"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nuclear-Free Middle East!

Dear Friends,

Let's face it. It seems like nearly everyone wants to join that ever so exclusive Nuclear Club these days. Of course, membership is extremely expensive. Just ask the United States and Russia how much they have spent over the last 60 years. Of course, plenty of other nations are members, and are throwing money down the drain keeping up with the big nukes, and plenty more are working at becoming members.

The U.S. is still wringing its hands over Iran's nuclear ambitions, while it continues to turn a blind eye - or is it two blind eyes - towards Israel. For decades Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a nuclear program, but has approximately 200 nuclear weapons. If we are serious about nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, we cannot focus on certain countries while ignoring others; no one can be left out. A Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone is crucial, and would be significant in its impact on global nuclear abolition efforts.

Click here to send President Obama a message (thanks to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation) urging him to use the convening power of the United States to begin negotiations on a Middle East Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ).



You can look up information on nuclear forces for every country known to possess them (including Israel) at the Federation of American Scientists.

Photo Credit: Greenpeace activists protest as their ship, The Rainbow Warrior, is seen in the background, at the beach in Tel Aviv, Thursday, March 29, 2006. Photo by Associated Press.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Heritage of Fear: or, Don't Buy Fear-Based Missile Defense


Fear is a powerful tool, so powerful that a government can manipulate millions of its citizens just by playing the fear card at the right time using the right words; hey, it worked for George W. Bush. Now those wacky conservatives at the Heritage Foundation are playing up the fear card to help ensure the future of MISSILE DEFENSE.

Yes, it's the idea that just won't die. After all, some mighty powerful munitions makers (aka: defense contractors) have already spent tons of money developing some rather wild and crazy technologies to knock down all those enemy missiles that are going to rain down on the U.S. any day now; they've probably also spent loads of money on lobbying every congressman they can corner. There's X-band radar, satellites, 747s loaded with gargantuan lasers, ground based and ship-based anti-missile missiles, and more radars, and lots of other fun stuff in the
works. The graphic below gives an idea of the Rube Goldberg-esque complexity of the system.

The real problem is that folks at the Pentagon (along with those munitions makers have been working overtime developing, building and deploying a system (based on a dubious concept) that hasn't been rigorously tested, and can't possibly live up to all the hype; President George W. Bush ordered interceptors to be deployed before they had (and still have not) been fully and properly tested. That's what one might call Faith-Based Missile Defense. And by the way -missile defense is extremely destabilizing to any nonproliferation efforts; just ask the Russians what they think.

Now back to our friends at The Heritage Foundation who are hosting a screening of its new "documentary" film, 33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age. Here is the description of the film taken from the Foundation's Web site:

33 Minutes is a thrilling, one-hour documentary that tells the story of the very real threat foreign enemies, like Iran and North Korea, pose to every one of us. The truth is brutal – no matter where on Earth from which a missile is launched, it would take 33 minutes or less to hit the U.S. target it was programmed to destroy. Despite the present and growing danger, our government has failed to deploy a comprehensive missile defense system capable of defending us against any attack. Featuring rare footage and in-depth interviews with leading experts in the field, 33 Minutes explains just how vulnerable every citizen really is and what they can do about it.

OH MY GOD!!! Be AFRAID America!!! Be very AFRAID!!! O.K., we can all calm down for a moment; what's the big deal? The fact is that the U.S. has Trident submarines bristling with Trident D-5 missiles (24 per sub), each containing multiple warheads, that can reach their targets just about anywhere on earth at least as quickly as one of those inferior missiles. Why, just one Trident submarine could incinerate an entire continent. And we should be worried???

Well, folks at The Heritage Foundation seem to think so, and they even invited Brad Thor (isn't that a great name?), former member of the Department of Homeland Security's Analytic Red Cell Program (ooooh) and author of such "best-sellers" as The Lions of Lucerne, Path of the Assassin, State of the Union, Blowback, Takedown, The First Commandment, and The Last Patriot (aaaah) to give the opening remarks. Very appropriate.

