We have Moved!

We have been moving our blog to Wordpress, feeling more free there, less controlled, so please join us there:


Shut Down Creech

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New muslim country as drone target

Glenn Greenwald

Could Barack Obama become the first person in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize two consecutive years? It is hard to dispute the premise that awarding him the Prize this year would be every bit as justifiable as last year's award. Fresh off his Nobel-winning escalation of the war in Afghanistan, we now have this monument to world peace:

Amnesty International, June 7, 2010:

Amnesty International has released images of a US-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions, apparently taken following an attack on an alleged al-Qa’ida training camp in Yemen that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.

The 17 December 2009 attack on the community of al-Ma'jalah in the Abyan area in the south of Yemen killed 55 people including 14 alleged members of al-Qa’ida.

Further reading.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stop armed drone attacks

Drone war goes on and keeps hitting civilians in Pakistan

The Obama Administration’s policy of escalating drone strikes took another hit today, after the explosion from a drone attack against the house of “suspected militants” in North Waziristan also destroyed a neighboring house full of women and children.

The combined toll from the blast was 20 people killed, with at least four women and three children among the slain. At least 13 other civilians were also reported wounded, including a number of other children.

Pakistani intelligence officials say most of the “suspects” killed in the attacks were Afghans, but it is unclear how much evidence they had of wrongdoing. Large numbers of Afghan civilians have been living as refugees in the tribal areas since the 2001 US invasion.

The large numbers of civilians (700 in 2009 alone) killed in the US drone strikes has fueled considerable anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. When pressed during a previous visit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shrugged off concerns about the civilians, saying only “there’s a war going on.”
Antiwar Newswire.

Monday, August 23, 2010

From droned to drowned

Twenty per cent of the land mass of Pakistan is under water, the morning news tells us. It also stresses that this is the worst natural disaster ever hitting Pakistan.

Strictly speaking this is not true. In 1970 East Pakistan was hit by a worse flooding. It would lead to the independence of East Pakistan under the name Bangladesh. But we should not be lured into the trap of forgetting about recent history (or history in general).

When you look at this map of a fortnight ago the twenty per cent does not sound exaggerated at all. Apart from the flooding of houses, involving many millions of people, crops are wasted which will lead to a next crisis: food shortages, further dependence on imports, rising prices, hunger.

There is talk about donor fatigue. Hypocritically this goes along with the story line about pictures not hitting the right spot with potential donors any more: they are overfed with disaster images.

But "we" were treated with stories about Pakistan's involvement with "the terrorists", millions of people of the inundated Swat valley had been displaced because of the proxy war of the Pakistani army. A war that according to the masters in Washington never was enough whilst Secretary of State Rodham Clinton was insinuating that the Pakistani Army knows full well where Osama bin Laden is hiding (if you know so much about this, why not take action yourself, madame?).

As a slight salute to the lowest human decency we are not informed about drone bombings in Pakistan these days. Maybe they are continuing, maybe not. The people who were droned are now drowning. And since "war-on-turr"-propaganda still works those supposed to give for the needy are not giving. Anyway, they are already paying more than enough for the bombing.

Still, help is urgently needed, and we trust you want to help.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dutch rent Israeli drones for bombing Afghanistan

The first droppings of paratroopers in over sixty years (allegedly) by the Dutch airforce was kept secret for more than a year, for reasons not specified. Of course, the ever embedded Dutch press did not know anything about it either.

And the christian-democratic government of the Netherlands apparently also had its share of drone warfare with payed help form A Very Good Friend State:

Afghanistan has forced a number of participating countries to upgrade their UAV fleets through purchase and rental, and Dutch forces are no exception. They have bought Aladin and Raven mini-UAVs, and a recent announcement indicates that they’re about to retire their old, limited Sperwer-A UAVs as of March 1/09. Instead of buying replacements, they will join the rent-a-UAV trend.

Furher reading.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stirring concern among human rights advocates

"Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates."

The problem is that a sentence like this — arguably a dead sentence, with a few quasi-facts entombed in an inert moral sensibility — parades as serious news. I mean, it’s lifted straight from the New York Times: from a story about drones, the CIA hit list and our cool new PlayStation way of killing bad dudes (and everyone else in the vicinity). Someone with an active conscience could come upon a sentence like that, in the middle of a painfully ill-focused story on the endless war, and think she must be going insane.

