United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

BACKGROUND: On high seas, 'anonymity is the rule,' life is cheap & piracy is on the increase

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Monday's New York Times posted a gruesome videoclip of the murder of several men shot while floating in the ocean, explaining that the images, with sound, were found on a cellphone left in a taxi last year on the island of Fiji.  --  (Viewing of the video is not recommended for the faint-hearted.)  --  The Times, to its credit, undertook an investigation and reviewed the worsening problem of violence and summary justice on the high seas.  --  The Times created a database containing the reports of thousands of incidents of violence and piracy (defined in international law as crime that takes place at least twelve miles offshore), since, surprisingly, "No international agency comprehensively tracks maritime violence," Ian Urbina said.[1]  --  "The oceans, plied by more ships than ever before, are also more armed and dangerous than any time since World War II, naval historians say.  --  Thousands of seamen every year are victims of violence, with hundreds killed, according to maritime security officials, insurers, and naval researchers."  --  "Violence among fishing boats is widespread and getting worse" as "[h]eavily subsidized Chinese and Taiwanese vessels are aggressively expanding their reach."  --  Many complicated dramas unfold.  --  "Typical culprits included:  rubber-skiff pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades, night-stalking fuel thieves, hit-and-run bandits wielding machetes.  --  But a variety of other actors appear too, and many of them are not as they initially seem:  hijackers masquerading as marine police officers, human traffickers posing as fishermen, security guards moonlighting as arms dealers." ...

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NEWS: Historic pact signed on Iran nuclear program

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The official name of the agreement signed in Vienna on Jul. 14, 2015, by Iran and the P5+1 powers (U.S., France, Russia, U.K., China, Germany) is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  --  Based on a 2013 interim framework agreement, the accord is a huge step toward resolving an international dispute dating from 2002, when an Iranian dissident group revealed that Iran was building a uranium enrichment facility in Natanz and a heavy water facility in Arak.  --  See here for more on the background of Iran's nuclear program.  --  USA Today provided a succinct summary of the concessions made by each side to reach agreement on the contentious issues of lifting sanctions, the right to enrich uranium, the ability to conduct inspections, openness about weapons research, and the duration of the agreement.[1]  --  This deal is a major achievement, resolving through diplomacy a dispute that for many years seemed to threaten war.  --  CNN collected responses from leaders around the world, most of them positive, except those from Israel and the Israel lobby.[2]  --  These forces have focused their efforts on the U.S. Congress, but according to *USA Today* they will probably not be able to block the agreement.[3]  --  The Washington Post devoted a piece to Israel's apocalyptic rhetorical response to the signing of the accord, but also noted, implicitly, that it is the Jewish State, not Iran, that is the nuclear renegade, since Israel "has an undeclared, but widely suspected, nuclear program that is not under international monitoring.  --  Israel is not a signer of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."[4]  --  William Booth and Ruth Eglash noted widespread criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding that "On the evening news in Israel, a rough consensus among political commentators concluded that Netanyahu has been rendered irrelevant, dismissed by the U.S. administration." ...

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ALERT: Pacific NW at risk of 'worst natural disaster in history of N. America'

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An article in the July 20, 2015, New Yorker alerted readers to the likelihood that the Pacific Northwest will, sometime relatively soon, be the site of "the worst natural disaster in the history of North America."[1]  --  Should the Cascadia subduction zone undergo a full-margin rupture, the magnitude of the resulting earthquake will be somewhere between 8.7 and 9.2, and will be accompanied by a massive tsunami, staff writer Kathryn Schulz reported.  --  Some 7 million people live in the area that will be affected, including all the residents of Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem, and Olympia.  --  "Thanks to work done by [seismologist Chris Goldfinger] and his colleagues, we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three."  --  The odds of it being an 8.7-9.2 earthquake are one in ten.  --  The last big earthquake, geologists have determined, took place on Jan. 26, 1700.  --  The study of seafloor cores shows that the average span of time between subduction zone quakes is 243 years.  --  "Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now 315 years into a 243-year cycle."  --  Those who are at home have the best chance of surviving, and much can be done to make buildings safer.  --  The 71,000 people who live in the inundation zone of a tsunami (many more during the summer beach season) have the poorest chance.  --  A 20-to-100 foot wall of water traveling about 13 mph and carrying "pickup trucks and doorframes and cinder blocks and fishing boats and utility poles and everything else that once constituted the coastal towns of the Pacific Northwest" will overwhelm those on the coast....

