Quotable

"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


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Golden Rule project nearing completion; still needs our support

Dear Friends,

Back in 2011 I wrote about a project by members of Veterans for Peace to restore The Golden Rule, a 30-foot ketch that once was sailed by a retired Navy Captain and crew towards the US Government's atmospheric test site in the Marshall Islands in an effort to stop nuclear weapons tests.

This is a monumental task, as well as an important one. Members of VFP Chapter 22 in Garberville, California have been working on the restoration of The Golden Rule since 2010. Once completed, The Golden Rule will sail the seas once again in opposition to militarism and the threat of nuclear weapons.

Golden Rule about to set sail for the Marshall Islands in 1958
Although this restoration project is being undertaken by a volunteer crew it is still costly. The boat was in sad (major understatement) shape when the restoration began, and has required replacement of a majority of its wood, rigging, and just about everything else you might imagine.

I invite you to support The Golden Rule project in any way you are able. They need approximately $30,000 to complete the job so that the boat can be launched this July 4th. Spread the word; share this with everyone you know. The Website for the project is at vfpgoldenruleproject.org, and they are on Facebook (VFP Golden Rule Project).
Golden Rule in 2010 before the start of restoration
I've included a personal update (see below) on the project from Chuck DeWitt, the Restoration Coordinator for The Golden Rule Project.  It gives a great perspective on just how far this project has come, and what it will take to get it done.

Fair winds and following seas,

Leonard

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To All:::::::::

While I took most of the month off, Breckin, Mike and Daisy reorganized the shop. Daisy has cataloged the rigging and is collecting all the hardware and sketching sails. Breckin has among other things built shelves for each worker so that notes and tools can be kept separate. Mike is continuing to work on the Trinidad Skiffs. One is finished and on display at the North Coast Horticulture Supply store in McKinleyville where the public can buy raffle tickets for the drawing to be held just before Christmas. Large posters are also on display at all the other NCH stores in the Humboldt Bay area and tickets are available there also.

Dean Anderson is almost finished sanding the fiberglass we put on last month. one more coat of resin needs to be applied and then we can begin fairing in preparation for painting on the cabin and decks.
September 2013 - A significant milestone!
Bill Eastwood and Breckin are drawing the outlines for the bunks and lockers in the forward cabin. Actual construction will probably start this week. Although our financial situation is bad we are still finding things that need to be done that are very cost effective.

Becky Luning from Portland Or. has agreed to work with Peter Aronson to get our financial records onto a new program. Skip Oliver from Ohio is exploring various ideas that can possibly bring in much needed support. Skip, incidentally has already done much back there in Ohio to help the project, letters with checks keep arriving from folks that only Skip knows, good on you sir.

Mark Dubrow, who is currently in L.A. and won't be back to Humboldt until January some time has offered to help with constructing the closets, bunks and seats inside the cabin. Mark teaches wood working skills at the Blue Ox, to teenagers that have difficulty in regular class room situations.

Janet Wood, Peter Aronson and Brian Ormand are working together to make some changes to the web site, add some pictures and mostly get our Pay Pal account in order. There are meetings scheduled this week to get our governance process streamlined so that we'll be able to receive grants. Our projected launch date of July 2014 is still doable but only if we can come up with about $30,000.00 real soon.

In case I failed to mention it last month, Bill Eastwood and Bud Rogers are conspiring to build the folding table that will stand in the main cabin. Bills drawings are flawless and Bud is a retired cabinet maker that now days makes fine musical instruments. Their combined efforts, will produce a beautiful table for The Golden Rule, a stunning show piece right in the middle of the living area.

We've had many visitors in the last month or so. Brian Willson was here from Portland Or. as was Elliot Adams of New York, Elliot is representing us at Veterans for Peace National. Sherri Maurin from San Francisco has offered to help us connect with the GreenPeace organization, she was here with Elliot Adams. Other people visiting Humboldt for the holidays have come by to take pictures and ask questions. We are slowly becoming known, every one agrees that our mission is necessary.

Sincerely submitted by Chuck DeWitt. Restoration Coordinator Golden Rule Project. Wage Peace.

PS: Sorry I have not kept up very well. These reports are published on our Facebook page regularly. I'm dealing with medical problems with my wife and myself, so am slowing down some. Wage Peace, Fredy Champagne

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yes, NUKES are bad... very bad!!! Will someone listen now???

Friends,

Ira Helfand, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and a past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility has just published an updated report on the effects of a limited nuclear war.

In the updated study reported in Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?, researchers report that the climatic effects of a "limited" nuclear war between Pakistan and India would cut crop production worldwide, putting up to 2 billion people at risk of starvation.

The previous report (Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk, published in 2012) estimated one billion at risk of starvation under these circumstances.  The findings of the study conducted since then "suggest that the original report may have seriously underestimated the consequences of a limited nuclear war."

The updated report concludes (among other things) that there is an "urgent need to move with all possible speed to the negotiation of a global agreement to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons and the danger of nuclear war."

Some news outlets are paying serious attention to the updated report, and one of today's headlines read Nuclear War Could Mean 'Extinction of the Human Race' (in CommonDreams.org).

Although Dr. Helfand's report is of great importance we should be very clear - This is not news! The human race has been living under the threat of extinction by nuclear weapons since the early days of the Cold War when the United States and Soviet Union amassed arsenals capable of destroying life on Earth (as we know it).  Even today, decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S. and Russia (along with the declared and undeclared nuclear powers) have enough deployed nuclear warheads (ready to launch on warning) to destroy civilization and leave the Earth uninhabitable for generations.

My point is that as important as Helfand's report is to our efforts at the global abolition of nuclear weapons, scientists have been studying climatic effects of nuclear weapons for decades.  Independent scientists have nearly all concluded that the effects of nuclear weapons on climate would be severe and long-lasting.  Steven Starr has written extensively on climatic effects of nuclear weapons.  So far, governments have mostly either ignored their findings or done their best to discredit them.

