Friday 27 November 2009

Join the Circle of Peace

Fr. Louis Vitale, Pace e Bene’s Action Advocate, was arrested on Sunday morning, November 22 at Ft. Benning, GA as part of the annual gathering of thousands of people calling for the closure of the School of the Americas organized by SOA Watch. He and three others — Nancy Gwin, of Syracuse, NY; Michael Walli, of Washington, DC; Kenneth Hayes, of Austin, Texas — crossed into the base. All but Walli have posted bail and been released. Fr. Vitale previously served a three month prison sentence for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at Ft. Benning.

Further reading on the SOAWatch demonstrations of 20-22 November.

Fr. Louie Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly took a stand against torture.
Now it’s our turn.
Join the Pace e Bene Circle of Peace to support Fr. Louie and Fr. Steve as they serve five months in prison – and to lend your name
to their call for an end to torture and war.

Yes! I want to join the Pace e Bene Circle of Peace!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Speaking out for another defense

My first try was soawatch with the most likely extension.
It turned out to be a recruiting site showing how great the army is.
Which just goes to show what kind of cowards the people organising "defense" are at heart.

The School of the Americas-watch site is called I bet "they" did not change the name of this Torture Academy because where I come from soa is an acronym for "sexually transmittable disease".

Thousands are gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, standing up against oppressive U.S. foreign policy and speaking out in defense of real and direct democracy, for life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace. Photo by Linda Panetta

Sunday, November 22: 8:15 am, Gather at the gates of Ft. Benning for Solemn Funeral Procession remembering those killed by graduates of the SOA and nonviolent direct action to close the SOA/WHINSEC!

Friday 20 November 2009

Not following the straight and narrow

Sometimes I am forced to feel very Dutch. Like when I travel in the USA and next stop is announced: Van Buren - oh really - well, there is one difficult vowel in this, but if you learned to speak French or German the u should not be difficult.
That is how it works - having difficulty with the name of former prime minister Kok but not realising that the first name of former president Clinton in my language is Buttocks. Taking for granted that the whole world accepts the silly name Bill and giggling about Kok. (Both persons make me feel sad or angry, by the way).

Laughing about Herman Van Rompuy means that his predecessor, José Manuel Barroso had a name which was pronounced perfectly all the time. I can assure you, it was not. And actually, I can offer little help with the pronunciation of the name. An approximation of the uy-diphthong (usually spelled ui) can sometimes be heard in Scots pronunciation of ow or ou in general English. And I know no other European language where this diphthong is current - it is a Dutch specialty. Sorry buyt that (not really).
"Rompuy" definitely does not rhyme with "pompy" (don't tell me that is why they are rolling over with laughter about the new EU-president at the BBC!).
And I can give you an explanation of the meaning of the name. It means "from (a) wide path" - so not from the straight and narrow. A fitting name for a Christian democratic politician. (Not meant to be very personal - and probably the main reason Belgium was chosen is that it is both a member of NATO and defintely not of the Coalition of the Willing to invade Iraq, which would have made mr. Blair vulnerable of getting arrested as the war criminal he is, in quite a few countries - a truth British mainstream media conveniently want to forget).

I feel sorry for the people of the Southern Netherlands, since it will be difficult to find a new prime minister willing to preserve the state - which means the risk of having two new states or the even more abject idea of merging the Dutch speaking parts of the historic Netherlands. There is at least one state I want to keep for the time being, for the sake of civilised behaviour. It should not be necessary having to explain this, but I fear few people outside the Low Countries realise what I mean.

(The three bottles of what is considered by some the best beer in the world symbolise the three official languages spoken in Belgium).

Thursday 19 November 2009

Come my Eton fellows, er, Comrades, let us unite for the common man.

The Conservatives have announced there latest policy 'revolution'. Yes, that it, the tories are now using the word revolution to describe their policies. Fair play to them - this is what clever propagandaists to: they take the language of the other and co-opt, subvert, and redeploy it's energy into their own agenda. If you don't believe it just look at the gospel of Mark or the First Pauline letters.

