Resistance to Missile Testing, Space-based Weapons, Drones, and the U.S. War Machine
4575 9th St
Guadalupe, CA 93434
(805) 343-6322 info@vandenbergwitness.org


Menu:

Recent Posts

Links:

Archives


Meta

THE 22nd ANNUAL GLOBAL NETWORK CONFERENCE

DennisThe 22nd annual Global Network (GN) space organizing conference was held in Santa Barbara from March 14 – 16, and hosted by Guadalupe Catholic Worker activists Dennis Apel and Tensie Hernandez.

Just over 30 people arrived at Vandenberg at 4:00 pm on March 14 to hold a protest in support of the dedicated local activists who have been protesting at the base for the past 30 years. We held a brief news conference to begin our solidarity vigil and soon after we began a phalanx of military police marched into our group and handcuffed and removed Dennis. Within minutes they came back and took another of our GN board members MacGregor Eddy (WILPF). Both Dennis and MacGregor have permanent ban and bar letters from the base commander, which prevents them from being at the protest area outside the base.

The protest at the base received good coverage twice by the two largest newspapers in the region as well as a local radio station.

Vandenberg is a key space operations center that launches military satellites, is a deployment site for ground-base missile defense interceptors, and tests Minuteman nuclear missiles by firing them from the sprawling base into Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific.

Following dinner that first evening back at the retreat center we watched The Ghosts of Jeju documentary about the Navy base struggle and the sordid history of US militarism on Jeju and throughout Korea. Activist and musician Jo Yakgol came representing Gangjeong village on Jeju Island and sang throughout the weekend. People from India, Norway, England, Japan, Canada, Korea, and throughout the U.S. attended the conference.

Journalist Bard Wormdal, author of the book The Satellite War, gave a fine presentation about how U.S. deployment of a radar in Vardo, Norway near the Russian border is a key element in U.S. “missile defense” strategy.” He went on to detail the extensive Pentagon use of satellite ground relay stations near the north and south poles which violate existing treaties outlawing these locations being used for military (surveillance and targeting) purposes.

Another presentation was made by Masaki Toda from Kyoto, Japan who briefed us on the pending deployment of another US X-band “missile defense” radar near their community. Local activists in the Kyoto prefecture have been building a campaign to oppose the radar deployment because of its destabilizing nature. While it is said to be aimed at North Korea the true nature of the radar will be for US military “control” of China.

Canadian activist Tamara Lorincz also made an excellent presentation about the need for demilitarization and conversion of the military industrial complex. She thoroughly reviewed the work of former Columbia University professor Seymour Melman, the father of economic conversion.

On the evening of March 15 we moved the conference participants to a local church in Santa Barbara where we had invited the general public to join us for a program that included speakers and more music. About 75 people heard several talks that included a fantastic video presentation about the history and work of the Global Network prepared by our board convener Dave Webb who also chairs the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK. (We hope to be able to share this via YouTube soon.) Music that evening was performed by Tom Neilson, JoYakgol and Holly Gwinn-Graham.

The Peace in Space awards were presented this year to west coast activists Dennis Apel, Tensie Hernandez, Lynda Williams, Holly Gwinn-Graham and MacGregor Eddy. Plus a special lifetime award was given to WW II veteran Bud Boothe who has been protesting at Vandenberg AFB for the past 30 years. See photos HERE.

2014 Pacific Life Community (PLC) Faith and Resistance Reteat

Nuclear Banner.2475Fifty-eight West Coast faith-based activists attended the 2014 PLC Faith and Resistance Retreat in Las Vegas from Friday, March 7 – Monday, March 10. Gary and Julia, from the Las Vegas Catholic Worker, hosted this year’s retreat, with Bruce Gagnon, from Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space giving an excellent keynote presentation, along with Janet Chisholm, the new director of Nevada Desert Experience (NDE). Former NDE director Jim Haber and Marcus Page, from the Sheepranch Catholic Worker Farm, also gave presentations. We vigiled against drone warfare at Creech AFB, and against nuclear weapons at Nellis AFB, with 37 people getting arrested at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Monday, with another anti-nuclear vigil at the Department of Energy’s complex in North Las Vegas. See photos HERE. Also, see Bruce Gagnon’s blog HERE.

UPDATE: This LINK is the PDF of the leaflet that was used at the Department of Energy complex.

UKRAINE CRISIS ANALYSIS – SURROUNDING RUSSIA

russiamdThis LINK and this LINK provide an excellent analysis of the crisis in the Ukraine that we are not getting from the Western mainstream news media. These articles tell a very different story that contains much more truth than the rhetoric coming out of Washington and the EU.  Let us not forget the hypocrisy also present as U.S. imperial policy includes the illegal invasion and occupation of both, Iraq and Afghanistan, not to forget the ongoing illegal (and immoral) drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. God forgive US.

