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Sharon Delgado
Sharon Delgado
The Reverend Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister, executive director of Earth Justice Ministries, and author of “Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization” (www.shakingthegatesofhell.org).

November Tomatoes and Climate Change


by: on November 13th, 2013 | Comments Off

November Tomatoes in the Sierra

It’s mid-November, and our plants are still bearing red tomatoes. The days are warm, it doesn’t freeze at night, and it hasn’t rained. Maybe when we lived in Santa Cruz we still had tomatoes in November, but in the Sierra Nevada? It should be raining or snowing here.

Over 50% of the United States is in the second year of drought. Here in California, this is the driest year ever recorded.

According to California’s Department of Environmental Protection, climate change is impacting California through hotter temperatures, shrinking snowpack, more frequent and intense wildfires, warmer lakes and oceans, and rising sea levels. And have you noticed? Food prices are higher, as the USDA predicted they would be because of last year’s drought.

It seems that this year’s November tomatoes are a consolation prize of climate change. If anything, these tomatoes are even tastier and sweeter than mid-summer tomatoes. But my pleasure in eating them is tempered by the awareness of where we are headed with climate change, and of the suffering of many people for whom the devastation of climate change is already a reality.

Hurricane Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded, hit the Philippines last week, wreaking havoc. In U.S. news coverage, climate change is hardly mentioned, in spite of the fact that delegates from more than 190 nations are meeting in Warsaw this week for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations.Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears, made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold action, and pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.

Not only does climate change threaten the civilization of which I have been a beneficiary, it threatens the life support system upon which we all depend. These November tomatoes are a symbol to me of the sweetness of the gifts of the earth, but in a darkening time, a time of deadly threat, a time of loss.

I want my grandchildren and future generations to experience the sweetness that I have experienced in life. I’m convinced that it will take hard work and sacrifice on the part of many people to change the system that has brought us to this extremity. I pray that we will join together and rise to the challenge.

Meanwhile, the taste of November tomatoes reminds me to live my faith– to live in the moment, face reality, refuse to be in denial, practice prayer, enjoy the fruits of the Spirit, renounce fear, trust in the Love that undergirds the universe, and follow wherever that Love leads.

For Sharon Delgado’s previous postings about climate change, go to blog postings on climate change.

Beale Anti-Drone Protestors Sentenced to Community Service


by: on September 9th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Beale Anti-Drone Protestors

My four friends and I were sentenced today to ten hours each of community service by the judge who convicted us last month of trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base during an anti-drone protest. Judge Carolyn K. Delaney in U.S. District Court in Sacramento acknowledged that we were motivated by conscience and by “deeply held ethical and religious beliefs.” We were delighted with the light sentence, which sets a precedent for other protesters. The judge could have imposed up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and/or five years probation.

Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman, David and Jan Hartsough and I had engaged in civil disobedience by crossing a line onto Beale Air Force Base last October during a demonstration against the U.S. drone warfare program. Global Hawk surveillance drones, based at Beale, assist in finding targets for weaponized drones. Here is the statement I made in court today:


Guilty Verdict No Surprise in Beale Anti-Drone Case


by: on August 26th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

It was no surprise that at our trial on August 12 my fellow defendants and I were found guilty of trespassing onto federal property at Beale. The judge had ruled against our request for a jury trial, and against both the necessity defense and consideration of the Nuremberg Principles during the trial. In the necessity defense, our lawyers would have argued that we stood our ground at Beale with our “Stop Drone Attacks” banner in an attempt to prevent a greater harm, namely drone attacks. In appealing to Nuremberg Principles, they would have based their argument on the Nuremberg Code, enacted after World War II to try Nazi war criminals. Principle VII states “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity…is a crime under international law.”


Agenda 21 vs. the TPP


by: on July 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

A new wave of reaction to Agenda 21 threatens to confound the public and undermine efforts toward global cooperation on both environment and development. Meanwhile, those who raise the alarm about Agenda 21, a non-binding agreement, are silent about negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a binding agreement that would grant corporations new rights to interfere with our democracy.