So the Conservatives are having a "Big Bang Revolution" And it doesn't involved their already highly publicised wife-swapping policy. It's about the deregulation of the media in order to help generate monopolies that can compete with the BBC. Because poor old ITV etc are struggling to make ends meet.

So it's a dergulation policy then? Yep! And it's about creating a liberalised market that favours the rich at the expense of the poor? Yes again! It's a revolution, apparently.

Those piss-takers at Tory spin-Q have also come up with: "Genuine Schools Revolution"; a "decentralised energy Revolution"; a "revolution to break the cycle of crime"; a "Green consumer revolution"; a "Tourism Revolution"; "London Cycling Revolution"; "Apprenticeship Revolution"; "Skills Revolution"; "NHS Information Revolution" and even - and you really couldn't make this bollocks up unless you were in big-p politics - a "supply-side revolution".

Any talk of revolution on the left or the right is suspicious because it tends to be violent or in never-never-land, or both. Perhaps that's why it's one of the safest words to borrow: it was just sitting there and nobody was doing anything with it...

The most radical people I've met have been people who aim for a constant revolution of the heart. They challenge themselves to be converted to the point of view of their neighbour, to find ways to love and understand their enemies. To make sure that those who want to get at the poor have to step over their bodies to get there.

Colin Ward wrote about the anarchist society being like "a seed beneath the snow" and Jesus talked about a mustard plant (a creeping weed of a plant) speading slowly but providing shelter. Neither of these are the posturing images of revolution that the Conservatives are about to pummel us with as they drew up to their billowing heights for the next general election.

So us ordinary folk will have to sit out another bloody (sic.) revolution: getting on with our ordinary lives of loving and living: building a new world in the shell of the old. Until this old-etonian revolutions finally realise how thoroughly redundant they really are.

Hasta la vicotoria: Siempre!

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Wired to the wireless

In case you have not heard the interview on Tolstoy's anarchism with Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, last year on KPFA - here is your new chance:

More to come on that channel...

Here comes the judge

A lovely story which reminds me of my first acquaintance with Christian anarchism in present day Europe, the Ploughshares Movement - a judge who showed respect for the motivation of the axe man. Rare, but not impossible.

- On Wednesday, November 4, 2009 the Omaha and Des Moines
Catholic Worker communities and friends held our fourth annual protest
and ‘Die In” at the Qwest Center in Omaha at SRATCom’s Space Weapons
Bazaar called the Strategic Space Symposium in Omaha NE, Nov 2-4.
The effort began with a group of over 30 people gathered across the
street from the main entrance of the Qwest Center at 11 a.m. We moved
in mass across the street to the main entrance, set up our “Space
Weapons = Death” banner. We gathered around the banner and read of our
statement. (See a copy of the statement below.)
After the statement was read a number of people, including the 8 who were arrested laid down on the ground in front of the banner, enacting a “Die-In”.

After 5 minutes people were called to their feet and directed to take the “Die-In” into the Qwest Center where the Space Weapons Bazaar was taking place.  The protesters were stopped just inside the front doors by Qwest security people and Omaha police officers. The protesters proceeded to reenact their “Die-In” just inside the building at the feet of the security people and police.  Our statement was reread.
Qwest security people informed all protesters to leave the building or face arrested. All but eight people left the building. Each of the eight was asked by an Omaha police officer to leave the building or face arrest.  All eight were place under arrest, hand cuffed and walked out the of the building into a police van or police car.

Among the eight people arrested was 91-year-old Peg Gallagher, “Grand
Dame of the Omaha Peace Movement”. Peg was ticketed and released right
on site. The seven other people who were arrested were taken to the
Douglas Co Jail, processed by the police and charged with City of Omaha ordinance “20-155 Request to Leave” - a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a five hundred dollar fine.  The seven were:
Fr. Jack McCaslin, 80, Omaha, NE
Mark Kenny, 52, Omaha, NE
Daniel McCarville, 22, Omaha, NE
Friar Louis Vitale, OFM, 77, Oakland, CA
Fr. Jim Murphy, 55
Steve Clemens, 59, Minneapolis, MN
Frank Cordaro, 58, Des Moines Catholic Worker, Des Moines, IA
The four Omaha residents were cited and release and given a Dec 9th



Amazing Day in Court!

