I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August Greetings from Ground Zero Center

Greetings Friends of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action,
It's Summer time at Ground Zero Center, and the resistance is easy. OK, so it's not that easy, but sometimes it seems that way as we become so immersed in the spirit and practice of nonviolence that it flows like a river, albeit a slow meandering one.  
The historic deal with Iran is held in the balance even as very powerful interests seek to crush it before it has a chance. Fortunately the UN Security Council voted unanimously for it, and most of the world is behind it. That being said, there are some - and you know who - that just don't like it. John Oliver gave a brilliant analysis of the situation.
Under our agreement, Iran will not be able to produce even the minute amount of  material necessary to strap onto a suicide hamster, which could then be placed in a mailbox. To a man, Republicans stridently complain, and maintain that there must be a ‘better deal’ out there!  A ‘better deal’ than what?  Of the 90 pertinent pages of the deal, they have read exactly – none".  Lindsey Graham deserves some points for honesty. After complaining about the Iran deal on an interview program, Graham was asked if he’d read the deal, and admitted he had not. John Boehner too, skipped straight to complaining and nay saying without reading a single word. Thery're like a four-year-old who claims he doesn’t like broccoli. He hasn’t tasted it, he just knows he isn’t going to like it.  Maybe we should call it The US-IRAN Broccoli Deal?
So now you know! Ironically, Iran is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Israel is not. And who, in the Middle East, already has nuclear weapons??? The future of the Middle East and that of non-proliferation efforts lie in the balance.
Meanwhile, we continue to work toward a vision of a nonviolent world without nuclear weapons. The Peace Fleet once again sailed into Seattle's Elliott Bay for the annual parade of warships during Seafair. This year Peace Fleet made a fine showing with 13 Peace Fleet sailors in six kayaks, a 32-foot sailboat, and a 16-foot open boat. About 25 Peace Fleet supporters met on Piers 62/63. Thanks to Veterans for Peace for their strong presence for peace on the shore. The Interfaith Peace Walk is currently on the road, having started this year's walk in Salem Oregon, home of the largest presence of Marshall Islanders outside of the Marshall Islands. And of course GZ people are working hard to create a warm welcome to all for our annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action. So what can we all do this August to help move humanity toward a nuclear weapons free future? Read on and see; there is, quite literally, something for everyone!
*Join an event/action near you. If you are in the Puget Sound Region join Ground Zero Center from August 7th through the 10th for our annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action. Click here for the full schedule and more. If your are not from these parts find an event going on near you by clicking here. You can still join the Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk, even for a day. Click here to find the latest detailed schedule and contact information for the walk. More actions by other organizations further on in this email.
*Pass out leaflets with some very interesting facts on the bombings of HIroshima and Nagasaki. The leaflet was prepared by Ground Zero Leafleteers, and also invites people to join us for our annual event. Click here to download the leaflet
*Write a Letter to the Editor. Click here for some ideas from Physicians for Social Responsibility. Click here for submission guidelines for a host of newspapers around the country.
*Send a message to President Obama to keep his promise! It was President Obama who created the expectation that our country would lead a global effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  In his Prague speech in April, 20009 he committed the U.S. to this goal: “I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
*Join the International Fast commemorating the atomic bombings. Click here for all the details and contacts for more information.
*Join in the 70th anniversary "Thunderclap!"  PSR has partnered with Nuclear Threat Initiative and other sister organizations in a massive social media campaign to raise awareness about nuclear weapons. Check it out if your a TWITTER user.
"Little Boy (folded)" at Seattle Asian Art Museum. On Wednesday, August 5th In honor of the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility is facilitating the exhibition of a powerful sculpture on the front steps of the Seattle Asian Art Museum. It will be on display all day on Wednesday, August 5th, 9:00AM to 6:00PM, and the artist (whose grandfather was a Nagasaki survivor) will be on hand to speak with visitors. Please read the press release to fully understand this exhibit. There is a Facebook page for the event.    https://www.facebook.com/events/813325002119564/
Hiroshima to Hope lantern ceremony at Seattle's Green Lake, August 6, starting at 6:00PM. Many from Ground Zero and the Peace Walk will participate. Click here to learn more at their website. Click here for their Facebook page.
Bike Around the Bomb on Sunday, August 9th at 2:00 PM at the International Fountain, Seattle Center, Seattle. Join Global Zero on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan as we cycle what would be the edge of a “small” nuclear blast in Seattle and call on President Obama to keep his promise to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The event will be one of many corresponding events around the world, serving as a powerful reminder that nuclear weapons were designed to wipe cities like ours off the map. Click here to RSVP for the event.
The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action Facebook page is the place to be to keep up with everything we're up to and lots more. We also have a Facebook page dedicated to the NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign, and the campaign has its own website as well at NOTNT.ORG. And for now, until the Ground Zero website is rebuilt you can get all the details on events at the Puget Sound Nuclear Free Zone blog's "Local Events Calendar." Send your questions or suggestions to either info@gzcenter.org or gznonviolencenews@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Toward the "peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,"
Leonard (for everyone at Ground Zero Center)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This Day in History - Transform Now Plowshares