An older piece, which, alas!, will remain topical for the near future.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

After 65 years, retire the bomb!

by John Dear SJ on Jul. 27, 2010
In: National Catholic Reporter

The year has turned again, and friends and I are busy completing plans for our annual Hiroshima Day events in Santa Fe and Los Alamos. Our theme this time around: “Sixty Five Years Is Enough! Retire the Bomb! We Want a Nuclear Free World!”

It has been seven years now since Pax Christi New Mexico began somberly marking the occasion. There have been vigils, lectures, retreats and, on as close to Hiroshima Day as possible, in a communal gesture of repentance, sackcloth and ashes. Many prominent leaders have joined us over the years -- Kathy Kelly, Sr. Helen Prejean, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and Nobel Laureates Mariead Maguire and Jody Williams.

This year, on July 30, Bishop Gabino Zavala will join us, president of Pax Christi USA and auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. Friday night he will address us, and on Saturday, July 31, we will gather in Los Alamos, birthplace of the bomb. From the town’s Ashley Pond, we’ll process in silence through the town, sit in sackcloth and ashes, and spend thirty minutes in contemplative prayer. It will be a time dedicated to summoning our sorrow for the mortal sin of nuclear weapons and war, a time of petitioning the God of peace. Grant us, dear God, a nuclear-free world.

Our gesture, modest though it is, will be infused with Gandhi’s creative nonviolence, plus the biblical allusion to Jonah and the Ninevehites. By the tone we set we hope to dissolve the polarizing sense of “us” versus “them.” We will take responsibility for our own complicity; we’ll acknowledge our own stake in the violence that breeds nuclear weapons. Ours is not primarily an accusatory gesture. We come to grieve, repent and pray.

At the same time we have a message to bring. Seven years now and it hasn’t much changed. What it boils down to is this: nuclear weapons are ruinous for the economy, the environment, our health. They’re pernicious for children and creation. The security they lure us with is counterfeit. Nuclear weapons corrupt our souls.

Read more here.

And the latest one of John Dear, SJ:

A gathering storm for hope
by John Dear SJ on Aug. 03, 2010

"Tonight's theme is the momentum from a gathering storm for hope which I believe will one day bear fruit in abolishing all nuclear weapons." That's how Bishop Gabino Zavala, President of Pax Christi USA, launched our two-day observance last weekend of the 65th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He went on and offered us his clear-eyed view. "April of 2009 represented a sea change from the former administration," he said, referring to Obama's speech in Prague. "It clearly laid out our president's vision and commitment to nuclear disarmament," toward "a nuclear free world."

But then Obama's glaring contradiction. The bishop took him to task for allocating more national treasure for nukes than his predecessor. In many documents over the past decades, the bishop reminded us, nuclear weapons have inspired official condemnation from the Catholic Church. And he urged us to take it seriously, to keep building our grassroots movement. Make your hopes for peace come true, he concluded.

Bishop Zavala's presence felt like a breath of fresh air to those of us in New Mexico who've been speaking out for disarmament for years. Not every day does one hear a Catholic bishop speaking clearly and eloquently about this crucial matter -- especially here, where nuclear weapons were first built and a new generation of them is in the works, thanks to Obama. Bishop Zavala's presence heightened our hope.

It was in that spirit of hope that we ascended the narrow road along the mountain cliff up to Los Alamos the next afternoon. We assembled ourselves at Ashley Pond, the park in the center of town where, 65 years ago, "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" were built -- carnival euphemisms to mask their impending horror.

There we passed out sackcloth and bags of ashes, then blessed them and the people of Los Alamos. In a spirit of prayer and repentance, more than a hundred of us then set off in silence along Trinity Road. At the appointed time we stopped and scattered the ashes and donned our sackcloth, and for 30 minutes we sat in prayer. We repented of our own role in the mortal sin of war and nuclear weapons, and we begged the God of peace to convert our nation to nonviolence and give us the gift of nuclear disarmament.

A weird sight to be sure. Over a dozen drivers that I saw revved by in a fit of aggression, hurling curses and insults and abuse. But processing back to the pond, friends shared how moved they were to take part in an action so imbued with the spirit of Jesus and Gandhi. And the tradition of the book of Jonah.

"Who are you trying to speak to?" an ABC TV reporter asked me just before we set off.

I said, of course, we call upon the employees and people of Los Alamos to stop designing, building and maintaining nuclear weapons. And we're speaking, as well, to the people of New Mexico, and perhaps to the world, about the need to abolish these weapons. But ultimately, I said, we're here to speak to God, to beg the God of peace for the gift of a world without war and nuclear weapons.

