The five Catholic Worker resisters arrested on August 9, 2014, commemorating Hiroshima & Nagasaki Day and protesting against U.S. imperial war-making, appeared today in federal court in Santa Barbara. All five entered a plea of “Nolo contendere” (no contest), which, surprisingly, was accepted by the court. After listening to each statement by the defendants, the court followed the prosecutor’s recommendations and issued fines ranging from $100 (for Karan Benton and Mark Kelso), $300 (for Mike Wisniewski), and $500 (for Jeff Dietrich and Fr. Steve Kelly), plus $10 court costs and $25 processing fees. All five resisters stated they would not pay fines or other added costs. The court responded by setting December 1, 2014 as the due date, acknowledging that each defendant has refused to pay. We now wait to see what, if anything, will transpire after the due date expires.
The L.A. Catholic Worker, Guadalupe Catholic Worker, and Las Vegas Catholic Worker gathered at the Vandenberg AFB main gate to vigil in commemoration of the 69th anniversary of bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and August 9, 1945. As a witness against diabolical nuclear weapons and U.S. imperial war-making, five Catholic Workers, Karan Benton, Mike Wisniewski, and Jeff Dietrich from the LACW, Mark Kelso from the Las Vegas CW, and Rev. Steve Kelly, SJ. from Oakland and the Redwood City CW were arrested. All were cited for trespassing and released an hour and a half later at Vandenberg Village. Court date pending. See photos HERE.
UPDATE: Arraignment date is Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 1pm, in Santa Barbara Federal Bankruptcy Court, 1415 State St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. If you can attend for support, it would be greatly appreciated. Be sure to bring your ID.
On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, we lost a great woman, mom, grandmother, friend, Catholic Worker, peace and justice activist and anti-nuclear plowshares activist, as well as director of a Tacoma, WA, shelter in for women leaving prison.
Lynne, you will be greatly missed. May you rest in peace.
Lynne Greenwald – PRESENTE! (See videos of interviews with Lynne HERE and HERE.
Lynne Greenwald (second from left in above photo) in her last plowshares action with Susan Crane, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, and Fr. Bill Bischel, SJ, at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor against the immoral and illegal trident missile system. November 2, 2009. See this LINK.
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.
Fifty-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.
This 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.
Anti-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.
This 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.
The 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