In the case of large-scale nuclear war, beyond the climatic effects are the direct blast and radiation effects, as well as the long-term exposure of surviving populations to radioisotopes resulting from the detonation of nuclear weapons.  Aside from the millions (or more) of immediate deaths, countless more people would die in the days, weeks and months that follow from exposure to radiation, and the effects would carry on in the form of blood dyscrasias and cancers.  Of course, the destruction of infrastructure, agricultural production and just every aspect of civilization as we know it, would likely cause a near total breakdown of society.


The bottom line is that nuclear weapons are the most vile creation of humankind, and absolutely threaten humanity with extinction so long as they exist. 124 states recognized this, and delivered a joint statement to the United Nations General Assembly in October: "It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances." The only viable course is to abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.

The US government is engaged in research and development toward the goal of building 12 new ballistic missile submarines, known as the SSBN(X), to replace the current OHIO Class "Trident" submarines.  They are known as Tridents because of the Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles they carry.  Each Trident sub carries 24 Trident missiles, each missile currently armed with approximately four warheads (maximum capacity of 8 warheads per missile).

Each warhead has an explosive yield of either 100 (W76 Warhead) or 475 kilotons (W88 Warhead). The Hiroshima bomb, for comparison, was approximately 15 kilotons.  The nuclear firepower carried on a single Trident submarine is capable of destroying an entire continent.

Trident was initially designed, manufactured and deployed during the Cold War.  It was intended as a "deterrent" to the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union.  The Cold War is over, and the US is planning to spend $100 billion just to build the 12 new subs.  Essentially, the US is building an archaic, Cold War nuclear weapons system, and seems to have done so without adequately justifying its future mission.

These submarines are intended for one thing only - launching thermonuclear-armed missiles at another nation.  Such a strike, however limited it might be, would have devastating consequences on those targeted (and that would include civilians) as well as those in surrounding areas as the effects of nuclear weapons cannot be controlled in space or time. They are weapons of mass murder.

While nations wring their hands with concern over Iran this week (next week it will likely be North Korea once again), the very real danger exists right now with the major nuclear-armed nations. The US and Russia still lead the way (toward omnicide) with the largest nuclear arsenals.  It is, therefore, these two nations that must lead the way toward disarmament.

So long as we hold on to Cold War thinking and outmoded concepts like "deterrence", we will continue to sleepwalk toward oblivion.  In the US, that involves the continuing rebuilding of the nuclear weapons research, development and production complex, as well as the refurbishing of existing weapons systems and the development of new ones.  Meanwhile, we lecture Iran and North Korea to NOT build nuclear weapons.

Will we lead the world (as we do now) toward a continued buildup of nuclear weapons, or will we summon the courage to lead the way toward a nuclear weapons-free future? I firmly believe that our elected leaders will not listen to logic and reason until there is a significant groundswell - led by the people.

Cindy Sheehan recently said that "The power of the people is stronger than the people in power." If that is true and history is any indicator, we need to put together a huge constituency calling on our government to lead the way toward disarmament, beginning with the scrapping of counterproductive and destabilizing programs like the SSBN(X).

Join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in saying NO To NEW TRIDENT.  Right after we ring in the New Year, we will be moving full speed ahead to stop this wasteful $100 billion dollar project and refocusing that money on human needs. Check out our Blog at notnt.org and sign up to be notified of updates and opportunities to get involved.

While you're at it, please join PSR's Humanitarian Threats of Nuclear Weapons Campaign.  Please also tell President Obama to send a US delegation to the upcoming (February!!!) conference in Mexico on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.



This is a watershed moment in terms of opportunity to move the world towards nuclear disarmament. The majority of nations in the UN are calling for abolition, while the few nuclear armed powers do everything to hold on to their precious nuclear weapons.  It is time for a paradigm shift, and it is up to We the People of the World to demand change.  Each of us can and must play a role in creating this change.

Let this be the legacy we leave to future generations - a world free from the fear of nuclear omnicide.

Toward a Nuclear Weapons-Free World,

Leonard

Monday, December 9, 2013

Say NO THANKS to Nuclear (Non) Diplomacy!!!

A few days ago Duncan Hunter, a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that the U.S. should plan to use nuclear weapons in a military conflict with Iran.

He said: "If you hit Iran, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and set them back a decade or two or three.”

Of course, Hunter failed to mention the consequences of the use of any nuclear weapons against Iran - among them the uncontrollable consequences of such weapons once released, the radioactive fallout and it's effects on the region, and the regional destabilization that it would most likely cause.

So much for diplomacy!!!

Hunter's statement demonstrates his total lack of understanding (on any level) of both the risks related to the use of any type of nuclear weapons and the realities of the situation with Iran.  It is completely irresponsible on the part of any elected (or other) official to remotely suggest the use of nuclear weapons.

In an article titled Nukes Are Nuts David Krieger quoted former US secretary of state and four-star general Colin Powell who said "no sane leader would ever want to cross that line to using nuclear weapons. And, if you are not going to cross that line, then these things are basically useless." Yes - Nukes are certainly nuts (and most definitely "useless", and the people who consider them a viable weapon most certainly are nuttier than a nuke.

There must be only one line of conversation about the situation with Iran - DIPLOMACY!!!

As citizens we need to send a clear message to Congress that there is only one acceptable path toward a resolution of tensions with Iran and that is a diplomatic one.

Click here to send a message to your Senator supporting President Obama's diplomatic efforts to avoid military confrontation with Iran.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Swords into Plowshares at the Supreme Court

Greetings Abolitionists,

This week our good friend Dennis Apel was in the United States Supreme Court as attorneys vigorously argued his case defending his right to protest at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  You can read more about this important case (posts and links) at the Pacific Life Community Blog.

This case has huge implications for our right to gather and protest at not just Vandenberg, but at any US Government installation, military or otherwise.  We are watching this case closely, and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action submitted an Amicus Brief to the court on Dennis' behalf.

