impose “significant public harm.” As a visible LGBTQ movement gains ground, queer and trans bodies are being policed in bathrooms, schools, and public spaces in heinous ways that are legitimized by legislation like North Carolina’s HB2 and the sweep of Southern governors refusing to comply with protections for LGBTQ people. Adding fuel to the fire, the current highly covered presidential campaign offers greater permission and encouragement to publicly express vitriol, racism, and inaccuracies that then get repeated ad nauseum.

The economy trained the shooter, and the political climate of Florida and the country, authorized him.

The War on Terror deepens

Throwing responsibility for violent attacks within the U.S. towards a distant, unsubstantiated connection to a band of extremists in another part of the world obscures the truth. The mechanisms of the U.S. manufactured War on Terror were employed on Orlando before bodies had been identified or families had been notified. The post 9-11 media frenzy defines an event before the information is clear, and becomes particularly biased and inflammatory if the shooter is not white. The Orlando shooter’s actual connection to particular groups is so farfetched that even the FBI did not find substantive reason to follow-up on him after three interviews. The Orlando shooter’s allegiance to the U.S. culture of militarization, aggressive hate, and professionalized violence was more at play than any other ideology.

The laser focus on ISIS and Islam as the primary motive fuels the War on Terror machine. After Orlando and other incidents that focus on the religion of non-white shooters rather than the larger context, Muslims, Arabs, refugees, and immigrants once again feel at risk and isolated in their own communities. The backlash of a public assumption that this situation was caused by Muslim immigrants threatens and marginalizes refugee and immigrant communities, like the refugee community in Clarkston, Georgia. Even potential victories on gun control have been limited to expanding government watch lists rather than revising the whole system. The focus on ISIS stokes Islamophobia and white supremacy and lays the foundation to justify militarization and preemptive prosecution.

Anti-terror legislation, Homeland Security Departments, and increased public surveillance leads us closer to an ever-expanding police state. If a young Black woman can be tried, convicted, and jailed using a lynching law in California when she tried to free a friend from a police attack, movement actors that challenge the state, police, or the U.S. government, regardless of who takes office in November, are likely to be defined as “terrorists” or tried in courts using those laws.

Every day the media releases new information about the shooter’s motives and the question revolves around hypothetical prevention. What could have stopped this horrific act? The answer leaps to finding ways to legally profile, monitor, prosecute, and incarcerate individuals who have not committed any crimes. Preemptive prosecution and the spectre of “homegrown” terrorists focuses on individuals, radicalization myths, and broad scale targeting of Muslim communities and does not increase public safety. If we focus on the individual rather than the systemic context, we cannot address the root of violence.

But the illusion is broken 

By investigating the layers and making important connections during this difficult time, we contend with reality as we simultaneously contend with our grief. The illusion is broken that we can possibly respond to this overwhelming, pervasive crisis one policy at a time, one shooter at a time, one police murder at a time, or one deportation at a time.

We can barely recover from one crisis when another, just as real, just as heartbreaking, comes to bear. We face the truth of this landscape, once again. We faced the truth of racist violence a year ago on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina when nine Black community members were massacred in Mother Emmanuel Church. We face the truth every time a young Black person is killed by police, another young Muslim is targeted by the FBI, or another young Mexican is deported in ICE raids hitting Georgia for the second time this year.

We recognize that we cannot transform this landscape by focusing on a type of gun, a type of person, or a perfect policy fix. To transform this landscape, we build from our shared strength. We reimagine our public spaces and how to protect them; we produce a functional economy based on common good; we generate a vision for global migration and universal citizenship; and we deepen our commitment to building organized movements that can and will respond to crisis and disaster with stronger infrastructure, stronger relationships, and community control.