His eyes widened. I saw in them a fusion of wonder, amusement and surprise. "God?," he probably wanted to ask. "What does God have to do with this?" He had, I surmise, expected the usual -- a seething peace demonstration full of hysteria and anger. And here was one of penitence and sorrow, faith and hope. It was clear he was going to have some fresh thinking to do.

And all the more so because among us were representatives of the largest youth-led movement for disarmament in the country -- "Think Outside the Bomb." One doesn't often associate young people with anti-nuclear sentiments -- at least if you believe the media. But here was Jennifer, who happily told us, once we gathered back at Ashley Pond, of the group's upcoming week-long encampment and vigils in the town. They are planning a nonviolent direct action for later this week. These young folks, as the good bishop did, renewed our hope.

Miki Taylor was also among us, a doctor who grew up and spent her life in Hiroshima. She recently moved with her husband to Santa Fe, and she thanked us for our public stand. Later she told me that, while we need to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must understand that the same dark spirit which first created these weapons remains among us. The willingness to eliminate millions in a flash still lingers in the air. That evil spirit is alive and well in our military institutions, corporations, and government, and somehow, we need to change that spirit.

To our happy surprise, Ann Wright also joined us. A former army colonel and State Department official, she famously resigned in protest in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War. Today she is one of the great leaders in the international peace movement, and travels tirelessly to promote peace and reconciliation. She was aboard one of the boats in the recent flotilla with relief supplies to Gaza when Israeli soldiers attacked, killing nine. Currently on a national speaking tour, she is also working to raise funds for a U.S. boat to Gaza.

Last year she made a pilgrimage to Hiroshima, where she tried to take in the destruction and open her heart to the pain. As for Los Alamos, the feeling is different, she said. "It feels eerie to be here." It was her first visit to the city of the Bomb.

In that eeriness -- spectacular vistas darkened by an evil purpose -- Ann encouraged us. "Continue your work for disarmament and peace," she said, "Don't give up. While the national movement seems dead, the local movements are strong. Everywhere, small grassroots groups are organizing and holding vigils and bringing in speakers. People are doing what they can. So keep doing what you can," she said with a smile, "Together, we can make a difference."

Sixty-five years ago our nation killed civilians on an incalculable scale. And in somber commemoration, a hundred of us this past weekend took to Trinity Road with heads bowed in sorrow. The weekend has passed, but not the opportunity. Accordingly, I invite everyone to join in that spirit of prayer, repentance, and nonviolence, and to do what you can to promote nuclear disarmament, as well as an end to our nation's senseless wars.

A word of caution, however -- don't do it with anger. Anger gains little; rulers shrug it off. Their constantly being embroiled in power struggles makes them adept at thwarting it. Grief is another matter altogether. Genuine grief can't be withstood. Rulers stand helpless before it. It leaves them flustered and confounded -- and in the best of scenarios, sets their own tears flowing too. It can be an opening to compassion and nonviolence.

And so I offer the following prayer, one used at previous vigils, to help us enter into grief, to help us convert our hearts, our church, and our nation. To help us cry out for God's gift of justice, disarmament and peace. As we "storm heaven" for the gift of peace, may it generate new hope among us.

God of peace, as we remember our sisters and brothers killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we repent of the atomic bomb, of those horrific acts, of all the death and destruction that we have wrought.

As our country continues to design, build and maintain these genocidal weapons of mass destruction, we repent of our mortal sin.

As our country threatens the whole human race and the entire planet, we repent of our willingness to destroy the gift of your creation.

As we continue to hold the world hostage and commit the ultimate act of terrorism by threatening to use these nuclear weapons, we repent of nuclear terrorism and the fear, distrust and infidelity we spread.

For our silence, indifference, fear and despair, we repent. For all the violence we have personally committed, and for our own complicity with the culture of war and nuclear weapons, we repent.

Disarm our hearts, disarm our cities, disarm our military and our nation, disarm our world. Give us the gift of a world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons, a new world of peace.

And so we pledge--
In this world of hatred, indifference, fear and anxiety, to be instruments of your love;
In this world of selfishness, greed and materialism, to be instruments of your selfless service and generosity;
In this world of revenge, retaliation and resentment, to be instruments of your mercy, compassion and forgiveness;
In this world of doubt and despair, to be instruments of faith and hope;
In this world of lies and darkness, to be instruments of truth and light;
In this world of war, nuclear weapons and death, to be instruments of your peace, nonviolence and life.