By Frank Cordaro, Des Moines Catholic Worker
Nov 5, 2009
The four out of state “Space Weapons Bazaar” protesters who were 
arrested Wed. Nov 4th at the Qwest Center in Omaha spent the night at 
the Douglas County Jail. We were Fr. Louis Vitale of CA, Fr. Jim 
Murphy of WI, Steve Clemens of MN and me Frank Cordaro of IA. We were 
all charged with a City of Omaha ordinance “20-155 Request to Leave” a 
misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of six months in jail 
and/or a five hundred dollar fine.

On Wed Nov 5th we appeared before Judge Darryl Lowe in what is called 
”jail court” with sixty other Douglas Co Jail inmates at 1:30 p.m. for 
what turned out to be the most entertaining and perplexing two hours I 
have ever spent in a court room.

Jail courts are the places where people who get arrested and booked 
into county jails, and do not bond out, get to see a judge for the 
first time. This is the time when most inmates can plead guilty or 
innocent, be assigned a court appointed attorney and have their bail 
reviewed. The vast majority of inmates who appear in these jail courts 
are poor and people of color. Ninety percent plead guilty, knowing 
”you get the justice you can afford” in this country and if you’re 
poor, you’re better off pleading guilty and doing the time up front 
than pleading innocent and doing more time awaiting trial, a trial in 
all likelihood you would end up losing whether you are innocent or 
not. It’s not a pretty picture to watch. It’s often done with out 
feelings or human concerns for those being judge.

This time it was different. The officer who talked to the sixty of us 
before we were lead into court told us that Judge Lowe is a very 
different kind of judge. “He’s liable to ask you the strangest of 
questions.” The officer was not wrong. In the two hours we spent 
before Judge Lowe he made inappropriate comments, 
asked questions way beyond the scope of his professional obligation 
as a judge, and delved into people’s personal non-legal issues.

Yet Judge 
Lowe was also one of the most caring and humane judges I have ever 
seen work from the bench. Beyond his extremely large public, 
entertaining ego, he showed real concern for the people who stood 
before him. For those who plead guilty, he went to great efforts to 
find a sentence that really matched what the inmate needed in order to 
make right for the crime committed and help them get their lives back 
together. Judge Lowe meted out justice that day unlike I have ever 
witnessed in a court of law. It was justice with a heart.

Before the court session started Judge Lowe made some introductory 
remarks. Among them was his admonition that people take personal 
responsibility for their alleged activities. “If you are innocent, 
plead innocent and if you are guilty plead guilty. And if you plead 
’no contest’ you better have a good reason cuz I don’t take lightly to 
people who are just trying to not take responsibility for their 
As the two hour session was coming to a close it was clear the judge 
was speeding up his pace, wanting to be done by 3:30 p.m. The order of 
the cases was presented to him from the most serious to the least 
serious. We four protesters were the last four cases of the day. We 
were all in our orange jail-issued outfits.  By the time Fr Louis 
Vitale was called to the bench we were the only ones left in the court 
room, with the judge, the prosecutor, the two court recorders and the 
four jail police officers.
As Fr Louis approached the bench the 
prosecutor told the judge that the last four of us were all here from 
the same charge and that the arrest took place at the Qwest Center the 
day before. Judge Lowe did not even look at any of the paper work. He 
talked about his being at the Qwest Center on many occasions for 
concerts and basketball games. That was all he needed to know. Judge 
Lowe asked Fr Louis “What do you plea?”