Our only recourse are our social movements

As organizations that are part of the Southern Movement Assembly, we recognize that our communities are the source of our strength in times of crisis. Our resistance relies on our ability to see who we are to ourselves, not in a momentary false sense of unity but in an understanding of how our realities are all deeply connected. We are proud to be part of movements that refuse to be divided, movements that are lifting up the voices of LGBTQ Muslims, movements that refuse to scapegoat Muslim immigrants and refuse to ignore that the people who were killed were predominantly Latinx, part of a larger Puerto Rican diaspora, Black people, and people of color. We are proud to be part of movements that recognize the strength and resistance of LGBTQ communities. Our hearts begin to heal from the outpouring of love and solidarity in a time of grief.

One week before this shooting, 90 people gathered from all over the South to train together, generate visions for our plans, and kick off the Summer Organizing Drive towards the sixth Southern Movement Assembly. Queer people, trans people, young people, elders, organizers on every Southern frontline gathered in Atlanta. SpiritHouse led a session on safety as part of their Harm Free Zone work in Durham NC. People considered moments where we felt safe. We spoke about trauma, and how it affects us in ways that are not always easy to see.

The trauma of the people inside Pulse, their friends, families, and loved ones cannot be imagined. The trauma of fear, shock, and anger is also a shared experience that is generational, deeply embedded in survivors of oppression, displacement, warfare, and violence. The experience of collective grief, expressed in the recent rallies, vigils, dialogues, art, and social media is overwhelming. We applaud the efforts of Equality Florida and local leadership in Orlando creating incredible response and processes to support, heal, and distribute resources.

We all have unique roles to play, and we offer an assessment of the landscape in order to understand how to protect and defend our communities in times of great crisis. One effect of trauma is hyper-vigilance. When we experience trauma, we become super aware of our surroundings as a defense mechanism. In this time of collective trauma, the SMA calls on movement actors to harness a strategic hyper-vigilance to move from this moment into our collective movement power.

Let us be hyper-vigilant when we come together, not to police one another but to listen. Let us investigate this landscape, thoroughly. Let us take the time for careful reflection and foster a clear understanding of the terrain, forecast how state violence will be reinforced and expanded, and name what is at stake for all of our communities.

Let us also build from our strengths. Investigate and support the existing sanctuary spaces in your own location and community. Create spaces for engagement and dialogue that allow people opportunities to be in alignment, beyond allyship. Let us queer our political work in honor of the ones we have lost. We celebrate queer resistance to state violence and over-policing of our public spaces, Pride events, and nightclubs. Let us participate in organized work to initiate the development of a new landscape.

The long slow build

Southern communities began building together long before this attack, and we will continue to build a social justice movement powerful enough to contend with this current landscape and fundamentally transform our world. There are thousands of people who are part of the work of the Southern Movement Assembly and have worked to initiate visionary agendas through the Southern Peoples Initiatives that address the root causes of violence, poverty, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. We cannot move forward from this massacre without understanding our position, and we believe that we are stronger together.

We honor and carry with us the many we lost on that Saturday night in Florida. We carry with us the movements that walked out of high schools all over the South for the Jena 6 in 2007, the movements that rallied in the hundreds of thousands for Trayvon in 2013, the movements for the decolonization  of Puerto Rico, and the movements of Muslim and Arab families that have refused to be silenced and intimidated every day since 2001. We remember the many we have lost around the world as we begin to craft a better one.

Southern Movement Assembly is an alliance of Southern organizations to develop shared analysis and implement strategic action plans across the United States South.


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If you are a Sanders or Stein voter, don’t let anyone bully you into voting differently

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:25pm

Every generation needs a new revolution.

—Thomas Jefferson

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

—Howard Zinn

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent chunk are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. With a potential electorate characterized by these demographics, if Hillary Clinton is unable to defeat a racist, sexist, serial liar and provocateur who speaks at a fifth grade level, and has been ensconced on the lowest level of Maslow’s scale of human development for his entire 70 years, Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings as a candidate and individual, and only those shortcomings, would be responsible for a loss.

Every political candidate must earn my vote through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of my values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy. By every one of these criteria, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have failed to meet my standards. Conversely, Bernie Sanders has met every one of my criteria. From what I’ve seen of her, so does Jill Stein.
I would have voted for Senator Sanders if he were either the Democratic Party or Green Party nominee. That no longer appears to be a choice.