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LETTER: The Montreal Protocol, 'the world's most effective treaty'

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On Sunday a letter to the Financial Times of London from the president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development praised the 1987 Montreal Protocol and the potential for an upcoming amendment to it to stand as "a strong push and a big down payment" on the U.N. Climate Change Conference, to be held during the first two weeks of December in Paris.[1] ...

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BACKGROUND: How climatologists are coping with prospects of planetary disaster

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The news about the pace of climate change is so dire that dealing with it is becoming a mental health issue for climate scientists, a piece in the August 2015 Esquire reports.[1]  --  John Richardson's article focuses on Jason Box, an expert in glaciology who left his position at Ohio State to work for the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.  --  Box's willingness to evoke publicly the likelihood of worst-case climate scenarios has made him a minor celebrity.  --  Richardson also portrays Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist with NASA's Godard Institute who thinks that Box's approach is a rhetorical mistake, Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas, and Michael Mann, a Penn State climatologist who has responded bravely to a concerted campaign of intimidation....

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 03:54 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: Where are they now?

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On the Fourth of July, Philip Giraldi was wondering where the men and women who precipitated the global conflict in which we now find ourselves embroiled are at present.  --  Not only has none of them been held accountable for their crimes, almost all are prospering.  --  "The over-rewarding of former officials who have in reality done great harm to the United States and its interests might well seem inexplicable, but it is all part of a style of bureaucracy that cannot admit failure and truly believes that all its actions are ipso facto legitimate because the executive and its minions can do no wrong."[1]  --  Even the hapless Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz's former deputy, who "left the Defense Department to take up a visiting professorship at the school of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, which was subsequently not renewed," is doing O.K.  --  "He is reported to be again practicing law and thinking deep thoughts about his hero Edmund Burke, who no doubt would have been appalled to make Feith’s acquaintance.  --  Feith is a senior fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute and the Director of the Center for National Security Strategies."  --  It's fortunate for Feith that the neocon establishment does not forget its own, since his memoir, War and Decision, "did not make the best seller list and is now available used on Amazon for $.01 plus shipping." ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 07:00 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: Jean-Luc Mélenchon denounces US spying on France's presidents

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Parti de Gauche co-founder Jean-Luc Mélenchon commented on the WikiLeaks revelation that the NSA spied on the last three French presidents in a news conference on Jun. 24, 2015.  --  "The United States is not our friend," he said.  --  "It's an imperial power that has no friends, that has only interests, and in the service of those interests it is willing to do anything."  --  A translation of Mélenchon's remarks is posted below.[1]  --  COMMENT: Mélenchon's world view is a bracing counterpoint to that of Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, who has decided to tell Americans that they are "clowns" whose lunch is being eaten by foreigners who disrespect and mock them....

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2015 06:33 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: WikiLeaks reveals massive US economic espionage against France

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In the U.S., only a few news agency reports are mentioning the latest revelations by WikiLeaks:  documents published in partnership with Libération and Mediapart that demonstrate American spying on French public and private commercial activity that is so massive and systematic that it amounts to a form of warfare.  --  Below is a translation of Libération's introduction to the documents.[1]...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 July 2015 05:01 Read more...
 