Speaking of Freedom of Speech, Fr. Steve Kelly and Joe Morton made a clear statement in front of the Supreme Court on the day the justices heard this case (December 4th).  Here's the photo (with a pretty darn clear message for The Supremes):

(l to r) Joe Morton and Steve Kelly in front of the Supreme Court
Beyond the case heard this week, as well as the decision soon to come out of the court, let us hope that our efforts to turn swords into plowshares and turn the tides of war continue with great strength and that they one day bear fruit.

In Peace,

Leonard

Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK's American University Commencement Speech - a Profile in Courage

President John F. Kennedy gave his famous American University Commencement Address on June 10, 1963. This powerful speech represented the culmination of Kennedy's long and courageous journey from Cold War Warrior to peacemaker (and enemy of the National Security State).

The Trappist monk Thomas Merton once wrote in a letter to W.H. "Ping" Ferry in January 1962: "I have little confidence in Kennedy, I think he cannot fully measure up to the magnitude of his task, and lacks creative imagination and the deeper kind of sensitivity that is needed. Too much the Time and Life mentality, than which I can imagine nothing further, in reality, from, say, Lincoln. What is needed is really not shrewdness or craft, but what the politicians don't have; depth, humanity and a certain totality of self-forgetfulness and compassion, not just for individuals but for man as a whole; a deeper kind of dedication. Maybe Kennedy will break through into that some day by miracle." "But," he went on, "such people are before long marked out for assassination..."

Merton had good reason to doubt him, yet I firmly believe that during his presidency Kennedy forged each of those necessary qualities Merton described in his letter. I also believe that those of us alive today owe Kennedy a huge debt of gratitude for staving off the global nuclear holocaust that his military advisers (particularly General Curtis LeMay) were prepared (and pushing Kennedy) to initiate during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

You can watch the entire address in the following YouTube video, which is followed by the complete transcript of Kennedy's address.

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President Anderson, members of the faculty, board of trustees, distinguished guests, my old colleague, Senator Bob Byrd, who has earned his degree through many years of attending night law school, while I am earning mine in the next 30 minutes, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

It is with great pride that I participate in this ceremony of the American University, sponsored by the Methodist Church, founded by Bishop John Fletcher Hurst, and first opened by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. This is a young and growing university, but it has already fulfilled Bishop Hurst's enlightened hope for the study of history and public affairs in a city devoted to the making of history and to the conduct of the public's business. By sponsoring this institution of higher learning for all who wish to learn, whatever their color or their creed, the Methodists of this area and the Nation deserve the Nation's thanks, and I commend all those who are today graduating.

Professor Woodrow Wilson once said that every man sent out from a university should be a man of his nation as well as a man of his time, and I am confident that the men and women who carry the honor of graduating from this institution will continue to give from their lives, from their talents, a high measure of public service and public support. "There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university," wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities -- and his words are equally true today. He did not refer to towers or to campuses. He admired the splendid beauty of a university, because it was, he said, "a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see."

I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age where great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need them is essential to the keeping of peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles -- which can only destroy and never create -- is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace. I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary, rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war, and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.


Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament, and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it. But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitudes, as individuals and as a Nation, for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward, by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the cold war and towards freedom and peace here at home.

First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace; no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor, it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it.

And second, let us reexamine our attitude towards the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent, authoritative Soviet text on military strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims, such as the allegation that American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war, that there is a very real threat of a preventive war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union, and that the political aims -- and I quote -- "of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries and to achieve world domination by means of aggressive war."

Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth."

Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements, to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning, a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible, and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture, in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the Second World War. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and families were burned or sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including two thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland -- a loss equivalent to the destruction of this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again -- no matter how -- our two countries will be the primary target. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war, which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this Nation's closest allies, our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could be better devoted to combat ignorance, poverty, and disease. We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle, with suspicion on one side breeding suspicion on the other, and new weapons begetting counter-weapons. In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours. And even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations, and only those treaty obligations, which are in their own interest.

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.

Third, let us reexamine our attitude towards the cold war, remembering we're not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points. We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last 18 years been different. We must, therefore, persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists' interest to agree on a genuine peace. And above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy -- or of a collective death-wish for the world.

To secure these ends, America's weapons are nonprovocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter, and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility. For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And, for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people, but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system -- a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished. At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite Communist intervention, or which threaten to erupt into war. Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others, by seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear. We are bound to many nations by alliances. Those alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge. Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace. It is our hope, and the purpose of allied policy, to convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law, a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communication. One step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays, misunderstandings, and misreadings of others' actions which might occur at a time of crisis.

We have also been talking in Geneva about our first-step measures of arm[s] controls designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and reduce the risk of accidental war. Our primary long range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament, designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920's. It has been urgently sought by the past three administrations. And however dim the prospects are today, we intend to continue this effort -- to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and possibilities of disarmament are.

The only major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight, yet where a fresh start is badly needed, is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security; it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.

I'm taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard. First, Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan, and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking towards early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hope must be tempered -- Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history; but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind. Second, to make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on this matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not -- We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty, but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament, but I hope it will help us achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude towards peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show it in the dedication of our own lives -- as many of you who are graduating today will have an opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home. But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete. It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government -- local, State, and National -- to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within our authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, wherever the authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of others and respect the law of the land.

All this -- All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's way[s] please the Lord," the Scriptures tell us, "He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter of human rights: the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation; the right to breathe air as nature provided it; the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both. No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can, if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement, and it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers, offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough -- more than enough -- of war and hate and oppression.

We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on--not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace.

(Source of Transcript: American Rhetoric,  http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkamericanuniversityaddress.html)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Don't Bank on the Bomb (updated version just released)!!!

The world's nuclear powers continue to pump the financial capital created by the people's toil into the weapons of our own demise.  And the companies involved in the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons couldn't do their part without the hundreds of $$$BILLIONS$$$ provided by the world's leading banks.