I will vote for Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party Candidate. I will not be voting for Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump under any circumstances.

I do not say this lightly. I have voted for the Democratic candidate for President every election since my first vote in 1980. I have always considered myself a Democrat and I still do.

I was the youngest County Democratic Party Chair in Washington State upon my election. I’ve campaigned for scores of Democratic candidates over a 35 year period and contributed thousands of dollars to their campaigns. I was a Washington State Democratic Party Official for eight years. I was a Party Leader Elected Official Delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention for Bill Clinton and I cast one of 379 Votes for Clinton in the Electoral College in 1996. But as I’ve become more progressive, informed, and thoughtful in my later years, the Democratic Party at the national level has become almost entirely dominated and controlled by an oligarchy of the uber wealthy, corporate interests, and major media outlets that see their news divisions as profit and entertainment centers rather than to inform and report in an unbiased fashion.

The National Democratic Party of 2016, like it’s evil, hideous National Republican Party twin, is influenced and shaped far less by working men and women and their hopes and aspirations and needs than it is by corporations, billionaires, the financial sector, and lobbyists with eight figure retainers and compensation packages.

This must change and it will change, but Hillary Clinton is not the means to change it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons. The truth of the matter is the Democratic Party is about to nominate a presidential candidate who is functionally a pro-fracking, Wall Street Republican with strong hawkish tendencies on military and foreign policy matters. Clinton’s pending nomination is a testament to the warped priorities and evolution of the National Democratic Party apparatus from a protector and advocate for working families and the middle class to a pliant tool of Wall Street and Billionaires.

I don’t want my nieces and nephews or their peers dying in any more ill-conceived, unnecessary wars to prop up despots, enrich oil companies, or the serve the military-industrial complex’s need for ongoing warfare.

I don’t want the chasm that is economic inequality in this nation to grow any wider.

I don’t want a president who tells us to think small and that we can’t do big things.

I don’t want a president who takes the side of the insurance industry and opposes single payer health care.

I don’t want a President who is politically in bed with the fossil fuel industry.

I don’t want a president who has a history of supporting horrible trade deals.

I don’t want a president who has a habit of repeatedly changing his or her political positions on major issues, apparently for purely political self-interest or political gain.

I don’t want a president whose campaign is primarily based on self-aggrandizement, ego, “inevitability” or because it is “his or her turn.”

I don’t want a president who 60 to 70 percent of the American public don’t trust and don’t like.

No, for these and many, many other reasons, I won’t be voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I would have proudly voted for Bernie Sanders. Now, I will gladly vote for Jill Stein. The revolution continues. Not me, US.

If Not Bernie, than Jill.


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A secular humanist response to the Orlando shooting

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:20pm

In the weeks since the shooting in Orlando we have felt anger, sadness, and heartbreak for the victims whose lives were violently ended and for the families who were forever changed. With Orlando, the epidemic of gun violence in the United States seems to have reached new heights. Each mass shooting has made the ones before it all the more horrific as we wonder, where next? Who next? This recent attack is so intermingled with issues of race, sexuality, and religion that it has been impossible not to feel that the United States is inching toward a social cataclysm.

The accounts of survivors huddling in the bathroom stalls of the Pulse nightclub were terrifying. Not only did Omar Mateen unleash a barrage of bullets onto nightclub patrons, but he also followed survivors into cornered areas – presumably hoping to kill as many people as possible; to make the world a “better place.” These actions are almost unspeakable, but can we write them off as the work of a devil? Mateen himself was not without his humanity. It important to remember that he was someone who was told, before he could probably understand, that members of the homosexual and transgender community were sinners who should not be allowed to live and that they could make his children gay with a ‘homosexual agenda.’ That if he were gay, he should hate himself. That if his children were gay, they would be punished for eternity.