If the film doesn't send viewers running for the bomb shelters, a reception will be held at Lounge 201 where Heritage policy analysts will be on hand to answer questions about the film, missile defense, and other policies designed for protecting America. I bet they have sent out invitations for this one to decision maker on Capital Hill. It should be one heck of a party, and those "policy analysts" should have all the answers.

Did I mention that this special screening is part of The Heritage Foundation's Protect America Month program series? Perhaps they should rename the program, Protect American Weapons Contractors Month. What do you think? What does Stephen Colbert think??? Hey, somebody has to protect America. Well, gotta run for the bomb shelter.

Before you head for the shelter, CLICK HERE to send a message urging your Congressional Representative to vote NO on amendments to the Defense Authorization bill adding missile defense funds (action courtesy of Council for a Liveable World). You can also call; CLICK HERE for your Representative's phone number and more information. There could be a vote any day now! Vote NO on Fear-Based Missile Defense!



P.S. - You can check out The Heritage Foundation's Web site at http://www.heritage.org/ where you can find out how the Environmental Protection Agency is "hijacking the economy". Isn't that nice?

Note: Missile Defense graphic courtesy of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stop Bangor's Expanding Nuclear Waste Line


Trident nuclear submarine base Bangor, known as Naval Base Kitsap Bangor (just 20 miles west of Seattle, Washington), wants to expand at a time when the United States is not only desperately trying to find ways to reign in spending, but also trying (according to at least President Obama and a few others) to lead the world towards nuclear disarmament. The U.S. Navy has been quietly planning for quite a while to build a second explosives handling wharf, and only now is being forced to surface to seek public comments for the Environmental Impact Statement.

The current Explosives Handling Wharf is used to load and offload the Trident D-5 missiles with their multiple nuclear warheads to and from the Trident submarines based at Bangor. Ironically, Bangor (according to Navy records) should not need a (expensive) second Explosives Handling Wharf until 10 Trident submarines would be based at Bangor; there are currently 8 Tridents based at Bangor. Does this sound like a tremendous waste of money at a time when the upcoming 2010 Nuclear Posture Review will most likely reduce, or at least freeze, the Trident fleet.

Besides the environmental impacts of such a large-scale project, it is also a budget drainer - cost estimates range from $336 million to $780 million. Hey, who needs education, health care or anything else when you build such a nice, new explosives handling wharf; and when it's sitting idle, they can go fishing off the end of the pier. Doesn't everybody want one of these???
But really folks - If the Navy's desire to over consume and expand its waste line bothers you, there is time to have your say. There will be three meetings around Puget Sound starting tomorrow, and the public comment period ends July 17, 2009. Make your voices heard!!! The plan for a second wharf not only makes no sense economically or in terms of the President's focus on nuclear disarmament, but it also sends a dangerous message to Russia and every other nuclear power (and nuclear wannabees) that the U.S. intends to increase its reliance (and the size of the fleet) on Trident.

All three meetings are open house format and run from 5:30 to 8:30.
  • Tuesday, June 23 - Poulsbo Fire Station Main Headquarters, Multipurpose Room, 911 NE Liberty Road, Poulsbo

  • Wednesday, June 24 - Port Ludlow Fire Station 31, Training Room, 7650 Oak Bay Road, Port Ludlow

  • John Stanford Center for Academic Excellence, Auditorium, 2445 3rd Avenue South, Seattle
To make comments using the EIS projects Web form, click here. You can also email your comments to nbkehweis@ssp.navy.mil.

Click here to read the Sunday, June 21st, Kitsap Sun newspaper article about the Navy's plan. it has further details on how to submit your comments on the EIS.

You can learn more about the EIS process and statement below. Thanks to Glen Milner for the following links to information on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor EIS for the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor, Federal Register

Navy Region Northwest statement on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor

EIS process for the Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor

Let's make our voices heard: It is time to cut back, not expand, Trident!!!