“No contest,” said Fr Louis.
And before Fr Louis could say anything else Judge Lowe said, “Five 
days!” and pounding his gavel saying, “If you had plead guilty it 
would have been three days. Next.”
Fr Louis was dumbfounded. He tried to explain to the judge that all he 
wanted to do was make his plea and ask that the sentencing be 
postponed until the four local Omaha people went to trial. Fr Louis 
needed to be on a plane Saturday morning for a speaking engagement and 
Mass obligations Sunday. A five day sentence would make it impossible 
for him to make his commitments. Judge Lowe would hear none of it. He 
pounded his gavel and told Fr Louis if he wanted to appeal the 
sentence he would have to come up with a $100,000 bond! “Next,” shouted 
the Judge Lowe as the guards led Fr Louis out of the court room.

Fr Jim Murphy approached the bench. And Judge Lowe asked him “What do 
you plead?”
“No contest” said Fr Jim, and then he immediately changed his plea to “Guilty!”
“Three days” said Judge Lowe pounding his gavel. “Next!” shouted Judge 
Lowe as Fr Jim was lead out of the court room.

Steve Clemens approached the bench. By this time everyone had a chance 
to catch their breath. Judge Lowe finally asked Steve, “What were you 
guys doing at the Qwest Center in the first place?” Judge Lowe just 
assumed the four of us were arrested for intoxication. He just thought 
we were four old drunks.

Steve said, “Your honor, we were there to protest the Strategic Space 
Symposium. We were there to protest the selling of space weapons 
technology to STRATCom!”
And from the inmate sitting area, I shouted out to the judge, “And you 
just sentenced two Catholic priests to jail!”

“Catholic priest! Protest!” exclaimed Judge Lowe as the blood went out 
of his face, “Bring those two priests back before me. Give me their 
files.” The judge asks me to join them all at the bench. We explained 
to him what our nonviolent protest was all about. He congratulated us 
for our witness. He said he believed in nonviolent civil disobedience. 
He said more of it needed to be done. He told us his father was active 
in the civil rights movement in the south. He added, “of course I was 
only four years old at the time.”  He shook each one of our hands.  Fr 
Louis knelt down with his hands raised in prayer and thank God for the 
Judge’s change of heart.

We were all sentenced to time served, given a pat on the back and in 
essence told ‘Job well done good and faithful servants! He ended the 
session by saying “I hope you all come back again next year!”
I have never ever been treated so well. Justice, not necessarily the 
Law was served that day in the Douglas County Jail.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Vigil on 11/11

There are worse ways to give November 11th content or meaning than participating in this:


 Wednesday 11th November, 6-7pm
Parliament Square (opposite Parliament) Westminster SW1

Vigil for Haiti and Honduras, the two poorest countries of the Western hemisphere and - undoubtedly not by coincidence - two countries where the elected president was hijacked abroad by putschists supported by a Nobel Peace Prize winning regime.

Apologies for the late mention, but rather late than never.

Thursday 5 November 2009

The day we went to Bangor - 6

Five People Arrested on Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor

The Disarm Now Trident Plowshares Action

Bill Bix Bischel, S.J., 81, of Tacoma, Washington; Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore MD;  Lynne Greenwald, 60, of Bremerton, Washington; Steve Kelly, S.J., 60, of Oakland, CA.; Anne Montgomery RSCJ, 83, of New York, New York, were arrested on Naval Base Kitsap- Bangor. They entered the Base in the early morning hours of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system.  They entered through the perimeter fence, made their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility - Pacific  ( SWFPAC) where they were able to cut through the first chainlink fence surrounding SWFPAC, walked to and cut the next  double layered fence, which was both chain link and barbed wire, onto the grounds of SWFPAC. As they walked onto the grounds, they held a banner saying "Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral",  left a trail of blood and hammered on the roadway (Trigger Ave. and Sturgeon) that are essential to the working of the Trident weapons system, hammered on the fences around SWFPAC and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They were then thrown to the ground face down, handcuffed and  hooded and held there for 4 hours on the wet, cold ground. They were taken, hooded, and carried out thru the very holes in the fence that they had made, for questioning by Base security, FBI and NCIS. They refused to give any information except their names, and were cited as of now, for trespass and destruction of government  property, given a ban and bar letter and released.