Thanks to IKV Pax Christi, a partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and it's just released update of its Don't Bank on the Bomb report we can know who is financing these weapons and make more informed investment decisions.  The 2013 report (just released in October) focuses on the Hall of Fame as well as the Hall of Shame, not only calling out those institutions that finance nuclear weapons work, but also praising those institutions that have policies prohibiting any investment in nuclear weapon producers.

Click here for the Don't Bank on the Bomb Website, where you can learn more and download the full report.  The Website has some excellent resources including perspectives on historical boycotts, Norway's divestment experience, and the role of faith communities in divestment.

Click here to read the news release on the updated Don't Bank on the Bomb report.

Is your financial institution financing nuclear weapons? Find out, and then challenge it to do the right thing - DIVEST! Click here for ideas on what you can do. 

Besides individual actions like writing to your financial institution and asking it to divest, consider larger group actions like shareholder resolutions. There is incredible power in numbers. It is criminal to profit from the production of the very weapons of our own destruction. Let's invest our hard-earned money in life, not death!

Please download and read Don't Bank on the Bomb today! Then take action to divest!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate on the Arms Trade Treaty

From The New York Times Opinion Pages

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Don't Arm Thy Neighbor

By ÓSCAR ARIAS SÁNCHEZ

Published: October 23, 2013

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — I am not one of those who believe the United States’ days of world leadership are behind us. All my life I have been an admirer of our northern neighbor. I believe its strengths — its democracy, its founders’ wisdom, its people’s ingenuity and diversity — give it unique authority in the world. But many of its citizens and their leaders seem to take such authority for granted now, as if it were American property. The truth is, it must be earned, and today the United States is passing up opportunities to earn it.

The Arms Trade Treaty, approved by the United Nations in April, is one such opportunity, and it must not be allowed to slip by. Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry signed it. Given the enormous presence of the United States in the international arms market, the treaty’s ratification, which requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, is essential to its success.  

But the treaty will face stiff opposition. Two Republican Senators, James Inhofe and Jerry Moran, have gleefully pronounced the treaty “dead on arrival” and argue that the United States should not ratify it because North Korea, Syria and Iran declined to sign it. To do otherwise, they assert, would leave the United States “handcuffed.”

Oscar Arias Sanchez
Gentlemen, you have it backward. The United States would not be handcuffed by a treaty that prevents the sale of conventional weapons to individuals or states that would use them to violate human rights. If the Senate fails to ratify the treaty, your country will be handcuffed by its own reluctance to lead. The United States, which claims to desire a safer, more peaceful world, would shrink from moving toward that goal unless the rest of the world acted first.

Yours is the country that stood alone in the world’s first and only use of nuclear weapons; the country that stood nearly alone in invading Iraq; the country that seemed ready to stand alone at the brink of unilateral action against Syria.

So why should it be afraid to lead in matters of peace? One reason, clearly, is the extraordinary influence of the National Rifle Association over U.S. elected officials. I have rarely spoken out about the N.R.A., since I believe its position on gun control within the United States is for the American people and government to resolve. But I have campaigned for a treaty to control the international arms trade since the mid-1990s, after Costa Rica, having abolished its own army decades before, witnessed the carnage caused by unrestricted armies’ sales to other nations of Central America.

In opposing the Arms Trade Treaty, the N.R.A. now seeks to impose its agenda on the rest of the world, and I can no longer be silent. Its reckless argument that the treaty violates U.S. sovereignty is simply without any basis in fact. It is shameful to think that any definition of national sovereignty could include a right to sell arms for the violation of human rights in other countries.

To the N.R.A., I say: Inflict your agenda on your own nation if you must, but spare the rest of us. Spare us the notion that the interests of a single interest group, in a single nation, should trump the rights of all other nations to protect their citizens. Spare us your misguided references to a Constitution whose brilliant authors would be aghast to see you equate the right to put a rifle in your gun case with the right to put an AK-47 in the hands of a child soldier.

You should, instead, read the treaty with the seriousness it deserves. You would see that it supports the very causes you endorse: the safety of all citizens, and freedom from fear and oppression.

Ratification would also support a renaissance of U.S. leadership on the world stage. Your country is responsible for nearly half of the world’s outrageous $1.7 trillion military spending, and home to the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. It has unparalleled economic power to attack the root causes of terrorism and unrest by fostering human development, regulating the arms flow to terrorists and dictators, and pursuing the dream of a world without nuclear weapons. But America keeps waiting for someone else to make the first move.

If leadership toward these goals does not come from Washington, only the most arrogant American could think it would never come from somewhere else.

Óscar Arias Sánchez, a former president of Costa Rica, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

###

Editor's Note:  Paragraphs in BOLD font are my emphasis only.

Source URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/opinion/international/dont-arm-thy-neighbor.html?_r=0


Friday, October 4, 2013

Behold Your Nuclear God

DearFriends,

Tom Krebsbach wrote the following poem on Monday, August 12, 2013, following his participation in Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's weekend of remembrance and action (at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base) around the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal, and possibly anywhere in the world.  The nuclear missiles and warheads on a single Trident submarine are capable of destroying an entire continent - incinerating millions of human beings and leaving the land uninhabitable for generations.

A new book by Eric Schlosser, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety", poses questions about just how much "command" or "control" we have over these awesome and horrific tools of terror that are quite capable of ending life as we know it on this small planet.  Tom's poem turns the idea of command and control of nuclear weapons on its head, making clear the Faustian bargain humans have struck in our delusional power quest.

So much for "command and control" of nuclear weapons... in reality, they have controlled us since their creation in the minds of the scientists who developed them. Can we summon the strength and courage to turn away from them and embrace life?

With Tom's permission I am sharing his poem publicly for the first time.

In Peace,

Leonard 

***********************

Behold Your Nuclear God

Oh, foolish Homo sapiens, earth’s mistaken child,
In your puerile quest for indomitable power,
You have acted the obeisant midwife in my momentous birth,
Carefully hewing my cradle in the cauldron of ruthless war and strife,
Unleashing my fearsome powers to ravage and decimate earth. 