Agenda 21

I was part of the United Methodist delegation to Rio de Janeiro in 1992, during the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit,” where Agenda 21 was signed. The agreement was negotiated openly in advance, with input from governments, corporations, and civil society. Its purpose was to suggest principles, policies, and guidelines that could help the nations of the world move cooperatively into the 21st century (hence the name) in ways that could both protect the earth and raise poor nations out of poverty.

Agenda 21 is not a treaty, so it was not ratified by the Senate. It does not have the force of law. It is non-binding, to be enacted voluntarily as governments see fit. Some jurisdictions in various countries, including the United States, have enacted policies based on Agenda 21′s suggested principles, such as protecting biodiversity, controlling pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the progression of global warming, combating poverty, strengthening the role of marginalized groups, etc. Agenda 21 does not infringe upon national, state, or local sovereignty. Its goal is not to abolish private property or take away our freedoms or create an “eco-dictatorship,” regardless of what Glen Beck or Fox News have to say.


No Jury Trial in Beale Case


by: on June 29th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Sharon Delgado released from custody


Last October, I was arrested for civil disobedience with eight other people during an anti-drone demonstration at Beale Air Force Base. Charges were dropped against four of my co-defendants. The case against the remaining five of us continues.

Our trial will be held on August 12 in federal court in Sacramento. We had hoped to make our case before a jury, but on Thursday U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn K. Delaney denied our lawyers’ request for a jury trial. In other words, we will not be able to testify before a jury of our peers, some of whom might be sympathetic to our reasons for taking the action we did at Beale. Instead, we will be tried before Judge Delaney, a representative of the very system that charged us with misdemeanor trespass for publicly challenging its drone warfare program. Although we each face up to six months in federal prison, $5000 in fines, and five years’ probation, our case does not qualify as serious enough to warrant a jury trial.


A Resurgence of Humanity


by: on June 23rd, 2013 | Comments Off

Kathie and Sharon as children

Tomorrow my sister Kathie plans to go to a “Moral Mondays” demonstration in Raleigh. She may even participate in civil disobedience there. Because she lives in North Carolina, I’ve been watching the right-wing coup that has been taking place in what has been a relatively progressive Southern state. The state took over Asheville’s public water district, which has always been locally-run and locally-funded, without negotiation or compensation. The legislature is now in the process of dismantling voting rights, firing environmental regulators, cutting unemployment compensation, firing teachers’ aides, increasing class sizes, and ending safety net protections for the most vulnerable people.

Powerful billionaire Art Pope, active in ALEC, is now North Carolina’s Budget Director. Pope has been called “a cross between the Koch brothers and Karl Rove.” Big money, corporate sponsors, and entrenched political players are clearly at work here, aligned to make true democracy irrelevant. And yet, in the face of incredible odds against them, people are rising up to say “no.”

This is not just happening in North Carolina, but around the world: in Taksim Square, in Brazil, in Idle No More and related actions against the Keystone XL pipeline, in anti-drone actions, in appearances of still-alive Occupy movements. People are also engaged in smaller but persistent struggles taking place around the world.

It is heartening to see people rising up in resistance to the Powers that Be. Why? For one thing, many of us know that only through “we the people” is there any hope of turning back the ascendant evil of today’s domination system, which consumes life and threatens the future. For another, when people join together, rise up, say “enough,” and organize new ways of being in community, it is an expression of our humanity. I’m convinced that the Spirit is present wherever people resist dehumanization and come more fully alive.


A Call to Resist


by: on May 22nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Chris Hedges has again issued a call to conversion, a call to leave behind the moral inertia that the global system of corporate domination instills in its subjects, a call to rise up for the sake of life. He says, “It is time to build radical mass movements that defy all formal centers of power and make concessions to none.” He goes so far as to say, “Resistance to tyranny saves our souls.” Read the article here: We, the Vast Underclass, Must Rise Up Against Global Mafia – or Die.