Strengthen us to rebuild your global grassroots movement of nonviolence, that we will inspire more and more people to work for the abolition of war, poverty and nuclear weapons, that we might welcome your reign of nonviolence, love and peace everywhere. We ask this in the name of the nonviolent Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Downing drones into the ocean

In May and June, the U.S. Navy sent four drones crashing into the Pacific Ocean, after blasting them with a prototype laser weapon. If follow-up tests are successful, there’s a chance the ray gun might be ready for deployment some time around 2016. Other countries’ energy weapons will come years afterward — if they ever come at all. But the Navy isn’t taking any chances. It’s pushing ahead with research to laser-proof its drones, just in case anyone else has the bright idea of using ray guns to down the US' robot planes.

Further reading.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your friendly country cousin: the new drone for the US Special Forces

As an illustration of the heavily laden ideological talk about killing machines we present you this topical piece. Whoever has a mother and father ought to have a family, with cousins and all. And so we go:

SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is one of the first outfits to get the new U.S. Army MQ-1C UAV. The MQ-1C aviation company was formed ten months ago, with a few MQ-1Cs, 17 troops and 35 civilian contractors. At full strength, a MQ-1C aviation company has 115 troops, 12 MQ-1C UAVs and five ground stations. This MQ-1C company is part of the U.S. Army 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment), which belongs to SOCOM. The army plans to eventually equip each combat brigade with a MQ-1C company. The SOCOM MQ-1C unit will support special operations (Special Forces, SEALs, rangers, NATO commandos) in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, the MQ-1C achieved Quick Reaction Capability 2, meaning that it can carry Hellfire missiles.

The MQ-1C weighs 1.5 tons, carries 135.4 kg/300 pounds of sensors internally, and up to 227.3 kg/500 pounds of sensors or weapons externally. It has an endurance of up to 36 hours and a top speed of 270 kilometers an hour. SMQ-1C has a wingspan 18 meters/56 feet and is 9 meters/28 feet long. The MQ-1C can land and take off automatically, and carry four Hellfire missiles (compared to two on the Predator), or a dozen smaller 70mm guided missiles. The original MQ-1 Predator is a one ton aircraft that is 8.7 meters/27 feet long with a wingspan of 15.8 meters/49 feet. It has two hard points, which usually carry one (47 kg/107 pound) Hellfire each. Max speed of the Predator is 215 kilometers an hour, max cruising speed is 160 kilometers an hour. Max altitude is 8,000 meters/25,000 feet. Typical sorties are 12-20 hours each.

Currently, the army has about 200 of these larger UAVs, most of them 159 kg/350 pound Shadow 200s. These carry day and night cameras, and laser designators, but usually no weapons. Most of the new army heavy UAVs delivered over the next five years will carry missiles, and by 2015, the army will have over 500 of them. The army currently has thousands of much smaller micro-UAVs. The air force does not bother too much with these, as they fly too low to bother air force aircraft, and are not armed.

The army has been quietly building its new force of larger UAVs for a while. Four years ago, the army quietly bought twenty Predator type UAVs (called Sky Warrior Alpha) from the same firm that manufactures the Predator and Sky Warrior. These were in Iraq for over two years, mainly for counter-IED work with Task Force Odin. The one ton Sky Warrior Alpha can carry 204.5 kg/450 pounds of sensors and 134.5 kg/300 pounds of weapons, and a few of them have fired Hellfire missiles. Sky Warrior Alpha is, officially, the I-Gnat ER, which is based on a predecessor design of the Predator, the Gnat-750, and an improved model, the I-Gnat (which has been in use since 1989). The I-Gnat ER/ Sky Warrior Alpha looks like a Predator, but isn't. In terms of design and capabilities, they are cousins.

As its model number (MQ-1C) indicates, this UAV is a Predator (MQ-1) replacement. The U.S. Air Force had planned to replace its MQ-1s with MQ-1Cs, but later decided to buy only larger Reapers. The MQ-1C was developed by the army, which wants at least 500 of them.

The third member of the Predator family is the MQ-9 Reaper. This is a 4.7 ton, 11 meter/36 foot long aircraft with a 20 meter/66 foot wingspan that looks like the MQ-1. It has six hard points, and can carry about a ton (2,400 pounds) of weapons. These include Hellfire missiles (up to eight), two Sidewinder or two AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, two Maverick missiles, or two 227 kg/500 pound smart bombs (laser or GPS guided.) Max speed is 400 kilometers an hour, and max endurance is 15 hours. The Reaper is considered a combat aircraft, to replace F-16s or A-10s.


