"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,



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???


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,


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,