Whatever mental health issues Mateen had, his brushes with fanatical Islam did nothing to ameliorate them. This hatred was equally encouraged by Christian counterparts who frequented the Florida radio waves with pontifications against gay marriage and fears of transgendered individuals using bathrooms. After the tragedy at Pulse nightclub, some pastors and imams—and even a Hasidic Jew—responded with sermons condoning the massacre. Mateen pulled the trigger, and insanely loose gun laws provided him with the weapon, but a culture of homophobia and transphobia spewed forth from hidebound theologies gave him his hate. Like too many of the horrific acts of terrorism we have witnessed, the shooting in Orlando is a symptom of a culture of divisiveness and hatred, which may be turned on oneself, on other people, or both.

We can no longer accept and tolerate that culture. Let’s first challenge our own beliefs and then challenge the belief systems around us that cage, accuse, and denigrate. We can no longer let people share ignorant messages on social media, or memes that generalize populations of individuals. We must no longer permit  institutionalized intolerance.

We must all remind ourselves that human beings are more important than dogmas and ideologies. We must become the change we wish to see by telling people who you are. Religion, especially its most fanatical elements, must be criticized; public policy, especially concerning gun control, must be based on science and common sense; the dignity of each person must be affirmed and celebrated throughout our culture. That starts with each of us. Now, it is time mourn, but after that, it is time speak out.

Dani Burger is the administrator on the Olympia Atheist Community Facebook page and Marco Rosaire Rossi is a member of the American Humanist Association.


The post A secular humanist response to the Orlando shooting appeared first on Works in Progress.

Of Slaves

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:16pm

Dealt with a rough hand by the way society is structured

Because you are black you are at a disadvantage

Is what they told me

I mean I am black in White America, but hardly paid the color green


I have a problem with a lot of what you said

I am not a product, I am done being someone else’s second option

My body is not a product

It’s so easy to respect sex workers, I like women and I’m surrounded by loneliness constantly

To take the blame off of them and put it on me is ridiculous

Fuck them, and that way of thinking

Me showing my body doesn’t deem me less deserving of respect than a woman or a person who doesn’t. period

It’s great that you respect what I do, but your view of me is shit

Comparing me to junk food doesn’t seem like respect at all, and people aren’t products that others can just consume


Of exploitation comes the confines of Abraham’s proclamation

Towards the wilderness’s deforestation

To the fields of slavery deportation

James Earl Ray will attempt to assassinate my declaration

Byron De La Beckwith will attempt to lynch my message from American’s legislation


Do you remember Hariette Moore and Harry?

Because you are black you are at a disadvantage, does that sentence seem scary?


The FBI used COINTLPRO agents

And now that Malcolm’s dead we wonder why from the White Man’s station


Society, and men especially should encourage women to advocate for themselves

It’s important to let women know that they have a voice and that they have a right to tell men that they are not comfortable with being treated inappropriately

Therefore, women must begin to feel more confident, not only with expressing consent, but for voicing their own opinions too

— Darrell Herbert


Darrell Herbert is a recipient of a National Silver Medal and Gold Key, presented by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2014. His poetry has been featured in numerous publication such as Writers- Black Artists Connected Blog, Yellow Chair Review, and Media Blast Press.


The post Of Slaves appeared first on Works in Progress.

Fridays from A Woman in the Crossfire

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:30pm

In her book, A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, Samar Yazbek describes how in Syria the mosque became an instrument and embodiment of the power needed by opponents of the Assad Regime — somewhat similar to the role played by the church in our Civil Rights movement.  As the Syrian people’s revolution against the regime evolved from March – July 2011, the people found ways to communicate important stages by naming Fridays.

Some of the names…

Friday of Dignity

Friday of Steadfastness

Friday of Perseverance

Friday of Rags

Friday of Defiance

Friday of the Children of Freedom

Friday of the Tribes

Say No to Dialogue Friday

Get Out Friday

The Fall of the Regime Friday


Maybe this strategy would serve us well as our resistance evolves.