Program August 2010 - April 2011

Nuclear Free Future Month

August 1 to August 9: Contact Think Outside the Bomb in Chimayo, New Mexico and Pax Christi New Mexico for the many events at Los Alamos this year, all part of "Disarmament Summer."

A NOTE REGARDING August Desert Witness:

Because of organizing for the September trial and events, NDE is not hosting an August Desert Witness for Hiroshima/Nagasaki Days THIS YEAR at the Nevada Test Site. For local activities to remember those killed by atomic weapons and especially victims of nuclear testing and those first bombs used on Japan in 1945, contact Candace Ross at the Temple to Goddess Spirituality in Cactus Springs; 702-569-0630. On August 6 she always welcomes people to come fold paper cranes and also to go out to the entrance of the Nevada Test Site to vigil.

Additional actions for the August 6 & 9 in the United States, include:

1. Offutt Air Force Base, in Bellevue, NE, home of the Strategic Nuclear (StratCom) and the US Military Space Commands.
The gathering starts on August 5.

Contact People for more info:
Jerry Ebner, Omaha CW, 1104 N. 24th St. Omaha, Nebraska USA 68102
www.no-nukes.org/cwomaha, Email: cwomaha AT gmail.com, 402- 502- 5887.
or Frank Cordaro , Phil Berrigan CW House, 713 Indiana Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50314
www.DesMoinesCatholicWorker.org, frank.cordaro AT gmail.com, (515) 490-2490.

2. Vandenberg Air Force Base, in Lompoc, CA, Space and Missile Command
The gathering is on Saturday, August 7, "hosted" by the local Catholic Workers from Guadalupe (Beatitude House), 805-343-6322
http://vandenbergprotest-macgregor.blogspot.com for more details...

Also on August 7, the Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada will be having an Obon Ceremony (Japanese Lanterns) at Sunset Park in the evening. The event will be to honor all of those who have died and suffered as a result of war. People can make lanterns at the ATM during the day. For more details, contact Dawn Barlow-Curtis at the ATM at 702-794-5147.

We regret to announce the cancellation of The Meaning of Guardianship retreat with Joanna Macy planned for August 5 to 9


September Desert Witness:
Friday, Sept. 10 through Monday, Sept. 13: Daily vigils at Creech AFB. Co-sponsored by Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Some people will walk from the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs. Others will drive out from Vegas to stand together. Rides will be arranged as needed.

September 9: First UN International Day for an end to Nuclear Testing (postponed from August 29); sponsored by Kazakhstan

September 10 - 13: NDE Vigils against drone warfare. Daily vigils at Creech AFB. Co-sponsored by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Some people will walk from the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs. Others will drive out from Vegas to stand together. Let us know you're interested and we'll be sure you are contacted as details emerge. AND CHECK THESE BULLETINS FOR UPDATES.

Friday September 11: A Day of Solidarity and Remembrance. The Temple to Goddess Spirituality, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service and the Nevada Desert Experience host Eyes Wide Open-Nevada.

Vigil in the early morning along with the Creech 14. Followed by reflection time and group time. The Eyes Wide Open installation will be open all day.
5:00 Potluck Dinner;
7:00 gathering for ritual;
7:30 Ritual for Peace in Solidarity and Remembrance.

Sunday September 12: ...still in formation aside from the morning vigil at Creech. Creech 14 defendants may need time to meet to plan for their trial. The NDE Council will be meeting during the day too.

Monday September 13: Evening program in Las Vegas featuring Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Fr. Louis Vitale, who will recently have been released from prison after 6 months for crossing the line at Ft. Benning's School of Assassins (aka the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Plus special guests Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General.

September 14: Trial of the Creech 14 (from arrests in April 2009) ATTEND THIS! It's at the
Regional Justice Center,
200 Lewis Ave.,
Las Vegas,
5th Floor (Regional Court, Department 5):
7:30 am rally in at Lewis and 3rd St.;
8:30 am trial scheduled to begin.

September 21: UN International Day of Peace.

September 20 to 22: High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals ("Millennium Summit"), UN, NY


October 2 & 9: Keep Space for Peace Week

October 24 & 30: UN Disarmament Week

APRIL 2011

April 18 & 25: Nevada Desert Experience Sacred Peace Walk 2011

For more information about any of the events,
e-mail or call the NDE office:
info @ NevadaDesertExperience.org, 702-646-4814

Gonna take Us All, Jon Fromer (RIP

To keep the spirit!


We are all Bradley Manning!