Occupation of the American Mind

Free Range Films presents, Occupation of the American Mind, a documentary that exposes Israel’s public relations war against the Palestinians in the United States. The film will be shown on Friday, February 9, 2018 at 7pm at the Suquamish Church of Christ, 18732 Division Ave. in Suquamish.

Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestinian territory and repeated invasions of the Gaza Strip has triggered a fierce backlash against Israel’s policies virtually everywhere in the world – except in the United States. This film provides a sweeping analysis of Israel’s decades-long battle for the hearts, minds and tax dollars of the American people in the face of widening international condemnation of it’s increasingly right-wing policies.

President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his threat to cut off all aid to the Palestinians are 2 recent examples of American hostility and total disregard for the Palestinian people.

Come join us for a discussion following the film led by Sallie Shawl, a co-founder of Jewish Voice for Peace. All are welcome.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is is a co-sponsor of Free Range Films.

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Fast for Peace at Westlake Center

Buddhist Monks to Fast for Peace at Westlake Center

Friday’s Opening Day of the Winter Olympics in Korea brings an order of Japanese Buddhist Monks to Seattle’s Westlake Center Plaza to fast and pray for peace.

The Reverend Senji Kanaeda of the Nipponzan Myohoji order will be joined by fellow peace activists in 55 hours of fasting from Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11.

  • Friday, beginning at Noon
  • Saturday, from 9:00AM to 3:00PM
  • Sunday, from 9:00AM to 3:00PM

The public is invited to join them any time during those hours in praying, chanting, and drumming and/or fasting for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Information will be available on how people can get involved in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula and reducing the risk of violent conflict and nuclear war.

This event intends to heighten awareness of increased nuclear threat arising from military confrontation and rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Hailing from Japan where nuclear weapons once annihilated hundreds of thousands of their citizens, Nipponzan Myohoji Monks are committed to spreading the word about the inevitability of a full scale nuclear war destroying the world as we know it.

Kanaeda lives with fellow monks at their Temple on Bainbridge Island, but he spends many months of the year leading long peace walks that cover much of the Pacific Northwest from Yakima to Olympia to Seattle and beyond. These colossal walks often culminate on the Kitsap Peninsula where a vast portion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is deployed on Trident Submarines. The monks regularly attend vigils and demonstrations at the U.S. Naval Base, Bangor to protest nuclear preparation and expansion.

Currently the Rev. Kanaeda is leading an effort to build a Peace Pagoda on the Kitsap Peninsula and has a design concept drawn for it. A pagoda is a small beautifully tiered temple dedicated to peace. Nipponzan Myohoji Monks have built pagodas in several countries. Their dedication to peace and nuclear abolition has taken them on walks virtually around the world. The fasting event at Westlake Center is one of the many peace activities that comprise Kanaeda’s fully dedicated life.

“We are focusing on the abolition of all nuclear weapons on earth and realizing the safety of the world for now and the next generations,” Kanaeda said. He can be reached at 207-780-6739 or cell 206-724-7632 or kanaedasenji@gmail.com.

Endorsing organizations include Rainier Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice and Earth Care not Warfare.

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2018 Nuclear Posture Review: Cold War Redux!

The 2018 United States Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is out, and there is much conversation surrounding it. The new NPR is, of course, more formal justification for the U.S. to continue the status quo of being the world’s dominant nuclear power. Yet, beyond the status quo, this NPR contains new and dangerously destabilizing developments in U.S. nuclear weapon planning and policy.

The press conference announcing the release of the 2018 NPR was a classic study in Doublespeak.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan set the (Orwellian) stage by saying, “To the American people, this administration’s highest priority is your safety and security.”

He further stated that, “Every day at DOD we ask, how can we give our diplomats leverage so that they can always speak from a position of strength? The National Defense Strategy directly supported by the 2018 NPR is our answer.”

Shanahan finished his intro by saying that, “The fundamental role of U.S. nuclear policy is deterrence, and continues our clear commitment to non-proliferation and arms control… Modernization is necessary, affordable, and long overdue.”

Where to begin? Well, to start, there is absolutely no “safety” or “security” in our reliance on nuclear weapons as tools of foreign policy. Our nation’s continuing reliance on, and modernization of, our nuclear weapons forces, coupled with our failed (military-centered) foreign policy around the world has only served to increase the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and thereby decrease both safety and security of not only the U.S., but the entire world.

The very statement that “we give our diplomats leverage,” and tying that leverage to nuclear weapons is an obvious admission that nuclear weapons are a central tenet of U.S. foreign policy. And although nuclear weapons have, since their inception, been at the heart(lessness) of our foreign policy, the Trump administration has taken it to a new high (or low, depending on how you see it) with the gutting of the State Department that is massively overshadowed by a bloated Pentagon.