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An open letter to the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:21pm

It has been brought to the attention of the residents of Olympia and other locations that the Port of Olympia is planning to allow the use of the Port again for military shipments.  As you will recall, the last time this occurred in 2007, there were many protests and disruptions that were very costly to the Port, the City of Olympia, and many other people in the region.  [Please see the article “10 Days That Shook Olympia,” Counterpunch, November 15, 2007]

These protests were not against service members or military personnel per se.  These protests were against the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-to the present.

The public relations ploy that these wars are “over” hardly needs to be refuted.  Wars that were illegal and unnecessary in 2007, have not been justified to be “legal” in 2016.  The policies that the US has followed under the Bush and now Obama administrations have proven to be illegal disasters that only increase insecurity for the American people and the globe.

I remember quite distinctly in 2007, when I had a meeting with the Port commissioners to discuss the illegality of the wars, that one of the commissioners stated that he did not know if the war was legal or not, but that this was a business deal that the Port needed.  This is unacceptable and sounds like the excuse that one is “only following orders” from those who outrank him.  If you have questions as to the illegality of your actions, as elected officials you have an obligation to be sure of your actions and act with integrity.

If you recall, during 2007, the 10 days of protest were quite costly to the Cities of Olympia, Tacoma, and Aberdeen.  News reports at the time discussed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to police (and abuse) the citizens of Olympia, Tacoma and the region who were exercising their first amendment rights to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I recall that the military stated that it was not going to pay extra for the police.  If I remember correctly, at that time the extra cost of the police was borne by the local citizens.  The cost to the city of Olympia was reported at $112, 168.  One news report that stated the Port was going to compensate the city of Olympia about $70,000 for the use of the police. [The Olympian article from August 15, 2010, “Plea for protest policy”]

While I believe that the main issues are the illegality and immorality of the wars, there are several questions that I have.  I am requesting that these be answered in a reasonable time and certainly at least a month before any military shipments are scheduled to be shipped through the Port of Olympia.

This is a formal request to the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia.  It is made under the State of Washington’s Open Records Laws.

1. Please submit itemized records of the costs and amounts for police activities that were incurred concerning the Olympia Port Protests in October and November of 2007.

2. Which government entities paid and what amounts to and/or from the City of Olympia, including the cities of Tumwater, Lacey, other cities assisting Olympia?), by the State of Washington, and the Port of Olympia (or other Ports)?

3. Did any branch of the United States Military (JBLM or other federal agency, such as Homeland Security) compensate the city of Olympia and/or the Port of Olympia for the cost of security, and if so, what amounts?

4. Please provide the contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the US military in 2007.

5. What are the current plans and provide contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the U.S. military for 2016 and 2017?

6. What are the current plans between the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia and other local governments for compensation or re-imbursements for costs associated with any planned military shipments in 2016 or 2017?

7. What are the current plans (2016-2017) for the military use of the Port for shipments out of the Port and/or for shipments into the port?  If out of the Port, what is the final destination?  If shipments are into the port what was/is the point of departure?

8. If the shipments are coming into the Port from a war zone, what are the guarantees that the shipments are free from Depleted Uranium (DU) dust or otherwise?  This is important not just for the workers at the Port but also the citizens of Olympia and the region if contaminated hardware and equipment is shipped through the city.

All of the above are important issues and concerns, but the main issues I want to emphasize are the reasons for past and possible future protests—i.e. the illegality and immorality of the current wars.  To make this point in more detail, I refer you to a letter I wrote to the Port and the Olympia City officials on March 25, 2010 when there were reports that the Port was again to be used for military shipments.  I will copy that letter here since there have been many personnel changes on the Port and the City.  The arguments here have stood the test of time and I stand by the information provided.  This 2010 letter, unfortunately, is still very relevant.  I have Bolded portions of the letter that I want to emphasis for 2016 (parts II, III, and V).  There are many references and links within this letter and I would be pleased to provide you with more data upon request.

Lawrence Mosqueda is a professor emeritus at The Evergreen State College.

A copy of his 2010 letter to the Port and City of Olympia is online at


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