In a joint statement, the group stated that The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under International Law and, therefore, under United States law.  As U.S. citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor.  Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being.

There have been approximately 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, łGod will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.  In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal.<  The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea  and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system.  Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb.) The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.  The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

[These dispatches were sent to me by Ms. Cohen - a truly even more disarming detail. The snapshot of the sunflower was taken in the garden of a convent to which I retreat regularly.]

The day we went to Bangor - 5

Hand delivery
Captain Mark Olsen
Commander US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
120 South Dewey St
Bremerton, WA 98314

YOU have been involved in the housing, deployment and threatened use of immoral and illegal nuclear weapons on Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor.  These weapons and their delivery systems include Trident submarines, Trident II D-5 missiles, and W-88 and W-76 nuclear warheads. These weapons, and their delivery systems, threaten the destruction of other nations and people and as such constitute violation of International Law and of Ruling of the International Tribunal of Justice of 1996.

You are hereby notified that effective upon receipt of this letter that the disarmament of all nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor is to begin immediately and continue until all nuclear weapons are disarmed and removed.
You are further informed that delay or failure to begin disarmament will lead to the prosecution before the International Tribunal of Justice of all naval and civilian personnel responsible for the delay.

This barment letter is issued for the protection and security of people, animals, and all creation of our world.

Any compelling reason for naval or civilian exemption from prosecution by the International Tribunal can be entered with the secretariat of the International Tribunal.
(Address; International Tribunal, International Court of Justice, The Hague, Netherlands)

Steve Kelly, S.J.      
Lynne Greenwald        
Anne Montgomery, RSCJ          
Bill Bichsel, S.J.

Disarm Now Plowshares Bios

Steve Kelly, S.J
.  During his religious formation in our inner cities, in Sudan, Africa, as well as refugee work in Central America following ordination, he encountered the messiah, Jesus incarnate in the poor.  At the same time, the relevance of Jesus as a real shepherd inserting himself between the danger of wolf or thief and the flock in his care inspired this Jesuit to try to imitate Jesus.  His current collaboration with Catholic Workers and the Pacific Life Community confirms the analysis that the nukes represent, just in their making, a contemporary larceny from the poor, while the wolf, the imminent danger of their use, demands the embodiment of Isaiah 2:4. Will that hammering wake us, those professing faith in a loving God, from our idolatrous slumbers?

Lynne Greenwald is the mother of three children and has worked professionally as a Registered Nurse, Family Therapist and Social Worker for nearly 40 years.  She has also been actively involved in the Nonviolent Peace Movement since the mid-1970s. Lynne moved to Kitsap County in Washington State 26 years ago to join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and to become a neighbor to families involved with the Trident Base and other facilities in this predominately military community. łWhile the existence of Trident is obvious, the truth of Trident's nuclear threats and illegality remains hidden.  My action of conversion today is one committed out of love for all life.ł

Anne Montgomery is an eighty-three year old Religious of the Sacred Heart and former teacher in high schools and programs for dropouts and learning disabled children.  As a member of the Gulf Peace Team in 1991 and of Christian Peacemaker Teams from 1995 to 2009 she served in Iraq and Palestine.  Since 1980 she has been active in the Plowshares movement and other forms of civil resistance to U.S. militarism, especially nuclear weapons.  Since 2005 she has also participated in Witness Against Torture and the Free Gaza boat trip to open the port of Gaza.  She acts now to support all efforts to convert weapons of death into resources for human life, especially for the most neglected and oppressed of the threatened earth.

Susan Crane is the mother of two sons, and has taught at a school for marginalized youth in California.  More recently she has lived at Jonah House, a nonviolent community in Baltimore, which speaks out against all warmaking, and specifically nuclear weapons. Aware that we take better care of nuclear weapons than of our nation's children, and that we spend more than half of every federal tax dollar on warmaking rather than human needs, she acts to transform these weapons of mass destruction to life- giving materials.