Bow down now before me and celebrate my awesome power,
For I am omnipotent and in charge.
I grow giddy with destruction fever as my time draws near,
When I shall consume all earthly existence in a fearsome ball of fire,
And render once and for all earthly life extinct. 

In fits of farcical delusion, you maintain that you are king,
Quite capable of restraining the primal powers I derive from sun and stars.
Continue on, foolish knaves, in your supreme complacency and unbridled arrogance!
Your very lust for unlimited power and defensive safety guarantee my ascendancy,
As I wait the fateful moment when I shall extend control over all of heaven and earth.

When that moment arrives in the devil’s hearse, there will be no turning back,
As all of life on earth tumbles into the fiery pits of hell. 
At this moment I will bite off man’s head like a voracious beast,
And sear the flesh of man and animal to a crisp and charred texture.
My apocalyptic frenzy of fire will cause Lucifer to bow down in envy before me. 

The structures and edifices of man will perish in a cloud of dust and twisted steel;
The seas will roil with the hot poison of radioactivity;
Children of man will vaporize into a cloud of radioactive dust;
And I will ascend my throne as man’s sole surviving heir,
The conception of his twisted mind, a product of his deviant progress. 

Gone for eternity, Beethoven’s music.  
My music is the moan of hot wind over charred and desolate plains.
Reduced to irrelevant ash, Rembrandt’s paintings. 
I paint a bleak and haunted landscape of blackened tree remains, 
Single black silhouettes against a gray and ominous sky.

Even now my human minions prepare the day of my ascendancy,
Stockpiling and upgrading my nuclear fuel to ludicrous extremes,
Assuring my day of coronation is near at hand,
When the short existence of man and life on earth will become irrelevant in the cosmic chaos, 
And I will rule on earth for evermore. 

Homo sapiens, bow down now before your only god. 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

No Margin of Error with Nuclear Weapons

Eric Schlosser, better known for his book Fast Food Nation, has a new book out - Command and Control Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.  One review called Schlosser's new book "Vivid and unsettling... An exhaustive, unnerving examination of the illusory safety of atomic arms."  And "unnerving" it should be.  Even since the publication of Schosser's book, we continue to hear of problems with nuclear weapons safety.

Much of the risk surrounding nuclear weapons comes down to human error, and as they say, "to err is human."  Whether in the design, production, maintenance or deployment of nuclear weapons, there are countless points at which human error can come into play. The bottom line is - with weapons that, if ever accidentally detonated, would have horrific consequences - there is little (if any) acceptable margin of error.

The following article in Global Security Newswire highlights the most recent failure of those charged with the stewardship of one-third of the nation's Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).  The commander of Air Force Global Strike Command downplayed this most recent failure and "said that the number of problems at the nuclear wings has decreased since his command was established in 2009." Don't we all feel safer now???

P.S. - Eric Schlosser will be at the Central Seattle Public Library on October 1st to talk about his new book.  Click here for all the information.

Click here to read a recent (September 16th) interview with Schlosser by Global Security Newswire.

**********************

In New Setback, Air Force Missile Team Fails Security Drill
Global Security Newswire, August 14, 2013

An Air Force unit that oversees one-third of America's land-based nuclear missiles failed a safety and security inspection, constituting the second serious Minuteman 3 mission readiness problem this year, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Lt. General James M. Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command -- an organization created in 2009 as part of a broad effort to alleviate problems in the service's nuclear mission -- told AP that a team of "relatively low-ranking" airmen stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., "did not demonstrate the right procedures" in a single exercise. The drill was part of a more expansive inspection that started last week and ended on Tuesday.

Technicians remove the upper section of an ICBM
at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.
Missile personnel at the site have failed a
safety and security check that concluded
on Tuesday, a senior Air Force officer said
(AP Photo/U.S. Air Force).
A written statement posted on the command's website said the 341st Missile Wing received an unsatisfactory rating after making "tactical level errors -- not related to command and control of nuclear weapons -- during one of several exercises conducted during the inspection. This failure resulted in the entire inspection being rated 'unsatisfactory.'"

The wing is one of three that control 450 Minuteman 3 ICBMs, according to AP.

The Air Force is "looking into" the possibility of disciplinary action against the 341st, Kowalski told the wire service. He noted, though, that the wing did well overall, scoring excellent or outstanding in most of the 13 areas being tested.

In March, the deputy commander of the 91st Missile Wing -- stationed at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. -- complained of "rot" in the group after an inspection gave its missile crews the equivalent of a "D" grade on Minuteman 3 launch operations, according to AP. Although the 91st passed that inspection, the failed simulation of ICBM launch operations resulted in the temporary removal and retraining of 19 personnel.

In 2008, the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot failed the nuclear security component of an inspection.

Eric Fanning, acting secretary of the Air Force, will travel to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Wednesday to meet with Kowalski and discuss specifics of the Malmstrom case, as well as aspects of the overall nuclear mission, top Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick told AP. The trip was planned prior to the latest incident.

The Air Force nuclear mission has hit a number of bumps since 2008, including a B-52 bomber flight over several U.S. states during which the crew was unaware that actual weapons were onboard.

In an interview on Tuesday, Kowalski said that the number of problems at the nuclear wings has decreased since his command was established in 2009, AP reported. The occasional failures do not point to a wide-reaching failure to follow safety and security protocols, the general asserted.

Source URL: http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/safety-and-security-inspection-failed-air-force-nuclear-unit/

Monday, August 12, 2013

International Declaration of 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs

Editor's Note: This is a message from the World Conference against A & H Bombs Organizing Committee following the completion of the World Conference against A and H Bombs.