TRANSFORM NOW PLOWSHARES ACTIVISTS SENTENCED

Transform Now PlowsharesAnti-nuclear activists Sr. Megan Rice, 84 (center), was sentenced to 35 months in federal prison plus 3 years probation; Greg Boertje-Obed, 58 (left), and Michael Walli, 64 (right), each were sentenced to 62 months plus 3 years probation on charges of interfering with national security and damaging property at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July 2012 — the facility that once provided the enriched uranium for the Hiroshima bomb. In addition, the defendants were ordered to pay $52,953 in restitution fees. See stories HERE and HERE. Learn more about their action HERE.

NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION AND CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKING

thThis LINK is to a January 29, 2014, presentation by Sharon Delgado speaking at Parkside Community Church in Sacramento on “The Role of Nonviolent Direct Action in Christian Peacemaking.” In it, she shares some of the experiences and insights that have shaped her 35-year peacemaking journey, including the recently-concluded trial in which she was found guilty of trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base during a nonviolent protest against drone warfare. She also shows how Jesus’ life, teachings, actions, death, and resurrection can inspire us to follow him directly into the heart of the struggle for a transformed world. This LINK is to Earth-Justice Ministries, which Sharon is a part of.

TRANSFORM NOW PLOWSHARES UPDATE

Transform Now PlowsharesThe Transform Now Plowshares activists sentencing scheduled for Tuesday, January 28, 2014, was rescheduled to Tuesday, February 18, due to a major snowstorm that hit Knoxville, TN where the trial was held. However, there was a morning session which brought very disappointing results. First, after a brief hearing, where the defense was overruled on every objection made to questions presented to government witnesses by the prosecutor, restitution was set at $52,953. Second, the judge ruled that the defendants would not be given “downward departures” in sentencing, which means that the sentences would not be lower than the minimum, with the probability that the maximum under guidelines will be handed out. To read more on the days proceedings and other news, see this LINK. Sr. Megan celebrated her 84th birthday on Friday, January 31

JUDGE IMPOSES QUESTIONS TO ANSWER RATHER THAN JAIL, FINE, OR COMMUNITY SERVICE TO ANTI-NUCLEAR RESISTERS

nuclear_01032014p16phThis LINK is to a very interesting piece. For all activists-resisters, how would you answer the imposed questions? The video that accompanies this piece is the action where the defendants were arrested. (Note: Two former L.A. Catholic Workers–Theo and Nicole–were among the supporters gathered in Kansas City and seen in the video, as were other Catholic Workers from the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.)

GUADALUPE CATHOLIC WORKER GOES TO SUPREME COURT

Dennis arrested2Guadalupe Catholic Worker Dennis Apel will appear with his attorney, U.S. constitutional lawyer and UC Irvine Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, before the U.S. Supreme Court on December 4 (Supreme Court case No. 12-1038: United States of America, Petitioner v. John Dennis Apel.) concerning whether a person who has a “ban and bar” letter from the base commander that prevents that person from entering a military base (Vandenberg AFB) without the base commander’s approval can continue to protest on a public roadway easement. This is a First Amendment issue that was appealed from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by the U.S. government. The forthcoming decision will not only affect Dennis, but anyone who has been arrested on a military base and was issued a ban and bar. Please keep Dennis and this situation in prayer. This LINK is to an article that gives an excellent overview of this case. This LINK also has good info on Dennis and his journey.

dennis photo2 UPDATE: (Wednesday, December 4, 2013) These three links– LINK, LINK, LINK give updates on what the Justices focused on, which does NOT look good. In the second link there is a link to the Scotus Blog, which gives a good analysis from a legal perspective. This LINK has the actual audio of the case arguments. This LINK is the full court transcript, including where Apel is labeled as “posing a threat to the order and security of the base.” (photo by Steve Kelly, SJ–press conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court)

UPDATE DECEMBER 19: The Loss of Innocence is Dennis Apel’s reflection on his case.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 26, 2014: Supreme Court Sides With Military in Vandenberg Protest Case.  The court unanimously issued its written decision as expected.

 

THE REVOLUTIONARIES IN OUR MIDST

Jeremy Hammond HERE is another excellent, yet disturbing, Chris Hedges article on 28-year-old whistleblower Jeremy Hammond (in photo), who, today, received 10 years in federal prison for hacking into Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, and releasing 3 million e-mail exchanges that exposed the firm’s infiltration, monitoring, and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, particularly in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national surveillance and security state. See the story of Jeremy’s sentencing HERE, and his full court statement HERE.

CHARGES DROPPED

Walking1.0724Five of six Catholic Workers arrested on Nagasaki Day, August 9, appeared for arraignment in Santa Barbara Federal Court today and received a pleasant surprise…the federal prosecutor told the judge that we are not worth the time and cost to the government and recommended that the charges be dropped. The visiting judge complied. This is very strange since the federal prosecutor has a history of pushing for heavy fines and jail time for all Catholic Workers. This time, no time, no fine. YES!! We will accept any victory, especially believing that we would get jail time for this action since the temporary judge in that court has recently been issuing jail time to all resisters who have appeared before him. UPDATE: The sixth resister from this action, Karan Founds-Benton (third from right), received a letter stating her charges also were dropped.