NEWS: EU & Tsipras disagree on what referendum signifies

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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is telling Greeks that Sunday's referendum is only about the terms the E.U. is offering for debt relief.  --  E.U. leaders, though, are declaring that the vote is on the euro itself.  --  But the referendum question itself does not even mention the euro.  --  Tsipras's strategy is based on a conviction that the E.U. is faking, that it cannot afford for Greece to leave the eurozone, and that therefore the E.U. will have to blink and accept writing off a large part of the Greek debt.  --  But this approach is angering Germany, which holds the whip hand, and E.U. leaders warned on Monday "that Sunday’s vote on the country’s international bailout was a referendum on its membership of the eurozone, insisting rejection would bring no better offer and could have disastrous economic consequences," the Financial Times of London reported.[1]   --  WSWS characterized the Jul. 5 referendum as "a cynical attempt to shift the onus for the catastrophe engulfing the Greek working class from Syriza to the population itself, and provide a fig leaf for Syriza’s capitulation."[2]  --  Robert Stevens said that the E.U. has "deliberately collapsed the economy of an E.U. member state, with incalculable financial and political implications, in order to underscore their insistence that there is no alternative to austerity."  --  He noted that on Saturday evening, IMF Director Christine Lagarde told the BBC that the referendum was meaningless, because the proposal is no longer on the table:  “legally speaking, the referendum will relate to proposals and arrangements that are no longer valid," and if Greece did not make its payment on June 30, it “no longer has access to funding.” ...

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ANALYSIS: Uncharted waters ahead as Greek debt crisis has 'no modern parallel'

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While "[p]olls show that the Greek people favor staying in the euro, and Greece’s leaders have said they do not want to leave the common currency," Greece's abandonment of the euro seems increasingly likely, the New York Times reported Sunday.[1]  --  Greece's banking system has shut down.  --  Banks are closed and caps on cash withdrawals have been imposed.  --  Anxiety is high, as there is "no modern parallel" for the present situation, in the words of economist Michael Dooley.  --  It is still possible that Greece will, "at the last minute, forge a deal with its creditors," but E.U. leaders have refused to extend talks until the July 5 referendum the Greek government announced.  --  Jean-Luc Mélenchon characterized the decision as a "financial coup d'état."  --  WSWS noted that Syriza did not expect to find itself in this situation:  "Syriza and its supporters convinced themselves that they could reach a negotiated settlement on the issue of E.U. austerity.  --  As they came to power, they publicly repudiated essential measures to defend against the E.U.:  repudiating the debt, imposing capital controls, and nationalizing the banks, and major industries."[2]  --  The outcome of the crisis is likely to be as political as it is financial.  --   "There are powerful sections of the Greek bourgeoisie who are not prepared to accept the withdrawal of Greece from the Eurozone," Alex Lantier said.  --  "Maneuvers are . . . afoot in the Greek ruling elite to bring down the current government and install a new one that would focus only on imposing a deal with the E.U.," and "an intervention by the Greek military" and a "Syriza-N.D. regime . . . relying on the security forces and the army to impose E.U. austerity on a hostile population that voted against it in January" are possibilities.  --  "As for plans of a return to the drachma, the Greek press has already indicated that they include the mobilization of the army to close Greece’s borders and suppress protests against the collapse of the currency."  --  A piece on Friday posted by Spiegel Online was entitled "Greece Peers Fearfully over the Brink" and depicted the confusion of the debt negotiations and helped explain the widespread sense that even now, anything may happen.[3] ...

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UFPPC statement: TPP -- another nail in democracy's coffin

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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

TPP—ANOTHER NAIL IN DEMOCRACY'S COFFIN

June 25, 2015

Don't let the phrase "trade deal" make your eyes glaze over!  Check out instead what Global Trade Watch has to say about the struggle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Then call your representatives in Congress and let them know what you think.  Although the fast-track battle has just been lost, the struggle over TPP is not over yet, and the stakes are high.

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ANALYSIS: 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' R.I.P. -- US signals acceptance of break-up of Iraq

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Remember when "Operation Iraqi Freedom," was announced on Mar. 19, 2003, as the nation's commitment to "helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable, and free country"?  --   On Jun. 17, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, signaled that the U.S. accepts that Iraq is breaking up.  --  Unlike Operation Iraqi Freedom, this development was completely ignored by U.S. mainstream media.  --  Only organs of the radical press, WSWS among them, noted Carter's remark that while the U.S. will remain involved in the region, "there will not be a single state of Iraq."[1]  --  So what if the Obama administration's public justification for the movement of U.S. forces back into Iraq is the preservation of Iraq's sovereignty as the "United States' prime interest" (President Barack Obama, April 14, 2015)?  --  American policymakers' interest in defending Iraq's sovereignty is evaporating as the existing Iraqi régime's reliance on Iranian support grows.  --  COMMENT:  The discreet silence is another illustration of Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter's observations about the disasters that accompany U.S. foreign policy ("yes . . . they are attributable to American foreign policy.  --  But you wouldn't know it.  --  It never happened.  --  Nothing ever happened.  --  Even while it was happening, it didn't happen.  --  It didn't matter")....