On July 28, 2012, Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, 84yrs, Michael Walli, 64yrs, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59yrs hiked a ridge and cut through four fences to reach the new U.S. storehouse for Highly Enriched Uranium, which is needed for the production of thermonuclear weapons. These weapons, used to threaten other nations, are in violation of the U.S. Principles of Nuremberg (U.S. Law), in which citizens are directed to resist illegal acts by their government. The refurbishing of the weapons is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which the U.S. pledges complete nuclear disarmament.

The scene of the (non) crime

July 28, 2012 – The alleged airtight security of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, promulgated over the decades by numerous U.S. government representatives from the Oval Office, the nuclear weapons laboratories, to include the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that unauthorized access to and theft of U.S. nuclear weapons was virtually impossible suffered yet another blow when a small group of Christian pacifists belonging to the anti-nuclear Ploughshares movement (an organization involved in dozens of protests over the years at the Nevada Test Site and other components of the U.S. nuclear complex) breached the Y-12 National Security Complex  in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  On this Saturday evening, Sister Megan Rice, 82 years old, Michael Walli, 63, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 57, cut through the barbed-wire fences at the Oak Ridge complex, which holds enough highly-enriched uranium to make thousands of nuclear warheads, and proceeded to splash human blood on the windowless uranium processing building’s walls, spray-paint peace symbols, and drape the access doors with crime-scene tape.   After being convicted in May 2013, Sister Rice and the two men spent two years in prison before a May 8, 2015 appellate court ruling held that the U.S. government had overreached in charging them with sabotage and ordered them released.  Comments:  Sister Rice follows in the footsteps of a long line of other nonviolent anti-nuclear activists, both religious and secular, who feel that the U.S. and other Nuclear Club members are violating global disarmament pledges and unwittingly threatening the world with nuclear disaster.  “It’s making countries feel compelled to have weapons.  If you have them, we have to have them.  We don’t want to end the (nuclear) industry.  We want to transition it into something that’s useful.  What could be better than making something that’s life-enhancing rather than life-destroying?” (Source:  Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, http://www.wagingpeace.org/july-this-month-in-nuclear-threat-history-2/  Original source: William J. Broad.  “Sister Megan Rice, Freed From Prison, Looks Ahead to More Anti-Nuclear Activism.”  New York Times. May 26, 2015.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/science/sister-megan-rice-anti-nuclear-weapons-activist-freed )

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

July Ground Zero Newsletter just released!