Bill Bichsel, a Tacoma native, entered the Jesuit Order in 1946 and after studies and teaching was ordained a Jesuit in 1959. He has served in parishes, taught in high schools, and was Dean of Students at Gonzaga from 1963-1966. In 1969 he returned to Tacoma where he served at St. Leo's Parish for over 7 years and then co-founded the Tacoma Catholic Worker (Guadalupe House) which offers hospitality and transitional housing to the homeless. The Guadalupe Community lives in the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day, the Catholic Worker foundress.  Bichsel still resides and serves at the Tacoma Catholic Worker-one mile from where he was born and raised. He has served jail and prison terms many times for his resistance to the violence of the Trident nuclear weapon system and the violence of the S.O.A. training at Ft. Benning, GA.  He believes that unless we, the American people, actively work to abolish nuclear weapons we as a people will continue to threaten destruction to the global community and continue to deprive the poor of the world of resources necessary for life.

The day we went to Bangor - 4


I will purify you from the taint of all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.  I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put my Spirit within you and make you conform to my statutes.˛ Ez. 36:25-27

We walk into the heart of darkness, the Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor, housing and deploying over 2,000  nuclear warheads for Trident submarines.  By their very existence they are endangering the environment, threatening  the indiscriminate destruction of life on earth, and depriving the hungry, homeless, and jobless of billions of dollars that could supply human needs throughout the world.

The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under international law and, therefore, under United States law.  As U.S. citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor.  Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being.

We are called by Isaiah to take seriously our own responsibility to act as citizens of the nation that subjected the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the hell of nuclear bombing and its deadly consequences.  The United States continues to research and develop even more inhumane weapons of mass destruction.

We are called by Ezekiel to transform our own hearts and to invite all those whose hearts are hardened by blindness, fear, and mistrust of the łother˛ to allow theirs to be transformed into łhearts of flesh:˛ disarmed, compassionate, and generous.
We bring carpenters' hammers to symbolically transform these weapons of death into material useful for homes and factories.  On this day of remembrance, All Souls Day, we bring our own blood in solidarity with the victims of war, who are invisible to those who target them.  We bring sunflower seeds to plant the hope of new life in this violated earth.  We intend to beat swords into plowshares as one step up the holy mountain where all nations can unite in peace.

At the beginning of the International Decade of Disarmament, we join with the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the 2020 Vision Campaign to abolish all nuclear weapons by that year at the latest.  Nuclear weapons can never be guardians, defenders, or upholders of peace.  They are sheathed in stainless steel and metal coverings that conceal the evil incarnate lying within.  They are filled with death-dealing agents that tear apart humans and leave survivors scarred for life.  They leave no place for human care for the thousands who suffer and die in agony.  Nuclear weapons are a lie.  Their łprotection˛ is an illusion.  They must be abolished.
God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.˛  Isaiah 2:4
                                                                                Washington State
November 2, 2009

Steve Kelly, S.J.                 
Lynne Greenwald                      
Anne Montgomery, RSCJ              
Susan Crane                
Bill Bichsel, S.J.

The day we went to Bangor - 3

Fact Sheet: Trident Submarine & Missile System

Trident submarines serve as the sea based nuclear launch system of the Air, Land, and Sea Nuclear Triad supported by the US government. The U.S. currently has 14 nuclear-powered Trident ballistic-missile (SSBN) submarines.  Trident submarines are 560 feet in length, or nearly two football fields.  Each submarine can carry 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) designated Trident D5 and each missile can carry up to eight 100 kiloton nuclear warheads (about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb).

 The Trident D5 missile stands 44.6 feet high and originally had a range of 4,230 nautical miles with a full load of warheads, and up to 6000+ nautical miles with a reduced load of warheads. Upgrades and Life Extension Programs may have changed some specifications.  Warheads are either Mark-4/W76 or Mark-5/W88.