As for “modernization” being “necessary, affordable, and long overdue,” let’s look at that more carefully.

Modernization would not be “necessary” had the U.S. changed its posture toward the Soviet Union once the Berlin Wall fell and we were handed the “Peace Dividend.” We desperately held on to our nuclear weapons, and quickly found a new cause to pump dollars into the Military-Industrial Complex – the War On Terror.

As for affordability, the massive investment (currently estimated at $1.7 trillion, adjusted for inflation) in the U.S. nuclear weapon program over three decades will be a major theft from programs necessary to take care of human needs at home and overseas, while making weapons makers far richer than ever. And ultimately, humanity cannot afford the risk of the unspeakable – nuclear war that could end civilization as we know it, and possibly cause human extinction.

As Pentagon and State Department spokespersons said at the NPR announcement, Russia figures prominently in the 2018 NPR. We are moving quickly into a posture very much like that of the previous Cold War. And this newly developing Cold War is shaping up to be much more tenuous than the previous one (if that is possible). With the huge numbers of nuclear weapons currently deployed by both the U.S. and Russia, a nuclear war between the two nations would certainly be the END!

The Executive Summary of the 2018 NPR states (on Page 1) that: “It [the United States] has reduced the nuclear stockpile by over 85 percent since the height of the Cold War and deployed no new nuclear capabilities for over two decades… While the United States has continued to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons, others, including Russia and China, have moved in the opposite direction. They have added new types of nuclear capabilities to their arsenals, increased the salience of nuclear forces in their strategies and plans, and engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior, including in outer space and cyber space.”

Our fact checker gives this a “pants on fire” rating. While the U.S. has technically reduced the total number of warheads since the height of the Cold War, the vast majority of these weapons were outdated and did not fit with current nuclear strategy. The weapons remaining, for the most part, are the pre-eminent weapons involved in threatening Russia, which we never stopped doing after the Cold War.

The majority of the remaining warheads are fielded on our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs, also known as “Minuteman”) and Submarine Launched “Trident” Ballistic Missiles.

As for modernization being “long overdue,” that is laughable. Modernization was already made a certainty by the Obama administration. And, as evidenced by Trident, the U.S. certainly has developed new nuclear capabilities, thus countering the false statement in the 2018 NPR that the U.S. has developed “no new nuclear capabilities.”

Just last year the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists blew the lid off what the US government has euphemistically called it’s “Life Extension Program” for the W76 thermonuclear warhead deployed on the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The article, “How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze,” shows how the US military, under the guise of what it calls a “life-extension program” – allegedly intended to increase safety and reliability of nuclear warheads – has vastly increased the ability of warheads to detonate closer to their intended targets.

Specifically the heart of the rebuilt W76 and its increased kill capacity is the new MC4700 arming, fuzing and firing system. This new system essentially gives the W76 capabilities it never had before; that is the capability to hit hardened targets – specifically Russian ICBM silos – with three times greater accuracy than before. If that’s not a “new nuclear capability,” then I don’t know what is!

The development and deployment of the “super-fuze” was a huge development that has only served to drive the Russians to work for nuclear parity (or superiority), thereby seriously undermining strategic stability and increasing the risk of nuclear war.

In addition, the very planning and development of the Navy’s new fleet of ballistic missile submarines, the Columbia Class, which has been in the works for a number of years, is, at very least, a vastly improved nuclear capability.

Of all the crazy ideas in the 2018 NPR, and there are a few, the most insane of all is the plan to field a low-yield warhead on the Trident II D5 missiles deployed on the OHIO Class “Trident” ballistic missile submarine fleet. This would be done by modifying the existing W76 warhead to reduce its explosive yield. Of course, Trident was designed for one purpose – to threaten the Soviet Union with total annihilation (and with a definite first-strike capability). Mixing low-yield and high-yield warheads on Trident (a new capability) makes absolutely no strategic sense and changes Trident’s mission significantly.

There is so much more to say about the 2018 NPR, but for now, I think it safe to say that it is deeply troubling on every level. It signals a return to a dangerous Cold War mentality and introduces new, destabilizing concepts (such as low-yield warheads on Trident).

Ultimately, the 2018 NPR pays lip service to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and denigrates the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. Ironically, Article VI of the NPT, which states that, “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,” is not even on the radar here.

As the U.S. accuses other nations – notably Russia, Iran and North Korea – of violating various treaty obligations, it would do well to look in the mirror. It is not a pleasant vision, yet it is one that we avoid at our own, and the world’s, peril.