Hello again from Ground Zero Center,
The Fireworks are over, and now it's time to declare our independence from (and speak out against) every injustice, including war and nuclear weapons!
Besides a couple of items I forgot in the last email newsletter, our Editor in Chief, Alice Zillah, just released the mid-Summer issue of the Ground Zero Newsletter. Don't miss it - a great way to stay connected with our work. Click here to read the July 2015 issue!
Ground Zero resister Brenda McMillan is scheduled to appear in Kitsap County District Court on Wednesday, July 22nd for a mitigation hearing resulting from her blocking the entrance road to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base during Ground Zero Center's Mothers Day weekend nonviolent direct action. Brenda is scheduled to appear on Wednesday, July 22nd at 1:15 PM. If you are in the area, please help us pack the courtroom to witness Brenda telling the Judge her reasons for her action. The courthouse is located at 614 Division Street in Port Orchard. Click here for a campus map with parking information. The courthouse is also served by public transportation.
We have a poster for the upcoming August weekend Hiroshima/Nagasaki weekend of remembrance (and action). Thanks to Ed Digilio for creating this year's poster. Click here to view or download the PDF version of the poster. Please print and post them wherever you think they will generate interest (AND participation) in the event.

If you've finished reading all the articles I referenced in my last email, I have some hot new ones for you. Street Spirit is a publication of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) San Francisco that reports extensively on a wide variety of important issues. The June 8th issue contains three extensive historical articles on Ground Zero, including an interview with Jim Douglass. Click here to read Life at Ground Zero of the Nuclear Arms Race. There are links for the other two articles at the end.
And don't forget to join one of the upcoming events on this the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Besides the events around Puget Sound, there will be many other events around the nation and around the world. Physicians for Social Responsibility has a listing of events in many cities around the country. Click here to find one near you.
The Tacoma Catholic Worker's "Retirement Party for Nuclear Weapons" got it right! It is high time to retire nuclear weapons after 70 years. Based on the U.S. government's current modernization efforts, it's not looking like the President, Pentagon or Congress got the news. Of course, recent headlines don't help - "New Pacific Russian Nuclear Missile Submarine Facility Could Open by October" was the recent headline in the US Naval Institute News. As I said when I posted it to the NO To NEW TRIDENT Facebook page, that headline likely has the Pentagon and Congress screaming "The Russians Are Coming!" But let's not lose perspective. One paragraph in this article reminds us of the real reason behind the Russian ballistic missile submarine resurgence:

"At the height of the Cold War, the Russian Navy based more than a dozen SSBNs at the Kamchatka Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base but that number dwindled following the collapse of the Soviet Union." Of course, the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet never "dwindled" after the Berlin Wall fell. In fact, Trident patrols continued at near Cold War levels and still do. Is it really such a mystery why the Soviets are rebuilding their fleet?

We certainly don't need another "foolish and wasteful arms race that dominated the Cold War period," to quote Walter Pincus in a recent Washington Post article. And Trident (particularly New Trident) is front and center in this new and rapidly developing arms race. We must keep Trident, and particularly New Trident, front and center in the debate about nuclear weapons.

I've never been a fan of forced retirement, although in the case of Trident and all nuclear weapons I will make an exception. Scrap Trident for humanity's sake!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid-Summer Online Newsletter from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Warm Summer Greetings from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action,
The days are long and bright this time of year... and yet, we live in dark times. The madness of fear, hatred, bigotry, militarism (and more) fuel a maelstrom that - thanks to what Fr. Richard McSorley once called the "taproot of violence" (nuclear weapons) - threatens to suck humanity into its deadly vortex. I am therefore so thankful for the light of nonviolence that burns brightly for all (who have open hearts) to see. And yet, that beautiful and powerful light does not burn by itself; it is NOT self-sustaining. It requires a sustained and faithful effort on all our parts to reach out to the world with love, strength and persistence in what Walter Wink referred to as Jesus' Third Way. And so we continue the work of active nonviolence...
Members of Ground Zero Center have been active this Summer on many fronts. You can watch Mary Hanson and Bernie Meyer discuss the posturing of nuclear war with Russia over the Ukraine on Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation Television. Click here to read a thorough program description by Glen Anderson, producer and host of this TV series.
Glen Milner wrote an OP-ED: The Real Problem with Defense Spending, and David Hall wrote A Brief Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons. Click here to read both these compelling pieces.
Over this past week we have seen two extensive newspaper articles on the military's reach/footprint here in the Pacific Northwest, much of it related to the Navy AND the nuclear ballistic missile submarine force based here. These are really eye openers and the kind of investigative reporting we need to see more of in the corporate press. Read Navy enjoys Northwest building spree but faces lawsuits and other challenges in the Tacoma News Tribune. Navy stealthily targets Hood Canal development is from last Sunday's Seattle Times. Perhaps it will move you to write a letter to the editor on the subject.
Of course, Summer isn't just a time to sit in the shade reading and watching documentaries (although we can learn much from them). There is also much to do, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. Here's what we have in store for you:
2015 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk

Join the 2015 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk July 26 to August 10 as it travels from Salem, Oregon to Portland, Hanford, Olympia, Seattle, Ground Zero Center, and many other cities. The walk will finish at Ground Zero Center in time for the weekend event ther. You are welcome to join any portion (or all) of the walk. Click here for the schedule and everything you need to know, including contacts.
14th Annual PEACE FLEET

 Join the Peace Fleet on Wednesday, July 29, as it sails into Seattle's Elliott Bay confronting the the US Navy and saying No to Militarism!  For the fourteenth year, peace activists will address the public display of warships and warplanes in our community. Click here for more information, including a Fact Sheet.

What: Peace activists at Seafair. This is the fourteenth year for this demonstration.
When: Wednesday, July 29, noon, Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay. Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63 at 1 PM.
Where: Elliott Bay, near Pier 66. Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63.
Contacts: Glen Milner (206) 365-7865, Mary Gleysteen (360) 265-1589, or on the day of the event (206) 979-8319. You can also email questions to info@gzcenter.org.

Affirm Life/Abolish Nukes! A weekend commemorating the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki: Never Again!

Join us for our weekend of events commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from Friday through Monday, August 7-10.  It will be a full weekend of fellowship, fun and creative, active nonviolence. You are welcome to join us for any or all of the weekend. There are great camping spots around the beautiful GZ Center grounds. Put together a carpool and help pack the house. Click here to view the entire weekend schedule.
But wait; that's not all. There is even more going on around Puget Sound this Summer.
Fellowship Of Reconciliation's 57th Annual Northwest Regional Conference is coming to Seabeck, Washington July 2-5. This year's theme is “Peace, Justice and Sustainability: Strengthening the Links.” Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou who has been working on the ground in St Louis since mid August on behalf of the Fellowship of Reconciliation will be the keynote speakers. I recently heard Rev. Sekou speak in New York at the Peace and Planet Conference; he is an extraordinarily powerful speaker! Click here for all the details.
The folks at the Tacoma Catholic Worker are throwing a Retirement Party for Nuclear Weapons on July 18th from 4 - 9 PM "to really celebrate the 'work' that nuclear weapons has done." It will be full of satire, celebration, art and music. This is a retirement party you don't want to miss. Click here for more details and to download the event flier.
The annual Hiroshima to Hope Lantern Ceremony is happening at Seattle's Green Lake on Thursday, August 6th beginning at 6:00PM. Click here for the event website. They also have a Facebook page.
What's New with NO To NEW TRIDENT
And now, on to what's new with Trident. Everyone knows (or should by now) that the Navy is moving ahead with plans to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace the aging Trident fleet (why not just go for mandatory retirement?). At an estimated construction cost of $100 billion, it's caused some concern around the Pentagon about just how the Navy will be able to afford to build any other ships (you know, the one's it really needs). Well, have no fear; leading the funding charge are Rep. Joe Courtney (D-General Dynamics Electric Boat) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Newport News Shipyards)*, who introduced the novel idea of creating a slush fund to keep New Trident funding out of harm's way (or at least traditional budgetary funding methods). Who says bipartisanship is dead. The National Sea Based Deterence Fund is just that; an end run around the accepted Congressional budget process. Talk about fiscal irresponsibility!
Some in Congress tried to get rid of the fund, but weren't able to get enough votes. Yet for all the talk in Congress about how to fund New Trident, there has been no debate about why Congress should fund this archaic, Cold War nuclear weapons system at all. It is simply being pushed forward because of those other pesky nuclear weapons nations that are "modernizing" their arsenals and, of course, building ballistic missile submarines. Well, what should we expect when we have deployed Trident at near Cold War levels since the fall of the Berlin Wall and have upgraded the W76 warhead that is deployed on the Trident II D-5 missiles (in addition to all the other modernization of our nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure). That, in combination with our pressure on Russia (via NATO and more), has pushed Russian Bear up against the wall (not a wise move).
Unless the US and Russia come together in serious good faith negotiations to get the disarmament ball rolling, global nuclear weapons proliferation will be all but guaranteed to go through the roof! And then the US nuclear modernization merry-go-round will become a perpetual motion machine that will be virtually unstoppable. We must prevail!
Back to the subject of letters to the editor - these letters have an impact. Even though newspapers publish only a fraction of our letters (and they do occasionally publish them), they have multiple impacts. When published, they reach the intended audience. When newspapers receive enough letters on a particular subject - New Trident for instance - they are more likely to pay attention to the topic and be prodded into publishing one or more articles (or even op-eds). If you like to write, send in your letters and send us a copy so we know what people are writing about.
Keep up with the continuing New Trident saga and stay involved in our efforts to stop it at our NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign website - NOTNT.ORG! NO To NEW TRIDENT is also on Facebook, as is Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
Please note (and our sincere apologies for this) that the Ground Zero website is still just a shell of its former self (after the unfortunate hack job). Again, we're a bunch of volunteers; please bear with us while we try to get it back up and running full speed. For now I am maintaining the full GZ events calendar at psnukefree.org. Just click on the "Local Events Calendar."
Questions? Email us at info@gzcenter.org or gznonviolencenews@gmail.com. You can also email me directly at subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com with questions, concerns and suggestions (or to update your email or unsubscribe to these pesky newsletters).
Thanks to all who support our work. This is truly a labor of love, and it's NOT our day job. I am honored to work with such a dedicated bunch of abolitionists. Keep spreading the word and invite new people to check out our work. Share and "Like" us on Facebook; DON'T underestimate the power of social media!
From all of us at Ground Zero Center - Keep that light burning.
In Peace, 
* Note: In the original email message I incorrectly referred to Rep. Randy Forbes as representing Electric Boat, which is in Connecticut. Forbes is from Virginia.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Remembering William "Bix" Bichsel