Declaration of the International Meeting

Sixty-eight years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered the atomic bombings.  The bombs instantly devastated the two cities and took lives of over 200,000 citizens by the end of 1945.  They created a “hell on earth,” which denied humans either to live or die as humans.  The Hibakusha, who survived the days have continued to suffer from wounds in both mind and body.  The tragedy like this should never be repeated anywhere in the world.
            Nuclear weapons are the worst weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is a serious crime against humanity.  They have to be banned without any further delay.
            There are still nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world.  One nuclear bomb, if used, could cause disastrous tragedy.  Even a small portion of them would cause a large scale climate change, which could lead to famine around the world.  Total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons is an urgent task for the whole of humanity.
            Along with the survivors and on behalf of those who died and cannot speak for themselves, we, participants in the International Meeting of the 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs appeal to all governments to take actions now to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons.”

The demand for a world without nuclear weapons represents an unshakable international development.  The General Assembly of the United Nations every year adopts resolutions calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference resolved by consensus, with all nuclear weapon states included, to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons”, and affirmed that all States need to make “special efforts” to establish a “framework” to achieve it.
            However, primarily due to the intransigence of nuclear powers, no tangible progress has been made.  We call on the international community to overcome all stagnations and resistance.
            On the governmental level, a movement to seek to outlaw nuclear weapons by focusing on their atrocious, inhuman nature is rapidly gathering momentum.  Such is the approach which our movement has adopted and pursued with the Hibakusha since its outset.  The resolution calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, in line with the decision by the ICJ, which the peace movement of the world demands, now commands support of 135 governments, representing over 70% of all U.N. member States.
            By continuing these developments, a nuclear weapon-free world can be created.  The key lies in the hands of the peace movement and public support across the world.
            We call on all governments, and those of the nuclear weapon states in particular, to begin to implement the agreement for “achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” by starting negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention as the framework of it.
            Towards 2015, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the A-bomb suffering of the two cities and in which the next NPT Review Conference will examine how the 2010 agreement has been implemented, let us develop our campaign in each of our countries and bring strong voices of the citizens of the world to New York, to generate a huge ground swell demanding the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

The policy of “nuclear deterrence”, aimed to threaten adversaries with nuclear weapons, contravenes the basic principle of the U.N. Charter, which stands for the solution of international conflicts by peaceful and diplomatic means as opposed to the use of force.  It also serves as incentive for nuclear proliferation.  A world without nuclear weapons is incompatible with the nuclear deterrence doctrine, which should be overcome immediately.
            We call for the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to be solved peacefully on the basis of international agreements reached particularly by the Six-party talks.  An international conference to establish a WMD-free zone in the Middle East should be convened as agreed by the previous NPT Review Conferences. Steps forward toward a total ban on nuclear weapons would provide new favorable conditions for the solution of these specific problems.
            International conflicts can only be resolved by diplomatic and peaceful means.  Threat or use of force would create a vicious cycle of heightened tension and aggravated situation.  We note the frameworks of and efforts for peace, which are developing in the Southeast Asia, Latin America and other places.  Opposing arms build-up and reinforcement of military alliances, we make a strong call for no-use of force and peaceful settlement of conflicts. 
           
In achieving a nuclear weapon-free world, the A-bombed country Japan, which can denounce the cruelty of nuclear weapons through its own experiences, should play a significant role.  However, the government of Japan continues to abstain from voting for the U.N. resolutions calling for the start of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or calling for prohibition on the use of nuclear weapons, and for other resolutions leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons, including one for nuclear disarmament tabled by the Non-Aligned movement.  Japan’s refusal to join the statement (supported by 80 countries) warning of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and calling for their elimination drew deep disappointment and criticism.
            The Japanese peace movement calls on the government to play the role befitting the A-bombed country and demands strict observance of the Three Non-Nuclear Principles and breaking away from the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.”  Noting its important role, we extend solidarity with the movement for a nuclear weapon-free and peaceful Japan.  We support the Hibakusha in their efforts to achieve relief measures based on State compensation and fundamental reform in the A-bomb disease recognition system.
            Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, upholding the renunciation of war and non-possession of war potentials, embodies a strong commitment of the Japanese people to reject war and recurrence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  We express our support to the people of Japan in their endeavors to defend and make the most of the Constitution, to reduce and remove U.S. military bases from Okinawa and elsewhere, and to resist the consolidation of Japan-U.S. military alliance.
            The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is still in the midst of the crisis.  Bringing the situation under control, decommissioning of all nuclear reactors and a fundamental shift to renewable energy resources are keenly called for.  Having noted the dangerous relations between nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation, we call for ending all kind of nuclear damage caused by nuclear fuel cycles, and oppose reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and accumulation of plutonium, as well as military use of nuclear energy.

We call on the peoples of the world to join in the following actions:

  • Towards 2015, let us urge the nuclear weapon states and all other governments to implement their agreement to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.  In every country, we must inform wider public of the atrocity and inhumanity of nuclear weapons and strengthen the public opinion in support of the abolition of nuclear weapons.  Organizing “A-bomb damage exhibitions” and Hibakusha testimonies, let us inform the public of the consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Let us promote international signature campaign in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” and other activities to urge the start of negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.  Let us organize many varieties of actions which everyone at grassroots can take part in, such as peace marches, by making use of social media and other means.  And let us deepen cooperation with the U.N. and other international organizations, national governments and local authorities that stand for nuclear disarmament, including Mayors for Peace.
  • Strengthening relief and solidarity with the Hibakusha, let us extend our support and solidarity to all nuclear victims.  We will support the victims of Agent Orange, depleted uranium and all other remnants of war.
  • United in one wish for “no more nuclear victims,” we will develop our campaign together with the movement to break free of nuclear power.  We work together with broadest range of people demanding reduction of military spending, better life and employment, welfare, freedom and democracy, defending human rights, protecting global environment and overcoming gender-based discrimination and social injustice.  Let us create a far-reaching unity and solidarity for a “nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world.”
Together with younger generation, once again, let us listen to the Hibakusha and turn our eyes to the “hell” created by nuclear weapons.  Moving the hearts of tens of millions of people, we shall build up powerful public pressure to open the door to a nuclear weapon-free world.