In this article, Hedges likens the global system of unrestrained free-market capitalism to the doomed ship Pequod in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. He writes, “We are sailing on a maniacal voyage of self-destruction, and no one in a position of authority, even if he or she sees what lies ahead, is willing or able to stop it. Those on the Pequod who had a conscience, including Starbuck, did not have the courage to defy Ahab. The ship and its crew were doomed by habit, cowardice and hubris. Melville’s warning must become ours. Rise up or die.”


Drone Warfare: There has to be a different way


by: on May 16th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Yesterday I was interviewed by Alan Stahler on KVMR Radio about why I engaged in nonviolent direct action and was arrested at Beale last October. (You can listen to the Podcast below.) In the interview, Alan said, “Using drones must save American lives. What’s your objection to them?” My initial answer: “It may be that using drones save American lives, but there has to be a different way.”

The U.S. Drone Warfare Program is flouting the rule of law, killing thousands, terrorizing whole communities, and making enemies. There has to be a different way, a way that can lead to mutual concern and lasting security for people in the United States and others. There has to be a way that can lead to peace.

U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children. Yes, our drones go after alleged terrorists. We have kill lists, made up of individuals who have been approved by the president or the CIA for targeted killings. But our drones do not only go after particular individuals. The majority of U.S. drone attacks are “signature strikes” based on looser criteria. In some areas, any man of military age is considered a militant and a legitimate target.

Drone strikes often result in civilian casualties. Hundreds of children have been killed. Friends of mine who have traveled to regions under fire by drones describe an atmosphere of fear and terror, children having nightmares, people afraid to gather in groups, go to funerals, or send their children to school. Whole communities are being terrorized. We are not only causing great harm to people in the communities we target, but making enemies and creating a cycle of violence that may last for generations.


Children, Earth Day, and Activism


by: on April 22nd, 2013 | 1 Comment »

“The kinship that children feel for animals and their ongoing disappearance from us literally brought me to my knees that night, on a sidewalk in my own village. It was love that got me back up. It was love that brought me to this jail cell.” Sandra Steingraber

Today is Earth Day. Yesterday the film “How the Kids Saved the Parks” brought me to tears. It tells the story of how a group of children from Grass Valley Charter School worked to prevent the closure of the South Yuba River State Park, one of the parks that California had planned to close in 2011 due to budget cuts. In watching the movie, I was amazed at how articulate the children were in expressing their passionate feelings about this issue.

Those of us who live here really love the river. This “park” is a patchwork of accessible areas stretching 20 miles along the river. It includes miles of hiking trails, four historic bridges, and the nation’s only wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail, the Independence Trail.

Several of my grandchildren gathered signatures for this effort. Wonderful teachers helped them organize. Community support was high. Local nonprofit South Yuba River Citizens’ League (SYRCL) activated their network of volunteers. We were all thrilled when the “parks” were saved from closure.


Tax Day Demonstration Against Drones


by: on April 16th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

Our anti-drone action this morning at the federal courthouse in Sacramento was one of many actions taking place around the country this month, during the April Days of Action Against Drones. Five of us still face federal charges for trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base last October during an anti-drone protest. We were protesting drones based at Beale, Black Hawk surveillance drones, which identify targets for killer drones. Even more, we were challenging our government’s illegal and morally reprehensible policies that include kill lists, targeted assassinations, and remote-control killing.

Our trial was originally scheduled for today, but it’s been postponed. Still, today, April 15, Tax Day, is a good day for a demonstration against drones. The drone program consumes billions of our tax dollars. Our government cuts programs that promote the common good and serve basic human needs, while it pours billions into hi-tech robotic killing machines that destroy human lives and communities halfway around the world. To find out more about my motivation for taking this action, go to “Why I Crossed the Line at Beale.”