Humanity cannot afford another Cold War.

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Monthly Stewardship Council Meeting

The Ground Zero Center Stewardship Committee meets each month to conduct Ground Zero business – including ensuring we are spending our money wisely, planning for events, and much more.

The February meeting will take place at the Ground Zero Center meeting house in Poulsbo at 1:00 PM on Saturday, February 3rd.

All are welcome to attend.

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It’s 2 Minutes to Midnight: The Clock is Ticking!

Do you want to live with the threat of nuclear war?

I would guess that most people would answer with a rousing “NO!” And yet, humanity has been living under the threat of nuclear annihilation for most of the decades following World War II during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Even now, nearly three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia still stand poised to destroy each other’s nations (many times over), and take the rest of the world with them.

What’s more, the two Superpowers, through their mad pursuit of nuclear weapons and the rampant militarism associated with that race, led the way to the proliferation of nuclear weapons that has further increased the risk of nuclear war and the end of civilization. India and Pakistan are at each others figurative throats, each having amassed considerable nuclear arsenals. And now, there is a huge focus on (and fear of) a nuclear-armed North Korea. Where will all this end?

Earlier today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to global catastrophe – two minutes to midnight – the closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been to the “destruction of civilization.” The hands of the Clock were set at two minutes to midnight only once before – in 1953 after the U.S. tested its first thermonuclear device and the Soviets followed with their own H-bomb test.

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has used the Doomsday Clock to symbolically indicate how close humankind currently is to “the end of the world,” represented by midnight. To set the clock, the Bulletin factors in the threats of nuclear war, climate change, and (most recently) artificial intelligence run amok. 

The opening paragraph of today’s announcement, addressed to “leaders and citizens of the world,” says: “In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.”

When the clock was set a half-minute closer to midnight just one year ago, we were warned: “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.” Our “public officials” have not only failed to lead humanity away from the brink; their lack of wisdom has led us further toward that dangerous precipice. It is absolutely time for “wise citizens” to step up and demand action.

In 1991, thanks to the end of the Cold War and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the hands of the Clock were set back to 17 minutes to midnight, providing a huge sigh of relief. Since then, all but one announcement have resulted in the hands inching ever closer to midnight.

How much closer to midnight do we have to come before we accept the urgency of our situation – that we must remove the threat of nuclear weapons before the clock, and humanity’s luck, run out of time?

Even the most limited use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic global consequences. The horrific loss of human life; the long-term effects on the environment, climate, and human health; and the destabilization of the global economy and international relations are difficult to imagine. Nuclear war would mean the end of civilization as we know it. Prevention is the only reasonable choice!

There is only one way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again – eliminate them worldwide. It is up to the United States, the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons, and the nation that led the world to this moment, to lead the way. And that work needs to begin with a paradigm shift and the initiation of a sincere dialogue with Russia.

What can (and should) we, as “wise citizens” do to lead the way to help move humanity back from the brink? Here are a few steps each of us can take (for starters):

  • Support, and get directly involved with, at least one organization directly working on nuclear abolition.
  • Senator Ed Markey, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament has introduced legislation into the Senate (with companion legislation in the House introduced by Ted Lieu) to restrict the authority of the U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack without first consulting congress. Call on your members of Congress to support this legislation.
  • Tell Congress: Detente, not Escalation with Russia!
  • Urge your members of Congress to call for direct diplomacy (without preconditions) with North Korea, and against further threats of war.
  • You can also support legislation that reduces the risk of war with North Korea. Call your Representative and urge her/him to cosponsor HR 4837, the “No Unconstitutional First strike on North Korea Act.” Click here for a directory of U.S. Representatives. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121
  • Call on the United States to attend the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament (coming up in May 2018) at the highest level and to make sincere efforts at the conference to reduce nuclear risks and advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Click here to find your members of Congress.
  • Introduce the Back from the Brink resolution at your professional association, faith community, civic group, educational institution, town hall or municipality. Click here to download the text of Back from the Brink:A Call to Prevent Nuclear War and see a list of endorsing organizations.

Historian Lawrence Wittner, in his book Confronting the Bomb, says that it is not the conventional explanation of “deterrence” that has saved the world from nuclear annihilation over the past 72 years, but a “massive nuclear disarmament movement.” Wittner documents how real, grassroots citizen activism brought very real pressure to bear, not only only on the U.S. government, but many other governments as well, to control the arms race and prevent nuclear war.

The question now is whether we can revitalize that citizen-led movement and create a groundswell that no nation, particularly those with nuclear weapons, can ignore. Here’s to that hope!

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***Click here to read the full 2018 Doomsday Clock Announcement.***

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