Note: Photo courtesy of Tom Karlin, taken at Sub Base Bangor during the May 31, 2008 Feast of the Visitation Vigil and Direct Action

Monday, June 15, 2009

Crunch Time For Trident


The United States doesn't have a monopoly on Trident; the British have their own submarines bristling with Trident missiles manufactured by none other than Lockheed Martin Aerospace. There has been lots of talk about the future of Trident in the U.K.; whether they should build new subs, should they carry fewer missiles, whether the darn missiles will fit the launch tubes (oops). Yes, the British seem to be in a quandary about what to do with Trident.

Well, not everyone in the British Isles is sitting down for this one. It's going to be "Crunch Time for Trident" in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, June 20. Some folks up there are going to stand up and sing a song for Trident (or should I say against it) that day as part of their protest against nuclear weapons (and particularly those sneaky Trident submarines) in Scotland. You can hear their catchy tune, "Crunch Time for Trident" (written by Ian Davison) on this video sung by members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). It's really good!

Well, there you have it. It is crunch time, indeed. These MSPs listened to their constituents and spoke up to Westminster (in 2007), telling them to reconsider Trident. Whether or not folks in that part of the world are going to allow their government to squander billions of dollars (or pounds) on more of these genocidal (or shall we say, omnicidal) weapons systems remains to be seen. But there IS a growing movement to stop the madness, and it will not be stopped until every last Trident is decommissioned.

If you happen to be in Glasgow on June 20, drop by George Square by 11:00am and sing along with Protest in Harmony and other choirs. It should be good, clean, nuclear-free fun! Click here to learn more. If you're not familiar with what has been happening with the British Trident program, check out the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. If you are on the other side of the Atlantic, stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to get involved in the campaigns to abolish Trident there, on both the West and East coasts.



Monday, June 8, 2009

Nuclear Abolition: Yes We Can


When the Interfaith Peace Walkers (see my previous post) arrive at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ) on August 8 they will take part in Ground Zero's Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration that takes place every August with a variety of activities, ending with a nonviolent vigil and direct action at the gates of Submarine Base Bangor (now known officially as Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor), West Coast home for the U.S. Navy’s Trident Nuclear Submarine Fleet.

"The warheads assigned to the [Trident] ballistic missile submarines stationed at Bangor and at Kings Bay, Ga., now constitute more than half of the U.S. strategic weapons force" (source: Seattle Times). Ground Zero has been resisting Trident and working to abolish nuclear weapons for over 30 years. This August, Ground Zero will dedicate its new Peace House that will be a focal point for its nuclear weapons abolition activities.

This August's theme is Nuclear Abolition: Yes We Can! At a time when the words "nuclear weapons" are no longer "that which cannot be named", more and more people are becoming aware that the subject is not untouchable, that they can learn about it, and most importantly that they CAN do something about it. The movement to abolish nuclear weapons never went away, even though it has existed in the background for far too long.

The movement is prominent once again, and thanks in part to President Barack Obama's initial efforts and his famous Prague speech (watch it on YouTube), people in the U.S. are getting excited about the prospect of working towards a goal that for decades seemed like only a pipe dream. Well, it is no dream; in fact, it is a necessity if there is to be a future for citizens of this planet. We can reach the goal of nuclear zero, but it will take the efforts of literally millions of people being involved on many different levels and in every nation.

This August's event at Ground Zero Center will be about remembering - remembering the horrific events through which the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered, and from which the survivors, the Hibakusha, still suffer to this very day. The remembering, however, is important to give us strength to move forward with the work of nuclear abolition, until the day that nuclear weapons are just an exhibit in a history museum.

Consider joining us this August on one or more days. There will be speakers, such as Dr. Arjun Mahkijani and veteran, peace activist, Brian Willson. There will also be music, films, panel discussion, street theatre, non-violence training, and of course a vigil and action at the sub base. Camping is available at the Center. Click here to see the full page flyer with more information on the weekend's schedule. There will be a subsequent flyer with more information and complete schedule (by July).