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 June 2015 00:18 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: Soros recommends US-China strategic partnership

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In the July 9 New York Review of Books, George Soros warns that the world is in a phase of declining political and financial international cooperation.[1]  --  To prevent increasing international instability from evolving into "military conflict," he calls for a "strategic partnership between the U.S. and China."  --  Soros argues that since China wants the renminbi to be included in the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket whose composition will be revised the end of 2015, the occasion offers the U.S. a strategic opportunity "worth trying," because "the alternative is so unpalatable."  --  "If a bona fide attempt fails, the U.S. would then be fully justified in developing a strong enough partnership with China’s neighbors that a Chinese-Russian alliance would not dare to challenge it by military force," he concludes.  --  BACKGROUND:  Soros's analysis of recent history is as follows.  --  The Cold War's division of the world into opposing blocs created a stable system in which the threat of nuclear Armageddon encouraged the two superpowers to control allies and prevent conflicts from escalating.  --  The collapse of the Soviet Union offered the United States a chance to be the impresario of a new global order, but U.S. elites failed to rise to the occasion.  --  Politically, American foreign policy was hijacked by neoconservatives who "persuaded President George W. Bush to attack Iraq on dubious grounds that turned out to be false, and the U.S. lost its supremacy."  --  Financially, the Washington Consensus disintegrated and let to "a process of financial and political disintegration that first manifested itself in the microcosm of the European Union, but then spread to the world at large."  --  Only China was relatively immune from this twin catastrophe:  "The Chinese banking system was relatively isolated from the rest of the world and largely government-owned.  --  As a consequence, the Chinese banks could, at the government’s behest, offset the collapse of external demand by flooding the economy with credit.  --  The Chinese economy replaced the American consumer as the motor of the global economy, largely by selling to the American consumer on credit."  --  But Russia under Vladimir Putin is pursuing destabilizing policies and the E.U. is proving to be incapable of responding to multiple crises:  "Russia, Ukraine, Greece, immigration, and the coming British referendum on E.U. membership . . . The very survival of the E.U. is at risk."  --  Containing Russia (again) is a principal motivation of Soros's policy recommendation.  --  COMMENT:  The weakest point in Soros's analysis is its portrayal of Putin as purely "aggressive."  --  Soros's political, personal, and ideological commitments blind him to the fact that from its point of view, Russian policy is a defensive response to Western aggression....

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FILM: New documentary on James Lawson to be screened in Tacoma -- Sun., Jun. 14 @ 4pm

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A new film on the life and work of James Lawson will be shown at 4:00 p.m. on Sun., Jun. 14, 2015, at the Friends Meeting House in Tacoma.  --  Adam Nolan, who was the research and project director for the film, will be on hand to present and discuss the film.  --  All are welcome.  --  There will be a potluck following the film, at 5:30 p.m.  --  See below for details.[1] ...

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NEWS: US 'training' base in Anbar hasn't seen an Iraqi recruit in weeks

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Barack Obama is rushing hundreds more of "advisers" to Anbar province to train Iraqi troops, but for the last month and a half no Iraqi recruits have shown up at the Anbar base that already exists to be trained by the "advisers" who are already there, Marine Times reported Thursday.[1]  --  The news was first reported by The Hill on  Monday.[2] ...

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TRANSLATION: 'What is at stake in the age of networks' (Part 2)

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In the concluding part of an essay published in early 2015 by Pierre Bellanger, the founder of Skyrock discusses what rights should be associated with the personal data on the Internet.[1]  --  Bellanger's essay is based on the advice that France's Conseil d'État solicited from him as this high constitutional body considered the legal status of networked personal data.  --  (A link to the first part of the essay is provided below.) ...