  • 100:         Number of kilotons on ONE Trident W76 warhead
  • 455:       Number of kilotons on ONE Trident W88 warhead
  • 345,600:  Total number of kilotons deployed on Trident fleet
  • 14:            Number of kilotons on atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima
  • 150,000:  Number of people killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
  • 1,028 minimum; 4,885 maximum:  Number of potential Hiroshimas  each Trident is capable of destroying

  • $66,000,000:  Price of ONE Trident II D5 missile
  • 14:          Number of nuclear- armed submarines the Navy wants to deploy through 2042
  • $60,000,000:  Cost of health insurance for 60,000 children
  • $10,000,000,000:  Annual cost of providing sanitary water to 2.4 billion people worldwide who now lack it
  • $59,000,000,000:  Cost of building housing for 6000,000 homeless families in the US
  • $170,200,000,000 (low estimate):  Total cost of the ENTIRE Trident program through year 2042

Naval Submarine Base Kitsap-Bangor is located 20 miles west of Seattle on the deep waters of Hood Canal in Washington State.  It is the home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2,000 nuclear warheads. This is approximately 24% of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor Base presently houses more nuclear warheads than the countries of England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea combined.

 There are eight Tridents based at the Bangor Base; six operate out of Kings Bay, GA.  The Trident submarines at Bangor are likely to be used first in any nuclear attack, either as an isolated tactical assault on a specific site, bunker, or weapons location, or in a larger strategic nuclear attack. The D5 missile is capable of traveling over 1,370 miles in less than 13 minutes, allowing for a US nuclear strike anywhere on planet earth within 15 minutes.

The day we went to Bangor - 2

Lethal force

by William J. Bichsel, S.J.

On November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, by the grace of God I choose to enter the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor Washington. I wish to walk to the idolatrous place of nuclear weapon bunkers where lethal force is authorized to guard the hiding places of the most lethal forces in the world.  I wish to walk in solidarity with the poor of our world who live with lethal force constantly directed against them. My vulnerability to this lethal force is minimal compared to the lifetime vulnerability of the condemned of our world. My compelling reason for entering the Trident Submarine Base is to be present at this Auschwitz place in order to witness in faith to the transforming power of Jesus' non-violence and Resurrection which can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh and compassion. At this place of global death and hopelessness I wish to witness in faith to the life giving and transforming power of this presence which can expel the demon of violence from the hearts and minds of people possessed by the need for nuclear weapons. I believe the life giving power of the Resurrection can flow over the nuclear death machine and stop its destructive force. Compassion can then grow in hearts and minds of people who have been liberated from the prison of fear and violence.
Millions upon millions of people throughout our world live with lethal force being directed against them. Our brothers and sisters and children live in war ravaged places where violence reigns and starvation, disease, absence of medical resources, absence of shelter eventually bring death. One hour from our shores in Haiti, where one in twelve children do not reach the age of five, parents give children mud cakes made of earth, oil, sugar and salt to diminish the effects of hunger pains. From the Sudan to Sub Saharan Africa, mothers watch as their infants and children become emaciated with swollen stomachs and lifeless eyes then die. All of these lethal forces are authorized.

 In the U.S., except for the poor, we have been protected and insulated from the death sentences under which half of the earth's population lives. The drive for security has numbed our citizens to accept nuclear weapons as the ultimate protector of the American way of life. In effect this choice means the acceptance of the use of nuclear weapons if the United States considers itself threatened. The people of the United States accept the deaths of millions of people if a preempted strike is ordered. Thus the use of lethal force is authorized.
 Across our nation there are vast numbers of U.S. citizens who face lethal forces directed against them which are not as immediate or instantaneously murderous as the lethal forces directed against the 3rd world poor. In our capitalistic system there are many who will not receive the health care, education, employment, appropriate housing and nutrition needed to live full human lives in this culture. These forces attack the body, soul and spirit of our citizens which eventually bring death of the spirit and then the body. This is especially true of one segment of our population - the mentally-ill, who live on the streets, under bridges, in door ways, jungle camps or in jails and prisons. They belong nowhere. They die. These lethal forces are also authorized.

 The continued possession of nuclear weapons by the United States means that resources that could be used to divert the lethal forces that are now killing the poor of our world will continue to be used to fuel the killing machine.