No more Hiroshimas!  No more Nagasakis!  No more Hibakusha!

August 5, 2013
International Meeting, 
2013 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hearing the Hibakusha on Hiroshima anniversary

Dear Friends,

Sixty-eight years ago today at appoximately 8:15am (Hiroshima time) the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.  The blast and firestorm caused by detonation of the bomb over the city left upwards of 80,000 people dead and 70,000 injured. Of the injured, many died in the subsequent days, weeks, months and years due to radiation-related effects.  The survivors came to be known as Hibakusha (literally translated as "explosion-affected people").



This blog post holds a treasure. It holds the testimony of a fellow human being, Tokie MIZUNO, a Hibakusha of HIroshima.  Ms. MIZUNO put the words of the story of her personal experience in the bombing of Hiroshima to paper for the first time in 2010. Her act preserves (and shares) her story and makes a plea for us all to find our common humanity and work for peace.

Tokie MIZUNO giving her testimony in May 2010


We should be grateful to the Hibakusha for passing on their difficult and painful stories. They make us see (and feel) the horrors of nuclear war and hopefully mobilize our hearts to action. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate expression of violence, capable of extinguishing life as we know it. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with life!

Ms. MIZUNO represents all Hibakusha in saying, “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!” All who read her testimony become witnesses to it, and as witnesses it is my deepest hope that we will all share her story far and wide, spreading her message, and the message of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (GENSUIKYO). That would be the greatest thanks we could give Ms. MIZUNO.

Tokie MIZUNO placing flowers at the statue of Sadako in Seattle, WA


Peace,

Leonard

Testimony of Tokie MIZUNO,
 Hibakusha of Hiroshima


My name is Tokie MIZUNO and I am a survivor of Hiroshima. 65 years ago, when I was 5 years old, the atomic bomb was dropped on my city, Hiroshima. I was near my grandmother’s house, 1.2 kilo-meters from ground zero.

The City of Hiroshima was completely destroyed and was turned into rubble by the enormous destructive power of the atomic bomb. As other survivors, I was barely alive and the damage on my body and mind was unbearable.

I might have been lucky to survive but life hasn’t been easy on me financially, physically and mentally. This agony should not be repeated on anybody else on earth. That’s why I have become involved in anti-nuclear actions with other Hibakusha as well as many other Japanese people.

We have been collecting signatures for a nuclear-weapon-free world, and engaging in activities to defend the Japanese Constitution, especially the Preamble and Article 9, which pledges never to wage war again.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution clearly states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

And it adds “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Article 9 is our treasure.

This treasure for Japan was achieved with the sacrifice of precious lives of 20 to 30 million people in Asia and Pacific. This is one of the greatest achievements for the world, too, and we will hold on to it forever.

Let me talk about that day.......

On the morning of August 6th, 1945, just before Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bombing, one of the women in my neighbourhood came to my house and said “We have some sweets. Why don’t you come and have some?”

So my little 3-year-old brother and I happily followed her. In those days it was very difficult to have sweets. My neighbour’s son, a soldier, was back from the battlefront to treat his wounds. He brought some sweets with him for his family and the neighbour invited us in.

We were about to eat our sweets when the bomb exploded.

With a blinding flash, the whole house was flattened.

I found myself trapped under the rubble. I tried to look out from my little prison and saw my younger brother, rescued by a soldier, standing there with blood on his face and head.

I myself was pulled out of the rubble. My right arm was heavily injured and I had several cuts on my face. My neighbour tore her underwear into pieces and covered my arm to stop it bleeding. Later I was told that it was her treatment that saved my right arm.

I don’t remember how many hours had passed, but I saw my mother crawling to me over piles of rubble. She was desperately looking for me and my younger brother. She looked awful with only tattered patches of her clothing on her body and her hair standing on end.

My 12-month-old baby brother was still buried under the rubble. My mother and grandmother were desperate and were removing the debris saying they should get him back home, even if he was dead.

They also called out for help to people walking by but nobody stopped. They went on their way absentmindedly - they were like ghosts.

We saw flames in the distance coming towards us. Terrified, my younger brother and I were both crying. I don’t remember the pain of my injury, but many collapsed houses around us horrified me, although my father thought I was just stunned.

Fortunately, my baby brother was alive, and we managed to escape to a raft on the river. There were countless dead bodies floating and fire balls were falling all around. Red-hot galvanized plates darted towards us and made a huge noise when they dropped into the river. It was not a safe place to be.

At that time I was so young that I don’t remember exactly what happened. But my deceased parents and grandmother told me a lot about that day.

There was a woman on the raft who gave us food and water. She also gave my mother part of a Kimono to use as bandages and as a strap to carry me on her back.

In the evening, cooling our bodies with river water, we finally found a place to evacuate to. It was a shrine near a railway station called Koi.

Because my grandmother and I were seriously injured, we two were left at the shrine while my mother and brothers escaped to my aunt’s house in Itsukaichi City. My uncle who rushed to Hiroshima to search for us carried them on his handcart.

Grandmother thought we could have some treatment at the shrine but nothing was available. We were given only one rotten rice ball. We finally evacuated to my aunt’s house.

They were farmers and gave us good food. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled shallots etc. to my heart’s content. It may be this diet that has kept me healthy.

My father had to spend several nights at shelters in Hiroshima. He died abruptly from TB in August 1956, which we believe was due to residual radiation. Later when I was working to collect survivors’ stories, I learned that there were many Hibakusha who suffered from TB during those difficult times.

My mother died in Oct. 1967. I believe that both of my parents were killed by the atomic bomb. At that time I thought that it was our fate and that because Japan was at war we couldn’t complain about it.

I also thought we were just unfortunate because we were in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Later I learned history, which completely changed my mind. I knew why the US had done it.

The US government has kept saying that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and saved millions of people’s lives. That’s what they teach at schools.