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2015 00:50 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: 'What is at stake in the age of networks' (Part 1)

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A few months ago Pierre Bellanger, the founder of Skyrock, published an essay in Le Débat (Paris) discussing the data of personal networks whose existence and development is, in the first quarter of the twenty-first century, revolutionizing every aspect of human life.  --  Although we all use it, the nature of our involvement with the Internet is not generally well understood.  --  In the first part of his essay, translated below, Bellanger compares the network of data to a hologram, and argues that its nature is such that legally it constitutes a bien commun ('common good') and should be administered as a public utility.[1]  --  Bellanger's essay is based on the advice that France's Conseil d'État solicited from him as this high constitutional body considered the legal status of networked personal data....

Last Updated on Friday, 12 June 2015 00:52 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND & COMMENT: Experts awakening to reality of Iraq's break-up

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McClatchy Newspapers reported Wednesday on growing pessimism among students of Middle Eastern geopolitics about the future of Iraq.[1]  --  Many doubt the country can survive, Roy Gutman said.  --  COMMENT:  Count us at UFPPC in that category; as far back as May 2007 -- eight years ago! -- we complained:  "Iraq is collapsing, but U.S. media decline to report the fact."  --  For more on how the U.S. media maintained the fiction that something called 'Iraq' still exists, see our comments on the extraordinarily insightful work of Nir Rosen....

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BACKGROUND: NYT reveals 'secret history' of SEAL Team 6's 'relentless killing'

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SEAL Team Six, the supposedly secret but actually famous U.S. Special Forces unit, "has been transformed by more than a decade of combat into a global manhunting machine," the Sunday New York Times reported.[1]  --  In "America’s new way of war, . . . conflict is distinguished not by battlefield wins and losses, but by the relentless killing of suspected militants," Mark Mazzetti, Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Serge F. Kovaleski, Sean D. Naylor, and John Ismay said.  --  Joint Special Operations Command oversees SEAL Team 6 missions, which have raised "concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths."  --  COMMENT:  This casts a shadow upon the decision to award the 2014 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize to Eric T. Olson, the U.S. Navy admiral who was JSOC's commander from 2007 to 2011.  --  As Mark Mazzetti and his colleagues say, "the bulwark of secrecy around Team 6 makes it impossible to fully assess its record and the consequences of its actions, including civilian casualties or the deep resentment inside the countries where its members operate.  --  The missions have become embedded in American combat with little public discussion or debate."  --  How could they be understood or debated, since they are conducted under cover of the utmost secrecy?  --  For this reason, the institutionalization and routinization of Seal Team 6 are incompatible with the form of representative government most Americans still imagine they are pledging allegiance to when they salute the flag....

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 06:57 Read more...
 

NEWS: No sign of assault on Ramadi as ISIS cuts water supply to downstream towns

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Almost three weeks have passed since Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, fell to the Islamic State, but USA Today reported Thursday that a counteroffensive has "bogged down" and that there has been "no effort to drive militants from the heart of the city."[1]  --  CNN, meanwhile, reported that "ISIS has closed off a dam to the north of the Iraqi city of Ramadi . . . cutting water supplies to pro-government towns downstream and making it easier for its fighters to attack forces loyal to Baghdad . . . They added that the level of water in the Euphrates was now low enough that the river could be walked across, making it easier for ISIS militants to cross and attack the pro-government towns of Husaybah and Khalidiyah as well as the large security forces base at Habbaniya."[2] ...

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2015 07:15 Read more...
 

TRANSLATION: 'The Middle East is aflame' (Henry Laurens, Collège de France)

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Though rapid-moving events have rendered his remarks a bit out-of-date, the main points made by historian Henry Laurens of the prestigious Collège de France in his discussion of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East are just as pertinent as they were six months ago.  --  Laurens's 5,400-word interview in a recent number of Le Débat is translated below in its entirety.[1]  --  Laurens does not offer much reason to be optimistic.  --  "I've always asked Raymond Aron's question:  'What would you do if you had to decide?'  --  At the present time, I'm glad I'm not in power.  --  We're caught between a pressure to close borders that for lack of a better word can be called 'democratic' that is being massively expressed by Western societies and a humanitarian disaster of the first rank that's overwhelming our humanitarian law.  --  That law was devised for a few handful of dissident intellectuals.  --  It's not adapted to hundreds of thousands of refugees.  --  What to do?  --  I don't have the answer." ...

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United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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