You can learn more about Ground Zero (and see slide shows and video of previous events) by clicking on "Ground Zero" under post categories on this blog. You can also check out the Website at http://gzcenter.org/. Hope to see you in August!
Photo Note: Mushroom cloud from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

From Trinity to Trident

Dear Friends,

Trinity, understood by most of Christianity as the union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God, was co-opted on July 12, 1945 when the United States government exploded the first nuclear weapon over the desert sands of New Mexico in what scientists called the Trinity test. Thus (officially) began the atomic age, and this unholy Trinity was its ungodly offspring. Sixty four years later the world is seeing a resurgence of the movement towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, and people who previously would never have even uttered the words "nuclear weapons" are getting involved in the movement.

There are so many ways in which people can work for peace and nuclear weapons abolition. The TRINITY TO TRIDENT INTERFAITH PEACE WALK is an opportunity for people to come together in a spiritual pilgrimage where the act of walking (each step) is a prayer towards world peace and a future free of nuclear weapons.

Nichidatsu Fujii, founder of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order, practiced a path to peace based upon Buddhist ideals. Today, the Nipponzan Myohoji carries on this work through walks, construction of pagodas dedicated to peace, and their constant practice of prayer.

The first leg of the walk will (beginning July 4) go from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Los Alamos, continuing on to the Trinity site for the memorial day of the world's first nuclear test. Walkers will travel through Livermore, California, site of Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, on to Hanford, Washington, and arrive on August 6 at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Washington where they will commemorate the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki .

You are welcome to join the walk for any amount of time. Peace walkers will average about 17 miles per day. This is a Spiritual Walk. No Drugs or alcohol are allowed. Please bring your own dishes and cups for eating, and drinking water. I have listed the most recent walk schedule at the end of this post, but be sure to check with Senji Kanaeda or Gilberto Perez (contact info below) before trying to meet up with the group.

Sponsors so far include Indian People Organizing for Change, Vallejo intertribal/SSP&RIT (CA), Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Tacoma Catholic Worker, Lake Forest Park for Peace, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order, Veterans for Peace (WA), and Foot Print for Peace.

For further information, contact: Nipponzan Myohoji Bainbridge Island Dojo, 6154 Lynwood Ctr. Rd. NE. Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, 206-780-6739 ~ 206-419-7262 (cell) ~ 206-419-2591 (cell), senji@nipponzan.net, gzperez@juno.com




Read regular blog entries about the walk at: http://pacificlifecommunitydesert.wordpress.com/

Photo: Participants in the 2008 Interfaith Peace Walk approaching Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on August 9, 2008.

Read about previous peace walks:
Peace Walkers march on Poulsbo’s Waterfront, from the North Kitsap Herald,2007
Monks to pray for peace at Hanford, from the Tri-City Herald, 2007
Buddhist monks march for peace, from the Gazette Times, 2007

Walk Schedule:

Jul. 4 Sat. Albuquerque to Los Alamos (gathering & driving)
5 Sun. Los Alamos
6 Mon. Cochiti
7 Tue. Pena Blanca
8 Wed. Bernalillo
9 Thu. Albuquerque
10 Fri. South Valley
11 Sat. Adelino
12 Sun. Polvadera
13 Mon. Socorro
14 Tue. San Antonio
15 Wed. Rosary Camp
16 Thu. Trinity Site (the memorial day of the 1st test.). NM.
17 Fri. (driving to CA.)
18 Sat. Arrival to Oakland CA.
19 Sun. Berkeley-Oakland-Alameda
20 Mon. Hayward
21 Tue. Livermore
22 Wed. San Jose (or Fremont)
23 Thu. walk to San Francisco
24 Fri. San Francisco
25 Sat. Move to Portland OR
26 Sun. Portland OR.
27 Mon. Drive to Hanford(Richland) WA]
28 Tue. Hanford(Richland)
29 Wed. Chehalis
30 Thu. Olympia
31 Fri. Olympia(walk to Lacey)
Aug. 1 Sat. Tacoma
2 Sun. Tacoma
3 Mon. Auburn
4 Tue. Renton
5 Wed. Seattle
6 Thu. Lake Forest Park & Bothel
7 Fri. Bainbridge Is.- Suquamish (include Bremerton’s Vigil)
8 Sat. Poulsbo- Ground Zero
9 Sun. Ground Zero
10 Mon. GZ & Bangor