 Father Richard McSorley, S.J. has maintained that łthe tap root of violence in our society is the acceptance of nuclear weapons.˛ We must bend our efforts to make known the Non Proliferation Treaty Review which will take place on May 2, 2010 at the United Nations. By our presence we must insist that the NPT Review Committee in the very near future organize a nuclear weapon global conference of these treaty nations which will set a firm date for nuclear weapon abolition.

The day we went to Bangor - 1

Some thoughts about going onto Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor

by Susan Crane

All Soul's Day, Nov. 2, 2009

Today in the US more and more people are coming to food pantries, needing food for their families. The numbers of home foreclosures increase, leaving families homeless; unemployment increases; and many, even those with health insurance, can't get their basic health needs met. Class size increases as teachers are laid off and dropout rates increase. Many returning vets must struggle for benefits. States are near bankruptcy, and our infrastructure is falling apart. And day by day climate change threatens us all.

As a nation, we know all this. We experience it personally, and hear it on the nightly news. But what we don't hear is that there may be solutions to these problems. We need to look at where, as a nation, we are allocating our resources: where do our federal tax dollars go? Where do our brightest and best scientists find work? Where do our idealistic and dedicated youth end up? We know that over half of every federal tax dollar is used for warmaking. And we know that the American people never have a chance to vote on a bond issue for the next fighter plane or nuclear weapon. Every dollar that is used for warmaking, killing or planning to kill other people, is a dollar that is not used for human needs, or healing the earth.
Here in Washington state, I was thinking about the Trident submarines which have nuclear warheads on them, and are constantly roaming the oceans. There are 8 subs homeported here at Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor. And each of these subs carries 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, and each of the missiles carries multiple nuclear warheads. Some of the warheads are 32 times the explosive heat and blast of the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

The Trident subs are stealthy, and at sea their location is secret. They can launch nuclear weapons to anywhere in the world in 15 minutes, which is a constant threat to people in other nations. Here in the US we don't live under a threat like that.
My faith tradition teaches me that we are to love our enemies, to love one another. Planning to kill others is not an act of loveŠIndiscriminate killing of whole cites of people, animals and plants is not an act of love.

Here in the northwest where the Trident subs are homeported, the land is beautiful; the trees are aromatic; the water is healing. And I hope that we come to our senses and experience this land we live in, and realize that we-and people all over the earth-are brothers and sisters. There is no łus˛ and łthem˛. As individuals and as a nation; we all have good in us; we all have a shadow side. We can all work together if we choose to.

With hope for peace and disarmament, the five us, Steve Kelly, S.J, Lynne Greenwald, Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, Bill Bichsel, S.J. and myself, go to Naval Base Kitsap/Bangor on All Soul's Day. We remember the 150 million people killed by warmaking and related consequences of war in the last 100 years. It is in solidarity with all who live in lethal force zones that we enter the lethal force zone on the naval base.

We bring our own blood to pour on the missiles, nuclear weapons, trident subs, or perhaps on the railroad tracks that carry the weapons. We pour our blood to remind us all of the consequences of warmaking. We bring hammers to enflesh the words of Isaiah to hammer swords into plowshares. We bring sunflower seeds to sow to begin to convert the base, and we bring disarmed hearts in hope of a disarmed world. I go onto the base with the support of all at Jonah House, in Baltimore, carrying their prayers in my hip pocket.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

London Catholic Worker jailed

Zelda Jeffers appeared at Bedford Magistrates Court on Monday November 2nd. She was sentenced to 16 days in prison for refusing to pay a fine of £450 for a 'No Borders' protest at Yarlswood Immigration Detention Centre.

She has been sent to HMP Peterborough. Asuming Zelda gets half off for 'good behaviour', she should be released on Monday 9th November, probably in the morning.

If you want to write to her or send her a card of support, you can

- post a letter (although the postal strike obviously makes it seem unlikely to get through before Monday )

- either to the prison at:
Zelda Jeffers BD3976,
HMP Peterborough,
Saville Road,
Peterborough PE3 7PD

- or to us at :
London Catholic Worker,
16 De Beauvoir Road,
London N1 5SU