The celebrations are over, and we continue to process through the loss of our dear friend William "Bix" Bichsel, SJ. I've put together the following references for those who haven't seen Bix's obituary or many of the other relevant documents.

On a side note, Bix and Tom Shea were my co-conspirators in creating the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. The photo at the top of this blog is of the sign outside Jean's House of Prayer in Tacoma where Bix conducted peace operations.

Please note that there is a "Memories of Bix" Facebook page, where we can share stories and post pictures -- remembering and celebrating the life and love of our dear Bix.

References and More (in random order):
Dancing with Dorothy Day A music video made a week before Bix died - Bix is part of this dance!!!
Music for Bix - a video taken the night Bix came home to Jean's House to begin hospice care, surrounded by his loving community and music.
Lethal Force, and the Road to Conversion - on the Eucharist at Bangor honoring Bix, featuring his essay "Lethal Force."
Remembering Father Bix, son of Tacoma - a reflection on Bix by UW Tacoma professor Michael Honey

Love is the Most Powerful Force in the World: Remembering Fr. Bix - another reflection from Peter Gallagher, Seattle Catholic Worker

Old vs. Navy - A satirical video on the Disarm Now Plowshares action of November 2009, by Mark Rahner of the Seattle Times. Bix is interviewed throughout the video. It's great stuff!!!

Break-In at Y-12 - Eric Schlosser writes about Dorothy Day, Catholic Worker, Plowshares (with a focus on the Transform Now Plowshares), and of course Bix and Disarm Now Plowshares.

Bix and others travelled to Jeju Island in the Fall of 2014. Jeju and the struggle of its people was very near to Bix's heart. You can read a number of posts and see video from various members of the Pacific Northwest Peace Delegation at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone blog at psnukefree.org.