However, in 1944 there was scarcely any food left for Japanese people. People were dying from hunger. Japan’s ground and air forces and navy were almost completely destroyed. It was obvious that Japan was finished.

Nonetheless, 210,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why?

In 1945 the war ended, but another war, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had already started. The US wanted to have an advantage over the Soviet Union militarily and politically by showing the power of nuclear weapons. They also wanted to test their newly developed technology, atomic bombs.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as testing grounds with real live people.

Let me share with you what the atomic bombing had done to us. The atomic bomb caused massive destruction and killed tens of thousands instantly and indiscriminately. It also emitted massive amounts of radiation which has afflicted us for decades.

Hibakusha describe the moment of the bombing as “The Sun dropped on us and burnt us”. When Bomb exploded, a huge fireball, 280 meters in diameter, was generated in the air.

Heat rays emitted from it raised the ground temperature, from 3000 to 4000 degrees Celsius (5500 to 7300 degrees Fahrenheit) near the hypocenter.

This was a boy, the charred remains. 700 meters from the hypocenter (Aug. 10. Nagasaki).


This is the shadow of a man (Shadow burnt into the granite steps.

Within 1.2 kilo-meters of ground zero, those who were directly affected by the heat rays suffered terrible burns and their internal tissues and organs severely damaged. Most of them died instantly or within a few days.

The explosion also created a powerful blast and destroyed most of the wooden houses in 2-kilometer radius of ground zero. People were blown through the air and many crushed to death under collapsed buildings.

Radiation left the human body with serious damage. It penetrated deeply into our bodies, damaged cells and diminished the blood generation function of bone marrow.

It also damaged inner organs. Even those who looked uninjured later became ill and died.

Residual radiation left on the ground affected many long after the explosion. Those who entered the city to search for their families/friends or for relief operations eventually developed similar symptoms and died.

Nuclear weapons are unspeakable weapons. They don’t allow us to live nor die as humans. They are weapons of absolute evil which can never co-exist with human beings.

3.2 million Japanese people lost their lives in the Asia-Pacific War. 20 to 30 million people were victimized by the Japanese military in Asia.

Learning from it, we have acquired the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution. However, military spending in the world is growing. Trillions of dollars are being spent for military purposes. If used for peaceful purposes, this money could solve many problems for human-kind.

20th century war is gone. Our responsibility is to hand over a peaceful and cultivated 21st century to the next generation. I strongly believe that we can hand over a nuclear-weapon-free world to future generations if we work together in solidarity with the people of the U.S. and with the people of the world.

Thank you.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Summer of Nuclear Resistance: 24 arrested at Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant

For immediate release July 13, 2013 Contacts: Henry Stoever, 913-375-0045, and Ann Suellentrop, 913-271-7925  PeaceWorks, Kansas City 4509 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64111

Protesters at new Kansas City facility seek to open a door to a nuclear-weapons-free world. 

On July 13, about 80 persons sang and prayed at the entry road to a new facility in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. By 10:15 a.m., two dozen protesters had crossed the property line and were soon arrested. The five-building facility, the Kansas City Plant, at 14510 Botts Road in KC, Mo., will by next year house the operations of the current KC Plant (at Bannister and Troost in KC), where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons are made or procured. During a brief ceremony, the 80 persons pledged “to strive for peace within myself and seek to be a peacemaker in my daily life … to persevere in nonviolence of tongue and heart … to work to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.”

photo by Bee Lloyd

With the assembly singing “Open the Door,” written for the occasion, 24 persons stepped through a door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world,” the rallying call of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. These are the 24 who then crossed the line separating the public road from the facility’s property:

Those arrested were:

 --Fr Carl Kabat of St. Louis CW, Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who had entered the property and been charged with destruction of property in July 2011 and July 2012;

 --Fr William Antone, OMI, of Washington, D.C., the OMI order’s U.S. provincial superior;

 -- From the Kansas City area, including Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Cele Breen, Jim Everett - Independence MO, Lauren Logan, Notre Dame Sister of Omaha Theresa Maly, Community of Christ minister Lu Mountenay, Holy Family CWers Christian Brother Louis Rodemann and Nehemiah Rosell, Kelsey Schmidt, Jane Stoever, Ann Suellentrop, and Georgia Walker;

 -- Frank Cordaro, Ed Bloomer, and Jessica Reznicek - Des Moines IA Catholic Workers

 --Fr William “Bix” Bichsel SJ - Taoma WA CW

 --Mary CW House, Oxford WI, Cassandra Dixon of Madison, WI,

 --Paul Freid of Lake City MN CW Farm --Betsy Keenan - Strangers and Guest CW Farm, Maloy IA

 --Chrissy Kirchhoefer St Louis CW and Anneliese Stoever of St. Louis,

 --Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Catholic womanpriest of Lexington, KY,

 --Jerry Zawada, a Franciscan priest of Milwaukee, WI.

The 24 line-crossers were arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and then detained in the Jackson County Police Department. Some were released July 13, some July 14, and some will be released July 15. The resisters received different trial dates, but lawyer Henry Stoever said he would try to secure a single trial date for them.

photo by Bee Lloyd


















Zawada, when asked why he crossed the line, said, “It’s the children! And the future of the world. People are blind, people are deaf, to the fact that we’re producing these horrible bombs and creating an atmosphere of fear. It threatens the whole world.” He quoted a statement from deceased Jesuit Richard McSorley: “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon.” Zawada also said he wanted to accompany Kabat in this action; Kabat has spent 17 years in prison for acts of civil resistance to nuclear weapons. Referring to Kabat and the whole worldwide community of people seeking a nuke-free world, Zawada said, “It takes passion. And perseverance.”

Maly reflected, “I hope people that have positions of power, the ability to make decisions about nuclear weapons, hear our message.”

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End Notes: This blog post is the complete news release from PeaceWorks.  Read a National Catholic Reporter article on the Kansas City action by Kate Simmons here.  Click here to see the Facebook page for the action.